Paleo. Mediterranean. Raw, vegan, gluten-free. With so many different diet options out there, figuring out which one is best for you can be overwhelming.
Proponents of each diet will say that their nutritional program is the very best one, but the reality is that everyone's body is unique and that no single diet could possibly be a perfect fit for everyone.
The ideal diet for you is one that eliminates foods to which you have a sensitivity or allergy, and also includes a range of nutritious foods that suit your tastes, lifestyle and health needs. By figuring out which foods you should avoid and which ones to keep, you'll be able to create a personalized program that will be a sustainable lifestyle instead of a passing fad.
Step 1: Elimination Diet The first step to determining the best diet for you is to find out which foods you should avoid, and following an elimination diet is one way to find out if certain foods are not compatible with your unique digestive system.
A whole range of health issues can be the result of food intolerances, and individuals often don't realize what the cause is until the culprit is removed. The elimination diet is basically a research project on how different foods affect your body and the way you feel.
The elimination diet begins with a very simple meal plan that is repeated daily for three to four weeks. The foods in this meal plan are restricted to fresh, whole, unprocessed foods that typically are easy for the body to digest and are free of toxins or additives.
There are numerous online resources that explain the specific restrictions of the elimination diet, but most resources will recommend eliminating gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, corn, pork, beef, chicken, beans, lentils, coffee, citrus fruits, nuts and nightshade vegetables.
If there are any items on the list of your approved foods to which you think you may have a sensitivity or allergy, be sure to eliminate those items as well for the initial phase of the diet. It's important to note that even though some people do lose weight while following an elimination diet, the purpose of this diet is to discover food sensitivities, not weight loss.
After the initial phase, you reintroduce food groups that had been previously eliminated. As you begin to consume new food groups, you'll notice how they impact your body and the way you feel. Be sure to keep a food journal to make connections between any new symptoms, both physical and emotional, immediately following and up to several days after consumption of a previously eliminated food.
If you start to have any negative reactions within the few days following the reintroduction of a new food group, you most likely have a sensitivity or intolerance to that food group and may want to consider permanently eliminating it from your diet.
Step 2: Determining Which Foods Make You Feel Your Best Once you've figured out which foods you want to avoid, you can more easily determine which foods should form the foundation of your diet.
Dr. D'Adamo's research in anthropology, medicine and genetics led him to develop a system in which the style of diet and exercise that people should follow is determined by their blood type.
For example, blood type O people achieve the best state of health with intense physical exercise, lots of animal protein and less dairy and grains, while blood type A people are better suited for meditative exercises like yoga or tai chi and thrive on organic plant-based diets.
Ayurveda is a holistic health system that was developed in India roughly 5,000 years ago and classifies individuals into constitutional types, or "doshas," based on physiological characteristics.
There are three doshas (or set of characteristics): Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and everyone can be identified as predominantly one or some combination of these.
Health is achieved when individuals find a balance of all three dosha energies, and dosha-based diets are intended to pacify the dosha that presents itself most dominantly while allowing the other doshas to come forward.
For example, Vatas are typically small, thin and restless or hyperactive. They're encouraged to follow a Vata-pacifying diet, which includes warm, rich and oily foods with sweet, salty and sour tastes and excludes cold, raw, pungent and bitter foods.
Pittas tend to have medium to strong builds and intense dispositions. A diet that pacifies Pitta energy favors sweet, bitter and astringent tastes, while eschewing foods that are pungent, salty or sour.
Kaphas tend to have the largest physical builds and calm, reflective personalities. The diet recommended for Kaphas is made up of light, dry, spicy foods with little to no sweet, salty or oily foods.
Step 3: Creating a Personalized Diet Plan Now you can create a diet that works for your body: For example, if you are a Vata whose elimination diet revealed that too much meat makes you feel heavy and sluggish, you might want to follow a flexitarian diet, which is made up of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and vegetarian forms of protein like beans, peas, nuts, seeds and eggs.
If you have type O blood with a sensitivity to dairy, you may want to consider a Paleo diet that is high in protein, low in carbohydrates and eliminates dairy, grains, legumes and refined or processed foods.
Ultimately, any dietary plan you choose should make you feel good and be sustainable over time. Instead of trying to fit yourself into a single diet plan, try combining elements you like from a variety of different diets or adjusting aspects of specific regimens to meet your needs.
Include vegetables with a variety of colors, and be sure that you are getting a good balance of nutrients -- including enough protein, carbohydrates and fats to support your dietary needs -- and you will have created a healthy, enjoyable diet plan that is tailored just for you.
Do you follow a specific diet, such as Paleo or flexitarian? Or do you pick and choose guidelines from different types of diets? Do you find it difficult to follow a particular diet in the long term? Let us know your thoughts on Facebook with #bennieblends