We hear all the time how unique we all are but still have such a hard time internalising the concept. We might accept this fact in some ways such as certain people being instinctively good with numbers while others have "the gift of the gab". However, when it comes to our bodies, how they "should look", how we should eat, how fit and active we should be, we all seem to hold ourselves to the exact same standards, expecting the exact same results. We do not take into account our bio-individuality, which is a term that simply describes the diversity of our needs, preferences and optimal choices for our health and wellness. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to health or nutrition, and what works for one person will simply not work for another.
There are several factors that determine our bio-individuality including our unique genetic composition, predispositions based on race, gender, environment and even taste preferences. The reason most of us fail woefully at every diet attempt is that we do not tap into our bio-individual needs where food, movement and pleasure are concerned, and instead look to others (experts or not) to tell us what our bodies should want and need. However, a single prescription for the entire human race is just not feasible as our needs are as varied as our experiences of life and the only path to a sustainable health and wellness journey is to identify your unique set of bio-individual needs and embrace them fully.
How do you determine your bio-individual needs?
It's quite easy to determine what exactly your body is optimised for, but it requires practice, trial and error.
First of all, rule out allergies and aversions. Anything that causes you to have an allergic reaction is of course not an ideal or necessary component of your daily diet, and this also goes for foods you simply cannot tolerate such as those that cause you chronic bloating, constipation or make you nauseous for example.
Next, identify foods you love and observe how they make you feel physically, mentally and emotionally without the voice of the “diet police” ringing in your mind, and without considering weight loss as a goal. If they have an adverse effect on you physically without any fatal consequences like a severe allergy, then perhaps they can be an occasional treat but not a part of your daily routine. All foods have some nutrient value and do not need to be demonised as "bad" unless they are rotten or poisonous!
When it comes to movement and physical activity, list and explore different types that get you going and lift your spirits at the same time! Exercise does not have to feel like torture to have a positive impact on your health outcomes. Which forms of movement are an instant turn off, which are some that bring you absolute joy while getting your heart rate up and muscles strong, and which would you not mind trying or pushing yourself a little to engage in once in a while.
There is so much value in identifying and leaning into your bio-individual needs and preferences, most of all, advocating for yourself and your health with confidence and a solid understanding of your body and what makes it feel and function its best. It's important to get a firm grasp on your bio-individual needs so you can advocate for yourself in public spaces and even with professionals, such that if a doctor, personal trainer or nutritionist is prescribing a lifestyle change that is not in line with your bio individual needs you can challenge them politely to dig deeper and recommend alternatives. These professionals can of course be such a great asset to your health and wellness journey, but always remember that it is your journey and therefore you should not outsource every aspect of it to others! You have to live in your body 24/7, they don't!
One of my favourite things about working as a health coach is getting to have one-on-one conversations with clients that reveal all the ways in which they have been pursuing health in ways that are totally at odds with their bio-individual truth. I'm always so excited and honoured at the chance to guide them gradually but deliberately over time to a much healthier, happier place that's in line with their body's unique requirements. The goal is always to empower you to manage your health completely on your own but as always, I am here to help along the way!
Comment below if you have any thoughts on this you'd like to share or questions on anything about bio-individuality that's unclear.
Sending lots of care and positive vibes your way,