This time of year is always a bit of a weird one, I find. I love the holidays; Christmas is hands down my favorite holiday of the year. But the moment the packages are open, the meal eaten, the carols sung, the very next day after Christmas even, the 26th, the magic has gone and there's this weird "in between" feeling from the 26th until normality attempts to resume (which usually isn't the 2nd of January, but more like the first Monday back to work after the New Year). So I'm still stuck in that hazy middle ground, shaking off the holiday doldrums and waiting until I get back into a normal-ish routine even though I'm trying to plug away at work and focus.
It's also around this time of year where we're inundated with New Year's Resolutions. Get your finances in order! Clean out your closets! Join a gym! Go to the gym you've been paying for! Learn a new skill! And of course: Lose weight!
My roommate/sibling, "Cee", and I spend a lot of time talking about healthy living these days. It's an encouragement for us both - that we've made the right choice and are on the right path. We'll see articles about keto or Atkins or apparently the sugar-free diet (the one we are closest to doing - but more on that later!), and point out the things that nutritionists and dietitians and health nuts all over have been saying but are THE hardest things to learn:
+ Eat smaller portions
+ Eat more fruits and veggies
+ Eat out less
If you had to put the "best" diet in as few of words as possible, I think that comes close. Sure, you can dump loads of pounds on Keto and Atkins, but staying on those programs for any length of time is REALLY hard.
Before I go much further, I can read what I'm typing and immediately, I think, "Carolyn, you're just regurgitating all those articles from professionals that you read when you were fat and found unhelpful. Isn't it a bit hypocritical for you to repeat that NOW, when you're technically still overweight?"
So to address the elephant in the room: This information is not new. It's not "rocket science". The things that our health professionals have been saying - in regards to eating less, eating better foods, not getting into details over how many blueberries you can eat on the Wheat Belly diet - all these years is basically the "key" to weight loss. What I had been hearing from long time maintainers I think is true - One day, you will find a plan that will work for you, and everything will click into place and maintaining will be nearly effortless.
* I added "nearly" because let's face it - keeping an eye on calories and what you're putting into your mouth will NEVER be as effortless as plowing through an entire bag of Doritos.
Back in 2012, I went on Medifast, which was basically like Atkins/low-carb/keto. I lost weight fast - but I'll be honest, it would have been impossible for me to stay on program just because the Medifast food, as diverse as it is, would get boring and not all of it tasted that good. The same thing is true of full keto - Cee and I tried a lite version of that back in the summer of 2018 and that ended up falling to the wayside because potatoes are the BOMB. I mean, sure, you don't want to eat a million fries only, but having some potatoes with another vegetable and a protein is so filling! And also, there is no way I could do full keto and avoid strawberries, blueberries and raspberries - nuh uh!
So with that in mind, let's talk about "sugar free". This is basically what Cee and I have been doing for the most part - we limit added sugars to 25g or less, according to the American Heart Association:
Apparently, though, there are problems with the diet, as shown in this article:
Well, I think we can agree on the obvious:
+ Replacing table sugar with honey/maple syrup/agave/natural sugars is still "adding sugars"
+ Removing fruits (and potentially dairy) from your diet is stupid
+ Artificial sweeteners can help, but you need to use caution - use less and be aware of potential gut issues you may have when using
And those are my big problems with these "sugar free" diets popping up - the same ones I had with Keto and Low Carb and then the "low fat" craze of the 90's. There's nothing wrong with eating potatoes and pineapple. There's nothing wrong with cheese or avocados or an entire egg.
I truly don't believe that sugar is really a necessary nutrient, not in the way that fat, carbs and protein are. So I'll gladly push aside the donut or the cake or the ice cream or the chips for my health. But I'm not so hardline on the "diet" that I will also pass over dates and apples.
I suppose this blog post went all over the place and landed no where. If I had to make a resolution to this it would be this: This year, find a way to eat that remains true to you, that you can do without much thought. Reduce the bad foods, eat more good foods, watch the salt and sugars and remember: YOU ARE WORTH IT.