Finding a balance

by Khushboo on January 25, 2016

Hi homies!  I attended a Women’s Health Workshop a few weeks ago which was rather interesting.  Amongst various talks, one was given by a plant-based, whole food nutritionist.  Even though I have already developed my own approach and eating style when it comes to advising my clients, it’s always interesting to hear about others –> there’s always scope to learn!  As a plant-based nutritionist, her approach eliminates consumption of all animal products (i.e. meat & dairy).  I loved that she focused on the power of food and the remarkable impact whole foods can make on energy & vitality.  I found myself nodding along as she discussed the importance of mindfulness when eating.  When you allow yourself to be present in the moment & really savor whatever it is you’re eating, you’ll almost naturally feel more satisfied both mentally & physically.  

Dairy Milk Ritz

However one key point that rubbed me in the wrong was her ramble about plant-based diets being the ‘best’ diet for achieving optimal health.  In order to maximize energy levels and overall wellness, she advises:

  • Starchy carbs twice a day at the most
  • Mainly fruit in the morning & avoidance of wheat
  • Eat as much raw food as possible
  • If eliminating meat & dairy is not possible, treat both as flavor i.e. use minimal amounts 
  • Protein intake  should constitute no more than 20% of your diet

I’ve repeatedly discussed this on the blog in the past but clearly I need to say it again: there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to our diet.  Through our own research, we can educate ourselves on different approaches.  It’s only with trial & error that we can find the most optimal one.  It’s a bit like going to college and then getting a job.  No matter which college you graduate from, the most effective way you are going to learn is through the experience you acquire post-graduation, both in your job(s) & life overall.   Similarly we can read all the literature and countless studies about diet plans but unless you try it out yourself, you’ll never know.

Chicken Soup

As we left my friend asked me my thoughts on this fellow nutritionist’s talk. Honestly I was a bit disappointed.  In my healthy living journey, I have experimented with a number of diet styles.  I adopted a Paleo diet which meant no refined sugar, dairy, grains, alcohol, processed foods, beans or legumes.  I’ve eaten a plant-based diet whereby I stopped eating all animal products, eggs being the exception.  Right now, I am at a place with my diet where I  literally eat anything and everything.  Obviously the bulk of it centers around whole foods i.e. LOTS of vegetables, fresh fruit, chicken, seafood, eggs, Greek yogurt, nuts & nut butters, cheese, avocados, oats, rye bread & brown rice to name a few.  However I don’t only buy dark chocolate (Hey Reese’s!); I eat ice cream multiple nights during the week; I don’t freak out if the biscuit I pair with my evening cup of chai doesn’t contain a ‘clean’ ingredient list; I’ll drink an adult beverage if I want to…sometimes 3; I’ll eat the damn pizza even if wholewheat crust is not available. Despite all that, I can, hand on heart, say that I have never felt better, both mentally & physically.  Weight-wise, I am probably at my lightest & it feels almost effortless. 

Oreo & Iced Coffee

My point is that when it comes to diet, there really is nothing more effective than finding a balance…and that goes far beyond eating a balance of carbs, protein, and fat.  You need to find a diet that feeds you both physically and mentally.  Eat foods that make you feel good and allow your body to function best.  Occasionally that might mean giving the nutritional label a blind eye. Plant-based diets & eating “clean” foods are super and I certainly think they should constitute a large part of our diet. 

Sauteed Zucchini

However if adhering to these idealistic standards causes even a marginal amount of stress, those apparent health benefits are slowly getting cancelled out.   I’ve discussed the effect of stress on weight & health more in depth here, but essentially when our bodies are constantly put under stress, it results in elevated cortisol levels.  This condition ultimately has a domino effect on our weight, heart health, insulin levels, hormonal health, blood pressure, immunity…you get my point.  I will leave you with one of my favorite pictures that sums up eating a balanced diet that incorporates everything versus eating a rigid & restrictive diet:

Gillian McKeith versus Nigella Lawson

No questions today! I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue…

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Palan January 25, 2016 at 2:08 pm

I agree – definitely about finding your own balance. Lately I’ve learned it’s also about recognising that balance may need to change with time and circumstance – and that that’s ok. An adaptable balance, that’s what I’m aiming for!

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Khushboo January 27, 2016 at 11:36 am

You’re so right- our lives are constantly changing and therefore so should our definition of ‘balance’!

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Chelsea A January 25, 2016 at 7:52 pm

Amen! Honestly it drives me nuts to hear people giving out advice like that because it just makes healthy living seem extreme, intimidating, and unachievable to the general public. That comparison at the end just sums it all up – and I can think of a handful of other popular nutritionists who look just as worn out. Just goes to show that taking healthy living to the extreme isn’t what’s best for our health!

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Khushboo January 27, 2016 at 11:37 am

That’s probably why so many people still refuse to adopt somewhat of a healthy lifestyle- it just seems to unattainable and extreme. Even just a few positive changes can make a world of difference.

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Miss Polkadot January 26, 2016 at 12:07 am

Will people ever stop discussing nutrition and labeling one particular diet “the best”? I honestly wish they would but doubt it. As nobody can exist without eating the topic is a great way of making money and fear-mongering ever-present to achieve that. To make a long ramble shorter: I’m right there with you. While I personally wouldn’t mind everybody ditching meat and going vegetarian or vegan I do know it’s unrealistic, everybody thrives on different foods as well as activities and tolerance will get us the furthest.

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Khushboo January 27, 2016 at 11:38 am

Exactly!! You need to find a diet that allows you to thrive, and for some that might mean eating meat regularly whereas others might experience a better quality of life from following a plant-based diet.

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Zainab January 26, 2016 at 1:38 am

Nice post- if I go on a vacation and eat the unhealthy stuff I do try to skim out the treats for a bit. But, if I was to do a balanced diet for life I couldn’t do that.
Ocassional treat here and there, is perhaps necessary ( I M O) for smooth functioning of our mind and bodies!!!

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Khushboo January 27, 2016 at 11:39 am

Thanks Zainab- it sounds like you have a sensible outlook :)!

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Lucie@FitSwissChick January 26, 2016 at 5:31 pm

‘it feels almost effortless. ‘ – THIS. Is key!! Seriously, nutrition and food should just be fuel and enjoyment. Nothing else. And if one food doesn’t make you feel good, cut it, if another one doesn’t make your stomach upset, eat it. But there is no generalization possible, is there? I find it so hard to listen to all these diet gurus, advocationg the perfect diet – it just keeps people from actually listen to THEIR body and its needs.
So nicely put, thank you Khushboo!

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Khushboo January 27, 2016 at 11:41 am

Thanks so much Lucie- I’m glad you could resonate with what I wrote. Our bodies are far too complex for us to expect them to thrive on a ‘cookie cutter’ diet!

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Tara @ Sweat like a Pig January 27, 2016 at 12:57 am

You hit the nail on the head! Everything you said here makes perfect sense and echoes my thoughts exactly. Gotta love Nigella <3

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Khushboo January 27, 2016 at 11:41 am

If anyone could agree with me, I knew it would be you Tara :D!

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Jen @ Chase the Red Grape January 27, 2016 at 8:30 am

I agree with you 100% here! I totally believe that one size does not fit all and we are all different. I enjoy listening to talks etc from all kinds of diets and ideas but the one thing that gets me is when they state that their diet is perfect for everyone and even put down other diets… Not on in my book!

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Khushboo January 27, 2016 at 11:42 am

You and me both! I’m all for a discussing various diet approaches and hearing about other people’s experiences, but I draw the line when someone tries to argue that his/her way is the best—> er no!

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Parita @ myinnershakti January 27, 2016 at 11:31 pm

HI K! LOVE this post. I was actually just thinking about this topic the other day. I’ve never felt healthier before in my life and I definitely do not eat “healthy” 100% of the time. But my blood work results are near perfect, I’m able to exercise to varying degrees, and my emotional health is much better than it was in my 20s.

So this really summed it up for me – “You need to find a diet that feeds you both physically and mentally. Eat foods that make you feel good and allow your body to function best.” YES YES YES!!!

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Khushboo January 28, 2016 at 12:26 pm

This comment was so amazing to read, P! I am so glad you are feeling awesome- it’s funny how the less we stress about eating a healthy diet, the healthier we naturally become :)!

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Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets January 28, 2016 at 12:50 am

Well said, the most important diet is the one which works for you and your body, and you’re the only one who can truly figure that out. That being said, I do adhere to the advice of Michael Pollan: Eat Food, mostly plants. He nailed it.

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Khushboo January 28, 2016 at 12:27 pm

Michael Pollan is one smart cookie :)!

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Shashi at RunninSrilankan January 28, 2016 at 1:21 am

I am a huge fan of YOUR approach to nutrition, Khushboo! I couldn’t agree more that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ diet!
And now – let’s talk about those Cadbury Ritz bars – Good golly – I need me one of those – talk about balanced – they have the perfect balance of sweet and salty!
Also LOVE those 2 pictures at the end !

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Khushboo January 28, 2016 at 12:27 pm

Ah thanks so much Shashi- it sounds like we share a similar outlook towards nutrition :)! And Cadbury has officially killed it with this Ritz bar ;)!

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Nikhita Mahtani January 29, 2016 at 10:12 am

I think that’s what makes a healthy lifestyle easy to stick to. if you tell me to never have chocolate or animal protein, I wouldn’t be able to do it! I think the bulk of your foods should definitely be whole, but if I want to eat pizza for dinner one night, I’m going to!! I think when your body’s trying to tell you something, you should listen. One day I was craving more carbs than usual (the joy of that time of the month) and I went ahead and had the pasta! The next day I wanted kale salad, so go figure 😀 We naturally crave what we need, and I think that’s what SHOULD make it effortless 🙂

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Khushboo January 30, 2016 at 11:22 am

Our bodies are smart cookies…smarter than we like to think we are ;)! Glad to see you listening to your body and take care of its needs!!

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