Good question that I’d love to talk about. Each individual’s dietary strategy is a response to their own unique metabolic or physiological need. I talk about low carb and Paleo the most because they apply to the broadest range of dietary needs, and frequently start people with a standard form of one or the other. After a few weeks on a general eating plan, we make individual adjustments according to that person’s response to the plan so far.
Low carb eating is a particularly good weight loss plan that is sustainable long term, with a few variations possible. Ketogenic (extremely low carb) eating can work well for endurance athletes, or for people facing challenges from cancer or neurological or psychiatric problems. Moderate low carb is appropriate for people wanting a slow gradual weight loss program, or a maintenance program after significant weight loss. Moderate low carb is also a good eating plan for cancer survivors. Very low carb is a good way to wake up a sugar-dependent metabolism to the possibilities of reduced sugar intake, lowered serum insulin, and better recycling of the body’s fuels and fat deposits.
Paleo is an eating plan derived from evolutionary observations, one that helps many people with the ailments of modern life, which might include overweight. If you read any number of the Health Topics on this site, you might notice the frequent mention of “food allergies”, and the importance of eliminating suspect foods for the resolution of almost any disease process involving inflammation. Paleo starts by eliminating the big food allergy groups – grains, dairy, and legumes – and then is possibly further modified for auto-immune or other disease by eliminating additional food groups, usually one by one, after consultation. Re-introducing problematic foods can happen after health problems are resolved, on an individual basis and to a limited degree.
Digestive disturbances with lots of bloating? Perhaps you’re sensitive to the FODMAP foods and need to modify your diet to eliminate those offending short-chain carbohydrates. Fruit, milk, grains and other foods go onto the “trial of avoidance” list.
Seeing a link between gut disturbances and remote symptoms, perhaps involving the skin, or headaches, or even depression? The GAPS diet might be right for you.
Hives a problem? Might need to consider a histamine reduction diet.
High homocysteine and abnormal MTHFR on genetic testing? You’ll need a detoxifying diet and some supplementation that will help your meager stores of properly functioning B vitamins.