The HEAB Diet

I often get asked how I figured out the best way to eat for my body, and I’m going to share a little secret with you. It’s called trial and error. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: in my opinion, there is no perfect diet out there will work for every single person. We are all different, and the way I eat might work for some of you, and for others, it will not. I lost weight on a no sugar diet, not no-carb, or even low carb for that matter, but no sugar, and I mean NONE. For three yeas, I did not touch granulated sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup, etc. I did eat some fruit as well as dried fruit, but I kept it to a minimum. I ate grains but nothing refined, and I ate my fair share of fat. I gave up meat for about 5 years, but personally, I feel better when I eat it, red meat included.

Over the years, I have experimented with different diets, but I always end up right back where I started. The way of eating that helped me lose the weight also helps me to maintain my current weight, and why I keep trying other diets, I have no idea. I guess it’s because health and nutrition books intrigue me, and when I read something that seems to make sense, I want to try it right away. However, I then get frustrated that it’s not working for me, go back to my old way of eating, and end up feeling much better. Will I ever learn? Probably not, and I think I’ll always be a work in progress. However, that’s okay, because I can share what I’ve learned with all of you :)

Let’s see, I’ve tried:

1. Low calorie: I’ve tried this one intentionally in the past, and then again a few months ago during the first trimester of my pregnancy, but not on purpose. Yes, I lost weight living on about 1200 to 1300 calories of crappy food, but there is no way I could ever maintain that way of eating once the nausea went away and I got my appetite back. Seriously, if that’s all I allowed myself throughout the day, I would be one Skinny Bitch…literally. Trust me, I’ve been there, and I don’t ever want to go back.

2. Raw/vegan: Too much fruit…too much sugar (yes, fructose is sugar)…muffin top appeared almost immediately, and it was the heaviest I’ve been since losing the weight.

3. Clean Eating (Think Tosca Reno ): Not enough fat and way too much protein. My skin and hair were super dry (before and after photos here), and I gained weight on this one too. Our bodies can only handle so much protein, and then it stores the rest as fat. I am in no way a body builder, and my body seems to do better on a lower protein/higher fat diet. Plus, I enjoy eating 3 big meals a day rather than 5 or 6 smaller ones.

4. Primal Eating : This diet seems so logical to me, but again, I screwed it up and concentrated on protein rather than fat. I believe that’s where I made my mistake. Much to my dismay, I gained weight, and afterwards decided that life without oatmeal is simply not worth it!

5. Macrobiotic : Again, not enough fat for me. I love white fish and all, but I also love burgers. :)

6. Eat as much as you want and exercise it all away: After losing weight, I decided I missed pizza and ice-cream. So, I started eating all my old favorites, but I was never very good at moderation. One piece of pizza would lead to five, and I could easily eat a half gallon of ice-cream in 3 servings. No problem, I would just run it all off the next day. Well, after running everyday for about 8 years, participating in 20+ half marathons, 1 full marathon, and 1 50K trail race, I was done. Yes, I stayed thin, but all the sugar and carbs I ate to fuel my runs left me looking puffy. So, one day I stopped, and I haven’t had the desire to run again in almost 2 years. People often ask me if I miss it. No, if I did, I’d lace up my running shoes. For now, I prefer yoga, and nothing has done more for my body, mind, and spirit than yoga…nothing.

There have probably been other diets I’ve experimented with, but these are the ones that come to mind at the moment. With all of them, I have learned something new about myself. I know I cannot eat sugar in excess, fruit included. Yes, I have a sweet tooth, and yes, I eat sugar, but I usually try and HEABify most of my desserts. My body seems to do okay with complex carbs like oats, starchy vegetables, etc., and I feel my best and maintain my weight when I get in plenty of fat. However, I gain weight whenever I try any sort of low fat diet high in protein.

So, how do you know what the best way of eating for you is? Sorry, but I can’t tell you. You’re going to have to figure it out for yourself. Note how certain foods make you feel after you eat them. Do you feel energized or lethargic after a meal? Are you losing, gaining, or maintaing your weight? Do certain foods cause allergic reactions or mood swings? Do you feel exhausted all the time? Are you enjoying what you’re eating, and are you getting all the nutrients you need? Listen to your body my friends…it will tell you what works for you and what doesn’t.

In closing, I’ll leave you with some typical HEAB eats.

Rolled oats cooked in water and topped with tahini and unsweetened chocolate

Red Bean Soup with Cornbread

Meatza atop veggies stir-fried in pastuered butter

Please keep in mind the diets I mentioned above did not work for me, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work for others. It has taken me years, but I have learned which foods my body prefers (at least I think I have), and I hope this post is of some encouragement to those of you trying to figure out how to eat for your own body. My advice: simply let go, trust, and listen. :)