Between January and August 2019, I trialled more than five diets. Not because I’m a health-obsessive, or because I was shredding for any one particular event. No.
I tried each of them because I wanted to test the claims of some of the more popular dieting trends, and I wanted to share an honest account of my experiences with each of them.
Aside from the all-important question of “do they work?” I also took note of how they impacted my skin, my headspace, and my ability to roll out of bed each morning without crying from bread withdrawals.
The five diets I tested were: Beyoncé’s Beychella diet; a hormone-balancing diet; the wine and egg diet; Halle Berry’s keto diet, and a sugar-free diet.
And surprise, surprise, I hated most of them.
Cutting out carbs, meat, fish, alcohol, dairy and sugar in the name of Beyoncé left me looking slimmer, but I struggled with headaches and low energy.
My hormone-balancing diet saw me avoid refined carbs, sugar, caffeine and processed foods. It also asked me to eat every three hours and to include protein with every meal. While this wasn’t the *worst*, it affected my energy levels, caused bloating and led to a rash on my neck… There were also far too many rules to remember.
The wine and egg diet, on the other hand, WAS the worst. For three days, I could only consume white wine, black coffee, three eggs and one small steak per day. Obviously, this is ludicrous, and it left me feeling dizzy, hungry, kind of drunk, and so emotional that I had to hide in my bedroom.
Halle Berry’s keto diet meant I farewelled all carbs and increased my fat intake. My body definitely looked more defined, but I felt nauseous and tired. So, it got a no from me.
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In the end, there was only one diet I could, er, stomach. That was the no-sugar diet.
To be clear: this was not a ‘capital N’ no-sugar diet. I still consumed naturally-occurring sugars, I simply nixed all added sugars.
I’d be lying if I told you this way of eating was without its challenges; it wasn’t. There was an adjustment period where I had to learn which foods to cut, and that comes with its own stresses.
But in a few days, I noticed changes. My sleep improved, and my body looked trimmer. The no-sugar shred is real, you guys!
The most impressive result I saw, however, was with my headspace.
I kicked this diet off at a particularly overwhelming time for me. As someone with anxiety, this is something that can trigger obsessive thoughts and panic. But on this diet, I was better able to clear my head and achieve a sense of calm.
While I’d never suggest a diet is the solution for any mental health condition – your doctor is always your best point of information and advice – there is evidence that indicates a reduction in sugar can help with symptoms.
Along with the list of benefits I experienced, another huge win with this diet was the fact that I could see myself following it with relative ease.
And according to the experts, that’s an important part of changing the way you eat.
“I find that people tend to look for a quick fix, and a diet that will give them fast weight loss, rather than focusing on overall health and a sustainable way of eating,” accredited practising dietitian Emily Hardman told me.
“Instead of following extreme diets, I recommend focusing on making small changes and building healthy eating habits into your day.”
Clinical nutritionist Zoe Morosini added:
“Any change to your diet needs to be something you can actually do, or at least work towards over time.
“Make sure it is diverse in the types of foods it offers and has a focus on long term health rather than short term gains,” she said.
Both Hardman and Morosini stressed the importance of doing what works for your body. We are all individual, sparkly unicorns, after all. But as a general rule, they suggested incorporating a mix of vegetables, lean protein, sustaining carbohydrates (like whole grains and starchy veggies), and good fats (like nuts and avocado).
Now, I am more than aware that my experiences with dieting are not definitive. But I think we’ve all spent enough time looking at food as an obstacle in the race towards a smaller waistline. Instead, I’m choosing to focus on what’s going to be best for my body and mind. If that means I can make healthy choices AND eat carbs, then you better believe I’m going to take that gift and run with it.