I have a less than conventional, and a sometimes unpopular view on the diets that are trending these days. So if you are avidly following a regimented diet of today’s trend, and enjoying it? You can feel free to exit the post.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I went totally vegan in my early 20’s, it was at the same time as the peak of my eating disorder. I was running dozens of miles a week, and not eating NEARLY enough to replenish my body. Now, I was unhealthy mostly because of my exercise anorexia, but the depletion of certain nutrients in my vegan diet didn’t help either. I had more knowledge than the average person on nutrition at this time, but it was only self-researched. So, to be honest, not really accredited information.
Now, post-certifications (6 to be exact, insert pat on back :-P), I know that the way I was “being vegan” wasn’t healthy. My body needed the proteins and calories I wasn’t getting, which led to a crazy depletion in iron, as well as other vitamins, on top of my weight loss. And now, I know that unless it is right for YOU, your BODY, and your HEALTH, it’s my opinion that none of these diets are totally healthy.
Take it easy… I can hear the gasps through my laptop! Let me explain myself.
The newest diet trend that you hear a ton about is Keto. This diet is based off of one’s body being in the state of ketosis, elevated ketone bodies typically achieved through a low carbohydrate diet. Now, this makes the body burn fat as energy instead of the normally-consumed carbs that are usually converted into energy. Therefore it is easier for someone to burn fat… and that’s where they get people. With the magic words: ‘burn fat’.
Now, scientifically it has been shown to have benefits against diabetes and Alzheimers. But I’m sure these benefits are when it is done correctly, and well, and I’m not here to argue those benefits. But I’ve got some major concerns.
Ideally you should be limiting your daily carb intake to 20 – 50 g a day on Keto. So by the numbers, you could eat several tablespoons of butter (as it has 0 g of carbohydrates) and you SHOULDN’T eat a banana (which has 20 g of carbohydrates). Now, I don’t know about you, but that just feeeeeeeels wrong to me. Not to mention lots of breakfast foods consist of carbohydrates: oatmeal, toast, fruit, yogurt, etc. So if you default to another most common breakfast, you could be eating eggs and bacon several times a week. So you may be limiting your carb intake, but what is happening to your cholesterol!?!?! What sacrifices in our health are we making to lose a little weight/fat? Omiting some of the healthiest fats that our body needs? Adding more unhealthy fats and not eating things that we know are healthy, like FRUIT!?! Sorry, but it just sounds backwards, and pretty unbalanced.
Now let’s talk about the Vegan diet. Which, yes, I have already admitted that I took part in for a significant amount of time. Do I know these days that there can be harmful chemicals in meat and dairy with the way that corporations process and make things these days? Absolutely! Do I KNOW that there are also harmful chemicals in some vegetables with the way that some farms grow them? Yup! Do I know that you can get VERY healthy proteins from non-animal sources. For sure!
Get to the point Keegan….
So I’m going to sum up my issue with diets like vegan AND the gluten free diet with one story: I used to know someone who preached the vegan diet, and at an event a friend of his was giving him a hard time and said that the cookies there were vegan. He was thrilled! He walked to the plate to have one until his buddy broke the news that he was messing with him, they weren’t vegan. This reaction literally doesn’t make sense to me. Read on…
I have the same reaction to people saying that a loaf of banana bread or blueberry muffin is healthy just because it’s gluten free. That’s not the case and I have to say, it’s starting to drive me crazy!! Guess what’s vegan and technically gluten free? SUGAR (see note at bottom for more info on sugar’s gluten)!! An ingredient that we KNOW to be one of the most toxic things that we could put in our body. But because of these diets and what they promote, we quickly forget that. We sooner succumb to the trendy words instead of the sensical ones.
Do you buy things that are labeled “gluten free” or “dairy free” at the grocery store because you think they are healthier? Check the ingredients! These items are likely replacing those original gluten/vegan components with something less healthy, and actually fake! I totally promote making these things at home so that you know what’s going into it, but as consumers we are sucked into buying these products because of the trendy words. Now, you can buy things that have more NUTRIENTS than white pasta, for example, but that’s if you are buying things like black bean pasta, quinoa noodles, etc. You can’t count on the gluten-free items to contain the same vitamins as those that do contain gluten.
But that doesn’t make the regular pasta’s unhealthy. If you have celiacs disease, then absolutely they are unhealthy. But a lot of people who have issues with gluten actually have issues with wheat! Can the gluten proteins be difficult to digest for millions of Americans? Absolutely, but that doesn’t make it unhealthy. Just that you can occasionally find healthy alternatives to avoid discomfort.
I’m not trying to hate too much on these diets :-/ but I beg of you to ask your doctor! Or a nutritionist, or someone with legit training and certifications that can look at your medical background and predispositions. Like I said in the beginning of this post, do I believe in the health benefits for THOSE THAT NEED IT? YES!! And while I have several nutritional certifications, I would never tell someone to go vegan, or omit gluten, or eat paleo. I’m not a doctor, and I don’t know what’s best for your body and your health. Neither do a lot of people who post that information out there! We know there are a bajillion blogs and instagram profiles out there that tell you they can “omit sugar” or “lose weight fast”, but just because they have a good body and seem healthy does not mean they know what they’re talking about.
How I live my healthiest life…
After 5 years of suffering through several forms of eating disorders, 3 hospitalizations which led to an emergency surgery, and therapy ever since, I would never assume to tell someone what’s healthy for them, physically or mentally. Will I continue to share good recipes? Absolutely! But just because I make a recipe for gluten free waffles made with almond flour instead doesn’t mean that I’m advocating for you to eat gluten free.
Truth is, I incorporate a little bit of all of these diets into my daily life. I limit my intake of processed gluten and when I make things at home try and make them with more nutritional ingredients. I make paleo recipes every now and then to increase my intake of healthy proteins and vegetables. I take a page out of the Keto book by omitting unhealthy carbs. But I will always prioritize balance.
For me, I know that if I completely omit something from my diet, I will then splurge later. I also know that with as much activity as I do in a week/day, my body needs nutrients to recover, rebuild, and repeat. So if you want to try one of these diets, I am not saying not to, I just ask that you do your research, talk to a health professional, and make sure that it’s right for you and you’re not going to do more harm than good for your future self. Because your future self may be mad at you if you don’t :-/
*Sugar Note: “Pure sugar is gluten-free. Most sugar comes either from sugar beets or from sugar cane. Even though sugar cane is a grass plant and therefore a distant relative to the gluten grains wheat, barley, and rye, it does not contain the harmful gluten protein” – source: Very Well Fit