I thought I had found the ideal diet...
You see, about a year ago my boyfriend put on one of the most horrific documentaries I've ever seen. Can you guess what it was? If you've heard of it or seen it, it usually conjures up an expression of horror when mentioned.
I cried for about two hours while watching this movie. I literally could not get myself together after seeing it. I vowed I would only eat vegan from then on. I pretty much announced myself a vegan to the world (well, to my world at least and also despite still eating honey 😬).
I wouldn't say I was proud of being a vegan or that I wanted a pat on the back. No, I just couldn't imagine eating anything that had been killed in a horrific way. I wanted to share why I had decided to go vegan once and for all.
I had the best intentions for the animals and the planet, but now a year later I'm back on eggs, fish and chicken. So um, what gives?
Here's the story.
Since I made the commitment to living a healthier lifestyle back in 2007, I've been all over the map as far as diet. I started by just cutting my meat intake down to about once or twice a week, which was a big deal for me and I felt so great from doing just that. Over the years, I've experimented with going vegetarian, pescatarian and then adding just a bit of meat in here and there.
I had also attempted to go vegan before about five or six years ago after reading Skinny Bitch. But after just two months or so I felt like I needed eggs and fish back in my diet. I just wasn't feeling satiated when I ate, and was feeling rather sluggish.
This most recent attempt (2015-2016) I made it almost a whole year before I started to feel something wasn't right again. I was gaining a bit of weight and again feeling really sluggish. I was attempting to do a high carb, low fat diet (when I say diet, I mean lifestyle), but it just didn't seem to be working for me. And then I really began craving eggs and fish again recently, the two things that I always seem to go back to. I literally didn't have much of an appetite for grains anymore. My boyfriend was feeling the same way.
We decided to cut out all grains (and man, did we eat a lot of grains over the past year) including bread, pasta and tortillas (too, too many tortillas), and instead added eggs, fish, a bit of chicken, and healthy fats (my body had been missing those!). It's been about three weeks and we're both feeling a lot better. I definitely feel like I've lost those pounds that I had gained as well. So far so good.
The Ethics of Lifestyle and Diet
Still I couldn't help but feel a bit sad and down on myself that I couldn't sustain a vegan diet. It's an ongoing battle in my head. Especially being a blogger who shares recipes, most of them being vegan.
For me, the reason to go vegan had to do with ethics. I love animals and hate to see anyone or anything in pain. Watching Earthlings was gut wrenching for me as I'm sure it is for anyone that watches it. Also, I wanted to do it for the environment as well after watching Cowspiracy.
The thing is I need to feel good to sustain a diet just based on ethics. I'm no good to anyone if I'm not feeling my best. And as much as I love animals and truly want to be sustainable in my diet, I can't sacrifice my health for it in extreme ways that aren't beneficial for me. To some being vegan is not extreme and it works for them. I think I'm coming to the conclusion after several attempts at going fully vegan that my body doesn't really respond to it well in the long run.
So I'm back to what I've always been. An omnivore.
I really don't want to label myself anything anymore (so just ignore the fact that I just called myself an omnivore). I'm not a pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan, paleo or primal person.
Namely because I flip flop when it comes to my diet because...I'm human!
This can be tough sometimes. Especially being a blogger. It's in our nature as bloggers to want to label ourselves so like-minded people can find us. But instead I'll just be labeling recipes as vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, etc.
I try to live my life by Michael Pollan's following quote:
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
Note: Regardless, despite gong back and forth on whether to eat meat or not, one thing has stayed the same since 2007. I focus most of my diet mostly on organic fruits and veggies.
Maybe an ideal diet doesn't exist...
Is there one diet fits all? I really don't think so even though we're marketed to daily that there is the ultimate diet and lifestyle whether it be vegan or paleo or whatever the next trend is.
I personally don't think there's something wrong with switching things up when it comes to diet. I listen to my body and try to be healthy first and foremost. I try new things. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. Sometimes they work for awhile and I think, okay, I've found the perfect lifestyle for myself and then a year later, it's not working anymore.
Our body is a living, changing organism, so I think it's completely normal for our diets to have ebbs and flows. Like seasons!
Let's break it down, shall we?
Here's what I'm doing now.
Because I talk about recipes and nutrition on this blog, I really feel the need to be upfront about the changes in my diet considering I was labeling myself a vegan earlier this year.
So this is what I can tell you about what I'm eating currently.
- I try to eat mostly plants.
- Like I said, I've been eating eggs, fish and a bit of chicken. The proteins are just additions to my mostly plant-based diet. They don't take center stage.
- I only eat cheese once in a great while, but we are regularly using ghee (clarified butter) as a healthy fat in addition to coconut oil. Hands down my body was missing good fats.
- I don't miss grains at all right now. Thought I would. Who knows, I may add them back in at some point, not in the amount that I was when I was vegan.
And I think it's pretty safe to say I don't know where I'll go from here except that I'll continue to eat a whole food diet and buy organic sustainably raised food. That is the one constant through all of these changes dietary changes I've tried over the last ten years.
So when it's all said and done, is there an ideal diet?
Doctors argue about this stuff. Really, really smart people have conflicting angles on what is considered the ideal diet. I mean, I'm not that book smart, lol. I tend to be more smart when it comes to common sense.
This I can say this with solid confidence:
- Don't eat processed foods in general, including pasta, on a regular basis.
- Don't eat processed meats.
- Don't eat fried foods, or candy and donuts.
- Eat real food.
Center your diet on plants including fruits, and healthy fats. It's up to you if you want to eat meat and dairy, but I would try to keep those to a minimum each week. Eat only pasture raised eggs if you can. Buy good quality wild fish if you can (I know this can be ridiculously expensive nowadays) or sustainably raised fish.
Have a cheat day (I'm really good at these by the way) only if you're the type of person who can convert back to eating healthy the next day and it doesn't get you into a junk food slump. If you can't do that (yet), then you need to train yourself to like and savor healthy whole foods first and foremost.
Use common sense when it comes to diet. Don't overeat. Educate yourself and most importantly, learn to listen to your body.
At this point of my life, this is what I've defined as an ideal diet for myself. For the most part, it's been working pretty good.
Here's some documentaries I recommend you watch if you're interested in being more sustainable with your diet:
- Before The Flood (free on YouTube)
- Cowspiracy (on Netflix)
So what do you think? What are your thoughts on what an ideal diet is?
Disclaimer: All information on Salt and Ritual is based on my experience and is provided for educational and general informational purposes only. The topics discussed in this post may not be suitable for your particularly situation and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek professional medical advice before trying anything you read online. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and your individual results may vary.