The supply of guidance on how best to (or not to!) feed our bodies is overflowing. We hear it from our health care providers. We hear it from our family members. We hear it from our social media feeds. Even from our celebrity crushes. Paleo. Low carb. Vegan. Mediterranean. Clean. Keto. This abundance of advice can leave even the most initiated scratching their heads, pondering: “But which diet is best for ME?”
Would you be surprised to learn that the best diet for you is, well, individual to YOU? No matter whether you are a full-time mom, an endurance athlete, or an entrepreneur juggling multiple projects, the nutrition endgame is the same: to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function optimally. However, we aren’t given an Owner’s Manual when we are born, outlining our body’s very specific metabolism, its food intolerances/allergies, or its power-up foods. Instead, we are tasked with the beautiful journey of getting to know our bodies and discovering the foods and eating patterns that mesh best with them. This get-to-know-you process is fueled by observation, reflection and some old-fashioned trial and error.
Start Your Journey Here
After years of helping people 1:1 manage their health, I’ve come to embrace a more intuitive approach to nourishing one’s body. I suggest health seekers adopt not a specific “diet” but an eating philosophy that aligns closely with author Michael Pollan’s eloquent, famous words: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
Eat (Real) Food
Don’t just eat food, eat “real” food. Our food markets are stocked aplenty with items that can give our bodies the necessary nutrients. But not all foods and food items are created equal. Food products that are manufactured and offered to us in a box, can, bottle, or package often contain certain nutrients that, when consumed in excess, harm our body. The minerals sodium, phosphorus and potassium are all used as food manufacturing preservatives. Excess consumption of these minerals can contribute to heart disease and bone disease. Choosing foods that are as close to their original form as possible helps you help your body, giving it what it needs in healthy amounts.
Not Too Much
The organs of each human body are designed to function based on an ideal weight per body height. When we consume “too much,” or more energy (sugar, starch, fat) than our bodies can use, we store that energy as extra body weight. Not only does a body carrying extra weight not function well, it also has a harder time defending itself from environmental toxins and intruders. A science-backed tool I reach for time and again to demonstrate the quantity of the types of foods that best nourish the body is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate graphic. The graphic shows building each meal by filling 1) half the plate with fruits and non-starchy veggies, 2) a quarter of the plate with lean protein, and 3) a quarter of the plate with grains or starchy veggies. Also, noticing how foods make you feel after you eat them can assist you in knowing how much of a food is “enough” for your body.
The body of scientific evidence linking the consumption of plants with human longevity grows daily. Plants provide us with water, fiber, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, energy and plant-only phytonutrients. As mentioned above, the MyPlate graphic allots ¾ of the plate to plants.
Take time to get to know your body and its likes and dislikes when it comes to food. You won’t be disappointed with the results of your investment.
A registered dietitian, nutritionist and mom, Miranda Brown believes that eating healthy is easy, affordable and delicious. Brown earned her master’s of science at Oklahoma State University and continues her education by strolling farmer’s markets and writing about eating healthy, nutrition and wellness.