How to Assess Your Unique Dietary Needs:
Each person has unique needs in terms of how protein, fat and carbohydrates are digested and utilized by the body for energy. Eating in a way that is appropriate for you, and only you, is key to good health. On top of this, it is vital you learn how to listen to your body. Only you can become an expert on your body. This is done by carefully paying attention to what your body tells you. If you eat something that you believe is healthy but it makes you have gas or bloating, then it probably isn’t right for you at that time. Keeping a daily food diary is a great idea for getting into the habit of watching your body.
Biochemical needs can be divided into three categories but it is better to think of it as a spectrum of possibilities.
On one end of the spectrum you have:
These people tend to:
-have an intense relationship with food
-feel hungry frequently and have a big appetite
-have trouble sleeping when hungry
-get irritable when hungry
-prefer “heavy” foods such as steak, potatoes, cream, butter, organ meats, pork
-be indifferent about vegetables
-have a sweet tooth and often overeat sweets
On the other end of the spectrum you have:
These people tend to:
-have a relaxed attitude about food
-don’t mind missing meals and sometimes forget to eat
-can go longer periods without eating and feel hungry but still feel OK
-be able to fall asleep even when hungry
-prefer salads, vegetables, light meats and fruit
-be less voracious with snacks and sweets
-do OK on a vegetarian diet
In the middle of the spectrum you have:
These people tend to:
-be somewhere in the middle of the other two types
-share characteristics of the other two types or none of them
-enjoy a large variety of foods and prefer diversity in the diet
Remember this is a spectrum. Everyone falls somewhere on this spectrum. You can be somewhere between mixed-favoring and carb-favoring or between mixed-favoring and protein/fat-favoring.
Protein/fat-favoring people need a high percentage of protein and/or fat. Organ meat, dark meat, dark colored fish and seafood are primary foods. Cheese, eggs, high-quality oils, low-carb vegetables, fatty fruits, nuts and seeds and other meats are complementary or secondary foods. Sweeteners, beans, grains, moderate to high-carb fruits and vegetables, and milk, yogurt and kefir should be consumed last and with considerable caution.
Carbohydrate-favoring people need a high percentage of carbohydrates. Low-carb to medium carb vegetables and fruits are primary foods. Grains, bananas and high carb-veggies may be fine but should be consumed with caution (watch your body to see how you react to these foods). Yogurt, kefir, milk, eggs, light-colored fish, and light meat are good complementary or secondary foods. Dark meats and fish, fats, oils, fatty fruits, nuts and seeds should be consumed with caution.
Mixed-favoring people need a good balance of carbs/fat/protein. Ideally a mixed type person would eat some protein from the carb type AND protein type list and some low AND moderate carb veggies at every meal.
If you feel that you are in between somewhere then start off conservative. You can always add things later.
Typical Protein/Fat-favoring meals (always eat meat first):
Pork sausage with eggs eat sausage first
Bouillabase soup cooked in fish stock (with plenty of scallops, shrimp and clams), celery dipped in guacamole
Steak, cottage cheese, spinach and mushroom salad with plenty of olive oil
Snacks: nuts, cheese, prosciutto, olives, pate
Typical Mixed-favoring meals: (where you are on the spectrum will determine what you eat first, leaning toward PT eat meat and cheese first, leaning toward CT eat veggies or dairy first):
Homemade pork sausage, mushroom and tomato omelet, yogurt
Hamburger (no bread) with cheese, steamed broccoli and cauliflower with butter
Some dark meat and some white meat chicken, sautéed (in butter) kale, green beans
Snacks: cheese and berries, peanut butter and banana (with caution), celery sticks or green beans with sour cream sauce, prosciutto with arugula
Typical Carbohydrate-favoring meals (eat fresh fruit and veggies first):
Fresh squeezed orange juice, soaked oatmeal
Fresh vegetable juice (carrots, beets, bell peppers, celery, fennel), tomato, lettuce and cucumber salad, sautéed collards, lightly cooked flounder
Fresh vegetable juice, bowl of butternut squash soup, white-meat chicken
Snacks: fresh fruit, cut up veggies with lemon, yogurt, kefir, salad,
Always remember to eat the foods that are most nourishing to you first. Through trial and error you will find what sorts of meals work for you. These are the factors to look out for when observing your body:
- energy level
- hunger level
- mental clarity
- meal satisfaction (overeating and under-eating are clues)
- bowel movements (should be well-formed, easy to pass, and relatively odorless)
- GI comfort level (gas, bloating, constipation, heartburn, nausea are all signs that what you ate didn’t agree with you)
- Quality of sleep
- Aches, pains, colds, acne, rashes, cramps, PMS, etc.
Where you lie on the spectrum can change at any time due to weather changes, monthly cycle, stress-level, travel, etc so be aware of this and pay attention to your body.