In our efforts to feel good, look good and live a long life, we seek the perfect diet. Many times a day, I am asked and also ask myself, “What should I eat?” Is the best diet low FAT? Low CARB? Low SUGAR? Low CALORIE? The question translates to what foods are the enemy, the nemesis lined up to attack our wellbeing. The concept of identifying and avoiding the antagonist in our diet is analogous to permitting only joy in our emotions and refusing sadness, grief and disappointment. It is not natural and not sustainable.
When you look at the data comparing diets, there is no one winner and the primary reason bariatric surgery has better long-term outcomes is the comprehensive package that addresses eating habits, exercise efforts and emotional connection to food.
A parallel question to “What should I eat?” might be – “How do I handle stress?” If the answer includes “eat” perhaps it doesn't matter what I eat, but WHY I eat. If I am unhappy with myself, or my day or my life, and use food as a coping mechanism, then similar to using alcohol or drugs to cope, it will negatively impact my health. Managing stress separately from eating healthy is critical to maintaining a balanced diet and a healthy life.
A favorite book of mine, French Women Don't Get Fat; The Secret of Eating For Pleasure, by Mireille Guiliano highlights that joy in food parallels joy in self. Enjoying wine or chocolate in moderation adds to your life. When we are balanced, we are compassion in our own care and nourishing our body becomes a simpler task. What we eat reflects overall balance and balanced eating promotes overall wellness.
That was my long answer to the question “What should I eat?” My short answer is anything that looks like it “comes from nature.” Not that I don't enjoy a Dorito now and then, but if a food can’t be grown or raised in my garden or another’s farm, it should be consumed only in small quantities.