And The Best Diet Is....?
Despite the new and exciting research being published everyday and the plethora of information we have access to in a few clicks of a button, nutrition is more confusing to most people than at any other time in history. The majority of my clients relay some kind of confusion, frustration or doubt about what diet is right for them. They ask me which one is best. Keto? Plant-based? Paleo? Mediterranean? GAPS? AIP? Whole 30? Low Carb? This is also complicated by the fact that you might have someone in your life right now experiencing positives or negatives from a diet change. You may have a co-worker that is doing keto (high fat, moderate protein, very low carb) and dropping mad weight and at the same time have a family member who went the opposite direction and did Whole Foods Plant-Based (low to moderate fat, low protein, high carb) and is now off meds. They swear it will work for you too. Maybe they're right. Maybe not. I hear a lot of overwhelm around eating which can lead to sticking with the status quo way too long or changing nothing at all. You maintain the same pattern, day in and day out but frustration builds because you just want to FEEL BETTER. I totally get that.
Hippocrates said it best:
My goal in this post is to help you overcome that overwhelm and indecisiveness so you can start to see and feel the results you so desperately want. Together let's forgoe our diet insanity, shall we?
My definition of diet insanity is: when you are eating the same foods in the same way over and over and over yet expecting different results.
Only You Know
My clients, families and friends ask: which diet or what foods will promote weight loss, increase their muscle mass, lower their blood sugar or blood pressure, give them more energy, improve their hormones, manage their autoimmune disorder and more.
An adaption from Smokey Bear's famous line - "only you can prevent forest fires," is my message. Only YOU can figure out the best diet for you. You see...there is NO one-size-fits-all diet. Pause the momentary freak out... I promise to guide you, nudge you and help you see more clearly why a certain eating pattern is ideal or not ideal for you. Nearly in every consult I conduct, I discuss with my clients the potential benefits, pitfalls, repercussions, deficiencies, struggles and wins if you do or don't plan your diet well, if you yo-yo, or overlook diet quality (no matter which diet you choose). Even if you are never able to meet with me one-on-one, there are 4 questions to ask yourself to navigate you towards the right way of eating... for you (not your neighbor, friend or family member).
1. What disease(s), symptom(s) or lab value(s) are you trying to improve?
2. What eating style makes you feel good, sleep good, have more energy and mental focus/clarity?
3. What do your genes say?
4. What eating style can you maintain for 6 months or longer?
But before you answer any questions, let's look at where different diets fall on the eating spectrum.
One experimental extreme is keto, the opposite is Whole Foods Plant-Based (WFPB). Smack dab in the middle is a balance of the two - a Mediterranean diet with a real-food, plant-heavy, balanced approach that doesn't exclude any food.
Health experts from U.S. News and World Report ranked 39 diets based on sustainability, effects on chronic diseases and weight loss, safety and nutrition. The results?
DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), Mediterranean and Semi-Vegetarian/Flexitarian ranked in the top 3.
Now that you feel a little more comfortable with overall diets in general, let's break down those questions:
1. What disease, symptom or lab value are you trying to improve?
Research has shown that liver disease and kidney disease may both be worsened by a high fat diet (keto), so I'm wary of anyone attempting that who has pre-existing organ disease.
Autoimmune diseases usually benefit from avoidance of gluten and dairy, so Paleo or an AIP (Autoimmune protocol) diet may be ideal.
Keto, WFPB and Mediterranean have all been studied in regard to managing diseases like diabetes, heart disease and obesity.... and many, many show good results. Say what? How can that be? They are SO different!
I believe it is because a few common foods and eating patterns are shared by major diets. And that just might be your golden ticket to health. Let's take a look: