The only general diet advice that makes sense
The problem with diet advice is that there are so many different factors at play, and context is often overlooked.
What might be really helpful advice for one person at one time might be “bad” advice for another person. It might have even been bad advice for that same person at a different time. That doesn’t mean the advice itself is inherently flawed. The factor that I think we so often forget to consider is that the person who this advice or protocol is being applied to is an evolving being, whose physiology is changing based on numerous life circumstances and demands, and whose psychology is also changing.
Life skills and our maturity in relation to them have nothing to do with age, and they do not mature automatically. If you’ve never been taught how to manage your finances or keep a tidy home, you may still operating at the maturity of a 16 year old in those areas. Same thing with nutrition! If that's the case, it's going to take some patience and learning to get a grip on this, and that's totally ok.
Furthermore, you may have developed coping mechanisms throughout your lifetime that involve food or exercise, and it isn’t until you uncover those patterns that you’ll be able to truly settle on a more freeing approach.
There is no one best diet.
Science can point us towards the truth, but at the end of the day, you are still your own unique combination of variables and the only prerequisite to actually figuring out nutrition is your mindset. Are you willing to take responsibility for you? Are you willing to own the fact that your goals, your life experiences up until this point are completely unique to you?
Sure, there are a million sources out there who are providing bullshit information. No doubt.
But there are also a tonnnnn of sources on top of that that are providing solid info. But here’s the thing. Even though those “good” sources are grounded in some truth, it doesnt mean that it's the truth that you need right now. And you are literally the only person who can discern what is actually right for you right now. So if your mindset is currently “just tell me what to do” that mayyyy deserve some rethinking, if of course, you want to eventually move into a place where nutrition and body image and fitness and all of that doesnt run your life. I personally think there is more to life!
You’ve heard people say “do what’s right for you” before. Sometimes at the end of a long proclamation about their own beliefs and what worked for them, people will add something to the sentiment of, “But do what works for you.” While this phrase has likely been overused and overlooked (and sometimes used an insurance policy for flaw in their own advice), I think it’s extremely important.
A good nutrition coach will help you discover what makes your scenario unique. They will provide good, science-based information, but ultimately, they will guide you to figure this shit out for yourself!
Sometimes, if you have a very clear cut goal, like if you’re an athlete or bodybuilder, it's very easy to create a plan. Why? Because your scenario— “athlete” or “bodybuilder”—is already pretty clearly defined.
On the other hand, perhaps you’re more like “Mom of 3 who has been chronically dieting my whole life and I just want to lose 10 pounds and stop counting calories forever.”
You can see how the approach for that person might be a bit different than “bodybuilder.”
Of course, even athletes have their individual nuances, and a good coach will be able to zoom in and account for them. But the fact is that the general approach for those types is going to be all about precision. For our mom of 3, the initial approach may literally be to throw precision out entirely and just eat whatever you want whenever you want (as a way to reset from chronic dieting).
Let’s take counting calories or macros for example.
There is literally nothing inherently wrong with tracking your food intake in order to approximate nutrient quantities of what you’re consuming. Like, if we’re really being objective, there’s nothing wrong with tracking food, right? It doesn't make us a bad or harmful person.
But, if we apply this rather benign task to someone who has been taught to fear eating too much or they will gain fat and that their worth is tied to their body fat levels… well you can see how suddenly this hyper focus on quantifying food amounts can become restrictive and more harmful than good.
Now, let’s apply this exact same task of tracking food intake to someone who wants to improve athletic performance. Fuel intake—specifically fat, protein, and carb intakes—will have a very clear, direct correlation to their desired outcome of better performance.
Of course there are scenarios in between where tracking food can be useful, or not useful. It can be very educational; it can help us learn more about what’s in our food and how it affects us. In some cases, tracking food intake actually breaks people from the bonds of the “good food, bad food” mentality. But you likely don’t want to track your food forever. And feeling stuck in this way of eating can become limiting. Again, it’s all about context.
I know some people love to be black and white, no grey. But if you can’t tell, I think that type of thinking applies to very few circumstances. And if it does apply, it has an expiration on it.
If you’re an athlete now, you’re not going to be an athlete forever. And you certainly aren’t going to be training for peak performance all year round.
At some point you’re just going to want to be human.
So if we’re really looking to figure out the best approach to nutrition we need to be able to take the gifts that science and experience provide us, and use our own eyes to discern what is truly best for us, and what is best right now
...(with the help of wise guidance always encouraged).