How to Determine the Best foods for your body

I’ve been slowly changing my eating habits this year as I’ve been studying holistic nutrition and learning more about bio-individuality and the uniqueness of our individual nutrition needs.

For years, I was an off and on vegetarian and tried to eat a healthy diet.  But I’ve learned so much about the best foods for ME personally, and have been experiencing less cravings (especially sugar!!) and more overall energy as I’ve made some simple changes.

Many of you have asked questions about my health coaching program, including how to know what kind of diet is best for you (paleo? vegetarian? vegan?).

Eating the right foods for YOU is a common question.  Over the next few weeks, I’m going to share some of the factors I consider with my clients, and a few tests I use to determine the best food choices to find your healthy, happy balance.

Let’s start with two factors to consider:

1) Genetics and regions

Our bodies have slowly adapted to our food and lifestyles as they have changed over the years, and one of the first places to begin when you look at what your body prefers is to research where your ancestors are from and what their diet was.  Ancestry impacts our bio-individuality and is connected to the kinds of food that your body will (and will not) tolerate well.

For example, people of Asian descent generally do not process dairy very well because it is not a large part of their traditional diet.  In contrast, those from European descent often have an easier time digesting milk, cheese and yogurt because it was a part of their ancestor’s diets.  Here’s an overview of traditional regional diets.

Despite the wide range of regional diets, they are all quite different from the current American diet:

None of our bodies were designed to eat the American diet

Our ancestors wouldn’t recognize the food in the middle aisles of our grocery stores!

2) Blood type diet

I’ve found this concept fascinating.  I don’t think any one test should be considered the final answer for you, but the blood type tests can give tremendously helpful information about the type of diet and foods you thrive on, especially when taken into consideration with the results of other tests.

The premise is that our blood types have changed as we went from a hunter-gather lifestyle (O type), to agricultural (A), to the modern day (dairy and grains- B).  Based on our blood type, we have tendencies to process some foods better than others due to chemical reactions that occur between your blood and the food you eat. The types have resonated with my husband and I, and many of my clients as well.  More information can be found in this book.

There are several other factors and tests that I like to consider, including metabolic testing and Aryuveda types.  I’ll continue this series next week with part two of how to determine the best foods for your body.  And I’m linking up with Jenn today.


I recently began offering shorter programs in the areas that I receive the most questions about including:

  • eating right for your body type (based on blood type, metabolic tests and aryuvedic principles)
  • conquering sugar cravings
  • healthy eating for the whole family

If you are simply curious or know that you need to make changes (lack of energy, bloating, digestive issues, suspected food sensitivities), I am happy to chat to see if this program could be a good fit for you (more details here).

Have you found foods that your body does not tolerate well? Have you ever done testing on your own or with a health practitioner?

96 thoughts on “How to Determine the Best foods for your body

  1. Great read! I’m already gluten-free and I’ve been cutting out meat and feel MUCH better. It’s so interesting to see what works and what doesn’t work with our bodies. Silly question though – how does one become a lifestyle/health coach/counselor? It sounds like the perfect job!

    Ashley @ The Preppy Runner
    Ashley @ The Preppy Runner recently posted..May 2013 BuysMy Profile

    • It is the perfect job. 🙂 I love it! The program I did is through Integrative Nutrition- it’s a holistic approach, focused on natural foods and healing, and includes the whole person (career satisfaction, relationships, stress, sleep, etc) which I believe is the ideal way to approach health. Happy to share more if you have questions!
      Laura recently posted..How to Determine the Best foods for your bodyMy Profile

  2. I didn’t a chance to comment yesterday bc I was reading on my phone, but I just wanted to let you know that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers! Back to today’s subject, my husband has a lot of digestive issues and I really want him to explore different diets but he’s very resistant. Hes convinced he’s going to have to give up gluten, and he really doesn’t want to. I will definitely be reading more about your programs to see if they might be a good fit for him.
    Sarah recently posted..Italian Roast BeefMy Profile

    • Thank you for your thoughts and prayers, Sarah. Yes- lots of people are scared to learn what they might have to give up! He would have to get to a point where he knows he wants to feel better, even if it requires some dietary changes. But it could be something simple… it’s amazing how many people have digestive issues and just deal with it.
      Laura recently posted..How to Determine the Best foods for your bodyMy Profile

    • I had some crazy digestive issues before I changed my lifestyle. I was to the point I thought I needed to see a doctor. But almost immediately after exercising and changing my diet it went away. Now if I eat not good food for several days my body lets me know it’s not working! I’m not paleo/vegetarian or vegan, I just cut out a lot of fried foods, burgers, things that I used to eat a lot of I just eat in moderation now. 🙂
      Sarah @ How My World Runs recently posted..Review, #GoalsCheck and Giveaway!My Profile

  3. Even though I’ve always kind of followed a vegetarian way of eating I have never liked to label it that. Mostly i eat that way because its what I like. Occasionally I’ll have meat just because it sounds good. I’m interested in Aryuveda way of eating/healing. I’ve seen workshops from my yoga studio but have never gone.
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..Vermont City Marathon RecapMy Profile

  4. I read a great book last year that really explores the benefits of eating locally. One of the things it talked about was lactose intolerance and how many people become intolerant of dairy around the age of 4, which historically coincides with the age they are completely weaned from their mothers. It went on to talk about how cultures with a strong herding background, like Western Europe, evolved to tolerate dairy because of their proximity to their livestock, while cultures without a herding influence remained intolerant, like Asia. Had never thought about it that way – absolutely fascinating! Also agree with your point that no one is meant to live on the American diet! We’re teaching our girls all things in moderation but really trying to limit processed foods.
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted..5 Things That Suck about Working from HomeMy Profile

  5. This is such an interesting topic and one I’ve been delving into of late. (and funny how it ties into adoption, b/c I don’t know my genetic background so can’t tap into that knowledge!). I am starting to experiment with more healthy fats/lower carbs right now, as well as less snacking, all in an attempt to help my body burn fat for fuel. I think I didn’t need this so much when I was younger, but I’ve reached a point in life where I do. Which is another factor that weighs into the equation–age, and with females especially, changing hormones/body composition.
    misszippy recently posted..Not the best BQ oddsMy Profile

    • Yes, the fat vs carb burning for fuel is fascinating… it seems we’ve been training our bodies to do the opposite with the emphasis on carb loading the last twenty years or so. And you are so right that sex, age and hormones add all sorts of factors and variations! I’ll be curious to hear how the experiment works for you.
      Laura recently posted..How to Determine the Best foods for your bodyMy Profile

  6. I find the idea of blood type determining diet to be interesting. I have not, though, read the book. I have been eating a mostly vegetarian diet for over a year now. I cannot manage to give up fish or eggs but other than that, no problems. I have had some testing as my mother’s side of the family has had a lot of mid-life celiac diagnoses. I do not currently have such an issue. I guess I just like to eat so keep eating what I want.
    Nicki recently posted..#RWRunStreak – Summer VersionMy Profile

  7. I’m always intrigued by things like this. Thankfully I don’t really have anything that upsets my stomach too much. Recently I have noticed that Greek yogurt isn’t my friend. But other than that…if I stay away from junk food basically, I’m good. I do try to listen to my body in terms of cravings for something salty – find that happens in the summer with running then cravings for PB usually means I’m not getting healthy fats. I definitely think that everyone is different and it takes time to figure out what works best but when you do, you have so much more energy.
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..Perdido Key Vacation Recap in PicturesMy Profile

  8. I’ve been trying to figure this out for a while now! I have very sensitive skin (both frequent breakouts and allergic reactions to creams/soaps) and last fall I gave up dairy after reading a NY Times article linking dairy with breakouts. It helped tremendously! I still cheat and have ice cream or cheese now and then, but even just switching to almond milk and cutting out yogurt (which I also miss) really helped my skin. My doctor referred me for an allergy patch test which I still haven’t scheduled because it requires four days of no exercise or showering, but I’ll go eventually because I’m curious about what it will show.
    So interesting about our ancestors’ traditional diets affecting us as well…what if our parents are from two completely different regional backgrounds?
    Gabby @ Marathons and Macarons recently posted..My NYC Summer ChecklistMy Profile

    • Good question, that’s why none of these can stand alone (in my opinion)… we’re all unique, but combining various factors and tests, we can piece together what’s best for us. And by listening to our body! As you have been. Glad you made the dairy connection!
      Laura recently posted..How to Determine the Best foods for your bodyMy Profile

  9. This is highly interesting. I can’t wait to read more actually. I am honestly trying to seperate foods that make me a bit wonky or that don’t go well with my system. I stopped drinking a lot of coffee (I know shocking…but I only drink about 24 ounces…when I used to drink 72) and that has helped a lot. I have never had good luck with certain flours but have found buckwheat and oat to be good.
    Hollie recently posted..Majestic Diner Review (Long Island area)My Profile

  10. As you know, I’ve studied this for years. It’s fascinating to me. I love playing “detective” with my IBD and IBS clients. EVERYONE is so different, and what’s always the most interesting to me is that those who can learn to manage their OTHER lifestyle factors typically heal a lot faster than those who only focus on food.
    Sarah Kay Hoffman recently posted..Stop the GlorificationMy Profile

  11. At a friend’s suggestion (she eats mostly raw vegan and knows a lot!), I stopped eating dairy because of allergy/sinus issues. Amazing difference — after suffering horrible seasonal allergies year round for years, often getting to borderline sinus infections, I’ve had barely any symptoms. This is my second spring without allergies! Yay! Yes, I cheat sometimes … and depending on how much I eat and what’s in the air, I may or may not experience symptoms. Side effect — a couple years ago I developed rosacea and had flare ups almost monthly, until I quit dairy. Nothing since I went off milk/cheese/yogurt in Summer 2011! I didn’t make the connection until another friend of mine that owns a health store said she recommends her rosacea patients stay away from dairy. Huh!
    Lauren @ mostly i run recently posted..race report: country music marathonMy Profile

    • I’m so glad your friend helped you make that connection! It’s amazing how many people live with issues (like sinus problems, allergies) and don’t realize an easy solution could be something simple in their diet… not that giving up dairy is simple, but if it make you feel that much better, it’s so worth it!
      Laura recently posted..How to Determine the Best foods for your bodyMy Profile

  12. Interesting! I tend to always be constantly in question of what is right for me, what works best for my body and what I can handle in my mind. For years, I was a vegetarian but very unhealthy vegetarian. I want to cut out a lot of things but also know what generally works for me so it’s always a question mark and changing thoughts!
    abbi recently posted..Volunteering at the Sole Challenge 24 Hour RaceMy Profile

  13. I definitely have found things over the years that work for me, and things that don’t. I know that I could not cut meat all together, I can’t function as well without it because I grew up eating it all the time. BUT I know that controlling what and how much meat I eat has helped. I never thought about eating based on blood type, I really want to look more into that I feel like that could be helpful. I’ve just kind of used the trial and error method over the years: things that give me eh feelings or bloating go on the “no-go” list etc.
    Laura recently posted..Tri-ing & Mixing Things UpMy Profile

  14. This is very interesting. I have recently taken my boys off of cow’s milk because two of them had adverse reactions. My husband’s grandmother is Polynesian, so now I wonder if that has something to do with it? (My husband is lactose intolerant as well.) By the way they are all blood type A except for one son who seems to be able to tolerate everything (he is 0).
    Great post!
    Rebecca recently posted..Putting some junk back into the trunkMy Profile

  15. Great info! I seem to tolerate all foods well but rarely eat grains for thyroid reasons. As an O+ I do well with animal protein but find myself leaning heavily toward eggs and fish lately.

  16. I am O- and find that what I can tolerate varies depending on combination with other things. For example, I’ll get horrible stomach cramping if I eat egg yolks as part of breakfast, but if I eat them mixed in cookies or something, it is fine. I also don’t do well with lots of whole wheat or beans. My body really likes nuts.
    Karen@ La Chanson de Ma Vie recently posted..UltrAspire Fastpack ReviewMy Profile

  17. Hmmm… I’ve heard a lot about eating for your blood type but wasn’t sure if that was legit or another diet fad (Googling around has provided mixed reviews) but I am definitely interested in looking into it; one thing i’ve noticed since i’ve been marathon training is that what I eat plays a HUGE role in how I feel and how I recover. I can tell I’ve eaten something my body doesn’t do well with because I end up exhausted. I’m glad you’re going to be writing about this for a while! I’m studying nutrition myself, but we’ve been on pretty basic stuff for a while and I’d like to get more into the holistic aspects of it.
    Rachel B @ Busy Mama Fitness recently posted..Tough Mudder Boot Camp Day 3My Profile

  18. I actually read the “Eat Right for your Blood Type” book several years ago (or maybe an earlier version). I thought it was a curious concept that has a lot of merit and felt much of what I read about mine held true. The dairy tolerance history is interesting to read about. NPR had an article a while back discussing the research that looked into how the lactose tolerant genes may have been developed a bit as a “survival of the fittest”.
    Christina recently posted..My thoughts on women trying to do it allMy Profile

  19. I went to see a doctor who specializes in food intolerances/allergies and the link to auto immune disorders. I already knew I was gluten intolerant when I went to see him, but after he ran extensive blood work on me he found 7 other intolerances including dairy. I felt completely fine on dairy so was surprised to learn this but so thankful I did as he discovered my body was attacking my thyroid as a result of eating dairy and these other foods. So important to find out what your body can tolerate even though its not easy.

    • It was interesting… his father initially came up with the theory and wrote a book, but he (Peter) did more research when he went through medical school and found a tie to how much stomach acid we have (some types have more or less, and these have been connected to how we react to certain foods).
      Laura recently posted..How to Determine the Best foods for your bodyMy Profile

  20. I find all of this so interesting, and can’t wait to read all your posts. I’ve definitely discovered that my body does not like dairy. I can handle small amounts, but anything more than that will leave me feeling very, very uncomfortable. My biggest focus now is to continue to subtract as many processed foods as possible from our diet. My husband and I eat hardly any, but I struggle with the kids, because they snack so much, and it’s not always convenient to have a cooler bag. Constantly working on it, and thankful that they all love fruit, which is always one of the first things we offer for snack time!
    Michelle recently posted..A Few Of My Favorite (Running) ThingsMy Profile

  21. It was interesting… his father had come up with the initial theories (and wrote a book based on subjective impressions) so he did research to find a scientific link, which he discovered was related to stomach acid. In any case, it’s only one of many “tests” or theories to consider- not the final word on health, but I think it can be helpful info as part of the bigger picture to understand one’s body.
    Laura recently posted..How to Determine the Best foods for your bodyMy Profile

  22. Very interesting post! It’s a little scary to think about how much of our food is in the processed category. I am trying to do better in this area but I know there is still a lot of room for improvement. I’ve never even heard of the blood type diet so thanks for bringing this one to light.

    Also, I am late to the party but I just read your post on Growing your family and I am SO excited for you and this huge decision! Some of my closest friends have adopted in the past two years and I know it was a long road for them but God was with them every step of the way. I hope and pray that things will work out for your family in the right timing and everything will go as smoothly as possible. God bless!!
    Tia @ Arkansas Runner Mom recently posted..The PR that took 13+ Years…The Portfest 5K Race ReportMy Profile

  23. Super interesting stuff. I feel really lucky to have pretty much no digestive issues and a strong stomach for almost anything. I’ve maintained a lifestyle of “everything in moderation” though I know my sugar cravings can get out of hand at times. I would like to clean up my eating, and I’ve enjoyed paleo to a degree, but it’s hard socially. Cutting out mostly processed food is where I’m trying to start on a regular basis!
    MegG recently posted..BLEND Retreat 2013My Profile

  24. I have a iron stomach, but I definitely take note of foods that don’t make me feel good especially when I am training! I also have asked friends for help, advice, and guidance on nutrition, who are RD’s. Their support has helped me so much. It’s a nice trade off. I get nutrition tips and I supply them with workouts. 😉
    She Rocks Fitness recently posted..What I Ate Wednesday the Pancake Edition!My Profile

  25. I’m really looking forward to more of your posts on this topic!
    This is something I struggle with, and I’m just not quite sure what to do about it right now…My main complaint I guess is my complexion – I’ve had bad acne since I was 15, and though it’s gotten better over the years, the more I read and learn the more I think it has to be something in my diet that’s causing it. I eat very little dairy (that’s a common thing linked to acne), but I’m wondering if I need to completely cut it out? Or if it’s sugar? though I don’t eat too much of added sugars anyway…it’s frustrating and hard to be patient while trying to figure it out!
    Danica @ It’s Progression recently posted..wiaw: summer at homeMy Profile

    • That is hard to be patient to figure it out! I’m going to talk more about elimination diets and detoxifying, both of which might apply more to you. Dairy is definitely the first thing to check for acne… might be worth trying a week without to see if you notice a difference.
      Laura recently posted..How to Determine the Best foods for your bodyMy Profile

  26. This is a very interesting subject. I haven’t done any formal testing, but I’m very curious about this topic especially since I’m in my 40s and my body isn’t reacting the same way it did 10 years ago to the food I eat. Thanks for shedding some light on determining the best food for body type. It’s something I dig deeper into.
    Debra@AModernTranslation recently posted..Bare Yoga Anybody?My Profile

  27. I am looking at all the food I eat now actually! I am on The Plan diet, which helps you find the reactive foods for your body. I’ve found that one of these for me is dairy. I think it’s so important to find what works best for you. What works for one person definitely doesn’t work for another!
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  28. I’ve currently been dealing with stomach/GI issues, and although my gluten test came back negative, I have found that wheat/grain products aren’t very belly friendly. I’ve been logging what I eat to try and find the triggers to help avoid them! I haven’t ever really followed a particular “Diet” per say, I just try to eat what makes me feel energized and not as bloated.
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    • It’s very common to have gluten sensitivity even if you don’t actually show up as having an allergy. I also recently realized gluten/grains are what make me bloated… it surprised me since I’ve eaten them all my life and never had pain or tummy issues from it, but I feel so much better without. Glad you’re figuring things out!
      Laura recently posted..How to Determine the Best foods for your bodyMy Profile

  29. So interesting and I love learning more about different ways to eat. I know that I need to experiment more and figure out what is the best diet and foods for my body. I feel like my body hasn’t been entirely happy but I’ve been too lazy to experiment. Thanks for the info Laura!
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  30. Interesting and such a good post! I have read the book, Eat Right For Your Blood Type, and although I do see some truth, I don’t feel it is the only factor in determining what foods are best for your body. I believe in a whole foods approach, eating little to no processed foods as possible and listening to your body (how you feel when eating certain foods and knowing when you are full). I haven’t done any testing, but fortunately, I haven’t had any real issues with certain foods. I always feel at my best when I’m eating at my healthiest (fresh produce, lean meats, nuts and other healthy fats and minimal dairy).
    Melissa @ Fit ‘n’ Well Mommy recently posted..What I Ate Wednesday + A New Paleo Quick Bread!My Profile

  31. This was such a good post! We got the Eat Right For Your Blood Type several years ago. We don’t eat any processed foods. We have a big garden each year so we have fresh veggies in the Summer and I dehydrate, can and freeze plenty to have through the Winter months. We try to grow everything organically and that is such a plus for us.

  32. Great post! Informative. I’ve never read Eat Right For your Type but someone once told me that I should be a meat-eater because I’m have type 0- blood. Which is strange because I naturally just don’t want to eat meat – I don’t crave it and feel good without it. But I do stay away from processed foods for the most part so maybe that fits.
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  33. It’s challenging, but certainly worth a try! Gluten often takes more than a week… something closer to a month would be ideal. I’ve actually been cutting gluten in the last few months and learned that I have some senstivities… no pain, but bloating from it. I’m happy to be an accountability buddy if you need one. It’s a tough one to cut! 🙂
    Laura recently posted..How to Determine the Best foods for your bodyMy Profile

  34. The blood type thing is really interesting! It makes a lot of sense. I don’t even know my blood type though so I should probably start there! I am both gluten and dairy intolerant but I cheat all the time. I KNOW I’d feel better if I didn’t!
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  35. I was going to ask the same question Sarah did about the blood type diet book. The premises involved there fascinate me. Curious to see any clinical data on that one. Interesting post.
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  36. I’ve had this post opened in a tab for days because I was waiting to have time to actually read it–so much great information! I’ve been really interested in the blood type diet, and also in some of the new food sensitivity testing they’re doing. It’s funny, it seems like eeeeeveryone I talk to tells me how great they feel when they avoid grains, and I feel 100% the oposite. All of our bodies are so different, and I think figuring out what works for each individual is fascinating!

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