Throughout my entire life, I was a relatively skinny kid — Tiny even. I had an extremely fast metabolism and had no issues eating whatever I wanted without gaining a single pound. I also played a lot of sports and was generally very active, so burning calories was never a worry of mine. Of course, that all changed after high school.
In college, and even a little after college, I got sick fairly often — This can be attributed to many (obvious) reasons. I was extremely inconsistent with my diet, I drank way too much, and generally didn’t get a lot of sleep. In terms of building a strong immune system, this was a total recipe for disaster. And unfortunate to say, this behavior isn’t too uncommon amongst college students.
Then, one year, the summer after my Junior year of college as I was entering my Senior year of college, I got very sick. I was hospitalized for over a month and eventually diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease — It was absolutely terrifying.
After that happened, I started becoming more aware of what I put into my body. I began eating a little better, exercising more frequently again, and avoiding certain foods and activities that were bad for my health in fear that another flare up that would send me straight to the hospital again.
Over the course of the past fews years, I learned how to cook, I stopped eating out so much, and I cut back on binge-drinking. From college up until now, I’d say that I made a complete 180 in terms of my health — That’s also partially because I started factoring age into the equation. And since that hospital incident, I’m proud to say that I haven’t been back.
But, of all the things that I did and the habits that I adjusted, the one thing I never did was go on a diet.
I can’t stand the word. I’m not a fan. I basically hate them.
However, for full transparency I have to admit that I’ve never been willing to try one either — But, with good reason.
Now, I’m not knocking anyone’s lifestyle or deterring people from going on a diet. In fact, many diets have been created specifically with health-related issues in mind. For example, gluten-free diets or dairy-free diets. Or being vegetarian or vegan. The backbone of these dietary lifestyles is directly correlated to preserving one’s immune system, preventing allergic reactions, or avoiding particular diseases or health concerns.
But, the diets that I am not a fan of, the ones that I really do not agree with, are the ones in which the sole end goal is to become a stick-thin model — Ones such as a juice diet or juice cleanse.
You see, there is a HUGE difference between wanting to LOOK THIN and wanting to BE HEALTHY.
When I was hospitalized and diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, a majority of the time I was physically unable to eat solid foods. I either had to receive nutrients through a tube or was eating foods with a similar texture to apple sauce or pudding. In that time, I lost a great deal of weight — I guess I could partially attribute this experience as another reason why I hate the idea of juice cleanses or juice diet. It was an absolute awful experience.
But, the real reason why I’m not a fan of juice diets is because of how restrictive it is (I also really enjoy chewing solid food).
I do, however, understand that the idea behind these juice diets is to “revamp” or “jumpstart” your digestive tract and give your body one giant “detox”, for lack of a better word. Again, this is coming from someone who was essentially forced into a liquid diet, which did actually “cleanse” my digestive system.
But, it also weakened me.
What I have found from taking on a more natural, mindful, and well-rounded approach to my dietary habits is that I can essentially “have my cake and eat it too” — And to be clear, this is a metaphor (although, I do enjoy cake every now and then).
Instead of limiting myself to a restrictive diet, I’m rather just being cognizant of what I eat, when I eat, and how much I eat. I’m aware that this is much easier said than done and not everyone has such a high level of self control, but this has been a clear winner for me in terms of how I’ve been able to get healthier, avoid binge-eating, and avoid going off the deep end.
I suppose a majority of this dietary lifestyle is just learning how to master self-control because in essence, you have to monitor your actions at all times. In some way, I guess this is restrictive like other diets, but only in the sense that you are not over-indulging when you really don’t need to.
Rather than restricting yourself from solid foods or certain foods, just go back to the basics —
Cut back on eating out.
Refer to the food pyramid.
Stop eating when you are full.
Cook and pre-plan your meals.
Exercise multiple times a week (based on your schedule).
Keep track of the amount of calories you consume each day.
In all honesty, this is not rocket science, nor is this any new information that you shouldn’t already know. And given the overwhelming amount of online resources and extensive variety of mobile apps, there are so many ways that you can make it easier for yourself to be reminded of these little things.
But again, I am in no way not trying to coerce or deter you from living your life. I am instead just shedding light on the fact that what you consume tremendously affects your quality of life. And when you start being mindful of what you put into your body, then your body will thank you for it in many ways. You’ll look better, feel better, be happier (I hope), and be an overall healthier version of yourself.