It is no secret that the pathway to good health includes a good diet. But is there a one-size-fits-all plan? Oh, if only!
Simply stated, a healthy diet is one that fills your body with all the nutrients it needs to be strong and vital, without adding toxins or any detrimental elements.
EVERYONE needs a standard set of essential nutrients – vitamins, minerals, amino acids and good fats.
INDIVIDUALLY, we each thrive on a unique subset of those nutrients. Clearly, we wouldn’t feed a pregnant woman the same way we feed a PX90 enthusiast. Likewise, good foods for a heart patient will not be the same as those of a diabetic or someone with Crohns Disease.
This could explain the popularity of diets, such as Paleo, Raw Vegan, and Macrobiotics. Individuals may find, that for whatever reason, they thrive on a very specific way of eating. That’s great! The problem is that not everybody thrives on every diet. Just because your brother, friend, neighbor, coworker feels like a million bucks on Diet X, does not mean that it is optimal for your body.
So how do you decide what is an optimal daily diet for you?
First, consult your physician.
To follow is information for you to consider. It is not medical advice. You should always consult your physician before embarking on any special diet, especially if you have specific health concerns.
Let Your Body Tell You What it Needs
Have you ever eaten some whole food that made you just feel great? Could you almost feel the little molecules and nutrients entering the cells in your body to give you peace and energy? Conversely, have you eaten junk food only to feel heavy and icky and stagnate? If so, good! Then you are able pick up on the clues your body gives you. If not, then a little mindful eating may just turn your world around.
A roadblock to reading your boy’s signals – Processed foods
Trying to find which foods are best for you while on a processed foods diet is a bit like trying to see your feet when you are standing in a muddy pond. It is impossible to see anything below the surface. A processed foods diet will “muddy” and confuse a body’s signals. This may have a person jumping from one diet to the next, with mixed results and never quite finding his or her ideal foods. In clear clean water, you can see all the way down to the floor. When your diet is clean from chemicals and processed foods, your can pick up on those signals your body sends you. You may find that a bowl of pho makes you feel immense peace, or that beans and rice make you feel nourished, or green juice makes you feel refreshed, and you can take on the world!
Yes, organic foods are more expensive. Although, an organic diet is much cheaper than disease and there are tricks for eating organic on a budget.
Cleaning out chemicals and pesticides allows you to get clear signals from your body. Try this, and you will find that your own body will let you know when you have eaten the “right” or “wrong” foods for YOU.
You don’t have to change everything all at once. Add in one new healthy habit, or real whole unprocessed food, at a time. After a while, you may find unhealthy habits, or processed foods, dropping away. And you won’t miss them. Meanwhile, if you like sugar and butter, and your doctor has not told you otherwise, go ahead and eat REAL cane sugar and REAL whole butter without growth hormones… maybe even delicious Irish butter from grass-fed cows. Baby Steps.
Maybe nothing. Maybe your body, mind, and spirit are strong enough that you can stop there. Still, to get all your nutrients, here are some recommendations:
- Eat whole foods in season. They will be at their best in nutrition and at there lowest in cost.
- Organic is usually better. For example, a conventional apple may sit on the grocery store shelf up to 14 months! …losing all its nutrition. Organic food can’t sit that long. And, of course, it is free of pesticides and is nonGMO.
- Eat local foods when possible. This will maximize nutrition (and minimize that green footprint thing)
- Eat a variety of foods… aka Eat the Rainbow.
- Remember your healthy fats.
If you still have Concerns…
If you are dealing with specific health concerns, or believe that you are suffering from food allergies or intolerance, than you may want to consider customizing your personal diet. -With your physician’s blessing, of course.
This is often the point at which people start thinking about popular diets and becoming very overwhelmed.
You may know someone who swears by the Paleo diet and can offer you science to back it up, and someone else on a Vegan diet who has never felt better, or maybe even someone who eats only grapefruit and believes they have cured disease. But how can you determine what is right for YOU? You are unique.
A few years ago, a friend of mine was told that she MUST eat only raw foods… a diet of salads. However, she found that her body does not digest raw foods. If your body can’t process raw foods, unlocking the wonderful nutrients they contain, and you are left feeling tired all of the time, what is the point of this? Have a slow-cooked bowl of stew!
Tip: A recipe that is both Paleo and Vegan is good for just about everyone!
But I digress…
Most of these diets are elimination diets of sorts. Paleo eliminates all grains, legumes, and dairy. Vegetarian diets limit most, or all, animal protein and products. Macrobiotics is grains-based and eliminates most meats, dairy, and other specific foods.
But what if you feel great on a Paleo diet because you have eliminated all grains, but really only need to eliminate wheat… maybe you have a wheat intolerance. Perhaps you can do well eating quinoa and nonGMO corn. That is for you to determine (with your physician).
To figure it all out, elimination diets are a useful place to start. Dr. Oz and J.J. Virgin have their own versions of this process. Essentially, you grossly simplify your diet for a couple of weeks, or until you feel better. Then you add back in one food item at a time. Your body WILL tell you, usually very quickly, if it does not like this food.
There are also elimination diets specific to health disorders. Many IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) sufferers have found good results from using the LowFODMAP diet. Usual suspect foods are eliminated, like lactose, gluten, and fructans, then added back in.
Some of us don’t do so well with sticking to an elimination diet long enough to get results.
Getting more and more attention are diet plans that consider your personal constitution and suggest foods that are optimal for you as an individual.
The Blood Type Diet can be included in this group, as it recommends lists of foods which are generally optimal for each blood type… Type O requires high protein diet, whereas Type A calls for plant-based, etc. Some have found this a very useful starting point, adding and subtracting foods from the general list as needed.
Ancient and Time Tested Methods
You may be hearing more about Ayurvedic principles. There is a reason for this. Traditional Chinese Medicine works by similar principles. These diets are based on centuries of observational studies. They make connections between specific health issues, your demeanor, you as a whole person, and optimal nourishing foods for you.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic diets, are more fluid, for lack of a better word. Each person will fit into a specific category, or categories. Each category suggests optimal beneficial foods for this person. But as the seasons change and health needs change, so may specific food choices.
While these are Eastern medicine principles, studies in Western medicine consistently proves them valid. For example, a hot-tempered person (pathology) may be likely to have heart problems (physiology). This person should eat heart healthy foods. Chinese medicine and western medicine are in agreement.
If you like personality quizzes, here is one to help you determine your Traditional Chinese Medicine Element. Keep in mind that this little quiz is highly simplified. Chinese Medicine is an art, and you are complex. Still, the quiz is helpful. Have fun!
Getting from Point A to Point B
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Baby steps are fine. You don’t have to be perfect. Every little step you take toward healthful eating for YOU, will make you just a little bit stronger.
There is more than one way to get from point A to point B. Rather than letting options overwhelm you, why not embrace to opportunity to choose what appeals most to you? Whatever you choose, Food Highs supports you! Watch for recipes. 🙂
… and no, I am not recommending the eating of elephants.
Information on this site should NOT be taken as medical advice. Always consult your doctor in matters of health.