Diet as Dogma

Dogma: noun; an official system of principles or tenets concerning faith, morals behavior.

A specific tenet or doctrine authoritatively laid down.

I have the right to do anything you say but not everything is beneficial. I have the right to do anything, but I will not be mastered by anything 1Cor 6:12

Since I started as a personal trainer 8 years ago there has been one question that I have been asked on an almost daily basis: “What do you think of (fill in the blank) diet? How do you eat? What do you eat?

Early in my career in fitness I was very dogmatic (see above definition) about food. “I NEVER eat carbs” “meat is BAD for you and weighs you down” “animal protein is the ONLY way to build muscle” “carbs are the BEST thing you can eat for performance”. For most people the information about food and what to eat can be dizzying, confusing and contradicts itself all the time. It can make you crazy trying to figure out what exactly is the best thing for you to put into your mouth and for some the amount information is paralyzing!

I feel your pain! Since I was 17 years old I have battled with food. I would swing from not eating at all to eating everything to only eating 5 things. All in the hopes that I would finally find something that would work. In work I mean make me skinny on the outside and make me feel like I was full on the inside. I still struggle. There are times when I imagine what it would feel like to never think about food or eating again. Through the many years of struggle I have found tools that help me get through those hard times. Truths that I remember and stand on that remind me that food is just that- food. It is not love, acceptance, success, happiness or company. Food is fuel, nothing more. Some fuel tastes better than others of course but only God will give me the love, acceptance and happiness that I crave.

So what do I think about the two most popular “diets “ out there in the fitness world today? Well I will share MY perspective on each and what has worked for me. Ultimately how you eat is a very personal thing. There are some basics that work for everyone and then there is the other stuff, the dogma that we all get caught up in. There is no one size fits all way to eat. What works for me will probably not work for you because we are not the same person. We have different body types and goals. Where I think most people get stuck is that they want the magic pill, the thing that will give them the results they want with the least pain and introspection possible. Pain avoidance is a very human trait. I encourage you to try different ways of eating see what works for you. Be bold and commit to figuring it out. You may gain or lose weight in the process and that is ok.   The good thing about figuring the food thing out is that nothing is permanent. Once it is figured out you will feel free. I also encourage you to think about why eating and food is a struggle for you. It seems strange but your struggles with food are NEVER about the food. It’s never about the kind of carbs you eat or what your macros are. . I stress again these are my views about theses two ways of eating.

IIFYM If it fits your macros

This diet is based on the principle of counting macronutrients. All food is made up of these; they are protein, carbohydrates and fats. This plan has you count the amount of each “macro” you eat everyday. Daily quantities are decided based on your goals, weight, current body composition and calorie intake. Scientifically this makes a lot of sense. Proponents of this way of eating love it because they state they have “freedom” a macro is a macro so as long as I stay within my daily quantities I am ok. So if I want to eat a donut I can as long as it fits. They have no restrictions and they believe no cravings. Whatever they want they get. It all sounds great right? Who wouldn’t want to eat Twinkies or donuts and still stay skinny? There lies the problem. Yes a macro is a macro and tracking macros will control your weight. But I think it’s more important to focus on the quality of your foods. Yes you can have a donut but I would much rather have a lot more of a nutrient dense food. No one binges on Broccoli. Also a donut will digest much quicker than lets say a sweet potato so I will be hungry a lot quicker (donuts can be great for post workout when your muscles need that sugar but I prefer better sources) The body craves what it knows so if it is given processed sugar filled food regularly guess what it is going to want? Also if you are measuring and weighing and portioning everything you eat are you really free? As someone living with a tendency to adopt disorder eating I think that this just switches obsessions. You go from worrying about everything you put into your mouth to measuring everything you put in your mouth. You get to plan and justify your binge. Bottom line I love a good donut but donuts do not serve me. If I am honest I usually have a donut when I am tired, PMSing or just had a fight with my husband. The donut makes me FEEL BETTER. Feelings lie. Like the Lord says: I have the right to do anything you say but not everything is beneficial. 1Cor 6:12

Paleo:

I was first introduced to Paleo when I started Crossfit. My coach at the time told me about all the benefits and “GAINZ” I would get if I “went Paleo”.

Basically what Paleo states is that you are to only eat the foods that man ate in the Paleolithic era. We know what they ate from all the evidence that has been found on how they lived. So basically no grains, beans, dairy. Meat, veggies and meat fat are best. Over the years since it first became popular it has become more dogma than nutrition plan. Paleo has been helped millions of people lose weight and get healthy. The health benefits of adopting this approach to nutrition have been proven. Switching people from the SAD (standard American diet) of processed and fast foods to a diet consisting of whole foods is a very good thing. But recently it has been stretched and changed to accommodate all sorts of stuff. You can now find cookies, brownies, bread all stating that they are Paleo. Processed Paleo. They are technically but they are definitely not in the spirit of the Paleo movement. There has also been confusion about what it means to “BE” Paleo. Can you have peanuts, should you be super low carb or enjoy a bowl of cereal? What will happen to me if I enjoy that said bowl of cereal? That is when a practice that started out for good becomes confusing dogma that establishes “rules” around how to eat.

So how do I eat? Over the years I have found a Paleoish/clean eating/enjoy my food lifestyle works for me. I avoid dairy and gluten (but have been known to enjoy a slice of pizza and good garlic bread now and again) I tend to eat 85-90% whole food. I love steak and bacon. I also love a good frozen yogurt. Almond butter and Avocado are fantastic.

The bottom line is that 85-90% of the time I eat whole nutritious foods that I make at home and enjoy making taste delicious. If I am out with friend or at a nice restaurant I enjoy what is good on the menu and eat it as the chef created it. I don’t have cheat meals. I like to eat healthy because when I don’t I feel like crap. I am a busy mom, athlete and entrepreneur and I don’t have the desire to feel like crap. There are no “good” and “bad” foods there are choices and I try to make the best choices for me. Choices that allow me to be at my best to serve the purpose that God has for me.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies 1 Cor 6:19-20