As a doctor, my friends and family are always asking me for dietary advice and inquiring about what are the best foods to eat and which ones should they avoid.
To be quite honest I’m confused at times even with my years of education, experience reading and understanding. In my 20s I could probably have been quoted as saying that I would rather get my calories from sugar from fat. Now I’m saying that sugar is not the best option and good fats are good.
Right now there’s even a commercial running on T.V. re-enforcing the idea that the nutritional information is confusing and that you can trust their blue label products. The store reports having scoured through the medical and nutrition literature for you in order to provide you the right product for your health. No extra work or confusing questions required on your side.
Our knowledge on nutrition and health is actually a moving target. Most of us eat so many different things in the course of a day that is difficult to pinpoint exactly what gave us a certain reaction or caused specific symptoms. In much of my medical education, dietary theory and nutritional recommendations are limited and offer few definitive answers.
There are some basic principles that I think we all agree are helpful when talking “healthy eating.” Processed foods, chemicals, additives and preservatives are not the best choices for optimal nutrition. This is a great place to start, but the devil is definitely in the details.
Personally, I live by certain principles. I try to be as logical and as simple as possible. First and foremost I am lazy and don’t want to be thinking about certain nutrients and food all the time. Really, who has that kind of time? This is one of the reasons my personal choice is to be an omnivore over a vegetarian. I would not want to be thinking about getting enough vitamin B 12 each and every day to satisfy my body’s needs or that my iron consumption was adequate and so forth.
That being said, I do try to eat as many vegetables as possible and incorporate at least one type with every meal. I also tried to eat it wide variety of vegetables. I believe in every colour every day. I know each colour of vegetable has its own unique nutrient profile and by eating many colours I can get everything I need — no extra thinking required.
Now, I’m not saying that what I say is the only way that is right or true. So who should you listen to? The answer of course, is you. Listen to your body. Really listen. Ask yourself some key questions:
Do you fall asleep easily?
Do you sleep long enough?
Do you wake up feeling rested and energized?
Do you digest food easily with few or no symptoms?
Do you have regular bowel function
Do you have plenty of energy during the day?
Do your thoughts and feelings always seem clear?
Do you rely on artificial stimulants to get you through your day?
Do you have adequate sex drive?
Don’t talk up your symptoms to simply being tired or getting old. These are subtle ways that your body is speaking to you. It is important to learn how to listen to its call for help.
The proof is in the pudding (literally and figuratively). If someone else’s results are what you desire, you need to think as they do, eat as they eat, move as they move all while taking into account that you are your own person and certain eating patterns and behaviours may not work for or resonate with you. Be willing to adjust accordingly. The answers to what you should, and shouldn’t be eating are best determined by you, and your desired results.