Episode 031: How to Breakthrough Overwhelm & Know What Diet to Follow
One question I'm always asked and see come up over and over again is, “What diet should I follow?”And my answer usually is, "Follow the diet that your personal evidence presents." In other words, listen to your body.
In this episode, I share:
- What my non-neogtiables are when it comes to food
- Why I hated it when people would tell me to "listen to my body"
- How to discover what your "personal evidence" is
Click Here to Read the Episode Transcript...
Hello and welcome back to the Live FAB Life podcast.
I don’t know about you, but I’m in a lot of Facebook groups. I’m in Facebook groups for entrepreneurs, I’m in groups specifically health coaches, for my favorite tv shows, and for people struggling with different health-related challenges, illness or conditions.
And the one question that I see come up over and over again is, “What diet should I follow?”
I don’t blame them for asking this at all because it is CONFUSING!
I mean there’s the Paleo diet, there’s the vegetarian diet - those two alone seems to be as controversial as politics and religion!
But you also have other diets like - the ketogenic diet, or the Blood Type Diet, or the South Beach Diet - and that’s only a few of hundreds of different programs out there.
When I was in nutrition school, one of the things that we did was study over 100 different diets. And it was interesting because the biggest takeaway I got from that effort was that each diet was created with a specific purpose or intent - and for the most part, each had really solid truths about them.
But what I found was that once the media got a hold of a diet, the original intent somehow got lost in the sensationalism.
You probably had the 6 o’clock evening news playing in the background while you’re cooking dinner. And you hear the anchor say something like, “In tonight’s Health watch, studies have shown that people who eat coconut oil go on to get heart attacks and die.” And after that 10-second blurb, the anchors sit around adlib for another 20-seconds about how people really need to stay away from coconut oil.
Here’s the problem with this scenario:
What study are they referring to? Who funded the study? What was the intent and purpose of it? What was the scope of it? What were they trying to understand? When it comes to “studies” these things matter. Who are the people that participated in this study? What were the other outlying health issues that they had? It was a 10-second blurb! The danger with news stories like this is that people who don’t know any better are going to hear this and adopt it as their new beliefs - based on this very limited information without any further consideration on whether it is right FOR THEM!
Back in the 90s, at least I think it was the 90s, maybe early 2000’s, I remember the Atkins Diet was all the rage. Don’t eat carbs! Carbs are bad! And then people little killed themselves because they were SO HUNGRY trying to stop eating all the carbs. And carbs got a bad name.
I did the same thing. I never bothered to actually study the Atkins Diet and see what it was really all about. That is, until nutrition school. The Atkins Diet was one of the hundred diets we studied and I was really surprised by what I learned.
It was created specifically for people who struggle with Diabetes and obesity - in other words, people with metabolic syndrome. Now by this time, I was convinced that all diets were scams, but when I sat through the Atkins Diet lecture, I found myself thinking, “This is a really good diet for people with metabolic syndrome.” FOR PEOPLE WITH METABOLIC SYNDROME! Not for everyone.
It was like when I tried to go Paleo back in 2008. I never bothered to do my research and understand what it was all about. I just took whatever headlines I saw about it and ran with it. And for a long time, my perception of the Paleo diet was that it was all about eating meat. And I’m sure a lot of people still have that perception about it to this day. But really, it’s about eating a real foods diet, not fake or processed foods.
So getting back to the original question, “How to know what diet to follow?
I’m asked this all the time and here’s my answer:
You need to follow the diet that your personal evidence presents.
Usually, after I say this, if the person hasn’t been working with me, they’re dumbfounded by my answer, because they expect me to tell them how they should eat.
But here’s the thing - if there was one answer that would work for everyone, then we wouldn’t have all of this diet confusion, would we?
Before I get into how to discover your personal evidence, I do have a few non-negotiables that I think everyone should follow:
#1. Eat real foods. Enough with the fake and processed foods. It’s chemically engineered food and not real food!
I recently read a blog post of someone attempting to go vegetarian in an attempt to “get healthy.” And this person was thrilled because Oreos were vegetarian. Well, I did a quick Google search for the ingredients label on a package of Oreos. On a package of Oreos, the first ingredient is sugar, and which means that of everything that’s in an Oreo, sugar is the most abundant. Also on the food label is canola oil, high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin, artificial flavorings. These things are not food. They do not carry nutrients to that nourish your body. Rather, these things cause inflammation. So my first non-negotiable is to stop with the fake food and eat real food.
#2. My second non-negotiable is avoid inflammatory foods, the most common being sugar and gluten, with soy, corn and even dairy right behind it.
#3. Instead of eating foods that cause inflammation, eat foods with as much nutrients as possible that aren’t processed or packaged. Eat as much organic vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, grass-fed meats, wild seafood - foods that are nutrient dense.
Beyond these three non-negotiables, what diet should you follow?
Like I mentioned earlier - follow what your personal evidence presents. And in order to know what your personal evidence is, you have to listen to you body.
Confession: I absolutely HATED it whenever I read or heard someone say to “Listen to your body.”
When I was marathon training, I was always battling some kind of running related injury and for those of you who have suffered some type of injury, it’s always nerve-wracking to know when it’s okay to return to your training because you don’t want to re-injure yourself. And whenever I’d asked or even google, “How to know when its okay to come back from injury?” the answer was always to “Listen to your body.”
And it was make me so mad because I didn’t know if I was hearing what I WANTED to hear, or hearing what my body was telling me.
I DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO DO THAT!
In the nutrition world, you hear a lot of people, including me, say to do just that - listen to your body. But not very many explain HOW to do that.
Some people might say, “Well keep journal” but what exactly are you writing in your journal?
Now I’m a very data driven person. My mind thinks in Excel more than Word.
So what I do is to track what I eat, how I feel and how my body functions. And I do this using a Food Mood Poop Journal, which talked about many times.
But once you collect the data, what do you do with it?
I look for correlations. For example, when I eat nightshades, I get diarrhea. Now, it’s not as bad as it used to be, thanks to a lot of the gut healing efforts I’ve done over the years, but I definitely can’t eat tomatoes, peppers or eggplant every night. On occasion yes, all the time, no.
Now tomatoes, peppers and eggplant are real foods. They have a lot of nutritious properties and are healthy foods, but not healthy for me.
Another example is fennel. I didn’t grow up eating fennel, but when I started eating it as an adult, I loved it. But through a lot of tracking and paying attention to my body, I noticed that it wasn’t agreeing with me. So I avoid it. Because that’s what my personal evidence presents to me.
Rather than trying to fit myself into the rules of a diet, I follow the non-negotiables that I set for myself and figure out my own way of eating - what works for me.
And I promise you that what works EXACTLY for me, is NOT going to work EXACTLY for you. If there was one diet that was the answer for everyone, then we wouldn’t have all of this nutrition noise out there, would we?
Another example I have for you is the ketogenic diet.
Now I love the ketogenic diet. I think there are a lot of good benefits to it for SOME people. But, that diet doesn’t work for me, because my body doesn’t process fats very well. In fact, I have to take digestive enzymes to support fat digestion in my body.
So while the ketogenic diet has been life-changing for many people, it is not a healthy option - FOR ME, right now.
There’s a lot of people who I admire and highly respect who tout the keto diet. And I applaud their work because we need people to teach other the proper, healthy way to follow this diet, but people need to understand that it’s not right for every one.
And if I were to follow it, it would cause all kinds of disruption to my body in a very UNhealthy way.
Now is it right for you? When anyone asks me, “Is
My answer is: I don’t know. You need to be mindful - and mindful means pay attention - you need to pay attention to how your body responds to it, to learn what’s right for you.
I’ve been paying attention to how my responds to different things for years, and I’ll continue to do so, because our bodies change, our environmental influences change, things don’t stay the same forever.
So I keep paying attention and adjust as needed, creating my own way of eating that works for me - you should too.
Now I get that simply saying “listen to your body” isn’t easy. It’s an art that needs to be learned. And if you want to learn how to do it, then my Finally Feel Better Challenge that will teach you how to do this in a very analytical way. Remember, my mind thinks like Excel versus Word.
So in the Finally Feel Better Challenge, we’ll spend five days together as I teach you how to use the Food Mood Poop Journal to collect your data, then analyze that data to find what your personal evidence is presenting.
And I walk you through each step on how to do this in the challenge.
What I love about this challenge is, not only are you learning how to pay attention to your body, in a way that you never have before, but you’ll also have hard core data that you can present to your doctor, health practitioner, or even health coach, like me. And this can form the basis of the efforts that you’re working on together, creating a therapeutic partnership.
So head on over to wwww.finallyfeelbetterchallenge.com or the show notes for this episode to join the challenge to start learning how to know what diet to follow - for you.
So the next time you feel confusion about what diet to follow and someone tells you to do your research, you’ll also remember to not only research the diet and the science behind it, but also, whether it’s the right thing FOR YOU.
Until next time, live fab, because everyone deserves to live a fab life.
Hi, I'm Naomi
I’m an expert in Functional Nutrition, a nerd when it comes to clean living, and my obsession is debunking fad diets and weight loss myths by teaching others where food meets physiology so they understand where health and healing truly begins.
A San Francisco Bay Area-based health coach, 21-Day Sugar Detox Coach, podcaster and puppy mama to Coco Pop, my happiest days are spent empowering health-conscious women to speak their truth and become leaders in their own healthcare.