Have you fallen for the perfect diet trap?
Have you spent years searching for the perfect diet to lose weight? If you’re frustrated and confused, you’re not alone.
Let’s get right to it. What the hell are you supposed to eat? At the time of this writing, there are 401,521 results at Amazon when you search for “diets” and 134,000,000 results on Google.
I don’t have a statistic, but I can guarantee that these results show conflicting information from many credible sources. It’s no wonder you’re confused about what to eat.
And it seems like the rules change drastically from one year to the next.
Is gluten good or bad for you? Is coffee good for weight loss or does it inhibit it? Are eggs okay to eat now? What about animal protein, sugar, GMOs, dairy, chocolate, and fruit? Is it okay to eat food that’s not organic? Do you really have to count calories? Are artificial sweeteners really bad for you now? And what the heck is a super food?
It’s helpful to remember that there are very few things (death? taxes?) that are black and white. What’s true today, may not be true tomorrow.
It’s no wonder there’s so much confusion about what to eat
There is no one perfect diet, there’s just the right diet for you. You are the only one who can determine the right foods to eat that will provide true nourishment and vibrant health.
All the diet gurus in the world won’t be able to help you because they all have different opinions and don’t know you, your genetic history, your preferences, or your health issues. You can’t rely on doctors for dietary advice because for the most part, they are grossly under-educated about nutrition. You can’t rely on food companies because they’re driven by profits, not your best interests.
So where should you start?
What should I eat?
I know you’re asking this question, but there are so many factors that play into your nutrition choices:
- Personal preferences. You’ll never stick to a healthy eating plan if you don’t enjoy your food. Too many of us think that in order to lose weight or eat healthy, we have to eat boring, tasteless food. If I could get you to change one thing, it would be to only eat healthy foods that taste delicious.
- Health issues. There are times in life when you may need a healing nutrition focus. If you’re dealing with heart disease, diabetes, or autoimmune disease, there are nutritional protocols that often heal more effectively than drugs. These therapeutic diets can be short term or lifelong depending on the health concern.
- Body wisdom. If you pay attention, you’ll notice how your body reacts to the foods you eat. Does dairy make your skin break out and your sinuses act up? Do tomatoes give you heartburn? Does gluten make your joints ache? Does eating breakfast give you more energy throughout the day? Do you get cravings after you eat certain kinds of foods or if you skip meals? Pay attention to your body’s wisdom, it will provide the guidance you’re looking for.
- Life stage. Your eating habits often change as you go through different life stages. When you’re in a celebratory stage (birthdays, holidays, promotions) you may turn to foods you associate with special occasions. Pregnant women will eat different than menopausal women.
- Age. A teenage boy seems to need more food than anyone on the planet. What works when you’re 17 won’t be advisable when you’re 57.
- Physical activity level. Food habits of athletes will be unlike someone with a more sedentary lifestyle.
- Belief system. If you have strong beliefs about animals, you may become vegetarian or vegan. Some religions have traditions centered on the inclusion or exclusion of certain foods. The belief that certain foods are “good” or “bad” can have an impact on your food choices. Do you believe that you can just look at food and gain weight? Your beliefs play a huge role in determining what you eat.
As these factors change, your diet will likely change. Being on a specific nutritional plan isn’t a life sentence. There isn’t a perfect diet, just the perfect diet that’s right for you RIGHT NOW. It may change next year or even tomorrow. Be flexible and experiment.
There’s a simple solution to the perfect diet confusion. Just eat real whole foods whenever possible. That’s it; easy peasy.
The bottom line is that you have to rely on your own internal guidance and body wisdom to determine what you should eat. Unless you have a specific medical condition that limits certain foods, the best way to find YOUR perfect diet is to experiment.
Start with some general guidelines for healthy eating such as:
- Eat real whole foods. What does that mean? Whole foods aren’t changed by corporations from the time it’s harvested to the time you buy it. Whole foods are rich in vitamins and minerals, improve your immune system and digestive tract, keep your energy up, and help you stay at your desired body weight. An organic tomato is a whole food, but a can of tomatoes with added sugar and preservatives is not.
- Choose a balance of high quality proteins, fats, and carbs at each meal.
- Avoid sugar. Why? Sugar can be addictive, cause weight gain, zap your energy, lead to binge eating, and overeating. You don’t have to give up sweets, just substitute healthier options such as honey, fruit, maple syrup, or Stevia.
- Eat foods that are delicious. How long do you think you’ll stay on a healthy diet if all you’re eating is low fat yogurt and steamed vegetables?
- Don’t eat diet foods (fat free, chemical-laden, tasteless, low-calorie processed foods).
- Eat slow and savor your food.
- Experiment with different foods to see how they make you feel and to discover your personal preferences. Try new things.
People ask me all the time what diet plan I follow. The simple answer is that I don’t follow a specific plan. I researched and experimented with various nutrition plans such as paleo, raw, and vegan and I found the foods that worked best for me.
What does that mean?
I did an elimination diet for 10 days, giving up gluten, dairy, eggs, sugar, soy, and caffeine during this time. After a few days of really disgusting detox symptoms I felt great – my skin looked better, my sinus allergies improved, my joint pain disappeared, and I was full of energy. To figure out which food was the culprit for the icky symptoms, I slowly added each eliminated food back into my diet one at a time and paid attention to how I felt.
For me, dairy triggered sinus problems and skin rashes. Gluten brought on joint pain. Eggs gave me digestive upset. In addition to feeling amazing after eliminating these foods, I was no longer overeating or binge eating. For so many of us, gluten and sugar can be addictive foods. It feels good to not have that out of control feeling around food anymore.
The good news is that giving up gluten and sugar doesn’t have to mean eating tasteless, boring diet foods. There are so many delicious alternatives and an abundance of resources available to find great recipes and products. I don’t feel like I’m “missing” anything; I think of all the new foods I’ve gained that taste fabulous and make me feel fantastic.
Do you have to give up gluten, dairy, eggs, caffeine, or sugar? Of course not.
There is no one perfect diet that works for everyone. Do your own experiment to find the foods that make you feel vibrant and healthy. There’s no right or wrong; there’s only what works best for you.
Action: Start to incorporate one of the general healthy eating guidelines above. Notice what changes and how you feel as a result.