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Why is Diet So Individual?

Written by

Deborah Freudenmann BHSc

This is a question I hear on the daily, “What diet do you recommend?”

Do you find yourself jumping on the latest diet bandwagon, just to end up disappointed when it doesn’t work miracles for you? Or maybe you’re so overwhelmed by the endless diet trends that you haven’t been able to stick to anything for long.

Unfortunately, you’re not alone. Knowing what to eat is a question that stumps the best of us. Years ago, when I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, I remember jumping on all the same bandwagons. After my diagnosis, I became obsessed with reading research papers or research books on various diets… I was determined to find the “right” diet to support my overall health and blood sugar management. I tried numerous famous autoimmune protocols, I went paleo, raw, low carb, ketogenic, vegetarian…

Well, here’s a secret: you won’t find the perfect diet in a magazine, on TV, or even in a promising research study. You’ll only find it by focusing on YOU.

Why Diet is Not One-Size-Fits-All

We’re all human, shouldn’t we all thrive on the same diet? While fueling our bodies seems like it should be simple, that’s not the case. In fact, what’s considered “healthy food” is not always “healthy” for everyone.

Here are a few common reasons why there’s no magic formula when it comes to eating healthy:

We have different nutrient needs.

It’s true that there are general recommendations about how much protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals we need. But in reality, these levels can vary widely on gender, weight, and health conditions. For instance, a high-protein diet may be a great choice for someone who is relatively fit and active. But high levels of protein will cause kidney damaged to someone with chronic kidney disease.

We have different metabolisms.

Metabolism is something that varies widely person-to-person. While one person can seemingly eat whatever they want and never gain weight, another person may struggle to manage their weight despite dieting rigorously.

For that reason, restriction diets like intermittent fasting aren’t meant for everyone. While some people swear by the benefits, others may experience some pretty negative side effects (like fainting, headaches, irritability, and nausea). Avoid intermittent fasting if you have a lack of appetite, weight loss, high cortisol levels, blood sugar imbalances, or if you have high caloric needs.

We have different lifestyles.

Eating a healthy diet is just as much about eating seasonally, locally, and according to our unique lifestyles as it is about getting the right balance of nutrients. For example, someone who is an active surfer in Sydney will have much different dietary needs than someone who is a relatively sedentary librarian in Oslo. We have to consider our energy, location, and health goals when planning our healthy meals.

What Does the Research About Diets Say?

Isn’t there science on which diet is the best?

Well, yes…and no.

There are excellent studies that show that the paleo diet (lots of meat) has great health benefits. And then there are strong studies that show that vegan diets (no animal products at all) have great health benefits. There are studies that prove that low-carb diets promote better health. Likewise, there are studies that prove that carbohydrates are essential for our cells to function.

What should we believe?

The truth is that there is good evidence out there to back up almost ANY well-researched diet. See, the issue here with all those dietary debates as to which diet is “better”, “right” “most effective”?

This is why choosing an individualized, functional approach to food is essential.

Here’s the good news: research also shows that those who stick to a diet – any diet that’s right for them – are likely to see benefits and maintain a healthy weight.

So, whether you are looking to reduce your symptoms, lose weight, or simply improve your health, it’s not about following the “best” diet, a certain research study, or the diet that worked for your friend. It’s about finding what works for your body, which is entirely unique!

Eating for YOU: Functional Medicine and Individualized Diets

It’s clear that no universal diet plan is the perfect solution for everyone. But finding which diet plan supports you can help to simplify healthy eating and help you achieve your health goals.

So, how do you know which diet is right for you?

One of the best ways to get a comprehensive idea of what foods are best for you is to work with a functional medicine practitioner or health coach. With functional medicine, we get a clear picture of your body’s strengths, weaknesses, deficiencies, and biggest needs.

When you work with a functional medicine health practitioner or coach, you’ll share your health history and we’ll determine how each system, organ, and cell in your body is functioning as a whole. Then, we’ll do any necessary tests to check for deficiencies or sensitivities. This allows you to understand exactly what foods are healthy for you, and which are better to avoid. You may be surprised!

The best part about working with a functional medicine practitioner or coach to find the individualized diet for you is that there is no guesswork. We’ll be able to develop a clear plan based on your unique body’s needs. No more diet trial and error – just the perfect diet plan for you!

Here’s what you can expect when you follow an individualized diet:
  • Better energy, focus, and concentration
  • Improved sleep
  • Reduced cravings for sugary snacks or caffeine
  • Better digestion
  • Healthy weight management (no yo-yo fluctuations)
  • Reduced symptoms and pain
  • Less overall inflammation
  • Stronger immune system
  • Reduced risk of autoimmune disorders
  • Balanced moods and less stress
  • Overall improved well-being

Generalized Guidelines

It’s all about getting back to basics! Eating clean, whole and fresh foods while avoiding processed, packaged and chemical laden foods. Eating foods as close to nature as possible!

In most chronic disease states or conditions, the primary goal is to increase nutrient uptake, reduce inflammation, avoid all food sensitives or allergies, restore gut function and support your individual body’s needs.

What do I recommend most patients avoid?
  • Gluten & Diary: Gluten is often a major underlying cause to gut inflammation. When the gut lining is damaged and inflamed, toxins and proteins can pass through the gut lining and gain access to the blood stream – causing a systemic inflammatory reaction. Many people suffer from a diary intolerance without being fully aware of it. Just like gluten, this can cause damage to the gut lining and chronic inflammation.
  • Other food sensitivities: Food allergies or intolerances can cause inflammation in your gut lining, reducing your ability to absorb nutrients and further compromising the gut barrier
  • Processed Foods
  • Sugar
  • Trans Fats: It’s best to avoid trans fats as these are carcinogenic and extremely inflammatory to the body. Avoiding trans-fat is easy by avoiding margarine, packaged baked foods, and fried foods.
  • Alcohol
  • Avoid pesticides and insecticides

Get a Diet Made for You With Functional Medicine

If you’re struggling to find a diet that works for you, just remember this: diet isn’t about finding a quick fix or jumping on the latest food trend. Nourishment is about supporting your body and giving it every opportunity to function at its best.

Learn how you can become a functional medicine health coach to help yourself and others find the path to true health!

  • Become A TRULY HEAL Functional Medicine Health Coach

    Start an exciting career as a functional medicine health coach and help your clients live a healthier and more fulfilled life.

  • The FREE Functional Medicine Training will give you insights into the workings of a TRULYHEAL Health Coach. You will learn that treating the patient and not the disease makes the real difference.

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  • One Response

    1. The information here is what I have been hearing and reading for many years. Until recently I did not know that high levels of oxalates were causing many of my health problems, but now that I know I am reducing foods high in oxalates, many of which I never ate until I tried AIP, Ketogenic, green juices. I am, in fact, returning to eat the way I did when growing up. It was fairly low in oxalates. Apparently the gut microbe oxalobacter formigenes eats oxalates thus eliminating them from the system and preventing absorption into the blood. However, antibiotics destroy this bacteria which is not able to regenerate. The only solution is to remove high oxalate containing foods from the diet, such as spinach, kale, chard, sweet potatoes, most nuts especially almonds, cashews, peanuts, cocoa and chocolate, most legumes, and to eat the medium oxalate containing foods to a minimum. It turns out that oxalates are a major cause of inflammation and, therefore, of autoimmune diseases. In my case I wonder whether it contributed to breast cancer. It is certainly a hallmark of CFS.

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