I’m traveling right now (and on my iPhone, so sorry for any typos) but wanted to get a few thoughts on diet in front of my readers real quick.
What I’m noticing with regards to diet is that most people are completely confused, and rightfully so. There are so many “healthy eating” diets and lifestyles out there to choose from and they all purport to be the end all be all for optimal health. And worse, the proponents of each lifestyle bash the other styles.
We’ve got paleo people bashing vegetarians and vegans. Vegetarians and vegans bashing paleo dieters. Low fat high carb proponents bashing high fat moderate protein proponents and vice versa. We’ve got the government’s horrific food pyramid, which has now been changed into an equally horrific “myplate” (they’ve done nothing but change it to a freaking plate from a pyramid. The diet still sucks!).
We need to find a way to come to agreement on SOME things so as to give people some actionable advice.
Does red meat cause heart disease and cancer or doesn’t it? Is saturated fat bad for us or isn’t it? Does fish oil cause cancer or is it the wonder supplement everyone thought it was?
Dean Ornish, Caldwell Esselsteyn and “The China Study” pumping plant-based diets and saying “meat and animal fats are bad. Eat vegetable oils”.
Gary Taubes, Loren Cordain, Robb Wolff, Mark Sisson and the paleo/primal diet saying “vegetable oil is bad. Eat meats and animal fats. They’re good for you.”
We’ve got nutty “fruitarians” who preach to eat only fruit. We’ve got the south beach, Atkins, fasting, and countless other diets.
No wonder people are lost! There are conflicting opinions, bad science and snake oil salesmen everywhere out there and, unless you are like me (obsessed with learning about nutrition and the science behind it), a quick google search on diet will age you 20 years.
Anyway, I think that the best way to start thinking about how to eat healthier is to move away from all of this BS. Now, I am not calling the paleo diet BS! As you might already know, I’m a strict paleo eater and it has done wonders for my health. I personally believe that every man, woman, and child can benefit from some version of a paleo diet (with some tweaking of the macronutrients based on lifestyle/activity levels, and for known food sensitivities). When I say “move away from all of this bs” I just mean that we should forget trying to figure out which diet is best for us to eat right now. Frankly, I think that’s like trying to run before we learn to crawl.
Rather than that, lets just use some simple logic to determine what we absolutely should not EVER be eating. Here’s an easy way to apply this logic. In fact, it’s so easy to understand that my 4 year old son got it right away in a 5 minute convo I had with him the other day.
I asked my son “Mason, do you know what lions eat?”. He replied “zebras”. Fair enough.
Then I asked “what do you think would happen to a lion if we put it in a zoo and fed it fruity pebbles and candy instead of zebras?” He replied “he would get sick”.
My son is 4 years old (going on 5), and for him it was so intuitive, such easy logic to understand.
Now, there is admittedly dissent among the “experts” in paleontology and archeology over what early humans ate 10,000-2 million years ago. Some say that they ate no grains. Some say that they did. Some say they ate mostly meat. Some say they didn’t.
I’m not even going to go there. I’m no scientist. I’m no paleontologist. But I don’t have to be to tell you this much with absolute certainty:
Here is what we KNOW that early humans absolutely did NOT eat until recently:
1) Man-made chemical pesticides & GMOs – a reason to eat strictly organic foods.
2) Man-made chemical food dyes, colorings and preservatives – a reason to eat strictly food that is fresh and perishable, free of preservatives and anything artificial.
3) Conventionally raised, grain-fed meat, poultry, and pork that were raised sickly in horrific conditions (google “CAFOs”) – A reason to eat only grass-fed or pastured organic meat, poultry, and pork.
4) Farm-raised fish. These are sickly fish that are fed a foreign diet and pumped with antibiotics and dyes before being shipped to your local supermarket – A reason to eat only wild caught fish.
5) Any drink other than water (and maybe herbal teas). They didn’t have carbonated, sugar filled sodas, Powerade, Gatorade, Monster energy drinks, alcohol, etc. – A reason to eliminate everything but clean water and herbal teas from your diet.
6) Artificial man-made chemical sweeteners like Aspartame and Splenda didn’t exist. People ate and drank foods and beverages as they were. If they wanted to sweeten something they used natural sweeteners from honey or fruits – A reason to eliminate all artificial sweeteners from your diet.
7) Any and all candy, cakes, cookies (pretty much anything processed) – A reason to eliminate those sour patch kids, bubble gums, and m&ms from your diet.
If we all just followed these nutritional guidelines as a starting point towards improving our health the positive outcomes would likely be so dramatic that we would solve our nation’s health care problem.
Is there any doubt that most of the diseases that plague modern humans today are caused by and/or exacerbated by eating foods from the 7 groups I just cited above?
So, the message here is: if you are relatively new to understanding nutrition and feel lost, then (for now) forget trying to figure out which diet is right for you. Don’t worry about paleo this or vegan that. Just take this simple logical approach to what foods you need to eliminate from your diet immediately. Once you get used to eating that way and you experience the health benefits that eliminating those foods brings you then you will be ready to explore tweaking your diet more specifically with a specific protocol.
I hope this helps clear up some confusion. I’m here to help.