Are you searching for the perfect diet? The one that will help you lose weight and have tons of energy? The one that will let you eat whatever you want? The one that says you don’t have to exercise? The one that will give you glowing skin? The one that will make you look 10 years younger? The one that is so easy to follow?
I don’t have to look a certain way. I don’t have to meet some standard of beauty. I just want to feel good. I want to enjoy life and be available to care for my family and spend time with friends. I want a diet that will heal my mind and my body and allow me to use the gifts God has given me.
If you’re searching for the perfect diet, STOP. A one-size-fits-all “perfect” diet does not exist. You can’t just read a book and follow the rules. Everybody is different. But that does not mean there aren’t a lot of good diets with useful principles.
Through years of trial and error and testing and research I’ve found several diets that have helped me in various ways. By combining them I create MY perfect diet.
Most of the principles focus on healing. Which is what I need. Which is what a lot of people need.
This may not be your perfect diet. But you could still take away some ideas for how to heal your own body and feel good.
Here are some of the main principles from various sources that have helped me. Maybe they can help you too. I am also including some of the downfalls…mistakes I made along the way. You might be surprised by what actually hurt instead of helped me.
Pros: Nourishing Traditions is what introduced me to REAL food. It is still my go-to book for questions about traditional foods and how to prepare them. It taught me the truth about things like fat (which ones are good for us and which are not…and that you should eat a lot of it), cholesterol (no, high cholesterol is not what causes heart disease…we actually NEED cholesterol) and grains (they can be part of a healthy diet, but they should be properly prepared by soaking, sprouting or fermenting). It contains a wealth of knowledge and changed the way our whole family eats and views food.
Cons: NT encouraged my tendency to eat the same things day after day. Especially when giving advice on eating for fertility and pregnancy it recommends eating a specific amount of certain foods (like egg yolks, organ meats, certain fats, etc…nutrient dense foods) every single day. Unfortunately this habit is what led to a lot of my food sensitivities…which I now have to try to undo. For someone with a healthy gut this can be good advice. And they do recommend very healthy food. But for someone like me it was detrimental to focus on eating a certain list of foods every day. It fueled my obsessiveness and caused inflammation in my body.
Gut and Psychology Syndrome
Pros: Gut and Psychology Syndrome is a detailed protocol for healing the gut…and in turn healing conditions like allergies, autism, ADD, etc. It introduced me to the wonderful world of stock and bone broth. They are both very healing and should be a staple for everyone (in addition to healing they provide nourishment and protect against illness). GAPS showed me that we don’t have to rely so much on grains in our diet, as they can be irritating. It also reinforced the need for probiotics (both through supplements and foods like cultured dairy and ferments) to help seal a leaky gut. It really explained how the gut works and what can damage it. And it forced me to be creative with my cooking and baking and try new things.
Cons: GAPS is quite restrictive. And for someone with OCD that is not good. I got to the point where I was almost scared to eat. I was afraid the tiniest thing would hurt me. So it caused a lot of anxiety instead of helping to get rid of it. Much like NT, GAPS also reinforced the idea of eating the same things day after day. You could be on a certain phase of the diet for weeks, with only a few food options. I also wound up eating very low carb. It was not intentional. I had never even heard of eating low carb. But without grains in my diet and without the knowledge of what does/doesn’t contain carbohydrates and how to balance them with protein and fat I tended to eat a LOT of protein. I lived on meat, broth, eggs and nuts. And it did more harm than good to my body in the long run.
Many people are on the GAPS diet for years. I now know that unless you have severe problems it should probably be more short term. You can go through all of the phases in a matter of weeks to kickstart healing and then get back to a normal diet of what works for your body.
I also don’t think that grains are bad for everyone. Nor is gluten a problem for everyone. I personally do better with some grains in my diet (I’m still figuring out which ones are best). Yes, I feel better when they are properly prepared. No, I can’t make them the bulk of my diet. But I do need some. Otherwise I don’t get enough starch/carbohydrate and I get colon spasms. My gut does not like only having meat and vegetables.
Allergy/Sensitivity Rotational Diet
Pros: I was recently tested for food sensitivities. My results came back with a long list of foods I should avoid. The protocol for healing involves rotating foods/food families every four days. This is a new concept to me. But something that I need. And something that has had the biggest impact on my healing. I tend to eat the same things day after day. And that is what caused a lot of my problems in the first place. By rotating my foods I avoid causing new sensitivities and I give my gut a much needed break to heal. It is also a great way to pinpoint what foods I don’t tolerate. For the moment I am limiting gluten and dairy and cutting out eggs. But I hope to add them back at some point.
Cons: Some say that these tests are not accurate and that depending on the day/time you test you could have different results. So if you follow the prescribed diet you might be cutting out foods without really needing to. I am aware of this. So I am not completely cutting gluten and dairy out of my diet yet. I have them in limited quantities in my rotation to assess how my body responds.
Pros: When thinking about a healthy diet it is important to realize we are all different. Metabolism typing helps you figure out what type of food your body metabolizes more efficiently and needs more of to function well. I learned that I am a carb type. So my body needs a higher amount of carbohydrates than protein…the opposite of how I was eating on GAPS. It was very helpful to know how to adjust my diet.
Cons: As with most diet theories, not everyone agrees with this. Some say it is not accurate. It is also easy to fall into the trap of gravitating towards a diet full of mostly grains. You still have to figure out which carbohydrates are best for your body (potatoes, starchy vegetables like pumpkin and squash, fruits, natural sweeteners, grains). So you still have work to do, but it is nice to have a general guideline.
Eat for Heat/Diet Recovery
Pros: 180 Degree Health, Diet Recovery and Eat for Heat (all written by Matt Stone) really helped me get out of my obsessive, anxious, restricted way of eating. Matt’s information helped me stop the GAPS diet, gain some needed weight, become more relaxed about food and taught me to listen to my body. I am so thankful for the change this brought. It has been the biggest help in dealing with my OCD. I now challenge what I read and make sure I’m doing what works for me. I don’t follow anyone else’s diet/path to health. I recommend these books/his site to everyone. No matter what your health status.
I have learned that we don’t need to drink so much water every day. Most people are likely overhydrating and flushing the minerals out of their bodies. I have learned that a great assessment of your health is body temperature and the warmth of your hands and feet. This directly correlates to the state of your metabolism.
I have learned that it’s good to start the day with a large, starchy meal and gradually eat lighter as the day goes on. I learned that a good way to get your metabolism and body temperature up is by eating plenty of salt, sugar, starch and saturated fat and to be sure you are eating enough calories. Restrictive eating only does damage.
I have also learned that it is important to not overexercise. If your body needs healing you need to give it rest. And sleep is very important. Even up to 10 hours a night if you are in the process of healing. Once you are feeling good then you can exercise according to what you feel like doing, not what you think you should do.
Cons: While this way of thinking was very freeing and just what I needed after GAPS, it can also lead to an attitude of ambivalence. Although sometimes it actually does help to forget all health rules and just eat what sounds good (even processed food and fast food!), after a while you have to remember what your idea of health is and what your standards are for healthy eating. It is great to let go of a restrictive mindset, but you also can’t stop caring about your health.
Many people do gain weight at first when following Diet Recovery and Eat for Heat as the body heals and regulates (though not everyone does…some lose weight!). Usually the weight comes off naturally after the healing period. This can be a negative aspect for some. But in the end it’s worth the short term gain to fully heal your body. I think my weight went up about 12 or 13 lbs. at first. Then I dropped about 3 lbs. and stayed pretty steady.
Pros: For anyone struggling with digestive issues, the information in fiber menace is worth a read. Especially if you struggle with constipation. If you go to a doctor they will tell you to eat more fiber, drink more water, eat less fat and exercise. My response…WRONG! If that was the answer I wouldn’t have had problems for so many years. In fact, the answer is quite the opposite. You need lots of fat (healthy fats like butter, sour cream, tallow, evoo, lard and coconut oil). And you actually don’t need a ton of fiber. It is good to get some in your diet. But you don’t need a lot. Fiber is actually quite irritating. It causes bulk in stools…which makes stools tougher, not easier, to pass. And this causes things like fissures, hemorrhoids and prolapse. You should eat foods that are mostly utilized and absorbed by the body.
Cons: Fiber Menace promotes eating hardly any fiber at all. We do need some. And the amount is different for everyone. So you have to figure out what works for you. You need enough to help digestion work properly, but a small enough amount so that it does not cause problems. This book also talks about how little we need to it. I don’t agree with that. Just because someone can function on two meals a day, made up mostly of fat that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. So there are some good ideas in this book, and it really explains the digestive process well. But you also have to use common sense and know what works for your own body.
So what does my diet look like you ask? I am always making adjustments as I listen to my body and figure out what does and doesn’t work at the moment. I challenge myself and experiment with different foods to see if my tolerances have changed. But in general these are the guidelines I use to choose my food and create my perfect diet.
1. Eat nutrient dense, homemade food. Make sure all grains are properly prepared through soaking or sprouting.
2. Incorporate broth when possible to heal my gut. Make sure I use a variety of broths (beef, chicken, turkey, fish) and rotate them.
3. Use a 4-day rotational diet that eliminates my personal problem foods and limits foods I’m not sure about/that I test positive for on a sensitivity test.
4. Eat a higher proportion of carbohydrates than protein.
5. Eat enough salt, sugar, starch and fat, especially to start my day. Don’t drink too much/only drink if I’m thirsty.
6. Don’t eat too much insoluble fiber/raw food. My colon is very sensitive and is irritated very easily. I stick to softer foods most of the time with occasional small amounts of raw food or higher fiber foods. Eat plenty of healthy fat.
How about you? What is your perfect diet, and how did you come up with it?