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Natural Awakenings Boston

What’s the Best Diet for Me?

Dec 31, 2019 04:48PM ● By Bridgitte Carroll

First, we are told to avoid eggs. Now, we should eat them daily. Headlines read “Drink Four Cups of Coffee a Day!” Now, cut back on caffeine. 

Nutrition research is very complicated and hard to conduct. Even nutrition experts can’t agree on the best diet for all. Most nutrition research is based on evaluating a group of people over a period of time while they report what they consume. Remembering what we ate on Monday morning two weeks ago is not an easy exercise. Additionally, nutrition research doesn’t consider individualized recommendations based on genetics, activity level, stress, nutrient deficiencies or lifestyle. However, there is one common theme throughout all nutrition research: Eat whole foods. Whether it’s Mediterranean, vegan, paleo, plant-based or keto, each diet should focus on consisting of whole foods, mainly vegetables. 

The food we put on our fork can be the best medicine or strongest poison that we consume. In mainstream and conventional medicine, the power of using food as medicine in preventing or reversing chronic disease is rarely discussed. Dietary and lifestyle changes require coaching and discussion along with professional input. It’s not our fault that we turn to convenient, nutrient-poor foods. Our modern food system promotes low-quality food in large quantities, and it’s making us sicker. Autoimmune conditions, heart disease, ADHD and prediabetes all have nutritional connections, and by changing the food we eat, we change our biochemistry which will alter our health outcomes greatly. 

For most people, sticking to three balanced meals per day is the best for blood sugar balance, energy and vitality. The meals should include protein, fat, carbohydrates and plenty of color. Base meals around plants, specifically non-starchy vegetables like cauliflower, asparagus, zucchini, onions and leafy greens. Supplement with starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes and squash or add a half to one cup of grains like quinoa or rice. 

Healthy fats, such as olives or olive oil, avocados, nuts or seeds, are blood sugar balancing and very satiating. Make sure to include them at each meal or snack. Finally, add the protein. For most people, three to six ounces of meat or plant-based protein such as organic tofu or tempeh, lentils or other legumes is plenty. If consuming meat, look for local, organic and grass-fed. This is typically okay to include in a weekly menu when using it as a “side dish” instead of the main focus. Similarly, with poultry, quality matters so opt for organic and pasture raised. 

A comprehensive approach to health is crucial. Getting all our nutrients from food is wishful thinking in our modern-day environment where we are exposed to higher levels of environmental stressors, emotional stress, poor soil health and convenience foods. Supplementation plays a big role in correcting deficiencies and assists one to experiencing optimal health. A functional medicine dietitian or practitioner can help determine the best individualized eating style and supplement routine. With individualized recommendations, optimal health is right around the corner.

Bridgitte Carroll, MS, RDN, LDN, is an integrative and functional dietitian in Waltham. She works one-on-one with clients utilizing a systems approach to get to the root cause of bodily imbalances. She is currently accepting new clients at Johnson Compounding and Wellness and appointments can be made at