What should I eat?
It’s a question I hear often, and with good reason. There are so many different diets being promoted these days – vegan, vegetarian, paleo, keto, high fat, low carb…with so many options it’s hard to determine which one to follow. There is a simple solution, however.
Eat what works for your body.
It would be great if there was one diet that worked for everyone. Unfortunately, since each of us has a unique biochemical makeup, our food needs are also unique. We need a customized approach to eating.
Everyone needs carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fat to function optimally, the ratios may vary, however, depending on what stage of life you’re in and what your health goals are. For example, if you are pregnant, your food and nutrition needs may not be the same as someone who is preparing to run a marathon.
Instead of looking at food trends to decide what to eat, I recommend getting to know your body. This will help you to have a clearer understanding of the type of diet that is best for you. One of the first steps in this process is getting your vitamin and mineral levels tested, so you can see what nutrients you’re lacking. A healthy diet will take your nutrient needs into consideration.
In addition to having your vitamin and mineral levels tested, I also recommend getting tested for food sensitivities and intolerances. Sometimes, there are foods that your body doesn’t respond too favorably. A food sensitivity test will help provide you with that information, so you can make future food choices accordingly.
Another test I recommend to help you understand your dietary needs is Pathway Fit. It’s a genetic analysis that can determine the best diet for you based on your DNA. With the results, a healthcare practitioner can determine if a diet higher in fat, or carbohydrates, or protein is best for you based on your genetic needs and predispositions.
Tests provide us with a wealth of information, but a healthy diet will also take into account what’s happening outside your body, specifically the season and outside temperature. If you are in a warm, tropical climate, your dietary needs will be different than someone who is living in a very cold climate. You may notice that during the summer you need more raw veggies and cooling foods, like watermelon and cucumber. During winter, however, you may crave more cooked vegetables and warming spices, like cinnamon and cloves.
There is no right or wrong diet. There is only the diet that works best for you at any given time of life.
That said, I will offer a few general nutrition recommendations. Keep in mind that these may need to be adjusted to suit the needs of your body.
As a general rule, I recommend that my patients’ diet consist of all major food groups: carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fat. Ideally, most of your carbohydrates would come from vegetables, like sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and other root and cruciferous vegetables. You can also fulfill your daily carbohydrate needs with fruit, 1-2 servings daily.
As for protein, I recommend an average of 20 grams of protein per meal, or 20% of your overall food intake. This protein can be plant-based or from animal sources – choose the option that makes you feel best. A healthy diet also includes healthy fats, like olive oil and avocado. These should make up 10-15% of your overall diet. It’s best if the remaining 70% is composed of green, leafy vegetables.
I also recommend eating local, organic, and seasonal foods as much as possible, and choosing foods that are free of GMO’s and pesticides.
There are many different diets, but the best way to approach food and eating is to eat foods that you enjoy while taking your unique needs into consideration. This combination will help you to reach your health goals and feel good while you’re doing it.