If you’re alive and you eat food, chances are, you’ve wondered at some point: what’s the best diet? Nutritional experts and coaches are asked this all the time, and some even claim to have found the answer. It would be so much simpler if there was truly one perfect diet for everyone, but human nutrition just isn’t so neat and tidy. Our body is continually growing and evolving, and at each stage of development we have different metabolic needs. Indeed, the “perfect diet” for any given person can change from year to year or even season to season. In this thoughtful new video from IPEtv, Emily Rosen, Director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, explores this ever-changing landscape and offers some great suggestions for tuning into your inner wisdom and finding the right diet for you. It just may change how you think about nutrition.
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Here is a transcript of this week’s video:
In my work in the field of Dynamic Eating Psychology, I love talking to people about their relationship with food. And whenever I get into a conversation about nutrition with someone, the questions they most often ask me are: What should I eat? AND which is the best diet to follow?
Is there such a thing as the “Perfect Diet”?
Behind these questions is the assumption that there is indeed a perfect diet out there somewhere, and all one needs to do is find it. But consider for a moment the implications of a perfect diet. Perfection implies sameness. If we all followed the perfect religion, everyone would think and act similarly. Likewise, if everyone ate the one perfect diet, we would all be eating the same food, and the nutrition experts would be out of business. Maybe not such a bad idea!
Underlying the idea of the perfect diet that will perfectly nourish us at all times is the hidden assumption that the body has the same nutritional needs at every stage of development. But, as we know, nothing could be further from reality. If there is any guarantee that comes with living in a body, it is change. Each second, ten million red blood cells are born and die. The stomach lining completely regenerates in a week, a healthy liver in six weeks, and the skin surface in a month.
Scientists postulate that 98 percent of all atoms in the body are replaced within a year, 100 percent within seven years. From conception to adulthood, the body grows from one cell to one quadrillion cells. Even within the course of a day the body undergoes a wide range of physiological changes. It rhythmically shifts in temperature, metabolic rate, respiratory function, brain wave patterns, endorphin production, hormone and enzyme production, and energy output. Perhaps the most noticeable changes in the body occur in health. We move through aches, pains, coughs, colds, tensions and sensitivities, along with periods of relative health and high energy.
A changing body means a changing diet.
With all these changes in the body, doesn’t it make sense that our nutritional needs change? A single diet could not possibly keep pace. A changing body means a changing diet.
You have not had just one body in this life – you have had many – and each of these bodies has called for a different way to eat. Consider the dramatic shift that occurs in the life of a newborn as it makes the transition from umbilical-cord nourishment to breast or bottle. For the first time it must carry out the function of digestion completely on its own. Few of us would complain to an infant that it is getting too much fat in its diet – mother’s milk is 52 percent fat – or that it needs a wider variety of foods. For its particular physiology and activity level, it is eating the perfect diet.
The introduction of solid food marks another important transition for the child. Its body is growing rapidly, and its digestive system must meet a completely new set of challenges in breaking down and assimilating complex molecular foodstuffs. The infant may grow to be an active toddler, a high-school athlete, a health-food-eating college student, an office worker, a parent, a partygoer, or an invalid, with each of these different “bodies” calling for its own special nutrition.
So if you’ve been looking for the perfect diet, it’s time to let go. Relax, observe the body you live in, the life you lead, the season, your climate, your likes and dislikes, your level of health, the exercise you do, the yearnings and cravings you experience – and mix them all together in the spirit of experimenting to discover what’s best for you to eat. You’ll likely discover that the “perfect diet” is a mystery to be lived each day.
I hope this was helpful.