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What Diet is best for Overall Health?

Picking a lifestyle you can stick to can be hard. You want to follow what works and importantly something you believe in. If you’re like me and went through phases of doubt in your lifestyle and diet simply because of the hundreds of options out there, read on.

What Makes a Healthy Diet?

For just a second, lets not think about meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans, pescetarianism, patleo diet, zero carb, carb cycling, 5-2 diet.. Holy crap the list goes on.

Plenty of people follow various types of diets and lifestyles. In each of these examples you have people and athletes who are fit and healthy so it should be obvious they all work.

Where each diet and lifestyle is very different, they all have plenty of similarities:

  • They avoid refined sugars
  • Zero processed foods
  • Monitors food intake
  • Lessens or cuts out alcohol consumption
  • Plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • Lots of Water

Follow this and you’re onto a winner and don’t need to read the rest, which is mostly ranting.

Vegan, Vegetarian or Carnivorous?

My eating habits started off just like anyone else’s and ate what Mum put on the plate. Fortunately for me, my Mum forced us to eat plenty of different things, and in particular lots of things we didn’t like. Had it not been for this I wouldn’t nearly be as open towards food as I am today.

There wasn’t anything special in my diet when I was growing up other than it’s vastness. Plenty of choice and variation, I might have hated it then but I’m more than grateful now.

Professional Meat Eater

At around 18/19 years old I turned my diet into a meat feast. I did this because I wanted to be as massive and muscle bound as humanly possible. It was certainly a phase and one that took a few years to get out of. For the next 4-5 years I tried to consume upwards of 1 kilo of meat, protein shakes and several eggs each day.

You might expect me to then say, “And I was the most unhealthy I’ve ever been” well that wasn’t the case. I think I was eating some where upwards of 300 grams of protein a day with moderate (~200 grams) carbohydrates and moderate (~100 gram) fats. I was in bloody good shape. I was fit, healthy and strong – It was exactly what I wanted from my diet at the time.

It wasn’t until circa 2010 when social media had a huge impact on eating choices. This is when vegan and vegetarian diets started to become extremely popular.

They became popular because around that time clean eating was the thing to be doing. But what’s more appealing, rustic and cleaner than eating things grown from the ground?

When I tried to be Vegan

In around 2014 I wanted to consider my food choices and change from a typically carnivorous diet to a vegan one. I looked at all the food choices available to me and searched the web for inspirational recipes. The transition from a typical western diet to a vegan one is certainly a shock to the system. Forget everything you knew about cooking because going from meat eater to vegan cold-turkey (tofurky?) is a serious learning curve.

Unless you’re around like minded people there is literally no way you can’t be a burden. There are places you can’t go to eat, people need to now consider you as an individual rather than a group as a whole and it singles you out.

There is also the glaringly obvious fact that because you’re doing it for health reasons there is nothing stopping you from tucking into that juicy steak. Vegans still drink booze so a vegan doing it for health reasons now becomes a hypocrite.

I came to the conclusion that if you were not solely vegan for the ethical reasons you will have a very hard time to stick at it. That’s where I found myself.

To get the point in there, I mostly decided to go vegan as it’s extremely cheap. You can set yourself up for a month for under £100 and it’s a plenty ultra healthy diet. The goal at the time was to save money and I couldn’t fathom spending £400 a month on just myself for food.

People who adopt the vegan lifestyle are ones who either do it ethically or for health reasons. The ones who do it for the ethical reasons see it almost like a religion and that’s hard to break. Doing it for health reasons is no different than seeing it like a diet and no one sticks to diets.

To the current social media influenced vegans I give them another 2-3 years maximum before it dies out.

Among other things, in my quest for ultimate health people were using the phrase “plant based” time and time again. So..

What is a Plant Based Diet?

To be frank. A lot of people you see in social media talking about following a plant based diet are just a con. They post pictures of vegan meals with cheesy comments and plenty of #vegan and #plantbased. If anyone mutters the sentence; “I follow a plant based diet” please take it with a word of caution. This phrase makes you think these people are following a wholly animal free vegan diet. It couldn’t be further from the truth.

This phrase is just a cop out of what this person is making people believe they’re doing. It’s a get out clause that, if in the event they’re caught out eating meat or dairy they can say, “Oh no, I was only plant based.

Social media has an enormous influence on people these days. To see some of the top influences ramming #vegan and #plantbased down your necks each day makes you think, it’s the only way. If you’re going meat free, you must be hardcore either you eat it or you don’t. With this message in mind it’s difficult because unless you put a lot of time and effort into your meals you’ll feel very exhausted eating bland food.

It’s so much easier to have a couple of marinaded chicken breasts, wack them on the Foreman and wait for that perfect char.

Vegy-but-meat-sometimes-when-eating-out-itarian?

Striking that balance is important and considering eating is a social activity it’s important not to limit yourself. There must be some kind of quirky name for the above. This is where I see myself right now.

The majority of my diet is vegetarian, this is my preference because it takes the best of all the food choices. It’s cheap, convenient, nutritious and tasty. But if I go out to eat, I won’t restrict myself, if I feel like eating steak, I’ll have a steak. Half a chicken? Sure. A juicy slab of pork belly? Bring it on!

After experiences both sides of the eating curve I’ve found my personal sweet spot that’s right in the middle.

About the author

Will Shelby

I'm a simple guy who loves a good coffee, plenty of cycling and exercise. Caffeine Junkie is my blog dedicated to these two passions with a bit of travel thrown in for good measure!

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