What’s the best diet plan?

Written by James Gormley, Natural Products Industry Writer

According to Michael Pollan, the most sensible diet plan is to “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.” That seems easy enough, but recent research about microflora in the gut suggests it’s not that simple. For some people, the wisest plan of action is to follow a whole-food, plant-based diet; others might fair best on keto; and some may do just fine on Pollan’s plan, with a few added treats every here and now. This suggests, the question we should be asking is not ‘what’s the best diet plan?’

Instead, we should pose: What is the best diet plan for me and the 100 trillion bacteria that live in my digestive system and on my skin and tongue? To answer that question, you can get a microbiome analysis, then talk through the results with your nutritionist, functional medicine practitioner, and primary care physician. However, if that’s not feasible for you, we’ve got some tips.

Message in a stomach

What meal gives you a distended stomach? You might find yourself thinking, fried foods make me bloated, or my mom’s eggplant parmesan is worthy of the Gordon Ramsey taste test, but it leaves me on the toilet for hours. In some cases, a vegetable group considered healthy might be the culprit. 

Conclusive research on the gut is still out, but what we do know is that people’s guts react differently to foods—even ones considered healthy, such as broccoli, beans, and bok choy. So, one of the best ways you can determine what diet is best for you (and your weight-loss journey) is to pay attention to how your body reacts to different foods.

  • Which meals leave you feeling nauseous and bloated?
  • Do you notice a turn in your energy after eating a particular food?
  • If you menstruate, are your cramps and fatigue worse?
  • When did you feel the healthiest in your life? What contributed to that?

Keep a record

Once you notice how you feel and look after eating certain foods, including herbs and spices, keep a record. Buy a notebook and devote it to “loving your gut,” and write down your body looks and feels after each meal. Consider how that meal was prepared and the ingredients included—were they organic, local, or both, as this can inform on soil quality.

With record-keeping, you’ll notice themes: foods that help you function optimally and foods that drag you down. Eliminate the foods that don’t contribute to your body’s function, and see if your stomach, energy, and waistline improve.

When it’s not about food

Optimal body function and weight loss both have to do with what and how we eat. However, there three other things to consider:

  • Do you consume a protein-rich and fiber-heavy diet?
  • Do you get enough quality sleep at night and remain active during the day?
  • Do you drink enough water, especially before meals?

As you work to achieve a healthier relationship with food and the gut, we also encourage you to adopt healthy mental habits.

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