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New evidence one-size-fits-all diets aren’t the answer

I feel so much better after changing to a diet with a lot fewer carbohydrates and more fat. It works for me.

But then I have friends who follow an eating plan that is pretty much the opposite and they are do well, too.

For a while now I’ve been thinking that when we’re all done fighting about what’s the “right” way to eat, we’re going to find there isn’t just one one correct eating plan for all.

And, no surprise, I’m not the only one thinking that. In fact, according to a recent New York Times article, personalized diets may indeed be the way of the future.

In the piece, David S. Ludwig talks about an Israeli study that has a lot of people in the nutrition field talking. Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science used a special device to continuously monitor the blood sugar of 800 persons, according to the NYT’s story. The information showed that there were variations in blood sugar that couldn’t be explained solely by what was eaten.  So then they started including other data (person’s weight, blood sugar readings first thing in the morning, etc.) The goal was to figure out what happens to different individuals as they ate specific foods. The results varied greatly.

And as Ludwig shows us, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Earlier, when he looked at data about the different diets, the results vary wildly, too, and behavior isn’t the only reason. (Ludwig is the director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston’s Children’s Hospital.) Atkins might work for me, but not for you. That doesn’t mean one diet or another is “correct.”

Think about it. This really does make sense. Not everyone with, say, diabetes, is treated the same way. The plans are tailored for the individual and how the illness is impacting that person. So why wouldn’t our eating styles, which have so much to do with our personal health,  be any different?

Sadly, Ludwig says it’s still a ways off before we start seeing personalized diets. One thing he points out is that until that happens, it would be extremely helpful if the national Dietary Guidelines get off the no-fat bandwagon and instead promote the idea that when we do eat carbohydrates they need to be quality ones. So true. 

Personalized diets. The current diet industry — which has as its cornerstone the underlying mantra that a person’s weight is all their fault, shame, shame — isn’t going to like that. Those businesses have made a lot of money keeping us fat and have been masterful at making us blame ourselves when maybe it’s their advice that has derailed us.