They don’t work. From years of playing with my own diet, trying different strategies from vegetarian, to ready-made shakes, to the paleo diet, I’ve learned that what works for someone else may not work for me. We all have individual needs. For one client it may be appropriate to recommend juicing while for the next that would be ineffective, or even dangerous. When I work with clients we explore their diets with a combined approach of focusing on what feels best while ensuring it meets all nutritional requirements. I generally spend more time on promoting an understanding of food, rather than telling someone what to eat. Ultimately we all know our own bodies best. Most importantly we need to find ways to approach our diets that we are comfortable with.
For my diet, I focus on real food. What I mean by real food is that I almost exclusively eat unpackaged, fresh food, with some restrictions. For example, my body doesn’t manage high-fructose fruit very well, so while I love pears, mangoes and apricots I tend to avoid them. I also struggle with beans and legumes, even with a diligent soaking process! However just because I struggle with them certainly doesn’t mean everyone does – and for someone who chooses a vegetarian diet, lentils and beans may be a very essential protein source.
The “right” or “perfect” diet isn’t going to be the same for everyone, and there are many diet variables to weed through. A common dietary ingredient up for debate is gluten. And while you may notice I promote gluten-free eating, I’m not entirely gluten free myself. This is for two reasons. First, I have determined that my body can manage small amounts of gluten with few ill effects. For example, I have no issues with the (very) occasional slice of fresh bread, and the odd beer (what’s better than a cold beer on a hot day?). Secondly, I believe I have a good – though hard won – understanding of my relationship with food. I have a history of extremes and have found that I am healthiest when I accept food I like, and allow myself to enjoy them while being mindful of the balance I need to maintain. I have learned many mindfulness techniques to help promote balance. This strategy works for me.
I promote gluten-free because I know from years of experience that many people struggle with grains in general, and gluten containing ones specifically. For some people gluten is best entirely removed from their diet, but for most of us, the most-of-the-time approach works just as well. Of course this all comes back to fitting our individual needs. Whether you are looking to lose weight, gain weight, manage chronic stomach problems or get a handle on sugar cravings my recommendations around how much, if any, would likely be varied.
There are many factors playing a role in what we choose to eat and why. If you are having trouble getting started in figuring out your diet I recommend food journaling. Recording and reflecting on the way that food makes you feel can provide heaps of information. Not to mention, simply having to write down what you are eating can greatly impact your choices. Try it out. Shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for your free copy of my Food and Mood Journal.