Regardless of the details, almost all successful diets help you eat more whole foods, and fewer processed foods.
It’s all about our biology. Our bodies build themselves with the food we eat. For our bodies to function perfectly, they need to be given an optimal diet.
The problem is, not everyone agrees on what an optimal diet looks like.
How can we be sure?
Cut The Confusion
Nutrition is a world full of arguments, short-term fads, and even cult-like behavior.
Why should there be so much confusion in the topic of health?
Maybe it’s because when people talk about food, they’re not always talking about nutrition.
Vegans and vegetarians are known for their stance on the ethics of eating meat. Wouldn’t someone who hates meat-eating in all its forms be very keen to believe that a plant-only diet is healthy and natural for human beings?
During the mid-20th century, the US government found itself with a massive surplus of grain produce. Faced with the possibility of billions of dollars rotting away, is it any wonder they were inclined to convince by shaky science that grain-based diets are good for human beings?
Whether it’s ethics or economics or even spirituality, if the first reason for your interest in nutrition is something other than human health, are you sure you’re going to see a clear picture?
What I like about the “Paleo Principles” is the assumption behind it uncluttered.
It goes something like this:
The diet we ate while we evolved is the one we are best suited to.
Notice there is no assumption that this diet should be mostly meats or mostly plants, high in fat or high in carbohydrate. Instead it says, “Let’s look at how our body processes food from a scientific stance.”
Once we know what the optimal diet is, then we can make much better decisions, and eat food that is both ethical and that makes us feel awesome!
For example, if you are as outraged as I am about the conditions of the meat industry, then look into organic, grass-fed meat. Vegetarianism made more sense 50 years ago, before we had the option to buy meat from animals that were raised correctly. Thankfully, we have more options today, and it turns out that not only is it more ethical to raise healthy animals, but it also produces much more nutritious meat.
Maybe ethics and optimal nutrition don’t have to be at odds with one another, if we look at how at how our ancestors ate.
The Baseline Diet
Eat lots of vegetables, lean meats, healthy fats, and some low-glycemic fruit.
Virtually everyone does well on the baseline diet.
Some people can tolerate dairy, or some types of grain, but it’s difficult to know what’s holding you back if your body has become desensitized by decades of troublesome foods.
If you stick to the baseline diet for 30 days you’ll have given your body time to heal itself and become sensitive again. Then, you can find out what’s actually causing you problems by reintroducing other types of food, one at a time, and seeing how they affect you.
This is the ideal, to only eat stuff that looks like it has just been pulled from the ground or cut from an animal. But sometimes the process takes a little more thought. Some of us find it just as difficult to give up processed foods as to stop smoking. Others find an all-natural optimal diet too radically different to jump into straight away.
That’s why we have a number of different tools we can call upon if we need a little more help in the beginning stages. Tools such as protein isolates, and carefully selected low-carb sweetened products. These act almost like a prescription to help the body repair, but they a bridge to a long-term solution.
Once the body is repaired and operating at an optimal level, with chronic conditions cleared up, excess weight dropped, and energy levels high, the baseline diet is the ideal way to maintain that new status quo.
Whatever the method to getting there, the goal we’re working towards is a diet that’s much closer to our nature than the one that made us sick in the first place.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to work, and everyone is different in how their body tolerates certain foods, or the practicality of their life style.
The Paleo Diet Fad
The term “Paleo Diet” might be a fad, but the principles it is based on are not.
I often use the word “Paleo” with my clients because it’s a word people know, and if you type it into Google you’ll be bombarded with an avalanche of useful information. It’s a shortcut that brings people closer to a good understanding of nutrition very quickly.
However, since it was popularized it’s had a bunch of fads spring up from it. It’s the nature of these things. Someone finds something that seems to work, (or that would be easy to sell), locks down their beliefs around it, and then starts preaching that everyone else is wrong.
They come and go. It’s the natural cycle of public opinion, and we don’t need to get involved.
Like any diet, marketers take advantage of the unknowing. To give you an example I recently came across some products called “Paleo Diet Bar “. They had a Bar with 20 grams of sugar from “natural honey”. See, it may be natural but when it comes down to it, eating these frequently will not benefit you. They are tasty, but also not technically Paleo! Part of the Paleo principles is to watch out for added sugars regardless of the form.
If you agree that our natural diet is probably what’s most healthy for us to eat, then you agree with the first principle of optimal health. From there, the question becomes, “What exactly is our natural diet?”
To find that out, all we have to do is follow the evidence, and see what foods work with our biology the best.
I encourage you to do your own research, and this blog is here to make that as easy as possible for you, but if you’d like a short-cut, look to the baseline diet:
Vegetables, lean meats, healthy fats, and low-glycemic fruit (i.e. berries).
I have worked with hundreds of clients, helping relieve them of diet-related ailments and disease, and the baseline diet proves itself over and over again to be the most optimal way to nourish and heal the human body.
Where things get difficult is in the practical application of this knowledge.
Bottom line, it’s hard to eat only whole foods when you have been conditioned for so long on processed foods. For example most people who struggle with this transition end up going from one extreme to another. Chicken, vegetables one day and pizza on the weekends. That’s why there’s still so much to talk about.
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