What is the Best Diet?

By blog team member, Kiran. To learn more about Kiran, check out our team page or her blog!

I’m guessing that I got your attention with the title of this post for one of two reasons: (1) you’ve asked yourself, “What is the best diet?” at some point in your life, or (2) you want to know the answer. Or maybe even a combination of both.

What's the Best Diet on 100 Days of Real Food

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Here’s the thing. Most people have wondered about the best diet at some point, so you’re not alone. I’m certainly no stranger to trying different diets myself, but first, let me define the word “diet.” Because I’m not only referring to a “how can I lose weight” mindset, but I’m also talking about the best foods to eat for your body. In fact, the definition of diet is actually “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.” So whether your goal is to lose weight, feel great, or achieve optimal health, many of us ponder this question. Myself included.

I was excited to recently learn about bio-individuality which means… 

Each person is unique. Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all right diet for everyone. Individuals all have different needs and should eat the foods that make them feel their best.

My Food Intolerances as a Child

I was lactose intolerant as an infant. I was breastfed for three weeks, after which I was fed soy milk. But somehow along the way, my parents discovered that I was actually okay with dairy. Then when I was 9 years old, I realized that I was not, in fact, okay with dairy. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that it was the end of ice cream, cereal with milk, yogurt, or cheese. Pizza without cheese was not the norm with my friends, but it worked for me, so I went with it.

I also had digestion issues with lettuce, citrus fruit, and other acidic foods when I was around the same age. My parents didn’t do much looking into it – nothing like we’d do now with Googling, chasing doctors, etc. I simply knew what worked for me and what didn’t, and so I didn’t eat what didn’t work. Sounds pretty simple, right? Right.

My father is Indian, so I grew up eating Indian food daily. I remember craving red meat more than it was offered. Every year on my birthday, I chose to go to a restaurant that served the best ribs. It was always a highlight. But when I was 17, the low fat craze was in fashion, and a few girlfriends were into the rage. I decided I would follow suit – and I haven’t eaten red meat or pork since.

My Ever-Changing Diet Continued into Adulthood

Fast forward to 2013. I was returning from a big natural foods conference where something gave me the inkling to take things a step further and try being vegetarian. Though I hadn’t eaten much Indian food since my younger years, I knew I could get back to the lentils, beans, and such, and I already strived to eat as many vegetables as possible. So why not, I thought? I wanted to see what all the hype was about.

My diet has clearly changed dramatically over time, and I’m pretty sure that it won’t stay the same for the rest of my life. We are all programmed differently. As they used to tell us in preschool, we are all special. ;) So what works for you may not work for me and vice versa. And what works for us at different times in our lives will also vary.

What is Bio-Individuality?

I’m currently enrolled in the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and will graduate in February. Some people enroll to better their knowledge of nutrition for themselves and their loved ones, and others enroll to become a health coach. I personally enrolled because I wanted to further my knowledge of nutrition for another project I am working on. But that is another story!

All of this diet stuff is on my mind because one of the main focuses at IIN is bio-individuality, which, as I mentioned above, means each person is unique, and for each person, a specific way of eating is going to be the best answer for them. What I love is that this theory resonates with what Lisa preaches and also with what I realize I’ve been experiencing in my life. Just because gluten free is a fad (for some!), it doesn’t mean you have to jump on the bandwagon, and when low-fat was popular, I shouldn’t have followed along. So the moral of the story is, instead of trying the latest craze, listen to your body. See what works for you and makes you feel good. Your body will definitely let you know when you find the right answer!

What’s the Best Diet FOR YOU?

So if you are still wondering about the answer to the question, “What is the best diet?” The best diet is the one that works FOR YOU. It includes real, unprocessed foods. It may include meat (local, grass fed, and/or organic if possible), and it definitely includes lots of fresh, colorful fruits and veggies. Whole grains, whether with or without gluten (depending on what works for you) is also something to consider. Listen to your body. It will tell you exactly what is the right formula. Just for you.

Have you experienced a change in your diet over the years? I would love for you to share it in the comments below! And if you are interested in learning more about the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, their next classes starts on February 11 (an accelerated class that completes in 6 months) or March 18, the year program.

Update: Because I am a graduate of IIN, they’re offering a bonus to help you get started on your own health journey. Call (877) 780-5455 or email admissions@integrativenutrition.com and mention 100 Days of Real Food for the discount and more info. Or if you have specific questions for me, you can email me directly at kiran(at)100daysofrealfood.com.

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17 thoughts on “What is the Best Diet?”

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  1. Balance your choices

    Generally speaking, if you could divide your plate into quarters, two of the four sections should be filled with healthy fruits and vegetables like watermelon, raw veggies, and other non-starchy foods. It’s ok to enjoy one serving of carbs along with your meat and veggies.

    Instead of skipping the less-healthy side dishes you love, balance your choices by taking a small serving, and then skipping other things you don’t love as much. If dessert is your weakness, allow yourself a small piece of cake or pie, but skip other less-healthy dishes to maintain balance.

  2. Yay, Kiran! I’m so happy for you!! I loved IIN and had a major shift in my thinking when I was introduced to bio-individuality. Up until then I was a hard-core vegetarian, with periods of veganism, and strongly believed it was the right way to eat. After IIN and especially after coaching people, I’ve learned that each individual has tune into their body and find what works for them.

  3. My diet changed when I started to experience some hip problems in my 40’s. My Mom has a history of hip problems and actually had surgery last year. I wanted to avoid the same problems.

    So, after doing some reading, I decided to become a vegetarian. My hip pain disappeared. So has my taste for meat. I thought I would miss burgers and all the things that used to be my favorite. Now, I crave salad and fresh fruits more than anything I ever did before.

    Based on my history, I so agree with your philosophy. My body was telling me that something needed to change. When I listened, it stopped causing me problems :-)

    Thanks for your website and cookbooks. I have benefitted so much from both – and so has my family – husband and 4 kids. Blessings to you!

  4. Diet has changed heaps in our household over the last few years. It started because of intolerance to preservatives which kicked us back to a natural diet, pretty much like you discribe. Life is busy for so many and it is good to devote a day to preparing meals, side dishes, ahead or at least cooking double batches each meal time.

    1. Kiran Dodeja Smith

      So true, Pat. Sometimes I think this is the only way that I can get unprocessed meals on the table.

      Interesting about your preservative intolerance; I developed some of these after my 3rd child also, but mine were a lot of preservatives in medication (novocaine, lidocaine, etc.). Makes you really think about what you are putting into your body,

  5. I grew up on so much processed food, I didn’t realize that it wasn’t normal to always have a cold and a stomach ache. It just was part of the norm. Starting in college I really began changing my diet, partially because I had to feed myself for the first time, and partially because my best friend was a health nut. I’m spent the last 10 years learning to cook, doing a ton of research, and finding foods that work for my body. It’s a daily struggle to find the foods that work not only for me, but for my family as well. My husband has issues with dairy, eggs, and dill, and doesn’t like seafood and meat. My son won’t eat meat, my other son is starting to follow his brother, and my daughter will eat anything under the sun as long as it’s not bland or too mushy. Bio-individuality is both intriguing and overwhelming when trying to feed a family. But I’ve been hearing more about IIN and I think it’s a great resource, possibly something I”ll attend in the future. Thanks for the article!

    1. Kiran Dodeja Smith

      This sounds very similar to me. I thought that the digestive issues and more that I experienced as a child were “normal”, yet it’s been so eye-opening to see what dietary changes can make. I agree that it’s difficult feeding a family with bio-individuality – just another reason to get our kids cooking so that they can help out in the kitchen, right?!

      Thanks for your comment; feel free to email me directly if you have any questions on IIN.

    2. Did you ever figure out what foods were causing your cold-like symptoms? My son is constantly congested and I’m thinking it may not be environmental allergies but food-related.

      1. I don’t know specifically what was causing the cold-like symptoms, I just know I was one of those kids that caught bugs that were going around school, but my kids seem to do much better not getting so much contagious junk. I still do have allergies when I visit my parents in Houston, and I had some in Utah and in GA, so I’m sure it was a combination of environmental and diet-related allergies. My husband’s allergies cleared up when he cut out dairy, but I wouldn’t say they’re totally gone. Good luck!

  6. I lost 70 pounds in 7 months just switching to real food. I don’t call it a diet though. It’s the way I eat now. Processed food grosses me out. I get frustrated when I think about all the lies the food industry tells us especially since I believed them for too long. I use a lot of recipes from 100 days of real food! Thanks Lisa!

  7. I am a graduate of IIN! Welcome to the family :) I have been following a lifestyle of wellness for quite some time now. What I learned at IIN was the cherry on top. You will find some of the information very applicable. I’ll be cheering you on!

  8. I believe no one really wants the answer to this question. They just want to be told what they want to hear. They want to hear that they can eat what they want whenever they want, and then still lose fat. They want to hear that there is no sacrifice, and that they will never feel hungry or deprived. They want a diet that is out of the box, with no effort on their part.

    1. People may want to hear this but it is absolutely not true. If you want to be healthy, have energy and be able to wake up in the morning feeling good, you have to eat real food. I have experienced this first hand. If you eat food. real food, and not stuff made in a lab, you will most likely lose weight and feel so much better. But exercise is also important. Not just to lose weight, but to be HEALTHY and VIBRANT and to LIVE. The body was designed to work, not to be stationary. I get that it’s hard to eat healthy foods and it takes more effort, but isn’t your health and the health of your family worth the effort? Get outside, get away from the screens and live your life.

      1. You’re right about real food but only if it’s only plant based, no animals whatsoever and then Johnny you can eat as much as you want and lose fat. Animals cause so many diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc