I tend not to give very specific eating guidelines, mostly because every body is unique and every person has unique needs, goals, tastes, cultural traditions and local food systems.
I want you to learn to tune into your own body and how it responds to what you eat, and it’s REALLY hard to do that when someone is telling you that foods are good or bad, or that you should or shouldn’t eat such and such.
I don’t believe there are any truly bad foods. Even processed simple carbs can be beneficial for some people and in some circumstances (specifically recovery from starvation/anorexia, participation in endurance sports, or in the case of malabsorption and digestive problems that make it difficult to keep weight on).
For every study showing that a food is ‘unhealthy’, there’s another study showing that it’s ‘healthy’.
So I won’t tell you what to eat and what not to eat.
If you’ve been struggling with diets, feel overwhelmed with all the conflicting information out there, just feel hopeless and fed up: forget EVERYTHING you’ve learned about food. Toss out ALL the rules, right now. Use my metabolic calculator to figure out how many calories your body needs to support your activity and a healthy weight (it’s probably a lot more than you think, and in many cases more than you’ve conditioned yourself to eat), and then just eat *whatever you want* within your calorie needs. For a few weeks you will probably go crazy eating all the foods you’ve been denying yourself for months or years. But after a while, you will notice that those foods are less and less appealing. You will start to want to eat a more balanced and rich variety of foods. Vegetables will probably start sounding appetizing. You can still eat those ‘bad’ foods (except that they’re not bad) whenever you want. But you’ll find that you don’t want them all the time any more. It’s true. It really happens this way. Just ask the people who’ve tried it!
Your body isn’t your enemy and if you start actually listening to it and letting it guide you, you will learn so much about how foods affect your own individual biochemistry. Pay attention to energy levels, digestion, recovery after workouts, and all the other little signals it sends you that you’re on the right or wrong path. You are your own guru!
Want to know more about this approach to eating? Check out Matt Stone’s Diet Recovery 2 for another take on escaping the mental maze.