Eat What you Crave: The Natural Diet hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday! I’m guessing one or two, if not most, of you did a little over-eating this weekend. I certainly did my best in that department!

Instead of talking about why you shouldn’t feel guilty (honestly, you shouldn’t), or how to get rid of the new pounds trying to make a home of your midsection with a  quick fix, I want to focus on eating as whole.

What People Do

People usually fall into one of two categories: A) Unhappy with their bodies and constantly struggle to loose excess weight; or B) Unhappy with their bodies so give up completely. Very rarely do we see the third type of person: C) Happy with their bodies and living comfortably healthy.

Here’s a quick break down of some of the different “diets” people in category A tend to utilize:

Juice Fasting – Consume nothing but juice for an extended period. The other day I saw a series, with the lowest intensity advertised for three days of nothing but juices. Of course, these are vitamin and mineral packed through vegetables and fruits, right? There’s just nothing for our body to actually digest. While this might be beneficial if you’re extremely healthy, do yoga every day and have perfect willpower, for the rest of us I don’t necessarily think it’s a good idea.

Miracle Diets – Specific foods and quantities for a period of 3-7 days, with the aim of losing a rapid amount of weight very quickly. I remember my Mom doing this after the holidays growing up. Of course it worked initially, and some are pretty well balanced. Doing this almost always results in adding the weight back afterword.

Cutting Carbs – No breads, flours, potato’s pastas, vegetables, etc. While there is something to be said for cutting out simple carbs to a certain extent, cutting them out altogether usually leads to a breakdown binge. It also hurts other parts of your diet when there’s not enough fiber in your system.

Vegetarian Diet – Cutting out meat all together is often a lifestyle choice. And if you’re reasons for doing so are on moral grounds, I fully support you. From a health point of view, however, this isn’t how our bodies are designed. We are made to consume a diet consisting of plants, animal products, and animal proteins.

Raw Food Diet – The next step to the veggie diet; not consuming anything that ever needs to be cooked. While there are a lot of benefits to consuming foods as close to their natural form as possible, some things just need to be cooked. And sometimes we need the minerals/vitamins/etc that come from those cooked items.

What Our Bodies Do

Digestion begins from the time we start sensing food. Whether it be visual or aromatic, our body knows food is coming and starts warming up the machinery.

With that first taste, our body sends a signal to the stomach saying “prepare for insert type of food here” and we are off to the races. With that, the appropriate amounts of acids and other chemicals are dumped into the stomach, and it waits for the workload to arrive.

You can see how juicing could become a problem here – stomach is all ready to digest but nothings coming. So those acids just sit there and are left to do nothing.

So the stomach gets everything started, breaking down carbs the fastest, then proteins, and finally fats. (Things like salt, water, alcohol, drugs are immediately broken down and absorbed in the bloodstream.) The small intestine finishes the job and puts all nutrients into the blood. The large intestine compiles all the waste for the system, cleans it out, and sends it packing.

What We Should Do

First, let’s look at what a healthy weight truly is. I quite like this calculator. It gives an ideal, but it also give a reasonable range. And it’s just as important to make sure you have enough weight as it is to make sure you don’t have too much.

That being said, THROW OUT YOUR SCALE!

When I lived in France, I remember learning the vocabulary for “watching your weight” was colloquially “watch your waist.” I think this is Brilliant! What does it really matter what the actual number is, especially when it’s inconsistent, as long as you fit into your pants?

Since then, I’ve not owned a scale. I have made a point of focusing on how my clothes fit over anything else; which has left me very happy, and consistently in a healthy weight range.

Second, define a diet that is reasonable and healthy. Anything you consume should have some nutritional value – so no snickers bars for a snack.

Rules for a proper diet:

  • Half of what you eat should be green – kudos if it’s also raw.
  • A serving size is your palm. You can have a serving of protein and serving of veggies.
  • Plan in a snack – you will probably get hungry between meals.
  • Give yourself permission to cheat – I allow myself three meals a week where I can eat whatever my heart desires.
  • Plan your meals in advance (good to do before you buy groceries for the week).
  • Don’t plan meals outside your comfort zone! If you want steak, eat steak. Just eat a proper portion, and pair it with something green!

None of this will lose you 15lbs in 5 days, but it will put you at a healthy weight and keep you there without too much thought. A truly effective diet is a regime that you stick to, so that on rare days like thanksgiving, you can overeat and not really see any side effects!

Extra Things You Can Do That are Still Good for Your Body

1. Bitters – Taste some before you eat. It gets gastrin into your stomach, and makes digestion more efficient/effective for your body. You can consume bitters, or just swish around in your mouth and spit it out to be effective.

2. Fermented Foods – Particularly if it’s produced locally, will carry the flora your body needs to stay healthy. The wider the variety in the system, the stronger your constitution will be. This can include kimchi, sour kraut, beet kavas, local beers, etc. If you’re really daring, make your own!

3. Get on a Rhythm – Your body will like you for it. Eating at approximately the same times every day, sleeping at the same times (yes, even on the weekends), being active at the same time, all if this lets your body get a system down and makes it run more efficiently.

4. Listen to Your Cravings – Don’t eat the salad just to eat the salad. Sometimes when you crave a burger it’s because your body needs iron more than it needs the nutritionally deficit iceberg lettuce. It usually knows what it needs and will tell you in the form of cravings. (Be careful of a sweet tooth though – opt for fruits instead of candies). If you really aren’t comfortable eating the burger, add beef to you salad.