Nat TaylorObservations & more

The Pizza Diet

I suspect the notion of a “Pizza Diet” sounds ridiculous to you, yet I believe many Millennials are buying into diets that aren’t much better, because of non-scientific content like the following:

5 Steps To The Latest Secret Diet That Obamacare Doesn’t Want You To Know About!

Transform yourself into a 29 year old white male weighing 185 that’s 6’2″ with average muscle tone.  Start walking a lot and find then do a vigorous activity that you love.  Restrict your consumption of foods that nutritionists generally agree provide little nutritional value like soda and anything with ingredients that you can’t buy at the grocery store.  Eat and drink everything else but in portion sizes approximately equal to your own caloric needs and that consist a balance of all the food groups, with an extra focus on vegetables and away from sweets.  Enjoy two guilt free slices of delicious pizza everyday at work!

For the last 18 months I’ve been staying “healthy” on what I call “The Pizza Diet” which centers on eating two slices of buffalo chicken pizza on most weekdays.  Meanwhile I watch many people struggle to stay healthy cutting out foods they enjoy on popular diets like the whole30 (no added sugar, no alcohol, no grains, no legumes, no dairy) and paleo (chiefly meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit, and excluding dairy or grain products and processed food.)  I don’t claim to be a nutritionist, but the empirical evidence suggests that the Pizza Diet is superior.  How is that possible?

I believe these diets, including the “Pizza Diet” are fundamentally flawed because they over simplify the very complicated field of human nutrition.  Many diets equate “healthy” with low BMI, which ignores the fact that there are plenty of ways to malnourished or live oneself to a low BMI.  Many dieters seem to understand that about BMI and know that being “healthy” is at least a balance of diet and fitness, yet try to achieve good health by changing only diet.  More still accept non-scientific evidence of success as reason enough to try a diet, wholly ignoring the notion that individual factors play a large role in their health.  The “Pizza Diet” appears superior because it allows eating foods you like and maintaining weight.  So, what can we learn from the “Pizza Diet” about other diets?

First, I believe the “Pizza Diet” invalidates the “Rule of No,” and instead should remind us the generally accepted nutritional advice of eating a balanced diet.  Core to the “Pizza Diet” is that pizza actually only makes up 5 meals a week (out of 21!)  Given the goal of maintaining my weight, one can eat greater than zero pizza and still be successful.  Balancing out pizza are 16 other meals, usually consisting of small portions of whole grains and dairy for breakfast and Mediterranean-style dinner of mixed green vegetable salads with a meat side.

Second, I believe the “Pizza Diet” invalidates the notion that a diet alone can make you healthy.  Many dieters are motivated by a desire to lose weight, which if we oversimplify, can be accomplished by consuming less calories than are burned.  This is something that many popular diets underplay as it isn’t addressed by the rule of “no.”  Instead the “rule of no” seems to lead to the assumption that if a food isn’t a “no,” then it’s acceptable to eat in almost any quantity.  The “Pizza Diet” actually involves small portions, over 60-minutes of walking daily and at least one weekly hour-long session of vigorous activity.

Third, I believe the “Pizza Diet” invalidates the notion that a particular diet can work for everyone.  Many, including myself around five years ago, have tried similar versions of the “Pizza Diet” but gained weight or gotten otherwise less healthy.  Many diets ignore the differences between individuals, like the make up of the bacteria in their intestines, metabolism, physique and activity-level.  I believe that many diets come about after just a few success stories who quickly drown out any naysayers.

With these in mind, here is my novice advice for getting “healthy.”

Before you chose a diet, start by identifying some data points in your own life.  Take a look back at the diet that has gotten you to where you are today and then write it down in a form that you can compare some generally accepted nutritional advice like the food pyramid.  Next take a look at your caloric balance: how many calories do you burn everyday?  How many calories do you consume everyday?  Finally, think about your own body and lifestyle: are there foods that make feel sick?  are there foods that make you feel great?  can you make time to exercise?  Tools like the USDA’s SuperTracker are great for this, because they track nutrition and activity.

Next, analyze the data.  Look for food groups where the proportion that you consume is far different from the generally accepted recommendation, and try come up with simple changes that are more balanced while still compatible with your lifestyle.  In my experience, many Millennials consume too much sugar either through soda or sweets, which makes an easy starting point.  Similarly, look for seemingly little things that might be resulting in caloric excess.  Often times Millennial’s actually eat about the right amount, except they add desert every night, or have a sugary drink every night, or gorge on the weekends; similarly some Millennial’s rarely walk at all, even around their workplace, or get any other physical activity.  Try to find something in your calorie consumption or calorie exertion that would be an easy change within your lifestyle.

Next, set realistic goals using a tool like the USDA’s Body Weight Planner.

Lastly, choose a diet. If you are hoping to change your health, your choice must necessarily involve some changes.  If you are hoping to achieve what is generally accepted as healthy, your choice should involve eating something like the food pyramid guidelines and being physically active.  If you are hoping to stay happy, your choice shouldn’t completely cut out the foods you love or require you to do very stuff you don’t enjoy.  If you didn’t find anything to change or you are considering something drastically different from the food pyramid or you have to make changes that will make you unhappy, then consult a professional and do not fall down the rabbit hole of blog links like the one that begins this post!  If you still want to believe everything you read on the internet, you can read about my own nutritional tips that work for me.

P.S. If you do decide to consult a professional, I’m engaged to an awesome nutritionist.  Contact her at amanda.stegmann@gmail.com

Disclaimer: Some will say I’m just ‘lucky’ and perhaps that’s fair, but I’ve not said that everyone can eat pizza while maintaining their BMI.

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