As a Nutritionist I really do believe that each person needs to be seen as an individual. That each person who steps in to my office has their own particular needs, preferences, health requirements and of course available time to dedicate to preparation. I firmly believe that this all needs to be taken into consideration when I'm designing the ideal dietary guidelines for someone.
So when I'm asked, "what is the perfect diet?" my answer is that there is no one answer for everyone. However, there are some key signs that you can look for to determine if your current choices are working for you.
Your meals should leave you feeling energised. If you feel tired, sleepy, hazy or are having trouble concentrating after a meal then it was not the right choice for you. This is particularly important when it comes to breakfast and lunch - you do not want to be falling asleep at your desk! I find that a meal which is low in starchy carbohydrates and rich in fresh vegetables and protein usually works best for most people.
You should not feel hungry shortly after your meal. If you notice that your meals are leaving you feeling hungry, snackish or craving sugar then it was not the right meal for you. I find that meals which contain a small amount of (or no) carbohydrates, a good serve of protein, plenty of fresh veggies and a healthy fat source usually is the most satisfying over the long term. High carbohydrate foods tend to make you feel full and happy in the short term but as they are digested very quickly they can often leave you hungry shortly after. NOTE: Feeling hungry shortly after a meal can also be a sign of food intolerances.
You should not feel overly full, bloated, heavy or suffer from digestive issues such as wind, swelling, flatulence or reflux. Many people suffer with digestive issues that are so chronic that it has become "normal". Unfortunately, with food intolerances on the rise (a topic for discussion another day) it has also become common and therefore widely accepted to feel this way following your meal. If you feel heavy, uncomfortable or suffer with any of the symptoms of digestive discomfort listed above following a meal then it is very likely that your meal was not the best choice for you. It may simply be that you ate too quickly or too much. However it is also likely that you have reacted to at least part of that meal. There are many reasons you may suffer from poor digestion. If you regularly feel uncomfortable or over-full after eating please book in for a consultation today and let me assess your health and diet to determine the cause.
You should be pooing without difficulty every day. Constipation and diarrhoea may be common, but they are always a sign of an underlying problem. At times this is simply that your diet is lacking in fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Maybe it's because you are not drinking enough water. However at times it may indicate a more problematic imbalance, such as hypothyroidism, food allergies or intolerances, chronic magnesium deficiency or bowel disorders. The first step is to clean up your diet, drink your water, aim for 6 servings of veggies, eat more raw nuts. If this doesn't work however then it's time to look for other possible causes. Most of which, funnily enough, will be treated very effectively with a healthy diet anyway.
You should find it fairly easy to maintain a healthy weight: One of the sure-fire ways to determine that a diet is not working for you is if you are having trouble losing weight. There are very few people in this world who cannot lose weight while eating a healthy diet. In saying that, it can be very difficult for people to determine what their healthy diet is - remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach here. We all have our individual needs. You may function at your best while eating oats for breakfast every morning where if I did the same I'd suffer bloating, nausea, headaches and fatigue for the rest of the day. We are all special and therefore have our own special requirements. If you feel that your diet is healthy, you exercise and you do not over-eat but still have trouble losing weight then it's time to have someone take an in depth look. Click here for more info on my personalised weight loss programs.
You should be enjoying your meals: There's no point following a diet which makes you miserable, happiness and sensory enjoyment is important. And honestly, there really is no need. There are so many foods which are both healthy and delicious. Don't believe me? Try making some of the recipes from my previous blogs, or just try a ripe banana topped with delicious almond butter - loaded with heart healthy fats, zinc, calcium, protein and fiber. It's the easiest and most delicious snack. If you feel that your current diet is boring/tasteless or just too limited, speak to a Nutritionist. The way I see my job is not just to know the foods which keep you healthy, but to get you excited about a diet which helps you thrive. A diet which is full of delightful and delicious choices that make you look forward to each meal and meals which leave you feeling energised and alive.
So as you can see there are a few key signs to look out for which can tell you if your diet is/isn't working for you. You may already know some areas which need to be worked on. If so, start with them. Good Nutrition shouldn't be hard work, it should be something you are excited and passionate about, foodie or not.
Until next time, stay deliciously healthy.
Hugs, love and vitamins.