As a kid in my house, nobody ever went on a diet. I can’t recall a single time that I heard my parents talk about a special diet they were on. Never. There was no Weight Watchers or anything like that. We didn’t have any weight loss supplements around the house. I do, however, remember my mom always tinkering around with how different cultures approached nutrition and eating. Of course, we would do a 24 hour fast a few times a year. One would be for Yom Kippur, the Jewish holiday of repentance. I remember we didn’t eat any meat for a couple weeks as part of observing another religious group’s traditions. When we hosted a couple of Japanese exchange students in high school, we followed a vegan diet in honor of their buddhist traditions. We soaked and sprouted most grains as part of my mom’s food preparations that she picked up from her mother who was born in Poland. My point is that, as I look back on all of these traditions that we tested, tinkered with, and observed, I began to understand why it’s so important to not just stick with a single way of eating.
Some say the healthiest diet in the world is the mediterranean diet. It’s been commercialized into books and food pyramids. Honestly, the truly healthy part of the mediterranean diet is the dense variety in traditions that so many different cultural groups keep around food and food preparations. Everything from fasting at certain times of the year, to fasting for certain parts of the day, to soaking and sprouting grains, and restricting certain foods for certain amounts of time during the year.
My recommendation is to try and avoid a single diet or approach when it comes to food and lifestyle. Rather, tinker around with many different ways of preparing food and restricting food types and consumption.
Here are some that I have tried and recommend you try.
Intermittent fasting: 1-3 time per week, don’t eat for 14-16 hours. I usually do this overnight and skip breakfast the next morning. The studies show that this type of fasting can boost Human Growth Hormone by up to 771%.
Give up meat for 2 weeks a few times a year. I find that doing this helps re-focus on the fact that a plant based diet is healthy, nourishing, and it forces us to prepare vegan and vegetarian options that can be delicious.
Change your grain routine. If you don’t ever have any grains, then try soaking and sprouting grains overnight and use them for a meal the next day. Grains offer some wonderful micronutrients like vitamin B, fiber, and iron. If you are currently consuming grains, try 7-10 days of no grains at all, this includes gluten-free grains like rice. Grains that aren’t soaked are anti-nutrients, meaning the vitamins and minerals in a grain that isn’t sprouted or soaked is not able to be absorbed by the body. The lectins in unsoaked grains not only block the uptake of the nutrients but they can cause gut issues and inflammation.
Get rid of all added sugar! The average american consumes between 85 grams and 111 grams of added sugar per day. Most countries that have a significantly lower obesity rate than our country's 69% obesity rate consume less than 10 grams of added sugar per day. Spend 2 weeks with zero added sugar. Read labels. Avoid anything that ends in -ose (sucralose, fructose, etc), corn syrup, cane juice, all sugars!
Take 3 weeks or a month and cut down your carb intake. Americans consume on average 320 grams of carbs a day. Insidious weight gain starts at 350 grams a day. Weight management is usually between 150 grams to 100 grams daily. We see the sweet spot of weight loss take place at about 50 grams a day. Take a waterfall approach to this, as it can sometimes be a shock to the system. Start your first week by just tracking, then start to cut down the second week, and continue to cut down each week, until you are at a place where energy levels and weight loss are optimal for you.