Ok, so let’s get back to determining your best fit…
There are so many choices out there. So many experts. So many well-intended friends and family offering ardent suggestions of what you should try, do and change. So how do you know which is right?
The short answer is go with what is right for you. I know, I know, it sounds like a cop-out. But really it’s the foundation of my foundation.
Just like I said before, you are the expert on YOU.
Going with what is right for you is only valuable advice if you know how to tap into that part of you that knows best; that inner wisdom. So if you decide to stick with me that will be part of our journey together, but I know you want to start now.
Let’s start with food. We make over 200 decisions about food every single day, on average, which means some days we make far more than that. I don’t know about you but that sounds exhausting to me. And this is why we make so many of those choices on autopilot. How many times have you looked down at that sandwich and realized that you only had one or two bites left and wondered what the hell, where did it go?? Or go to take a sip of your coffee and there is none left because you were focused more on your Instagram feed than what you were feeding your body? We make a LOT of decisions without even realizing it, all. day. long. And we have a tendency to go through our days unaware or thinking about other things.
So if we unconsciously make that many decisions each day about food, how many unconscious calories do you think we eat each day? I’ll just tell you, it’s a lot! Like a real lot! Which is why one day you realize you can’t fit in those pants any more, or you went up 2 sizes in the last 5 years. And this is why we look to experts to help us decide what is the best diet to live by. Fewer decisions to have to make each day allows us to free up that mental energy to use towards bigger issues.
There are benefits to this process but when we look to outside influences to make rules for our own bodies we fail to hear the messages our own body is sending. Let me share an example of how we can use outside influences to work with your body. For a long time, I struggled with eating breakfast. I know all of the science behind why they say breakfast is the most important meal. The short answer is that it sets you up to feel full so you don’t crash at an inopportune time like when you are in the middle of work presentation at 1pm and you are more likely to make healthier decisions for the meals that follow.
But getting back on track, I kept listening to the experts; eat high fiber; oatmeal and grains, eat high protein; eggs, bacon; eat light; a banana and almond butter on toast, a hard-boiled egg and a piece of fruit and on and on and on. But I always felt bloated, heavy, uncomfortable or sometimes even nauseous. I ate so many eggs that I got to the point that I would gag on the first bite.
I continued to look for guidance from everyone other than myself until I finally stopped and asked myself which foods can I eat and not feel like Violet Beauregard by 11am? So I listened to expert advice that I should eat breakfast every day because the evidence supporting the claim made sense to me but I listened to myself to know what to eat. Now to help reduce the number of decisions I need to make each day, I just eat that for breakfast every day and I will continue to do so until my body tells me no more.
Do you see what we did here? We’re learning to integrate science with our innate wisdom. We seek to understand the WHY behind the recommendations and decide if that resonates with our own bodies, then fill in the WHAT on our own.
Let’s get practical now. Before we get down and dirty with the limitless number of dietary plans, here are some questions to ask yourself about how you choose to nourish this one, precious body that we are blessed with on this journey.
What are my goals with changing my diet? What do I plan to achieve by creating change? Do you want to lose weight? If so, how much? Why do you want to lose weight? What benefits come with the weight loss? Maybe, your goal is to figure out the cause of a certain health concern; an allergy, inflammation, bloating/gas, tired/sluggishness, etc. Perhaps, you feel called to a certain way of life; Ayurveda, veganism, Mediterranean or macrobiotic. Whatever your reasons are for affecting change, clearly define them. This is less about “defining your why” and more about understanding how deeply committed you are. Think of these diet plans as systems to use to reach your goals. Sometimes your goals will be short term, sometimes forever; a season, a reason or a lifetime. Neither is right or wrong but if you don’t know how deeply tied you are to your motivation, your enthusiasm will quickly disintegrate.
Having a clear picture of your goals will also and perhaps more importantly, help you sift through the noise. There will be a lot of facts, opinions and opinions disguised as facts creating a lot of noise in your brain as you come to a decision on which system to use. Understanding clearly, why you are committing yourself to a system will help you be more successful with that system. An example from my own life: when I first tried Paleo, my goals were to lose weight, clean up the inflammation, and unprocess my diet and I was Cross-fitting at the time so we did a lot of month long challenges within the gym. Paleo guidelines include restricting fruits due to the sugar content. So the recommendations include small amounts of berries and other low sugar fruits, but overall eliminating them. I, personally, disagree with these recommendations. Any fruit or vegetable with rich, deep and vibrant colors are high in micro-nutrients, bioflavanoids and antioxidants that help the body heal and prevent signs of aging, among lots of other benefits.
So, I decided that if I were to be successful with the Paleo diet, I would not limit my fruit intake. That doesn’t mean that I ate fruit morning, noon and night. My body naturally regulated the amount I ate, and it was easier to listen to my body because I eliminated the processed foods.
Nicole Foras, M.D.
Where Nature and Science Meet