There is so much confusion about what the best diet to follow is. If you spoke to 10 different nutrition professionals, you could well get 10 different answers!
First of all, I’d like to make it clear that when I am using the word ‘diet’ I am simply referring to an eating style, and not specifically a weight loss diet.
Questions I get asked A LOT are, “what’s the perfect diet?” “What foods should I be eating?” “What’s the healthiest food in the world?”
There are no simple answers to these questions!
There are SO many different diets around; low-carb, low-fat, Mediterranean, Paleo, ketogenic, vegan, fruitarian etc! The list goes on. So why are there so many differing viewpoints?
Well, research has been carried out on many diets, with evidence showing benefits in some studies and adverse effects on others.
There have been many studies that are poorly designed or are biased in some way, which usually lead to familiar sensationalist headlines that confuse everyone.
Then we have anecdotal evidence (based on personal accounts), which can often be very different to research findings yet very compelling.
Here’s the thing. Everyone is different. Your biochemistry (gut bacteria, genetics, hormones, metabolism etc) is very different from other people’s.
That’s why some people do well on one diet, whilst someone else does much better on another diet. Your perfect diet is unique to you!
Why you’ll never achieve perfection
I don’t mean to be pessimistic! However, I believe it is impossible to eat a diet that only does good. This is because our ‘food’, the plants and animals we consume, were not designed solely as a food for us.
We cannot survive without them as they contain the essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fatty acids, amino acids and calories that we need.
However, foods also contain things that can cause us harm.
Good examples of this are beans and lentils. These contain essential nutrients, particularly for those who do not consume animal products. However, they also contain lectins, which are known as anti-nutrients and can cause digestive and immune problems in some individuals.
Another example is coffee. It’s rich in antioxidants BUT also contains caffeine; something that helps some people perform better, some people notice no effects and others develop the shakes and can’t sleep!
Another example is kale; super-rich in antioxidants and fibre BUT not good for someone who suffers from IBS as it causes irritation.
This is why some studies show certain foods to be health-giving, whilst others show them to be detrimental to health.
What diet should you follow?
The perfect diet for you depends on what it is you are trying to achieve. It’s important to realise that ‘healthy’ foods are not always helpful for weight loss, despite the fact that they may be rich in nutrients and low in fat. AND, many, many weight loss diets are lacking in essential nutrients and are therefore detrimental to health.
Whatever ‘diet’ you settle on, there’s something that all experts agree on. Vegetables. The more veggies in your diet, the better. Vegetables are rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and fibre. So the best place to start it by increasing your vegetable intake as much as possible.
Now as mentioned earlier, the exception to this is if you suffer from some sort of digestive issue. Vegetables are still important, but there are certain groups of vegetables that are prone to causing irritation due to the type of fibre they include.
Here at Louise Digby Nutrition, we tend to promote a combination of techniques based on your individual goals. We also encourage you to listen to your body, as more often than not, it’s trying to tell you something!