Do you ever feel perplexed in regards to what you should and shouldn’t eat in order to be healthy? Who do you believe? With conflicting opinions abounding about what is the healthiest diet for you, how do you know what will really work?
One group says to eat a balanced diet with whole grains being a part, while another group says gluten is to be avoided at all costs. Some say you need to eat little to no fat in order to have a healthy heart while others say eat all the good fat you want.
I know you want to be healthy. We talked in this post about why it’s important to take care of ourselves physically because every part of our being – spirit, soul, and body – is affected by our health.
No one wants to be sick. We want to have stamina and energy to do our daily tasks. We sure don’t want to see all our money going out the door for medical costs. And honestly, we just want to feel good because feeling good is really wonderful, right?
I understand the confusion over what is the healthiest diet to pursue. How can you know?
What amazes me is how differently people can eat and still find good health. For example, I have one friend in her late 50’s who has found great help for her Type 2 diabetes by eating a ketogenic diet. This diet is composed of mostly meat and a few vegetables and a lot of fat. I have another friend who is in her early 60’s and has eaten a vegetarian diet for most of her adult life. She has energy galore and her skin is radiant.
How could 2 totally different ways of eating bring health to both people?
And more importantly, how do you know what is the healthiest diet for you?
I don’t know.
And I’m beginning to believe that no one else does either.
For a few years now, I’ve been wrestling with the thought that maybe our bodies are unique enough that one “size”, one prescription, does not fit all. Maybe we are the only ones who can determine what is really healthy for us and what is not.
Let’s Look at a Study
I recently read about a study that actually confirms some of my musings. The study was conducted by scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science. Here is a short video that describes the study better than I can in a very understandable way.
The results of the study are pretty fascinating. Because our microbiome and lifestyles and genetics differ from one person to another, the foods we eat can affect our blood sugar levels in different ways. The same foods that make one person’s blood sugar go through the roof may barely affect the blood sugar levels of another person.
Blood sugar responses of different people eating the same identical foods was found to be hugely different. The researchers concluded that there is a need for personalized nutrition. And when the scientists designed a personalized plan for the test participants, not only did their blood sugar become stable, but the microbiome of their gut became healthier over time as well. Even when they were given food we wouldn’t even consider healthy!
The scientists’ response to their findings?
Giving general dietary recommendations to an entire group of people may have limitations in producing a desired or intended result of good health.
Our genes, the lifestyle choices we make, the bacteria we have in our guts, all have an influence on our health. And we all respond differently to the foods we eat.
In other words, the healthiest diet for you might not work at all for me. We’re all different!
(If you want to read more, you can find an article here that describes the actual study. And an article here that explains the study in a more understandable way for people like me who are scientifically challenged!)
So again we have to ask the question: how do you find the healthiest diet for you? I’m not a nutritionist, a scientist, or a doctor, but I have a keen interest in being healthy and helping you find health. I’d like to offer a few suggestions, in my opinion, for how you could find what is the healthiest diet for you.
Start With a Willingness to Experiment
I know it may feel risky or even scary to experiment with your health. I grew up in an environment where the doctor’s word was almost equivalent to the gospel. No one ever thought about questioning what was told to them.
But I believe God has given us an amazing body with an incredible ability to heal itself. And He certainly is above all our Healer. I also believe that He wants us to partner with Him in taking care of the bodies He’s given us.
I understand how busy life can be and how stressful things can get and how you might not feel like you can undertake one more thing. I know.
Change is never convenient.
But this is your health.
You want to be able to go forward with the years you have left on this earth with a sound mind and a sound body, right? That might not happen without your willingness to take part in making it happen.
So maybe it would be helpful to start by keeping a daily journal of what you eat, when you eat it, and then any observable results you notice. Maybe you feel sleepy after eating certain foods or you get bloated. Maybe you notice your moods are affected negatively or your thinking gets a little foggier when you eat a specific food.
Then you might take the next step by eliminating any foods that you already know cause problems. Maybe you’ve noticed that every time you eat a food made from dairy, you have a stomach-ache. Or you get a headache when you eat a lot of sugar.
Your willingness to take these first steps is so huge in starting your path to a healthy diet that will work for you!
Next, Experiment with an Elimination Program
Maybe you’ve started taking more notice of how foods make you feel. You may have been recording in your journal and started noticing some patterns. You may even have eliminated a few of the worst offenders and found some good results.
But you may still not be feeling as healthy as you would like. I highly encourage you to experiment with an elimination program.
Let me first be clear in letting you know that only a dietician or a nutritionist or maybe a doctor can technically prescribe an eating plan for you. I won’t be suggesting specific foods you should eat.
I’m simply throwing out the idea that if you choose to eliminate certain foods for a limited time, you could have a better perspective on what makes a healthy way of eating for you.
When you do an elimination program, you are changing up your normal routine of eating. You make a conscious choice to avoid all foods that might cause a problem in the average person, and you avoid those foods for a length of time that will remove the effects they might have had on your body.
Then when the time period is over, you gradually reintroduce those foods one at a time to your diet and see what kind of effect they have. It’s usually obvious within a short amount of time to see how a food will affect you. And reintroducing them one at a time will help you pinpoint exactly which food is having that effect.
Some people do an experiment like this in a few days, but others find you need to do this at least 30 days to give your body the opportunity to rid itself of the negative effects of these foods. Otherwise, when you reintroduce suspected foods, your results might not be as clearly defined as you’d like.
If you have serious health conditions, are on any prescription medications, or have any concerns about this at all, please consult your physician before attempting an elimination diet.
But please go to your doctor with your research in hand. Let him/her know that you want to take an active role in improving your health and would appreciate his/her green light for you to do this experiment.
Try a Proven Elimination Program
While there are many suggestions for elimination diets online, many are nothing more than someone’s opinion on what has worked for them. I’d rather use something that’s been found to help numerous people with lots of antidotal evidence that it works.
I’d like to recommend the Whole30 program. Since the program’s beginning in 2009, thousands of people have found help and success. I also recommend this one because my husband and I did it a few years ago. Inflammation was becoming all too frequent with aches in my knee and hip joints, and I wanted to do something to keep it from getting worse.
Our results of doing the Whole30 amazed me. I found tremendous improvement in my inflammation levels. My husband and I both lost weight, had more energy, better digestion, and just felt better overall.
The Whole30 program gets its name from the fact that you do it for 30 days, and you have to do it wholeheartedly. You eliminate food groups, (yes, groups!) that might have a negative influence on your body and quality of life, and then gradually you introduce them back into your diet..
It’s strict. It’s not easy. I won’t tell you different. But it’s so very worth doing. You can see for yourself which foods are good for you and which ones you should stay away from altogether. You might even find that you can tolerate some foods if you only eat them occasionally.
But most of all, you will be able to have a more clear picture of what is the healthiest diet for you.
If you’re interested in learning more about Whole30, there are several books on the official website found here that might help:
- The “manual” of how to do the actual program (with recipes) titled Whole30
- 2 cookbooks
- and 3 more books on food, food freedom, and more helps for the program
But you really don’t have to invest any money. You can find all the rules, tremendous help and support, recipes, even free downloads at their website: https://whole30.com.
(Note: I am not an affiliate of Whole30, nor do I make any money from recommending their program. I have used it and found it to be very beneficial for me. )
So I hope I’ve helped you to see in this post that the healthiest diet for you is the diet that works for your body. You don’t have to be bound to the dictates of passing diet fads or conflicting health research. You can choose to have the willingness to experiment with your diet. You can eliminate foods that might cause you problems and can even use an established program like Whole30 to help you on this journey.
And that’s what health is – a journey. Just like our Christian walk, finding good health is a process of learning and growing. It takes willingness, intentionality, and experimenting to find what works.
We can listen to what our body is telling us rather than what the media tells us. And remember also that we are not defined by our past choices or what’s been given us. We can choose to overcome!!
One last note: I am NOT saying that if you improve your diet, it’s all you need to do to have fantastic physical health. There are so many factors that influence our health – our stress levels, our level of physical activity, environmental factors, and even our thoughts and emotions.
But you can make a choice to start a journey of good health by finding what is the healthiest diet for you, the one that works best for your body.
I’m with you, learning to understand the way God made us and co-laboring with Him to keep everything in shape!
Finding health with you,
Let’s encourage each other in our attempts at finding good health. Would you share one thing you’ve changed or tweaked in your diet that has made improvements in your health? Or maybe you are in need of a big change right now, and you want to share with us the first step you think you’ll take on this journey to feeling good? We’d love to hear!! Thanks!
DISCLAIMER – All content on this blog is intended for educational purposes only. No statements (or inferences)that I make, including links to other sites, should be viewed as my claim for a cure, treatment, or prevention of any disease or as a substitute for professional health care. Please, please if you have a serious condition, see your doctor, functional medicine practitioner, or a trained counselor for help.