It’s time for another Ask The Nutritionist article. You ask, I answer! Together with CAP Beauty, we explore your food curiosities and dive deep into the world of nutrition, macro and micro. This month, readers want to know -
Meredith, please tell us, is a 100% plant based diet best for everyone or should I listen to my body and feed it what I believe fuels it best?
I love your question, Emma. It’s one I've received by many clients over the years!
I completely understand why you feel conflicted with the overabundance of health information we're exposed to daily. The amount of information is at an all time high, which makes things all the more overwhelming.
What is the ideal diet for humans to thrive?
There are many factors that determine vibrancy. I customize my foundational health plans according to each client’s own unique health backgrounds, needs and goals. So if you were my client, we would dive deeper. The following is what I recommend in general:
ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL
I believe there isn’t one food plan for everyone because we all have different medical histories, ancestry, genetic mutations, varying epigenetics, stress levels and emotional attachments to food.
TRUST YOUR INTUITION
I'm a big fan of listening to one’s body and own innate wisdom. Unless your intuition is guiding you to eat doughnuts for breakfast every single day (once in awhile may be good for the soul though), it’s a wonderful practice to tune out and tap in.
Since day one, I’ve guided my clients to tune in to their inner voice. This can take time, practice, experience, trust and clearing out old debris (physically, emotionally, spiritually) to get to your truth. If your sense is that eating lots of plant based meals and incorporating fish and meat makes you feel best, I think you have your answer. Keep tapping in.
YES, EAT MORE PLANTS
Incorporating more plants (preferably seasonal and organically and locally grown) in both raw and cooked forms is ideal for almost everyone. Both offer major value. Veggies contain sun energy, cleanse, build healthy blood (especially the green ones) and reduce inflammation. Make veggies the star of all your meals.
CLEAN ANIMAL PROTEIN
This is the most important factor when consuming animal protein (especially in the United States). Eat the highest quality, ethically sourced, organic, wild, free range, grass fed (and grass-finished) animal protein available. Period. Do not skimp on this aspect.
Yes, it is that important for everyone’s individual health and the health of the planet. Get to know your farmers and purveyors. If you live in a city, go to your local farmer’s markets and meet them in person. There are many excellent documentaries about the dangers of factory farming. I encourage all to become educated on the topic.
I'm also a huge fan of the principles of food combining. To me, it makes sense and works really well. The basic rule is when consuming animal protein: always pair it with a raw, leafy green salad (whatever you prefer) along with low starch veggies, raw or cooked. Starchy foods don’t digest easily with animal proteins. (Editor's note: for a deeper dive into food combining, check out these interviews with Meredith's colleagues and food combining maestros here and here or go straight to our CAP Beauty x Bonberi Food Combining Chart.)
Give your gut some extra love. Raw, water-containing, enzyme-rich veggies help “escort” the denser animal protein through the digestive system.
LET GO OF GUILT
Be easy on yourself. Life can be challenging enough. Enjoy whatever it is you are eating at the time. Your next meal can always be elevated, if you choose.
We require different things at different times, especially women, who go through three distinct biological phases in their lifetime. There may be phases where you find you require less animal protein; other times, perhaps more. Go with it.
As modern humans, we have become quite disconnected from the earth and nature. Coupled with, again, much opposing information out there, we often find ourselves on what can feel like a long and arduous journey trying to discover what works best. Be patient. Have gratitude. And always trust yourself in the end.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek advice from your health provider before altering your routine.