HAVE you been confused about all the new diets popping up all over the place and trying to figure out which one is right for you?
Thought about going paleo? Gluten free? Vegan? Or trying out the Raw Food, Blood Type or 5:2 diet? There are literally hundreds of diets out there. Just Google the word “diet” and you’ll be faced with a multitude of overwhelming options. When each of them claims to be the healthiest approach, how are you meant to discern which is one best for you?
What I am about to tell you, will mean you will no longer be scratching your head with utter confusion. How about creating a diet that is tailor made just for you and your body chemistry. Sounds good right?
We can tailor make our clothes to our body, so why can’t we tailor our diets to do the same? Why do we have to follow restrictive diet regimes with a nice fancy title that tell us what to eat, how to eat and when to eat?
Enter a new school of thought that’s known as ‘bio-individuality’. The term was developed by Joshua Rosenthal, founder and director of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. Rosenthal says, “Bio-individuality means there is a no one-size-fits-all diet, each person is a unique individual with highly individualised nutritional requirements”.
So why DO we place foods from strict overcomplicated diets into our bodies? Because that’s what our culture tells us to do, to follow a trend that either a celebrity has endorsed or that has possibly worked well for some people.
It makes no sense because there are so many personal differences in everyone’s anatomy, metabolism, body composition and cell structure that influences overall health and the foods that make us feel our best.
That’s why no single way of eating works for everyone and hence why some diets work for some people and not for others. It’s why we get so much conflicting advice, because nutrition is not an exact science — we are dealing with so many different physiological makeups, that a single diet simply cannot fit so many different nutritional needs.
Our bodies are made up of a series of biochemicals — the foods we eat are also chemicals, so when we digest food a chemical reaction takes place. Some of these reactions are good and some are not so good, the chemical reactions will differ from person to person.
The food that is perfect for your unique body, age, and lifestyle may make another person gain weight, feel lethargic and have stomach upsets. Rosenthal explains this with his theory, “one persons food is another persons poison”.
Once you figure out the foods that make your body thrive, you can be guaranteed to be at your healthiest. This can take a bit of time, including some trial and error.
So, when the experts say, “tomatoes are good for you” or “red meat is unhealthy,” it’s too much of an over-generalisation.
One person’s food is another person’s poison and that’s why strict diets don’t work in the long run. They are not based on the reality that we all have different dietary needs.
VicHealth dietitian Jen Reimers warned against making drastic changes to your diet without speaking to a professional. She said it is important to eat a balanced healthy diet, including a variety of nutritional foods, which is fundamental to good health.
“Making healthy changes to your diet needs to be achievable and sustainable so you don’t rebound back to old habits. To make sure you’re making the right changes for you and not cutting out key nutrients it’s best to seek support from a qualified dietitian”.
If, after speaking with a dietitian you want to tailor your diet, here are some tips.
1. THROW OUT THE RULE BOOK: People often get caught up in the rules of a specific diet, such as vegetarian, raw foodist or vegan. But not every aspect of those diets may be right for you as an individual. Listen to your body: sticking to rigid rules can make us stop paying attention to our real needs. Stop eating something if it’s making you feel unwell, even if its deemed by the experts as “healthy”.
2. TUNE INTO YOUR BODY: The way your body reacts after you place food into is your natural feedback system. If you suffer from a stomach upset, skin problems or chronic lack of energy, that could be your body telling you that its biochemistry is off — and that something in your diet isn’t right for you. You may love lentils and apples, but if they don’t love you, it could be worth leaving them out of your diet (even though they are considered healthy). Some natural foods won’t necessarily agree with you — so listen to the feedback your body is giving you after you eat them.
4. BE FLEXIBLE: Your body is constantly changing, your cells are regenerating, the seasons are changing and we encounter different stressors. Be willing to adapt your diet to your changing surroundings — like eating warming soups and stews in winter and cool salads and fruit in summer. Also if you are eating the same food week in week out, it can sometimes be too much for your body and you start to build up a certain intolerance. Change up your diet if that same food isn’t working for you anymore.5. TREAT FOOD LIKE MEDICINE: One person’s food is another person’s poison. You wouldn’t take someone else’s prescribed medication, so don’t try and eat food that someone else says you should eat. Works out what foods give you more energy and make you feel healthy and steer yourself towards those.Just remember our bodies are an amazing intricate system that contains an incredible feedback mechanism. Experiment with what works for YOU, tune into YOUR own body, cut out the noise and hype around new fancy diets. Remember to treat your food like it’s your medicine, be flexible with your food and you will never have to follow another strict diet regime again!