Healthy Habits – Week 7: Make Your Diet Personal

I’m a scientist at heart. Way back I studied physics and got my masters in it. The scientific thinking stayed with me as did the urge to explain things with data, observations and principles instead of beliefs. But science (and scientific history) has also taught me to be careful with what we ‘know to be true’. It turned out after all that the earth is neither flat nor the center of the universe. Bummer.

There is a new diet every year, that claims to finally have found the right way to eat. It’s always proven through scientific studies and better than anything we had before. Funny enough the next year it will be proven wrong. It’s also interesting to note, that humans survived just right for aeons before we had scientific diets.

I would urge you to take ownership of your nutrition instead of just following the latest craze. Watch what you’re eating and then listen to your body. What gives you energy without a feeling of fullness or being bloated. What gets you going instead of making you tired after eating.

Diet is universal for the most part, but in the details also personal to your body, lifestyle and goals. Learn what YOU need. Learn what helps YOUR body. No one else can give you the magic recipe, not even the scientists.

Take some clues from our ancestors though. They thrived and put us into this world after all. Don’t go for extreme one-sided diets (I could name a bunch but I won’t). Look for balance and variety. Don’t be a one-trick pony. Avoid processed food whenever you can, there’s little food left in there.

Many of the most long-living populations follow the same pattern: a variety of different foods, freshly cooked and seasonally adjusted. You can take clues from mediterranean, japanese or chinese 5 elements nutrition (sorry, the Chinese restaurant’s menu doesn’t count).

Take a balanced, fresh selection as a basis and then learn what works for you.

For example I observed that

  • A lite and healthy lunch (soup or salad) works well for me since I won’t get tired afterwards but have energy for the day
  • Rather than having one big meal I add nuts and apples in between when I get hungry
  • I also learned that I need to catch myself and have a snack before I get really hungry or I will lose all self-control (sad but true, I’m a weak person)
  • I reduced milk as it gave me a slimy feeling, although I loved my latte – no more lattes
  • I plan to reduce vinegar and spices as I noticed that I get heartburn from it (still working on that habit change)
  • I like to go with the chinese recommendation to follow seasons; in the winter I have more warm soups, in the summer I have more cold salads

Learn to listen to your body instead of listening to other people’s advice (including mine)! Only you can truly find out what’s right for you.

There is no one size fits all, there is only what works for you. Take ownership of your nutrition.

A little excursion and food for thought

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) there are two sources of energy: the one that you are given at birth (pre-natal) and the one that you get from nutrition (post-natal). If your energy source from nutrition is not good, you will draw from your pre-natal energy and that depot depletes without a way to refill it (pre-natal energy cannot be replenished according to TCM).

Don’t risk your precious pre-natal energy, have good food. Go for home-made instead of produced and know whats going into your food.

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” – Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

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