As a nutrition specialist, this is by far the most commonly asked question. And I get it– your dietary style has a lot to do with how you feel every single day.
I wasted so much time trying to lose baby weight after my second and third kid using a dietary style that didn’t support my body type and allergic condition.
It was a miserable multitude of months seeing weight go up and down while relying on daily antihistamines and asthma medication that made me feel like I was in outer space.
I felt like a failure, and I didn’t get why my allergies, hormones, and energy levels seemed to get worse even though I was eating ‘healthy’.
(In my defense, I didn’t understand food labeling or what even food intolerances can do, at the time–that came much later as I completed my formal education in nutrition.)
How do I know what diet is best for me?
So when people ask this question, the thing to know first of all is this:
Whether your goal is losing weight, maintaining weight loss, managing a condition, or looking for steady energy and emotional stability, finding YOUR perfect dietary STYLE, first and foremost, is where you should start.
This means a dietary style that supports your conditions in addition to your health goals.
*If you’re looking to lose weight, START with a dietary style that supports your body first, then calculate your daily energy needs and do things to boost your metabolism. Another option is reducing portion sizes, which inherently reduces calories or carbs (or both).
What is the number 1 healthiest diet?
Studies from the last decade or so have consistently deemed the Mediterranean diet a top global recommendation because of its lack of junk food and calorie dense foods, and focus on healthy foods that have been shown to reduce disease risk. This includes heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and inflammatory conditions, among others.
Instead of it being in the shrinking lot of low fat diets, or even a low carb diet, it focuses on fiber and resistant starches (healthy carbs) in the form of lots of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and beans, legumes, and lentils, and also promotes healthy fats like olive oil, avocado oil, and even coconut oil.
It also limits red meat and unhealthy forms of saturated fats while eliminating added sugars and processed foods.
Other examples are the paleo diet and a more plant-forward dietary style. The common factor is that these are all anti-inflammatory diets, which is what TRUEWELL is all about.
How do I know what diet is best for me?
Most people want to know this as if there’s a magic answer. But there’s a lot more that goes into this question. Here’s why.
First, every single body is different. Meaning your metabolism is different. Your body type is different. Yes, your DNA is different. But also, your tastes, environmental factors, lifestyle, and habits are all so very different!
So what I aim to do is give you some guidance on where to start based on what your goals are. Then you can further research different dietary styles with the resources listed below.
And keep in mind that many people have more than one health issue that needs to be addressed with diet. When you’re looking at your issues, notice recurring dietary style recommendations. These are where you should start.
But I cannot stress enough 2 important things:
1) EATING CLEAN will do more for you right off the bat than counting anything. If you’re eating starchy or sugary junk (sugar + processed junk foods), refined carbs and flours, and processed foods, eliminate those first.
2) Finding the closest dietary style should be a goal in getting curious about healing your condition and managing inflammation with food. This will make it easier to find recipes.
3) It will probably require you TRYING a few styles to get the one that’s BEST FOR YOU. There’s almost no way around that. But there are some guidelines to which ones you SHOULD try. So let’s get started.
Start with your conditions, intolerances, or food allergies
What I like to guide clients and readers to do is figure out which goals they have based on their medical issues FIRST.
Do you need to avoid foods you’re allergic or intolerant to, pull down blood sugar levels, decrease inflammation, manage anxiety and/or depression, get your gut health back on track, get energy levels steady all day, get blood pressure under control, or something else? This is not all-inclusive, by the way–there are many, many other health issues that could be leading the way on this.
Bottom line is that starting with the Mediterranean framework (or basic anti-inflammatory dietary style), then eliminating possible foods inflammatory to YOU can be accomplished with an elimination diet. This is the best way to find the anti-inflammatory dietary style unique to YOU and your needs.
Next think about your habits
Unfortunately, some dietary styles are harder to maintain until you get the hang of it.
Some will start a dietary style only to quit because they get in the habit of listening to friends or family members giving advice or push-back.
Some get in the habit of going in hard and strong, only to lose interest in a couple of weeks.
And yet others are in the habit of trying simply to see ‘how hard’ this is gonna be before throwing in the towel.
My whole-hearted advice is to:
- Go into this with the attitude that this is going to be a life-long change for you (and maybe your family), so instead of worrying about if it’ll be ‘too hard’ or ‘too boring’, look at in through the lens of you and your family’s lifelong health and well-being.
- Just be prepared up front for some work on your part. The sad truth is the diet industry has purposely made this as complicated as possible. Honor yourself by being ready for some work, but seeking the truth for YOU, and being prepared to put in that work up front to make massive gains for your life.
- Don’t brush off the idea of CHANGING your habits to ensure you can stick to your perfect dietary style. Of course it’s easiest to just keep your current habits and figure out how to work within them. But you wouldn’t be reading this article if you believed your current habits were keeping you healthy. So be ready to learn about modifying or eliminating habits when it comes to behavior change that will benefit your health for life.
Which type of diet is best to lose weight?
I consistently recommend starting with an anti-inflammatory lifestyle change that includes an ideal diet for yourself, then working on a weight loss program within that if you also seek weight loss.
Part of this is because once you start eating clean and reset your body from processed junk foods, refined flours, and sugar, weight tends to naturally come off. So if you’re supporting your body’s needs first it’s much easier to just adjust your macro levels within that framework to achieve even greater weight loss.
Since studies have shown that the best diet is the one you’ll stick to, I recommend following the above process to nail down a dietary style perfect for you FIRST, then working on your metabolism.
As far as what works with your body type, some people do much better on low-carb or keto styles where you severely limit carbohydrates. Others do better when limiting total calories.
This is a lot of information overall, and it can be confusing to figure out overall.
So really dig into what diets you’ve tried in the past and how you’ve FELT on each.
Think about your past attempts to lose weight
Ask yourself these questions:
- Did I lose weight in a healthy, steady way?
- Were the recipes and types of food easy to find, cook, and choose when out (eating out/drive-thru)?
- Did I have enough energy to do my work AND exercise?
- Did the diet disrupt any gut issues? Or solve any?
- Were there any other noticeable changes (good or bad) regarding skin, mood, and brain fog/focus?
- Why did you quit? What were the barriers that made it unsustainable for you?
Here’s a flow chart to get an overview of what this means so far:
How to Choose a Diet or Dietary Style
Once you’ve explored the options for each dietary style, see which recurring ones come up for your conditions.
And now comes the fun part: Trying different things.
Yes, this is a pain in the butt. Yes, it takes time. But this is the way to finding the *perfect* diet or dietary style for you. You wanna be in the group of people that actually lose weight because you stick to it? Then quit asking, ‘what is the best diet for me’ and actually do the work to find it!
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