What am I Supposed to Eat?

Jaimie Lee getting physical.

Vicki Shaver is starting a series here at the Le Bon Chef blog. She’s turning into a food sleuth, searching high and low for the perfect diet. She’s wants to uncover the healthiest and kindest-to-animals diet. In the process she’ll investigate the fads, the promises, the results, the truth. Follow along to find the answer to the question: What am I Supposed to Eat?

Since the time I moved out my childhood home and became the master of what I eat, I’ve tried a zillion different diets and exercise regimes all in an attempt to be healthy and/or lose a few stubborn pounds. As I roll into my 60s, I realize this has been a lifelong process with no definitive answer to the question, “What am I supposed to eat?”

In the 80’s, the answer was low fat and aerobic exercise. Remember Jaimie Lee Curtis in Perfect with Olivia Newton-John pleading us to “Let’s Get Physical?” Not only did I buy into this craze, I bought the required wardrobe of shiny, thigh-exposing leotards with matching leg warmers and joined aerobics classes. This diet seemed to give me permission to eat mass quantities of low fat (high sugar) snacks that actually prevented me from losing weight and looking as great at Jaimie Lee did in those leotards!

In recent years, the trend has flipped to low carb/high fat as the most popular health trend. In the early 2000s I discovered the Atkins diet and it worked! By simply cutting out carbs (pasta, bread, rice, potatoes), I easily lost 10-15 lbs. I was hooked!  More importantly, it was the first time I realized that what I ate affected the way I felt. However, it’s not easy to stick to a way of eating that doesn’t allow some of the comfiest comfort food ever!

In my most recent attempt to determine a definitive answer to this food puzzle, I tried The Whole 30 (by Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig), which is an elimination diet. It seemed to make some logical sense. Remove sugar, gluten, dairy, soy, legumes and alcohol (all the things that can cause health issues) for 30 days and then slowly add them back in, one at a time, to figure out if you have issues with any of the reintroduced items. It wasn’t easy, but I did feel much better, physically and mentally, but it’s very expensive. Buying preservative free, gluten free and sugar free food is costly.

It doesn’t help that the numerous food documentaries I’ve watched are in direct opposition to each other, citing conflicting statistics and scientific research. Amazon’s top selling diet/nutrition books are ALL some form of Ketogenic diet (low carb, high fat), but Time magazine (and many others!) rank it as the worst diet! Finding the answer isn’t going to be an easy task.

To make matters more confusing, the question is not only about the nutritional value of food and optimum health.  What about the ethics behind the food we eat?  Are the animals we eat being treated humanely?  Are animal food farms harming the environment? Are cage free eggs okay or are all eggs bad for you? Is Vegan the way to go?

So many questions! Stay tuned to see if I can find some answers.

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  1. Sue Lange says:

    Great idea for a post. I’ve been confused about what to eat since they invented acid reflux. Carry on!

  2. linda bell says:

    Yeah i think we all have struggled with THIS one. I think I was so duped for so many years thinking low fat and high carb was way to go. took me awhile to realize that low fat often meant high sugar and high carb was the most direct route to high pounds.
    I finally feel thrilled I can enjoy good butter and oils to a degree. I have come to enjoy high protein foods that I avoided (think meat) and when I choose to eat carbs they better be WTC (worth the calories!!.) Most of all I avoid anything processed – really pretty easy and I feel good.
    Michael Pollan (one of my favorite food gurus) makes a case for learning to cook as the best way to maintain health and weight. I think he might be onto something…

    • Vicki Shaver says:

      Michael Pollan is the person who got me started down this rabbit hole of wondering what I should eat and questioning conventional wisdom. Look for references to his books and documentaries in my next posts!

  3. Sue Lange says:

    Yeah, Michael Pollan’s a hero.

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