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HELP! What the F&^% should I be eating?

Posted Feb 09 2013 8:50pm





So right now you class yourself as a clean eating, vegan, paleo, no sugar, intermittent faster kinda person? Yes, it’s all getting just a little bit ricid, right?

I’ve been in the fitness industry for over 12 years now and nothing surprises me when it comes to people’s food obsessions/labels they create for themselves.
I’ve consulted with people who drink green smoothies all day long, girls with previous eating disorders, vegetarians, skinny boys, new mums and girls & guys who are so confused with the latest diet craze. We need to take a step back and ask ourselves is all this thinking about food/eating good for our health? Is it helping or hindering our results? Are we obsessing too much? Are we..OMG? Are we?!!!!

The main gangs (and I’ll put my personal spin on it, goggle for yourselves if you want to be a nit picker!):

Paleos: Don’t eat grains.  They are the new age cavemen and women. Choosing mainly proteins (meat), veg, fruit and fats. They believe we have not really evolved enough as a human race for our body to process and eat grains. Say goodbye to grains, diary, sugar and alcohol and hello to barefoot running and Crossfit training.

Intermittent Fasting: From their research, IF is perhaps proving that for effective fat loss you should be fasting for specific periods of time then eating large amounts of calories for a specified time then retreating back to fasting. Benefits include prolonged life span. The aim is to reset the metabolism however fluctuations in weight, mood and eating habits will be present.

If It Fits Your Macros: Macros? WTF are they? Macros, are macronutrients- protein, carbs and fat broken down into specific amounts. Popular with the bodybuilding crowd. You want pop tarts smoothed with chocolate topping and a cheeseburger? Then as long as it fits into your macros for the day- it’s on the menu. It’s basically calorie counting. Biggest downside in my opinon- was it more nutritious 500 calories of cheeseburger or 500 calories of a chicken salad? Upside- there’s no missing out, nothing off the menu.

Vegans: No animal products what so ever in the diet.

Vegetarians: No meat based proteins can also include no eggs, dairy, depending on preference.

Clean Eating: No processed foods, flours, additivites (yet I see them all chowing down on artificial sweeteners?!), preservatives, alcohol. Very popular in the online community.  

The “Wellness” crowd: Basically, if it can be blended or juiced these people are doing it and serving it up in a glass mason jar…so hipster cool. They are totes into superfoods and organic produce. Detoxing is a way of life for these people and yoga, they love yoga.

The Food Blogging crowd: If it’s got sugar, flour and shit loads of calories in it- they are eating it and writing about it. We all love food (don’t we?) but these guys are obsessed.  Diet is a word that is NOT in their vocab.  Also, I don’t believe they could tell you the difference between a squat or a push up.

What I really know about food?

I’ll sum this up because quite frankly who needs the dribble?

The optimal daily diet (in my humble opinion):

-       Fresh vegetables and lean proteins should always feature

-       Make it gluten free where you can

-       You need carbs, don’t eliminate them. All my food plans contain carbs because we need fuel for exercise and I don’t want you in a cranky foul mood all day, do I? Different levels of carbs for different goals.

-       Look at the nutritional panel/labels of your foods, if you can’t read it or are let puzzled then question/research what the hell it is. If you need extra vitamins/supplements consult with a naturopath who can recommend what you are lacking. Get tested-don't self diagnose 

-       Include fresh, seasonal fruit. I’m yet to get fat from eating two servings of fruit per day. If you pair your fruit up with some protein it will help keep the blood sugar a little more even.

-       Keep refined sugar/juice out of your life. Yes, the whole 50DaysNoSugar has been a great learning experience for me. Why? Well as a former sugar addict (packets of lollies, ice cream etc) removing it from my diet has worked for me. I don’t binge at all now on foods, I have no guilt and quite frankly I don’t miss it. Call me a freak or a loser but I’m just better off without- I works for me, might not for you but I do urge you to try it. I still enjoy life without the sugar comas. I adapt. Fruit and ice = sorbet, coconut water to add to my cooking & smoothies. All contain small doses of natural occurring sugar and give you the sweetness you are used to.

-       Fat doesn’t make you fat. Eat it. Your brain NEEDS it. My favourite fats: coconut oil, avocados, organic butter, MEAT and nuts.

-       If you aren’t intolerant, add dairy to your diet as it can assist with weight loss. If it doesn’t agree with you, try unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk. On the intolerant thing- if you get a massive food baby (you know when your stomach looks like you’ve swallowed a pumpkin after eating) this isn’t “normal”, go and get that looked at. A naturopath can help

-       Calories matter- you cannot just eat whatever you want and throw around your paleo or clean eating label and think your body will magically release all of this bodyfat willy nilly. “It don’t wont like that.” Science: energy in, energy out.

-       A word on “those” vegans & vegos: I joke, I joke. I’m a self confessed meat head but If you go down the vegan or vegetarian route- consult a health professional. So many nutritional consults I do with vegans or vegos, I see large holes in their diets. No non-animal protein sources, no fats- you just can’t live like that. Also, take into account if you do want to be lean, all the beans/legumes/rice are carbalicious so you do need to find your optimal intake for the amount of activity you do.  Vegetarianism shouldn’t be seen as a weight loss tool.

-       Clean eating is nothing more than a buzz word that people associate with meaning “I eat healthy most of the time”.  In my opinion, if you want a packet of chips & a glass of red wine- have it! I do. On my “clean eating’’ plan I allow free meals, red wine- FREEDOM. You have to have freedom if you want long term longevity. I always allow myself to have a few meals that are off my “calorie allowance”. Now, I don’t count calories per se (because I’ve got a rough idea of my requirements) I just look at my meals per week as 35 choices, and of those 35 choices I can have 5 meals that I don’t think about. These include burgers, wine, cheese & crackers, takeaway meals; with nachos & pasta being right up there as my favourites. I still remain true to not consuming sugar (again my choice doesn’t need to be yours).

-       Hydrate yourself. People always tell me how much water they are drinking but they never really are consuming enough. Use this tool: approx. 40ml per kg of body weight (70kg x 40ml = 2.8l) per day with roughly another litre for workout time. Have a cup of coffee or tea too! 

-       Keep food interesting. Try new foods. Don’t pigeon hole yourself by only allowing 5 main foods and rotating them. Food intolerance's are developed that way. You aren’t some on some boring bodybuilding diet. No fricking egg white and broccoli omelettes! YUCK. Eat whole foods to your best ability.

-       Yes, you can go to restaurant’s and eat out! Quality not quantity. You are paying good money for the experience so enjoy it. 
-       Alcohol: Quite frankly, I’d love to drink a bottle of red wine every night but alas I just can’t. I care about my liver and my fat levels. I choose moderation. Whilst my red wine has no sugar it still contains alcohol so for me I limit it. Especially, just given the party/holiday season we have just come out of- placing limits allows your body to recover/detox and rebuild from the outside in.

-       Not related to food intake but SO IMPORTANT. Move your ass! Effective fat loss means exercise & diet. Not one or the other. Make the change to include both changes.

So, for my parting “professional advice”, it isn’t necessary to tag yourself with a particular name or follow only the advice of the latest guru- a broad view on food is essential for long term health and vitality.  My nutritional views change through experimenting with different things. I pass this information on those that read my posts, my clients & nutrition consultation clients. One view is not right just the same as one is not wrong. Moderation is the aim of the day- we all know the gist of health, right? Eat more fresh, wholesome foods and move your body in a variety of ways.  Food obsessions can be a thing of the past if you just relax your view on the type of eater you are and eat for nutrition gains. Drop me a line at Natalie@newoutlookfitness.com.au if you need a little help with your nutritional goals- I do online coaching from anywhere in the world!

I also found this quote in one of my favourite books; Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, I think this sums up my food views:

“No man will be satisfied for any length of time with a nourishment that tastes of nothing, regardless of how rich in proteins, vitamins and trace elements- Rudolph Steiner

Hope this post helps you out and please feel free to share this with your friends, don’t forget to comment also. Love it or hate it- I like your opinion.
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