The last few decades have seen all varieties of diets come into play with a predominant pattern to them. Popular patterns are:
Fast- anything from 1 day (not kidding) to any time-line you can think of.
Calorie counting- the commonest diet programme. A billion pound industry which even has franchises like weight watchers etc using similar formulas.
Trendy- catchy titles to sell a book eg. South Beach Diet, 5:2 fasts, paleo/caveman, Atkins, Virgin
Celebrity endorsed- hairy dieters, whichever fat-to-thin celebs that’s in vogue
Type- vegetarian, vegan, high protein, low carb, high fat (yes they exist), the very famous low fat.
Basically there’s no end to it and no end will ever be in sight. If these ‘diets’ really worked, why are there so many books out there? On the flip side, if none of these worked, are we all doomed? Is it simply a case that we haven’t yet found the magic answer, and hence have to keep searching for it? Or is it that some diets work for some people but don’t work for others? What is the answer?
My take on this is…. firstly I prefer not to use the word ‘diet’. Nothing wrong with it per se but these days the connotations and associations are that of deprivation, hunger and of a short duration. Something hard to do for a little while until we ‘get there’.
I much prefer to think of it as a lifestyle. I also prefer not to go for trends, although there is something to be said for some trends. It might mean that someone is on to something and perhaps we could incorporate some of the advice into our new ‘lifestyle’ (eg fasting). I also believe that the perfect ‘lifestyle’ should be something we could happily feed our kids and not feel like we’re doing them a disservice.
Science and research evolve all the time and today, some incredible new material have come out from many different researchers. The problem is that by the time that information becomes a book, you’re usually looking at a few years down the line or the books get hidden as these guys are no good at marketing themselves. Sometimes its a case of them trying to ‘say the popular thing’ whilst also getting the real message across and so diluting the true message of their books.
An offshoot to this is the wonderful world wide web. Internet has revolutionised how information gets around. Some of the most relevant thinkers (who don’t try to be popular) use blogs as their media of choice. Usually charting their progress online and slowly building up a following. Some of my favourites are Chris Kresser, Denise Minger, Peter Attia, Sarah Myhill and a few doctors. These people are a little hardcore, very scientific and possibly a little difficult to understand for a lot of people. Their message is very relevant though as they are very outspoken and speak their minds. Do research their work.
So what do I personally do and feed my family? Based on my research, modern day diseases only started around a hundred years ago and the number of new diseases creeping up has increased tremendously. Autoimmune diseases are so commonplace these days that its not uncommon for us to know at least a few people who has them. From being relatively unknown, it is now one of the major killers in the world. Diabetes, heart disease and degenerative diseases esp of the brain is now so common that most of us will probably die of one of them.
The question to ask here is what has happened to make these diseases so common? What has changed? What did people die of before?
People mostly died of infections and the elements before (ie if you were poor and had nowhere to sleep, you might die of cold). Considering that infection control is excellent now and in the UK, we have social services, these factors don’t count for much. Some might argue that diagnoses has improved and that’s why more diseases are being discovered. This might be true but looking at autopsy reports and bone studies from multiple different sources, it does not tally up.
Fact is, most of these diseases started after the Industrial Revolution. When man had a cheap and ready source of food, mostly comprising of carbohydrates. The farmer was able to produce more than he required and more than his town required. It needed transportation to be sold for a profit. The problem was the bl****y insects. They were all over the place. Someone then came up with a brilliant idea to get rid of them. Actually there were 2 ideas:
while the crops grew, pesticides killed insects. So one problem solved. Mostly anyways.
During transportation, all you had to do was to strip the outer portion (that contained all the nutrients as that’s what the stupid insects were after, not realising the really tasty bits were inside). Hence white flour, rice etc was borne. Haven’t you noticed how nicely insect free it is?
And that became the staple of most people’s foods. White, nutrient poor foods which was cheap (compared to meats and veg). Carbs have a very important role in history and has saved a lot of lives. Think of any famine states which sadly enough is still a common occurrence.
Today, the average person’s meal comprises of:
carbs like wheat products (bread/pasta), potato, rice, maize/corn etc
meats that are intensively farmed (another blog on this alone coming soon)
veg that have been sprayed to death, look all the same (isn’t that unusual? Imagine if you used that same formula for human beauty-zombieland); could not invite the average insect to nibble on it
Industrialised seed oils ie your average vegetable oils on the shelf. Have you noticed that it can be kept for possibly a few years and still be good?
Transfats like ‘keep your cholesterol down’ butter substitutes
Lots and lots of sugar, hidden all over the place including sugar substitutes
Easy meals, pre-prepared.
Basically a very poor nutrient situation which causes inflammation in the body to the extent where a whole host of modern illnesses take root.
This is a very complex topic and is only an introduction which aims to make you question what you eat. Going back to the question of what do I feed my family….. 80% of the time, we eat high protein and high (good) fat, carbs are low compared to the average person today but a little higher in children as they are able to burn them off much quicker. We still eat our snacks and have some wine and are full and satiated. Its a bit more complex than this for the adults as there are more issues to look at but its the gist of it. It follows how people ate before things got complicated. I want the best of what happened before the Industrial Revolution combined with a lack of disease/infections and comfort of modern day life. We are healthier and stronger and best of all, have lost weight (adults) without really trying ( or going hungry). We have eaten this way for around 2 years now. This is simply me doing what I believe is right for my family based on science and history.
A good place to start reading about this way of living is http://www.westonaprice.org/
Happy researching and keep asking questions.