Keto, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Macros, Mediterranean, Intuitive-Eating, Fasting…what do they all have in common!? Well, they are all labels for a diet, but are really just a way of getting food into the body.
The million-dollar question is, which diet is best? The answer is: all of them and none of them…let me explain…
When it comes to picking a diet, lifestyle, or even workout routine, there are two words we must always keep in mind: BIOCHEMICAL INDIVIDUALITY. Let’s break that down before we dig deeper.
What is Biochemical Individuality?
Biochemical: relating to the chemical processes and substances which occur within living organisms.
Individuality: the quality or character of a particular person or thing that distinguishes them from others of the same kind.
Basically this tells us that our biochemistry (all of the millions of processes that occur in our body like digestion and metabolism and protein synthesis etc) is individual and specific and unique to each person. Our biochemistry also depends on various internal and external factors (life, sleep, stress, nutrient deficiencies, activity level, age, sex, geographical location etc), which can make picking a diet rather arduous at times!
So How Do I Know Which Diet is Right For Me!?
First things first, let’s become a bit of a nutrition agnostic if you will, meaning let’s stop trying to put everything into a little box and put a label on it.
The focus shouldn’t be on falling into a category of can I eat this or that (or this is a “bad” food and that is a “good” food), but rather listening to how we feel when we eat a certain way, and listening to our body’s symptoms overall. Am I always hungry? Do I crave certain foods all the time? Am I always bloated when I eat a certain food? Do I get headaches when I eat certain things? In other words, tapping into your biochemical individuality.
Food/diet rules and restrictions often set us up for failure, as many times it can create an all or nothing mentality.
What happened when you were a kid and your parent told you to not touch something? All you could think about was touching the very thing they told you not to touch! It is human nature. We are all a bit rebellious and our brain is always looking to create and solve problems.
With that being said, when we say “I can’t eat X food because I am (insert whatever diet trend you currently subscribe to…the paleo girl or the keto king or whatever)” then you are setting yourself up to likely run out of willpower (a very limited resource) and create potential nutrient deficiencies.
In fact, Ayurvedic principles teach us to eat “seasonally” by changing our diets as the seasons change (much like you change your workout routine up after doing the same thing for 12 or 16 weeks).
We Need Diversity in all Aspects of our Health Journey
We also need various amounts of calories/nutrients on any given day because our nutritional needs are not static. In fact, they are rather dynamic and can change daily (depending on activity level, inflammation, rest, stress etc).
We have to also ask ourselves… are we dieting short term for an aesthetic goal (I am getting married or I am going on a vacation)? Or am I working on enhancing and fine tuning my diet so I can have better quality of life and feel healthier? The two are not always mutually exclusive (having a six pack doesn’t always mean you’re healthy).
We Need to Remember Our Lifestyle
Are you a mom with 5 kids who are picky eaters and work a full-time job? Maybe #mealprepmonday isn’t the lifestyle for you and you need to focus on eating whole real foods (paleo-ish / Mediterranean style diet), including healthy snacks and making meals that take less than 30 minutes each day.
Are you someone who travels a lot and maybe doesn’t have access to food all day long? Maybe you play around with fasting and see how you feel.
Are you someone who is really irritable without food, has adrenal/thyroid issues and hasn’t had their period in months? There is a good chance keto/low-carb living isn’t going to be your best friend and you probably want to skip the fasting option as well.
Are you someone who is recovering from a disordered relationship with food (such as bingeing or extreme dieting) and find yourself having an all or nothing mentality? Macro counting might be a trigger for you and it might be best to try and transition into intuitive eating.
So Which Diet Do I Pick?
As a clinical nutritionist and CHEK and FND practitioner I would highly suggest working with someone who is qualified and credible, who can help you dig deeper into your biochemical individuality (aka your individual dietary, supplement and lifestyle needs).
I would start by taking an (honest) assessment of your current nutrition.
- If you could give it a letter grade, A through F, what would you give it and why? Where do you think you’re doing a great job (like wow I actually eat a lot of salads) and where do you think you could use some extra credit to bump that grade up (maybe all those gluten free cookies aren’t so healthy after all).
- Next I would suggest keeping a food journal for 3-5 days to get an actual intake of your current diet. Maybe you didn’t realize how much you actually snack…or maybe you aren’t really eating enough food at all. Perhaps you ate 5 handfuls of almonds and now it makes sense why you can’t lose weight. Also be sure to take some notes about how you actually feel during the day (cravings, bloating, fullness/hunger level).
After you have done those two things I would take some time to think about what some of your short and long term goals are when it comes to your health. Are you looking to drop a few pounds because you haven’t been making your health a priority? Do you want to improve some of your lifts at the gym? Perhaps you want to clear up issues with your skin/hormone/energy levels you’ve had for most of your adult life.
When you have some of that very foundational information, it will allow you to create a nutritional blueprint, of sorts, where you can then try out any or all of the above “diets” and see what works best for you and your biochemical individuality.
A diet that worked for you five years ago might not work for you now…even a diet that worked five months ago might not work now. So, it is important that we are always doing some self-health assessments and fine tuning the aging and wellness process!
No Matter What “Diet” You Follow
Regardless which diet you choose to follow at the moment, MariGold Bars is here to help.
We have put together several “variety packs” that target specific eating models. So, whether you are Lectin Free, Low Fodmap or Keto, check out one of our delicious packs that will help give your willpower a boost.