Who really has our best interests in mind?
To be honest with you, I don’t know. This post is mostly diet, and not much “nerd,” but I still think it’s important. I’m not a dietitian and I don’t have my doctorate in food and physiology studies, I’m just a guy who’s trying to be as healthy as possible. Most of you know that I’ve done a fair amount of reading on The Paleo Diet recently and even managed to eat primal for the entirety of yesterday. Quite the departure from my “healthy” diet a month ago.
A few days back, Tim Ferriss (of the 4 Hour Work Week) wrote a post entitled, “7 Reasons to Eat More Saturated Fat,” and there are currently 271 comments on it. I’m pretty sure this post was written to draw attention and provoke debate (one of Tim’s strengths), and that’s exactly what has happened. Many comments are from Vegans or vegetarians berating Tim for promoting a ‘slaughter’ lifestyle, while others are making fun of the Vegans for allegedly depriving their body of necessary nutrients. Both sides cite “extensive research” disproving the others’ lifestyle, and both are convinced the others’ diet is going to kill them. Just reading the first 50 comments is enough to make your head spin.
I found this scathing review of the Paleo Diet, written by Sally Fallon, who happens to be the author of her OWN diet book, Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. Personally, I think her review comes across as a jealous tirade that misses the point and is really out to promote her own agenda. With all of this back and forth it seems like everybody is out only to further their own career or sell their next book or cause a huge controversy. In fact, a lot of the “studies” are funded by food companies who just want to promote their own side of things. How many lobbyists from various companies have the ear of the FDA? It’s crazy!
Who the eff do we trust? Is there a bullsh** tester out there? I mean, here’s a clip from the Today Show where a USA Today dietitian recommended Taco Bell, Burger King, and KFC. COME ON. I’ve done as much reading on various diets since seriously getting into fitness a few years back, and I’m still overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that both proves or disproves everything else. Is the Paleo Diet the healthiest lifestyle? What about Japan’s non-paleo rice-based diet? What other factors come into play?
I think this is one of those problems that will never have a 100% factual solution. The human body is such a complex piece of machinery that we’ll never really be able to control every variable to test out specific, minute options. With genetics, quality of air, stress, quality of water, and quality of life playing such a big role in our lives, I don’t think we’ll ever really know the exact optimal diet…which is fine, because life will go on.
With all sides of this diet war slinging propaganda and stories at one another, it’s tough to see clearly. However, I think there are a few truths that we CAN trust. I found this quote by Michael Pollan to be one of the most inspirational and rational mottos to live by:
“Eat food, not too much. Mostly plants.”
Sounds simple, right? It’s because it is. Now, food is a general term, but Michael means ACTUAL food. Not food born in a lab, but food grown from the earth. Fruits, vegetables, and healthy meats. Too much of anything is generally detrimental to your life, so consume in moderation. If you’re eating mostly natural fruits and vegetables, cutting out junk food and processed sugar, you’re going to be healthy.
Moving forward, I’m going to keep reading, keep studying, and keep learning. I won’t go to one extreme (all meat!) or the other (Vegan), but find a healthy moderation (which seems to line up nicely with the Paleo diet, maybe with a few modifications).
You’re probably more confused now than ever, but hopefully this encourages you to question what you read, and be smart with your decisions.