I seldom like to discuss diet on my blog because, for one thing, I doubt anyone cares what I eat, and for another thing, I am not too impressed by fad diets in general. I have written about the dangers of paleo dieting, and I hold the general point of view that we as a society have a tendency to over-intellectualize the topic of food and diet to the point that common-sense truths start to disappear. This, to me, is the real danger of modern dietary trends.
For example, the cholesterol scare that popped up in the late 80s and early 90s was good because it got people thinking about the fatty foods they were consuming; but it was bad, because the over-intellectualization of the topic created the high-carbohydrate dietary trend. This, in turn, subjected people to a lot of bad food advice. Obviously eating a diet comprised primarily of refined carbohydrates comes with its own set of problems.
Of course, paleo dieting is (in my opinion) misguided for the same reason, but in the opposite direction. Eating multiple eggs per day, and large amounts of fatty meats, is not the kind of dietary practice that common sense would indicate. It is not the kind of diet that should be sustained over a long period of time. Ketosis, as I wrote previously, is not a natural condition of the human body.
At a certain point, common sense must kick-in.
As a diabetic, I have had to analyze my food intake "three-ways-to-Sunday." I am required to compare changes in my food intake to changes in my blood sugar. As a result of this, I have a good working knowledge of what seems to work well, at least for diabetics like me. Interestingly enough, "what seems to work well" is common sense.
For example, common sense would suggest that stuffing yourself with pancakes and breakfast sausage in the morning is going to make you feel unhealthy. Sure enough, my experience (and the data I keep) reveals that whenever I eat a lot of rich carbohydrates or fatty meats at breakfast time, my blood sugar rises more than it should. Carrying this trend out for extended periods of time results in a body that simply doesn't feel great.
By contrast, it is almost impossible (but not completely impossible) to make myself feel bad by eating a large amount of vegetables. Certain very rich vegetables - cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, potatoes, and the like - can and do take their toll. But common sense tells us that "the healthy vegetables," things like spinach, kale, chard, cabbage, broccoli, and so on, will almost never impact our bodies in an adverse way. My personal experience - supported by my data collection - confirms common sense in this case. There may indeed be an unhealthy quantity of broccoli, but most people would have to try very hard to consume that much.
One final note I'll add here pertains to seafood. Seafood makes up a large part of the so-called "Mediterranean Diet," and also a large part of diets in the Far East. Basically, wherever there is saltwater, there prevails diets rich in seafood. For the past couple of weeks, I have tried to replace traditionally "North American" protein sources (chicken, beef, and pork) with seafood. This undertaking has been a smashing success. I have felt pure and energetic. Over this past week, however, I have been travelling, and therefore unable to pursue my typical seafood regimen. What I have noticed is that my body really misses the seafood, and is not responding particularly well to the chicken and turkey with which I have replaced it.
So, it seems to me that a diet rich in seafood - which may or may not be supported by "common sense" - yields very good results for me. Whether or not you are diabetic, I recommend giving a seafood diet a try. All you have to do is eat normally, but restrict your protein consumption to eggs, dairy, seafood, and vegetable sources. Try it for a week and see how you feel. Then give your old diet a week and compare notes. I'm certain you'll reach the same conclusion I have.
"Of course, paleo dieting is (in my opinion) misguided for the same reason, but in the opposite direction."ReplyDelete
Have you written on this before? If not, I'd be interested to hear your take.
I've found that a decent number of paleo enthusiasts take things to the extreme where all you can have is basically meat, veggies, fruit, and nuts (plus maybe a couple of other foods). Others, though, basically take paleo to mean staying away from refined or highly processed foods. The latter view seems like a good rule of thumb, since the vast majority of highly processed foods seem to be nothing more than chemically treated piles of crap that have enough flavor enhancers to make them appear delicious. In that case, the Paleo diet is nothing more than basic diet advice that's rationalized on the grounds of voodoo science.
See the Mises.ca link at the top of this post. My principle objection against paleo dieting is that ketosis is dangerous and neurodegenerative. I don't think anyone in a state of ketosis is healthy, no matter their claims to the contrary.
As you note, the common sense rules-of-thumb always seem to yield the healthiest dietary results. I suppose this is to be expected, since food is about as instinctual a need as could possibly exist. :)