Monday, August 9, 2010

The Perfect Diet

This is the post you've been waiting for. The one that whispers to you from the supermarket checkout aisle, on the cover of Shape and Self- "Lose 10 lbs for the beach this weekend" "How Kim Stays Fit". The one that tells you "eat what you love and still lose weight." The one that shouts that the siren song of perfection, in the form of a perfect diet, is true and attainable.
PSssst I'm about to tell you a secret. There is no one perfect diet for everyone. Nutrition professionals and fitness gurus may like to disagree, but a glance around the world shows us how varied lifestyles can be. There are people who run ultra-marathons, eating only bananas. There are people who sustain on the foods of our ancestors (raw meat and berries my friends) and look great. The Eskimos eat a diet all fat and protein with not a veggie in sight yet have lived long lives throughout the centuries. And don't even get me started on the French, with their butter-laden pastries, and skinny skinny bodies.

There is however, a perfect diet for YOU. It's not the easiest thing to discover, and requires much experimentation and the willingness to be adventurous in your food choices. The perfect diet is perfect in its imperfections. It full of foods that make you feel GOOD, and never leave you feeling bad or guilty or wanting to purge. It's the diet that gives you the energy you need without having to obsess over calories or fat grams. It's ok to cheat on the perfect diet and not have to restrict afterward to make up for it. This diet will look different for everyone. this diet is about listening to your hunger cues, about eating intuitively, about giving yourself permission to savor and enjoy food. To release yourself from the emotional ties which bind you to food.

For me, the perfect diet is plant-based. By listening to what my body is really craving and judging by my energy levels, this is the perfect diet for me, right now. Almost everyday people ask me if i feel restricted-if i “miss” dairy, eggs, meat, etc. For me, this switch has been the complete opposite of restriction. It is actually through veganism that I was able to reject the diet mentality. By turning away from the staples of my previous “diet” ( slow-churned, sugar-free, ice-cream, coolwhip free, microwaved egg-whites, whey protein up the wahzoo, and spenda-rific lite yogurt, and lots of hungry girl) I have embraced a beautiful new food world that includes exotic, wholesome, exciting, delicious, fresh, REAL food! I swapped Hungry Girl for the Veggie Queen and never looked back. Being Vegan has opened my eyes to the abundance of our earth. Instead of being stuck into food ruts I am constantly trying new fruits and vegetables,grains and beans. I feel more compassion for self, environment and other creatures. Being vegan is much more about health for me, rather than the endless pursuit of being skinny or perfect. Food is now a source of enjoyment. I'm not a militant vegan, and always opted for honey instead of high-fructose corn syrup, and I will let myself enjoy a special-occasion non-vegan treat (i have a serious sweet tooth). I am not about to let myself feel guilty, beat myself up, or restrict to compensate. Everyday is a new day, and one dessert isn't going to kill me. Gena of Choosing Raw wrote a beautiful post on Reconciling Veganism with Intuitive Eating

There are optimal diets, but who am I to tell you that eating a little bit of fish every week is the worst thing in the world? As a future RD I know what my body wants and needs, but my goal is not to impose that diet and lifestyle onto YOU. I want to help you find out what YOUR body wants and needs. Where you don't have to feel caged by good and bad foods, and the grocery store aisle isn't something that you have to treat with caution. The lifestyle that gives you the energy to run the marathon called life, and come out on top. Food is much more than calories in and calories out, and with a better relationship with food and our bodies we can truly discover our perfect diet.

Have you struggled with Restriction? Do you think it is possible to be an intuitive vegan eater? What does your perfect diet look like? How is the siren song of perfection calling out to you today?


  1. I love this post, Elizabeth! Everyone's ideal diet truly does vary! I've never struggled much with restriction, but I've certainly tried a number of "diets": vegan, vegetarian, macrobiotic, low-carb, etc. I think I was trying these diets as a means of exploring and trying to find what was right for me. But I always felt like something was missing. Eventually, I just gave up and started eating whatever I wanted, because it just made me feel better. Then I realized that what I wanted was very similar to the Mediterranean Diet (which isn't much of a surprise since I'm Italian!) The "Mediterranean Diet" allows me to basically eat everything but to base my diet on grains, fruits & vegetables, lean protein, etc. It was really refreshing to just let myself eat whatever I felt like eating only to realize that the food I loved and wanted was the food that made me feel best! I suggest that everyone allows themselves a week to just follow their intuition when deciding on the next meal! You might surprise yourself :)

  2. My diet doesn't have a name. I like to say I'm a vegan who eats steak. Ha! How bout that? But man, it took me a long time to figure out what works. I love giving people fodder to help them figure out their own bodies!

  3. I really enjoyed this post. I can't wait to help people find the eating pattern that works best for them. For me, the right diet means planning my meals with vegetables in the center, and always trying new things. I need my food to be fun!

  4. I have been thinking about this all morning. This summer, living on my own (i.e. own budget) I ate lots of plants, tofu, grains, and the occasionally chicken or fish. Pretty veggie-friendly, and it's felt great. BUT, my body has been hankering for red meat. I'm not sure if my recent sluggishness is from anemia or just the humidity, but my body is asking for something, and that something is not a vegetable.

  5. love this post!!! and totally agree. I didn't discover my love of lentilsXmillion and yogurt until I got to college and had to fend for myself.Latest challenge: slowly weaning myself off my splenda-addict ways... much thanks for being such a great role model!

  6. i loveee this post!! the plant diet is the healthiest thing you can do for yourself. i'm a vegan myself and others come to me asking how they can get healthier, i tell them to eat more fruits and veggies. less processed things, non-fat dairy and lean meat if they do not want to give up those things and food without hydrogenated ingredients or added sugar and ingredients you cant even pronounce!