“Don’t diet, try it!”
Diets are stupid. There, I said it.
There’s lots of information out there these days about the merits of different dietary approaches, what’s one to make of it all?
I’ve often found that aside from politics and religion, diet, and specifically the diet one ‘believes in’, seems to be the topic of recurring and often vigorous debate. I suppose I can understand this, at least partially. With diet, we are referring to our philosophical, scientific and practical approach to how we sustain our lives. Every day we make choices about our diets and many of us do our utmost to determine the ‘best’ path, and then try our best to follow it. After all, in a very real sense, our life is at stake. Our diet affects not only how long the body can sustain its essential functions, but also determines how optimally it will function, put simply, it determines both the quality and quantity of our lives. Quite rightly, people invest a lot in managing their diets, in both time and money. With this in mind, perhaps it’s not really a surprise to see people become defensive when another so willingly dismisses the approach that they have adopted (placed their faith in?).
Typically, for someone to become and advocate of any individual diet, they have to have had (or at least perceived) positive effects from implementing it in their own life, supporting literature in the form of books and scientific articles, and a community of fellow ‘followers’. Once these have been established, eureka! I’ve ‘figured out’ how the human diet is ‘supposed’ to be! The fog has lifted, exuberant health awaits, look out world here I come!
But then you encounter the follower of another diet (faith?) and an argument ensues. Loose science is thrown around and even looser conclusions drawn. Words like quinoa, gluten, phytates, insulin, superfood, raw, antioxidants, ketones and many more are unleashed like spears thrown from both sides. In the end, neither side is victorious, and both have probably secreted their daily allowance of cortisol. But how could either side win? They both have science, they both have best-selling books, they both have legions of followers, and they both have themselves as shining examples, proof-positive that the diet they follow is the real deal.
So where am I going with this? Well, I guess I’m hoping we can do away with these silly arguments once and for all.
The reality is there is no ‘best’ diet. There is simply a range of possible approaches to eating, which each individual has the responsibility to experiment with and adapt to their ever-changing internal and external circumstances, as they refine and develop an approach that delivers to them the health, vitality and ‘joi de vivre’ they are seeking.
Don’t get me wrong, I do think scientific inquiry in these fields is interesting, and necessary to push our knowledge forward. However it’s important to remember that no study is ever an open-shut case, where 100% of participants experienced the same result. There is always at least some variability in response, and I’m sure we all know at least a couple people who have lived on a diet of cigarettes and white bread for 90 years and are still going strong. At the very least, these examples should give us pause to think before we vehemently argue our ‘truth’.
Interestingly, the more science delves in to nutritional research, and the more we learn about bio-individuality and the multitude of variables that affect our health, the more it seems to become a game of simplification. No need for counting calories, recording meals, cupboards full of the latest supplements, or fancy gadgets (although these can be fun!).
Notwithstanding certain outlier cases that require more fine-tuning, the approach to ‘healthy’ eating becomes quite simple.
We know all this is easier said than done, so if you need some help with the ‘how’, feel free to drop me a line!
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