Veganism. Vegetarianism. Paleo. WAPF. Raw foods. Juicing. Every day magazines, commercials, and celebrities are trying to convince us of the best diet out there, and how our lives will drastically change by adopting their diet. It’s overwhelming! Each concept seems to have so much science and research to back it up, but then again so does the next diet. There are pros and cons to each choice. So, how do we know which one to follow? Obviously multiple people follow each ideology and it works for them, so how do we know which one is best? What you need to remember is one diet does not fit all. There is no one magical way of eating that will work for everyone’s lifestyle, energy needs, performance needs, or mental health. And that’s okay. We weren’t all created to embrace a vegan lifestyle or forego cooking our food. What’s important is that we listen to our bodies and respect what they want.
The best way to know what diet our body prefers it to try one on. No, really. Pick an ideology that you find really fascinating and that seems to have some beneficial research behind it. Different diets will never all agree on each other’s research, so make sure you investigate first to make an informed decision. Then, jump in headfirst. Don’t look back and just go for it. Love it. Embrace it. Give it enough time, but if you hate it, quit. Diet changes are not do or die.
I understand this from personal experience.
Three years ago, I decided to start eating “healthier”. Yeah, what exactly does that mean? Well, for me, that meant avoiding all white flour and sugar, limiting my meat intake, and eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, and of course no fat. I felt great. But I suppose one would after eating the Standard American Diet all their life. I still ate packaged and processed foods, but that was okay because they were “healthier”. About 6 months later, my mom introduced me to the book Eat to Live, and I was instantly hooked on the benefits of a plant-based diet. I 100% committed to veganism the next day, and I felt so clean and pure. I lost weight, ate tons of food all the time, and felt like I was actively avoiding any and every disease. Unfortunately, a few months into veganism my energy levels began to dwindle. Then, I started having digestive and circulation issues. I was a runner and eventually veganism was not supportive for my lifestyle. After all, I still thought fat was bad! I’m not saying that being a vegan is a poor choice, even for athletes, but my body was no longer positively responding to the diet, so that was my cue for a change. This is when I discovered the Paleo diet. Once again, my mom introduced me to the diet, and it completely scared me (eek, fat!), but the benefits for a whole food, grain-free diet were so inviting that I had to read more about it. The more I researched the science behind it, the more I realized how great it was to avoid inflammatory foods like grains, refined sugars, and legumes. Immediately after starting the diet, I gained healthy weight back, my acne went away, my hair and nails grew thicker and stronger, and more. I loved it.
The journey did not end there. A few months into Paleo I began to develop crippling health problems, which several months later were accredited to Candida overgrowth in my small intestine and stomach. What in the world? I was eating Paleo, so I shouldn’t be having these issues! Right? This is when I started to truly learn that one diet does not fit all. Just because Paleo works for one person, doesn’t mean their Paleo is good for me. I learned that although acceptable, my body does not like nuts and hates high sugar fruits and carbohydrates, but loves meat and some dairy products. And you know what? That’s okay. That’s my Paleo.
That’s what I want every person to understand. There is no miracle diet or food. There are so many choices to make in life and what you eat should not be burdensome to you. It should be enjoyable and suit you and your lifestyle. I believe that health is more about making well-rounded choices that positively impact your body, mind, soul, and environment, more so than a strict diet protocol. Dr. John Berhardi even talks about in this post why there is no one perfect diet, but how each one seems to somehow benefit the person who tries it. He mentions 5 key principles of each diet: they bring nutrition awareness and attention, they focus on food quality, they help eliminate nutrient deficiencies, they help control appetite, and lastly, they promote exercise.
Read the studies. Listen to the testimonies. Then, try it for yourself. Remember that each individual’s body is unique and as much as we would like them to: one diet does not fit all.