It’s a pretty good question really. Let’s get one thing straight first up. I don’t advocate for the air-aterian style diet, so the latter (starvation) certainly isn’t an option to take you to wellness. But there are SO MANY conflicting ideas floating around the place and have been for some time now, people are seemingly confuzzled.
What will actually work for me? How do you actually know? If you only hear ONE thing today, please open your mind to this;
There isn’t ONE lifestyle that will suit every single body.
Call me Switzerland if you like, but I’m all about collaboration. Yes I’m an expert on the IQS panel (which by the way is about to kick off again – June 4th!) and YES, I recently had the pleasure of speaking alongside Pete and the crew as part of the Paleo Way Tour. Am I a confused? Only if you think so. Here’s what I know from my experience of clinical practice. We are all unique and we need to find our very own groove.
So, how do you know if you’re good to have grains, if carbs are your enemy OR if sugar is a bad idea? You can easily start, by listening to the sweet sounds your body serves up to you. But to help you understand a little better, I’m going to share with you today what I find works for specific ‘types’ of people, again knowing this is a massive generalisation in itself. Even in these very specific instances, there may need to be a little tweaking, or simply removing grains or refined sugar will absolutely be a step in the right direction. But if you can know a little more of what your body needs, then you can be better guided in your choices and remove a little of the ‘scary’ factor.
First and foremost, in almost ALL cases, before embarking on any regime, I recommend cleansing. This is a chance to give your digestive system a reset whilst cleaning out anything that might be lurking. There are some important rules with cleansing, especially when it comes to looking after your hormone health. This means following through with easily digested foods, loads of fluids, regular meals and going gently. To do this, I recommend my 5 day cleanse – Cleanse Yourself ($19). This program maps it all out for you which is why I created it. A little digestive sweep is the best way forward, to kick start your liver and have your digestive system ready for the next stage. Anybody can generally cleanse with the right program.
QUITTING SUGAR (eliminating fructose)
Now most people will thrive with less sugar, no doubt. We are consuming far more than our bodies can generally handle, yet like politics, we seem divided on the idea of leaving the white stuff behind. But really, how do you know if you should quit it all together? Conditions where the thyroid is in disarray (think hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, thyroiditis and hashimotos alike), I find this is your best option. We’ve heard my buddy Sarah Wilson speak openly about her experience of quitting sugar for that very reason. I asked her if she she immediately knew once she started if this was right for her. Here’s what she had to say; “I have an autoimmune disease and had been told for years I should quit sugar. The idea was far too scary to contemplate, as it is for most. (Tell someone to quit, say, peanuts and they just don’t shudder in the same way). I then decided to experiment with the idea and quit for two weeks. I wrote about it for the newspaper column I was writing at the time. It felt so good, so right – I lost weight immediately and had much better energy – that I just kept going. And going. It’s been over three years now.” For those with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, this too can be your first point of call especially where there are high androgens (mostly testosterone – with symptoms alongside irregular periods like facial hair, weight gain and acne) or if you have signs that your body is insulin resistant (difficulty in losing weight, hormone imbalance, irregular or missing periods). For those with insulin resistance, over time the body can’t actually process glucose well and this becomes a huge issue. Same goes for conditions like fructose malabsorption and hypothalamic amenorrhea – removing sugar can allow the hormones to fire back up and find their groove again. For more info on the program, click here.
For those of us with a condition that has stemmed from poor gut health from say overuse of antibiotics, medications like the pill or high stress or poor constitution, I find leaning more towards a Paleo lifestyle is best suited. Think conditions like leaky gut, gluten and dairy intolerances, IBS, inflammation (arthritis, osteo and rheumatoid arthritis) and skin issues such as psoriasis and eczema, as well as diabetes. In cases of PCOS that arises from low hormone activity (very often post pill) or hormone imbalance (unlike that mentioned above which is driven from too much testosterone) Paleo may be your answer as it steers away from inflammatory trigger foods like grains, dairy and refined sugars. For this same reason, those suffering from adenomyosis and endometriosis will greatly benefit from removing these foods which often contribute to the inflammation, making the symptoms far worse. Most people who switch to removing these foods and eating from more of a primal perspective rapidly see improvements. I asked my mate and master mind behind The Paleo Way, Pete Evans exactly how he felt after he switched to a more primal lifestyle. His words, “My digestion, my skin and my vitality improved quite dramatically when I adopted the paleo way, not to mention losing a chin or two…haha!” Paleo has worked for Pete – he is living proof of that.
Being vego can be a bit of a grey area. It’s not really so much a movement as such but for many based on preference – be it ethical or choice. For some living predominantly on a plant based diet with animal bi-products can be a ‘short term’ solution, much like a cleanse to pave the way forward. I find for patients in the early healing stages of Endometriosis or treating the initial phase of acne or inflammation, sticking to plant based food sources can be wonderful. What I often see long term however is that the hormones start to play up, as they crave the amino acids found only in meat. Perhaps following either the IQS philosophy or the paleo way from a more plant based approach may work best, with a very small amount of meat as your body asks for it might best suit. Here’s what I say to patients, “If your body is thriving on a vegetarian or totally plant based diet it, you will absolutely know. Your skin will glow, your hormones happy, your menstrual cycles regular and your mind clear. But if you are living a very different story, that is your menstrual cycle is all over the shop (or non existent), you’re constantly cold, foggy and feel drab – this lifestyle most likely isn’t suiting you.” In almost all instances, our bodies will begin to tell us something has to change.
AND FOR THE REST
Of course, there are thousands of conditions that can pop up, certainly more than I’ve mentioned here. If you are healing your body from an illness, then what you do to nourish your body counts with every mouthful. It’s important to remind ourselves that our bodies will always steer us in the right direction if we allow. If your hormones are happy, your gut healthy and you feel great, then there may be no great need to drastically alter your diet just because everybody else seems to be but being mindful that what you eat plays a huge role in your ongoing health and wellbeing is something we must be aware of. You more than likely can handle a little more fructose or maybe you won’t feel gross after nibbling at rice, equally it doesn’t mean it’s open slather either – a whole food, primarily organic without processed foods diet is a must across the board. For those treating and recovering health conditions, food is absolutely medicine and we must remind ourselves of this. Common sense must also prevail. Nobody is going to lose an arm if they over eat broccoli or broth and time and time again I am perplexed at times as to why we constantly ridicule what we perhaps don’t really understand simply because we’re maybe afraid to make the necessary changes we likely need to feel better. Change is the way forward. Without it, you’ll go nowhere.
Perhaps you’re in the stages of recovering from an illness and your diet is working for the most part but you still feel something is missing. This is where I insert the assistance of Chinese Medicine – because even though you might be suffering from IBS or Endometriosis (or both!), no two people will be treated the same. It may mean that whilst you for the most part feel fabulous without inflammatory foods, it’s still the types of foods you eat and the way you eat them that may be the icing on the cake. I’d love to see you in my clinic sometime to really take your wellness to the next stage and help you nut out exactly what works for you and why.
Finally, there’s no benefit to fearing food, that just sets up unhealthy habits. Embrace food for its nourishing and therapeutic properties and learn how to feed yourself exactly what your body is asking you for.
**TODAY IS THE LAST DAY FOR EARLY BIRD TICKETS FOR THE UPCOMING MELBOURNE EVENT – DEBUNKING YOUR THYROID. To learn more click HERE.