Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In Which I Revolutionize the Diet Industry

Right now I have at least, and I mean at least, ten friends who are trying all sorts of elaborate elimination diets for a variety of conditions, most of which are self-diagnosed or non-existent. I just visited with yet another friend this morning who told me that next week, on June 1st, that's it she's quitting gluten, dairy and eggs. A few weeks ago another friend, who was hypothyroid, started the same diet to supposedly cure her thyroid and remarked how miraculous it was and how much better she felt and then not five minutes later she said she had just started taking thyroid medicine and I was like, really? So you think the diet made you feel better and not the actual medicine for your disorder, which you started at the same time? Imagine that.

All of this not eating is beginning to get on my nerves. Of course people have actual food allergies, many of which can be fatal and must be taken seriously, but I believe the majority of people don't. Most people I think are simply stressed out by the pressures of life in modern society and/ or have poor eating habits and people want a magic bullet cure for what ails them. There are a few conditions where not eating something is a quick fix, but most of our problems are a lot more complicated than that. It would be nice if it were that easy. Quit eating x and feel miraculously better. But it's not. I'm sorry to have to tell you this but not eating gluten, unless you have actual diagnosed celiac disease, isn't going to fix your problems. Going without a certain food group isn't going to find you love or fulfillment. It won't get you more sleep or make you sexier or make you partner more romantic. It won't make your kids behave and it won't fill the holes of childhood wounds. It won't make your grief go away.

Getting better from anything requires more not less. We need to add nourishment to our minds, bodies and souls, not take more things away from ourselves.

Lately, it's become nearly impossible to plan a dinner party because of all the things people won't eat. This one won't eat dairy, another no gluten, then someone else is a vegetarian while yet another person won't eat eggs or vegetables in the nightshade family.

I was considering this last night while trying to plan a social event and I had a revelation about eating that could revolutionize the diet industry forever. I could make a million dollars off of this idea, but I'm going to give it to you for free.

The problem is that we need to eat more things instead of fewer. We don't have enough variety in our diets.

How many of you eat the same breakfast pretty much every day? I'm guilty.

You might think you eat a variety of foods but try keeping a food diary for a few weeks and I'll bet you'll find a lot of repeats and not as much variety as you thought. You're probably eating a lot of the same foods over and over. You are probably in a dietary rut.

Eating too much or too little of anything is unhealthy. When you limit your diet, you're limiting the nutrients your body receives. You need more. You need to eat a lot of different things from many different food groups every single day. You need color and texture, different flavors. Try more foods. Experiment with strange new tastes and food from other traditions. Get out of your rut. Stop denying yourself. Nurture your palate. Nourish your body. Stop taking things away from yourself. See how many different fruits and vegetables and grains you can eat in one day. If you eat meat, try many different sources of protein over the course of a week. See if you can discover some new things you love.

Food is here to give you energy and sustain you. Stop fearing it. As long as you aren't eating a bunch of processed garbage and as long as you don't have a diagnosed by an actual medical doctor food allergy or food related disease, give yourself permission to eat more variety and have fun with it. I promise you, you will feel better for it and your body and soul will thank you.

A couple years ago I went gluten free for over a year and it sucked. I had autoimmune issues and thyroid disease and my stomach was a mess and I desperately wished that eliminating gluten would fix it. Did it? No. I'm sorry. The stomach medicine and remedies I took helped more than anything. I still have autoimmune disease (gluten free, my antibodies actually went up, not down) and my thyroid will never be ok and a lack of bread isn't going to fix it as much as I'd like it to. 

So how about we stop all this food phobia and orthorexic neurosis? Why don't we put an end to ridiculous diet fads and face the truth that they aren't a magic bullet cure for anything?

Let's add more variety, spice, flavors, whole foods, real foods and nourishing foods to our diets instead. Let's eliminate fear from our diets instead of food groups. Let's try new things and expand, rather than limit the things we can and like to eat. We'd be much healthier all around if we did.


Anonymous said...

You can tell if someone has a real food allergy or not by how they complain about it. If they complain about other people not accommodating them, it's fake. If they complain about not being able to eat delicious, awesome food, it's probably real.

I developed an allergy to fish a little over a decade ago and I still bitch about how much I miss fish 'n' chips and grilled salmon and pan-fried catfish and rainbow trout and lingcod at least once a week.

Headant said...

I went gluten free for a while as well. It didn't make me feel any better, but I found that I slept worse when I went back to eating gluten. It may be the fact that we have genes for celiacs in my family.

I love that diet idea! The thing that I find I crave the most is variety. I am tired of the same old thing and love experimenting with flavor. Unfortunately, other family members do not feel the same.

Books & BS said...

Being gluten free completely sucks. It's been three years now and I have to say I still hate it. I miss bread and not gluten free bread. I was diagnosed with celiac so i had to give it up but if I wasn't man would I love a real piece of bread and a beer. I do feel much better though with out the gluten. I had weird rashes and horrid stomach issues my entire life.
I love to experiment with spices. I found with not being able to eat some things I have more variety now as to what I can eat. Most of my family though isn't so into the flavor though and I end up with bland pieces of meat and a plain vegetable when I eat at anyone's house.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely with avoiding dietary ruts, and have been actually doing a pretty good job of trying new things lately. Problem is, I bought my first [non-frozen] artichoke this week. Exciting, no? Problem is, it appears that to make it edible, I am obliged to steam it for 45 minutes. And I'm like, seriously? Steam it? For 45 minutes? When the weather's 88 degrees and humid? For one frickin artichoke? Let's make the house even more of a sauna, shall we? Eeesh. This green thing better be delicious is all I have to say.

This comment may be a little off-topic but what is the internet for if not to bitch about cooking artichokes?

silver said...

Great idea!

But if you're planning the dinner party you get to pick the menu you want to serve.

If people don't want to eat it, tough tooties, they can stop at the juice shack on their way home.

Obviously if you know someone has an illness/life threatening allergy to shellfish or peanuts, don't make a shrimp satay with thai peanut sauce.

Respectful people who have eating particularities (it's not a problem for many people) will know to eat hummus before they go to someone's house in case you're serving beef. And if the mashed potatoes have cream, they'll take 2 servings of broccoli instead. If they don't like eggplant they can have the linguine. And if they're so particular that there's nothing that they can eat, maybe you should consider what you have in common with them and if you want to remain friedly enough to invite to your next dinner party.
(again, taking into account legitimate health issues)

Gwyne said...

Food is a strange thing. I really think the only magic is eating real food vs processed. I work at a facility for children where everything they eat is processed, sodium filled mystery meals. Supposedly everything is calorie controlled and portions are very small. Still, when staff start working there and eat just one meal a day there, they gain 20-30 lbs within the first month. It's crazy. I really think there's something to the idea that it's not just a calorie equation... it's how your body breaks down what you eat... and whether or not it even can.

Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly except I have learned that when I eat beans or spices my stomach bloats and I get sicker than a dog. Also, my throat feels like it's on fire when I eat Cheerios or granola bars.

greyspasm said...

I'm one of those nuts who thinks everything happens for a reason, and when I think of food allergies (as a nut should) developing later in life, I think maybe the person is denying themselves something other than food, and that this food allergy is a manifestation of that, a way in which your beliefs show you how you're limiting your life.

Love your alternative to diets. An excellent idea.

kerry said...

More variety of food - yes! I also think our problems come from eating processed food with all the chemicals they put in it to make it predictable and marketable. Real food, that still looks like food, with only normal cooking type processing: I think this would solve a lot of our problems.

Anonymous said...

and those raw food diets are awful! some foods aren't any good for you UNLESS they are cooked! plus raw food is hell on your bowels...

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