Today more than ever people are very confused as to what to eat. Conflicting nutrition advice comes out every day and continues to create doubt that we’re eating what we should be.
Think about the fat-free, low-fat mantra of the 1980’s and 90’s and the push for margarine and vegetable oils. We now know that is what created an epidemic of diabetes and obesity because everyone began eating products that were full of high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils and sugar. Heart disease is still rampant and the push for inflammatory seed oils still continues. We’ve lost our way somehow and moved so far beyond a connection with our food. We’re eating dinner at the drive-thru, snacks come in packages and boxes instead of whole foods and we turn a blind eye to the atrocities of conventional animal feeding operations or CAFO’s. Most of the food we consume is not fresh, lacking of enzymes, nutrient-void and overly-processed. How can we turn that around?
Create a diet that works for you
With all of the dietary theories to choose from, don’t feel compelled to select one and proclaim to the world how you eat. That’s your business and no one else’s. You can decide if you feel good eating meat or fish or if a vegetarian diet is right for you. Or, perhaps you want to mix it up, like I do, and eat vegetarian one day and fish the next – I call that the “flexitarian diet.”
But how do we actually put that into practice? Here are some things to consider when you start to design your idea diet.
1. Develop Your Own Food Philosophy
Some of the things you may want to consider in your philosophy are:
• What you eat
• Where your food comes from
• What you’d want someone to cook you for dinner
• What’s your dream meal?
2. Consider what is locally available
We all love avocados and bananas, but for many of us around the world these foods aren’t local. I’m not saying you should never eat them – however, it’s important to also consider what foods are abundant in your area, and also what’s in season. Local foods contain more nutrients than those that were picked weeks ago and shipped across the country.
In an ideal world, your ideal diet would focus on what you have access to. This allows us to support local businesses and farms, reduce our environmental impact and eat food that is freshest – which is going to be great for our health!
3. What are your activity levels?
Also consider how active you are. If you’re training every day, your nutrient requirements are going to be higher than someone who has a desk job and isn’t working out several times a week. You may need more protein, water and electrolytes if you’re working out consistently.
4. What is your health situation?
If you’re suffering from an autoimmune disease or battling an illness, your diet will need to reflect these concerns. Those with autoimmune disease need to avoid inflammatory foods, like gluten, dairy, sugar and possibly nightshades. Conversely, if you have a family history of illness and want to prevent disease, you need a diet high in superfoods, antioxidants, and plant-rich meals.
5. Demographic Factors (age, gender, etc.)
Typically, males need more protein and complex carbohydrates than women. They also have different micronutrient needs. Women and men need specific nutrients at each stage of life, so take into consideration where you are in life and what your micronutrient needs are at this time and as you age.
6. Your Lifestyle
One of the biggest factors is how your diet will fit in with your lifestyle. If you’re balancing a full-time career, family life, church or school functions and hobbies that keep you busy night and day, then you need to determine how to carry over your food philosophy into your lifestyle. Perhaps you don’t enjoy cooking or don’t have much time to spend in the kitchen. You may need to research food delivery companies that align with your food preferences to help you meet your goals. You may have to shift your priorities to align with your new lifestyle. For example, if I know I have a busy week ahead, I meal plan, shop and prep a few meals on the weekend when I have more time.
7. Dietary Preferences
You’ll also want to weigh in your allergies, sensitivities and general foods that you dislike. Some people do well on carbohydrates and others do not. Jot down how you feel and start to make the connection between food, your mood and energy levels after you eat.
8. The Research
Nutrition research is one of those areas that will never, ever be settled. We’re learning more and more about nutrition science every day. But you have to be careful where that science is coming from and who is paying for the studies. Many doctors use “bias” to make their points – meaning they will cherry-pick statistical data to prove their point. You’ll find hundreds of studies saying that veganism is best or Paleo is the way to go, or everyone should be eating a raw food diet. Research your diet thoroughly from numerous sources to get a well-rounded point of view.
9. Trial and Error
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way. I once tried to eat raw foods for a week and had such tummy troubles that I was miserable. Be open to trying new foods and diets, but remember to be in tune with your body and how you feel. Remember, your plan can change too – it’s an evolving process.
Creating your personal diet plan can be fun. Remember to consider your overall health goals, what you want to achieve, take into account your dietary preferences, sensitivities, and one that suits your lifestyle. If your diet isn’t sustainable – meaning something you can do for the rest of your life – then it won’t work for you. Try to create a plan or way of eating that works for your body and your lifestyle.
It all comes down to common sense, so we must respect the physiology of the human body to determine what our nutritional needs really are and then tweak for bio-individuality.
Need help on making these connections. Nourish + Flow, my 3-month Nutritional Therapy program begins January 16. More info can be found at www.UnlockBetterHealth.com.