Well, I can only tell you what works for us. My husband and I participated in a class that his Naturopath put on, which was all about food and inflammation that what we put in our bodies causes. We started with an elimination diet so we could each figure out which food specifically gave us problems. Inflammation causes disease. We cut out the most common inflammation causing foods:
-dairy - soy
-wheat -nightshades (potatoes, peppers of all kind, tomatoes, eggplant)
-gluten -citric acid
-citrus -all alcohol (except tequila...it's the only alcohol that comes from a flowering plant, not a grain or potato)
I might be forgetting something but you can find that info online. It was good to see how each food group actually made us feel adding it back. The other main important factors of the class was to keep your blood sugar even. We had to eat protein every 2 hours. The ups and downs of blood sugar throws off your whole system, especially your insulin and hormones. Also, sugar=BAD. It makes your blood sugar crazy and causes everyone inflammation. Almost everyone in our class had issues with dairy...because, most people no longer create the enzyme that breads down lactose. We aren't supposed to need it anymore after we're about 2 years old, because that's when we're done breastfeeding.
Anyway, between what we learned in that class, and what I've learned about food in general, I've now incorporated into our day to day diet with great effects. We are not 100% strict, we'll go out and have cheat meal about once a week or so (which I always
feel sick after), but we are pretty good. We no longer eat any sugar at all (if we have to have something sweet I use a tiny bit of honey or stevia), no wheat, as little grains or processed carbs as possible (we eat some quinoa, oatmeal in our homemade cereal, and black rice once in awhile), no white potatoes. We eat no dairy, no soy. I essentially make almost everything from scratch. There are a few "processed" items I buy, taco shells probably being the main one. I love tacos.
We eat as much good fat as we want. We eat natural peanut butter, avocado, nuts/seeds, olive oil, olives, coconut oil. I make double dinners so we have lunch to bring to work. You can get creative with treats. I make an amazing "ice cream" which is frozen bananas, peanut butter, coconut milk, and cocoa powder. Replace pasta with spaghetti squash. Replace rice or mashed potatoes with smashed cauliflower.
It seems like a lot of work, and it is, but once you have the habit it becomes easier. You have to spend the time to prepare instead of just tossing a pizza in the oven. Just stick to whole, REAL foods. Avoid food that will make your blood sugar jump up (sugary or carby food), because as soon as it crashes back down, you just crave more carbs. We've both lost weight, both of our blood pressure has gone from high to normal (perfect according to my last Dr. appt!). I used to feel sick all the time, I even started thinking I had an autoimmune disorder. That all went away when I changed my eating habits. I promise if you drop the sugar, carbs, and dairy, you'll see a huge difference, in your weight and health. I know vegans who are overweight because they still eat sugar, bread, pastas, potatoes.
Also, add in some exercise, even if it's just walking. Find something you like and move, it doesn't have to be hitting the gym or taking up running. Yoga, biking, walking, a video at home, anything. Also, you both may want to have your vitamin levels checked. I had really low iron and Vit D, which can help make you feel crappy. I now take a multivitamin and Vit. D daily. Plus a few other things but those are the most important.
I hope I don't sound preachy but I just feel so great eating this way I love to share it. I'm currently over 30 lbs less than I was a year and a half ago, and my hubby is probably 20 lbs less. He was getting chronic headaches and those are gone, he stopped snoring (mostly
). You can't look at it like a diet, you have to just start changing your lifestyle. If you want to cheat every once in awhile, do it! Just not 5x/week. I think you'll find, like me, that when you've been eating clean, one crappy meal will make you feel horrible, and then you really have to decide if eating the meal is worth how you'll feel after. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. Our most common cheat meal is going to our favorite bar down the street for hot dogs (veggie dog for me), nachos, and beer! But like I said, that's once a week.
Good luck! Hope you both are able to make some healthy changes!