What to eat?
Being a Peruvian food blogger, cook (who thankfully isn’t working at kitchens at the moment), FFG (former fat girl), Buddhist, gastritis + knee pain sufferer, and nutrition/fitness enthusiast I’m often caught in the “what to eat” dilemma.
It all started long time ago with the first fad diet I ever tried. On and off I tried a lot. The grilled chicken breast and grapefruit diet. The grape diet. The only fats diet. The tomato soup diet. I spent a whole year bringing nothing but half a bread roll (which are 80% air in Peru) with light Philadelphia cheese to school, it was all I ate from breakfast til lunch at 3:30 pm.
I’ve tortured myself badly but I saw the light in my first appointment with a nutritionist. She gave me a very detailed eating plan that completely changed my lifestyle. My diet (as in “way of eating” as opposed to “unsustainable regime”) was based on whole natural foods and portion control. That immediately improved my lifelong gut issues. Some time after I became a vegetarian for practical purposes (I was wearing braces and started dating a then herbivore) for about a year. After that I had a dark period when I went to cooking school and broke my toe in a taekwondo fight, leading to excess body fat, but everything was fine after I got back to training and graduated.
By the end of 2006 I was reading all articles posted by Alwyn Cosgrove, Craig Ballantyne, John Berardi, and friends. I started tracking my workouts and nutrition, aiming to eat clean 90% of the time. Clean basically meant only carbs from fruits and vegetables except after working out, when I could have tubers or whole grains, and protein at every meal (6 to 7 a day, three main ones and the rest snacks).
Keeping a log works because it’s impossible to remember everything you eat, and thus very easy to underestimate your food intake. In the early days I used fitday.com and logged everything I ate and all the physical activity I made. It was great but very time-consuming. Then I adopted John Berardi’s idea to keep a chart and mark a hit for every clean meal and a fail for every non-compliant or missed meal.
I read about the Paleo diet for the first time in 2007. It made perfect sense (cavemen didn’t suffer from the so-called Western diseases and they lived pretty much on meat and some vegetables, tubers and fruit) and I’m a very logical person but I just wasn’t ready to give up grains and legumes.
My diet was going fine but at some point I stopped tracking. And then moved to Sydney. And later on became an “official” food blogger. I’ve been playing with my own life rules and metabolism elasticity (or lack of) for more than two years. Reading interesting stuff by Michael Pollan and Marion Nestle. Experimenting with more/less grains, more/less meat, more/less/no dairy, no alcohol (!), etc. Almost had an affair with Tibetan Ayurveda but Alvaro hates Indian-ish food. And also devouring articles by Mark Sisson, J. Stanton and others who talk about that Primal/Paleo lifestyle that I’ve been avoiding all these years. So a few weeks ago I decided to start tracking again. Surprise, surprise, my compliance percentage hasn’t been very high. It isn’t that low, either, but could be way better.
I’m currently transitioning from the clean eating I mentioned before to a Primal/Paleo diet, allowing 10 to 20% of cheat meals (ie: sanity-assurance meals) that include Peruvian food, special occasion dinners, etc. Hard to do, yes, but not impossible.