What type of diet will help you lose weight or give you improved health, better moods, greater energy or more mental clarity?
I don't know what the best diet for you is because you are different than me. We are all unique with different dietary needs that are based on a multitude of factors including, but not limited to gender, age, genetics, health level, blood type, occupation, geographic location, time of year and beliefs.
So what works for you will be different than what works for me.
For example my friend, Stormi, is a long-term vegan who eats a generous amount of soy and feels fine. My friend, Colleen, decided to add soy milk, protein powder and tofu to her diet for its health benefits, but it caused both she and her husband to gain weight, so they gave it up and the excess weight disappeared.
My husband and I both enjoy eggs for breakfast. They keep us feeling satisfied for hours, but my adult stepson, Mac, always avoided them because they didn't make him feel good. Guess what? Mac just learned he is allergic to eggs! One person's best food really can be another person's poison.
Journaling is Key to Discovering the Best Diet For You
One key in determining the best diet for you is to experiment and try different ways of eating. As you test each new diet and way of eating, keep a written journal of how you feel and your experiences. Note the effects on your energy level, mental clarity and moods. I keep a little notebook that I call my food and mood journal.
I've learned a tremendous amount about health and nutrition during my year long course of study at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN), where I learned that there is no one correct way to eat and I continue to read a lot on the topic.
The most important thing I learned at IIN is to rely on and trust my own personal experience and to assist others to do the same.
I use books and articles as a way to stay informed of the latest trends. Many popular diet and health books are contradictory, which illustrates that different diets work for different people!
Food Quality & How You Eat Matters Too
One major factor that is often overlooked when talking about diets is the quality of food you eat. What are you actually eating?
A vegan diet of french fries, candy, soda and lots of processed foods is very different from one that focuses on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Different ways of eating can have a huge effect on how the food affects your body and mind. It certainly can on mine.
It's not just what you eat, or don't eat, that matters. How you prepare the food and how you eat makes a big difference too. When you gobble down a sandwich at your desk it is very different than enjoying one in the company of loved ones at a picnic in a lovely park.
I continue to experiment with the best way to eat and realize it changes depending on time of year, where I am living, and the kind of work I am doing. I crave more raw fruits and vegetables and salads during the summer, and more soups, casseroles, and stews during the fall and winter.
One thing is certain; the more natural real whole foods and the less highly processed foods I eat, the better I feel.
And the fewer restrictions I place on myself—the more I allow myself to eat what my body wants—the fewer cravings I experience. I think Mark Twain was right when he said, "The more things are forbidden the more popular they become." Once you tell yourself you can have whatever you want, the desires become much less intense, at least if you are a moderator like me. It might be different if you are an abstainer by nature.
I am also discovering that as I simplify my life, the more satisfying simple foods become. I used to love fancy gourmet food. Now I prefer simple old-fashioned foods. It makes sense. My internal and external worlds want to be aligned. Complicated food in a simple life would be incongruent!
Shifting diets can be difficult so the best way to make change is in a slow and steady step-by-step way. Don't try to change too much too soon. It can be stressful. Instead, introduce and/or remove one new food or food category at a time. Then pay attention and notice how you feel.
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