Clients ask this question a lot when we first start working together. I’m not at all surprised. There are so many “healthy” diets that are being talked about that it becomes very confusing when you’re looking for a balanced approach to nutrient intake.
Current nutritional philosophies are endless; veganism, paleo, peganism, pescatarian, Mediterranean, high-fat, raw and more. It’s overwhelming. So how do we choose the best diet?
I’ve spent many years trying out different diets in search of the perfect one, likely to the detriment of my microbiome – unbeknown to me. The reality is that all diets have advantages and disadvantages.
Take the popular paleo or ancestral diet. This way of eating advocates following a diet formed from the foods that would have existed during the Paleolithic era – no sugar (other than berries or honey), no grains, no dairy, no legumes or beans. What is left, you may wonder? Organic or wild meat, fish, whole vegetables and leafy greens, root vegetables, squashes, nuts and seeds. This diet has proven especially effective in lowering inflammation, great for those with autoimmune conditions.
However, some people get confused on this diet and eat too much meat and too few plant-based foods, mimicking the Atkins diet of yore. In truth, the diet of our Paleolithic ancestors is more a case of foraging for root veg, greens, the occasional berries and nuts. They would eat animals or fish when they could find, catch and kill them.
Veganism is fast gaining popularity due to its low impact on the planet and humane treatment of animals. Ideally following this diet incorporates plenty of whole, plant-based foods, nuts, grains, seeds and pulses. As such, this diet provides lots of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre and healthy fats. However, a vegan diet won’t provide sufficient omega-3 fatty acids, and neither will it provide enough iron, zinc, copper, or vitamin D.
It can be challenging to get the amount of quality proteins and essential amino acids on a vegan diet, especially B12. Further, you can be vegan and still eat a diet filled with sugar, refined grains, flour, highly processed oils, soy-based protein substitutes and foods loaded with additives and chemicals.
What do I recommend to my clients?
What you will notice if you look at the most popular diets is that they all advocate eating real, whole food. These diets often focus on eating foods that are unprocessed, with no sugar, plenty of fresh (ideally organic) vegetables and fruits, healthy protein and fats, and no junk.
I advise clients to eat the most nutrient dense foods that they can find and to experiment to ensure that what they are eating agrees with them. In this way clients are eating an anti-inflammatory diet that encourages good gut-health and regular detoxification. I advise them to grow their awareness of the body’s signals for which foods work for them and which foods to eat occasionally or even exclude.
My point here is that there is no one size fits all. Your food story is based on your beliefs, culture, taste preferences, environment and community.
Want more? You can contact me for some 1-1 person-centred coaching. Book a free clarity call to see how best I can help ❤️