What you eat is important. What you don’t eat might be even more important.
The right combination of the two can have life-altering benefits. Once someone finds a particular nutritional plan that helps them finally achieve weight loss, think more clearly, recover from a debilitating health condition or otherwise achieve superhuman powers, an interesting thing often happens: they want to tell everyone! They have saved themselves, and now it’s time to save the world.
Whether the fantastic results came from Weight Watchers, the Mediterranean diet, Whole30, Shakeology, paleo, keto, veganism, The Potato Hack or cabbage soup, the religious-like fervor can be overwhelming to spread the word. Unfortunately, like unsolicited religious advice, well-intentioned dietary suggestions are frequently met with icy glares and a removal from the holiday card recipient list.
Beyond the implicit social taboo of providing uninvited nutritional suggestions, problems with spreading diets emerge. Robb Wolf, podcasting, book-writing biochemist-turned-fitness-and-nutrition-expert, even admits to making two mistakes whenever he comes across a nutritional plan that works well for him. He assumes “1) that it will work for me forever and 2) that it will work for everyone else.”
Venture to the health section and consider for a moment the vast array of books on the topic. If you had the time to read them all, you would likely find many direct contradictions between books, to the tune of “eat carrots every day” and “never eat carrots”. Every diet on the bookshelf has worked for someone and will certainly work for someone else in the future; however, none will work for everyone forever.
Let’s look at some of the factors that play a role in nutritional individuality:
Though the human body is hugely flexible and adaptable, different people simply do better with different macronutrient ratios. While one person may rave about their high carb vegan diet, the next person will sing the praises of their high fat ketogenic diet. On the other hand, many people will also complain about how poorly they feel on either a high carb or high-fat diet. Both diets can be extremely beneficial in a variety of situations, but can also be the wrong choice.
“Going Paleo” has changed the lives of countless people. Because it eliminates many of the offenses of the Standard American Diet, almost everyone will see improvement. If, however, you are sensitive to eggs, almonds or coconut – which paleo is quite high in – the diet change might not seem like such a blessing. If these sensitivities have gone unidentified, then Paleo will seem to be the cause digestive distress and maybe skin or ear issues.
Individual health issues
Love the peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes on your Mediterranean diet? Don’t offer it to your friend with an autoimmune condition. Happy with the whole grain toast from the DASH diet? Please avoid sharing it with anyone with Hashimoto’s! Rocking ripped abs on keto? Take a pause before encouraging your coworker without a gallbladder from jumping on board. Most nutritional plans can be adapted to meet unique needs. These adjustments can make or break the success of a plan.
The amount of stress you regularly deal with impacts the kinds of foods you can tolerate. Often, people with high-stress lives should avoid high carbohydrate diets, even when they are made up of whole foods. Stress releases glucose into the bloodstream, raising blood sugar levels. Excessive glucose from foods can cause insulin resistance problems.
Hormone levels and ratios change monthly, yearly and throughout a lifetime. These changes affect the way your body functions on many different levels. They may cause food sensitivities to ebb and flow, glucose tolerance to rise or fall or metabolism to slow or speed up.
Trying a new nutritional strategy is truly a “n=1” experiment. The dieter gets great information about how well the diet works for them at that moment in time, but this data can not be applied to anyone else. It is wonderful to achieve desired results, but unfortunately, this is not the gold standard for determining the silver bullet. When something works, the best you can do is to keep on keeping as long as it continues to work. The worst you can do is keep pushing at a strategy that is not working, all the while believing it just needs some more time to kick in since it worked for a friend or cousin.
This is for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice.
Sara Kennedy is a certified Nutritional Therapy Consultant. She lives fitness, nutrition and wellness – and wants to help save lives and change the world’s view on health and nutrition. Learn more about Sara and her plans at thriveak.com To reach her, email firstname.lastname@example.org