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 ….

Some “diets” improve our weight, some improve our health. Very few approaches to eating will do both predictably and consistently.

Here’s why:

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.

The 3 variables of eating

All diets will address one or more of these three things.

  • 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 hormonal and 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, including the TYPE of food they consume.

Just like these other diets – a vegan diet is focused on only one variable (food type) leaving out food timing and food energy.

Here is the key:

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

A vegan who pays attention to the amount food energy they consume can manage both their health and weight. A vegan who consumes endless amounts of flour, sugar and raw deserts can still be vegan, but will not have effective control of their weight.

An intermittent faster who pays attention to eating high quality, nutrient dense 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 and allow you to think for yourself in the incredibly confusing space of diet information.

Understanding these variables can empower you to create your own approach to eating based on what’s most important to you at any given time – instead of searching for a prefab diet you can somehow fit yourself into. You are more unique than that, aren’t you?

xo Kim

Questions? Comments? Think I’m full of it? Leave your comments below ….

6 thoughts on “A novel way to think about “Diet””

  1. That is a nice clear presentation Kim. A sensible and knowledge-based way to assess any “diet” or way of eating. For the past four months or so, my eating has mostly centred on WHAT I have been eating (lower carb, higher fat, moderate protein, less processed foods) andWHEN I am eating (avoid in between meal snacks. Also 24 hr. fasting twice a week) and much less on HOW MUCH I am eating (satiety but no calorie counts). It has served me well. I got rid of that annoying last 10 lbs and so far am keeping it off!

    • 24 hour fasts 2x per week! Wow – That’s Ninja diet techniques. Very smart! Great work figuring out the combination that works for you. Thanks for taking a minute to share!

  2. This is very timely Kim. Clear and concise! I’ve been on this wellness journey for a while now and at the end of August I started intermittent fasting which I love all thanks to you! I realized though that my carbs were too high and mainly in the form of a treat. My meals have always been healthy and balanced but that damn sweet tooth (or in my case) sweet teeth get in the way. Christmas treats rolled right into Easter treats!lol So recogninzing this I completed a 21 day sugar detox while still fasting on average 20 hours a day. I feel so much better and now will continue with my IF and low carb high fat foods. No counting calories, micro or macro nutrients, weighing and measuring. Truly freeing and I’m looking forward to achieving optimal health in time. It’s my new lifestlye and still a work in progress to keep a healthy balance of food, exercise, spirituality, meditation, community and gratitude practices.

    • To quote you “a healthy balance of food, exercise, spirituality, meditation, community and gratitude” – Jo that sums up health so well! I’m so proud of you. Keep it going my friend <3

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