There are so many ways of eating to choose from that it can be very overwhelming for many people to determine what they should eat and when to eat it. Should you eat Paleo, Keto, Vegan, practice intermittent fasting? Let’s throw some food allergies in the mix just for fun!
Most people I have worked with are beyond confused and overwhelmed with the information floating around online and in the form of “good intentions” of others claiming their diet is the BEST way. Nothing gets my gears going more than unqualified people suggesting diets to people they know NOTHING about! The reason diets are so complicated is because there is no one size fits all. The best way to determine the right diet for you is by considering a few factors I will guide you through below and to experiment while paying attention to how you feel after you eat. The best diet for you is one that makes you feel energetic, thriving, manages illness and is something you enjoy that fits within your lifestyle (reasonably). I’m going to give you some practical strategies for you to navigate the different diets aka nourishment plans to find the BEST plan for YOU.
- What are your healthy eating goals? Is it to be healthy and prevent disease, manage a specific disease, gain weight, lose weight, eat ethically, feel better? First figure out what your goal is. The foods you choose to eat will be different depending on your goal. If you are trying to eat ethically then veganism is a popular option. Keto is most commonly great for rapid weight loss. People with diabetes must watch carbs and sugars. If your goal is simply to feel better then you might start out by eliminating junk food and eating more nutrient dense, whole foods. You might want to investigate whether or not you have food allergies since eating foods you are intolerant to can make you feel sluggish and unwell. Eating organically is often popular choice and best practice especially when managing serious illnesses such as cancer
- Consider your lifestyle factors. If you travel, have kids, a hectic work schedule, how will you ensure you are consistent with your nourishment plan? Meal preparation is the most effective way to do this. Preparing bulk meals that fit your diet plan twice a week is the single most effective way to stay consistent. If you don’t have the time, or resources, our meal delivery service takes care of menu planning, grocery shopping, cooking and delivering so you just heat and eat. Our containers are easy to carry in coolers while you’re on the go. Often the cost is lower compared to eating out and buying tons of groceries that get wasted. Consider what you have to give up. Consider the impact on your loved ones.
- What are your non-negotiables? How strict are you willing to be? Keto dieters, people with health issues and people with allergies often require very strict compliance whereas other diets are more flexible and may allow occasional indulgences. For example, maybe you want to lose weight but absolutely can’t imagine your life without dairy. Keto would be better than paleo for you.
- Will you enjoy the diet emotionally and mentally? I’ve followed very strict plans that ultimately led me to disordered eating and living in isolation from many social events. I was miserable! I encourage you to consider whether the diet you choose will be emotionally and mentally healthy. We must keep in mind many diets for many people require some sacrifice for a healthier body and lifestyle until you adjust to the new lifestyle changes. Changing your diet often requires a shift in your mindset and attitude about the diet and lifestyle changes. Our diet should not negatively affect our mental health and emotions. It should leave us thinking positively, feeling mentally clear and in a positive mood.
Once you have narrowed down the type of diet that fits your goal and lifestyle, I recommend experimenting with certain foods. Here are some principles that most nutrition experts will all agree on:
- Eat plenty of Veggies, especially the green ones, except for nightshades for some people (Artichoke, Asparagus, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumber, Green beans, Kale, Lettuce, chicory, endive, Pea, Radish, Rutabaga, Spinach, Squash, Zucchini)
- Choose plant-based healthy fats, mainly from nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds, almonds, chia seeds, peanuts are often exempt. healthy oils such as olive and coconut, avocados. Dark chocolate (85%+)
- Fruits, although some diets and/or goals restrict the types or amounts and timing
- We can also add water to the list of what we all agree on
- Most diets encourage a balanced approach from all food groups
- Most experts agree to avoid or limit: Foods high in added sugar, Refined (highly processed) carbohydrates, Artificial trans fats, All other highly processed food (sausages, salami, frozen food, canned food etc.) cigarettes, alcohols and drugs
Foods to experiment with on an individual basis to find out what works for you and what doesn’t. I recommend trying an elimination diet protocol to determine if these are problematic for you.
- Animal products (protein source for muscle grow or source of fat)
- Meat – chicken, cattle, sheep, pigs etc.
- Dairy – yogurt, cheese, butter, milk etc.
- Fish and seafood (protein source for muscle growth)
- Grains (complex carbs for energy)
- Beans, legumes and lentils (complex carbs for energy)
- Nightshades – tomato, peppers, chili, eggplant
You experiment with these by following a food elimination diet for 12 days and re introducing possible allergens one at a time while waiting 48 hours in between to observe possible reactions.
So now that we covered the 4 principles of selecting a diet type, most common recommended foods to eat and avoid and ways to experiment with common allergenic foods, we hope you feel more empowered knowing which diet the best for you.
If you know anyone that will benefit from this article then please share 😊