What constitutes nutrition, exercise and overall health?
It is unfortunate, but these areas are overlooked in today’s education. Instead we become overly focused on what the body looks like, and how much it weighs. This is a dangerous game to play, because common health myths arise and people end up hurting themselves trying to be society’s idea of “healthy” and “ideal.”
It took me a long time (most of my life, actually) to become comfortable and confident in my own body, regardless of the fact that I am no where close to the “ideal” body type.
Part of my journey led me to create and need my own dietary lifestyle that made me feel healthy, happy and satisfied.
Primeotarian was that discovery.
The Primal Diet and the Paleo Lifestyle both constitute concepts from the same idea: “eat as our ancestors ate, and we’ll be healthier for it. More specifically, the Paleo Diet and Primal Blueprint both suggest, limit carb intake (especially grains), eat more protein and include lots of veggies as a base.”
The Vegetarian and Vegan Lifestyles also share a similar operative idea: a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish* or by-products of slaughter. A Vegan does not eat any animal by-products at all.
Each of the above lifestyles have do’s and don’ts that constitute their diet guidelines. Primeotarian is no different, however it is a magpie diet that combines the concepts to make a sustainable diet change.
Here is a visual guide for the diets:
|* with restrictions **depending on the type of vegetarian|
Primeotarian pulls elements from all of the above diets to help create a balanced diet. With the exception of grains, most other foods are allowed in restricted portions.
As with every diet, there are do’s and don’ts. Primeotarian is no exception.
Here are the guidelines for the Primeotarian diet:
*Legumes (only Garbanzo beans and lentils are allowed)
*Cheese (only low-skim Mozzarella and Parmesan are allowed)
*Yogurt (Greek yogurt in limited amounts is accepted)
*Margarine (Substitute this for butter)
In addition to the restricted and eliminated foods, there are other rules that help create the dietary portion for Primeotarian.
1.) Animal protein can be eaten once per day, 2-3x per week, the rest of the meals are composed of vegetables and vegetable protein.
2.) Dairy products are limited. One cup of yogurt can be eaten no more than once per day and cheese meals are limited to once per week.
3.) As often as possible, replace animal products with plant-based products (i.e. coconut milk for cream, garbanzo-bean burgers for beef burgers)
4.) Processed foods (anything that comes pre-made in a box or already cooked) should be avoided as much as possible. They often contain large amounts of sodium and chemicals that are not good for our systems.
There is no calorie counting on Primeotarian. In my experience, I have never exceeded my calorie goal of 1,500 calories per day while on this diet. There is not a restriction on how much you can eat, so there is little to no problem with being hungry. There is no starvation as long as meals and snacks are within the guidelines.
I love food. I love bad food. I did not get to where I was in 2012 by enjoying a perfect diet.
Unfortunately, even though my lifestyle has improved, I still love bad food. As such, I have had to make an opening in my diet for those terrible foods I still crave.
Though “cheating” is often unavoidable, there are steps that we can take to make cheating less appealing and less damaging.
Firstly, when we have the desire to “cheat” we have to limit this to as rare as possible. For me, I usually end up with a ‘cheat snack’ around once every 10 days. These usually look like a cookie, a fun size candy bar, or a small bag of chips.
The big “cheat meal” such as McDonald’s or pizza, I try to limit to once per month.
Whenever the desire to have a cheat happens, it is important to protect yourself as much as possible. For lack of a better acronym (I’m accepting suggestions!) I’ve named this as the MEAT system.
M – Mitigate your damages.
Is there a healthier option you could go for? Dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate? Homemade chips instead of bagged ones? Do you really need candy or would fruit suffice? By lowering the damage that cheating can cause, it becomes less appealing.
E – Extend the effort.
Never keep ‘bad’ foods in your house. This makes the temptation much less accessible. By forcing yourself to have to walk to the store, or bake, or put forth more effort than grabbing a veggie, you are less likely to grab this item. I also encourage myself, instead of driving to the store, or gas station, to walk there. This increases my exercise, and my lazy gene often trumps my hunger gene.
A – Affirm the action.
Are you really hungry or are you bored? Did you just see junk food on TV and it inspired a craving? Before I allow myself to have the cheat, I make myself wait between 15 minutes and an hour to make sure it is not just a passing fancy. In that time, I’ll drink a bottle of water, and try to focus on something else. If after the longest period of time has passed, I go back to M and E.
T – Treat yourself.
Life is short. If you have tried to follow the previous steps, it is a rare occasion, and you feel that you just need to eat the McDonalds, or the candy bar, do it. Eat it, enjoy it, and lose the guilt. Cheats are needed to keep us from binging and falling off the healthy wagon. With time, these cravings grow less frequent, but they are always still there. Take precautions, try to avoid it, but when cheating is the only option, enjoy it as much as you can for that moment.
Every lifestyle change comes with an adjustment period. This depends on how your body reacts, what kind of health history you’ve had in the past, how often you change your diet, etc. Primeotarian is no different.
For me, when I first made the change, I needed about three days to get over the adjustment period. The symptoms of this period are different for everyone. For me, I felt hungry, even after I’d already eaten, so I would eat large amounts of food. I would also have terrible cravings, for various foods, some I never even liked. My body was working through the complex foods I had been eating and moving into the simpler foods I was now eating.
It is important that during this time there is no cheating. The body has to learn that the natural foods are going to be what the body is going to get from here forward. It will adapt, but it takes a little bit of time.
During the adjustment period, don’t be afraid to eat. Eat as much as you need (provided it’s within the guidelines). Drink water. Get out of the house. During the first three days, the worst thing to do is to sit in the house and think about everything that is changing.
However, around day 4, the health benefits begin to kick in and life becomes easy again. After this time, I started to forget that I was on a diet.
The only time that I remember I am eating “healthy” is when I cheat. After I eat foods like pizza, hot dogs, processed foods or fast food, I feel sick. I usually wake up with indigestion and feel “gross” the next day. Though this is a negative experience, that feeling is usually a great deterrent for eating unhealthy.
On the other hand, when I am on the diet, the feeling of lightness, the infusion of vitamins and nutrients makes for an incredible youthful feeling and is worth giving up the junk.
In my next post, I will be covering the Other Lifestyle Changes that I follow on Primeotarian.
Although, before you go on, you might want to read Primeotarian: My Discovery.