Food is my life. No, I am not overweight. No, I do not eat my feelings. But my vacations do revolve around local eateries that have the best reviews on Yelp, and I am happiest when my hunger is satisfied.
When I finally started cooking for myself, I reveled in experimentation. I tried vegetarian meals; I tried vegan meals; and my most recent endeavor has been paleo. When my husband and I began training for a 15K race coming up in March (talk to some of my oldest friends, and you will find that “Kate” and “running” are two words do not belong in the same universe, much less the same sentence), we joined a crossfit group that recommended the “paleo lifestyle.”
Always willing to try new recipes, we gave it a try. In a nutshell, to eat paleo, one must give up all grains (yes, this includes bread, rice, pasta, and even granola), legumes (beans, peas, etc.), and dairy (MY PRECIOUS CHEESE). Needless to say, this diet does not play well with weekend plans, but I did learn a few things when we dipped our feet (ok, toes) into the paleo pool.
- Too many things to remember. Though I understand the thought-process behind staying away from preservatives, and the fact that “all” legumes have not been processed legitimately, I don’t agree that eating hummus will shorten my life much more than standing in front of a microwave will cause cancer.
- Live a little. The phrase “live a little” applies to both everyday life and everyday meals. I already ate what most would consider a super healthy lifestyle. I don’t remember the last time I ate anything fried; I substitute all high-fat products (like mayonnaise and cream cheese) with “smarter” fats (like avocado and coconut); quinoa and lentils are a regular part of my vocabulary. HOWEVER, if I am in the mood for a potato chip or even – God forbid – a French fry, I am going to treat myself. Because, life’s too short. And apparently even shorter now that I had that fry…but at least I will enjoy my short life.
- Food is not the enemy. Sometimes I think that these diets or, excuse me, lifestyles, can become obsessive. Though this way of eating does not necessarily encourage you to count calories as it is more focused on where the food comes from and how it was preserved, it can still promote the mindset that a potato will take a time off of your life.
- Genes simply have a lot to do with it. I have yet to see any hard research proving that this way of eating makes a life any longer than those 110-year-old Southerners who grew up on biscuits and gravy.
These observations lead me to my conclusion that eating a balanced meal and incorporating a few of the best aspects of each diet that appeals to you will make you a healthier and happier person than any single diet or “health food lifestyle” ever could.
The best dieting advice I have ever seen came from a blog that I stumbled upon called What a Dietitian Eats. Dietitian Chloe Phillips basically recommends never forgetting breakfast, a whole grain form of carbohydrates, healthy snacking, and exercise (among other things).
So don’t avoid your favorite restaurant because you would rather order the chicken sandwich than a limp salad. Go, and enjoy that chicken sandwich on wheat bread! Just try to avoid the fries (unless it’s a special occasion, of course).
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off