To a degree, we all are subject to dieting. Making a food choice based on nutritive substance, personal pleasure, dietary restrictions, ethical and/or religious reasons, or physical goals centered around health and fitness complies in the process of following a diet. Once upon a time, I dieted with sushi and bowls of granola, then lived off of egg whites, Greek yogurt, and sweet potatoes. Even as a child, I made sure to abide by the most critical food pyramid of my own with the foundation centered around cheese.
Note that eating healthily and dieting are not equivalent. Practicing peace with food can complement both, but it truly depends on the circumstances. For instance, I follow a vegan diet, thereby relinquishing entire food groups (i.e. meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy) because I do not want to financially support the eradication and exploitation of the lives of sentient animals. However, I have a relatively high sense of balance and accordance with the foods I consume, enjoy the meals I create, and expand my horizon whenever I can so as long as my choices are morally harmonious with saving animals. Another example: I personally choose not to drink alcohol because, truthfully, it does not taste good to me and I don’t feel any better. If alcohol tasted like the most luxurious kombucha or orange soda, then that would be an entirely different story. My 21st birthday taught me the hard way; while I did not suffer a hangover, I recognized that I only drank alcohol for the sake of drinking.
Given my last post addressing the various plans that people use to recover from exuberantly restrictive and unsustainable diets, I mention how I no longer follow intuitive eating. This may sound terrible on the surface–even more so that I abide by certain food rules, but hear me out. These guidelines are not ones I necessitate, but I simply choose to adhere to because they prompt me to eat healthier, feel more energized and lively, and aid other causes such as animal welfare. You may find yourself following some of these as well as others of your own. The deal is that they aren’t exactly “rules” that you beat yourself up about if they are not complied to once in a while.
As a disclaimer, the principles below ought not to be utilized as medical advice nor how you should eat. Please seek professional guidance if you have any uncertainty as to how or what to do in these circumstances.
- Do not eat less than two hours before going to bed. One of the WORST feelings in the world for me is sleeping with a stomach that has just been packed with food, even if an hour has passed. It happened to me recently where my parents had to cook late and I felt like absolute crap.
- No consumption of animal products. Veganism, of course! You can read more into why I went vegan linked here.
- Fast for 14-16 hours–consume all your food between the hours of 12 P.M.-8 P.M or 11 A.M.-7 P.M.. As of lately, I have been eating closer to 1 P.M.-8 P.M. (the actual IF window permits 1 P.M.-9 P.M.), but have been following intermittent fasting about 90% of the time (we’ll say throughout the whole year). I like IF because it gives my body more time to digest food and a longer window for staying hydrated. Moreover, who doesn’t like bigger meals?
- Eat enough protein, fats, carbohydrates, and fiber–no more or less. Granted, we all need to nourish ourselves plentifully with the right balances of macronutrients. No deprivation involved, but at the same time, no excessive overeating is performed either.
- Consume plenty of vegetables. Since they are abundant with micronutrients, fiber, and extremely versatile, I prioritize vegetables of any kind in my diet, such as broccoli, cabbage, onions, garlic, cauliflower, kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, kabocha squash, eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers, and the list extends on and on!
- Do not drink or consume too much caffeine. I love chocolate, matcha, and green tea. However, if I consume or drink too much caffeine sources, I end up wrecking my sleep, which is not optimal for my epilepsy.
- Hit all targets for micronutrients, including vitamins and minerals. Every few weeks or so, I track my macronutrients and micronutrients on Cronometer to confirm that all my levels for each vitamin, mineral, and macronutrient have been met by at least 100%. However, since I have been counting these for a long time in high school and the beginning of my years in university, I can easily detect which foods are high in certain macros and micros, which is why I do not always track.
- No eating rancid food. There is nothing I despise more than wasting food, but there are times where they expire before I can eat them or if storage conditions are faulty. It sucks! That being said, it is much better to not risk consuming anything pathogenic that likely would pose sickness to you than try to chug it down, nose-plugged, and hope for the best. You may think this is a waste of money, but compare that to how much you’d need to spend on medicine or a trip to the emergency room.
- Chug more than enough water. Hydration is key for healthier skin, sharper cognition, a more efficient metabolism, and overall physiological optimization.
- Higher fiber and protein sources should be eaten closer to the former half of the day. These macronutrients take more time to digest and help with satiation, so I prefer to eat most of my fiber and protein in the first meal–they help me make more practical food choices throughout the rest of the day. With this in mind, everyone’s preference is different in this case.
- No alcohol. Again, not healthy for my epilepsy. Also, not organoleptically appealing to me.
- Raw. Sweet. Potatoes. Are. Forbidden. Unless you never want to move from the bed again, don’t eat them.
- Take a multivitamin that contains B12, vitamin D, minerals, and all B vitamins. Never, EVER, rely solely on foods for B12. It is insanely challenging to fully metabolize and absorb 100% of the B12 in your foods, no matter how rich they are. Even animal products such as meat, poultry, and eggs may not be the most reliable sources. Vegans and vegetarians need to be mindful as well, ensuring they understand how critical it is to substantiate their RDI for B12.
- You don’t always have to follow these rules! Life happens. Sometimes I do not hit all targets for micronutrients because I would rather have samples of vegan cake and almond butter instead of a green smoothie for breakfast. Alternatively, there are days where I worry about the insane amount of fiber I’ve consumed or excessive vitamin A intake (I’m sorry, I love Japanese sweet potatoes and kabocha too much!). For 90% of the time, I act in accordance with these principles to feel the best.
Do you follow any food rules? What are the best ones you abide by?