"Are you Paleo?"
"Are you Keto?"
Those are questions I get ALL OF THE TIME, and they are some of the hardest questions I find to answer. When I first started out I thought I had to label the way I eat and teach my clients to eat. I thought that I needed to pick a style, learn the rules inside and out and stick to it. Once I started working with clients and seeing the way different people reacted to different foods, that went COMPLETELY out the window.
Now I HATE labelling when it comes to eating styles. A way of eating (or WOE), in my opinion, shouldn't ever be put into a box and labelled, because that implies that if you don't follow the exact instructions than you're doing it wrong. It implies that there is one perfect way of doing it.
As soon as you hear Paleo. or Keto you think of the things you are allowed to eat, and the things you are not allowed to eat (if you're familiar with those WOE's) or you start researching them and decide what is and isn't allowed. You immediately think of rules and start restricting yourself, and for what? So you can put the way you eat into a little box and label it? What's the point? That doesn't get you results. Labels don't mean results and more often than not you become more concerned with following the label to a T than you are with whether or not it's working for your specific body.
I say it over and over again, but it's worth repeating: there are a billion different perfect diets for a billion different bodies. The way I would do Keto isn't exactly the way someone else would. If you spend a lot of time in community forums like Facebook groups, you'll see a LOT of energy being directed towards whether someone is or isn't proper ______ (fill in whatever diet label you need to here). It gets pretty heated, and at the end of the day why on earth does it matter? If you are eating a certain way and seeing results, then who cares if you're doing it right?
I have a friend who became a vegetarian a few years ago, as a way to feel better. It worked really well for her. She lost weight without trying, her energy went up and she really enjoyed it. All of the extra fruit and veggies in her diet were clearly beneficial. But as she got more involved in a vegetarian community, she was often made to feel as if she wasn't a 'real' vegetarian because she still ate eggs and fish. So she decided to do it 'right' and stop those 2 things. Since that time (about 6 months now), her energy is way down. Her hair has started to thin out. Her fingernails crack. Basically her health has taken a turn for the worst. You know what though? She's determined to make it as a real vegetarian and she does NOT want to add those two things back into her diet. And for what? This isn't a social/political reason...she isn't doing this for animal welfare. Her body clearly did better the other way. This is strictly about meeting the requirements to be accepted as a real vegetarian. The label became more important than the outcome.
Seems kind of crazy right?
But I get this question every single day, "Can I eat ________ and still be _______"
It's the same thing.
Now obviously plans have to have specific parameters to make them work. I get that. But those should never trump what's best for your individual body. Let's look at two examples. Sandra and Julia.
Sandra has decided that she is Paleo. In a Paleo diet, only food available to our Paleolithic ancestors is allowed, which doesn't include any grains. Say Sandra goes out for her daughter's birthday dinner and decides to have a slice of pizza. That wheat crust is clearly not Paleo so does that immediately mean she's no longer Paleo? And then what....does she completely drop the whole Paleo thing because she broke a rule? Does that mean she can no longer identify as Paleo? How long until she earns the title back? It's all so stressful and confusing!
Julia eats in a Paleo style. She decides to go for sushi for dinner with her hubby. Sushi rice isn't Paleo, but that's no big deal. Julia still eats in the Paleo style, she's just choosing to add rice tonight. With no official label, there are no hard and fast rules. She can still get the results she wants from her eating style, without the crazy restrictions.
See what i'm saying? Labelling sets you up to fail.
So next time you're wondering if something is okay to eat if you're _________, think about it this way: "Is it what you want to eat? Can you make it work and still see the results you want?"...if the answer is yes then of course it's ok!
At the end of the day what's more important: seeing the results you're so desperately looking for or identifying as ____________?