What Do I Eat?


Let’s face it. Everyone has an opinion about what you should eat, but who’s opinion do you listen to? From your family to the cashier at the grocery store to the gal perusing the aisles at Chapters, these people all believe that what they think is right to eat, well, is right.

Every new “diet” brings out more “experts.” Some are merely monetizing the latest idea for diet; some have been closet eaters of this “new” way; and some just expound what their ill-informed friends or healthcare practitioner told them. No matter who is telling or preaching what the right diet is for you — you are the only one who knows your body and how it responds to certain foods or choices.

In fact, I was checking out the cookbook section at Chapters recently. Simply by looking at the number of books available you can figure out what is the popular “diet” craze right now — plant-based (including vegan and vegetarian) and keto. There were hardly any shelf space for paleo. Basically, what paleo used to own for shelf real estate now belongs to keto.

As Chris Kressor so eloquently put it, “There is no way to answer the question “What is the optimal human diet?” because there is no single, optimal diet for every human.” [1]

If you don’t live under a rock, then you have probably seen all kinds of “diets” from paleo to keto/ketogenic to carnivore to clean eating to plant-based to whatever else has come across your social media feeds. Let’s examine a few of those current diet trends.

Diet Trends

Clean Eating – Well, it’s more than the magazine by the same title. I was first introduced to “clean eating” by Tosca Reno’s popular book series called The Eat-Clean Diet. This is the “diet” I followed after losing my weight with Jenny Craig. Initially it worked for me, but then it didn’t help me maintain by healthy weight. The numerous close-together meals meant my sluggish digestive system never cleared and soon created the perfect gut environment for overgrowth of bacteria and other bugs (candida albicans and SIBO). Principles of this diet include [2]:

  • eat 5-6 meals throughout the day
  • eat every 2-3 hours
  • combine lean protein and complex carbs at every meal
  • don’t skip meals, especially breakfast
  • avoid processed, refined foods
  • no white, as in white flour, white rice, or white sugar
  • consume healthy fats daily
  • avoid saturated and trans fats
  • eat fresh fruits and vegetables to get micronutrients (fibre, vitamins, minerals and enzymes)
  • stay hydrated by drinking at least 2 litres of water daily
  • eat proper portion sizes

Paleo/AIP (Autoimmune Paleo) – Paleo became popular with the likes of Rob Wolf, Loren Cordain, Mark Sisson (Mark’s Daily Apple blog) and a host of other prolific writers and cookbook creators. Paleo Mom (Dr Sarah Ballentine), Paleo Palate (Bill Stanley and Hayley Mason), Mickey Trescott (Autoimmune Paleo) and Danielle Walker’s hugely popular cookbooks like Against All Grain (2014) or Eat What You Love (2018) are just a few of the more widely known authors and bloggers.
The paleo diet removes gluten, dairy and all grains. As Danielle Walk put it in Against All Grains Meals Made Simple, “Following a Paleolithic-style diet means reverting to the foods that our bodies were intended to consume and process before the days of the agricultural revolution and processed foods.” [3]

Keto/Ketogenic – Keto started to make waves in the nutrition world around 2014 with the emergence of Jimmy Moore and Maria Emmerich’s book, The Ketogenic Cookbook (2015). One of my sons started challenging to look into marconutrients and skipping breakfast. I did a deep dive and took a course by Alessandro Ferretti on understanding the ins and outs of the ketogenic diet. Soon I was knee deep in the literature and blog posts like Canadian keto “ladies” blogger, Leanne Vogel of HealthfulPursuit.com — this way of eating (WOE) made sense to me. I experimented, dropped weight due to the lower carbs and my energy soared due to being fuelled by ketones/fat not glucose.
Then I decided to add the keto protocol/lifestyle to my nutrition repertoire by taking the Keto Coach Course offered by Maria and Craig Emmerich — I was in their first intake in fall 2018 and the first Canadian graduate.
The ketogenic diet has been used to modulate and help with epilepsy since the 1920s! So, no, the ketogenic diet is not new nor is it a fad — true, it is popular right now. A well-formulated ketogenic diet is low carbohydrates (20 g total carbs), moderate protein and enough fat to reach satiety. Before long, I was seeing research and literature supporting the higher fat ketogenic diet helping with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s. Dr Dale Bredesen found mild ketosis (producing ketones by the liver) is optimal for cognitive function. [5] Amy Berger also promoted a natural approach to managing Alzheimer’s using a low-carb, high-fat diet (aka ketogenic diet) in her book, The Alzheimer’s Antidote. [6]
The biggest aspect to having your liver producing adequate ketones is keeping your carbohydrates low. Yes, you can get into ketosis by fasting (eliminating all food including carbs) and exercising (burning the stored and ingested glucose so your body resorts to fat converting that into ketones). The keto lifestyle means burning ketones, a cleaner fuel and loved by many body organs for fuel. I find that tracking your macros for the onset will help you to attain ketosis and become keto-adapted (usually takes 2-6 weeks of eating keto). After about 3-4 months of this lifestyle, Craig Emmerich states that “your body has increased the number of mitochondria in your cells an dis continuing to transform white adipose tissue (WAT or white fat) to brown adipose tissue (BAT or brown fat)…This shift to brown fat can reduce your glucose levels.” [7] Simply put, you will begin to feel amazing, full of energy and thinking clearly.

Carnivore – subset and stricter version of keto, also called zero carb — this is not new, but finding information and books about carnivore is. Individuals like Amber Hearn [8] or Kelly Hogan [9] have been practicing this way of eating for almost a decade. Dr Shawn Baker’s book The Carnivore Diet offers a scientific explanation with testimonies [10]. However, for me, Craig Emmerich started talking about using this choice to help keep his lyme pain under control. Craig and his wife, Maria, have recently published an excellent cookbook filled with a lot more than recipes called The Carnivore Cookbook [11].

Plant-Based – I have never been a vegetarian or a vegan, nor have I had a desire to do so. I have tried out Meatless Mondays and including beans, lentils and more plants. However, my body does not metabolize carbs very well. I have tried low FODMAP to reduce the amount of fermentable carbohydrates to ease my digestive and SIBO symptoms. Plainly put, my body doesn’t do well with most carbs and starches. That doesn’t mean that this type of diet won’t work for you or is bad. My nutrition education was heavily influenced by this trend, so I have the head knowledge and the books to guide someone choosing this lifestyle.

What Do I Eat?

That’s a good question. You are not a label on a tin can, so you truly need to rethink whether you really want to label your food choices/diet and be stuffed into a box with rules being imposed by others. You are not defined by your diet! You are a unique person with a unique body that needs feeding according to its uniqueness. Yes, I may ascribe to a certain way of eating, but I also give myself flexibility and grace to make choices that support my health and work with the environment I may find myself in like a celebration.
Meghan Telpner puts it well, “When you read someone’s blog and they boast a certain way of eating that is creating health miracles in their lives- it becomes so inspiring. Be inspired by others – but don’t ever let anyone’s personal miracle diet make you feel like that is the only option for you.” [12]

Getting Nutritional Coaching

Well, that is my goal as a nutritional consultant to help you discover what your optimal “human diet” is. Ultimately, I want to figure out which foods help you feel amazing and in the process heal your body and feel vibrant and energized in your body. I usually find we start somewhere like low carb or keto and then tweak food choices to produced a body that works well and fills you with energy and motivation to be the person you see yourself being.
Now it’s time to decide to enlist help to achieve your health and wellness goals. Brenda offers a free Discovery Chat to discuss next steps in moving towards your health goals. Drop her a quick email to schedule your chat today.

Resources

[1] Chris Kressor, “What is the Optimal Human Diet,” chriskressor.com published Sep 27, 2018.

[2] Tosca Reno, The Eat-Clean Diet, (Mississauga ON: Robert Kennedy Publishing, 2007) 15.

[3] Danielle Walker, Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple, (Las Vegas: Victory Belt Publishing, 2014) 34.

[4] Maria and Craig Emmerich, keto., (Las Vegas: Victory Belt Publishing, 2018)

[5] Dale E. Bredesen, MD, The End of Alzheimer’s, (New York: Avery, 2017) 179.

[6] Amy Berger, MS, CNS, NTP, The Alzheimer’s Antidote (White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2017).

[7] Emmerich, keto, 75.

[8] Amanda Åkesson, “Carnivory: How Amber transformed her health with a meat-only diet,” Diet Doctor blog, June 14, 2018.

[9] Kelly Hogan, My Zero Carb Life blog

[10] Shawn Baker, The Carnivore Diet, (Las Vegas: Victory Belt Publishing, 2019)

[11] Craig and Maria Emmerich, The Carnivore Cookbook, (Las Vegas: Victory Belt Publishing, 2020).

[12] Meghan Telpner, “Labels Are For Tin Cans and I Mean It” updated Mar 12, 2018, meghantelpner.com


About Brenda

As a nutrition consultant and educator, I aim to support you in achieving health and vitality through natural wholesome foods and lifestyle transformation. Ready to change yourself from the inside out? Then contact Brenda today.