When we think of the word “diet” in today’s society, it has become a dirty word. Usually, it is associated with deprivation and weight loss. But I want to help you transform your thinking…think of it as a choice and a lifestyle. And by that, I don’t mean a permanent lifestyle.
Our dietary patterns change – that is pretty much guaranteed. I know very few people who still eat the same way they did 20 years ago. So when you use or hear the word “diet,” please don’t think I am talking about weight loss.
Why you would choose a diet?
There are so many choices for how you choose to feed yourself and there are so many reasons why to choose that certain way.
The most common reasons I see people choose a diet are:
- Digestive distress
- Fat loss/weight loss
- High blood lipids – cholesterol or triglycerides
- Elevated blood glucose/ pre-diabetes / diabetes
- Rashes/ eczema/ psoriasis
- Fatigue or performance
- Yeast problems, food intolerances or allergies
- Mood and mental health
This is by no means an exhaustive list. People choose diets for a whole host of personal reasons. What other reasons are you aware of in your life or the lives of others?
It’s important to consider your “why” when you set out to try a certain “way of living”… or diet. Knowing why you and others choose the path they do allows us to formulate good questions and hear an answer that we may not have thought about. Take a moment to think about your “why” each time you begin your journey with a new diet choice. This will not only help you stay motivated throughout, but it will ensure that you are thinking through your choice and finding the right option for you and your lifestyle.
Caution Around Nutritional Guidelines
Our modern world is FULL of choice especially when it comes to food and nutrition. Blanket recommendations are made by varying agencies and health or environmental advocates with little regard for the individual and their individual needs because they cannot speak for the billions. We are therefore lumped together with all the other humans on this planet no matter our age, gender, health status or heritage.
The guideline below is delivered by a company that specializes in Diabetes care:
- Eat a variety of foods every day.
- Eat foods low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol.
- Eat moderate amounts of sugar.
- Eat a limited amount of salt and sodium.
- Drink adequate amounts of water.
What does this even mean? What does moderate mean to you? Is that the same as my limited amount? Why recommend moderate amounts of sugar for a diabetic instead of low or none? Don’t get me started on adequate amounts of water…?! Sheesh!
Not all advice is good nor can it all be bad, but it most certainly is a little too vague to actually be of use.
I believe that there is good intention behind recommendations but rarely are the recommendations based on science.
The first countries to adopt “nutritional guidelines” are also countries that saw a dramatic rise in obesity and diabetes rates. This, I believe, is a coincidence and does not prove causation. However, there are some common factors that we will examine over the next few blog posts that could be to blame.
Below are a few examples of guidelines from a few countries around the world. Overall they seem sensible or even easy to follow but the serving sizes or portions are not very well described. How can these be beneficial in your life?
Making Choices for YOU
Take this advice with caution because these recommendations are obviously not personalized for you, your goals, and lifestyle choices. Feel empowered to make choices that fit YOU and consider your goals, and expectations. There is no harm in experimentation and creating your own personal guidelines if you have an outcome you are looking to acheive.
Do any of the above dietary intake models resonate with you? If so, what do you find challenging about the recommendations? If you don’t follow anything like this, why not? It is so important to learn from each other so be sure to reach out to share or ask any questions you have.
-Dr. Jerome Craig