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We are all different. I like to think of each of us as cars. Some of us are high-performing sports cars. Others are durable compacts. Some of us can run on regular unleaded, while others need premium or even diesel. We’re all cars but we run most efficiently when we’re properly fueled. For me, it’s taken a lot of trial and error and a lot of food journaling to figure out how I run best. Even though I think it’s tasty as heck, grains just don’t really work for me. They make me sluggish, they give me allergies, and sometimes at their worst, they give me asthma. I’m quite tired of being told that my whole food eating habits are not good enough. Bring up the Mediterranean Diet just one more time.
When I was a kid my favorite meal growing up was a steak, potatoes, and a salad. That’s a pretty weird meal for a kid to gravitate toward but it was one of the only meals that I didn’t feel heavy after eating. I couldn’t explain the feeling at the time but the food just seemed to give me energy without making me feel like I needed a nap. And I didn’t like naps because a lot of my asthma attacks happened when I slept, so I really wasn’t into sleeping. It would only be years later that I would find out that this way I preferred to eat, despite my mother’s many attempts to get me to eat more rice and beans was actually Paleo.
Recently, every time I go to any kind of medical lecture that discusses preventative measures they bring up the Mediterranean Diet and how it’s the best diet to prevent all the bad things, followed by a prompt red meat is poison side note. To which I wonder if they knew what was keeping the Northern Europeans alive during the Ice Age. Like I stated previously, I firmly believe that everyone functions optimally with a different assortment of foods with different macronutrient ratios. One person may need more carbs than protein while someone else may need extra healthy fats. The ultimate arbiter of whether a diet is good for an individual should be how they feel on a daily basis and what their blood markers and other analysis indicate. If someone is eating meat, feels great, has healthy cholesterol levels and normal blood pressure (among many other indicators) there’s no reason why any physician should tell that person to stop eating that food group. Additionally, I believe the same thing for those individuals who’ve done the research for themselves and determined that meat is no good for them and have found proper whole food ways of meeting their protein needs.
Ultimately, I think processed foods loaded with preservatives are more responsible for our health issues than eating grass-fed meats with organic vegetables. So how can you figure out what foods suit you best?
- Keep a Food Journal – Maintain a food journal for at least a month and write down everything you eat. You could alternatively use your food tracking app and make notes in it. Take note of how you feel immediately after you eat the meal and then several hours later and then again how you feel the next morning. You’ll soon start to notice patterns. For me, I noticed that breads and pastas made me bloat and break out in hives. I noticed that corn made me wheezy and I noticed that legumes made me feel backed up. So I removed those foods from my daily diet.
- Try a round of Whole30 – If you’re not sure where to start with your foods, try an elimination diet first like Whole30, where you eliminate most food groups for a month. After the month is over slowly reincorporate food groups and see how you feel. If something makes you feel sick or sluggish, make the decision to remove it from your daily diet.
- Adjust Your Macronutrient Ratios – If you’re not feeling sick or otherwise uncomfortable when you eat certain foods, it might be that you don’t need to remove any food groups, simply that you need to adjust your macronutrient ratios. Maybe you need to increase your protein intake or maybe you need more carbs (complex ones of course). If you find that you’re getting hungry soon after eating, it might be that you need to add some more healthy fats into your diet, like some more nuts or avocado. Adjusting your macronutrient ratios is just adjusting the gas octane you use.
I feel my best when I am eating lean meats of all varieties, eating root vegetables, and loads of leafy greens. To that, I add some additional protein in the form of dairy which I tolerate well. When I eat this way, I find that my asthma is well controlled, my mood is well regulated and overall I feel like I can take on the world. So please don’t tell me that one diet fits all because it doesn’t. So long as you are eating whole foods that are nutrient rich you should generally thrive.
So cut the Mickey D’s and the packaged foods, eat the meats and veggies you like that you cook at home and watch how quickly you lose weight and your energy shoots through the roof.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever gotten frustrated with dietary advice you received that you just knew didn’t work for you. Also, let me know if you were surprised by any food groups that you either added or eliminated and how they impacted your health. If you have any questions about how to figure out what might work best for you just ask, while I’m not a nutritionist, I have been through the process including all the frustrating bits.
Sending all you lovelies hugs,
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