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Lessons from 18 Diets in 18 Months with Parker Olson

By Nate Sleger

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Parker Olson, founder and CEO of the health food company Forij. Parker shared the fascinating story of how he became interested in nutrition and started experimenting with different diets, which eventually led him to start Forij.

In the interview, Parker recalled the moment that sparked his curiosity about nutrition: "I was in my brother's car in college at the University of Minnesota. It was winter, dark and cold. He had been testing the Whole30 diet and told me about 'tiger blood' - this thing dieters talk about where you get all these benefits like improved vision and hearing. I thought that was so interesting."

After college, Parker worked a corporate job and felt a lack of autonomy. He decided to try changing up his diet as an experiment. As he put it, "I just wanna see, will I notice differences?"

Over the course of 18 months, Parker tested an astounding 18 different diets, including vegan, vegetarian, keto, paleo, and more! He found the first 2 weeks of each diet to be the biggest adjustment period before he felt his body adapt.

He also tried non-food diets, making a big lifestyle change for a short period of time in order to see what happens and what lessons he might learn.

When asked about the craziest diet he tried, Parker said, "I slept outside in my tent for 30 days straight while working my office job. It was the rainiest August in Seattle on record!" He emphasized the importance of not just optimizing your body but finding joy in life.

After all his experimentation, Parker settled on a mainly whole foods diet, while still staying open to new things. He fasts periodically and continues supplementing with functional mushrooms.

Parker also discussed how getting into triathlons made him realize the importance of fueling your body properly. He learned from unfortunate experience when he "bonked" halfway through a race due to lack of calories and electrolytes. Proper hydration, fuel, and electrolyte intake became crucial in his training.

Today, Parker runs Forij, which makes healthy snacks fortified with bioavailable mushroom powder. He partnered with the world's largest mushroom strain developer to address issues like vitamin D deficiency through delicious, nutritious foods.

In the end, Parker emphasized having self-awareness about what your body needs and finding activities that bring you joy. He encouraged staying curious and open to trying new things while maintaining balance. It was inspiring to hear Parker's nutrition journey and his passion for helping others feel their best through Forij.

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