These day’s it seems that if you’re not on the #paleo#glutenfree#dairyfree#vegan#, etc…bandwagon, then my friend – your food choices are just substandard. Yes, they’re all good in my books and I include each and every one of those above mentioned hashtags in my diet, and I congratulate all who maintain these diets successfully, but that’s not my issue here. The issue I have is with the general lack of knowledge on what it truly means to follow that particular diet.
Being vegan is just like so cool. “No thank you, I don’t eat meat…but I’ll happily polish off those greasy french fries”! Or “yeah man, we’re doing Paleo style here, all bacon and beef”! I doubt that in the hunting and gathering day’s there was a bounty of bacon for breakfast and steak for dinner on a daily basis. Now as far as locusts, bugs, and worms…they were in abundance! What about the big dreaded milk issue (that includes pure organic as well)? No,”milk is bad, we can’t drink it…but it’s no problem to keep eating cheese and yogurt because there is no dairy in that”. Or, “I don’t eat dairy at all but I’m not really making the effort for calcium substitutions either”. Remember when eggs were on the big bad list? Too much cholesterol – we must not eat! It wasn’t long till it was back in the good books.
Hello?! Is the point being missed here altogether?
Mankind seems to have a way with trends. The pendulum swings drastically from one end to another, from the huge worldwide epidemic of fast food/processed foods to the extremities of clean eating trends. It all gets so confusing!
Finding a Diet That Suits You
If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts you’ll know that I’m a big fan of healthy eating. I’ve done and continue to do plenty of research into the pro’s and con’s of all food diets analyzing everything and anything in hopes of finding the good points and the bad points. Inside me also lives a foodie who wants to taste all the flavors and textures this world has to offer. Or maybe it comes from a survival instinct when I was a humanitarian worker on a project deep in the bush of Africa where if you didn’t eat what was provided for you, you’d starve! (memories are coming back to me of okra soup and gari! For the record, no offence but ew, not a favorite!)
So herein lies the dilemma. What kind of health freak should I be?
Do I become a vegetarian?
Do I join the “gluten-free”, “dairy-free”, “fat-free” bandwagon?
I have no food allergies or intolerances…so why would I need to give up dairy or gluten?
Trends aside, I firmly believe we have to find a diet that suits us individually taking into account different climates and the change of seasons, with the end goal being on making good healthy food choices – not following a trend. We have to ask ourselves is my chosen diet sustainable?Do I have enough knowledge on the subject of what it truly means to be vegan, for example? Can I prepare a proper meal making sure I’m getting all the nutrients my body requires?
My Perfect Diet
The perfect diet for me is the Mediterranean diet/part-time vegetarian. This means eating a predominately plant-based diet, plenty of whole grains and energy foods, and having 2-3 meat free day’s. Yes, I eat a moderate amount of dairy and have milk or almond milk in my cereal in the morning. I eat pretty much all food groups in moderation. I aim to eat my fruit and vegetables as raw as possible and dabble with creating vegan, gluten-free and raw food for a bit of foodie fun!
Here is what the mediterranean food pyramid looks like. I think what I love the most about it is the fact that daily physical exercise made it on to the pyramid. I guess food and exercise really do go hand-in-hand.
The Worlds Best Diet
I watched a brilliant documentary on channel 4 a couple of weeks back about the Worlds Best Diet. Statistics were compiled from the following organizations:
- World Health Organisation (WHO)
- International Diabetes Federation (IDF)
- The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation Food Balance Sheets
- The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
I’ll leave the details for a future post maybe, but just to give you a very quick overview, the top 10 countries were:
- Seventh Day Adventists (type of Christianity)
- Sweden, Norway, Denmark
- The Kuna Indians
- The Netherlands
Most of these countries had similar things in common;
- barely any processed foods
- high quality meats
- plenty of fish
- and most importantly portion control!
The body loves balance. What ever diet we choose had better be what it really needs, and most importantly it has to be something maintainable. When choosing our diet we should ask ourselves:
Does it suit my individual needs and food intolerance?
Is it conducive to the climate I live in?
Am I getting a well-balanced diet?
Do I really need to give up gluten because of a serious and chronic condition such as coeliac disease, or am I just being told it makes me fat?