Our news feeds are flooded with the latest and greatest miracle diets and supplements, making it difficult for us to know which the best choice is. Just about every kind of diet you can imagine has gained media publicity at some point in someone’s attempt to either inform us for our own good or just make a buck. Over 100 diets are identified on WebMD, so it’s no wonder information about some new diet passes by your vision practically daily.
Our culture has embraced fad diets like clothing retailers embrace the latest fashions. In the 70’s, some groups in the science community pushed the low-carb, high- protein stylings of the Atkins diet, then we were wrapped up in the low-fat craze for a good stretch of the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, with a few exotic diets peeking through the curtains. Grapefruit was once considered a magical, fat-burning natural wonder, presented in the form of grapefruit supplements or simply eating a lot of the fruit. There’s been the Hollywood Diet, the Cabbage Soup diet, Bananas and Skim Milk, diets with shakes and a meal or two, the Paleo Diet, and the list goes on and on.
Proponents of certain diets would have you believe that their way is the only way, taking a one-size-fits-all approach to how we should eat to be lean and disease-free. Scientific trials have repeatedly shown that this isn’t the case since every body needs something different.
The human body is in many ways a mystery. Even with our advanced understanding of how the basic systems function and modern medical technology, we haven’t been able to nail down exactly what it is about each one of us that distinguishes one person’s set of dietary requirements from another. Our default explanation for what is each person’s magic bullet comes down to genetics.
To find the right formula for what makes each of us feel and look the best takes some trial and error. Whether you’re choosing foods for weight loss, maintenance or simply to be healthy, there are a couple of key questions to consider:
1. How do the foods you’re eating affect your moods, health and digestion?
You have to experiment a bit and see what foods are best for you on all levels. Of course, if your doctor reviews your blood panel and tells you that you have ice cream running through your veins, you should heed that and reduce or eliminate foods high in cholesterol and sugar. Take notes on what you eat, noting how your stomach feels once the food begins to digest and observe how you feel emotionally. Are certain foods and drinks bloating you or making you feel depressed? Which ones make you feel clear and nourished? Don’t ignore your body’s messages!
2. Are the ingredients and food items you eat or drink sensible? Is your diet composed of foods that you can keep eating from now on daily?
Whatever you grew up eating is probably what you will continue to crave throughout your life, but you can learn to moderate the foods that are not so conducive to good health. It is ridiculous to think that you can sustain on mixtures of maple syrup, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and water or soups of cabbage and water for any real duration. Even if you do succeed for the prescribed time period of these diets, you will return to your normal eating habits and gain all the weight back since you’ve trained your metabolism to conserve rather than burn calories on these diets. Deprivation and suffering for no permanent, satisfactory result is psychologically defeating nonsense, and most people end up rebelling against these gimmicks.
Of course, no one wants to be on a diet for the rest of their life, but this is what happens when we latch onto fad after fad rather than developing a healthy relationship with our food. When choosing an eating plan, (I’m going to avoid the “d” word here), think in terms of the basic food groups: vegetables and fruits, grains, dairy (unless vegan), and protein. Think balance and allow yourself indulgences occasionally! It is unrealistic to say you will never eat fudge again if that is one of your favorite desserts!
Take into account your body’s needs as you are right now and experiment to figure out which proportions of each food group suits you best on a holistic level. Remember that there are so many different variables with each person that one set of rules will not apply to everyone, and that food is to be enjoyed as delicious nourishment to your unique body for the best success.