(Previously posted Feb 2011)
Bio-Individuality. I have been thinking a lot about this word and how it relates to what we eat. Before I delve into details, let me ask you a simple question: How would you feel if you are clothes shopping and the only size available is “one size fits all” and the only colors are “black or white”; there might be a very small percentage of you that are getting excited about the idea, but for the most part it would suck. Why? Because every body is different and varies in shape, size, complexion, and more. What looks great on one person can be hideous on another. Humans strive to express their individuality through the way they dress, talk, walk, look, and do in order to feel their best. So why not express yourself through the food you eat?
The concept of Biochemical (bio) Individuality is based on the philosophy that every person is unique and the “diet” that will work best for each person is also unique and very individualized. In another words, one person’s food could be another person’s poison. Some people swear by the Zone diet and others can’t stick to it even if their life depended on it. Some people thrive on being vegetarians and others whither away without meat. This is because we are all different. Three key components that influence the dietary needs are ancestry, blood type, and metabolism, each of which have been individually popularized by various diets. Along with these biological factors, there are also psychological and environmental influences. The psychological influence is probably the most overlooked and least tangible of them all because it consists of “Listening to your body”. Now before you start thinking this is some hippy talk, hear me out. We are always looking to nutritionists and doctors, self help books and videos for an answer that we already know if we would just slow down and listen. I don’t mean stand on your head or sit like the bhudda for hours on end, but instead understand that every action has a reaction. Every bite you put in your mouth causes a response in your body and mind. Some responses may be immediate (energy or sleepiness) and others long term (diabetes, heart disease). The more in tune you are with your body the better you are able to gauge if the food you are eating is nourishing or harming you. The primary goal of food is to nourish the body and mind, the secondary goal (more like desire) is taste. Unfortunately over the years of industrializing food these goals have gotten reversed. As a society we are now scrambling to undo this damage. Better late than never, I guess.
I am not saying that any given “diet” or “lifestyle” is bad but I am saying that it is not perfect. Call it Zone, Paleo, South Beach, Atkins, etc, underneath the name it’s really just one person’s philosophy on what worked for him or her and most likely it was marketed very well and caught on as the next big fad. Over the years I have tried them all and more. I tried the Atkins, I did the Zone, and I have enjoyed Paleo, but in the end none of them are 100% sustainable. Why? Because being strict anything enforces restrictions. We all have a kid inside of us, the minute someone says don’t do XYZ, that is exactly what we crave and want to do, ultimately stressing out our body and causing a food relapse. In recent years more and more people are buying into the concept that perhaps our bodily organism is truly an intelligent creature which, when left undisturbed, is capable of maintaining a healthy weight, fighting off disease, regulating blood sugar, and being productive. So why are we not there? Well for one, in order for the body to heal itself it must be provided with proper nourishment, rest, and time. All of which we don’t seem to have enough of. Instead, pill fix and crash diets are the solution. Rather than finding and adopting the next big fad “diet” if we spent some time understanding how our body and mind react and respond to various foods we eat then we will have found the “perfect diet” that is tailor made for each of us.
Now, I do agree that in order to get to this level of sensitivity one does have to go through the various cookie cutter approaches. For example the Paleo diet does a great job of cutting sugar cravings, eliminating processed foods, and sweeping the internal kitchen cupboards of all the crap (no pun intended) that is in us. Once this is complete you are now able to accurately asses what works and what does not. The knowledge embedded in any of the mainstream diets should be used to make more informed decisions so that you are mindfully eating rather than mindlessly. Every now and then it’s nice to revisit the strict diets for a refresher and each time you do you become clearer on the bio individual diet that is best for you. Strict anything is a diet and bio individuality is a lifestyle. I don’t know about all of you, but I’d rather do something sustainable than temporary.
Next time you eat something, take a moment after that bite to notice how your body feels in response to and then an hour or so later notice how you feel. Energized and content? Then you had a good meal. Sluggish and moody? Perhaps you need a little tweaking your meals.
Your body is talking, what’s it telling you? Post to comments…
Spring On: Mindful Eating & Asana April 7 from 2-4 pm
In this 2 hour workshop we will explore how to use food, movement, and meditation to support your body’s seasonal changes. Session will include yoga poses, mindful meditation, and nutrition education. For more information and to register click here.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://nutritionize.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Profile-Pic.jpg[/author_image] [author_info] About the Author: Ritu Riyat MPH | Well-being Coach | Yoga and Meditation Teacher
I’m the creator of Nutritionize! I’m also a behavior change investigator, a philanthropist, SF Yoga and Meditation teacher and well-being coach. Nutritionize! offers tips and tools to create your own personal wellness diet with food, movement, and meditation. YOU are unique and your diet should be too. [/author_info] [/author]