Here is my short answer – any of them and none of them. There are two main things that all popular (and effective) diets have in common:
1.) They eliminate highly processed food.
2.) They are all are great for some people, but not one of them will work across the board for every person.
So what to do?
I began my health path overfed, undernourished and subsisting in sugar like a hummingbird at an endless feeder. And I was pretty miserable. I suffered from anxiety, IBS, skin issues, food sensitivities and just unending nausea and queasiness.
I started out trying a Paleo approach, and I saw immediate health benefits. However, after some time, I felt that I was eating a diet that was too heavy for me. Too much animal protein, very little carbohydrates and no grains or legumes. It was a great diet to follow because I did cut out all processed food. And that made me feel better. However, I became carb-phobic on this diet path, afraid to eat any sort of grain at all. And for me, this led to binging – on the worst sorts of carbs of all – sugary, fat-laden, artificial carbs.
I went vegan then, to the other extreme. And this felt better for me. But more and more sweets began to creep into my diet – as long as they were vegan, after all. And I began to notice that I wasn’t feeling my optimal again. Maybe overloading a bit too much on the grains and leaning away from healthful vegetables. Overlooking sources of protein and good food-combining.
In the end, diets didn’t really work well for me. So I walk a middle path. I eat a mostly plant-based diet with minimal added sugar and occasional, mindfully chosen animal protein. I eat whole foods and feel no deprivation, because nothing is off-limits. I tap into my intuition and ask myself what I feel like eating.
I love food. I love to eat. Finding my own wellness path came about from needing to find a way to eat everything I love, to look forward to each and every meal, and stay healthy enough that I wasn’t sick and miserable. When you find a mindful and balanced way of eating, diet rules and calories don’t count because every molecule of the food matters. It is nourishing and health-giving. Our food choices matter and we are connected to what we eat, so let go and trust yourself to know what is best for you.
Here are three safe rules, if you’re looking for rules, that can apply to eating well:
1.) Minimize and eventually eliminate highly processed foods. Every single junky thing you may be craving can be made in a whole-foods, more nutritious way. So many people are creating great recipes out there! Google it!
2.) You have to like what you are eating. If you don’t, it will never last. As above, find recipes, experiment with different ways of cooking until you find what you like that is also beneficial to your health.
3.) Work on becoming mindful. Become quiet just before you choose something to eat and check in with yourself. What would taste/feel really good right now? Sometimes you’re feeding your body and sometimes you’re feeding your soul. Hopefully, most of the time, you are able to accomplish both.