The Atkins Diet. The South Beach Diet. The Slim-Fast Diet. The Cabbage Diet. The Paleo Diet. The Weight Watcher’s Diet. Which one is right for you? Maybe, none of them.
You see, the problem is, Americans are always in pursuit of the next health fad that is going to get them to drop the pounds. As a whole, we are convinced that our health issues would resolve themselves, if only we could fit in to those size 6 jeans (or 32, for you dudes). Well, I am here to tell you that that is not necessarily true.
For starters, I think we need to establish a definition on what good health means. Your physician will weigh you, measure your waist-to-hip ratio, run a blood panel, take your blood pressure, and run a number of other tests to determine if you are healthy or not. All of this is fine. Except for me personally, all of my numbers have always come back in the optimal range. Even though my blood work looked excellent three years ago, I still had symptoms: aches, pains, PMS, interrupted sleep, irregular bowels…you name it. So even though nothing was clinically wrong with me, I felt unwell.
This brings me to the definition of health that I offer to you: you are healthy when you are feeling well and symptom-free. (Side note: you should still get check-ups with your medical doctor to help ensure you are well.)
So what diet is the right one to get you symptom-free and feeling well? Yours. You just have to modify it as necessary. The problem with all of the diet plans out there in the universe, is that they do not factor YOU into the equation. What foods do YOU enjoy eating? Do you like to cook? Are you an athlete, or mostly sedentary? What is your blood type? Do you live in an area where seafood/grass-fed beef/produce, etc. is available year-round?
You can follow anybody else’s rules for a period of time. You will probably lose weight. After all, the various diets out there all boast success stories. You may or may not feel well on different diets. The problem is, you are not improving your diet for the long-term. So even if you do feel well for a period of time, chances are, you will go back to your old dietary routine. These are the habits that got you here in the first place. So you can see why, for most of us, these fads are not effective.
That’s why now, when I talk about my “diet”, I am referring only to how I fuel my body. Some days my diet is perfect, and some days it could use improvement. (Entire carton of coconut ice cream, anyone?) If I do something drastic with my diet, it is usually for a month or less, to meet a specific goal. I don’t refer to this as a “diet”, but as a challenge. I feel like the word challenge has more positive connotations. 🙂 Also, since it is for a set amount of time, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Usually these challenges help reduce my cravings for various foods, and improve my overall diet, long after I have completed them.
If you are interested in a couple challenges to jump-start a healthier way of eating, I can tell you about a couple. My favorites can be found at whole30.com and the21daysugardetox.com. Feel free to check them out! I fully support both of these plans.
But don’t despair! These challenges are NOT the only way to go. In fact, modifying your diet is best done one step at a time. So what is the first thing you should change?
Starting with the bottom up, breakfast. What should your breakfast be? Well, what do you like? To keep you full and energized all day long, a high-protein breakfast is best. Protein needs vary from person to person, but some places recommend as high as 1.8 grams of protein each day, per pound of body weight. For most of us, that is a lot of protein! Take that number and divide it by three, and you should be eating roughly that much protein in the morning. If that sounds like too much to you, Mark Sisson talks about specific protein needs at http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-much-protein-should-you-be-eating/#axzz30a9zw360. Also, keep in mind that you know your body best. Experiment with what works for you.
So there you have it. Start modifying your diet one step at a time to meet your specific needs and goals. Protein breakfast is a good place to start! But for the love of Pete, whatever you do, don’t go on a “diet”!
Yours in health,