Still looking for the magic formula to achieve your health and wellness goals? We’ve got it!
Just kidding. But the good news is health professionals are starting to agree that the secret is more of a “choose-your-own adventure,” and are shifting from broad brushstrokes of wellness advice for the entire population to a more tailored approach to wellness. Even the 2020 USDA Dietary Guidelines got in the personalization game with new recommendations for tailoring your meals based on affordability, food availability, and personal, cultural, and traditional preferences.
The concept of personalized nutrition is still in its infancy, but the results have been promising. Additional well-designed, reproducible studies are truly needed to understand the impact of personalized nutrition and if it fosters better long-term behaviors. But we encourage you to look further into some of the ways people are personalizing their plates and find a fit that might be right for you.
Talk to the experts. Registered Dietitians (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN) are uniquely qualified to help you navigate your personalized nutrition needs and goals. Professionally, dietitians have earned a bachelor’s degree at minimum, with coursework focusing on food and nutrition science in addition to psychology, physiology, business, and more, passed a national exam, and then maintain annual continuing education — that adds up to a robust toolbox of knowledge, strategies, and skills they can use to help you find your wellness mojo. Contact an RD on the Bon Appétit wellness team by clicking “ask us” on the wellness tab of this site or find a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist near you.
Take an intuitive eating approach. This “ditch-the-diet” lifestyle change teaches us to hone in on hunger and fullness cues while personalizing what we eat with a focus on foods that satisfy us. It utilizes 10 principles, with the final one teaching individuals to make food choices that honor health and make them feel good. The gist — one meal or day does not define you: it‘s the cumulative nature of your eating pattern over time that matters. Learn more about intuitive eating here.
Explore functional nutrition. Functional nutrition is a branch of functional medicine – a patient-centered approach to managing chronic diseases. Information about your life, from nutrition and sleep to emotional stressors and family history, is used to determine triggers leading to illness. Food is the first line of personalized therapy, followed by other lifestyle and behavioral changes. Registered Dietitian Nutritionists practicing integrative and functional medicine support patients throughout the process and work to customize and alter nutritional plans for sustainable change.
Tailor eating behavior to your genetic and microbial makeup. Startups collecting everything from bloodwork to stool and saliva samples are willing to analyze and provide reports and recommendations based on your individualized needs. While this is an emerging field, research has not linked biological makeup reports to enhanced effectiveness of personalized nutrition advice. We recommend always working with a healthcare professional to understand testing data before making sweeping changes.
No matter the approach — high-tech, low-tech, or somewhere in between — looking at your wellness goals through a personalized lens may hold the key to longer-term success. Find an approach that engages your personal preferences for eating patterns, family influences, as well as learning and behavior change.