Often I’m asked ‘which diet is right for me’? Whilst helping others is far simpler, let me be honest right now, I have also asked myself the same question.
The problem with the game I am in (nutrition and healthy eating) is that I know too much. I know what the science says I should eat. I know what the government says I should eat. I know what nutritional therapy says I should eat and I know what the nutritional anthropologists say I should eat.
However it gets even more complicated when my moral compass rears it head and heaven forbid, my own dietary preferences chip in too.
Which is why I felt heartened to hear this fascinating debate by three leaders in the field of (arguably) alternative nutrition.
Messrs Lipman, Hyman and Kahn argued for their preferred diet strategies, which are all different. The discussion proved a theory I have, which is not popular; there is no one diet to suit everyone. And even worse; science cannot show definitively that there is either.
Ultimately, I come down on the side of Dr Mark Hyman and may call myself a ‘Valeo’ which sounds better than a ‘Pegan’; just about.
My tummy rumbles when I see astonishingly gorgeous looking salads and vegetable rich meals. However I’m not a fan of pulses. I can’t seem to tolerate dairy (which makes me snotty) or wheat (which makes me gassy and bloated).
Sometimes I enjoy organic salmon and maybe a little bit of happy locally reared organic lamb. Eggs are a regular part of my diet. However generally, as they say “anything with a face or a mother” is not for me. My brain starts going into overdrive as to how the creature or its parent met its end or was treated whilst alive.
This was very much the case last week when I visited a beachfront fishmonger on the Sussex coast. There was a huge array of fish for sale. I began to realise it wasn’t going well for me, when I saw the live lobsters with their claws bound.
Putting my personal preferences aside, I bought some cooked crab and kipper for Mr M. I then saw a horrifying sign which read: ‘Uncooked crab claws for sale’………… If I’d seen that first I would have left immediately. Even my friend, a dyed in wool farming-type felt that was a horrible thought. Being boiled alive is bad enough but being dissected whilst alive must be even worse.
Experiences like these evoke vegan thoughts. However I won’t eat soya (too much evidence around hormone disruption), avoid pulses generally (as I say, not a favourite) and can’t eat loads of nuts (because of my weight). All this means being a vegan would probably be inadvisable for me and hugely complicate my life.
Mr M said this morning, “there should be people to identify which diet is right for the individual”. Can you imagine how much time that would take? I do appreciate the Metabolic Typing camp would have you believe this is what they do. I’m not so sure. At the end of the day, it is still squeezing swathes of people into clever and a large variety of pigeonholes.
So what is the answer? Here’s my own strategy:
- Firstly choose a way of eating (probably from a book initially) that you like the sound of.
- Then give it a go to see if it suits you both physiologically and emotionally.
- Don’t be afraid to adapt and change it.
- Try not to get drawn into a new fad. If your diet works for you then embrace and learn more about it. Like moving to a new place, you need to explore, not move every time you get bored!
- Finally if you like me, haven’t found exactly what works, then don’t be afraid to invent your own diet.
That brings me back to why I need to sit down and spend some serious time getting up close with my vegan and paleo cookbooks. My new Valeo status means I have to figure out what suits me for breakfast, lunch and supper.
After all, there is no one who knows better than me what I like and what I need. I just need to listen to my body and not my over inquisitive brain or the media.