Why dieting is not healthy eating

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“Organic is boring!” he said, as he shoved the last of the donut holes in his mouth. Those were organic, vegan donut holes I had brought back to our office as a treat, but he didn’t know that. He just saw a free treat and chimed in halfway on a conversation we were having about healthier versions of tasty treats. I so wanted to say something but I kept my mouth shut because I have learned to pick my battles. I shouldn’t say battles, because educating someone on healthier food choices is not a battle. If it ever is, then you’re either doing it wrong, or it’s not the right time for that other person. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink, right?

It’s about the willingness of people to want a change, just as much as it is about proper education on what healthy eating actually means. Being on a diet and eating healthy are not the same thing. In fact, most modern day diets are anything but healthy! The inventors of many of these diets find one little thing that makes the body store less fat and that’s what they’re basing a whole way of life on:

The Atkins Diet with its No-Carbs rule can easily lead people to think that all carbs need to avoided and all fat and protein is good. What happens when you give your body too much protein and not enough (plant based) carbs? You will burn the protein & fat for energy, yes (that’s the hook), but you also push your body into what’s called ketosis which can be dangerous for those who are not eating a healthy, balanced diet. The key part many people are missing here is that you need good, complex carbs (think greens or low sugar fruits – not bread or pasta) to digest and absorb the proteins and fats. More on that here.

So what about Weight Watchers? This is probably one of the worst diet traps out there. The convenience of buying pre-packaged frozen meals that make eating pizza, spaghetti, and chocolate cake part of a healthy meal plan, are far from healthy. Eating fresh, real food and exercise is still the only way to lose weight safely and keep it off for good. The WW program just assigns points to food. Any food – good or bad. It’s like giving the green light to junk food, as long as you stay within your points range.

“Oh, I can have a brownie, I just can’t eat dinner then.”

Really?? That’s just a disaster waiting to happen.

Jenny Craig, SlimFast, Lean Cuisine, SmartOnes, … – all of those are best avoided.

I’ll just say it: avoid any diet program that makes you buy ready-to-eat frozen foods. And while we’re on that: avoid any food that needs a TV commercial; any food that has un-pronouncable ingredients, any food that lists ingredients you don’t have in your pantry, and any sort of fast food. There’s probably more to avoid, but those are the big ones.

OK, so I derailed here… back to what I was saying about people’s willingness to change vs being educated on healthy eating. A few days ago my 5-yr old came home from preschool telling me that Coke has 76 pounds of sugar and apple juice has 4 pounds, but water doesn’t have any sugar. A little off on the numbers but she’s got the idea! I love her teachers for educating the kids on this but what was even better was the visual display I saw in her classroom the next day: pictures of a Coke, an apple juice, and a water with a little ziplock bag hanging under the picture, filled with the amount of sugar for each one. Because visuals have a much greater impact and it’s on eye level for the parents. That coke actually had 67 grams of sugar, the apple juice had 49 grams. Ditch the coke, and eat an apple instead. And drink water!

Changing your eating habits can take a few weeks, or a few months or sometimes years but most people don’t realize that. They start off great, with a strong attitude and all the best intentions, but after a while they fall back into their old habits, one cheat meal at a time. Why does that happen? Because they’re DIETING. Changing the way you eat radically is not just hard on your mind and your emotions, it can be hard on your body too! You can switch from junk food to super clean eating and actually feel terrible at first and not even absorb half of the good foods you’re eating now. This is extreme, yes – but if your organs are so out of whack from not getting the right nutrients for so long, how do you expect them to work through all the good stuff now? Do it slow. One meal at a time. Switch one ingredient at a time: go from conventional skim milk to 1% organic, then 2%, and finally whole milk (Why?). Add more greens every day. At least once a day!

Add new foods all the time. Try a vegan restaurant – they’re not all weirdo-hippie. And trust me, they care way more about the food the prepare for you than Chili’s or TGIF does. That day I picked up the vegan donut holes was my first time in a true vegan restaurant (Green Bar & Kitchen in Ft. Lauderdale) I totally loved it. Aside from the delicious, fresh food, the staff was super nice and helpful, but all the other guests too!

Smiling faces all around. Good food makes you happy – inside and out!

I had come from a business lunch that day and felt so unsatisfied from the blah meal that I wanted something fresh and light. They serve awesome smoothies so I tried one called the Immune Tonic and that hit the spot!

So what I’m trying to say here is to go venture out of your food comfort zone every once in a while so you don’t miss something that could have become your new favorite food. Like that guy that said “organic is boring”. He loved those vegan donuts! It’s not that he dislikes veggies or works for Monsanto (oops!) – he just doesn’t know the difference between dieting and eating healthy. Dieting can be boring, yes – especially if you deprive yourself of a variety of tasty, fresh foods and stick to egg whites and celery sticks. I’d quit that diet too!

A diet is temporary – healthy eating is for life. Have you ever followed a certain diet just so you can lose those 10-15 pounds and then you’ll be ok? But you weren’t, right? Because when you go back to your old ways, you’ll gain it all back. The key is to change what you eat every day, not just for 30 days, or 21 days.
And for the guy that thinks organic is boring, I bet he would totally enjoy an organic, grass-fed steak with organic potatoes, and some organic garlicky spinach. Probably more so than a conventional feed-lot steak, with pesticide laden potatoes, and spinach that’s lacking proper minerals from being grown on depleted soil.

Some people call healthy eating a life style, but I don’t completely agree with that. Healthy eating is life. It’s knowing that you can eat cake some days and your body can handle it because you feed it well all the other days. Eating healthy is taking care of your body – after all, you only have that one. But you can’t force people. Sometimes it will take an illness to drive people to change their ways and by then it’ll be even harder to bring yourself back. But it’s possible. And it’s worth it. You’re worth it!

So next time you have a craving for a cupcake, stop by a vegan restaurant and grab lunch there too. I promise you, it will make you and your belly happy!vegan Cupcakes



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