There are many popular diets out there these days such as vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian, GAPS, paleo, AIP (autoimmune paleo), ketogenic diet... One can be easily overwhelmed by a list that could go on and on.
Each diet comes with pros and cons. We’re all different individuals with unique body constitutions, blood chemistry, genetics and health histories. So we shouldn’t expect success from taking a “cookie-cutter approach.” This is especially the case for those with specific health conditions such as digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, chronic inflammation and metabolic syndrome. Be aware as well that some diets are not meant to be applied long-term.
So how should we approach selecting a diet? I encourage you to consider the following principles:
It’s not unreasonable to begin with one of the “popular” diets so long as it was designed specifically for health conditions that are relevant to your situation. This can be used as a baseline to get the process started. For example, if you suffer from autoimmune disorders, the AIP (autoimmune paleo) Diet could be a decent place to start.
Personalize the diet to cater to your individual needs. Identifying your individual food sensitivities and removing problem items is generally the first step. For many people, this can prove a game-changer. Diet success can also depend on customizing to your own preferences and likings.
The goal is to get to a “balanced” diet with a wide variety of foods. This will ensure we receive the many nutrients our body needs. Moreover, different foods feed different varieties of gut bacteria, helping us maintain a healthy and balanced gut microbiome. This is crucially important for promoting optimal digestive function and strengthening the immune system.
Whenever possible, go for whole foods and avoid packaged processed foods. It’s extra work but it’s worth it!
Go for organically grown produce and meat as much as you can.
Eat less animal meat and more plant-based foods. I recommend a ratio of meat to plant of around 20:80.
Written By: Jenny Noland – Functional Medicine Nutritionist in Eugene Oregon specialized in using nutrition therapy for digestive disorders, thyroid & adrenal dysfunction and metabolic syndrome.