We live in a very polarized nation, where everyone is a Republican or Democrat, Pro-life or Pro-choice, Christian or Atheist, Rich or Poor, Carnivore or Vegetarian. Those with fixed opinions don’t bother listening to the other, no matter what the issue may be. Somehow “being right” has become the ultimate societal goal, rather than arriving at a point of understanding and mutual respect. When it comes to eating, it seems no two camps can ever agree on a one-size-fits-all diet. But why should anyone have to?
Everyone’s biological makeup is so different, every single individual so unique, why not let people make their own decisions as to what they choose to put into their bodies based on what makes them feel the healthiest? I’m hoping we can come to a collective understanding that some substances in our modern SAD (Standard American Diet) are far from health prolonging. Sometimes it takes a little trial-and-error to figure out which foods and way of eating suits your individual needs best. Nobody says you can’t mix and match to create your own way rather than following a set out protocol or extreme diet.
Let’s have a look at the latest in diet fashion to carefully distinguish between various ways of eating.
- The Vegetarian Diet: A Vegetarian diet includes cutting out all meat such as poultry, beef, and pork. Instead, individuals meet their protein requirements (hopefully) by including legumes and pulses: beans, nuts, tofu, eggs and dairy to their diets. Fruits, veggies and whole grains are also emphasized with this diet. People may switch to Vegetarianism on principle or to improve energy, lower cholesterol and lose weight.
- Veganism: Vegans take Vegetarianism up a notch; nothing derived from our furry friends is to be consumed. In addition to avoiding all meat, they also eliminate fish, eggs, dairy products, and any animal by-products. Some vegans avoid consuming bee products and wearing animal by-products such as leather or skins. Staples of this diet include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. People may choose this diet due to an ethical standpoint or they may do so to lower cholesterol, lose weight and control diabetes.
- The Paleolithic Diet: The Paleo Diet involves eating like the Cavemen did and avoiding all processed foods. As a Paleo eater, you’ll skip sugar, dairy, legumes, all grains and pasta. Instead, the main staples include meat, fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables. Many people believe that eating this way will help prevent diseases like cancer or heart disease.
- GAPS: On the Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet (GAPS), followers cut out lactose, sugars, carbohydrates, gluten, fast food and processed foods. Instead, they ingest more fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and meat, along with daily probiotics and vitamin supplements. The GAPS Diet is mostly adopted by individuals who are prone to digestive disturbances such as IBS, IBD, chrone’s disease, colitis, GERD, or sufferers of pesky gas, bloating or constipation.
- Raw Foodism: About 80 percent of the Raw Food Diet is comprised of plant-based foods never heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Staples include fresh fruit, fresh juices, raw smoothies, raw vegetables, seeds, nuts, and sprouted organic legumes. Some raw foodists are also Vegetarians, while others may indulge in a little bit of raw fish or cheese. Some people switch to this diet because they believe it will give them optimal health, unbounded levels of energy, ease their digestion and help them lose weight.
- The Low Carb diet: This diet (often termed the Atkins Diet) limits the amount of rice, white bread, pasta and potatoes a person eats. Instead, the emphasis is placed upon consuming animal products, mostly meat, fruits and vegetables. This is a high-protein diet that many people switch to in order to lose weight.
What I think
Whatever your health goals, I meet you where you’re at it with no judgment about it. That’s what my practice principle is. The truth is that processed, refined, modified, packaged foods, and excesses of salt and sugar are addictive substances and so it can take some time to wean off of them and transition to a healthier way of eating. Through Naturopathy, client and therapist work together as a team to create a program, which accommodates your life, and to which you feel you will realistically adhere. This is what a holistic, personalized approach to health is all about.
The reality is that when you begin to eat healthfully, moods improve, blood sugar levels become balanced, old habits change, energy levels increase and there is often less of a desire to revert to the unhealthy habits of yester-year.
There is no one size fits all approach to health due to the highly individualized nature of the human being, so do what’s best for you, in a healthy way of course!
Moral of the story
Each diet, accompanied by pros and cons must be carefully investigated before adopted as an absolute. The most important question to ask yourself is: Is this way of eating right for me?
If you can’t figure that out on your own, come see me for a visit 😉