the ideal diet

tossed salad with hard boiled eggs

Just for the record, I don’t believe there is such a thing. An ideal diet, that is. But that hasn’t stopped me from trying to find my ideal diet – because I do believe in experimenting and tweaking, in the pursuit of wellness. And it’s been a long and interesting journey.

It started when I was 19 years old, a university student struggling with panic disorder and body image. I was taking a biology class that got me thinking about sustainable agriculture, and I decided to try vegetarianism for a while.

I’ve never looked back. Over the years I’ve tried many specialized vegetarian diets for health reasons – vegan, raw food, macrobiotics, Ayurveda, elimination diets for allergies, migraines and endometriosis, gluten-free and lactose-free diets – you name it, I’ve probably done it. Lately I’ve become interested in the low-carb Paleo or Primal movement, not because I want to eat meat again – or because I particularly believe that this is the way humans are supposed to eat – but because I like what I’m learning on a blog called Mark’s Daily Apple about low carb diets as a way of helping reduce carb cravings, and hopefully also dealing with some of the inflammation issues that are part of my endometriosis condition.

For the last couple of months I’ve been attempting, off and on, to become fat-adapted. That is, I’m trying to get my body to a state where it no longer craves carbohydrates, and can fuel itself, when necessary, on my fat stores between meals. Not an easy feat when you’re vegetarian and a carb junkie, let me tell you. But I gave up grains and legumes in the winter, and now I’m hoping to make another stab at going really low carb this coming week (the whole month of August, actually). My strategy will start with keeping my carb intake below 150 grams per day, and doing consistent, low-impact, low-cardio exercise and weight-bearing movement (including lifting heavy things). I’m really looking forward to finally getting to a place where I’m no longer nutso for chocolate and high-carb fruits and veggies. Wish me luck…

Have you ever experimented with your diet in the name of wellness? Do you feel inspired to try again? What’s holding you back?

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If you’re interested in reading more good reasons for going low carb, or at least giving up grains, many friends of mine have recently recommended Wheat Belly by William Davis. I haven’t read the book myself, but from all accounts it’s a really intelligent, accessible look at modern grain production and the effects of genetically engineered grains on the human body. From my own experience, once I gave up grains, I finally stopped having horrific abdominal bloating all the time. Food for thought…

p.s. The photo at the beginning of this post is one of my recent salads. I haven’t cooked much (besides my daily eggs) since summer began; most of my meals are raw right now. Which means salads. Huge salads. For breakfast, lunch and supper. Typically they contain one head of romaine lettuce, and assorted sliced veggies along with scrambled or hard boiled eggs, some herbs and spices (like paprika and channa masala), olive oil, lime juice, vinegar and salt.