More Evidence: When it comes to diets, one size does not fit all

beach-1168473Have you ever heard of “glycemic index” (GI)? This is a way foods are categorized depending on the way they affect our blood sugar. Many people believe we should avoid foods that have a high glycemic index because those foods are supposedly likely to trigger a high insulin release which in turn will make us store fat. I am not a big fan of GI or looking at the gycemic index of foods because there is not enough evidence regarding how mixed meals affect us. For instance, if you eat pasta which has a high GI but have it with meatballs, what happens?

Well, a recent Research Study (check out the details) shows that people react differently to different glycemic loads. In other words, one person may be able to eat a certain food and not have any reaction regarding blood glucose whereas another may spike their blood sugar which eventually may lead to weight gain.  We all can’t have lab work to see how our bodies respond to one food or another, however we can accept that a diet may work for a friend, but now for you. Again, if you are grasping at whatever comes across your path as a possible quick fix to your concerns about your weight, remember, you are unique.

With the holidays looming ahead, and people starting to panic about food, eating and weight gain, and thinking about what diet they are going to take on come January 1, 2016, I am hoping you take a minute to get real. There is no perfect diet for you, or for anyone. There is no magical weight or body size that will make you happy.

Instead, what do you think about keeping it simple? What would happen if you decided you would instead focus on feeling good? What does that mean to you? Do you need to work on getting more sleep? Do you need to figure out a way to incorporate some fun physical activity into your life? AKA exercise…..don’t like that word because it insinuates something that is not fun. So you need to make it fun for YOU. Because moving makes you feel good.

What about eating? Eating is more complicated than you would think, and I can say that because I listen to what people eat pretty much every day. And I know how people struggle. Yes, you do need to think about it to a point. If you do not plan, you will not be healthy. Period. If you don’t buy healthy food, you will not eat healthy food. If you do not know how to cook, you will probably need to eat fast food or eat out often, and that will not only be unhealthy (after awhile) it will also make you broke.

So yes, it does take some time and planning to feel the best you can feel, but at least you do not have to waste your time and energy and money on just another diet plan that may not work for you anyway.

Instead, do the simple thing you did when you were 5. Eat when you are hungry. Stop when you are full. Whether it is a ham sandwich or a bowl of ice cream, remember when you just could not finish? or, remember when you needed more? That is intuitive eating, young children have it until adults step in to force them to finish, or restrict them because they did not finish, and then they learn to tune out the natural mechanisms that regulate us every day, every meal, if we would only listen. (Note: those with disordered eating may not be able to do this. If that is you, hopefully you are working with a therapist and dietitian so that you can eventually get reconnected to your natural body signals).

My old college roommate Marion and me at the annual Manchester Road Race in Manchester, CT

So during the next month, over the holidays, try to eat your favorite foods, but listen to your tummy like you did when you were 5. Feel good. Eat enough, but not too much so that you don’t feel good. It’s just food. Go do the fun stuff, like playing football out in the cold, or running a road race with your old college roommate,  because that is what you do on Thanksgiving. We all know people who can’t eat because of a medical condition, or who can’t play football or run a road race. So, if you can, it is the time to be thankful.  Happy Thanksgiving!

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