Monday, May 26, 2014

About the Food I Eat

I decided not to say diet in the title because I know that if you're literate - I'm guessing you are by this point - you skip a lot of posts titled diet just like I do. So, full disclosure, I'm going to talk about diet a little bit here today. This is going to be a little background into my recent diet changes to lay the groundwork for a some future posts.

Steak, is a red meat.
Quick English course: Diet can be a noun or a verb. The two noun meanings? 1) the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats. 2) a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.

Most of us forgot about number one decades ago. Insert your own joke about how predicable it is that our society abandoned meaning one for version two. I feel the first definition contains a really interesting word that is missing from our diets today: habitually. I could write 1000 words about what I think about our fondness for fad diets, but this is going to be about how I've been shaping my diet in recent years. I'll share more about where I'm at now and where I'm trying to go in a future post; today is more about the journey.

About three years ago this month I started transitioning the way I looked at health. For a couple years before that I had gotten very focused on trying to build muscle mass in the most at-home, mid-20s, desperate way. I was lifting a lot of gym-rat type weights and transitioned my college diet to a protein focused one. It wasn't all stupid, I learned to put priorities into my meal planning and cut out wasteful calories in favor of the protein that I felt would help me attain my goals. Finally I accepted my body type and realized that being bulked up had zero benefits for my lifestyle. I started transitioning my workouts to more functional strength types: cardio, core, dynamic movements that combined multiple muscle groups. And with it I slowed down my protein goals and started thinking about healthy eating overall. 

The first step was simply trying to eat "healthy." I followed all the conventional tactics and cut down on sweets, ate a little more produce, etc. Around May of 2012, Beth and I started cleaning up the grains in our diet. That meant a switch to conventional wisdom's whole grains. It meant updating our breads and pastas, but didn't really require any new menu planning.

The following January, after doing some reading on Paleo eating and discussing the benefits with family we deciding to switch from cleaning up to cleaning out grains entirely. There's a lot of information out there about Paleo - I strongly feel like there's a difference between what has become the Paleo diet and what has always been a Paleo methodology to eating. I'll cover that in the future too.

In our transition to Paleo we went completely clean for a short time, maybe 45 days and then introduced a few things back to see how they impacted us. Since then, we've been enjoying the best health of our lives along with a flood of awesome and creative new menu options. 

The journey through the last few years is really goes back to diet's first meaning. It's about how we habitually eat. We have never adhered to a fad diet that we've forced ourselves into overnight. We've never gone through the kitchen and thrown out boxes and boxes of foods that "we're no longer allowed to eat." Each time we've made incremental changes in our diet we've focused on the menu staples that most needed to be addressed and found solutions that would allow us to be successful. By consistently making sustainable changes to our diet we've improved the way we habitually eat in a significant way.