Oh dear...the DIET bashing....AGAIN....
I have something I need to say about diets. Here me out. A diet as defined by the Webster dictionary is "a special or limited selection of food and drink, chosen or prescribed for health or to gain or lose weight."
Many folks, whom may or may not understand the true purpose of a diet, are shaming very useful diet strategies because they are "difficult" to do and then discredit them. Check out the US News report. I think there is a misunderstanding about a diet versus lifestyle. An effective diet is NOT designed to be a lifestyle, but a TOOL to gain health. The "diet" is the tool designed to help you design your life, specifically related to what you put into your mouth, so that it can be a sustainable lifestyle. Many of the easiest and most popular diets are not healthy because they do not give you information about your body. Let me speak (write) clearly....
A diet is a TOOL to gain INFORMATION about yourself so that you can MODIFY your LIFESTYLE to fit your PERSONAL health needs.
DIET = TOOL
TOOL = INFORMATION
INFORMATION => PERSONAL HEALTH
There is so much DIET BASHING about PALEO or WHOLE 30 or GAPS or KETOGENIC or AUTOIMMUNE PROTOCOL or MEDITERRANEAN. You may think you are laughing at me, but I assure you I am not laughing with you or at you. I am sad. As you roll your eyes at me, or even say those diets aren't healthy is down right sad. Whatever your personal reasons to disagreeing with any of these diet protocols, that is what it is. If you have tried one of these protocols or "diets" and decided that brown rice (or even gluten) had to be a part of your life for whatever reason, that is GREAT. In fact, you found out some INFORMATION about yourself BECAUSE you tried the DIET.
I have seen many clients, patients and even children have some PROFOUND responses to the above diet protocols. WHY? It wasn't because the initial protocol became their lifestyle so much as the protocol allowed them to understand what certain foods were doing to their body. Yes, in the end their LIFE was changed.
Let me give you an example of a physical therapy "diet" as a model for what I am describing here. This is a generic, yet common example. Patient comes to see me because he has low back pain. Turns out that flexion makes his back worse and extension is what resolves his back pain. Yet, he is a computer engineer and sits for 8 hours/day. His movement "diet" protocol to regain his pain free back is to do standing extension every couple of hours and avoid sitting > 15 minutes at a time or not to sit during healing.
Now, this "diet" causes him some foot pain because he is now standing at his desk over sitting. So we incorporate a few more rest breaks and a few ankle stretches to alleviate the pain. The diet is important because it is allowing him to heal his back, but created or exposed a secondary issue. Yet, in the long run, the "diet" isn't the lifestyle promoted. The diet is allowing him to understand why his back hurts (sitting for 8 hrs) and what makes his back better (extension). The goal of the diet is NOT to never sit, in fact it is the opposite so long as the patient stays with the program long enough to learn what a healthy back lifestyle is after he has healed. After 6 weeks of committed exercise and sitting avoidance, the patient is now symptom free and has full ROM. He can sit without pain. The lifestyle that is incorporated here is NOT the DIET, but components of the diet and what he has learned about HIS back. He finds that if he stands from sitting every 2 hours, his back remains painfree. He alternates now between sitting and a standing desk for his computer work and takes walking breaks. He performs extension-flexion-extension daily to keep an eye on his mobility and increase extension if he knows he will be sitting for more than 2 hours.
His back pain problem is common as a result of too much sitting, so it is developed into a "diet" protocol for other computer programers. A lot of people feel great with this program, but don't go through the full process and end up either in worse pain or with another problem....because they stopped the process too early because their feet started to ache while standing. Others actually started to have more pain in the back, because they actually needed to correct a shift component that the diet isn't directly addressing. Yet, that is still INFORMATION that is important to acknowledge and seek out more help.
My point is....the "diet" wasn't the problem per se, it was the folks participating either gave up too soon because it was too difficult or simply didn't follow through the whole process to really gain the understanding of their body to know HOW to change their LIFESTYLE. Or it actually exposed an underlying issue that DOES need to be addressed. The "diet" actually provided each person with information about their own body.
If we circle back to the diet backlash, you can see by this example that your experience of your Whole 30 or Paleo diet as being hard or producing symptoms, doesn't actually make the "diet" wrong or not possible as a lifestyle. It was never meant to be THE lifestyle for the long term. It was supposed to be the TOOL to give you INFORMATION about problems with your LIFESTYLE so that you could adjust to promote your personal HEALTH.
Here are a few videos to watch. Really watch them. They are based on PALEO/WHOLE 30/AUTOIMMUNE/KETOGENIC protocol type "diet" principles. These are some of the most difficult diets to do yet have the MOST powerful health transformations related to serious medical conditions.
If you are a clinician, these are IMPORTANT. If you are a health promoter, then please do not put another protocol down to promote your own. These are invaluable TOOLS for many and they were never intended to be long lasting lifestyles. They were meant to gain INFORMATION to allow HEALING so you can return to LIVING. My movement "diets" are intended to gain information and heal that will result in a lifestyle change that is possible to sustain, but only when the hard work is done. Ask any one of my patients that has come out on the other side. Each diet is slightly different, yet ALL provide the tools to aid in understanding. These diets don't heal everyone true, yet they often heal MANY. Much like one movement diet doesn't heal everyone.
Let us not diminish their potential benefits by saying they are bad or not possible or too expensive as a lifestyle because it is an absolute disservice to ALL humans seeking to find their own health. Especially since their traditional medical care experience has failed them thus far.
In case I haven't answered the question of "Are diets good for your health?"
YES, especially if it promotes whole nutrient rich foods(yes...naturally gluten free or at least a trial), blood sugar regulation, and anti-inflammatory food components.
NO, if your diet is based on a protein shake or supplement or specific food in a package, moderation of a food that causes blood sugar dysregulation that promotes inflammation for your body or even promotes unhealthy habits.
I would actually say, that TODAY, we have many wonderful diets available that are healthy because if you pay attention and commit to the process, you gain a tremendous amount of INFORMATION about your body in order to change your LIFESTYLE. In fact, I would argue that if it isn't hard to do, then it isn't even worth doing it in the first place. If your new "diet" is too easy, then you aren't getting the information that you actually need to gain a healthy life.
DIET = TOOL = INFORMATION => PERSONALIZED HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
If you find your diet experience was too hard or produced symptoms, then explore the reasons why rather than diet bashing. It may be, that the diet in fact was doing exactly what it was supposed to do, give you information about yourself.
If you are bashing the diet and you haven't even tried it, then maybe it's time to do a little research and start some personal exploration.
Remove. Replace. Restore.
Remove diet bashing because it's difficult or to promote your own recommendations.
Replace with an awareness that diets as used as tools to understand your body are in fact healthy and often times necessary for many. Acknowledge your experience as your own and not as a critical problem with the useful diets.
Restore a sense of community because we are all on the same team.
Eat Well. Move Well. Sleep Well. Soar On.
Dr Carolyn Dolan DPT, Cert MDT, MSHN
Where physical therapy, nutrition and lifestyle meet, because how you live your life determines whether or not you soar. Inspiring action with information so you can reduce pain, optimize healing and improve function naturally during recovery from injury, surgery or painful condition. This is a website for the open-minded; obstinate need not apply.