Its that time of year and re-gifting is eco-friendly and functional! Since this is the time of year when the diet talk gets out of control, I wanted to offer, the only situation in which I will talk diet.
When we can’t trust the medical industry to tell us what’s healthy, then how do we determine this for ourselves?
Then I remembered, I did a whole post about it in TOC not too long ago. I wrote this more from an environmental standpoint than a fat-conscious one and I wrote it before I had read a lot of the research on dieting. Keep that in mind.
So here are the only ‘diets’ I would consider.
You all know I hate the term diet and all it entails. “I’m going on a diet” basically means to me that I’m going to throw hundreds of dollars into the diet industry, eat things from the grocery store that say they’re low fat (but are really choc full of sodium and other processed goodness) and when I reach my goal I will stop the ‘diet’ and resume my previous habits and gain everything back. Then I’ll hate the way I look some more and do it again and again with much worse detriment to my body than the original extra poundage ever was.Yeah, no thanks.It’s not that I think losing weight is inherently bad, just the way to go about it, I struggle with. But I’ve been reading a lot about green diets and it is the route I’m taking to eat healthier. Its slow going. If I had to rate my commitment to change at this point, I’d give it a solid C+. But I get extra credit for making it a permanent commitment and not a temporary one. Because changing my diet to help improve the environment as well as myself, isn’t the sort of thing that’s just going to stop being important so once I start something, it’s a lot harder to stop. If I don’t lose weight from it, I don’t care. I’ll be healthier and eating sustainable foods and that’s all I am interested in.
As the omnivore’s dilemma asks, “If you can eat anything, what should you eat?”
I’ve been asking myself this continually since I read the book. I still don’t have all the answers. As I’ve said this is an individual question with individual answers. Nothing that I write here need have any impact on the way you answer the question for yourself. These are just my thought processes as they have progressed. Thus I’m not interested in any brand of food evangelism (meat eaters are killers, vegetarians are all unhealthy, that sort of thing) though suggestions and tips in a non-proselytizing vein and sharing what works for you are always welcome. Still, I think over time, as long as I examine this question critically, the answers will come.
So far, here are my thoughts on a few of the ideas out there*:
Vegan: No way, no how, not a chance. It works great for some people but not for me. If I was born with a certain metabolism maybe I could survive on this diet but its not for me. This is both preference and reality. If I could eat certain things, then maybe I could sustain myself on this diet but there are facets of a vegan diet that I simply could not force myself to eat or enjoy–that’s where preference comes in. And then of course there’s the whole no cheese situation. Yeah, so this is definitely a closed door.
Vegetarian: This is realistic in terms of what I like to eat and what would sustain me. However, realistic in terms of my will power, I don’t know. If I succeed in building the healthy food habits that I hope to, maybe down the road this is a possibility. But I think I’d fall into the vegetarian category of ‘I don’t eat meat because I’m too busy eating bread and cheese.’ And it might make me more likely than I am now to go: oooh cheetos, no meat there!! I don’t eat a lot of traditional junk food but if I chose a diet that limited my choices it might become more tempting to eat fatty things. But still I think this is a viable diet for me and may be a long-term goal. And I think an in-between goal would be the serious reduction of the amount of meat I consume.
The ethical side of vegan and veggie: When I look at a major source of my ethics, I look to nature. In nature, I see the consumption of animal products and the destruction of animals for consumption. I think it is the circle of life. If no one ate venison, deer would consume the planet. I think this can and should be done humanely and not for sport or to excess. Basic organic,local and humane farming is cool with me, but I don’t go for major industrialized farming. If trout is overfished, then sorry, no more trout. You may just have to go 10 years before you get to have it again. However, I do not necessarily agree that it is entirely unethical to sustain ourselves off other creatures. The reason I would consider going veggie is not animal cruelty as much as it is the high environmental cost of meat production.
Organic: This is probably the best way to describe a large portion of my current diet. Buying organic means buying foods free of hormones, chemicals, ingredients that have been over-processed or are not natural and buying products that are humane to animals, including free ranged products. I like this portion of my diet but it doesn’t cover all my convictions. If I buy organic free range eggs from South Dakota, what is the environmental impact of getting those eggs to the supermarket? Did a local, individual farmer profit from my purchase or have I simply again fed a large food production company like Cargill? For me, buying organically isn’t enough but its a start.
Local diets: I think this is an awesome diet. But it is one of the hardest ones to do in entirely. The idea of only eating things within 100 miles of your home is extremely challenging when you live in Oklahoma. However, if I include my own gardening into the picture and gain the space to do some indoor gardening and buy more from the Coop, this becomes more possible. I may not be able to find locally made green food coloring and random things like that. And I’m not sure that I can do without pickles in the winter. But again, the more I learn about growing and storing my own fruits and veggies, the more realistic this diet gets. I think a strong combination of a local diet with a bit of organic splashed in there is a really good mix for me.
Paleodiets: Yes, you read that right. Dino-diets. Think back to what the cavemen, our genetic ancestors ate. Wouldn’t they be driven enough by instinct to think that those foods are really what our bodies were designed to eat? Sure, if you want to believe that our bodies haven’t evolved at all since! Actually, I do think this diet has a lot of credibility. Studies have shown that sticking to root veggies, fruits, nuts and lean meats have improved the body’s glucose production. However, I think I can get a great deal of benefit by simply increasing the amounts of those foods that I eat in without completely cutting out breads and dairy products.
Raw Foods: Eh, this is just a matter of not being convinced. I’m not convinced that the positive (nutrients and bacteria) lost outweighs the negative (bacteria) gained if you don’t cook your food. And I think it is a completely random question. Whether or not one piece of meat is better for you cooked or raw depends on how it was cooked, how the animals were fed and what environmental factors may have contaminated it. I’m just not entirely convinced that I’m better off risking e-coli to get a few extra nutrients. I’m not a germ-a-phobe or anything so there is a minuscule chance that I could do this diet without a lot of nose-turning but it would take a lot of science to convince me it’s worth it.
Those are my thoughts on just a few of the eco-diets I’ve come across so far. If there are more you think I should look into, do let me know.
So, how do you determine what is healthy? Because we can eat anything, as omnivores, what do you think we should eat?
*Some of these ideas have come from a great article that athena_jess sent me, some have come from other sources on the internet. Email me if you want more info on anything.