There are just a few things that I can say are universal truths about eating. These are them.
Note that I'm not telling anyone that high protein is the best, or that low protein is the best....or any other random dietary dogma that I just happen to like for whatever reason....
There is no such thing as THE one right diet.
We are all unique and therefore how we eat should be unique. It's almost comical when diet gurus pay lip service to this idea and then tout THEIR diet as the best, all in one breath.
The idea that there is ONE way of eating that is the RIGHT way has hordes of people confused, overwhelmed, and sometimes even scared.
I'm here to set the record straight. What is right for you is not necessarily right for me or your sibling, child, or parent. Even twins have their own unique needs, likes, and dislikes.
My vision is to be able to help people understand this and for them to stop fretting about whether or not they are doing the right thing.
And the way to know what's right for you?
First, get educated about some different dietary approaches out there. Learn about different ways to exercise. Then pick up some habits (one at a time is the best so that you can stick to it), observe your body, and see how it goes.
If something is working or not you'll probably know. There are lots of cool ways to observe your body, in both objective and subjective ways. Learn more about that here!
And just because some doctor says we should all stop eating meat or we'll die (this can be replaced with any other scary dietary dogma), doesn't mean she is right. If nothing else, please know that no expert out there is going to be able to know what will work for you. You are the expert.
If you're not sure if they diet you are doing right now is working for you or not, take the diet quiz to get started.
How You Eat is As Important As What You Eat
If you google "stress" and "eating" you'll find a lot of cool research on how your body does not like the two to go together.
So whether it's stressing about WHAT you are eating (yes this happens) or stressing about anything else, it does not facilitate good digestion.
When you are stressed out your nervous system is kind of busy....ummm....dealing with the stress.
Eating and digesting, sleeping, having sex, and healing are all low on the list of priorities at that time. When you are stressed the autonomic nervous system (that's the part of your nervous system that controls all kinds of functions "autonomically") is shifted toward the "fight or flight" mode (sympathetic) and away from the "rest and digest" mode (para sympathetic).
The sympathetic autonomic nervous system is in charge of making sure that when you are stressed your heart is pumping blood to your limbs and your lungs are pulling in enough oxygen for fighting and flighting. Your para sympathetic nervous system takes a back burner. After all, who has time to eat, make babies, or sleep when you're being chased by a tiger?
So, take a moment to sit down, take a few deep breaths, relax, look at your food, smell and taste your food and chew. No matter what's going on, in most cases you can take a moment or two to chill out and relax a little before your meal.
And when you start tasting your food, like actually tasting it and not inhaling it, you may start to notice that you eat better. If you're paying attention you might find that crappy, processed food actually doesn't taste good or feel good in MOST (perhaps not all) cases.
Whole Foods are Always Superior to Artificially Processed Foods
Humans have been eating artificially processed foods for a tiny, tiny, tiny blip of time in our existence.
Foods like shaped cereals, hot dogs, Tofurky, Snickers bars, gluten-free bread, meat in a can, liquid cheese, and bright blue beverages are pretty new to our bodies.
Yes, some whole foods are slightly processed and have been for a long time, such as yogurt, whole-grain bread, bacon, and certain oils.
So when you are judging if something is a whole food, or too processed, start by seeing how many ingredients there are. The longer the list, the more you should avoid that food. You can also ask your great grandmother (if she is still here) if she ate it as a child. Or you could just use a google search and a little common sense to find out. Whatever you do, keep those highly processed foods to a minimum!