People are always searching for the “perfect diet.”
Here’s a little secret: there isn’t one.
The perfect diet (way to eat) is the one that works for YOU. It will change based on your point in life and your goals, such as exercising and training for events, pregnancy and breastfeeding, or just growing older.
If you’re into reading and learning about nutrition, you’ll likely find conflicting recommendations and ideas from people. One person claims vegan-ism is the only way to be healthy, while someone else pushes a paleo-style lifestyle. Your best friend is thriving on a gluten-free diet, while you don’t feel a difference. Everyone likes to give their two-cents (even I do!), but the goal is to find what works for you.
Although listening to other’s stories is inspirational and motivating, the only way to discover your perfect diet is self-experimentation. Eat a food, and pay attention to how your body feels a few hours later and even the next day.
Don’t stress about every bite of food you put in your mouth, but be mindful about the food you do eat. Food is meant to nourish you. Leafy greens may nourish your body, but somedays, ice cream is needed to nourish your soul.
Simply being aware of what you’re eating and how it affects you is the first step to discovering what your perfect, individualized diet is.
Food can obviously cause allergies for some people, but they can also lead to other negative health effects. Sugar can cause headaches, stomachaches, and mood swings for some. Gluten can cause digestive distress, mood changes, and skin rashes for people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Onions & garlic are great vegetables and full of prebiotics, but for some people with IBS that are sensitive to FODMAPs, they can lead to bloating, gas, and tons of pain.
If you notice skin changes (rash, dry skin), digestive distress (constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, pain, discomfort), or other changes, it may be related to what you’re eating. Not always, but it’s worth investigating. If you can link it to a food, you can eliminate that food to see if it makes a difference, then re-trial the food as an experiment.
Food may also lead to changes in your mind and mental state. Sugar or refined carbohydrates can lead to blood sugar swings that can totally lead to cranky moods, a brain fog, and a feeling of hunger or craving even more sugar. Start by being conscious of that reaction, then you can make shifts. Instead of a candy bar in the afternoon, you could grab a piece of fruit and a handful of almonds. Instead of a bowl of ice cream in the evening, you could see how you feel after a small piece of dark chocolate.
You’re an individual, and the way you eat should be individual too.
Even if you hear that you SHOULD eat broccoli, you may have tried it 30 times and still don’t like it. You don’t have to eat it. I’ve tried olives numerous times, but they’re just one veggie I can’t get into (I love olive oil, though). If you’ve given the food a chance but still don’t like it, don’t force it down.
You should enjoy your food, and take pleasure in eating and nourishing your body.
What foods does your body LOVE?