I will never forget a lecture I heard many years ago where a very wise man was asked during the Q&A what the best diet was. He paused and looked at the questioner and stated, “The best diet is that which you can digest.” Everyone chuckled including me. I thought at the time it was a slippery way out of not answering the question but now realize he was speaking a potent truth.
Science has been trying to answer the question about the best diet and at this point I think that science is coming to the same conclusion as the wise man. The bottom line is that everyone is very different in the types of foods they can digest. A wonderful diet for one person will be poison to another.
There is a considerable amount of data that shows carbohydrates like coke, white bread, ice cream, white potatoes, candy etc can have a negative impact on one’s energy levels and mood. However, there is other research that claims that sweets are instrumental in maintaining a good mood.
What to do?
I think the wise man’s advice is important to take to heart and calls us to experiment with our own diet. We need to try out different foods and try stopping different foods to see their impact. Get a good sense of what your body can digest easily and where it might have trouble.
I would suggest a good first experiment would be to cut all refined sugar for two weeks and see what it does to you. Do you feel better? Worse? Do you have more energy? Is your mood more stable? Did you lose weight? Is your sleep impacted? What do those around you say about you? Other experiments include cutting back simple carbohydrates, (sugar, white flour products, white potatoes etc.) Another possibility is to experiment with high fat versus fat free products and see what those do to you.
Start experimenting and reap the benefits of knowing your own body. When the body is happy, the mind is more likely to feel good!
Tom Golden is the author or three books, Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing, The Way Men Heal, and Helping Mothers be Closer to Their Sons: UnderStanding the Unique World of Boys. Tom was the creator of the youtube channel Men Are Good and served as the vice chairman of the Maryland Commission for Men’s Health. He has been a therapist in private practice for over 30 years.