It used to be Atkins, South Beach, Mediterranean and Zone.
Now it’s Paleo, Raw, Sugar Free and Acid/Alkaline.
In an age of information overload it can be pretty difficult to know which way to turn when it comes to the diet du jour. There is so much conflicting advice. Try Googling the debate raging around whether or not we should eat fruit (some Paleo followers say no) and you’ll see what I mean. (After doing my research I’m still sticking to my fruit for breakfast!)
Then there are the people with an almost evangelical approach to some of these diets.
Okay. I admit it. When I started the Whole Health Crew site, I fitted neatly into this category myself. I had such phenomenal results from switching to an 85% raw diet and cutting out dairy, red meat and sugar (I was already gluten free) that I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. “Eating raw is the elixir to life. The secret to digestive health!” My debilitating gallbladder attacks and digestive issues completely disappeared. Truth is, my new lifestyle (not diet) worked brilliantly for ME. But as I’ve come to realise, that doesn’t necessarily mean it would work for YOU.
I had this wake up call a year into my raw food journey when I visited an amazing medical herbalist and we got chatting about different body types and their needs. He was already treating my son and when we got onto the subject of food, I talked about introducing more raw foods into his diet. “That’s great,” he said. “But your son has a completely different body type to you. He couldn’t tolerate the amount of raw food you eat, and really needs meat and warm foods.” So it turns out he is more suited to a Paleo style of eating, whereas I respond well to a lifestyle high in raw foods, with a bit of added protein from eggs and fish.
This is the reason I find it a little frightening when people blindly following the latest ‘diet’. Although my son would thrive on a Paleo style programme, my body wouldn’t tolerate it at all. The key is getting to know YOUR body and what is right for you. And that may not be what the celebrity endorsers are urging.
Figuring this out can take some commitment. But I believe it’s a commitment well worth making. I understand my ‘cold turkey’ approach wouldn’t suit everyone. I was already off gluten and overnight I also ditched dairy, sugar, meat, alcohol, coffee and processed foods from my diet, replacing it with whole foods, lots of raw foods, juices and smoothies. The detox was pretty interesting at times but after around three months I really started to feel transformed.
With my body ‘cleaned out’ I was able to notice an immediate impact from any food I ate containing dairy, gluten or sugar. That familiar bloating, inflammation of my joints or digestive issues would return. The medical herbalist said my body has had an immune response to dairy and gluten all my life (with sugar thrown on top only fueling the inflammation). No wonder I always felt sluggish and never had 100 percent energy. I’m so grateful for the discovery that what I choose to eat or drink really can make a hugely positive difference to my life. It’s so simple really. And once you get started… so easy.
Like all writers, I read. A lot. I’m fascinated about the movement towards whole foods and healthier ways of living and think it is fantastic there is such a growing awareness.
Each of the diets I mentioned at the beginning of this blog has huge merits. The question is …. which is right for you? I would suggest all of them and none of them in equal measure. The secret is for YOU to discover how your body functions and go from there.
To distill it down however, there are some familiar truths that ring true in all these ‘diets’.
* Eat whole foods and try to eliminate all (or as much) processed food as you can
* Cut out refined sugar
* Consider eliminating dairy and gluten, or at least figure out the impact these foods have on your body
* Introduce green juices and smoothies to your day
* Eat organic as much as possible
* Eat good healthy fats
Then there are the other old chestnuts that we all know deep down (but sometimes choose to ignore) that help us lead a healthier life :
* Drink water
* Get plenty of sleep
* Be social
* Relax (think yoga, meditation, Tai Chi)
So how to begin?
My biggest piece of advice is DON’T BE A SHEEP!
Before you jump on the Paleo, or Raw or whatever diet bandwagon, do yourself the service of getting to know YOUR body, your temple, your vessel – and make choices that will best serve it. Get on the internet and READ, READ, READ. Take a journo approach and look at both sides of the argument. Don’t accept everything as gospel. Sure there will be some compelling arguments and science about why you should jump this way or that – but remember before you do – that you are unique, special and wonderful. That doesn’t mean your body will respond to a ‘one size fits all’ programme. Act like a SEAGULL instead – and pick the eyes out of all these ‘diets’ (gross analogy sure – but you get the idea!) Take the best bits, experiment and figure out what works for you.
You can start with small changes, or like me change your lifestyle overnight. However you choose to do that is up to you but I recommend having the support of a natural healer or herbalist, especially if you decide to take the ‘cold turkey’ approach.
As you progress along the journey you will start to feel more ‘in tune’ with your body. Listen to your intuition and how your body is feeling. You may find (like me) you thrive on introducing a lot more raw food, that your energy levels go through the roof and digestive issues improve or disappear. Or you could find eating this way doesn’t satisfy you and you need more cooked food, or even red meat in your diet.
The trick is to figure all this out. And enjoy the gastro journey of new healthy food along the way.
It can be a little daunting to consider making a lifestyle change. But believe me. After a few short weeks new habits emerge and it becomes second nature. And when you’re feeling better about life and have energy you didn’t think possible, you won’t look back.
Thanks for reading