What’s the buzz?
One-size-fits-all diets are so 2015; personalized nutrition is in.
What does the science say?
From weight loss to gut health, there are a lot of “expert” opinions on which diet will solve your health woes. While it may seem like people just can’t agree, is it possible that everyone is right? There is research to support low-fat (meaning high-carb), high-fat (low-carb), and moderate-fat diets. Science shows that some people thrive on a Paleo diet, which includes a lot of animal products, while others do better on a vegan diet. Even within these dietary patterns, there can be a lot of variation in the way people follow them. The nutrition community is learning that some people may be sensitive to certain foods that contain lactose or gluten and that for those people, avoiding those foods can lead to better energy, digestion, and overall health. People are beginning to believe that eating based on our genetics could be effective, though the research has not shown as much support in this area yet.
While there are common foods that fit most of these dietary patterns — primarily plant foods like fruits and vegetables — what your partner, neighbor, teammate, or best friend eats may not work for you. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has even moved away from designating a specific theme for the annual education campaign for National Nutrition Month this year. Instead, the Academy challenged dietitians to educate consumers about which areas of nutrition they feel are most important — a nod to the new reality that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
So, how do you know what “diet” to follow? You can start by tuning into your own body, and paying close attention to what foods make you feel your best, mentally and physically. Do certain foods give you energy or make you feel sluggish? Do some fill you up more quickly and satisfyingly than others? These are just a few examples of questions to ask yourself in order to identify the best eating plan for you.
What’s the takeaway?
Because nutrition is so very personal, it’s unlikely that any “prescriptive” diet on the market will help you reach your wellness goals long term, so be wary of grandiose claims. While we do know that eating more plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts/seeds is likely good for everyone’s health, a variety of dietary patterns can work. For expert help, find a registered dietitian on Eatright.org. He or she will help you identify the best eating pattern for you goals while taking into consideration your lifestyle and health status. And remember that just because someone lost weight or cured their digestive woes with a specific diet, it doesn’t make them an expert.