Healthy living does not equal dieting. When people go on restrictive fad diets it only leads to bingeing and gaining all, if not more, the weight back. To put it simply, eating clean is the way to go. But I feel as if even with healthy living, there are still rules that I think are so unnecessary or just have too much gray area to be a real rule. In fact, I think some of them are not healthy at all because they either promote restriction, obligation or distortion of how people believe they should eat without listening to their bodies.
I used to think that these rules applied to me the same way, but it only made eating healthy so frustrating that I gave up on them. Once I did, the excitement came back and the consequences weren’t such a big of a deal anymore! Note that all of these rules might not apply to you the same way, but there are some health rules that don’t work for you. I hope you can at least relate. And without further ado, here are the diet rules I break and that you can too if they work for you!
- Food combining. “Don’t eat beans and chicken together!” “Only eat fruit on an empty stomach!” Etc. Sorry to burst your bubble, but if you think that you’re “healthier” than people who don’t do proper food combining, you’re very wrong. First of all, food combining only applies to those with a sensitive stomach or any digestive issues, but you shouldn’t feel obliged to follow these rules if none of the above apply to you. I myself have suffered from bloating and digestive issues in family history, so I do follow a certain guideline in the back of my head to make sure I eat foods that don’t upset my stomach. However, it’s just not logical to restrict yourself from having certain foods together. Oh and whoever stated that I can’t eat bananas with peanut butter and Greek yogurt needs a real beating. Not trying to sound scary or anything, but that is NOT OKAY. I want my freaking Greek yogurt banana splits!
- Always have a pre-workout snack. I find that working out in the morning first thing I wake up without eating anything, I feel the most motivated and energetic. I don’t know if I just ate the wrong things or had too much or whatever, but if I could go by without a pre-workout snack then why did I feel so obligated to eat one? Besides, if I ate a lot of sodium or carbs the night before, I’d have plenty of glycogen to energize my workout.
- You don’t have to avoid gluten if you’re not intolerant to it. I personally feel my best when I eat a minimal amount of gluten, or even none at all. I find that bread and pastas make me unhappy, tired and bloated, so I just avoid it when possible. That doesn’t mean I’ll pass on a slice of roti or whole wheat veggie pizza if I feel like it 🙂 if you’ve never been diagnosed with a real intolerance to something, but just feel uncomfortable eating it, then don’t eat it. It’s kind of like vegetarianism. Some people hate the texture of meat and feel uncomfortable digesting it even though there’s no specific allergy.
- No carbs at night. Besides the fact that complex carbs can actually help you sleep better, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Yeah. I like my sweet potato cakes. BYEE.
- Only eat low GI. To be honest, I find that the glycemic-index diet is no different from counting calories on a healthy diet. You limit bad foods, but you also limit good foods. In fact, did you know that according to the list watermelon has a higher glycemic index than Special K? Shows how reliable of an optimal diet that list is! An example of a high GI fruit is the date, otherwise nature’s candy that is jammed with fiber, vitamins and minerals, but has a whopping 93 grams of sugar per cup and ranks at 100 on the glycemic index. It’s still MUCH better than instant noodles that’s 48 according to GI.
- Avoid saturated fat. So you’re telling me that peanuts, coconut oil, whole eggs, and grass-fed beef are unhealthy? Um, no. If the Inuit and Masai thrived on excellent health eating an animal-based diet and if egg yolks raise the good HDL cholesterol while showing no signs of heart disease in patients whatsoever, then you need to educate yourself a bit. Monounsaturated fats are, of course, very healthy, but they’re overglorified. What we do need to avoid is trans fat, which isn’t even a real micronutrient to begin with; that is, until we started processing our food. Yuck!
- Don’t eat after 8 P.M. The human body doesn’t have a clock. People all over the world live in different time frames, so your 8 P.M. might be someone else’s 1 P.M., or lunch! Yes, you should eat in a time window, meaning that unless if you’re starving, don’t eat late at night while you’re still up just because. Your body can only take in so much food.
- Eat every couple hours. For instance, don’t feel obliged to eat a snack at 9 A.M. if you ate a filling breakfast at 7. I remember I ate a giant stack of whole grain pancakes for breakfast freshman year and then had a large apple two hours afterwards even though I was still full! The best time to eat is when you’re hungry. That means it can be every hour, five hours or at random. It’s only so simple. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re satiated.
- Only eat seasonally. This may be a little more surprising, but you don’t always have to eat whatever’s in season. In the winter I still ate tons of pineapples and summer berries, just in frozen form, and in fact I had those more often than apples! Yes, eating seasonally is less expensive, but if you want your favorite fruit when it’s not the right time period, go for it. But just remember to choose wisely. That frozen bag of summer figs is probably much tastier and more nutritious than the sad, bruised pack of figs in the fresh aisle.
- Focus on calories and macros. Quantity of micronutrients is so overlooked it’s absurd. Everyone’s nuts about carbs, proteins, fats and calories while many all over the country struggle to meet the daily needs of vitamin A, which is more than enough in a single carrot. So yes, you may have reached your daily IIFYM intake on Oreos rather than brown rice, but where’s your copper for energy? Magnesium for great skin? Zinc for immunity? Fiber for controlling blood sugar? Here’s another example: people I know think bagels are healthy for you. OMFG ha! I sound so mean but come on, really. It’s poor in nutrient density and is full of refined carbs and sodium. I was fatter whilst half an egg bagel for breakfast, which was around 146 calories, than nowadays when I have a smoothie bowl made of two frozen bananas, cacao powder, peanut butter, strawberries, Greek yogurt, carob chips, almonds, mulberries, cinnamon, flax seeds and chia seeds which is probably over 400 calories and over 60 grams of carbs! But which one’s healthier? Know what I mean?
- Follow a lifestyle. This rule is probably gonna get me the most hate mail, but I’ll just say it. You don’t have to be a clean eater for life, vegan for life, paleo for life, whatever. It’s so overwhelming that people get sucked into these “lifestyles” that pose as abundant and freeing but are actually quite restrictive. I can’t eat cooked broccoli on a raw diet? No sweet potatoes on keto? No Greek yogurt on vegan? Then no way.
That pretty much sums up all of the rules I’ve encountered…unfortunately, but that doesn’t mean all of these rules work the same way for others. Some people can’t have saturated fat and meat, others thrive on it, while some can eat a crazy amount of bananas in one sitting and others would probably vomit on the fifth. Hope you enjoyed this post and got something out of it, and let me know what other diet and nutrition posts I should publish next! Until next time–more Greek yogurt and peanut butter for moi. 😉