It seems like everywhere you turn, there’s someone jumping on the low-carb bandwagon. But just because others around you are doing it doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
BY: LEIGH WAGNER, PhD, MS, RDN
It’s a familiar story. You see a friend post a photo on Instagram of a beautiful spinach salad with avocado, eggs, tomato and a caption: “Working our way through Day 11 of this horrible Whole30 plan. I don’t know what will be more of an accomplishment – Finishing or getting my husband to eat Spinach, Kale and Broccoli for 30 days.”
There is currently so much messaging in the media to avoid grains and go extremely low-carb, such as Whole30, keto, and Paleo. While there are those who may benefit from giving a grain-free diet a try, it’s only worth the time, effort, and discipline if it truly improves a person’s quality of life without making them mad for an entire month out of the year.
News flash: all these low-carb diets are not for everyone.
Just as a vegetarian or vegan diet is not for everyone. This is by no means dismissive to the fact that eating whole, real, unprocessed foods has benefits to your health. However, it’s not for everyone for several reasons.
1. The Way You Eat Shouldn’t Piss You Off
Making a dietary, nutrition, or lifestyle change is a choice. You’re doing this of your own volition. You’re choosing to make these changes. No one else is choosing it for you, and no one else can choose it for you. If it makes you physically or mentally stressed, upset, angry, frustrated, annoyed, or any other negative adjective, then it’s not for you. Or at the very least, it’s not for you right now.
On the flip side, if you need to attempt a dietary change to see if it could help relieve physical symptoms you’re experiencing, then you may need to push through the challenges of these new dietary changes for enough time to see if it makes a difference for you. In that case, work through it with the support of a health professional who can ensure you’re getting what you need.
2. Your Dietary Needs Are Not the Same As Your Neighbor’s
People always like to ask the question: “What do you think I should eat?” Remember that every single person has a different metabolism, biochemistry, gut, health history, lifestyle, family, family history, genetics, and every other aspect of their lives that are unique to each person. Similarly, a trendy low-carb diet work for your coworker or friend, but it may not be healthful for you.
3. Food is a Social Act (not solely a physical need)
Our health is not just about what foods we put in our bodies, it’s also about how the food is shared and enjoyed. It should be pleasurable and enjoyable to taste your food – even healthy foods. When you stop spending time with friends, then you’re missing an important health need: fellowship and community.
Ultimately, you decide what is a healthy choice for you.
A low-carb or vegan lifestyle may help alleviate pain, fix digestive problems, or even make you feel better about yourself in the way you’re living your life. That being said, every person’s health is his or her own individual journey, and we all need to find what is both physically and emotionally “right” for each of us. If it fits those needs for you, that’s wonderful! But if you try it and you hate it, or it doesn’t make you feel better,
Then it’s not right for you.
Adapted from the original article.
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Leigh Wagner, PhD, MS, RDN is an integrative and functional medicine dietitian who helps health-conscious people solve complex health issues. She is based in Kansas City and helps individuals discover the “why” of their health problems. As a lifelong learner, Leigh works with clients to dig into the roots of health issues and symptoms that are difficult to uncover so they can live their best lives.