Scrolling through social media feeds, it’s impossible to ignore all the different posts that show you how, when and what to eat to achieve the body of your dreams. I am talking from experience, as I also have been hooked up many times.
First I thought that I should go paleo. Then I thought that primal was the way (Side note: this is still my preferred way of eating, although a little difficult when trying to reduce the number of animal products in my diet). Another time I thought that high-carb vegan was the way. Then carbs cycling. Then ketogenic. Then I decided that I needed to learn about raw vegan, and the list could go on for long.
Surely all of this social media pressure has given me a lot of expendable knowledge on different types of diets. I like to read A LOT about nutrition and I have done so every time I decided to change my way of eating. But at the same time, I felt “wrong” many times during the process.
I often felt that I wasn’t being good enough with my diet because it wasn’t working for me, I thought myself a bit ignorant for not knowing all of the things that the girl on the other side of the video was explaining, and I was often overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge I was trying to sink in during a short period of time. Yes because my decisions were usually made on one day for the next.
I probably also changed my grocery list at least 20 times, just to realise after a week that I couldn’t sustain it for long, and finding my fridge full of stuff to give away (Side note: don’t throw away food, give it to friends or family instead!).
Over the years, and after many failed attempts, I realised that there isn’t a right or wrong way of feeding yourself, and my studies as a holistic health coach reinforced this idea. In facts, the same diet and regime that works for our imaginary friend Sharon, will not work on our other imaginary friend Jane.
Sharon has always been naturally skinny but during college, the many parties and hangover fast-food meals made her gain weight. She then decided to go on a high-carb vegan diet and in a year has lost all the gained kilos. She is now back to her naturally healthy weight, she is feeling full of energy and she’s now running a marathon every 6 months. She will tell you about her story on Youtube videos and has a lot of followers.
Jane instead was born in a family with a long history of diabetes and insulin resistance. She started gaining weight during high school and she has gone through several yo-yo diets before deciding that she wanted to change her life for good. Researching online to find the right motivation, she came across Sharon’s Youtube channel and decided to follow her example and go on a high-carb vegan diet. After 6 months of struggles, Jane has only lost 2 kilos, she’s feeling low on energy, she’s constantly bloated and spends a lot of restless nights.
Does this sound familiar? I am pretty sure we all have experienced a situation similar to Jane’s.
What happened? Why did the diet not work for her as it did for Sharon?
Jane has a different body composition than Sharon and her body produces and reacts to hormones in a very different way. The same diet that brought Sharon to feel at her very best, was slowly making Jane sick.
What works for one person, doesn’t necessarily work for another. What’s food for someone, is poison for someone else.
So, how can we find out what works for us? By experimenting.
I am not suggesting to go completely nuts and start changing your lifestyle every 10 days, but slowly adding incremental changes to your daily meals and listen to how your body reacts.
For example, I have been pescetarian for many years, until one day I felt that my body was tired of eating fish. I took that feeling as a hint and I started substituting fish with more and more vegan proteins until one day I realised that my body was not reacting well and I was feeling very low energy. So I reintroduced some fish in my diet and I will keep experimenting until I will find my balance.
If you feel like you would like to start this self-discovery journey, here there are 5 tips for you:
- Start drinking 2 liters of water/day
- Give yourself some time, even just 5’, to meditate and feel your body every day
- Write down how your body feels and how your mood and your sleep are
- Start with 1 small change and monitor the situation during 1 week period to see if you find any changes
- Pay attention when you go to the toilet. Your stools can tell you a lot about what’s working and what doesn’t in your diet!