I’m often asked what we should be eating, whether it’s for a certain meal, after a workout or in a more general sense of what the perfect diet on a day-to-day basis actually comprises of.
But with all the ever changing information and contradictory pieces of advice, it’s easy to see why this concept is so difficult for people to get their heads around.
After all, anywhere you look you are inundated with choices and constantly bombarded with new fads or trends.
From Paleo to Atkins, Gluten free or even 5:2, all offering conflicting arguments and all claiming to have found the Holy Grail in regards to what healthy eating is all about.
But the reality is with so many ideas around they can’t all be right, or can they?
Let's take a closer look and find out.
What it all boils down to is everyday your body needs a range of both macro and micro nutrients in order for it to properly function and perform tasks from growth to repair or fighting off disease.
Without diving too far into the nutritional science behind it all, macronutrients consist of protein, carbohydrates and fats, where as micronutrients are vitamins and minerals.
You get these nutrients in varying amounts primarily from the foods you consume, which is why it is so essential your diet is balanced to ensure you are getting sufficient intake of what is required.
Failing to do so can lead to deficiencies, which in turn can cause a whole host of issues, from fatigue to depression, cramps or even dry skin.
The problem at hand is ideas related to eating are often blown out of proportion, taking a concept that is actually quite simple and unnecessarily overcomplicating it in an attempt to attract consumers.
It’s easy to do as well, as every year there are millions of people lining up to throw their hard earned cash at anything that promises to help them finally shed those unwanted extra pounds and a whole host of businesses doing everything they can to get their share of a multi billion dollar a year industry.
Therefore, with that being said, in the grand scheme of things any diet that ensures you get the full range of nutrients we require can promote optimal health, regardless of the fancy marketing that accompanies it.
Still not convinced?
Well let’s use a real world example of some of the most common current trends:
While on the surface diets such as Paleo, Mediterranean or Vegan all seem wildly different, if you look closely at the principles behind them, they all have one commonality on which their foundations are built:
All three recommend eating a diet primarily based around whole foods from mostly plant based sources, with a minimal amount of processed foods. Not only that, but it is pretty common for most other mainstream diets to follow suit.
So while they may differ in how protein, carbohydrate or fat intake are structured, along with vastly different views on animal products, their core belief of encouraging a plant based diet remains the same.
The takeaway message is that whatever you decide to follow, just ensure the basis of what you eat comprises primarily of vegetables and starchy carbohydrates, ensuring you also incorporate some form of protein at every meal, as well as healthy fats.
As for anything else, there is no one size fits all approach.
So if that's the case, what does it mean for you?
Well whether it’s fasting for certain periods or eating like cavemen that appeals to you, as long as you are fuelling your body with what it requires to function there is no right or wrong answer, no matter how hard someone tries to convince you otherwise.
At the end of the day everyone is different and because of that the ‘perfect diet’ is simply the one YOU can stick to and enjoy.
This is largely also why I am so against the entire concept of dieting all together, as one thing I’ve found time and time again is that the people who are most successful with not only losing weight, but also keeping it off are those who stop dieting and start mindfully eating instead.
The reality is dieting in a traditional sense simply doesn’t work.
It didn’t work for me and it hasn’t worked for the millions of other people who embark on this journey every year.
The only way you will get lasting results is to change the way you approach and look at food, as you start living a life free of restriction, counting calories or obsessing over what you eat.
That however is another topic for another day and something I will be expanding on soon.
But for now, what does the concept of the ‘perfect diet’ mean to you?
Use the comments below to join the discussion and post any questions, views on insights.