Cofrin Park

Cofrin Park
Cofrin Nature Park

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

DIET BOOKS AND THE DIET DEBATE

Do you like to eat? Do you look forward to each meal? I do. I find eating so enjoyable that I try to do a little of it every day.

I like to eat tasty and nutritious foods that make me feel satisfied and energized. I forage weekly to accomplish that goal. I thought I was improving. And then I started reading about food. Dr.Joel Fuhrman, in his book Eat to Live, the Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, insists you eat beans, including soybeans, or legumes every day because they reduce cholesterol and blood sugar, digest slowly and are nutritionally dense. (p.183) He recommends eliminating animal and dairy products too. 

I watched the PBS Specials on what to eat for a healthy brain with Dr. Daniel Amen and what to eat to fend off metabolic syndrome and diabetes with Dr. Mark Hyman.  Both doctors say we need animal protein. They site blogger, Mark Sisson, of MarksDailyApple.com, as an authority for the primal way of life that advocates eating according to our ancestral genetic makeup.

 Did I get it wrong?

Pick up almost any diet book and prepare for indoctrination into the author’s kitchen confidential. What do all these books have in common? One thing: Eat organic greens like spinach and chard and cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts. That’s it. They all tell you what not to eat, and that list varies, however they all strictly prohibit highly processed foods packaged for long shelf life because they contain the evil high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils both of which disrupt our delicate endocrine system and make us addicted and fat.   
Rainbow Swiss Chard

Brussels Sprouts


These diet books diverge into several camps that involve food eliminations, for example: no wheat or no dairy or no sugar or no grains. Then they tout the choice foods that will save our lives and give us vibrant health and energy.

Looks logical enough, however, the authors, many of whom are medical doctors, cannot agree on what that list of perfect foods should be. Even worse, they cannot agree on food preparations, calorie-counting, timing each meal or snack and whether to fast. That’s why we all stare blankly into the fridge and wonder what foodstuffs to munch on, after we've had mounds of greens and still feel un-sated.

Food is good. Food is life. We want to enjoy our food, not stress about every bite.
At least the authors agree on that—stressing about food is bad.

Why can’t the diet gurus get together and agree on a food plan and then stock the grocery shelves accordingly? (Well, we know that’ll never happen if Big Agra, Big Pharma, Monsanto and the grocers’ union have there say. But that’s another story.)

The confusion amongst the diet authors happens because the food debate is in its infancy. We really don't know all there is to know about food and how it reacts within our bodies yet.

Accordingly, diet book authors tend to set one strict plan for everyone, based on what they have studied and observed. These highly-credentialed authors politely dodge the fact that each individual reacts differently to certain food. For example, a peanut allergy would send the afflicted into anaphylactic shock, but I can eat peanut butter by the jar, if I wanted.

Even though in its infancy, the diet debate has coaxed out the science behind the food we eat. The biology shows that not only is food medicine, but food is information. The foods we eat break down into their basic molecules during digestion and send particular genes information telling them to turn on or off. Different food sends different information. That information can either benefit the organism by supporting its immune system, or it can disrupt the organism by turning on genes that give the body the message to destroy what it believes to be a foreign invader, when in fact, it ends up attacking itself. This response leads to auto-immune disease.

My science background sits of the head of a pin, so I find this “food is information” stuff fascinating and exciting, albeit hard to explain, so I’ll just add that Mom was right again! You ARE what you eat!

With all the conflicting information in diet books and diet websites, including gurus who say we should eat like gorillas or eat like our hunter-gatherer ancestors for optimum health, who can we trust? What should we eat?

I don’t know, however, I have made some distinctions after studying the subject ad nauseam. I have some starting suggestions that I have found helpful because they make intuitive sense and I have noticed increasingly better health as I follow them:

1)     Eat as cleanly as possible by eating organically;
2)     Eat the rainbow of fruits and veggies;
3)     Eat smaller portions that leave you feeling sated buy not full;
4)     Eat real food, nothing packaged (except for a few things that have less than 5  ingredients on the label, like canned tomato paste);
5)     Eat according to your hunger and ENJOY YOUR FOOD;
6)     Eliminate gluten and sugar, as these foods promote insulin resistance and diabetes, and also restrict starchy veggies and grains that do the same;
7)     Eliminate foods that makes you feel sick or tired (I know what you're thinking);
8)     Prepare your own food or choose a restaurant that offers nutritional fare(it becomes routine and even fun);
9)     Plan meals and snacks in advance;
10) Drink water—do not drink your calories;
11) Keep a food journal for at least 8 weeks and notice how foods affect you;
12) Know what you are eating and why by learning as much as you can about our food, where it comes from, how it’s harvested and why we should or should not eat particular foods or food-like substances.

Bon appetite!

Have you changed your diet lately? Tried new things? Eliminated foods? How’s it working for you? Please let us know in the comment section! Thank you!

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Although I have my "Awesome Bread Recipe" on this blog, I have been wheat-free for over 8 weeks and may remove the recipe...

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