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Diet Confusion — What One is Right for You

April 5, 2022 BY Unbun Foods

by Cait Mizzi, CFNP

There is simply no shortage of dietary trends to try. For centuries, humans have calculated and devised thousands of different techniques and guidelines to achieve weight loss. In our pursuit for speedy results, we have tried it all: tapeworms, arsenic, cigarettes, extreme surgeries of wiring jaws shut, and stapling stomachs to reduce their size, eating nothing but potatoes, never again eating potatoes, the elimination of entire food groups, and the list truly does go on, and on, and on.

Whether you’re in favor of the concept of fat loss, or food rules, or if you’re totally against both, it’s nearly impossible to deny that we are collectively obsessed with food, and how it impacts our wellbeing. The diet industry is a $255 billion-dollar business, that is projected to reach $377 billion-dollars by 2026. With a limitless selection of programs, products, and procedures, you’d think anyone who was looking to shed a few pounds, would in fact, be able to do so. However, the opposite appears to be true. Nearly 40% of Americans are obese, and over 70% are considered overweight. This steady rise in obesity is not just an American problem. Globally, 40% of adults are obese and children are not far behind. This is a major public health and economic problem of significance.

With popular programs like Weight Watchers, NutriSystem and Atkins, and diets like veganism, low-carb, ketogenic, carnivore, and sugar-free, shouldn’t we be able to maintain or gain control over this one area of our wellbeing?

If you ask me, we’ve overcomplicated food to the point of collective confusion.

When you scroll Instagram on any given day, you’ll find an array of eye-catching graphics that all contradict each other. Meat is good, meat is bad. Sugar is good, sugar is bad. Dairy is good, dairy is bad. Fat is good, fat is bad. Kale is good, kale is bad. It’s incredibly confusing, even to someone with an education in human nutrition. For the average person, this can be enough to repel you completely, throwing in the towel and choosing to eat whatever is most convenient and most delicious. How unhelpful.

The other problem though, is that there is no black and white, one size fits all approach to nutrition. We are all uniquely individual; different sexes, leading very different lives, in different environments, different climates, different physical outputs, different genetics and microbiomes, and, with different socioeconomic backgrounds. People respond to food in such idiosyncratic ways, that there will never be one diet that works for all.

Many of the most popular diets do have a few things in common though, which can be helpful. Most promote a general reduction of alcohol, highly refined grains, and sugars, while encouraging the consumption of fresh, whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, protein, and healthy fats.

While some may sustain a strictly paleolithic or ketogenic diet long-term, and in doing so, achieve a level of health that is optimal, for many others, this simply doesn’t work. It feels too restrictive, too inconvenient, and sometimes these specific diets are plain old biologically incompatible.

So, what? How does one make sense of it all? What on earth do we eat?

The best answer, for almost any group, is always going to be something close to the following:

• Eat whole, unprocessed, or minimally processed foods (what are processed foods?)
• Eat seasonally – choose foods that grow in your climate, preferably as local as possible
• Get lots of protein – approximately 1 gram of protein per pound of body mass
• Eat when the sun is up, stop when the sun goes down
• Get outside – breathe fresh air, get sunlight on your skin (even in the winter!)
• Move your body, every single day, in whatever ways feels best for you
• Enjoy your life! Remember, it’s what you do 95% of the time that matters most

Using these general tips, you can’t go too terribly wrong. If you find yourself out of control around food, experiencing unusual digestive symptoms, unexplainable weight loss or weight gain, or find yourself truly uncertain over what to choose – reach out to a qualified professional who can help you make the best, most sustainable choices for YOU.