Vegan, vegetarian, high carb, low fat, high fat, low carb, paleo, plant-based, keto, intuitive eating, intermittent fasting, IIFYM, bulking, cutting, organic, whole foods, non-GMO, gluten free, sugar free - it can all be so overwhelming!
With all of these words swirling around in your head and heart - how on earth are you to find the right way of eating for you? Many amazing looking people claim to have found the KEY, the answer, the holy grail but here's the truth - EVERYONE is different and one thing doesn't work for anyone all of the time.
Now, for me, veganism is non-negotiable. I am passionate about animal rights and while I would love to live in a world where everyone could feel their best eating the way I do, I am the first to admit, that's just not practical. There's so many factors and personal choices that go into diet (diet meaning what we eat, not how much we eat) and I don't claim to have all the answers for everyone. I post my vegan recipes to inspire and encourage you to incorporate more plants into your diet but I don't take a rigid approach to veganism, because, well frankly - pushing, shaming or guilting people into a lifestyle ain't going to help the cause! I believe adopting a loving, welcoming, relaxed approach is much more appealing.
But back to the point of this post - how do you know what diet or lifestyle change is right for you? Many people would believe a vegan diet is limiting in itself, but I don't agree... in the realm of veganism I have experimented with different macros from 80-10-10 to high fat, to high protein (now I average around 60-20-20 when I do count macros). Ive tried a fully raw diet, mono-meals of fruit, only eating bananas for days, intermittent fasting, actual fasting, you name it. Prior to finding veganism I tried juice cleanses, paleo, low-carb, keto, no sugar, etc.
I've learned a lot on this journey, I accept that I am now and always will be learning and changing but I think I have uncovered the most important principals to keep in mind when it comes to any diet or lifestyle, vegan or not...
Here are my tips:
1. ENJOY what you're eating and you eat mindfully.
If you associate stress, pressure and guilt with the foods you're eating - how do you think those foods are going to digest? You could be eating kale all day but if you're eating it mindlessly or under stress I can guarantee it's not going to give you all the potential nutrients your body needs. Emotion, mood and foods are related - take time selecting your meals, cooking them AND eating them. It makes all the difference.
Do you ever notice how satisfied you feel after eating a special meal with a loved one (think Valentines day)- you talk, you laugh, you eat slowly, you lick the spoon - now, everyday can't be Valentines day but make sure you're always in love with your food.
2. Keep the BALANCE.
You don't have to be perfect all the time (yogis and fitness lovers can get caught up in that tail spin easily). Limit the extremes - the times we do the most damage to our body, our hormones, our weight is when we eat in extremes - *too* low fat, *too* high protein, *too* low carb. Balance is key, no one macronutrient is king.
3. Call it an EXPERIMENT, not a discovery.
and never claim to have found the end-all-be-all answer. Try something new when what you're doing isn't working for you - your body is always changing...always be it's best advocate and listen.
4. LOVE YOURSELF ENDLESSLY.
and keep a record of how you feel physically, mentally, emotionally. This doesn't need to be in a journal or diary but just be sure to simply check in with yourself from time to time. We can often associate ending/changing up a certain meal plan or diet with guilt or failure but you need to let that go in order to truly find happiness with your food.
5. It's NOT ONE THING.
Finding the right "thing" for you isn't just finding "one thing" - i.e diet. Again, its about balance. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you satisfied in your relationships? How do you feel about your living situation? All of these things are related to food and while paleo might work great while you're WOD-ing 6 days a week, while on rest for 6 weeks after a shoulder injury that much protein might not feel good.
6. Eat whole foods as much as possible.
This is the last thing I want to say because I don't want to put too much emphasis on exactly *what* you're eating in this post but I do believe that the more whole foods humans eat, the better they feel. So, if you are craving fries maybe consider making a healthy, oven baked version at home - same goes for cookies, ice cream and burgers. Never deprive yourself but rather shoot for the best choice available.