I recently had a guest lecturer come into my Health Promotion class and talk about nutrition and diets. Although I already knew everything she talked about, it really motivated me to eat cleaner, whole foods as opposed to food-products. It can be more expensive and take more planning, so I’m working on finding options that will work for my cheapo-graduate student lifestyle 😛
I also recently spoke with my mom, who has decided to transition into a vegetarian diet. She is also on a gluten-free diet because she has Celiac disease. People…..if you do not have gluten sensitivities or Celiac disease, DO NOT go on a gluten-free diet. Its not “healthier”. It doesn’t promote weight loss. It doesn’t cure MS or Autism. There are no robust, reproducible studies that show this. Don’t make a diet that is NEEDED by people with a disease into a joke, into a fad-diet. This is Hollywood’s doing, and I hate it. Dumb Hollywood.
Talking with my mom and sitting in that class simply reinforced the idea I have held for a while about diets. They work short term because they are extreme and usually cut-out a macro-nutrient group. But is this sustainable? No….which is why people end up yo-yo dieting (I’m guilty of this!) and gaining back more than they lost with every fad-diet.
So what I’m working on now is not slipping back into this (or worse…). I think adding vegetarianism to a gluten-free diet like my mom wants to will result in severe nutrient deficiencies that can be avoided by being more mindful of the animal products you are eating. Outside of the moral issues with eating animals, I do not understand the vegetarian diet varieties that avoid any animal meat and products. I get adding more fruits and veggies. I get making them the main staple in every meal. But, why would you take a supplement instead when you can eat things that occur naturally on this earth that our kind has been eating for forever? Maybe I am just ultra-biased because I am a carnivore and LOVE LOVE LOVE steak. I’m working on cutting back on red-meat and choosing leaner cuts, but I am in no way going to cut it out completely. Meat is full of B-vitamins, phosphorous, zinc, and is satiating!
I do think it is important for the majority of people to cut-back on fatty animal meats, processed foods chalked full of sodium and mystery chemicals, eating more veggies/fruits, eliminating added sugars (this is the only thing that we can live without and should be eliminated all together), and MOVING more. I have failed at most of these, swinging from extreme restriction to the “typical American diet”. It is killing people, and it is not confined to America any longer.
I always find it interesting to think about how we came to crave the stuff that is so bad for us. At one point in our history, they were scarce resources. We were hunters and gatherers, and our next meal was never guaranteed. We were so much more physically active, out of necessity. Now, we don’t “persistence hunt” anything, formerly scarce resources are easy to find, but our bodies still want the fat and sugar. Our faces and attention are sucked into iphones, ipads, tv, and computers. We drive cars everywhere. Fat, sugar, and refined carbs are the cheapest easiest options. Its no mystery why the world is getting fatter. Its a big problem….and I have ideas (cycling infrastructure to promote active commuting!!) but it’ll take change in every facet of society to really tackle the problem.
So please, be smart. Be sensible! I know as much as I’d like to down a 20oz steak marbled with delicious fat, I didn’t spend all day tracking, slaughtering, and dragging an animal back home to eat it. We aren’t Neanderthals, but we can’t sustain a healthy body by eliminating macro-nutrients. If you are thinking about vegetarianism, maybe think about only using animal meat as a condiment. Moderation is key to sustainable dietary patterns.
And as for change, what you put in your shopping cart is what they will make more of. I’ll be thinking about this when I go grocery shopping this evening.