Almost daily I am asked this question by patients, “which diet should I follow”? People are so confused by the barrage of diets being promoted today that they are unsure of how to eat. Even within the community of nutritionists it is challenging to keep up with all the new nutritional science out there. That said, I’ll share my thoughts as a nutritionist and lover of food!
We are all be part of the human species, but we are also unique cellularly. So, it is irrational to think that one diet alone will work on every human. Here are just some of the diets being promoted today: low carb, low fat, vegetarian, carnivore, Atkins, keto, fruitarian, Mediterranean diet, raw food diet and I could go on and on. Each one proclaiming that this will work for everyone. Patients will tell me a friend lost weight on a certain diet only to find out this was very unhealthy for themselves. We are not a one size fits all people!
Before we even look at specific diets, we must first go back to why we eat? Humans eat for sustaining life. We need specific macro and micronutrients, food for energy and for maintaining important functions like brain health, nerve health, hormonal balancing and cardiovascular health. We also eat for pleasure, comfort, cultural practices and community building.
When we begin to look at various diet plans, we also must consider what the “individual requires”. What are the patient’s goals, health conditions, medications, allergies or food sensitivities, genetic make-up, family history, age, organ functions, immune functions, mental health, body composition and even culture? You can begin to see that it is impossible to have one diet plan work effectively on every person.
As a nutritionist I see nutrition as a beautiful way to bring the body into balance. Poor nutrition causes the body to become unbalanced. An unbalanced body leads to illness/disease. A well-crafted meal plan for an individual can have amazing effects on their health and mental wellness. It must meet your individual nutrient requirements and you must enjoy the food.
Thirty years ago, I had been clinically depressed and 85 lbs. overweight following the death of one of my children. Over 2 years I tried diet after diet with no success. I finally tried a low carb high fat diet and magically I began losing weight and felt better than I had in years. Over 1 year I lost the 85 lbs. and began running again. Many of my health issues also cleared up and I felt stronger mentally. The low carbohydrate plan worked well and I sustain that way of eating to this day. I enjoy that way of eating so it is easily sustainable! However, just because that specific meal plan worked for me does not mean it will work for everyone.
When I see patients, we work together at making a meal plan that bring their body into balance, meets their nutritional needs, is enjoyable for them to eat and meets the goals they wish to reach. I become their food coach, a nutritional cheer leader! Once you find what works for you the magic happens! Once you experience good health you will never look back! I will also add that stress management; proper sleep protocols and exercise are mandatory with any meal plan you choose!
Let me finish by saying the internet can be a great tool to learn but I seriously suggest every person see a nutritionist! Your health and wellness are vital, you deserve to be the best version of YOU!