Food for Thought
There are MANY buzzwords when it comes to healthy living; Ketogenic, Paleo, Gluten-free, Atkins, Flexitarian, Whole30, Veganism/Vegetarian, The Blood-Type Diet, DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). The list of diets, and their various restrictions, rules and regulations, goes on and on, but are they sustainable long-term? And is there a perfect one size fits all diet?
Now, if you are someone who eats a certain way for religious reasons, such as Vegetarianism, which is strongly linked to religions that originated in India (Hinduism, Buddhism) or Vegan, because you make a point to not spend money on products that contribute to sustaining the agriculture industry, then that’s amazing—keep doing you! But many of us are confused by the enormous amount of conflicting information about what to eat, what not to eat, and which diet is best for us. I’ve long believed that the health industry is filled with half-truths, lies and misconceptions, which it uses to push its latest fad product.
New eating plans and “superfoods” are constantly advertised as the keys to health, and as consumers, we can feel overwhelmed by choice and information. The food industry, and its constant stream of new products and nutrition gimmicks, is full of contradictory information, providing a highlight reel of diets, supplements and trends.
For many years there has been a debate about what the one perfect diet is. Traditionally, a diet was simply the way that you ate. Over time it has evolved to mean “restricting your current intake of food to lose weight.” Regardless, of your preferred definition of a “perfect diet,” there is an ever-growing body of evidence that suggests there’s no such thing as a single “best” diet—and that nutrition is a whole lot simpler than our fascination with fads would suggest.
So, is there a single “best’’ diet amongst the buffet (excuse the pun) of choices available to us? The answer is simple—no! There is no physical way one perfect diet works for every single person on this entire planet. That’s impossible. Each person has a different set of nutritional requirements to keep him or her healthy. Many diets will sustain you or keep you alive. That doesn’t mean that they are good for you long term. Your perfect diet should not just keep you alive, it should help you thrive. It should give you the best possible intake of nutrients to allow your body to be as healthy as it can be. We are now more nutritionally starved than we ever have been at a time when we are consuming more calories than ever before, as the agricultural industry emphasizes quantity of produce over the quality of produce. Because the vegetables we buy at the grocery store are not nutrient rich we seek nutrients from other foods, and too much of them.
But, if I have led you to be further confused, don’t fear! When you cut through the headlines, marketing campaigns and studies, you’ll find that most experts concur on a few fundamentals of nutrition: that you should avoid processed foods and focus on natural nutrient-rich foods. Examples of these would be vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and plain water, which experts across the board agree should make up the majority of what people eat and drink. If there is such a thing as a “best” diet, that’s it. Ultimately, found on the outside of the supermarket shelves i.e. avoid the inner isles.
So don’t beat yourself up if you have that chocolate bar as a midnight snack, just make sure the chocolate bar isn’t a midnight snack every night (and the size of that chocolate bar).
We are ultimately a product of what we repeatedly do. One chocolate bar isn’t going to define us, however sometimes we need to decide: is all the work in the gym and exercise worth the small amount of gratification it gives us?
One of the foundational pillars of holistic health is we are, in many ways, what we eat. The more informed and more conscious we are regarding the daily decisions of what we put in our bodies, the better our bodies will respond to what we ask of it.
So, now that you know there is no perfect diet, what should you do? Simple—listen to your body and eat to that accordingly, it’s not a one size fits all scenario but rather a lot about trial and error and being able to happily maintain your food choices. Take these trends and fads with a grain of salt and make sure you aren’t living your life with a series of unrealistic restrictions to fit a mold of how you think you should live. We aren’t cookie cutter version of one another after all—Mmmm cookies.
Celine Wallace is a New Zealand born Yogi, lululemon Ambassador, wellness expert and writer, and Founder of Sattva Soul transformational women’s events and retreats.