Last week after a nutrition talk I gave to some runners, I was thanked for my alternative approach. In fact, I am often asked why I don’t just promote the Food Guide to my clients. Let me ask you this: would you promote something to your friends that didn’t include a little red wine and dark chocolate?!?
Kidding aside, there are some really important reasons that I don’t support the food guide.
First off, the food guide is that it’s pretty carby. Most people do not need the amount of carbs that the food guide recommends. And let’s not forget that there are carbohydrates in fruits and vegetables so eating 6 servings of bread, pasta and rice is too much for many people.
Another reason I don’t promote the food guide is that it includes an entire food group I don’t support. Look, as opposite as two dietary philosophies can be, both vegans and paleo people agree that dairy is not meant for human consumption (ok, ok… paleo peeps eat ghee but that’s about it). So why is dairy in the food guide? Isn’t the fundamental reason for dairy milk’s existence to bring a little calf to the size of a big cow? And haven’t studies shown that the casein found in dairy can help cancer cells multiply? And what other species drinks another mammal’s milk as adults? Consuming dairy is unhealthy, and frankly kinda weird in my humble opinion.
All that aside, here’s the #1 reason why I don’t promote the Food Guide (or the American My Plate): at the core of my nutrition philosophy is BIOINDIVIDUALITY. It’s a notion that I learned from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where I studied to become a Certified Holistic Health Coach. Bioindividuality means that everyone’s nutritional needs are unique. Therefore, no one guide can be appropriate for every person.
This is my big gripe with the Food Guide but also with any dietary theory that is touted as “THE” way to eat. There is to singular way to eat that will work for everyone. In fact, the optimal diet for you today may not be the optimal diet for you in 10 years. Your nutritional needs will change over time based on your age, your fitness level, how sedentary you are at work, where you’re living, etc.
So here’s a radical thought: if the way you’re eating is not serving you well – that means that if you don’t have lots of energy, if you have to snack constantly, if you’re gaining weight, if you’re feeling lethargic – change something! Try fewer carbs, skip dessert, and swap those fruits for more vegetables. Drink more water. And play with your nutrition until you find what works best for you.
If changing your diet seems daunting, find help. This is the type of work that I do with clients all the time. And if you don’t want to work with me, find someone else – someone who is knowledgeable in a large variety of dietary theories and who doesn’t try to tell you that there’s one magical way of eating that will make you thin and beautiful and popular and rich… because if that were the case, we’d all be doing it!
Have you ever been told that there’s only one way to eat? Did you adopt that particular diet for a while? How did it go? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.