I’ve been doing a lot of reading, following health-conscious public figures, and I’ll admit it, obsessing about what the perfect diet is. I’m left feeling quite overwhelmed, frustrated and like I’ve thrown my body into a state of confusion.
I think it’s quite easy to feel this way, and why so many of us do.
With all the alternative ways of eating out there it’s easy to feel confused and question what we usually eat. Most nutritional diets at the moment share a similar structure, being Paleo. While others eliminate all sugar. Another focuses on eliminating all inflammatory foods for a period of 30 days. After the 30 days if you reintroduce it and have a negative reaction then you know it’s no good for you.
When I read about the different theories they make sense. I’ve tried eliminating all sugar, followed a more Paleo approach to my eating, attempted an Autoimmune Protocol since I have an autoimmune disease. But didn’t last long on any of them. By following them I was mostly consuming meat for every meal since egg, nuts, seeds, grain, dairy and some vegetables are no good for autoimmune. By day 3 I was well and truly over meat. As much as I like it, eating dinner for breakfast isn’t what I enjoy and I feel better throughout the morning starting with a lighter meal. Followed by my cup of coffee rather than bone broth.
Being on a structured diet with a clear list of foods you can and can’t eat benefits some. Many in fact based on the followers and success stories for each way of eating. And I guess that is what keeps attracting me to them – the amazing success stories. But for anyone who knows me knows that I love food. I’m a very visual person and love a beautiful looking meal. And while I’m all for eating real food as much as possible, to restrict too much results in backfire and leaves me feeling unhappy and uninspired about cooking. I love spending time in the kitchen, meeting friends for a yummy breakfast on weekends and sharing food with family. So to always be thinking about every little thing I’m consuming isn’t what I consider enjoying life.
Is there such a thing as ‘a perfect diet? Maybe, maybe not. Personally I doubt that one size fits all. For me if I can do the best I can most of the time and my belly feels good after a meal, then I’m content with that. Mine seems to feel best on a mostly plant-based diet. With a little meat, dairy, grains and sweetness here and there. But too much of anything besides vegetables and I notice it both on the scales, and with how I’m left feeling after eating.
I think deep down as adults we all know what is good for our bodies, and what isn’t. That fresh food is best and processed in the long-term isn’t. And that paying attention to how our body responds after a meal is the best judge of what is good or bad for us. Using a little common sense doesn’t hurt. If we’re gaining weight and we are eating a lot of sugary things, then cut back. Do some exercise. If we feel bloated after a meal, then something in that meal isn’t so great for us. Could be the cheese, could be the type of vegetable, could be too much heavy meat. In which case we might cut back a bit next time or try switching what could have caused stomach upset for something else.
If we step back a bit and don’t overanalyse (which I’m guilty of) then it won’t seem so confusing. Most of us don’t need to be told what the perfect diet is. Listening to our body and how it responds will tell us what we actually need most of the time.