This phrase has popped up everywhere for me lately. It was a documentary that I watched on SBS recently, it has been a subject line in emails I receive from various people I subscribe to. To me it is a fascinating topic, because I have tried a lot of them! I am even a lifetime member of Weight Watchers, even though it was a long time ago.
And I don’t do it because I am constantly trying to lose large amounts of weight (although a few kgs here and there is always helpful), but I do it because I am curious to see how my body will react. More particularly as I have become older.
I believe we are all different, and there is no one diet that will suit the majority. We need to experiment until we find the right one for us. The choices are mind blowing! There is paleo, adkins, low carb high fat, macro counting, vegetarianism, vegan diets, fruitarian diets, fast weight loss diets, Mediterranean diet, low calorie, crash diets, detox diets, sugar free! The list really is never ending.
As I become more aware of how my body responds to food, my food choices become more about what fuels my body and supports my very busy lifestyle.
It makes sense! The less processed, heavily sugar and fat laden food I eat, the less stress there is on my body. I definitely don’t need to be adding to my stress loads.
My biggest hurdle is learning to eat when my body needs to eat, not just because it is time to eat. I am such a creature of habit. But recently I learned a very valuable lesson and it happened while I experimented with Carb Cycling.
I followed this plan for 7 days to see what would happen. There is a 7 day plan embedded in this article.
It basically had me having two days of very low carbs, one day of medium carbs, two days of very low, then a high carb day to finish, repeat.
So I started writing all of my meals into My Fitness Pal to count my carbs (and to make sure I was getting enough of everything else to sustain the exercise I was doing).
This is what I learnt about my body
My body doesn’t function well without carbs, both physically and mentally, even when in ketosis(*)
I am sensitive to large amounts of carbs (particularly high GI) and the effect on my body is within 24 hours. This happens particularly when I drink alcohol. My blood sugar drops fast, along with my mood!
I have worked out that if I have 80 to 100g of carbs per day (steady state) my body works at it’s best!
If I don’t eat gluten for a period of time, then reintroduce it, I end up in a lot of pain through my digestive system within 12 to 24 hours.
Dairy is similar, but nowhere near as bad.
If I eat all fresh fruit and vegetable based foods, lean protein, no grains or processed food, no dairy, no gluten, for an extended period of time, any inflammation in my body disappears (I currently have tendonitis in my elbow, which is virtually pain free when I eat like this).
To me, this is all fascinating! And just because it is this way for me, doesn’t mean it will be the same for another person. And by no means can I maintain this type of eating all of the time. You’ve got to live a little, right?
But good to know.
So, if you are struggling to find a diet that works for you, don’t stress, we are all different and we just need to be patient until we find the right one that fits our lifestyle.
I can advise, LISTEN to your body. Eat when your body needs food and make it good quality food, only eat until you are full. It’s OK to be hungry. You will need to be hungry to lose weight (if that is your goal).
Before you eat, decide, are you really hungry? Or is your body just expecting food because it’s that time of the day. Or are you really thirsty? Drink a glass of water, wait ten minutes, then decide again if you need to eat.
Food is not our enemy. It is usually our mind that is! Be in control of your own body! Take charge!
* Ketosis is a normal metabolic process, something your body does to keep working. When it doesn't have enough carbohydrates from food for your cells to burn for energy, it burns fat instead. As part of this process, it makes ketones.