When it comes to diet there is no one-size-fits-all

Last time, I wrote about a key concept in health coaching — primary foods. These are the things in life that nourish us, other than food.

We get this type of nourishment from our families and friends, connecting with nature, through meaningful work, physical activity and by having purpose. These things, and many others, fill us up in ways food can not.

Today I want to talk about another core concept that I was introduced to in my health coach training. It’s that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to diet. We call this bio-individuality.

Bio-individuality means that no one diet works for everyone. Each and every one of us has unique needs. That’s why a specific diet doesn’t always provide the same results for everyone, even if they are eating the same foods and doing the same exercises.

While nutrition scientists and researchers are always trying to find the perfect human diet that will solve many of our health challenges, there really is no one diet that works for everyone.

Because of our unique biological make-up, what is medicine to one person can be poison to another.

Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have proven this theory. In their study, called the Personalized Nutrition Project, they found people fed with the same food had different health responses. This means what’s healthy for one is not necessarily healthy for another.

The study was published in the Nov. 19, 2015 issue of the journal Cell and examined the effects of diet and blood sugar levels of 800 individuals. Researchers found a link between the bacterial strains in participant’s small intestines and their blood glucose levels and ability to digest certain foods.

This study confirmed what I’ve been taught and what I’ve been practicing with my clients.

Even though I recommend a low carbohydrate diet in my program, The Blood Sugar Shift, because it works so effectively for most people with blood sugar challenges, I encourage participants to test their blood glucose levels regularly so they can understand for themselves which foods raise their blood sugars and which ones they can tolerate.

And I’m like a broken record telling all of my clients to make my programs their own. To tailor the foods to their personal preferences, to their health challenges and biological needs. And to track, record and measure a variety of biological indicators and markers so they know firsthand what works and what doesn’t for them.

The bottom line: The key message here is that whatever dietary approach you choose, it should be based on you, your unique needs and what feels right for you.

And finding the optimal nutrition plan for you is likely going to be a process, a journey, an evolution.

It definitely has been for me. I’ve tried many different ways of eating — vegan, paleo, low carb, gluten and dairy free, ketogenic and eating for my blood type. Today I follow a mix of a few of these that has come to feel right for me at this time in my life.

Listen to your body. Experiment with differently ways of eating. Come up with a plan that is tailored to your unique needs and provides a positive health response.

If you are interested in finding out what the optimal nutrition plan is for you, your unique biological make up and preferences, a health coach can help. Through individual coaching, detective work, experimentation and tracking, together we can determine the best way to eat for you at this time in your life. Drop me an email and we can explore if we’d be a good fit. mmhealthcoach@gmail.com.

Over to you. What diet or nutrition plan have you found that works best for you? What different ones have you tried?

This post first appeared here in the Halifax Citizen on August 15, 2016.

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