Lots of diets work. Some of them are even good. I’m pretty convinced that the Paleo Diet, The Slow-Carb Diet and intermittent fasting (if you do it properly) will work for your body composition goals, and could well make you healthier. If I had to pick a diet to recommend to anyone, it would be Nate Miyaki’s Samurai Diet, which to grossly oversimplify it, says that Paleo is fine for inactive people, but rice isn’t the end of the world, and people who train hard should probably eat a few carbs. I think it’s fantastic advice. But maybe you don’t need a diet: maybe you need a strategy.
Any kind of eating plan needs to be sustainable. Unless you’re an eat-for-fuel type, and they do exist, that means your eating plan has to taste good, be relatively easy to prepare, not take up all of your disposable income and be close enough to real food to satisfy any romantic partners you have that don’t share your batshit crazy views on eating broccoli first thing in the morning.
Enter eating like a peasant.
One-pot cookery is absolutely the easiest way to make things that are delicious, easily stored and reheated, cheap, sexy and nutritionally optimal. Take beef bourguignon – part of French haute cuisine that originated as a peasant dish, you typically make it with beef, bacon, carrots, onions and mushrooms – that’s a massive hit of protein alongside three of your five a day that you don’t even notice – unlike, say, dolefully shovelling down handfuls of spinach raw from the packet. Unlike boiling your veg, stewing means you keep the nutrients in the dish, which is a bonus. Make it with real mash if you’ve got a none-dieting partner to impress – otherwise, use the cauliflower or sweet potato versions.
Other suggestions? I cook a decent basque chicken stew, a nice Moroccan lamb, and several variations on a pretty sweet chili. All can be done with relatively cheap meat – use bone-in cuts from the chicken, and you get the bonus that the nutrients from the bone leak out into the meat and broth, making it tastier and better for you. The chili tastes best about two days after you do it, which makes it the perfect thing to cook on a Sunday and eat all week. Super-secret bonus: if you’ve got any sauce left from the chicken one, you can poach eggs in it, a glorious hangover cure and a near-certain lady-impresser.
You don’t need a set of rules to eat healthily: you need a strategy. Try eating like a peasant today.
HOMEWORK: Try some one-pot cookery this week. If you can, make a bucketload and share it with someone you like kissing, or keep it for a week. And don’t eat any spinach out of a bag. Cookery!