We are born unique.
We have different voices, abilities, and body shapes. Aside from identical twins we all look and sound different to each other. We may share some similarities to family members but largely we are treated as individuals.
What many of us often overlook is that our uniqueness is also within our bodies from our blood cells to metabolism.
“Each person has genetically determined and highly individualistic nutrition requirements.” — Roger Williams, Biochemical Individuality (1956)
“Our personal tastes and preferences, natural shape & sizes, blood types, metabolic rates, and genetic background influence what foods will & won’t nourish us.” — Joshua Rosenthal, Feed Your Hunger for Health & Happiness
So, according to this theory, one diet will surely not fit us all.
In fact, it would be better to look towards our ancestors and family origins to find a diet best suited to our uniqueness. For example, many North Africans have a low tolerance to dairy, as it was not readily available or easy to store in their climate. They instead had a diet rich in beans, grains, animal protein, sweet potatoes and green vegetables.
Hands up, how many ”diets” have you embarked upon with a friend or a group? Think back to that time, did you all have the exact same results? How many of you kept the weight off and how many of you put it back on again and a bit more besides?
Often the celebrity or healthy living ideas are, whilst good in theory, essentially designed to make money.
Hands up again, how many diet books are on your shelves? Go and count them! How many of them have ‘worked’ for you? How many have been bought because they sounded too good to be true, only to be left on the shelf barely opened?
You aren’t alone.
I recently subscribed to the Joe Wicks theory along with a friend. Whilst some of his ideas were very credible and sensible, the process was difficult for me to maintain and integrate into a family, not least because the program was tailored to me (based on height and weight). I did stick with it for 2 months, and I did lose some inches, but more importantly, I gained them back when I stopped following the plan. On the other hand, my friend actually gained more weight while she was on the plan, so it didn’t work out for her at all.
This is a clear indication that we process foods differently.
I don’t want to speak badly of all the many thousands of diet theory books and cookbooks, some of them have some very lovely recipes (Joe Wicks’ pancakes recipe is one I have kept and still love to make!), and some have fabulous theories.
What does all this mean though if you want to lose weight and live a healthier life?
Well, for one if you stopped buying the latest book you’d have more money left over for lots more veggies! But, on a more serious note, it comes right back down to the principle that I learned in my studies. It not just about what you eat, it’s about how you live too. It’s about how all the things going on in your life can influence you, from stress to laughter!
Start listening to your body when you eat. How do you feel after eating too much greasy food? Or how do you feel after eating too much sugar? Compare that to how you feel when you eat a gorgeous, freshly prepared salad in summer?
If you hear what your body is telling you, then you will become mindful of what works for you and what doesn’t. Keep a diary; write in a journal, make a note of what makes you feel great and what makes you feel sluggish.
“Dark circles under the eyes signal exhaustion – your body is telling you to slow down and get some rest. Constipation and bloating are signs that something you are eating, or the way you are eating it is not appropriate.” — Joshua Rosenthal, Feed Your Hunger for Health & Happiness
Think about what else might be going on around you that could influence your nutritional journey. Does a bad day at work mean you reach for comfort food or a glass of wine? When things are going well, and you feel happy, are you more likely to make better food choices?
Life can be tough sometimes; it can be confusing, and grueling. We might feel alone, or we might feel incredibly lucky and surrounded by loved ones.
Life isn’t perfect, nor should we strive to be perfect ourselves.
Trying to compare ourselves to heavily photoshopped, sculpted, and toned bodies, or buying into another ‘get thin quick’ fad diet that only benefits the person selling it is likely to leave us feeling miserable and inadequate.
Think about what has been influencing you recently; has it been something you have seen advertised on TV? Have you compared yourself to something or someone else thinking they must be happy and perfect? Social media can be a fantastic resource, but it can also be an unnecessary evil.
I would love to hear your thoughts and stories about which diet theories were a huge hit or a complete disaster, and I’d like to find out what you learned from them!