2 Tips for Identifying the Best Diet: Making Sense of Paleo, AIP, SCD, Trim Healthy Mama, Mediterranean and More!
Fingerprints aren’t the only thing unique to you.
So is your entire biochemistry.
And thus it follows: your diet must be unique, too.
Nearly all of us have pondered what we should eat to achieve a desired health goal. Which diet plan we pick is often determined by what a girlfriend is doing, what the latest Hollywood star is tweeting or what fits within our lifestyle and budget.
All good motivations.
But things get confusing when each plan seems to have its success stories and failures. One diet clearly does not fit all.
So, which is the right fit for you?!
Consider these 2 simple tips for selecting the best diet… for you!
First, your diet should meet your nutritional needs.
The body is comprised of essential building-blocks such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, carbohydrates and fats. The quality of those blocks is up to you. While the body is miraculous, it’s not capable of generating something out of nothing: you eat poor-quality, nutrient-deprived food… you end up with a poor-quality, sickly body.
–> To achieve ANY health goal you must start with real, nutrient-dense foods.
Choose foods free of processed and toxic ingredients such as preservatives, food colorings, and flavorings. From there, organic or non-organic is up to you. Personally I use the Dirty Dozen list as my guide.
–> Next, avoid foods you’re sensitive or allergic to.
These foods are called antagonists and interfere with absorption of vital nutrients (even if you don’t experience any noticeable symptoms). Get rid of them!
The top three most antagonistic foods are gluten, dairy and refined sugar. Basic elimination diets exclude these three foods much to the betterment of the person following the diet. Other foods to consider avoiding (again, this is unique to you!) are peanuts, corn, eggs, soy, shellfish and citrus.
Tip: Curious what foods you should be avoiding? A holistic health provider can help!
Second, your diet should heal your body.
You’ve heard it said, “let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine thy food”. Here’s the thing: medicine for one can be poison for another.
The best diet for you is the one that addresses your unique health needs and heals your body.
Several popular whole food diet plans are used to address specific health issues. Matching your health concerns with an appropriate diet can be very helpful.
Here’s a quick overview of several plans and how they are used to heal the body:
A traditional diet emphasizes real, whole foods including fermented dairy, soaked and sprouted grains, bone broth and lots of healthy fats.
Good for: general nourishment and replenishing the body
A diet focusing on primal eating styles, including high amounts of animal protein, vegetables and fruit, nuts, seeds, grass-fed butter, but no dairy, legumes, or grains.
Good for: weight loss, blood sugar regulation, inflammation, autoimmune issues, increased digestion, increased energy.
Basically follows the Paleo approach but also eliminates all nuts and seeds, eggs and nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, etc.
Good for: autoimmune diseases, food allergies/sensitivies
As the name suggests, SCD excludes all grains, dairy, starches and tubers, and some legumes.
Good for: digestive disturbances and diseases such as IBS, Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis
Trim Healthy Mama
No food groups banned here, but you must avoid eating fats and carbs within the same meal. I included this diet plan because of it’s immense popularity, but do not personally consider it healing to the body.
This plan shares the higher-protein, low-carb flavor of a Paleo diet, but completely eliminates sweeteners of all kinds (including honey & maple syrup) and legumes, while emphasizing vegetables, some fruit, oils, seeds and nuts. It’s a thoroughly cleansing diet with a – you guessed it – 30 day time frame.
Good for: cleansing support, skin issues, digestive ailments, allergies (although I think more like 60 days is necessary for reducing food allergies)
Focused largely on balance, this diet promotes proper food combining techniques, acid/alkaline balance and detoxification support through fermented foods, 80% land and sea vegetables and 20% protein OR grain grains and very limited low-glycemic foods.
Good for: candida overgrowth, gut imbalances, autism spectrum disorders, PCOS, weight-loss, diabetes, chronic fatigue
This rigorous diet emphasizes 70% fat intake, 25% protein and 5% carbohydrates. It’s void of grains, starches and tubers, and fruit and high in grass-fed butter, tallow, lard, coconut oil, pastured meats and seafood and low starch vegetables. This intense reduction of carbohydrates moves the body into what’s called a “ketosis” state: a fat-burning, ketone-producing powerhouse. I’m not a fan of this one.
Good for: neurological disorders including brain injury, autism, Alzheimers, MS and Parkinson’s, weight-loss, diabetes
Gut & Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) is a basic elimination diet, meaning it excludes gluten, dairy and refined sugar. In addition it excludes grains, coffee, chocolate, nuts, seeds, and some vegetables. It’s a progressive diet that emphasizes the elimination of hard-to-digest foods in an attempt to heal the gut.
Good for: ADD, depression, digestive disorders, food allergies/sensitivities, autoimmune issues
As the name suggests, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes foods from the Mediterranean region, including moderate amounts of fish, vegetables, olive oil, whole grains, nuts, low-salt and no red meat.
Good for: Improving heart health, blood-sugar imbalances
“FODMAP” stands for “Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols”… or in layman’s terms: small carbohydrates that are known to cause all sorts of digestive troubles. These excluded foods include fructose (fruits – fresh and dried, honey), lactose (dairy), fructans (wheat, garlic, onions, inulin), galactans (legumes, soybeans) and sugar alcohols.
Good for: digestive disturbances, IBS, SIBO
There are many, many healthy ways to eat so long as you are choosing real, whole foods. Don’t be tempted to follow a plan just because it’s the latest fad… make your selection wisely, and with purpose.
Choose a plan that will nourish and heal you. Or meet with a health professional who can help you discover the — FILL IN YOUR NAME HERE — Diet. The more unique your diet, the better your chances at reaching your health goals.
Healthy people eat what’s best for them.
It’s how you thrive.