I have wanted to write about bio individuality for a while. For a good chunk of my life, I have believed that the reason I wasn’t at my goal weight or looked the way I wanted to was because I hadn’t found the right diet yet. I don’t even mean short term, fad diet, I mean, plant-based/vegan/gluten free/dairy free/paleo/keto type diets. Also is it just me or does the list of various diets get longer every day?! So, I wanted to help set the story straight and hopefully help you out if you are feeling confused about what to eat and what diet to follow. Because that overwhelm is ALL TOO REAL.
That magic pill mentality
I have spoken about how going to nutrition school saved me (you can read that personal post here). But it really was so eye opening for me and I am thankful everyday for making that choice to pursue something that was so new and exciting to me. Taking that leap of faith was one of the BEST decisions I have ever made. One of the reasons it was so helpful was that it taught me that there was no right diet for everyone. Sorry vegan friends who insist otherwise, but I don’t agree that everyone can follow a vegan diet and live a healthy life. That isn’t to say that being vegan/plant-based isn’t healthy, it can be. But it can also not work for someone else and that is because of something called bio-individuality (more on this term later).
The amount of money that has gone into researching different diets would certainly like you to believe that there is one way to eat. The medical and scientific community are constantly searching for this magic bullet for weight loss and health. They are always looking for a way to solve all of humanity’s problems related to diet. There is A LOT of money to be made in this. Not so much money to be made in saying, “you have to discover your own way of eating.”
So this is where that term bio-individuality comes back into play.
Bio Individuality: What does it mean?
Generally it means that no one diet fits all. Each and every person has unique needs, lifestyle factors, genes and environment. Even general health information is not going to work for every individual, more on this in the next section.
It really requires some inner work on your part if you are committed to finding what leaves you feeling the best. Working with someone (like myself) is helpful in learning what types of foods, movement and lifestyle best serves you.
Recent studies are starting to show some promising results in terms of a bio individual approach.
What’s the problem with a one-size fits all approach?
Let me explain using the ever popular diet, the Mediterranean Diet. This type of diet is often labeled as one of the most healthy for ALL people to follow. This type of diet emphasizes eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil. Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavour foods. Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month.
Well first, you know how I feel about canola oil right? And butter, there is nothing wrong with good old fashioned butter, we have been using it for a longgggg time.
So what about people that have an auto-immune condition that don’t do well digesting grains? What about those people not living anywhere near the Mediterranean (think Alaska)? What about women dealing with hormonal issues like PCOS? None of these factors are considered, yet this is considered “the perfect diet” for everyone to follow.
What Can You Do to Tap Into Your Bio Individuality?
Here are some tips to ensure you make your own diet unique to you:
- Focus on quality: rather than looking at calories or even other macro info (fat, protein, carbs) have a look at the ingredients. Are they of high quality and are they really nutritious?
- Journal: a food journal can be very helpful in identifying how food makes you feel. Sometimes, an immediate reaction to food doesn’t appear until days later. When you keep a journal, you can go back and cross reference what you ate with how you felt a little more easily.
- Listen to your body: beyond just how it responds to food, listen to the signals your body is sending you. Often times, well before anything serious develops, our bodies are doing their best to send us a signal that something is awry. Listen to it!
- Find what you like: not everyone is going to like avocados (although, I do question your judgment lol). But, the truth is, you need to eat food you like. You can always healthify a food or a meal in my opinion and still enjoy it. Using better ingredients and sneaking in some veg are some simple ways to do this.
- Eat with joy: no matter what you are eating, eat it with joy, not shame or guilt. If you associate those kinds of feelings to your food, you are going to end up feeling that way about yourself and nobody has time for that.
- Pay attention to your lifestyle: do what you can and eat foods that are going to benefit your lifestyle choices, such as if you are doing a HIIT session or taking it easy that day. Always, adjust accordingly.
- Try to eat a well-balanced meal: I have spoken before about how to structure your plate here. It is a good idea to try and eat a meal that has a balance of protein, fibre, fat and complex carbs. This will help you to stay full and keep your blood sugar stable.
- Go deep: our relationship to food is deep and often times clouded with judgement and negativity. This isn’t your fault, this is what diet culture has done to us. But before you can naturally choose healthier foods, you need to often times let go of long held assumptions and beliefs.
- Learn some basics: I think that one of the most powerful tools you can have when it comes to your health and how you feel is learning some basic cooking techniques and tools. Start by making some simple meals at home rather than always relying on take out or eating out. Learn to make food you enjoy and enjoy eating it.
- Stop dieting: this is not an easy one, but those fad diets are not doing you or your health any favours. Their rigidity make it impossible to discover what works for you and what makes you feel alive, energized and amazing.
Learning to listen to your body is a lifelong process, but one that is so worth it in the end.
I hope this was helpful and the next time you are thinking about jumping on a new health trend or fad diet, consider doing something different instead.
How do you feel about the term bio individuality?