I’ve tweaked my diet, again.
Many years ago I eliminated gluten and dairy. A few years ago, I eliminated most animal products. On very rare occasions, bread, cheese or chicken, would sneak onto my plate, but I was “mostly” a gluten free, pescetarian. So I still ate a lot of eggs and some seafood, but mostly plant based foods. All the while experimenting with not just the what’s of nutrition, but the when’s and hows. I researched and experimented with intermittent fasting vs. 6 meals a day, calorie counting, high protein vs. high fat, and carb cycling, to name a few.
With all of the “diet” plans that I’ve personally experienced and supported clients on, I’ve never been completely sold on any of them. I’ve seen some results from most of them, but the results were rarely long lasting or truly life changing. And with every plan there was always something that just didn’t sit well.
Why eat like a caveman, if you don’t live like a caveman, and why do you think that cavemen ate hamburgers and apple smoked bacon? Why do you need 4x the amount of protein as your great grandparents? Do you have 4x the muscle mass or spend more time working in the fields? How are powdered, liquid or pill versions of food better than fresh foods? Why are carbs or fats or any other macro nutrient forbidden, but the chemicals added to resemble real foods are okay? Why can we only get protein from eating animals that only eat plants? Why are we seeking nutrition advice from doctors that have no formal or other education on nutrition, or a government organization that makes money promoting “bad” foods AND the drugs used to treat the diseases that those foods cause?
Thankfully, I’m not the only one asking these questions. There is a huge push toward a whole foods plant based diet or WFPB for short. Now this is something I can get on board with! And I have! Eating all plant foods just makes sense!
***WFPB is different than being Vegan. While vegans avoid animal products, mostly for ethical reasons, there are plenty of unhealthy vegan foods. Oreos, potato chips and sodas are all void of animal products, but they are also void of any nutrition. WFPB is not just about avoiding one area of a traditional diet, but deliberately choosing only whole foods that are beneficial to our health.***
While the benefit of eating fruits and veggies is not a new revelation for me or anyone else, I, like many others in my profession fell into a few dangerous traps. The “make small changes” trap, the “better option” trap, and the “just add” trap.
Every day, we make hundreds of choices, many of which are subconscious. We are so overwhelmed by choices that we rarely make conscious, deliberate decisions; instead we rely on habit and instant gratification. Making unconscious decisions, in and of itself, is a habit. Thus we have to regularly practice making conscious decisions if we want to change our habit.
Think about someone who wants to change their spending habits to get out of debt or save for a house. Will they reach their goal by simply saying that they will spend less when they sporadically buy new clothes, a “small change”? Or will they reach their goals by budgeting all of their finances and making regular, conscious decisions about all of their purchases, every day, all day? The same goes for making any major, lasting changes, especially nutrition habits. In order to make lasting changes, we need to be all in. We need to make major changes in our thinking, our decision making, if we want to make major changes in our habits.
The “better option” trap is another slippery slope. I have often felt the need to allow and even encourage clients to chose “better options”, rather than digging in and encouraging them to chose the best option. Chicken, fish and eggs rather than pork and steaks, vegan protein powder vs. whey, gluten free breads vs. wheat versions. Instead I should be coaching them and choosing for myself, the best options. FYI, sometimes the best option is “none of the above”. Don’t try to replace a “bad thing” with a less “bad thing”… just get rid of the bad thing!
And finally, the “just add” trap. Just add 30 minutes of exercise to your overly scheduled day! Just add juicing/smoothies/powders/supplements. Just add this app to help you track your everything. Just add this watch to count your steps. While these things can be great tools, for most of us, adding things to our already busy, stressed lives is not the answer. First we need to eliminate a lot of physical and metaphorical clutter.
I was falling into all of those traps both personally and professionally, becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress and results. I realized that by practicing deliberate decision making, eliminating physical and metaphorical clutter and deliberately choosing the best option was the only way to improve my health and the health of my clients.
As I was changing my nutrition, I had also begun to apply these same practices to other areas of my life around the same time. I’m started working hard to be more deliberate with my finances, time and energy. I have eliminated lots of physical clutter from my home, freeing up quality time with my family and streamlined processes at work to eliminate the “busyness” that was interfering with the time I had for clients. Less stress, more energy….who doesn’t want to experience that! Completely by accident I realized how much the two overlapped and SHOULD overlap.
I began to realize that the times my clients or I have had major successes was when we were all in, and the lasting success, came from applying changes to multiple areas of life. The times that my clients or I have failed were due to a lack of intentionality and an overwhelming amount of distractions.
Thus Minimalist Nutrition was born!!!!
There is nothing new about minimalism, in fact there have always been those that deliberately chose a simple, intentional lifestyle. Jesus was the ultimate minimalist, one purpose, one focus, nothing got in the way of that. Throughout the ages, you can find a countless number of people that avoided excess and clutter to fully focus on their values or mission.
Today, many people are seeking out minimalism to combat the excessive distractions of our modern lives and intentionally focus on their values versus getting stuck on the hamster wheel of the American Dream. Unfortunately I have seen many minimalist that see food as a very small part of the lifestyle. Many are vegan, for ethical reasons, but many eat “cheap” for the sake of cheap or too little for the sake of little. The more I explore minimalism, I don’t actually associate it with “cheap” or “less for the sake of less”, but a way to reallocate our most important resources… time, energy, money and attention, to the truly important things in life.
There’s also nothing new about WFPB, in fact, it’s the oldest nutrition plan! But I see many that follow a WFBP diet, but do not apply the simple, minimalist principles to other areas of their lives, which usually leads to high stress levels and eventually falling off the wagon.
Minimalist Nutrition combines minimalism and WFPB nutrition to create a cohesive theme throughout our lives. A theme of intentionality and health…. allowing us to improve all areas of health (our mental, physical and spiritual health) as well as the “health” of our relationships, jobs and bank account. It truly is a “lifestyle”.
I’ve really enjoyed following “The Minimalists” (www.theminimalists.com), Rich Roll (www.richroll.com) and others these past few months. Check our their blogs or podcasts this week if you want to know more about minimalism. And stay tuned as I continue on my journey and strive to help others lead simpler, healthier, more deliberate lives.