Nutrition is a relatively new science, so it is no wonder there are contradicting reports on almost a weekly basis about what is considered ‘healthy’.
Low carb! Low Fat! High Carb! Fasting! Ketogenic! Unicorn Tears!
This ever-changing advice can get extremely confusing and take us further away from our intuition around food. You may even find yourself completely stressed out before each meal, trying to choose the ‘healthiest’ option based on which articles you read that week. Or maybe you have ever found yourself eating a certain way based on what is 'trendy' or worked well for someone else who seems to be the epitome of health, but you still aren't feeling your best. For this reason, I have created a list of questions to ask yourself when trying to determine if the 'diet' you currently have is working for you or not:
1. Are you satisfied?
If you find yourself craving sweets, need dessert after every meal, or feel hungry again shortly after eating, your meals may not have the proper macronutrient ratio to keep you satisfied. As a general rule, aim for 40% carbs, 30% fats, and 30% protein at each meal. (Consisting of real food sources of course :)) For example, a meal containing a piece of steak, sweet potato, and salad with olive oil will likely leave you much more satisfied than a bowl of cereal.
2. Do you have balanced energy throughout the day?
If you do, great! (Assuming you aren't constantly consuming sugar and/or caffeine). However, if you experience a lot of energy spikes and crashes during the day (especially right after meals) this is a huge indicator that your diet needs a bit of tweaking. I talked extensively about this in my last blood sugar post.
3. Do you feel deprived or have intense cravings?
Did you know that certain cravings can mean different things? For example, a chocolate craving can signal a magnesium deficiency, a craving for salt can signal stressed out adrenals, and constant sugar cravings can be indicative of a candida or yeast overgrowth. Our bodies are smart and have ways of asking for what they want! Instead of feeling like a slave to your cravings, addressing the underlying vitamin/mineral deficiency can often be a simple fix.
4. Are you always thinking about food?
One classic sign of under-eating is constantly thinking about food and planning your next meal. If you feel like you are unable to concentrate at work or carry on normal day to day activities without thinking about food, it may be time to increase your caloric and nutrient intake.
5. Is your weight stable?
Weighing yourself is totally unnecessary! However, looking at the way your clothes fit can be a good indicator of whether your weight is stable (despite normal fluctuations). If you find yourself consistently reducing your food intake and continue to gain weight, this can be a sign of a slowed metabolism* that can be reversed through increasing amounts of nutrient dense proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Think of your metabolism like a fire; the more wood you add, the bigger the flame becomes. Similarly, the more food you eat, the faster your metabolic rate becomes.
*This can also indicate hypothyroidism; however if you have been a 'yo-yo' dieter for many years, it is more likely that your metabolic rate has slowed in response to a caloric deficit.
6. Do you have any chronic health concerns?
This could be anything from Anemia, IBS, dry skin, acne, endocrine problems, insomnia, fatigue, arthritis, thyroid disorders, digestive disorders, anxiety, depression, eczema and the list goes on and on. If you are suffering from any of these problems, it is extremely likely that your body is in a state of imbalance. Underlying problems like food sensitivities, mineral deficiencies and insufficient digestion are all underlying causes that must be addressed if you want to find the root cause of your symptoms.
Does your current diet leave you feeling famished?