People are in search for the “perfect diet”.One that delivers what it promises; health and energy. There are many popular and less well known diets being promoted in the media. Atkins, Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian, The What-ever Diet, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, … There is no single perfect diet, but an entire spectrum of useful diets. The truth is that during your life time you have been on many different diets.
You will be on numerous diets during your lifetimeAs a baby you were fed in the uterus, then breast fed or given formula, then mushy foods, then solid foods, then you explored different foods and diets through your childhood and then throughout your life as an adult. The diet of any one person will constantly change, depending on factors such as age, sex, level of exercise, sense of taste and pleasure, level of health, upbringing, culture, life phase and personal beliefs.
Diets fall under 4 basic categoriesA Maintenance diet consists of staple foods that you depend on and eat regularly or daily to maintain your body and psychology.
A Therapeutic diet is one that you follow for a definite period of time for a specific medical condition; i.e. diabetes, heart disease, food allergies, etc. This kind of diet can reverse a disease condition, but if you continue on it too long, the therapeutic diet can cause new disease conditions. When the “therapy” is done, it’s time to return to a maintenance diet. Don’t mistake a therapeutic diet for a maintenance diet. This is where so many experts and professionals get into conflict, because they are all promoting a diet that may serve some people well as a therapeutic diet, but over the long term, it’s not a good diet to live on. Vegetarian, vegan, paleo, etc.
Then there is the Experimental diet, which is a conscious decision to choose a way of eating, herb, vitamin or a food for a period of time, to see what happens. Supplements are new to the human food chain. Humans have not been consuming these isolated, concentrated nutrients for thousands of years, so it’s an experiment. Our genes have not evolved to consume isolates, extracts, or processed foods, so the body doesn’t instinctively recognize them. Try these things, in the spirit of experimentation and see what works for you. Be willing to throw them out, if you discover it’s not working for you and especially if it’s harming you. Listen to your body communicating with you and have the curiosity of a scientist. Don’t say to yourself, “This expert says it’s good for me, so they must be right”. When it’s not working anymore, people may not notice it’s not working for them and some people try to justify it, because they are avoiding the reality and may feel guilty for having wasted the money and stupid for making the decision to trust it in the first place. I know that has happened to me a number of times.
An Optimizing diet is when you want to optimize your strength, performance, or conditioning. This may be for a sport, for brain function, improved immunity or during pregnancy. You are participating in your own personal evolution.
Deconstruct the “Experts”You may be caught up in the confusion of what experts say. They tout that people need to eat less meat, less fat, less salt, less starch or grains, only vegetables and fruits, raw foods, only cooked foods, … All the experts promote their particular bias - vegan, vegetarian, paleo, raw food, high protein, low protein, macrobiotic, low fat, low carb… And, they all have scientific proof to support their particular bias or beliefs. In general, health, nutrition and fitness experts tend to accurately understand the needs of their own body, but then mistakenly translate those findings as applicable to the masses and say that they will or should work for everyone else’s body. By extension, “science” can prove virtually any position in health and medicine. Dr. Larry Dossey says, “For every PhD, there is an equal and opposite PhD”. For every scientific study there is research that contradicts it. Every nutrition system, every book, every health expert, has a useful nugget of wisdom to offer. We need to listen to what they have to say, but identify them for what they really are - best guesses. Take the useful nuggets of wisdom and experiment with them inside your own body to see how they make you feel. Body wisdom and experience is where the conversation and debate over nutrition and health ends, because your body instinctively knows what it needs, and it’s desperately trying to communicate that message to you, via symptoms.
Nutrition begins with nourishmentNourishment supersedes nutrition. You can eat the most pure, organic, nutrient rich food, but if it's not compatible with your blood type or it is not taken into your body during relaxation, it is not beneficial for your body nutritionally. A vegetarian, vegan, raw or Paleo diet may be nourishing and nutritious for a period of time, but when it stops serving the body, it stops being beneficial and the process of disease begins. It's time to be willing to re-evaluate your nutritional and nourishment needs, and ask body wisdom what it wants. Listen to your cravings, because body wisdom is trying to tell you something. We all require different diets at different times in our lives. What maintenance diet will best serve your body in the future? Only your body can give you the answer, but I can help you listen for it.
Don’t think you have to stick to a strict dietThere is nutritional information that comes from other people, books; from outside of us - which our minds take in. There is also nutritional wisdom which comes from inside of you - the feedback from your nervous system, brain, intuition, gut and body tells you. Reconnect with your own body and become in tune with how your body communicates with you through symptoms. Listening to what it has to say will empower you, because you can choose what works for you. Example: If you think you are eating too much meat, try eating less meat for a week or two, and see how you feel. The same is true of carbohydrates, but don’t approach it as all or nothing.
Try to achieve a healthy balance of the different food groups. If you don’t eat much raw salads, include more raw foods in your diet and see how you feel. You don’t have to follow these diets to an extreme to have benefits. Listen to your symptoms - good and bad, because this is how your body communicates with you. Don’t take an over-the-counter remedy to silence the unpleasant symptoms and essentially tell the body to “shut up!” Get curious and try to notice a pattern. What predisposes you to that unwanted symptom; combination of foods, time of day you ate them. Vegetarian diets work great, to a point, but they lack the fats and proteins that the brain and body needs. Vegetarian diets work for a limited period of time to detoxify and clean the body, while giving it a rest from toxins, but does not serve the nutritional needs of the body for an indefinite period of time. Create your own system, based on the feedback from your own body. You have to choose what works for you.
People are in search for the “perfect diet” - one that delivers on the promise of a perfect body, the perfect weight, ideal shape and skinny. Are you looking for the perfect diet that will give you the body or health you desire. Perfection is an illusion, filled with limitation, frustration and ultimately, failure. Perfectionism always leads to self abuse, because at some point, you will not measure up to the unrealistically high standard you have set for yourself. You’re going to self hate, or beat yourself up; thinking and talking negatively to yourself. This is “self attack” and when you are at war with yourself, that creates stress, which then depresses your metabolism. This produces the opposite results of what you desire.
Let go of perfectionism. It’s not a noble quest. You do want to set a high bar for your personal character, performance and with your health, but at the same time, understand that perfect is not a reality in this world. Some people are looking for and locked into the idea of searching for perfection. Movies, magazines, culture and the media reinforce this way of thinking. Diets are where my clients play this out and they can’t follow the rules they themselves set. I need to do an intellectual intervention and tell them what I see or notice about them. We then go more deeply into their story and try different strategies to unravel the emotions and experiences behind their challenges with food and body, so they can naturally resolve themselves, and restore balance in the mind and body.
There is no perfect diet, and the diet you are on this moment is not going to serve you the same way in the future, because nutritional needs change at different points in your life. Your metabolism at 50 can’t be what it was at 40. The metabolism of a 30 year old will change from what it was at 20. Why? Because the body goes through 10 year cycles.
You can relax into food, eating, and your relationship with diet. I can help you to develop a better understanding. Please contact me. I look forward to serving you.