Posted on December 16 2019
I recently had a business meet with this person regarding some tie up and we met at a local cafe. It was a health cafe and the menu was filled with everything from smoothies, sandwiches, salads, desserts etc. There were ample options for vegetarians and non- vegetarians.
Most people who know me, know that I literally only choose to go to three places to eat in Bangalore on my main cheat days. Not because vegan options in Bangalore are limited, (I have never ever gone into a restaurant and not found a vegan option that I like) but because once I get comfortable knowing the staff knows what veganism is, there won’t be any dairy in my food. Also, when its cheat day, I will not waste it by experimenting ;). But thats only my once a week main cheat day. My job requires me to meet people over coffee/ tea all week long and I love trying new cafe’s and local small eateries.
I have learnt so much over these cafe meet’s about peoples food habits and dietary preferences. The motivation to write this article especially came to me from my last meet. The guy I was out with was on a Paleo diet (from my understanding, low carb and high fat/ protein) and could only consume 15 grams of carbs per day! OKEY, 15 grams is like half a banana, or like one capsicum (don’t even think about eating rice/ chapati ;)! So naturally he could not order anything from the menu (not even tea/ coffee since his diet plan did not allow him to do so). Now note I am not bashing paleo diet here (heck I am really not even sure if he was doing paleo right ;/). But he drank water while I ordered and enjoyed my hummus with farm fresh veggies.
I meet people at least 2-3 times per week and always have to eat/ drink outside (not my main cheat even). But every single time I find a way to accommodate something from the cafe and still be on track with my macros and diet. Most times its a soy based drink from Starbucks or something like a salad, fruit cuts, juices, tofu anything, whole wheat pasta, unsweetened ice teas, steamed rice, or even just green tea. Yes I am specific about getting the sauces on the side, not frying anything, no oils, dairy free etc but never ever have I sat and drank water across a table. Am I still on a “diet- plan”,- hell yes, I have a year end (2016 end) goal to touch 10% body fat just one time on a vegan high- carb diet and I am very serious about my diet plan. But my diet has never restricted me from meeting people or having a social life at least few times per week. I am still losing weight and lifting heavy.
On the contrary, if I think about it, the only difference when I am “dieting” to lose weight vs not- dieting is that I measure everything I eat when on a diet and track my macros. Once I touch 10% and go back to maintaining a healthy fat%, I will still eat the same stuff I am eating now. My lunch on most days will still be rice and beans, breakfast will still be smoothies and dinner will still be amaranth tacos, tofu stir- fry’s, sweet potato burgers etc. I will probably add in a glass or so of a cocktail here and there, (which I am completely off right now) but nothing much will change. Oh oh and vegan desserts! I will add in 2-3 desserts per week (I try very hard to restrict this now.
Sit back and think about your “diet”. Is it restrictive? Are you not able to sit an enjoy a meal with your family because of your “diet”? Are you constantly thinking about food? If your diet is not a lifestyle change, then drop it right now. Make a permanent lifestyle modification with food and for that you will have to learn to make the food you enjoy the most tasty. If you do not like oats, do not eat them! Switch is for mung stir fry or tofu and berry smoothie bowl in the morning. Only if you enjoy what you are doing will you stick to it for long. I hate broccoli. I struggled to force feed myself broccoli for way too long while trying to lose weight. But it just doesn’t work that way. Finally I dropped it from my diet and switched it with spinach/ asparagus and calabash instead (trust me I am a much happier person to be around now .
If fact, it is the funniest when I am hanging out with non lifters and am the only one in the group eating all the food on the table. People see me talking all healthy on social media and are mostly surprised by how much I eat. Hey what can I say, I take my cheats very seriously ;). Besides I have a waist line (not genetic at all, I sculpt it) that can take it.
Now coming to veganism. If you look at a vegan diet from any other perspective but ethics, you will find it VERY restrictive. For people who have been following me on Snapchat/ FB for longer than 9 months know how deep my relationship with pizza was. One day (like literally overnight) I decided to drop dairy. Do I crave dominos anymore? Well I crave pizza a lot but not really dominos. When I see someone eating a pizza, I want it too but a vegan pizza. I will probably throw up if I took even a bite of the regular daily cheese pizza. Just thinking about cow rape juice makes me sick. From an outsiders perspective a vegan diet is restrictive, but ask an ethical vegan and they will tell you a different story. But like I said, I have never ever had a problem of going into a restaurant and ordering vegan food. I might have to send it back cuz they messed up with the sauces like garnishing with mayo or something, but nothing else.
I have never tried a Keto/ paleo/ atkins diet, but ask yourself, is it sustainable? I have had clients who follow these diets till they lose weight and get back to regular eating once they have lost the weight, only to gain it all back. Whats the whole point here? Make a lifestyle change not a diet. When you write a diet plan for yourself or have an expert write it for you, ask yourself, can you do this for the rest of your life? If a dietitian says “this is only temporary”, RUN FAR FAR AWAY.
Keep in mind though every new diet plan will force you to change up a few things about the way you eat. You will have to make adjustments and give up a few things you love, (like I cannot really drink alcohol on a high carb plant based diet and expect to lose weight) but are you ready to live with these changes for the rest of your life. Say for example, I would rather give up alcohol and still get to eat my rice and stay high carbed vs being able to have alcohol and give up on rice, fruits, veggies and all the carbs. Both ways I lose weight, but one is long term and other is a short term goal (wondering which diet allows you to consume alcohol and lose weight- none, I cannot think of any other example but you get my point). Basically if you are like the one sitting and sipping water at a cafe because your diet is restrictive, drop the diet.
Your diet should allow you to enjoy popcorn at the movies, cup of tea with your best friend, social and business meet munches, family movie night snacks and birthday party junks! A high- carb vegan diet does allow for all of these. Plus you get to lose weight and have energy throughout the day! Worth a try no?