I didn’t want to say diet because the big ‘ways of eating’ or ‘eating lifestyles’ that are out there right now such as vegan, paleo and GAPS are NOT diets. They are approaches to eating and are intended to be forever, not a temporary withdrawal of something until weight reaches a desired level. And let’s be honest, the forever part sometimes comes with an amount of rigidity that can spawn righteousness, ugliness and intolerance. Can you have some vegans and some paleo eaters over on the same night and expect peace all evening? Well, with some people you can, but I know many bloggers who feel themselves to be in a certain camp who are then lambasted by people who feel they are either in the wrong camp or have swerved too far out of the campsite……even if they were chasing a fabulous butterfly or helping their child get to the latrine at the time!
It’s odd, because as a nurse I can attest to the fact that different medications have different effects on different people. Same species, different effect. There is huge variety between members of our species regarding allergic reactions, effect on bowel movements, mood, and weight, even one eats the same exact thing as the person standing behind him or her in the cafeteria line. Why then would we assume that the same eating lifestyle would be optimal for everyone? It won’t, and it isn’t and so there. So where does this leave us and why am I risking getting flamed by the tee-totallers?
We are left with the common ground to the eating lifestyles and I use the word ‘ground’ on purpose. The Lifestyles: Paleo, Vegan, GAPS and many others, recommend in one way or another that you eat natural foods and avoid processed foods. They can all agree that it is good to eat more vegetables, eat less Twinkies. Eat more that either came from the ground, or from something that ate something that came from the ground, and less pre-packaged, pre-chemicalized, pre-preserved, pre-pared by someone other than you or your Aunt Marge, foods. As often as possible.
All of the lifestyles have marvelous science, tests, books, and even movies to back up their point of view, but I know from years of experimentation that there is no one with the exact same digestion as me. I know for a fact that I can not do dairy, and have a very tough time with beans, but that is not true for everyone. I do not have any physical problems eating meat, but frankly I am much more comfortable eating meat that came from well-treated, naturally fed animals and I can not afford to do that often so I eat less meat. Me, me, me, it’s all about me isn’t it? Well, when it comes to what works for ME nutritionally speaking, yes. There are valid arguments about how the raising of different foods affects the planet and I take that into account in my purchasing, but it ain’t easy feeding a family ideally all the time.
Just had to stick in a picture of some veggies – Little Sis’ quick and easy “Chemical Free Simply Fabu Sweet and Sour Pickles“
Here’s another reason to drop the flags and banners and just educate people about the very real trouble with processed foods and the Food Industry. If you narrow your diet too dramatically you miss out on a lot of delightful social happenings. If I can’t eat at anyone’s home but my own then I have seriously limited my experience of the world and I would miss the interactions that tend to happen when people gather to eat. Sometimes at a gathering, celebration, restaurant or party you just have to do the best you can with what is there. Of course people who eschew animal products for ethical or religious reasons have to be choosier, but it is very rare that there is not something edible for most everyone.
So back to an eating lifestyle…… Little Sis and I began the Baby Steps series because it is difficult to attain a healthier, much less completely healthy, lifestyle. Making changes to your diet is difficult and believing that life is all vegan/paleo/GAPS all the time or nothing, leads a lot of people to failure in making lifestyle changes. Pay attention to and try to decrease the amount of processed food in your diet and you are choosing the bottom line element of lifestyle eating that has so powerfully affected people’s lives that they think their way works for everyone. Maybe the common denominator of less processed food is also the common denominator for feeling and looking better with these changes!
Everytime you eat more healthfully……you are eating more healthfully! Seriously. That is WAY better than less healthfully. If you need some encouragement, check out our Baby Steps series and our Sugar Busting series, because unfortunately, sugar outside of plants and milk is a processed food and is heavily present in most processed foods.
I often counsel patients who are trying to improve their eating habits / lose weight / lower blood pressure, etc. to start with the vegetables. Eat more vegetables up front and there won’t be as much for the other stuff….preferably the other stuff is the least processed possible, for you, at this time, in this situation with these people. It’s really all you can do and still remain mildly sane – personally I have given up on totally sane!