Why My "Diet" Will Never Be a Diet

In a world full of dietary restrictions and fads, I’ll continue to dodge the bandwagons. Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo, Keto, IIFYM, and Whole30 are great diets —for some people. I don’t want to be a player on those teams. Not because they’re bad, but because there is just so much more to focus on that placing myself in a category that withholds me from basic freedoms in life. I say that only because I’ve been there and those categories did hold me back.

Name a diet and consider it another bullet-point on the ever-growing list I like to call “Diets I’ll Never Do”

Why, you ask? Because my goal is to strive for balance. Honestly, I don’t want to analyze my every move in attempts to maintaining the perfect body, the best-functioning digestive system, the most radiant skin, the smallest carbon footprint. I love being in shape. I love digesting food the way my body is intended to. I love having clear skin. And yes, I LOVE being cautious about my life’s impact on the environment. On the other hand, I also love not caring about every meticulous detail sometimes.

We're gifted—what—about 80 years on this planet? How many of those years do you see yourself saying no to things at the expense of fitting comfortably into the category you’re in? I’ve been there and getting out of there was the healthiest thing I could have ever done for my mind and body.

Take it from someone who has spent a grand portion of her existence struggling with a warped image of health, wretched eating habits, restrictive mindsets, and the obsession to control every inch of her life. I’ve absolutely been there. I’ve done every ab workout known to man. I’ve counted calories and I’ve stopped eating when I’m still hungry because my tracker told me I should have been full. I’ve said no to things I love because they were made with ingredients that aren’t good for you. Here I am, with an heart full of immense gratitude for learning from my past, to tell you that there have been times that I said no to getting cinnamon rolls with my best friend because I was so scared that all the hard work I’d put into getting abs would be flushed down the toilet. There have been times that I actually felt anxious when my dad would surprise me with ice cream because I didn’t want to wake up the next morning with a breakout. There have been stupid amounts of times where I bailed on plans with my friends and going away parties because I didn’t want to be put in a situation where I had to uncomfortably say no to food that I couldn’t—thought I couldn’t—have. Last Christmas, I got a Reese’s Tree in my stocking. My FAVORITE candy of all time. I tucked that thing in my drawer and it sat there. For weeks. I wanted it so bad, I was so afraid to eat something with added sugar and not-so-great ingredients in it. I’ve lived through so many moments that I would safely consider moments where I wasn’t living at all. I loved to be in control. I loved leaving no room for error.

Truthfully, this is where most of the errors crept in. The reality of it was diets and health-trends made me lose the control I thought I had.

I have no reason to confine myself to a category that stops me from experiencing life in it’s full. I eat a lot of whole foods: fruits, vegetables, legumes. I don’t eat a lot of dairy, but I love greek yogurt so, when I want to, I eat some. I prioritize making plant-based meals because I understand the ethical and environmental impacts the meat industry has but also because I just really love garbanzo beans. Majority of my days go meatless for reasons more than one. I tend to crave plant based proteins over meat, buying a can of beans and a bag of rice is FAR cheaper than buying meat (and we’re all about balling and dining on a budget here), and it’s definitely encouraging to understand how I’m lowering my carbon footprint by not pouring money into industries that are hurting our planet. However, that doesn’t mean I’ll say no to sushi when I want it... God knows I pretty much always want sushi.

I have rediscovered the beauty of healthy eating and balance. Balance, to me, isn’t counting numbers on the weekdays and—I hate this mindset— allowing myself to let go a little more on the weekends.

Health shouldn’t be about restriction because health isn’t restriction. It’s not 80/20. It’s not eating less potato because your numbers are high or eating more protein than you can stomach because your numbers are low. It’s following your intuition, trusting what your body is telling you. Eating snickerdoodle ice cream when you’re craving some and eating broccoli (with tahini) when you’re craving that… and saying no to those things when you’re wanting something else.

That is the only diet I ever want to follow… and that’s why my “diet” will never be a diet!