What We Want and What We Need
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
I mentioned in my previous blogs that I attempted veganism once in my past. Some may argue that I wasn't doing it correctly. They would be right. I abandoned it because it is not a lifestyle within my core beliefs. I would never be able to adhere to it. The faux meat substitutes were highly processed foods, and that did not fit with what I wanted for myself. Veganism without faux meat was an even further stretch, and not something that would fit for me either.
At a later point, I tried flexitarianism. I thought it would be the best of both worlds. It's not because I have an ethical problem with eating animal protein because I do not. I take a native American view of hunting and eating meat. The animal gave its life for me, and it deserves respect. By consuming the animal, it is now becoming a part of me.
I attempted flexitarianism because I thought it would be a good middle ground. As I could not be vegan, I knew I could not be vegetarian either. But maybe I could reduce my meat consumption by only eating it for dinner. This seemed like a great idea.
I did it for about a month. I felt fine, and I enjoyed the food very much. No processed frankenfoods, and I didn't have to eat faux meat substitutes. I ate yogurt and cereal for breakfast, quinoa and beans for lunch, and beef or chicken for dinner. It was a diet that I could support for a lifetime.
Except one problem.
My body didn't like it.
Mentally, the diet was there for me. But physically?
I didn't lose or gain weight, however, I was getting fatter. My scale weight stayed the same, but I could tell by how my clothes were getting tighter that I was losing muscle and gaining fat. I was baffled as to why.
The worst was when I looked in the mirror. I had dark circles appear under my eyes. I don't normally wear much makeup, but the dark circles forced me to wear concealer and foundation to cover it up. I also developed a disfiguring stye under my left eye. I didn't understand why I seemed to be deteriorating so quickly right before my eyes. It was frustrating, frightening and alarming.
According to my food logs, I was doing everything correct. I stayed within my calorie ranges. Avoiding meat until supper time meant that protein and fat stayed very low, which at the time I thought was a good thing. This was the best I had ever done to adhere to the standard low-fat recommended diet.
It was only by chance that I eventually linked my symptoms to my diet. I took a 'break' from my flexitarian schedule. With the increased protein, the sunken, black circles under my eyes disappeared. The stye took several more months to fully go away. After that, I concluded that even though I fundamentally liked the diet, I had to abandon it. This eventually lead me towards a lower grain, high vegetable, and moderate protein diet. AKA low-carb.
I'm not a carnivore or herbivore; I'm an omnivore. Veggies+protein, and this is what my body responds to.
Don't misunderstand what I'm saying. I am not saying that because this was bad for me, therefore it is bad for everyone. I can't really know if your diet is right for you any more than you can know if mine is right for me. I'm not you. You're not me.
I have a problem with the dogmatism that there is a one size fits all solution to weight management. Dietary needs can vary due to genetic predispositions, allergies, and/or activity levels. I would eat very differently if I trained for a marathon, for example.
I'm not a fitness or diet professional, and I make no money from it. I don't have anything to gain if anyone follows the same diet that I do. If there's any agenda that I push, it's to suggest that if the diet you're following isn't working for you, then maybe it isn't the right one.
Even if it fundamentally fits your personal vision. The truth is the truth whether we believe in it or not. If your body doesn't like the food and exercise stimulus you're giving it, you don't get the results you want. What we want and what we need are not always in alignment, unfortunately.