I think sometimes we tend to get caught up in what is the latest diet or fad. I think the more important thing might be to determine what type of nutrition works best for our own individual bodies. I like to think about it as energy metabolism. Your body was designed to efficiently run like the Energizer battery (it keeps going and going and going). So, when you think about it, every cell in your body has its own form of a battery, it makes more sense to start thinking about how to best meet the needs of your body from the cellular level out. This is why I don’t recommend that people subscribe to any particular diet.
I usually ask clients how eating certain food makes them feel. If you are feeding your body the proper nutrients that it needs, you going to have the energy to do the things that you need to do. If, however, you are feasting on foods that leave you sluggish and unable to function, that’s a problem. Now the word diet really means whatever you consume. A diet high I vegetables means you consume a lot of vegetables. A diet high in fried foods means you consume lots of fried foods. We often use the term diet to refer to a deviation for a period of time from the way we typically consume food. So let’s go through an overview of some popular “diets” and get a taste for what they include.
The Ketogenic diet is basically very low carb diet, high in fat that limits sugar or glucose so much the body begins to produce ketones for energy. When I first learned about process of ketosis in medical school, it was a really bad thing related to a person with diabetes who could not produce insulin nor utilize glucose. The brain starts work off of ketones which leads to poor mental clarity. In the non-diabetic, the same thing happens initially as your brain switches from using glucose to ketones for energy, but for some people this is followed by intense mental clarity. Also, the appeal is that without glucose, the body begins breaking down fat stores for energy, hence the weight loss component. There is also a wealth of research showing improvement in seizure disorders with the Ketogenic diet.
When you hear the word Paleo, it probably brings to mind paleontology, which is the study of dinosaurs. It refers to a time when men were hunter-gatherers. This was a time, as you might imagine, when you don’t have time to cultivate a garden, so grains, sugar, and processed foods are out. You are eating things that are pretty much picked directly from the land. It reminds me of a Dietitian who shared with me that her rule of thumb was to eat things as close to the way that they looked when they were alive. That’s Paleo.
Similarly, Whole 30 is basically taking 30 days and eliminating any form of processed food including sweeteners of all kinds, even natural sweeteners. This plan requires a fair amount of time and planning as the majority of food that you’re going to get from many grocery stores have some type of artificial preservatives or has been processed in some form. Whole30 is designed to detoxify yourself from a lot of additives that we take for granted in the foods over the course of thirty days. It will definitely make a meal planner out of you if you are not already that way – or you’ll spend more money buying the non-processed versions of your favorite foods and condiments. Yes, ketchup typically has sugar or high-fructose corn syrup). This is another diet where you’re eating things as close as possible to the way it was originally created.
Liquid diets, whether you’re all about that smoothie life, tea detoxes, and water fasting can all be used temporarily for detoxification purposes. However, they are not meant to be life-sustaining. They have their limitations as your body does not tend to do well long term with liquid calories. Just ask anyone who has had to survive long term off of parenteral nutrition (IntraVenous or IV nutrition). They will probably tell you it’s not as satisfying as food they can eat. But short term, liquid diets and fasts are great and have many benefits. While most people can’t sustain any of these much longer than about 40 days as a sole source of nutrition, intermittent fasting has benefits for the immune system, detoxification of the liver, resting of the gut, and improved energy metabolism.
Rather than making the focus the diet you choose, shift your focus to how the foods you eat and things you drink make you feel. Then it won’t matter as much if you see the scale go up or down (yes, we have all heard that muscle weighs more than fat). If your focus is energy metabolism and how you feel at the end of the day, that can be a better gauge in the long run for whether a particular diet is right for you. Remember, its all about alignment. Choose foods that will keep you in alignment with your goals today.
Here are some questions for you to consider:
- How do you typically feel at the end of the day after eating a high carb diet? How about after a more low-carb diet? Record how you feel in terms of mood, energy, and mental clarity.
- While there may be some immediate benefits that you notice, it may take closer to 12 weeks before you notice some of the more lasting benefits of healthier eating habits. How do you maintain your resolve? If there are siblings and spouse involved, how do you make the patient the priority while still meeting their basic needs as well?
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Bergina Isbell, MD is a Mayo Clinic trained and Board Certified Psychiatrist specializing in the clinical treatment of patients with history of Special Needs and Trauma. She is the mother of two children with special needs, including a son with a diagnosis of Autism. She serves as a consultant and Autism coach for those who want to transform their lives by developing a growth-promoting mindset. To learn more about her work, click here https://bit.ly/drberginahome