The myth of the one perfect diet-

Frequently, in social situations when I meet someone and the discussion turns to what we do for work and I share that I am a Naturopath, a common response is “Oh you must have the perfect diet, tell me what to eat”. If only it was a simple as that!

Whilst there are basics that most of us are aware of as to what provides the basis of general healthy eating such as eating plenty vegetables and fruit, fibre, minimising processed foods and sugar there is a lot of conflicting information around about the ‘right’ diet.

There are fad diets and diets backed up by various studies ( sometimes funded by particular companies with vested interests, so research and results are not always unbiased!), social media ‘Wellness’ sensations or personal trainers promoting their particular eating it’s not surprising that it can become confusing or overwhelming! Low fat, no fat, paleo, 5:2, ketogenic, Atkins..vegetarian, raw food, vegan, flexitarian, pescatarian..the list goes on!

In my opinion, based also on what I observe working with clients, there is no one right diet for everyone.

Of course the general guidelines of plenty of fresh, wholefoods and minimal processed food WILL benefit us all, but we all have so many individual variations which will influence what works best for us and this may also change at different times of our lives in accordance with varying health, lifestyle or stage of life needs.

Then, just to make it potentially more complicated, we can have individual sensitivities or intolerances to even healthy foods!

I did a food intolerance test myself towards the end of last year, mainly out of interest rather than because I was having symptoms which made me suspect a food intolerance.
I was surprised with some of the results- celery, apple and cashews, pork ( which I don’t eat) and wheat came up for me.

I already avoid both wheat (and cow’s milk) as it doesn’t agree with me. About 7 years ago, when I first stopped eating wheat, I lost 5kg in a week, which wasn’t the reason for changing my diet, but it demonstrated the bloating effect that wheat was having on me. Because I had been eating it regularly, I wasn’t aware of how I felt each time I ate it, because I was used to feeling that way!

Now if I do happen to have some, which I really try to avoid doing, I feel bloated, tired and headachey soon after eating it. I react instantly cow’s milk which suggests this is more of an allergy rather than intolerance.

As for the celery, apple and cashews, I was surprised and a little disappointed with those results! I was enjoying juices which included both celery and apple and cashews with an apple was a quick go-to snack for me. I was also making quite a few raw desserts with cashews. Interestingly since I stopped eating these, a recurrent minor niggly health issue has completely disappeared..

Along with avoiding these foods, I’ve also been doing some more gut healing, because although I didn’t have any obvious digestive symptoms (unless I ate wheat), the presence of any food sensitivity has gut involvement. The healthier the gut, the more able you are to digest and tolerate foods.

A food sensitivity or intolerance reaction can develop at any time. The reaction is usually slower, unlike an allergic reaction which tends to happen soon after coming into contact with the allergen. There are different immune responses involved and different tests used to determine reactions. A finger prick blood test is the quickest way to determine a food intolerance, I utilise a range of blood tests for this. There is also a food intolerance test which is done via a hair sample, this option is often ideal for children where a blood test is undesirable.

The other very effective option is to undertake an elimination diet where certain suspect foods are avoided for a period of time (usually a few weeks) before reintroduction and monitoring of reaction, which will be easier to identify after a period of avoidance.

Always listen to your body!
Be aware of how you feel immediately after eating certain foods and then again two hours later, being mindful also that sensitivity reactions may be delayed up to 2 days!

Whilst a Naturopath or Nutritionist can give you guidance and support in finding the right diet for you, only YOU know how your body feels after eating.

Keep a food diary
Writing down what you ate and how you felt immediately afterwards and also in the hours following eg. 2 hours after eating can be helpful for monitoring how certain foods make you feel, it also helps to pin point links between foods eaten and symptoms. Notice and record any particular physical symptoms along with your energy levels and any mood changes.

Your body is always communicating with you, make it a habit to listen and eat accordingly!

Do you need some support to work out the right way of eating for YOU? Contact Annabel to arrange a time for an appointment
Appintments available in person and also online via Skype.


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