Before I begin, I want to say that I’m not advocating that Paleo is the correct diet for everyone. I totally agree that there’s not one “right” way to eat. In fact, my goal really isn’t to be perfectly Paleo. It’s ultimately to eat healthier– to eat clean. My goal is to cut out processed foods, avoid grains, and eat more protein, fruits and vegetables, which sounds a whole lot like the Paleo diet. Following “rules” personally helps me stay on track. So yeah, I’ll have some lemonade with my green tea and there’s corn in my bag of mixed veggies. But the point is I’m drinking green tea lemonade instead of diet soda or a mocha, and I’m eating vegetables. Those are better choices than I might have made otherwise.
Earlier this week, U.S. News and World Report released their rankings of the best and worst diets for the year. (Paleo being one of the worst.) This has spurred many blogs and news sites to offer their own takes on which diets work and which don’t. What I like most is U.S. News’s further breakdown of diets by goal and special needs, (food sensitivities, specific medical conditions) because the best diet for a person depends on a lot of factors. But when the “best weight-loss diets” includes things like Slim-Fast, you have to question how much the nutritional value and sustainability of the diet was taken into account.
My basic response to this overall discussion point is summed up by the following sources better than I do believe I ever could:
1. “One of the most important success-promoting factors in a diet is a belief in the diet and a belief in the belief system behind the diet.” – Psychology of Eating (Marc David)
I think there’s this attitude in the wellness/health industry that what works for one person is the ONLY way, and everyone else is just dumb for thinking otherwise. This organization addresses that everyone has different needs, and that diets can and should be specified. Diets are much bigger than a monthly slim-down effort, and tied to social interactions and our own willpower and drive. While I am searching for the pieces of a one-size-fits all diet, we may all be better off with one tailored to our own tastes.
If there is a general truth for nutrition, I think that eating real food would have to be it (“real food” being defined above). I can’t think of anyone who’s gonna argue that Kale is bad for you (except maybe some people’s taste buds.) This post essentially summarizes everything I have come to believe about nutrition. Adapting these “rules” and being balanced about it seems to be a universally sound way of eating and living.