Ditch the Diet Debates

Note: In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I created a page on my blog dedicated to my own struggles with an eating disorder and some of my most helpful posts on the topic. Check it out here and visit nedawareness.org for even more information. 

You know me…never afraid to take on a touchy subject ;) I’ve discussed Instagram disordered behavior, figure competitions, rest days and intuitive eating and orthorexia in my personal life.

But what I haven’t talked much about is the crazy debates out there about the ‘perfect’ diet. There have been a lot of posts lately touching on the pros and cons of paleo, the Whole 30 and the primal-based lifestyles that are gaining in popularity. And of course, Instagram is full of #IIFYM hashtagged photos of ‘proyo’ and Quest bars and Walden Farms condiments. And if you’ve spent any time on my blog or Instagram, you’ll see all the raw fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds that make up my newly adopted raw vegan lifestyle. With all these conflicting dietary views out there, which one is best?

Honestly…none of them are! Let me explain. The ‘best’ diet for all humans doesn’t exist–we’re all so unique in our needs that eating a egg salad sandwich on Ezekiel bread for lunch may work for you, but it will make your gluten-free vegetarian friend feel like crap. The ‘best’ diet is the one that works for YOU and your body, period. It doesn’t matter what’s trendy, or what everyone at your gym is eating or what the latest episode of Dr. Oz tells you not to eat. If something works for you, eat it. If not, don’t…and don’t feel guilty for not eating a certain way.

This approach doesn't exactly work for everyone.

This approach doesn’t exactly work for everyone.

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The thing that gets me the most about these diet debates is how people trash each other’s eating style. The paleo people cut down vegans for not eating enough protein, high carb low fat vegans are militant about shunning fats and omnivores criticize many diets for being too restrictive. Where’s the appreciation for the benefits of each diet? Other than the Standard American Diet, there are benefits to every eating style, which is why people choose to follow them. Each diet gets some things right–veganism emphasizes the benefits of consuming mostly plants, primal eating promotes real food over processed crap and healthy diets that don’t exclude any food groups show the benefits of moderation.

We ALL need to be eating more real food.

We ALL need to be eating more real food.

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I wish people would be more respectful of everyone’s chosen eating style. I came across a blog post the other day where the blogger shared her experiences as being a vegetarian for a week and how she couldn’t do it because she’s an athlete. Nothing wrong with not being a vegetarian, but don’t claim you couldn’t cut out meat because you’re an athlete. If that were true, then Brendan Brazier, Venus Williams and Scott Jurek (all plant-based athletes) wouldn’t be among the best in their sports. Sure, you may have to be better at planning your meals as a plant-based athlete but that doesn’t mean you can’t avoid animal products and still be athletic. I know I’m guilty of questioning the paleo diet from time to time but I recognize that it works for some people and that’s great. Just because something is restrictive for you personally doesn’t mean it’s restrictive to someone else and we need to respect that.

Who says vegans can't be strong and fit?

Who says vegans can’t be strong and fit?

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Personally, I advocate for a plant-based diet because it’s healthier to fill up your plate with plenty of fruits and veggies and of course it’s cruelty-free, but I understand that everyone has their own beliefs and needs that determine what they eat. I try to come from a place of understanding and respect and I wish there was more of that in the blog world and life in general!

What’s your take on the ‘diet debates’?

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5 thoughts on “Ditch the Diet Debates

  1. There definitely are weird sounding things to every diet, but each diet depends on a person’s beliefs and goals. I switched to IIFYM/Flexible Eating and feel great and am making great gains and seeing awesome changes in my body. But i wanted to see those, and as a trainer it is important for me to keep up an “impressive” physique. I do have to eat more animal products now, which has been a bit of struggle for me, but that was my choice. I don’t go around calling vegetarians, paleo, vegan, etc., crazy because I’ve tried two of them and definitely see their merits. It just all depends, and I respect that. The only thing I do have a problem with is “clean eating” as it’s causing a lot of people a lot of stress and some people are even developing ED behavior because of it. So I do not advocate that at all.

    • I’ve heard a lot of good things about flexible eating and IIFYM and I’d love to give it a try but I still have a thing with eating really healthy/clean as it makes me feel good but I think just being more flexible in general would just help me get over my food hang-ups.

      • Yeah, the thing about IIFYM is people think it’s about eating junk food, but it’s impossible to hit your macros by just eating junk food. it just means you can eat some and that’s ok as long as it fits into your macros.

  2. I totally agree! Diets don’t work, they just don’t! They might delude the person by letting them drop a couple kilos but once the stop the gain it all back, I think a lifestyle change, a healthy one is the best solution if you are at an UNhealthy weight not if you are already skinny and just want to be skinnier or are skinny and want to be overweight- trying to be democratic :D lovely post!

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