Opinion: I tried out six diets. Here’s what I learned. – The San Diego Union-Tribune
Kiernan works in genomics and writes about debunking food myths with science, and lives in La Jolla. Twitter: @Estevan.Kiernan.
2022 is upon us and many will make the decision to take control of their health and focus on what they put in their bodies in the coming year. When we seek information on health topics, there’s a sea of conflicting opinions on every subject you Google. Is eating fat good or bad this year? I thought breakfast was the most important meal of the day. Are we skipping it with fasting? Did they ever figure out if meat was going to kill us?
More health information is available than ever before and yet we’ve never been more confused. Just dipping our toe into the pool of data can leave us with analysis paralysis. We look to our healthy friends and ask them for tips. They seem to have all the answers even if counterpoints are brought up about their diet. How can they be so confident that this diet will affect me the same way?
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That’s where I was two years ago. Instead of throwing my hands in the air, I said to myself I would try every diet out there. That’s right. Everyone claimed they knew the answer for what was right for me, but I was going to try every diet and find the answers for myself. As a scientist, I wanted to find the truth through data. At the beginning and end of each diet, I would take my blood work, blood pressure, body weight, body fat percentage and compare results at the end. A diet based on facts, not my Instagram algorithm.
For eight weeks at a time, I would try them all: keto, paleo, Mediterranean, intermittent fasting, vegetarian and calorie restriction. In the beginning of each diet, I was told, “you’re going to have so much clarity” or “all of your aches and pains will feel better.” What I got was awkward interactions at restaurants, looks of disgust from family on my food choices, and newfound abilities of locating the nearest restroom at any venue. The cravings. The expenses. The sustainability. Each diet was a teacher on ways to approach eating and I wanted to learn it all.
My experiences with these diets were similar to others who have tried them, but also diverged from the narrative, too. Sometimes …….