Confessions of a Diet Zealot

Hi. My name is Cheryl and I am a [reformed] diet zealot.

I am ashamed that I have to admit that. And I suspect that you too are a guilty party. Quick quiz. Do you look askance at a plate full of whatever that someone else is eating and go, ugh, how can they eat that or I bet they think they are eating healthy Рha!

Other names for my kind: lifestyle cop, weight loss forum troll, self-appointed food police, food zealot… I knew everything about the human body and therefore knew what works and what doesn’t. I mean I had it all figured out and the “other guy” was the village idiot compared to me.

I would read article upon article about a certain way to eat. Not necessarily for weight loss but just “eating healthy” – whatever that is. As you know, healthy eating is hotly debated between all the camps. Battles ensue on Facebook and Twitter over whether you should eat Paleo or Vegetarian, Vegan or Clean, freestyle… You name it, there is a diet for it!!

Aaaaand, that the other guy is either an idiot or worse, a scammer. At times I could get really nasty judging some diet guru, convinced that all he had in mind was to make money on an unsuspecting public.

I know that eating Paleo is supposed to be based on how our ancestors ate which was whatever they could, depending on the season, and geographic location. If you lived in the tropical region you ate lots of fruit. If you lived in a more temperate climate, you ate more tree fruit and citrus as well as tomatoes. The farther north you live, you eat apples, cherries and an assortment of berries. All had access to some form of vegetables, greens and roots as well as nuts and seeds. Animal protein was nabbed when it was nearby or they followed it in a nomadic way.

When the food ran out, they moved on with animals and the seasons. That meant that they didn’t eat for long periods of time (aka fasting). The marvelous thing about our body is that it can go for long periods of time without food. When it senses deprivation, it alerts the brain to send out messages to slow down the metabolism. Signs of a slow metabolism are constipation, fatigue, and lethargy, cold extremities, lack of interest in sex to name a few. This was not pleasant so…

Man, being the smart creature that he is, noticed the difference in health having ready access to his food source. He eventually figured out how to tame and domesticate animals. Now they had access to more animal protein. At the same time, they also cultivated grasses for the animals to forage. They figured out that they could make food out of the grains and so cereals were added to their diet. And over time more and more grains were domesticated and added to our diet. These grains were relatively easy to store and feed themselves and their animals during lean times.

Primal is a spin-off of Paleo in that it allows oils like butter and coconut oil.

Vegetarians will eat vegetable material. They might eat eggs and dairy products depending on how devout they are to the lifestyle.

Vegans will pass on all animal products, and a true purist will not eat honey as it is a bee product. No silk, leather. No riding of horses as this all smacks of abuse of the creature being exploited.

Aaaand hybrids of any of these.

The ONLY thing these zealous groups could possibly agree on is that they don’t consume the standard American diet. But secretly, all but the diehards find a way to justify eating the old faves like pizza, chips, cookies, etc. (Yeah, I saw you stuffing that last bite of lasagna from the church potluck into your mouth. Oh, I know it was your kid’s and it would be a shame to waste it!)

Like I was saying, the one thing that I have noticed is each of these groups can seem to agree on is to avoid man-made, processed foods. Granted we each will go out of our way to invent treats within the bounds of our “rules”. Hence the creamy chocolate pie made with avocado to help thicken it in a nut crust (which is delicious, BTW). Or gluten-free granola made mostly of coconut and nuts and seeds.

Food Zealot

A small segment of each of these “camps” are what I call zealots. Like a religious zealot who would figuratively kill and or die for the cause, these folks can make interesting if not outright fiery conversation on any forum. No one is safe from their caustic words. And there is no reasoning with them. I know, that was me.

Problem is that I am now “obese” by medical terms and I am far from lazy. But I had some long enduring bad habits like eating mindlessly.

Where did I leave the track of “healthy eating” and get fat!? Too busy griping and nagging, I admit.

Reformed zealot

But now I am a reformed zealot. No longer bashing others for their choices, I am on my own diet journey – a daily experiment in what makes my body tick better. Hey, what I ate even two years ago isn’t a good choice for me. Either I have indigestion all night. Or my heart palpitates all night long. I eat many vegan recipes with my daughters but I’ll eat burgers with my son (sans bun, I am still not eating processed bread and the like).

I am not sure who said it first but I like the saying, keep your eyes on your own plate. If you are vegan. If you are low fat. If you are on a keto diet…

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