It’s a confusing world of health advice out there. If you have an interest in wellness or nutrition, you may be frustrated by all the conflicting guidance available in publications, on TV, and online. A svelte former model claims she maintains her youthful appearance through a strict vegan diet and yoga. A famous actress eats only raw food and swears by weight training with a personal trainer. Testimonials from an Olympic athlete claim a paleo diet is the key to his success and stamina.
Answer: they all are.
When it comes to an optimal diet, there is no “one size fits all.” Every body is different, with a unique genetic make-up, past health history, and specific physical demands that contribute to the body’s needs.
What this means is that finding an eating plan that your body responds best to will probably involve some trial and error. You want to lose weight? The diet that worked for your co-worker may not give you the same results. Heck, even the diet that worked for you in your twenties may not work anymore once you hit your forties.
My best friend Harmony simply glows on a vegetarian diet, but when I tried it, I felt weak and hungry all the time. My body craved meat and works best when I feed it that.
One thing I can recommend for every body is whole, natural foods. Real foods. Sure, people may lose weight eating pre-packaged diet meals and powdered shakes, but it’s almost never a long-term solution. Highly-processed items with artificial, unpronounceable ingredients are not good for any body.
You may find that your needs change over time. A damaged body, given the proper foods as medicine*, can often heal; and when that happens, the optimal diet for that person may change.
For example: someone with severe intestinal damage (like ulcerative colitis) may only be able to eat well-cooked, pureed vegetables until their gut heals enough to tolerate raw fruits and vegetables, which contain more nutritional value than their over-cooked versions. But if that person tries to eat these healthy raw foods in his debilitated state, they will do more harm than good! It all depends on where you are, health-wise, at the moment.
Someone with an autoimmune disease may do best on a restrictive Paleo diet; but perhaps someday, after years of remission, they might be able to exist on a modified vegetarian eating plan.
So don’t be discouraged if the latest eating craze isn’t working for you. Keep searching until you find the fuel that’s right for your chassis–at this very moment.
*Hippocrates, the father of (Western) medicine, is often quoted as saying, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”