Have you heard about this great new diet food plan? Apparently it gives you a six pack in a few days and stops you ever getting sick! That would be incredible but it’s just another option to add to the myriad of often-conflicting dietary options out there. Amongst this excess of information, how can any of us possibly know what it is to have a healthy diet food plan?
Any diet food plan that gets a bit of public attention is lauded as the next big thing that will save us all. Even if it is, there is often a previous or future diet food plan that has conflicting claims and advice. Interestingly, when this happens the current fad diet is seen to have ubiquitous effects across all people of all ages with any particular condition or circumstances. Now it is certainly logical and true that whatever we put into our bodies will contribute to our health in various ways, but we rarely consider our food choices with specific goals in mind. I say this all in full knowledge that I have been on the Whole30 hype train as of late; but unlike many people I have clear reasons as to why…
Consider your health goals for a second. By the way, how many times has your regular doctor ever asked you this question? Now have a think about what options dietary options there are for your goals. Maybe you’re diabetic and want to control your condition; a low-carb diet can reverse diabetes. Maybe you have high blood pressure and want to come off medications; try the DASH diet. If you want to address an autoimmune condition you might want to look at the paleo or lectin diet food plan. Some IBS patients benefit from a low FODMAP diet where you reduce specific types of sugar. People who have allergies have used elimination diet food plans like Whole30 with some success. A current interest is the ketone diet which apparently has wide applicability for chronic disease but is especially useful in epilepsy. If you haven’t already, watch ‘The Magic Pill’ on Netflix for an idea of how profound these effects can be. Heart disease is an area of conflict right now, but the most cutting-edge thinking is for a low-carb rather than low-fat approach to food. If you’re just looking to age well like Fauja Singh, the centurion and marathon-runner, then calorie restriction or intermittent fasting is for you. Serious athletes looking to extend their careers may look into the alkaline diet, like 40-year-old quarterback Tom Brady. As for the reason most people diet, losing weight - just pick one and stick to it for at least 3 months.
For me I have lived with IBS since my teens but it had just become normal for me to have abnormal bowels. Eventually I realised I did not need to suffer any more and so looked for an appropriate diet food plan. The low FODMAP approach sounds most appropriate but personally I have struggled in the past with having to measure quantities of ingredients or calories in the past and I believe that if you eat the right food it does not matter how much. I also wanted to understand my body better and what exactly triggers my IBS symptoms. Enter Whole30. You can read about my transfromative experience with Whole30 on my blog but it is safe to say it has totally redefined my relationship with food and my body as well as thoroughly controlling my IBS.
If there is anything to learn from my approach it’s this. As with anything, knowing why you’re doing it is key to success. You can’t achieve anything if you don’t know what you’re aiming for. So I’d like you to do yourself a favour…
- Get out a pen and paper
- Write down your health goals
- Have a look at what diets would support that
- …get on with it!
Dr Dilraj Kalsi uses Lifestyle Medicine and Digital Health to empower patients to reverse disease via his online clinic Hippocrates Lounge. He is a Lecturer in Digital Health at the University of Warwick and publishes regularly on patient empowerment with colleagues from Oxford University. For all his latest health tips straight to your inbox, sign up here!