There is a beautiful movement going on in the world right now towards health and nutrition. Leading a healthy lifestyle is becoming easier and more common, with more organic and all natural options popping up left and right. And at the beginning it's simple. Avoid processed foods and sugar, switch to whole grains, eat more fruits and vegetables, consume "good fats," yada yada we've all heard it before. We all already know vegetables are the healthiest food on the planet, filled with powerful vitamins and enzymes.. but then it becomes more blurry.
- What do we do about dairy?
- Should we be eating carbohydrates?
- Is soy the right alternative to milk?
- Are we destroying our food by cooking it?
- Are humans meant to digest meat?
- What is this blood type diet we keep hearing about?
So I'm going to become your guinea pig (meaning you'll eat me if you're Paleo and love me if you're vegan).
I am going to try the Paleo, Blood Type, Raw Vegan, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-free and Soy-Free diets for one month each and let you know the good, the bad and the ugly. Not only will I be blogging the affects on my body along the way, but I will also get a blood test before and after each diet so I can scientifically assess the implications of each diet on my body. This will show that we literally are what we eat! Most difficult part of all? Eating meat for the first time in seven years.
I initially was going to try each diet for two weeks, but due to the wonderful feedback I have received, I have decided to stick to each diet for 4 weeks. This will give my body enough time to get over the carb, meat, sugar, cooked food crashes during the transitional phases and allow me to really be able to assess the effect of each of the diets on my body.
I stopped eating meat when I was 15 and love the effects it has had on my body. I feel more energetic, digest more easily and overall feel more light and fresh. I can eat much more food without gaining weight and never get that lethargic feeling after finishing a meal. However, I have become anemic due to years without heme sources of iron, which are more easily digested by your body than non-heme sources. I consume iron rich vegetarian foods such as lentils and sunflower seeds, yet still rely on an iron vitamin to get my daily dosage. For this study, I'm going to eat the one food that truly disgusts me. Cow. I've tried taking a bite out of a burger in the past but literally felt like I was eating a human carcass and had to spit it out.
The main aspect I want to assess in this study are the effects of meat, dairy, carbs, sugar and soy on the body. There are so many movements out there that it becomes confusing to know which one is right for your body.
While I'm eating my greek yogurt, I'm reading success stories about people who gave up dairy. Then while I'm munching on my soy yogurt, I read articles about the negative implications of soy on the body due to it's estrogen and the fact that most soy is highly processed from genetically-modified soy beans. Then when I buy almond milk yogurt, I notice there is much less protein and more sugar than in dairy yogurt. Then I hear about all of the positive benefits of goat milk's yogurt on the body.. But then again, that's dairy, which is not properly digested by the human body, and we're back to square one. (And I've lost my appetite for yogurt!)
So once and for all I'm going to give each movement four weeks and notice the effects it has on my body, so you don't have to (call me the David Blaine of nutrition). I'll be taking pictures, recording my meals and blogging along the way, so you'll have a complete understanding of each diet, step-by-step, as if you were following it yourself.
I am not doing this to lose weight but rather to notice improvements in my energy levels, concentration, digestion, fitness and overall how I feel, to determine once and for all what works with my body and what doesn't.
I am aware that four weeks is not enough time to fully recognize the implications of the diets on my body, as this takes years. However, this experiment is more to try the different lifestyles before judging them.
Many vegetarians genuinely think meat is evil, and I will admit I was one of them. However, instead of judging meat consumption, I have decided to try it and see how it reacts with my body.
The transition between diets will be difficult and my body will likely be in detox mode during these switches. I am interested in seeing the way my body reacts with these transitions to understand the science behind nutrition and the real-life effect of food on our bodies.
After experiementing with each lifestyle, I will be able to assess which I will be able to sustain and upon completion of all seven decide which diet is right for me. In a perfect world, I would try each diet for a year but I simply do not have the time. So why not give it a month?
|Bye bye Kreamy Kale Green Oatmeal!|
I will have to avoid:
- All grains (wheat, rice, oats, quinoa, barley, corn, buckwheat, amaranth, kamut, spelt, millet, buckwheat, rye, wild rice and any bread/noodle/flour made of these).. No more green oatmeal which is my daily breakfast.
- Legumes (all beans, peanuts, lentils, peas..) This is going to be difficult because I live off of peanut-butter and get most of my protein from beans.
- Refined sugar (white, brown, maple syrup, agave, honey, artificial sweeteners, Splenda, including agave and honey). I put agave nectar in everything so will have to switch to raw honey instead.
- Dairy. No more yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese, feta.. The only dairy Paleo-eaters can consume is homemade, raw, whole fat, fermented dairy which I obviously am not going to make myself, considering I live in an apartment and not on a farm. The Paleo movement states that dairy lacks enzymes and other nutrients necessary to digest it, which is why many people simply can't tolerate it. The Paleo Plan promises that if you stop eating dairy, you'll notice your sinuses clear up, less headaches, better skin and increased digestion. Guess we'll find out!
|My Soy Yogurt with Pomegranate and Balsamic Recipe|
will be banned
Next, I will try the Eat Right For Your Blood Type Diet, a lifestyle created by Dr. D'Adamo who claims that following a highly individualized diet according to your blood type is the key to unlocking the mysteries of health, disease, longevity, physical vitality and emotional strength. Through extensive research, he has devised highly specific diet plans for each blood types using a holistic approach inclusive of the body and mind, which I explain in Vampire Diet.
However, this is going to be the absolute most difficult part of the challenge for me.
As a Blood Type B, I will be encouraged to eat:
- Dairy, as Blood Type B is the only blood type that can easily digest dairy. This is going to be a bit confusing after avoiding dairy for the other diets.
- Bananas, plums, grapes, pineapple, papaya
- Deep ocean white fish (cod, flounder, sole) and salmon
- Meat, especially rabbit, vennison (deer), lamb and mutton (sheep). Just typing the names of these animals and thinking about consuming them makes me sick. I really do not think I will be able to eat Bugs Bunny, Bambi, a baby lamb and Bah-Bah-Black sheep, but I will attempt it *barf*.
- Sea bass, yellowtail and octopus (which happen to be my favorite seafood items)
- All shell-fish. (No lobster or shrimp even?!)
- Many legumes and beans, including lentils, peanuts and sesame seeds. (No peanut-butter, tahini or lentils.. Literally my 3 favorite foods banned.)
- Tomatoes, coconuts, pomegranates, starfruit or rhubarb.
- Wheat, corn, buckwheat, wild rice, couscous
Honestly, it's as if Dr. D'Dadmo decided to make a list of the foods I eat the most that prohibit them. My favorite type of food is Japanese, but most of the items are prohibited. I really don't want to consume animals yet red meat is one of the only protein sources for my Blood Type. I currently live off legumes and beans and rely of them for protein, but am prohibited from eating them.
It's going to be extremely difficult to obtain the energy and protein I need for amount I workout, since I can't really whip up some deep ocean white fish in the middle of the day after the gym. One of my go-to dinners is lentils with tahini (sesame sauce) and peanut-butter, which are all strictly prohibited items. I rarely consume dairy and feel bloated when I do, but Dr. D'Adamo swears that my body can digest it. I drink coconut juice daily and spoon out the meat, love tomatoes and tomato sauce and top pomegranate seeds on everything, as they are used frequently in Persian cuisine. For these two weeks, these will all be banned. The only foods I like on the approved list are the fruits. Great.
|Lots of green pudding for me!|
Afterwords I will integrate cooked foods back into my diet with the Vegan lifestyle, avoiding all dairy and meat. I love eggs and yogurt but will replace them with vegan alternatives. Look out for new recipes with tofu, tempeh, seitan and other soy-based proteins. I am intriguied to see the affects of soy on the body, as the Japanese love it but many nutritionists warn against it.
I will then try the vegetarian diet, adding dairy again to see whether my energy levels spike and my workouts become more efficient. This will show the effect of dairy on the body. (Or mine at least).
I will then by trying the Gluten-Free trend, following my celebrities like Miley Cyrus and just about everyone else you bump into. This shouldn't be extremely difficult, as there are gluten-free options available everywhere now, but I will be assessing whether gluten-free is actually healthier.
Lastly, I will try a vegetarian, soy-free diet, meaning no tofu, seitan, tempeh, soy milk, soy yogurt and edamame. Many vegetarians rely on soy for protein, which is very controversial, so I will be assessing the effect it has on me and the way my body reacts with and without it.
Of course these diets will have a different result on all of our bodies due to our bioindividuality but I hope I am able to clarify many questions and concerns you have about chosing the right one for you.
I'll start by telling you a little bit about myself. A previous junk-food aficionado, I now lead a very healthy lifestyle. I exercise 5 times a week, plus am a full-time student also studying nutrition on the side. I need food that gives me energy and am always hungry. Food is the love of my life and I am not willing to go on a diet that makes me starve myself, ever.
My current diet
Carbs: I currently consume limited amounts of grains, mostly quinoa and steel-cut oats regularly and avoid bread, pasta and rice, so I am not too worried about carb withdrawals from becoming Paleo. I will be switching to dehydrated flaxseed "bread" and creating cauliflower and zuccini based pizzas ans pastas. For the Gluten-Free diet, I will consume only the gluten-free versions. For the Blood Type Diet, I will be avoiding wheat, corn, buckwheat, wild rice, couscous.
Dairy: I currently avoid dairy milk but moderately consume low-fat greek yogurt and cottage cheese. For the Vegan, Paleo and Raw Vegan diets I will avoid all dairy. For the Blood Type Diet, I will have to eat lots of it! Oh boy!
Soy: I regularly consume soy milk, soy products and soy yogurt and they comprise of most of my protein. It will be hard to go without my beloved tempeh but for the Paleo and Soy-Free diets, I will be only consuming plant-based dairy alternatives (Almond, Rice, Hemp and Flax milk) and even making my own almond milk from scratch!
Meat: I currently do not eat any red meat or chicken and eat fish about once a week. For the Paleo diets, I will slowly integrate meat back into my diet. I got a blood test done before starting and will get another at the end of each period so I can assess the difference the diets make in my vitamin levels. I am currently anemic so hope adding meat will increase my iron levels, as well as Vitamin B.
Carbohydrate 101: The Myth About Carbs
Digestion and Food Pairing
Eat Right For Your Blood Type Diet
Mindful Eating Diet
Hold the Hormones: Why To Ditch Meat
Please bookmark Eat Feel Fresh, like it on Facebook and follow it on Instagram and Twitter to stay updated. Every day I will be taking pictures of my meals, recording my energy levels, workouts, the way my body responds and the new recipes I come up with along the way.
If you have any personal stories from following any of these diets, please comment or email me your story at firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured. The time has come to make healthy eating a little less confusing. Let's do this!
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