A while ago I mentioned that there are about a dozen books on healthy food and eating on my shelves, some of which agree and others which do not. The books that support a lower-carb diet say to add more good fats and proteins while avoiding all starches from grains, pasturized dairy, root veggies, and even many fruits like bananas and apples.
The lower-cal fans say that it is best to eat a balanced diet that includes healthy carbs such as whole grains, root veggies (even some taters), and fruits, while limiting animal products every day, and in every meal. It's so confusing, don't you think?
I have been reading through these books again, looking for some common threads. Credentials of the authors are important to me, so I look for signs of diligent research, but also stories from those who have been spending time talking to real people about their real experiences. Most authors believe their findings are the best, otherwise they would not be putting their name on the cover, right? But in my experience, one school of thought is not necessarily more right than the other, nor are any of them right for everyone. You can find success stories and failures in each of the different camps.
So what are some of the common threads among the various nutrition gurus in my stack of books?
* While there are some overarching truths about the chemistry of all bodies, there are also truths about our own particular constitutions such as inherited weaknesses, injuries, illnesses, and allergies which will determine which foods we thrive on and which ones makes us feel sick or gain weight.
* All of them agree that real, whole, unprocessed foods are our best choices. Foods that have been denatured by overcooking, adding chemicals, or isolated by removing the life-giving cofactors from vitamins, enzymes, fiber, etc., are not really food anymore.
* Plumping up animals with feed they weren't built to digest, giving them drugs or hormones, and sticking them in unnatural surroundings to live and eat in, may create more volume in less time, but causes the end products to be less nutritious, or maybe even harmful, to the consumer.
* Plants are good to eat, and most of us don't eat enough. Cleaner farming methods make cleaner food, so if you can avoid pesticides and herbicides you are helping your body and the environment at the same time. This is harder in some parts of the world than others.
* Plan your meals ahead of time and take a list with you to the market. Read labels and compare. And make sure you choose things that you enjoy eating, otherwise you will waste money.
I wonder if I'm the only one who feels a little awkward in the checkout line? I mean, you never know what the person behind you believes about food, or what the checker thinks is the best eating plan to follow. So on the days that I fill my basket with whole grains and fruit do the low-carb shoppers think I'm eating "bad food"? Or when I put raw cheese and grass fed beef in my basket do the vegan/low-fat folks think I'm trying to kill myself?
Should I even care about what anyone thinks? Probably not, but I really care about what I think... and there are days when I don't even know what to think about food anymore... figuring out what to eat is a philosophical puzzle that is not easily solved. I welcome your thoughts.