Making the Right Diet Choice
With so much information floating around on the Internet, how is anyone to know what is truth? How do we discern fact from fiction when researching healthy eating? The sad truth is, many times we can't. If I told you to research the debate between vegetarians and carnivores, you would easily find experts on both sides of the controversy, baking up their claims with research and evidence. Why is that? Well, it's pretty simple. It’s called human bias and we all exercise it or are exposed to it everyday. For example, when a nutritionist I was seeing at the time recommended that I go gluten free, I researched all I could on the subject. I came across doctors and nutritionists that believed that gluten was a contributing factor to almost all disease and doctors who believed that eliminating gluten from one's diet would be detrimental to their health because of all of the vitamins and minerals that wheat grains provide.
It's not that science lies, or the data isn't legitimate, but how we practice science and where we may seek our data is often driven by bias, often unintentionally.
So where does this leave us? How do we know if the Paleo or Vegan diet is the right one for optimal health? It's simple. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR BODY! Our bodies are amazing machines! And it will often tell us when something’s amiss. We just need to learn to listen to it. Mindful eating is first and foremost when listening to your body “speak” to you.
I was at Whole Foods once and I was in the supplement aisle speaking to one of the workers. We were discussing that dreaded meat eaters vs non meat eaters (paleo vs vegan) debate and she said something that really resonated with me. She asked me to imagine that I was stranded on a deserted island. One that was filled with plant life and animals. What would I eat? Ask yourself that question. What would you eat? Where would you get it? How often would you get it? When I answered these questions I came to a startling conclusion. I was smarter than I gave myself credit for. Here were my answers. See how they compare to yours.
If I were stranded on a deserted island I would probably eat what came the easiest to harvest or catch. Leafy plants, fruit from bushes and most likely roots would be my daily staples. If my island had seasons, I would only be able to eat what was available for that given season, so I probably wouldn't have apples all year round. Fruits that required tree climbing wouldn't be part of my daily diet either. My food would probably be eaten raw more than cooked. And without preservatives or refrigeration, all of my meals would have to eaten shortly after they were picked or caught. On rare occasions I'd probably have fish and meat. Hunting certainly isn't easy, even for the experienced and skilled. This conversation was one a game changer for me. So instead of labeling myself “paleo” or “vegan” I'm just going to label myself a “what makes sense to me” eater. That's my bias. Eating foods laced with synthetic chemicals to preserve its freshness just doesn't make sense, so I'll try not to eat it. Eating grains that's had its DNA altered to produce “super grains” just seems unnatural, so I'll stay away from that too. Eating fruits and veggies only when they are in season in order to give my body a variety of nutrition all year round makes sense. So that's what I’ll do. Now the meat everyday thing is a struggle for me. I'm used to eating meat at almost every meal. So I've been working at making better choices on the quality of meat I eat and reducing the frequency in which I eat it.
Til next time, cheers to your better belly!