A novel way to think about “Diet”

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Let me tell you a story!

Hit play and I’ll read you this post ….

Consider this:

There are three variables, or three balls we need to juggle if we want to use food to help us manage both our health and our weight.

Diets are a combination of one or more of these three things.

The 3 variables of eating
  • Food Type: What the food is. Ex. Meat or veg, local or organic, protein or fat, etc.
  • Food Timing: When we eat
  • Food Energy: How much potential energy is in the food (calories are a common measure)

Let’s take a look how some popular diets juggle these 3 variables.

Paleo Diet

peɪlioʊ ˌdīət/
noun

1   a diet based on the types of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans, consisting chiefly of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit, and excluding dairy or grain products and processed food.

Paleo diet cares about food type. It’s an eat this food type don’t eat that food type prescription based on some reasons we imagine are connected to our collective eating history.

Food Timing (when we eat) and Food Energy (how much we eat) are outside the palio circle of attention.

Example 2:

Intermittent Fasting

Verb

1   Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term for various diets that cycle between a period of eating and non-eating during a defined period. Intermittent fasting protocols can be grouped into two categories: whole-day fasting and time-restricted feeding.

Intermittent Fasting pays attention to food timing. Cycling between periods of eating and not eating to train and condition different metabolic systems (metabolic meaning how your body uses food).

Our other 2 variables, food energy and food type (the one paleo eaters care so much about) are not a part of the intermittent equation: As long as you are eating within the proper “eating window” or window of time you are intermittent fasting.

Example 3:

Vegan

noun

1   A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to animals. For food, clothing or any other purpose. In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.

The vegan variables get an extra crown of values. As fanatical as it’s sometimes seen, this is a value-driven lifestyle, that extends beyond food to every dollar a vegan spends. Sniffing out out the smallest hint of animal cruelty in anything they purchase.

However, just like all of these other diets – a vegan diet is focused on only one variable leaving out food timing and food energy.

Here is the key:

For a diet to successfully manage your weight along side your health – it must have some attention on at least two variables.

A vegan who pays attention to energy can manage both their health and weight

An intermittent faster who pays attention to eating high quality food can see improvements in both their health and their weight.

A paleo eater who restricts their eating window properly will see improvements in their health. Attention to energy consumed will help them more predictably manage their weight.

Thought Experiment.
  • Pick a diet you know, perhaps one you have tried ~ and look for these three variables.
  • Reflect on your success with both feeling healthy and managing your weight predictably.


Learning how to juggle these “actual things” can free you from diet dogma and confusion.

These variables give you the power to support your health and you body composition in a flexible and masterful way without needing to label yourself or subscribe to any particular eating religion.

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