For years I’ve asked myself what would be the perfect diet for me. (I’ll clarify, right off the bat, that when I speak of “diet” I am referring to the sum total of the foods one eats, not some caloric restriction food plan.) I’ve have spent years tweaking my food and have found that the way I eat has evolved as I’ve watched how I feel and how my body reacts when eating certain ways. While I have reasons for all the food choices I make, I also know that each individual is different and needs a different food plan. Anyone that advocates a one size fits all diet is bound to catch people short.
My most important goal in eating is optimizing my physical health and avoiding lethargy, upset stomach, and headaches. I know other people choose diets based on spiritual reasons (vegan or vegetarian) or simply on taste or convenience. Some people, when they don’t feel good, use drugs (coffee, tea, chocolate, ibuprofen) to make themselves feel better. This actually doesn’t work very well and long term their health just deteriorates. I prefer to ensure good health with good diet.
When I was a teenager I had headaches daily. This was in part due to stress. However, my way of eating contributed to it strongly. Finally, in my mid twenties I found the perfect food. It made me not have headaches and I always had energy. For about a year 75-85% of my diet was nothing but blue corn flakes, soy milk and raisins. I felt great! I eventually, outgrew the plan and that food combo, unfortunately, doesn’t suit me anymore.
These days I’ve settled on a plan that is omnivorous in order to maximize my feeling of well-being, but still I think their may be a change needed. I don’t always feel great after every meal and I have a lot of cravings. The cravings are stress induced in part, but I think there may also be a physiological component. Since I read about the tooth decay diet I’ve been considering changing my food plan. To protect teeth a diet that limits grains and focuses on vegetables, dairy, and meat is recommended. (When I say meat, I mean the flesh of animals that swim, fly, and/or walk.)
Food plans are another thing that must be designed based on inner direction. I get information about food choices from outside sources, but the final word is my own inner experience. A quick analysis of what I’ve been eating for the past year reveals that I consistently choose meals that are 48% carbohydrate, 14% protein, and 35% fat. I was surprised to learn how low in protein my diet was. I always feel like I am eating a lot of protein. I also thought I was higher on the fats and lower on the carbohydrates.
A typical day looks like this:
Breakfast: 1 cup rice with 1/2 T coconut of flaxseed oil. A bowl of homemade lentil soup or chili con carne. 1/4 pound raw carrots.
Lunch: Salad: 4 ounces of Kale or other dark greens, 2 ounces of feta cheese, apple or handful of raisins, 1 avocado. maybe 1 ounce corn chips
Next Meal: 3 ounces figs, 2- 3 ounces sliced cheese
Dinner: 2 slices homemade banana custard rice bread with 2 cups yogurt.
My breakfast was always the same and the rest of the day could vary more. My goal would be to balance some protein with whatever I was having at each meal. That’s why I thought I was eating so much protein.
I think my reservations with increasing protein is that I ultimately would like to not have to contribute to the killing of animals or the slavery of animals (milk production). And while I’m on the topic, milk production can only be possible if a animal has a baby and those babies find themselves transformed into meat at some point. So, to me, eating dairy may be less ethical than just eating meat. And this is from someone that has raised and slaughtered animals and kept a few milk goats. Although, my milk goats were pygmies and their babies were sold as pets and not food. But I digress,
Anyway, I am a curious sort of person and after reading the tooth decay diet I tried reducing my carbohydrate intake. This worked for a couple of days then it slipped back up. Yesterday I started a more concentrated effort. My plan is to increase my protein to 21%, my fat to 52% and keep the carbohydrates at 27%, roughly.
In my looking around at diets on the web I stumbled onto Dr. Mercola’s nutritional typing and his nutrition plan for beginners, intermediate, advanced souls. His information seems to be pretty good and at least worthy of contemplation. The free nutrition typing test he offers relies mainly on self-reported reactions to food and meals. This is exactly how one needs to be evaluating a plan designed for optimal wellness. He groups people into three categories: protein types, carbohydrate types and mixed types (which of course is me). The protein people do best with 40% protein, 30% carb and 30% fat (but that can vary -see his site). The carbohydrate people (about 15% of the population) are happier with 60% carbs, 15% fat, and 25% protein. And the mixed people are somewhere in between. (Mixed types get to use trial and error to figure out the optimal plan.)
What I noticed is that in all instances the protein was higher than what I was eating and substantially higher than the recommended daily allowances. I’m curious if the change will reduce my cravings. So far I’m having less trouble with cravings. Perhaps I’ve outgrown my “perfect” breakfast of beans and rice. It worked for many years. More will be revealed. I welcome your thoughts.