5 WAYS TO DODGE MAGIC BUL­LETS AND SAVE YOUR­SELF (A LOT OF) PAIN

Living Now - - Diet - Casey Con­roy is an Ac­cred­ited Prac­tis­ing Di­eti­tian, nu­tri­tion­ist, yoga and Acroyoga teacher, and natur­opath-in-train­ing who loves raw choco­late and schisan­dra berries in her green smooth­ies. She is the founder of Funky For­est Health & Well­be­ing on the Gol

If you’ve found your­self feel­ing dis­ap­pointed or like a fail­ure af­ter be­ing pa­leo/raw/ve­gan for a while and hav­ing it go pear-shaped, don’t worry. Here are five ways you can find a way of eat­ing that works for you.

1CLARIFY YOUR MOTIVES

Why do you want to go ve­gan / raw / pa­leo? Is it to lose weight / fit into your old jeans / get clearer skin? If so, look a lit­tle deeper. Why do you want to lose weight or have bet­ter skin? The deeper rea­son for em­bark­ing upon any health en­deav­our is of­ten to feel more con­fi­dent, to feel more sat­is­fied, to have a richer and more mean­ing­ful life. But feel­ing good is not de­pen­dent only on diet.

You need to look at all as­pects of your life in or­der to feel good – that in­cludes your emo­tional land­scape, ex­er­cise and other habits, at­ti­tudes, val­ues, be­liefs. It in­volves as­sess­ing your job sat­is­fac­tion, fam­ily dy­nam­ics, re­la­tion­ships, and life­style.

Look at the whole pic­ture. Diet is im­por­tant, but it’s only one piece of a much larger whole.

2PRACTISE IN­TU­ITIVE EAT­ING

It’s okay if you eat a salad, ditch re­fined sug­ars, or eat a ve­gan meal – as long as it’s truly what you feel like.

The only re­li­able au­thor­ity, in the end, is your own body. Learn to trust your body again, and how to lis­ten to the mes­sages it is send­ing you about diet. The sim­ple tools of tuning into your body and fully ex­pe­ri­enc­ing each bite of food have the power to re­solve most ques­tions about food choices and diet.

Rather than adopt a diet, you could try a more in­tu­itive way of eat­ing that is highly per­son­alised to your needs, food pref­er­ences, life­style, and ex­pe­ri­ences.

A truly in­stinc­tive ap­proach to nu­tri­tion aligns joy­ful, nur­tur­ing eat­ing with the au­then­tic needs of body and soul. It doesn’t in­clude eat­ing raw sal­ads in win­ter when you are dy­ing for a hot pump­kin soup.

3 TAKE THE BEST FROM THE DIET, AND MAKE IT YOUR OWN

The pa­leo and raw move­ments get a big tick for their push to­wards real foods. Ve­gan­ism gets a tick for the em­pha­sis on plant-based foods, which most peo­ple need more of. We would be bet­ter off eat­ing real foods. That means foods that we grow, hunt or pick foods that are un­mod­i­fied and come from na­ture.

When pos­si­ble, we should aim for the most nu­tri­ent-dense foods, be­cause that’s why we eat – to nour­ish – not to ac­com­plish some ide­alised macronu­tri­ent ra­tio. Take the good bits from these di­ets if they work for you; then break the other rules. Don’t be­come a slave to rules and ex­trem­ism. That brings me to the next point...

4 AVOID EX­TREM­ISM

As much as we col­lec­tively rant about the ben­e­fits of mod­er­a­tion, peo­ple will al­ways tend to be ex­trem­ist when ap­proach­ing a topic as com­plex and tran­si­tional as nu­tri­tion, in an at­tempt to sim­plify and make sense of it all.

Un­for­tu­nately that de­sire for the ul­ti­mate an­swer con­trib­utes to the hype around ‘magic bul­let’ foods or di­ets. You don’t have to go 100% pa­leo, raw or ve­gan in or­der to gain more en­ergy and be health­ier. You may only need to add a few more veg­eta­bles to your diet, or re­duce your in­take of re­fined sug­ars and pro­cessed foods. Peo­ple have a hard time grasp­ing mod­er­a­tion as the key, but mod­er­a­tion re­ally is golden.

5DITCH THE LA­BELS

Some days I’m ‘ve­gan’. In sum­mer in Thai­land, I went three months on a raw ve­gan diet, without even notic­ing it. In win­ter in Aus­tralia, I eat eggs and the oc­ca­sional fish. I may have a pa­leo lunch and on the same day have a non­pa­leo din­ner with roast pota­toes and an­cient grains.

These ways of eat­ing can work when they are slot­ted in to fit your life­style, your day, your mood, your cli­mate, your ge­netic her­itage, and your sea­son.

When these seem­ingly healthy di­ets fail is when we try to fit our­selves to the diet, with their the­o­ret­i­cal rules and blan­ket rec­om­men­da­tions.

Don’t be a raw food­ist for the sake of be­ing able to say ‘I’m 100% raw’. That’s not very flex­i­ble, and un­less you live in a tree house in a Thai jun­gle all sum­mer run­ning up moun­tains and prac­tis­ing yoga for six hours a day (as I once did), it prob­a­bly won’t work per­fectly in the long term. Ditch the la­bels and do what works for you – and that may change on a sea­sonal, daily or hourly ba­sis. n REF­ER­ENCES: 1. Com­par­i­sion of the Atkins, Or­nish, Weight Watch­ers, and Zone Di­ets for Weight Loss and Heart Dis­ease Risk Re­duc­tion: a ran­domised trial. Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion. 2005, vol. 293, p 47. 2. Re­ten­tion rates and weight loss in a com­mer­cial weight loss pro­gram. Fin­ley et al. In­ter­na­tional Jour­nal of Obe­sity. 2007, vol. 31, p. 292-298.

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