the perspective diet

[Here's a topic that's been on my mind as of late. written for submission to The Oracle Project.]

It was well over a decade ago that I decided not to buy into any nutrition movement. The organic variations. The low carb. The raw food. The blood type. The vegan. On and on they roll in and out of style.

Maybe it's because I'm not a nutrition expert. I'm not. Maybe it's because I've been blessed with relatively good health (so far) and haven't been subject to desperation. But what I am is a health conscious person who cannot do any of it.

Specific diets are justified in the name of health, wellness, or fitness. They explain illness with a clear cut nutritional imbalance. There are rules, of course. When obesity, illness, etc occurs (and it will), it's because of something you did not follow correctly regarding the diet. Pretty soon your left with drinking raw, certified organic beet juice, wondering why you're still tired and stuffy in the nose.

Many diets are bad religion.

The gurus seem to miss that what "works" are the basics that we've known for decades: most people (well, Americans anyway) eat too much, eat too many processed foods, and move far too little. They seem to forget that humans have proven relatively resilient through the ages, thriving and healing (miraculously in my opinion) on a great variety of dietary habits. Do they also forget that all of us eventually wear out and become ill and die?

It is main line science and not fringe dietary conspirists that progress our understanding. For example, it's reasonable to follow a specific dietary regimen for specific conditions like gluten intolerance or genetic predisposition to high cholesterol. We now know that starchy carbs are easy to over eat, natural sources of fat and cholesterol are good for you, and that we can benefit from more omega-3 fatty acids. Just like many other areas of life, the diet gurus take an ounce of legit science and run with it, offering answers to every malady with scant evidence for benefit beyond what generally clean living provides.

If it turns out that any of the diets do provide such above and beyond benefit, I'm skeptical that they're worth the numerous costs. I suspect that all the extreme behaviors are unnecessary at best. Maybe a dose of perspective is the perfect recipe to those of us who imagine that bananas have too many carbs, that inorganics are simply unacceptable, or one gram of protein per pound of body weight per day is really needed to achieve a certain aesthetic.
My aunt putting aside her own self, her time and money
 and comfort to serve the people of Sierra Leone.

While the majority of people throughout the ages have starved and suffered extreme malnutrition, we sit at our computers worrying about or even arguing over whether or not it's optimal to cook our carrots and homogenize our milk. I think we would all tremendously benefit from a few weeks of service in one of the many parts of the world where they eat rice for dinner and have no lunch at all.

And now I'll offer something beyond criticism.

Prior to ascribing to any specific dietary rules and spending thousands of dollars on proactive or reactive health care, I thought to at least try the following:

1. Try not to over eat.  Always easier said than done where food is actually available.

2. Get the majority of daily calories from minimally processed foods.

3. Move more. The perfect diet will not accomplish for your body and mind what physical activity can.

4. Rest. As if it really matters - one of my own greatest struggles.

5. Laugh.

6. Serve others. While diet and exercise are all about me, less self focus cures many ailments.

7. Give thanks. Practice gratitude (see point number 1). Read up on it. Gratitude may be the closest thing we have to a miracle on demand.

If you disagree or simply have to narrow your focus, at least go with the final two.

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