Today’s blog post comes from Kristin from Thrive By Food. I met Kristin through our close community in the health food, lifestyle, and ulcerative colitis family. When we got to chatting we found commonalities in our lifestyles. But more importantly we found commonality in our opinions of these lifestyles. We agreed not everyone does well with one single diet or lifestyle. If there was one solution, wouldn’t we all be doing the same thing and thriving? In fact, the Paleo Diet ended up being a gateway, and elimination diet experiment if you will, to my own personalized health plan. I’m lucky to share Kristin’s viewpoint on this topic.
It’s important to know you are incredibly individual. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to your ailments or disease. It can be frustrating not to have a single answer, but there are plenty of people to help you like your team of doctors, reputable scientific websites for research, peer patients, and guidance from those like Kristin. Find what works specifically for you.
Here’s Why No Single Diet or Lifestyle Works for Everyone
Flip through the news and on any given day you’ll see a new piece of health advice…
“Eat more kale for this…”
“Drink raw juice for that…”
“Triple your intake of fermented foods…”
“Avoid salt at all costs…”
The problem is, generic advice like this doesn’t work for everyone. Just like the color of your hair, everyone has a slightly different shade of unique nutritional requirements. This gets further complicated when we bring things like food sensitivities, stress levels, and environmental toxins into the picture.
Put simply, there is no silver bullet diet that is right for everyone, and rather than searching through the news headlines to find what’s right for you, optimizing your health requires doing things a little differently. A certified functional nutrition practitioner, I’m going to walk you through a few ways to redefine how you approach food and your overall health so you can focus on the right things and avoid wasting your time on the wrong things.
- Learn How to Look Inwards
Too often, we search outside ourselves for the answer to our health concerns. But we forget that our bodies are telling us everything we need to know to feed it well. Begin doing the following things and you can learn what works for your body (and what doesn’t) really quickly:
- What food energizes you after eating it?
- What food drains you of energy after eating it?
- What food causes issues like bloating or constipation?
- Do you stay awake later when you eat food too late at night?
- What food fills you up the most?
- What food leaves you feeling hungry in no time?
The answers to these questions can help you to really easily fine-tune a diet based on your body’s unique preferences. For example, if fats make you feel the most satisfied, full, and energized, then fat may be your body’s preferred fuel source and you should incorporate more healthy fats like coconut, avocado, ghee, and olive oil into your diet. And if legumes always leave you feeling bloated, that can be a pretty clear indicator they don’t work for you — for any number of reasons.
The best way to track all of this is to either start a food journal or use a fitness app that has a food tracking feature in it. Within a week or two, you’ll begin to pick up on some patterns that can help you fine-tune what you should be eating and what you should avoid.
- Do an Elimination Diet
While the name doesn’t sound too inviting, elimination diets can be incredibly informative and healing. Here’s how to do an elimination diet:
- Avoid the most common inflammatory foods (sugar, wheat, dairy, corn), alongside any other foods you know (or think) don’t work well for you for a full 30 days.
- At the end of the 30 days, begin adding in 1 food item at a time every 3 days.
- If you react negatively (bloating, headaches, fatigue, etc.), that’s a clear indicator your body does not like that food.
- If you feel no difference, or feel better, when you add a food back in, then that means it works for you!
Elimination diets can be time-consuming, so if you’re pressed for time but want this level of data, consider running a food sensitivity panel. Practitioners like myself can run these with you to identify over 150 different food items that your body has a negative reaction to so that we can customize a diet plan that will heal and fuel your body.
- Get Creative and Embrace the Process
I like to tell people that health isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. Every day, your health is evolving, and so, too, can your understanding of it. So rather than feel overwhelmed by the gap that lies between where you are today and where you want to be, focus on 1-2 things you can begin doing (such as the tips above) that will help you get started.
Experiment with new foods. Try new and delicious recipes like the ones Laura has so thoughtfully crafted. Begin loving your body. And reward yourself along the way. Finding joy in the journey is what this is all about, and what keeps people like Laura and I going each and every day, even when dealing with a chronic illness (did you know that we BOTH have ulcerative colitis?!).
Find Your Path
Your path will be unlike any other person’s, so isn’t it high time you stopped looking outside for answers and began listening to your body to find out what it really needs and wants?
What do you hope to learn by taking this approach? What have you already learned? Do you feel overwhelmed? Comment below — Laura and I would love to hear from you and guide you in this process!
After going through a 10 year struggle with chronic ulcerative colitis, leaky gut, and acid reflux,
Kristin Thomas, Functional Diagnostic Nutritional (FDN) Practitioner at Thrive By Food, ultimately found relief through a healthy diet and lifestyle. As an expert in all things digestion and healthy living, she takes a holistic approach to healing people with digestive and autoimmune issues to find their most balanced life.