How to start a diet

People often ask me what is the best way to start a gut-healing diet. “From your weakest point,” I answer with a smile. It depends if your current weak link is your body, suffering distress that dictates immediate relief, or if your current weak link is your mind, resisting restrictions and change.

A motivated dieter, or one that is fighting a current flare or medical condition, will often do best by starting the diet in its most restrictive form, and gradually expanding food choices as health improves and they can tolerate more foods. Starting the diet in its most restrictive form and introducing new foods slowly allows for faster progress, as the gut heals and health is restored more quickly. The gradual introduction of foods also helps in detecting and addressing food sensitivities that may slow or hinder long term healing.

A reluctant dieter, however, is more likely to adopt the diet and succeed long term by inching into the restrictions slowly, starting with small changes and gradually implementing new boundaries until new eating habits are formed.

Examples of starting with many restrictions and expanding the diet slowly and gradually include:

  • Staged SCD as described on the site Pecanbread
  • Autoimmune Paleo as described on this site.

Examples of starting the diet with a short introductory stage include:

Do you need a personal diet adviser? A GI doctor? A general physician? A registered dietitian? A naturopath? A personal chef? A diet lifestyle coach?

Whether you want to start the SCD, AIP, GAPS, Raw, or any other diet, you will encounter a steep learning curve as a beginner. Do you need a paid advice? Not necessarily. We must differentiate between NEED and WANT.

You NEED one medical professional (preferably one that is covered by your health-care insurance) to oversee your general health and prescribe periodical lab tests to monitor progress. This professional should also advise you about safe combinations of diet and medications. NEVER stop medications without medical supervision and NEVER start using supplements without medical supervision.

When choosing medical advice, be aware of the drug dealers. Those doctors that don’t believe in diets and persistently push drugs, or naturopaths that push supplements galore. Tread with care and seek second and third opinions until you find a skilled and trusted medical professional you are comfortable with

You may WANT to hire help to walk you through daily diet challenges and give you practical diet advice, but this is not a necessity. You don’t have to get a second job in order to enjoy the benefits of a healthy therapeutic diet. First, you must differentiate between medical professionals (those with formal medical degrees licensed to practice medicine), and between a variety of other advisers that offer dietary guidance. Make sure you understand the meaning of different adviser’s titles, what those abbreviations mean, and the level of education these titles involve. If you can afford it, you can pay for a variety of diet helpers. Heck, you can even find and pay people that will chew the food for you. Literally and metaphorically.

In any case, regardless of financial means or busy life, there is no substitute for personally learning and perfecting your own diet. The path to research is at your fingertips. Yes, the Internet can be a jungle, and it may be hard to figure out which are the reliable and trusted online sources, but it can be done. Most importantly, you owe it to yourself to be an active navigator of your own wellness. Do your own research, understand the science of each diet, and find helpful resources and support groups online. Your knowledge is your power- don’t give it away.

You can hire advisers if you can afford them, hire kitchen help, order food online, pay and delegate as much as you choose, but remember that some things you can’t pay anyone to do for you. No one will carry your pain for you, no one will digest your food, no one will pee or poo for you… so whether you hire help or not, NEVER DELEGATE YOUR HEALTH MANAGEMENT.

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