Yes it's true.
I just GUARANTEED that by using the information in this article, you can design your best possible diet.
You may be saying to yourself "your don't even know me, how can you know my best possible diet?"
That's also true, at the time you are reading this we may have never met. But, I know you are a human, and as such you have values, history, a body and you might even have goals. You live in an environment and in order to keep living you have access to some foods, and you will eat.
By understanding a few basic factors you can design the best possible diet for you.
A little background:
First of all we live in a very abundant age and place. If you are like me, then you live in one of the "1st world" nations, meaning that you have access to foods from around the world. You can go to a store and by fruit from Chile and veggies from California. You could explore the exotic foods from South East Asia. You might even be able to get "Superfoods" from the Himalayas or cacao beans from Ecuador.
Never before in our recorded history have we had access to so many foods from around the world. We are truly blessed.
There was definitely intercontinental trade happening during human history, but the availability of such a variety of foods was limited due to transportation and economic factors. Even today many people on this planet go hungry every day. We must give gratitude for our food whether it comes from across the world or our own back yard.
With such a variety of nutritional options, not to mention the infinite variety of people, knowing what foods to eat has become increasingly confusing. Humans seem to be the only species on this planet that don't know what to eat. If you're a human, like me, then you may have wondered what is the best possible diet for you to eat.
Introducing Adaptive Nutrition
I'm going to introduce you to a formula that I designed for coming up with your best possible diet. I call it Adaptive Nutrition because unlike any other "diet"(Paleo, Raw, Vegan, Bulletproof, South Beach, etc.) it is not about eating according to some "expert's" philosophy. Adaptive nutrition is all about adapting your diet to you.
So you can be a bulletproof, paleolithic weight watcher who lives in the south beach of the Mediterranean, or you could be you.
The variables in the formula for designing your best possible diet are all about you and your life. These variables fit into 3 categories that I have found to be not just important when deciding what to eat, they are also good principals to live by.
The 3 principals are :
- Know Your Self
- Know Your Environment
- Know How To Adapt
These are broad, overarching principals to live by and we can break them down into a practical formula to design your best possible diet. So let's begin!
This principal is one of the most classic spiritual teachings and explorations that can be undertaken. This principal was inscribed in the Ancient Greek temple of Apollo at Delphi, and self realization is one of the highest aspirations in the eastern spiritual traditions.
What does it mean when applied to your diet?
It is quite the paradox that you are uniquely individual yet you are also like everyone else. Knowing the factors that influence dietary choices and knowing those factors in yourself is possibly the most important step in designing your perfect diet.
In a world of infinite possibility, the choice of what to eat and what not to eat is ultimately decided by your personal values. Many diets advocate eating for personal health (Raw, Paleo, etc.) other diets are chosen for the health of animals or for the environment (Vegan, Macrobiotic, etc.) Some dietary practices take both into consideration and others leave behind the health of the environment and the human body in order to focus on the goals of the individual, for example: the Atkins diet and the South Beach diet.
To know yourself in relation to the food you eat, you must know your hierarchy of values.
Do you value your individual health over that of the environment? Do you value the lives of animals over your personal goals and visions? Do you value your physical appearance over your long term health? Will you eat it if it doesn't taste delicious?
These are not easy questions to answer, but they are the first step in knowing yourself and choosing the foods that support your best possible diet.
I have known some vegans who were aware that eating a strictly vegan diet was not healthy for their body type. They chose to eat a vegan diet anyway because their hierarchy of values put the well-being of animals above their personal health.
Of course there is overlap to all of these values and ways to get the benefits from multiple values at once, most of the time. The importance in knowing your values comes in when you have to make the tough choice between the locally raised steak, the GMO soy burger, or the organically grown quinoa.
The most important part of this exploration is understanding that the rabbit hole of preference is ever expanding with social, economic, and health related intricacy. No mater how deep you get you still have to eat.
Your body is one aspect of you that is certainly different than every one else. Even if you are an identical twin, you have had different experiences than your sibling and your body has been influenced by those experiences. You are unique just like everyone else, so get to know your unique body.
The important factors to face in the mirror when delving into the self reflective exploration of knowing yourself and designing your best possible diet are:
- Your Body's Preferences
- Your Body Type
- Your Genetic History
Your Body's Preferences:
Knowing your body's preferences is the basis for knowing what your body thinks is your best possible diet. Your body type and your genetic history will influence your body's preferences and that is why they are good to explore when you are learning about yourself in relation to food.
What your body says is your best possible diet might not align perfectly with what your values say is your best possible diet. If this is the case for you, then your mind and your body might need to negotiate in order to come to an agreement.
The most important factor is how you feel! Learning to tell if your body says "I like this" or if it says "No more please," is how you learn your body's preferences and design your best possible diet.
Many people are eating foods that their body does not want. Unfortunately in our culture we have been taught that minor ailments and discomforts are normal and we should take a tums or an aspirin and get back to work. We have forgotten that we are supposed to feel great.
Our physical literacy has been degraded and people don't know themselves enough to know when the food they eat is actually harming their body.
There are varying degrees to your body's preferences for food. If your body really doesn't like a certain food it can cause an extremely negative reaction, like your throat closing and your face swelling. If this happens then you are said to be allergic to that food, meaning your body will attack that food like it was an invading disease. Chances are if you have a severe food allergy, then you know it and you know to avoid that food.
But your body has other degrees of preference. There is also the potential that even though your body doesn't have a strong reaction to a food as if it were allergic, it still might not prefer to eat that food. If you consume something that causes any type of negative physical symptoms such as: a headache, nausea, gas, fatigue, insomnia, shakiness, low energy, or clouded thinking then your body is telling you it's preference and it is your job to pay attention. There can also be a strong emotional response after consumption such as anxiety, depression, restlessness, irritability, or agitation. This is also a form of expression of physical discomfort from food.
In either case a food you are allergic to or a food that you are intolerant of does not belong as a part of your best possible diet.
The problem is that if you have any food intolerance you may have been living with it for a long time and unknowingly eating foods that your body doesn't prefer. This is the case for many people and it's because they don't know what the baseline of feeling healthy is for them.
Do you know really how good you can feel?
How do you find out what your body's preferences are?
The easiest way to discover your body's preferences is by eliminating the foods that could be causing you to feel less than the best. Then after getting to a baseline of homeostasis in your body you can then add in each food and see how it makes you feel. This process is commonly called an "elimination diet." You eliminate potential trouble makers from your regular diet so that you can see what foods belong in the best possible diet for you.
I have guided some of my clients through a full elimination diet where in the period of 30 days we systematically eliminate and add in all the food types and discover what are their body's real preferences.
You can try a simple version of the elimination diet by eliminating the most common food intolerance and then trying them out one at a time to see how your body feels about that particular food.
The most common food intolerance's are: Dairy, Gluten, Sugar (all types), Eggs, Corn, Soy, and Yeast.
By removing these very common and unnecessary foods, you can get the baseline of how great your body can feel when it's not having to eat foods that it does not prefer.
Your Body Type:
You're body is totally unique to you, and you may have noticed that your body is very similar to some people's and very different from others. In all of our very different expressions of human physicality there are some patterns that occur in the types of bodies that people have.
Some people have big bodies, some people have small bodies, some are round, some are long, some are denser and some are softer. There have been multiple systems developed that categorize the different types of bodies us humans can have and what foods are best suited to those bodies. Some of these systems are ancient and some are more modern.
The ancient healing systems of Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine both have unique ways of classifying and nourishing different body types. The modern systems of metabolic type, blood type, and genotype diets are newer systems that classify different body types and what foods are best for them.
It has been my personal and professional experience that all of these dietary systems, when followed religiously, work very well for some people and not so well for others. So what benefit is it to you to learn about your body type from these different perspectives and what each one recommends for you to eat?
If you figure out your specific body type through each of these lenses than you will be that much deeper into the practice of knowing yourself. When designing your best possible diet looking at what each system says about the best foods for your particular body type can be confusing because some of the systems may contradict each other. This is why us modern humans with all of our information and research are more confused then every other species and our ancestors when it comes to what to put in our mouths.
So to reconcile this confusion just look for what the systems agree upon when it comes to your body type. If 2 or more of these body typing sciences recommend something for your diet then try it out and see how you feel. The ultimate judge is always... you.
If the blood type diet says you should eat red meat, and the Ayurvedic system says you should eat red meat, and the genotype diet says that red meat is a "superfood" for your body type, then try eating red meat and see how you honestly feel.
Your Genetic History
Your genetic history has influenced your body type. It's obvious that you probably look something like your parents (unless you were adopted) and so your genetic lineage helped to shape who you are. This genetic influence is not just on your physical body, but also your memory and other levels of your psyche. Since we are talking about your diet we will stick with the obvious physical influences.
Your ancestors mainly ate the food that grew in their environment, and their environment didn't include Costco, McDonalds, or Whole Foods. So your body has been genetically adapted to eat food from the environment, not necessarily your environment, but your ancestors environment. Now our natural environment has been polluted and most of the original ecosystems where humans have gotten their foods from, have been altered or destroyed.
So what does this mean for designing your best possible diet?
If you can trace your genetic history and see what your ancestors were eating, then you will get a good clue as to what your body is naturally adapted to. If you come from a long line of dairy farmers and cow herders then your body is probably more tolerant to dairy than some one who's ancestors were always hunting. People who's genetic lineage is from tropical areas of the planet are more adapted to eating fruit, while people from colder environments are more adapted to eating animal meats.
Exploring your family lineage is just one more tool you can use to dig up clues that point to what foods belong in your best possible diet and what foods to avoid.
Don't take your grandparents diet as the final word in the story. This is a long story. As always you still have to use your gut, try out the foods, and see how you feel.
The final area to explore in knowing yourself when designing your best possible diet, is to know your goals. You have looked into your unique values and your unique body so you know where you are at and where you have been. Now it's time to look at where you want to go.
We live in an anything is possible world and this means with the right tools, techniques, and attitudes anything is possible for you.
One of the best tools you can use to reach your goals is the tool of nutrition. Whether you want to loose weight, win the Olympics or reach peaks of spiritual inspiration, what you choose to eat will either help you or hold you back from reaching your goals.
Here is a short list of goals that could be supported by the right diet:
- Weight Loss
- Weigh Gain
- More Energy
- Increased Immunity
- Mental Clarity
- Athletic Performance
- Athletic Recovery
- Healing a Specific Disease
- General Health
- Nature Connection
- Individual/Communal Sovereignty
- Spiritual Experiences
- And Probably More...(this is a short list)
Making the choice to eat or not eat certain foods, or changing the portions of specific types of foods, or adding in specialty nutritional sources can help you reach your specific goals. Some of these goals may be temporary, meaning after you have been eating for athletic performance you may want to switch to eating for athletic recovery. Maybe after eating for heightened spiritual experiences you find that you wants to structure your diet for communal sovereignty. Or the most common one is after someone has been on a diet for weight loss or gain they switch to eating for general health.
You may desire many of these goals, and so you get to explore more of your values, and decide which goal is most valuable for you now. Once you have reached that goal go for the next one.
So the last question in the knowing yourself in relation to your perfect diet is... What do you want out of life? What do you want your body to be like? What is your greatest desire?
Once you take the time to answer these questions for yourself you can add it to your understanding of yourself and design your best possible diet.
There you have the 3 steps to knowing yourself to design your best possible diet.
Know Your Values
Know Your Body (preferences, type, history)
Know Your Goals
Another way you could say this is "Know your Mind, Body, and Beyond!"
With this information you have the foundation to design your best possible diet. You may be thinking "Wow, this is a lot to explore. How am I going to get all of this information in time for dinner?" There are many tools and techniques to help you in the exploration of knowing yourself in relation to your best possible diet. I have helped many of my clients on the same journey to knowing themselves and reaching their goals. If you need guidance find a health or nutrition coach that you resonate with who can help you on your path.
What we have talked about thus far in this long article is how to know yourself so that you can design your best possible diet. Actually eating your best possible diet is a whole different journey. It's important to have a map of where you are going, and to know your vehicle, but once you get on the highway you quickly find that "the map is not the territory."
When you get into the grocery store or the restaurant, eating your best possible diet may seem like a Mt. Everest of a climb. When you were looking at the images of that snowy peak in your trail guide (your book on body types, or your list of values) that mountain looked really small. Now that you are at the base of your real life journey, how do you make it to the peak?
The way to succeed on any journey is, one step at a time, but there are some simple strategies that will help you on the way. Like higher a Sherpa who knows the environment.
The next 2 principals are strategies to help you in your real life journey of eating your best possible diet.
Know Your Environment:
This principal is very simple when it comes to eating your best possible diet. The simplest way to explain it is: you can only eat what you can get your mouth around.
If you live in a modern, "first world" city then you are blessed with an absolute cornucopia of foods from around the world. The only limiting factors that would keep you from eating all the foods that are most aligned with your values, your body, and your goals would be:
- Economic: "That "superfood" costs more than my rent."
- Legal: "I really want to eat those psychedelic herbs to have a peak spiritual experience."
- Convenience: "The Asian market on the other side of town is the only place to get durian, and they close before I get done working.
Although these factors may be real, they are also excuses. So if these things are truly an essential part of your best possible diet you can get creative and ask a friend to pick you up some durian, meet your local shaman, and look deeper into your financial priorities in order to be able afford the foods that you truly feel connected to add to your diet.
The real challenge comes when you don't live in a modern city. You may live in a rural area where you need to drive 45 min just to get to the nearest country store, where all they have is condensed milk and hotdogs. Even in the city there are huge expanses of space, usually in the poorer neighborhoods, where you could go for miles without finding any real food. In these "food deserts" the only option for nutrition ends up being processed, packaged or fast food, which is more a "food like substance" then real food. I would say that no one's best possible diet relies on packaged or fast food. If you live in the rural country side, or a food desert of the city, you have to get creative about how you get your food.
Knowing your environment and how to access the necessary nutrition is key to eating your best possible diet.
When you get to know your environment and become familiar with your food-shed (where your food comes from) you will always have access to what you need for your best possible diet.
You can also begin to incorporate seasonal and local foods into your best possible diet. It has been found that food that has been grown in the same area that you live in, is nutritionally better for you.
When food is grown local to you, that food has adapted to the same climate, toxins and environment that you are living in. This food caries the information for how to live where you live and it will transfer that information to your body and make you healthier. Eating locally grown foods has been known to help with environmental allergies (pollen, poison oak, etc.) and seasonal diseases (cold & flu).
So as a part of your best possible diet, you may choose to grow a garden in your yard or join a community garden with the foods that you like to eat the most. You may find ways to get into nature and fish or hunt or forage. Wild foods have amazing nutritional value. You might seek out local farmers markets or visit farms in your area to source your foods. You may have a local Co-Op grocery store that sources it's food from near by farms. Or you might have to go to your local Whole Foods or even Costco once in a while to get certain foods that are a part of your best possible diet.
In this way knowing your environment may mean knowing what herbs are eatable and in season in your bio-region, or knowing about a new restaurant in town that serves great food.
There is no one perfect source. The important thing is that you know where to get the food that you need for your best possible diet.
Know how to adapt:
This principal is the evolutionary platform that allowed us humans to be the keystone species that we are today. Human beings, like you and me, live on every continent, in every climate on this planet. The reason that we are the most expansive and most dominant species on earth is because we are the most adaptable.
As a member of the most adaptable species on the planet, there is no reason that you shouldn't be able to eat your best possible diet all of the time. It just takes some planning.
If you have decided that your best possible diet is a gluten free, dairy free diet, and you happen to find yourself at a gathering where every one is gorging on pizza and beer, what are you to do? Or what if you are a vegan and your boss has decided to celebrate you and take you out for BBQ (that jerk)? Or you are eating a hunter gatherer type diet of meat and veggies, until you have to fly to your cousin's wedding where your grandmother has made every single one of her famous pastries. What are you to do?
This is when knowing how to adapt will save your gut.
By simply planning ahead you can prepare for the challenges that may come up when choosing to eat your best possible diet. Like your ancestors exploring uncharted lands over frozen ice sheets, with no food in sight for miles, you too can learn to carry snacks with you that will keep you nourished during your adventures. Carrying snacks like trail mix, fruit or jerky can save you when your blood sugar drops and you need some of your best possible food.
I learned the value of planning ahead to be adaptable with food when I was exploring the Raw Food Diet. I believe that adopting the Raw Vegan diet for a period of time can be one of the most trans-formative and educational experiences when it comes to the principal of knowing how to adapt. Not because there is any specific magic in eating that way. Mainly because you are voluntarily removing yourself from the artificial life support system of civilization.
If you are out on the town and are hungry, you would be lucky to find a decent salad at a restaurant, and we know that it probably won't be satisfying. If you are feeling lazy and hungry, good luck finding some prepared food to buy that will fill your craving and nourish you. I learned from others in the Raw Vegan community that carrying a bag with foods that are a part of your best possible diet is essential to staying nourished. I have carried this practice on and I recommend that what ever your best possible diet is, you find some non-perishable foods that you can take with you in your car or in your purse. This is one good strategy for knowing how to adapt.
If you are flying someplace new, please don't eat the "food like substances" they try to feed you on the plane. Pack a bag of nuts, some food bars, or fruit with you for the trip.
The great Google is the modern oracle of everything. You can always search for health food stores or restaurants in the area that support your best possible diet.
Another part of knowing how to adapt is not to get too stuck on eating only a few types of food. Try new things! You may have no idea that you love eating escargot, until you try it in France. The most important part of knowing how to adapt is knowing when to let go of the restrictions that you have put on yourself, and eat what you have access to. If you are hungry enough you will eat the escargot whether it's part of your best possible diet or not.
You can't eat ideals or values. You can only eat food.
Knowing how to adapt doesn't just mean trying new and exotic foods while you are living in the easy and accessible nutritional abundance of modern civilization. To master your adaptability it is important to know how to get the proper nutrition in hard times as well. I don't want to bring any doom and gloom thoughts into the nice and comfortable exploration of your best possible diet, but it is important to know where and how to get food when things are rough. If there are no more trucks bringing produce from Chile, and the organic restaurants can't source any more eggs for your favorite omelet, how will you eat then. This is when exploring your environment will help you to know how to adapt in any nutritionally scarce situations.
I want to acknowledge that this is a long article. I applaud you for reading this and I hope that you found some value in these ideas and principals.
Most articles on nutrition or specific diets try to offer answers, like how to loose weight fast or how to have more energy or why eating GMO's are bad. This article is designed to aim you in the direction of the truth of your own personal best possible diet. Not the truth about some diet that someone else has decided is the best.
So this article asks many questions of you, because the experience of truth is so much more valuable than knowledge, facts and ideas.
This article does come with a guarantee. If you honestly take the time to answer the questions presented above, of yourself, and explore the principals offered, you will be able to design your best possible diet. You will also know more about who you are, what you want and where you live than the majority of people alive today.
To know your best possible diet it is of utmost importance to learn to listen to and trust your gut. If you ask the right questions in the right way your body will tell you the truth about your best possible diet, because no one else can.
Yours in Health