Atkins, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, herbivore, plant-based, Mediterranean, raw, macrobiotic, 80/10/10, juice cleansing…ok there are way more, but I’m out of breath. Each of these diets has valid claims and some people flourish eating a certain way, but one way of eating will not work for everyone in the world. Also, we have to remember as humans we grow, and age, and the way we ate ten years ago would probably not benefit us now, and that is true for ten years from now. Our eating habits change and we move to new places that offer different local food choices.
First of all, a diet shouldn’t be a one-time thing. Crash dieting is not the way to achieve long-term health goals. It’s just not maintainable. So, what would work best for you and your dietary needs?
The first thing you should take into consideration is if you have any medical conditions. If so, please consult with your doctor before trying out any ways of eating differently, especially if they are more extreme then your current eating habits.
Secondly, are you allergic or intolerant of any food groups? If you do not know but feel like you might be, it would be a good idea to see an allergist and find out if you are allergic to any food groups. By doing this, you may begin to feel amazing, lose weight, and have less aches and pains just by eliminating these allergen foods.
If you are not allergic but feel like you may be intolerant of gluten, soy, dairy, or eggs, eliminate these items entirely from your diet for two weeks. Then gradually incorporate them back into your diet day by day and write down how you feel after eating each food. If you notice bloating, irritation, or other signs of inflammation after eating a certain food then you are most likely intolerant, and will feel much better when avoiding these foods. Just because there is a gluten-free fad happening right now, and gluten is known to cause inflammation does not mean that you are necessarily intolerant, so it’s good to do your own research and find out on your own how you feel when not eating gluten compared to when you do. I personally believe that many people aren’t as much gluten intolerant as they are intolerant to the GMO ingredients. This is tricky because many GMO ingredients are hidden very well on nutrition labels, and we wouldn’t look twice. Be aware of invisible GMO ingredients, or just look out for a Non-GMO friendly label to ease your worries.
Non-GMO food is another popular topic currently buzzing around in the media. Which is awesome! So happy that people finally want their food to be produced wholesomely and not injected with harmful additives. A good way of steering clear of GMO foods is simply buying organic, that way you know for sure, especially when buying popular GMO crops such as corn and soy that they haven’t been genetically modified. Eating organic is also a great way to avoid eating produce with high volumes of pesticides.
Another great way of eating whole foods that have been minimally processed and contain far less pesticides is buying local. Isn’t it great how farmers markets can be found almost everywhere now?! Even in my concrete covered metropolitan home, New York City! It just amazes me how far we’ve come, and how much people support and demand fresh food that taste way better!
If you can’t find the time to shop farmer’s market every week, many farms also offer a program called CSA. This essentially provides you with a share in the farmer’s crop. You will receive fruits, veggies, fresh eggs, or whatever you decide for your basket to include. You can purchase these to pick up weekly, bi-weekly, or whatever the farm offers. It’s a great way to receive local fresh seasonal produce.
Eating fresh whole foods that don’t require a nutrition label or package is always the best option. Fortified foods that claim to be “high in fiber,” “low in fat,” “low in sugar,” “high in protein,” are great marketing tools that are deceiving. If these foods are packaged, they have most likely been processed and although they claim to be beneficial to your health, they most likely contain a multitude of harmful additives. If the list of ingredients surpasses 5, and if you can’t pronounce many of them, it’s best to look elsewhere for your fiber, protein, and whatever else you are searching to obtain from food.
Taking all of this into consideration when searching for the right diet for you will help guide you in the right direction. If you know you can’t live without meat, than paleo might be a good option for you to look into. Always make sure when buying meat or dairy products that they are organic, even find a butcher in your area. I know that you may think butchers don’t exist anymore, but they are out there if you search, and you will feel better inside and out knowing where you food has come from and how it was raised. After all, you are what you eat right? Yes, a higher quality product may cost more, but how about you eat it once to three times a week instead of every day.
If you prefer avoiding animal foods altogether and are against animal cruelty then a vegan diet might be a good option for you. To find the best diet for your needs, you should to take into account your beliefs, how you feel and react to certain foods, if this way of eating and living is manageable and maintainable, and most importantly if you enjoy eating this way.
A diet is a lifestyle, and you shouldn’t feel restricted from eating certain foods but thoroughly enjoy and crave the ones that benefit you and make you feel rejuvenated and alive. There will be more dietary books, claims, and fads to come over the years, but just remember that the most important research you can do is to study your own body, and realize that one way of eating does not apply to us all.