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Thursday, January 17, 2013

I saw an article today that was comparing a very low-carb diet and intermittent fasting. There were two terms it used that I found interesting:

Dietary Schemes

I really like this first term for some reason. When we scheme, we plot and plan - often with a hint of being sneaky or tricky / clever about it. So many times when someone wants to accomplish something with their food - whether it is burning fat faster or bulking up muscle or non-medically trying to improve their health or even making a statement about a moral or ethical belief or issue - they turn to one or another dietary scheme.

I think of it as different from fad diets for one key reason. In my mind a fad diet tends to be very unrealistic about long-term sustainability. No one ever plans to live on the grapefruit diet or the cabbage soup diet for the rest of their lives. People do plan to eat a vegetarian diet or a primal diet or other such schemes. In addition, fad diets often sound absurd and use anecdotal evidence as their whole proof. Dietary schemes, on the other hand, usually have at least some science or logic (right or wrong) on which they are based.

Demanding Diets

This was sort of defined as being a diet that goes counter to the way "most people eat" and often requiring "a drastic change in eating habits and priorities". For someone to eat a demanding diet requires rejecting food items that others consider normal. Eating out can become awkward as restaurants rarely cater to the dietary scheme. They also require a lot more attention to nutrient balances, a lot more planning and sometimes a lot more preparation.

This reminded me of trying to eat "health food" style -- following my mother's example. I remember rows of brown vitamin and mineral bottles, grainy seeds mixed into everything, so much focus on how modern agriculture produced food without much nutrition so we had to supplement it all in. To eat like that required pretty much baring the cupboards and starting fresh, replacing white flour with whole wheat and so on.

The time, effort and cost were demanding. (And the end result was not as appealing, though I don't consider that a flaw of the scheme so much as a lack of cooking skill on my part at the time.)


I think what I found intriguing about that was my own reaction to just about ANY dietary scheme.

The only named dietary scheme I ever really tried was the Zone Diet (guess it would be called a high-protein diet). The younger brother I was sharing an apartment with wanted to try it, so we figured out the menu. We had to do a special shopping trip to fill the kitchen with the necessary items and spend extra time checking recipes or using the ones provided.

Ultimately I've come to understand that I'm not willing to make drastic changes to my culinary comfort zone. Avoid gluten? Ain't gonna happen. Go low-carb? Nix meat? Dairy? All animal products? Unlikely to ever happen.

However, this doesn't leave me eating junk, junk, and junk.

There are so many possibilities in terms of what we can eat. I find it amusing at times to eat foods labeled as fitting within various dietary schemes. Vegetarian chili? Certainly! This omnivore is quite happy to include plant foods side-by-side with her animal foods. Gluten-free desserts? Chocolate meringue cookies and flourless domes are both DELICIOUS! I don't have to be on some sort of dietary scheme to pick yummy foods that just happen to fit within that scheme as well. Unprocessed foods? Have plenty of those ... right alongside my packaged and processed ones.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Love this blog. I think you are right no one plans on doing the grapefruit diet for life. Being healthy, getting portions right, taking a walk, those are all things we can do for life. Those should be our goals.
    1864 days ago
    Great blog filled with many good points. Thanks for articulating this point of view.
    It shows that one size (diet) doesn't fit all and we each need to find our own way.
    1864 days ago
    I always laugh when people say "What DIET did you lose your weight on?" I hate that. All I did was stop eating junk and make sure I was getting the proper amount of nutrients in my food intake. Food proportions is alot of my and other peoples problem. I still eat pizza...I just eat it without the pepperoni. I still eat cake...I just limit the portion and I don't eat it daily. If I had to stick to a diet and limit my favorite foods, I would not make it.
    1864 days ago
    I love both those terms - I work with some people who do seem to pretty successfully live on demanding diets. Some of them do it because they have conviction about why it's good for them, some others do it because they have wicked allergies or sensitivities that make life really really difficult if they eat gluten or dairy. I love trying new things, but I don't think I'm ever going to be able to commit to a true "dietary scheme".
    1864 days ago
    Excellent blog. When people ask me what I've done to lose my weight, I tell them. But I always add the caveat, "you have to do what works for you". I try to eat fairly low carb, but I always use Saturday as a cheat day where I eat whatever I want (which is usually pizza!). This has worked for me because psychologically I know that I am not banning any foods, I just wait until Saturday to have some chocolate chip cookies and other various carb heavy foods.
    1865 days ago
    Thank you for writing this. We have a lot in common. I've never been a purist in diet or in type of exercise or in how to best measure "health". I understand those who have to modify because of medical problems and those following specific schemes, but fortunately, I've found what works for me - right down the middle of the road.
    1865 days ago
    My general plan is to eat whatever I want, just little portions, and to keep within my calorie range. Some days I do better than others!

    Chocolate meringue cookies??? Care to share the recipe?? YUM!

    1865 days ago
    I've been reading and learning that a lot from maintenance people. Their big tip is to find what works for YOU so you don't fall off of it when you do achieve your goals.
    1865 days ago
  • SAMI199
    emoticon emoticon emoticon

    I like your approach & you certainly have had the results to prove that with determination
    & hard work we can be the best we can be! You are such an inspiration!

    1865 days ago
    You and I share a moderation of food consumption, which I totally appreciate. The only exception is that I am a pescatarian (however, I was raised that way so it's kinda natural to me, and doesn't really limit me too much in relation to eating out).

    I will note that I don't have any allergies or health conditions that regulate my diet.

    I enjoy processed foods, and whole foods. I eat canned veggies and fresh veggies. I have enjoyed gf things, but don't pursue a gf lifestyle.

    I also eat junk, rarely, but I eat it. Last night, I had chick-o-stick candy. It was AWESOME, and within my calorie and nutrient range.

    I respect people that choose a restrictive diet: everyone has their own path to health and well being. I just know that I need moderation to make a successful lifestyle change- it includes ALL the foods.

    Thanks for sharing and reassuring my path to health.

    (Edited for a closed parenthesis. I always leave those dangling!)
    1865 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/17/2013 1:52:53 PM
    I was successful in losing weight by going low carb, but in the end the weight returned because I like carby foods. Your conclusion mirrors my own. I like foods from all the diets and eat them with gusto.
    1865 days ago
    I have tried several of those 'demanding diets' (low carb, Fit for Life, Eat to Live). It was a good thing for me because it taught me A LOT about how my body (and mind) respond to certain foods or food groups.
    It also taught me that indeed it takes a lot of time and effort to eat in a 'nontraditional' way. But I now know that I feel much better, have more energy, less colds and other complaints when I eat as litte processed foods as possible and as many vegetables as I can - within a certain 'convenience' zone.
    1865 days ago
    Great attitude!
    1865 days ago
    Whatever works, make me feel healthy, gives me energy. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, is there? emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon These are a few of my favorite things! emoticon
    1865 days ago
    Moderation. emoticon
    1865 days ago
    emoticon I really wish I had your ability to write out my thoughts like this. Had to giggle at the mention of the cabbage soup diet. I've watched friends do this one.... What a waste of good vegetables.
    1865 days ago
    Interesting emoticon
    1865 days ago
    What a great blog enjoyed it.
    1865 days ago
    1865 days ago
    emoticon blog emoticon
    1865 days ago
    emoticon blog. We do have a vast array of options out there which leads us to finding something that works best for us. You seem to have found a nice balance when it comes to eating emoticon I try to stay away from the processed food (read:try lol) because some of it triggers the "over indulge" switch in my brain; trial and error shows me that. See though even as I type this, I have a bag of skinny cow dark chocolate clusters on my desk emoticon Luckily I can handle them just fine. Keep up the emoticon work Blue.
    1865 days ago
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