What Diet is the Best?
I imagine many people ask themselves this question. We are all seeking some higher level of fitness and health. Some of us act on it more than others, but I would imagine that all of us think about our health to some degree. And where do we start? Usually with exercise or nutrition. We seek out health “experts”. We seek advice from others. We read books, or talk to a doctor. There are many ways that we try to find the best nutrition advice. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who are willing to take advantage of our desperate need to be the healthiest we can be.
I remember some of the most popular diets in the past from low fat to low carb. Remember the Adkins diet? Carbs are bad!!! Today we see similar diets just rebranded. Keto and Carnivore, Primal and Paleo. We also see things like The Mediterranean diet and Whole 30. There is an endless amount of fitness gurus pushing all kinds of diets. One popular thing you will hear from these people is that in order to be healthy or in order to lose weight you need to change the quality of your food. Whenever I hear that my first question is always “what does that mean”? The quality of my food? Does that mean some of my food is bad quality? If so, bad quality in what sense? Like is my food unhealthy? What does unhealthy mean? Is my food not safe? Will it kill me or will I get sick.
The quality of your food must be addressed. We must understand what this means. The quality or health of your food is subjective. It is not based in any facts. What is based in facts and scientific data is the safety of your food. That is how you need to think about food. Is it safe or not. Now I’m not saying a that better food choice is NOT an apple over a snickers bar, but making that choice is much more complex for people. In terms of health we can’t just think about our physical health but also our mental health. I bet if I asked you if a Snickers bar was unhealthy you would most likely say yes, but what if I told you I only had one piece of candy a year and that was a Snickers bar. Would you consider that being an unhealthy part of my diet? See, perspective is also another factor in this equation.
It is strange to hear many of these gurus talk about the quality of your food. All they do is try to convince you that something is bad and that it will cause Cancer and they have successfully inserted the fear. Here is a list of all of the things I have heard are bad for you. Carbs, fats, meat, supplements, the inside aisles of grocery stores, oils, vegetables, fruit, sugar, salt…the list goes on and on. If we listened to all of these gurus we would be eating nothing! Everything we eat at some point or another has been told to us that we should avoid it. How can a person live like this?
Ok, so if we shouldn’t listen to these people how should we approach our diets? That is a great question. One that can be answered simply like this…It depends. Diets and nutrition is so complicated and different for everyone. Any of these fad diets can work depending on your goals and depending on your tolerance of them, but what we must understand is that they are all doing the same thing. They are just trying to get you to cut calories. If your goal is weight loss then these options could help, but certainly don’t believe that they are some magic pill. A diet that works for me may not be sustainable for you. The key to a successful nutrition plan is something that allows you to reach your goal and is sustainable over a long period of time. You should enjoy your food and never feel like you are sacrificing the things you love because our sanity also matters.
If you are finding the health and wellness world confusing when it comes to your nutrition then my advice would be to seek out a registered dietician who can give you accurate information. They are well trained and use scientific data to help you formulate a plan. It is certainly difficult to to sift through all of the information we see on the internet and people can make some compelling arguments. However, you will find most never cite sources or data, or if they do they give you brief snippets of a study that has a completely different outcome than what you are being told. It is pretty easy to cite a source with an attention grabbing headline. These people know you won’t look the source up and dig into the research. We think we are doing research when we follow these people, but we don’t realize that we are being fooled into buying something.
I know none of what I am saying is some clear cut approach to health. We have to recognize that many options exist and they all can help in some way. We just have to understand our minds and bodies. We have to understand our habits and routines. Once we know what works best for us then we can hopefully have success.
*Please be careful when choosing where to get your advice from. It can be very difficult and harmful.*