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What nutritional approach works for you?

Vegan, paleo, vegetarian. Gluten-free, dairy free, sugar free

When I reflect back on my work with clients and my own personal health and wellness journey the one key concept that was reinforced time and time again, is that there is no one-sized-fits-all diet for everyone.

In health coaching circles we call this bio-individuality. It recognizes that each of us is highly individualized with our own unique nutritional requirements.

We’re all different when it comes to metabolism, cell structure, ancestry, body composition, blood type, and therefore we each require different foods and nutrients to give us energy and make us feel great.

We require different foods at different times in our lives. What a newborn, or a developing teenager, requires is different than that of a senior heading into their last couple decades of life.

Gender also plays a role. Men and women have varying nutritional and portion requirements.

And then there’s personal taste, preferences and inclinations that factor in. Some of us enjoy more raw foods. Others enjoy only cooked. Are you a salty or a sweet person? Do you have an aversion to mushy or slimy textures?

All of these factors influence what foods will nourish you and help you thrive and what ones won’t.

Ultimately, one person’s medicine is another’s poison. This is why it’s so important to not just go along with fad diets and piggyback on what others are doing. You really need to become an experimenter and an investigator to find out what works best for you.

Your body knows best and it’s helpful to get good at listening to it’s signals and messages versus blindly adhering to a dietary theory and becoming rigid and dogmatic about it.

This happened to me. For awhile I followed a vegan approach. I started dreaming about eggs. I knew my body needed something in that egg. I listened, ate the egg and felt good. That led me to experiment with more of an ancestral way of eating. I then went too far down that road and was eating too much protein for my body.

Right now I’m finding a healthier balance eating somewhere in the middle with mostly vegetables with a little bit of egg, chicken and fish. This approach is working for me today but who knows what I’ll be eating in a year or two.

You can see how this is a process of continually evolving, refining, tweaking and honing in on what works best for you.

I’ve had clients feel worried I’m going to try and convert them or prescribe a certain way of eating. But that’s not the case at all. I firmly believe in bio-individuality and work together with my clients to help them unearth the right nutrition plan that works for their body and lifestyle.

Here are five suggestions to help you start exploring your own bio-individual approach:

1. Try out different ways of eating. Vegan, paleo, vegetarian. Gluten-free, dairy free and sugar free. Get curious. Do some research and take two or three weeks, give it a go and see what happens.

2. Pay attention to your body. Notice your taste preferences. Listen to your cravings. What about textures? How do you feel after certain foods? How is your digestion working? Do you sleep well? What about your energy levels? This is all useful information to start tracking.

3. Take assessments and tests. Learn as much about your body as you can. Find out your Ayurvedic Dosha. Take the metabolic questionnaire. Complete the blood sugar quiz. Get assessed by holistic practitioners who can run tests and gauge sensitivities and imbalances.

4. Get some blood work. Blood tests check for diseases and conditions and can assess the function of your organs, hormones, deficiencies and blood type. This is valuable information that will impact your diet and lifestyle.

5. Work with a health professional who can guide this process for you. You can start exploring some of this on your own but a holistic practitioner or health coach can really help to map out a process to research, evaluate, plan and implement your custom bio-individual nutrition approach.

If you’d like support in finding out what nutritional approach works best for you, I have a special summer coaching package available. We’ll meet for 90 minutes to develop your healthy living action plan and then check-in twice over the summer to keep you on track and making progress. Book your session today. 

* This post was originally published in the Herald Community on December 30, 2014

 

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