If you go on the internet nowadays to search for anything “health” or “nutrition” related, you’re going to find an overwhelming amount of “experts” touting their “scientifically-proven” diet. If you’re in a desperate search to regain your health or eating mindset— it’s easy to become overwhelmed.
For me, throughout my eating disorder and health recovery journey, I have taken on every eating style you can name. Vegan? Yep. Paleo? Only what you could hunt and gather. Keto? No fruit for me! But none of it stuck with me— I consistently found myself seeking a better diet that would finally be “the one.”
But here’s the thing— I had it in me all along to know what that diet is. After years of playing around with foods, realizing what sat right with my stomach, even getting my gut biome tested, I knew what was right for me. The problem was that it didn’t fit into any of these strict diet labels.
Then, I read about the concept of bio-individuality. Let’s break that down. Bio means “life” in Greek. Individuality means “the particular character, or aggregate of qualities, that distinguishes one person or thing from others; sole and personal nature.” Mostly, it’s the concept that each person is different, based on many different characteristics.
I’m sure we’re all aware of this. We walk around with different hair, eye, and skin color. We are shaped differently. We speak differently. But these are all aspects of ourselves that don’t dictate what food is right for our bodies.
What does dictate our nutritional needs is what our bodies are deficient in, the kind of diseases our bodies have, and, personally I believe, our genetics. We lose touch of being connected with this intuitive eating ability because of the plethora of information that is out telling us how we “should” eat. Food marketing is prevalent in a modern society, and soon we catch ourselves eating what is more so food-like substances.
How to gather information on body
So now you may be wondering, how the heck do I figure out what is right for my body? Well, there are multiple ways to go about it.
Listening to your body
Your body is a powerful vessel– it naturally provides us with a lot of information. With our busy lifestyles and disregard for our health in pursuit of external goals, it’s easy to lose touch with being able to recognize the body’s natural signals. Think of an animal: they know when to eat, when to sleep, when you move– it’s all intuitive for them. We are animals as well. If you listen to your body, it will tell you a lot of the information you’re seeking. If there is a food that doesn’t sit well with you or a type of exercise that leaves you feeling sad and depleted, then that’s priceless information that your body is giving you. Listen to it. Write that information down. Let your body naturally guide you to your optimal health.
Testing via your Doctor
Intuitive Living is the ultimate goal, but the quantified self (gathering data on your living habits and body) may be more up your alley. The best route to go will always be your doctor. You can get a variety of tests done through your primary care physician. These include:
- Amino acid test which tests your blood plasma for metabolic imbalances
- Metabolic analysis also deals with your metabolism
- Oxidative stress analysis uses a blood sample to check the body’s oxidative stress and antioxidant reserve
- Food sensitivity tests allow you to figure out which foods you might not digest well
Testing at Home
Sometimes navigating your doctor’s visit can be difficult– they’re not always receptive to their patients asking for specific tests. Luckily, several companies allow you to do tests at home.
Everlywell is a company that makes lab testing easy and affordable. I haven’t tried them yet, but I have heard great things about them! They have a comprehensive Food Sensitivity test, along with other testing kits like Hormone, Metabolism, and Inflammation.
This company uses a stool sample to test your gut biome. I had this done on me several months ago. Testing your gut biome helps your realize what bacteria you have in your but, which foods you should eat/avoid based on those bacteria (or lack of), and how to balance your biome with different supplements and diet changes.
If you decide to use their kit, the code Kirstie50 will get you $50 off your purchase.
How I apply this data
Knowing my specific ailments, food sensitivities, and methods of movement that are best for my body, I tailor my lifestyle accordingly. I practice intuitive living– just with a little more data thrown in. I focus more on foods that I know I thrive off. I listen to my internal body cues such as hunger, fatigue, and being full. I move according to how my body feels rather than how I think I should exercise. I listen.
All of this is to say that slowing down, trying out new foods, and getting in-tune with what my body is asking has been a game-changer for me. Now, I actively choose not to regard specific articles or podcasts that get into how one diet is best for all (Nowadays, Keto seems to be the reigning champ for that). Certain foods are more nutritious than others. I steer clear of all fast-food and try to avoid overly processed food. I’ve found a general way of looking at our eating habits that Michael Pollan put forth to be a great way to eat by. “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Yep, that sounds about right.