Confused about which nutritional advice you should be following? You are not alone. I walked by the diet section at a book store the other day which made my head spin. Side by side and beneath each book’s cover, lay perfectly convincible arguments for why we should be following either a Paleo, or Vegetarian, or Raw, or Juicing, or Blending, or Gluten Free, or Carb Full, or Carb Less Diet. Within each book are the clear voices of those that found THE ONLY way to eat was this way___. AND if you ate in this manner it helped, supported or even cured a variety of their ailments or illnesses. How could a clear argument for a heavy carnivorous diet be as convincing as one for strictly vegetarian? Which diet is right for you? The answer is seemingly simple.
Each of us have a unique bio-chemical makeup influenced by factors such individuality, ancestry, blood type, climate, season, lifestyle, belief system and our emotional and spiritual makeup. We are all different. The dietary habits your neighbor thrives on may not be the best for your particular makeup or even the time of year you are eating that diet. While the role bio-individuality plays in our dietary choices seems simple as a concept, how we learn and apply that process is where the real work comes in. Understanding what works for each of us takes time, education, trial and error and a real concern for our overall health and wellbeing. This evolution does not happen overnight and the concept of time is usually difficult for us as Americans. We live in a society accustomed to getting what we want, when we want it and often acquired at the touch of a button, delivered right to our door.
So if there is no one right food for everyone, just where do you begin in finding what foods work for your particular makeup? It turns out there is a common place we can start from. To further understand this we can look at health statistics of cultures around the world that are thriving. Places with the longest life expectancy such as Okinawa Japan, Sardinia Italy, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica, and even the 7th day adventists in Loma Linda California. When we look at the dietary practices of our planet’s healthier cultures, there are common threads. The majority of these diets are based on fresh, local plant based foods that have little to no dairy, meat, processed foods or sugar in them. We see this plant based diet common to the worlds more ancient dietary practices such as in Ayurveda, Macrobiotics, Ancient Chinese Practice, and diets in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Here there is a balance of whole foods prepared in ways that retain their nutritive content.
Of course there are always exceptions to the plant based-rule. There are those area’s around the world that don’t produce a viable plant based agriculture. These inhabitants have adapted to thrive off of what is more indigenous to their land. Often this is animal flesh which can provide fat and warmth during the coldest parts of the year. Clearly, the need for all of the meat we consume in the western world is not as justified.
Does this post mean one should not eat any animal flesh ever? Absolutely not. No one has the ability to say what will make YOU feel the best. But as we look at cultures throughout history we can see that people thrive when the majority of their foods are whole, balanced and predominantly plant based. When your diet is built on this foundation, from there one can start to branch out and include other foods that are right for your individual makeup. It is up to you to discover what these foods are and how they make you feel in the short and long term. This is where the real work comes into play.
The art of slowing down and connecting with your food choices requires patience and persevera
nce. Overall, it requires a deep love for the physical body which will carry you through this world. “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine thy food” are not just empty words. Hippocrates famous quote is based on the understanding that foods have a profound affect on our health and wellbeing along with the visceral experience of this. Owing to the fact that there is no one miracle diet right for everyone, it all comes back to each one of us and the level of commitment we have for finding exactly what works and what doesn’t. It is not an overnight process but one in which pleasure can be derived from along the way. Heres to your health!