I've been writing about holistic health for the past six years, and prior to that I'd been on every diet known to man. Looking back to my chubby cheeks in college and in the beginnings of my professional career, many of the diets that I attempted didn't work. We all have diet rules to live by, but in reality, many of them may actually be keeping us from our ideal weights – and worse, steering us away from good nutrition habits.
My diet is defined by what I've learned researching, reporting, and writing on holistic health over the years. But more than anything else, I've learned what NOT to do to maintain a balance of good nutrition and healthy weight. Here's my list of diet rules that you shouldn't follow:
1. Milk does a body good
I do eat dairy, but not just any dairy. If you drink conventional milk and other dairy products all those hormones and antibiotics may do your body some real harm. This is a category that you can't skimp on – buy organic milk products or skip it entirely. When you eat cheese, choose a high quality, local, minimally processed, chemical-free cheese. Cheese should be a treat, paired with a fancy glass of biodynamic wine – it shouldn't be a part of every meal.
2. Avoid fat
I eat tons of fat in the form of avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. These are allmonounsaturated fats that lower your cholesterol, keep blood sugar levels under control, and are good for brain health. Avocados in particular are great sources of fiber, potassium, and vitamins C, K, folate, and B6. In terms of fat, avoid eating too much of the unhealthy fats like trans fats and saturated fats found in processed foods.
3. Watch your carbohydrates
As a vegetarian, I eat a lot of carbohydrates. I find that when I try and skip the carbs I end up loading up on sweets to find satiation. Instead, I choose quinoa, barley, oats, and sprouted grain bread. I choose grains that are high in fiber and protein so that I feel fuller for a longer period of time.
4. Vegetarian meals are always healthier
If you're eating a diet of french fries, cheese pizza, and soda, you're eating a vegetarian diet. But that doesn't mean you're eating any healthier. A diet loaded with saturated fats, sugar, and chemicals is bad for you, vegetarian or not.
5. We could all use a good juice detox
I'm not a fan of the drastic juice detox diets that have become all the rage. Every diet alteration that I've successfully accomplished has always come gradually. From giving up meat, to going mostly organic and unprocessed, to filtering my water, and switching out kombucha for soda – these changes took time. Drastic diets don't inspire us to change, instead they inspire us to deal with the pain for a set period of time and then go back to our old habits. I do enjoy a kale smoothie each day as a part of larger whole foods diet, but as for a juice detox, I'm not convinced.
Image: Alan Cleaver