A trifle strident…

Something that knocks around my brain is an innocuous comment a friend made, “as a species we have forgotten how to eat.”

In this health nut phase of mine, something I am wishing will be more than just a phase, like the violin turned out to be, the deeper I dig the more awed I am at the extent to which we, as a species, have forgotten how and what to eat, not to mention how we live.

We live in “camps”, camps of frequently obese and overweight people who appear lean and svelte one day and inflated or bloated soon thereafter.  Some turn on an IV (intravenous) diet, some eat only cabbage for awhile, some turn to something called a General Motors diet and some eat like hunters and gatherers on a paleolithic diet without considering the lifespan of paleolithic man.

The last line of this Wikipedia passage probably underscores the hilarity of the paleolithic diet philosophy:

Overall, Paleolithic peoples experienced less famine and malnutrition than the Neolithic farming tribes that followed them.[16][98] This was partly because Paleolithic hunter-gatherers had access to a wider variety of plants and other foods, which allowed them a more nutritious diet and a decreased risk of famine.[16][18][58] Many of the famines experienced by Neolithic (and some modern) farmers were caused or amplified by their dependence on a small number of crops.[16][18][58] The greater amount of meat obtained by hunting big game animals in Paleolithic diets than in Mesolithic and Neolithic diets may have also allowed Paleolithic Hunter-gatherers to enjoy a more nutritious diet than both Epipaleolithic/Mesolithic hunter-gatherers and Neolithic agriculturalists.[98] It is also unlikely that Paleolithic hunter-gatherers were affected by modern diseases of affluence and extended life such as Type 2 diabetescoronary heart disease andcerebrovascular disease, because they ate mostly lean meats and plants and frequently engaged in intense physical activity [99][100], and because the average lifespan was shorter than the age of common-onset of these conditions.[101][102]

 That’s right, they were gone before any diseases could hit.  And did paleo woman really look like this, the heart disease, diabetes, blood pressure trifecta waiting to happen? My health insurance company would refuse to insure me if I aimed for this:

We met someone who, along with his seven year old daughter, was on this diet.  He told us that there was nothing but venison, obtained via a Pennsylvania supplier, in his freezer.  Perhaps some vegetables but really nothing else.  Really?  He defended against the lifespan arguments by stating that they cooked their food in their tiny little caves and inhaled a lot of smoke which is why they died early, not because of this so called paleo diet (“so called”, in my opinion because I don’t think the original paleo diet was so venison skewed,  they probably didn’t just eat what they killed).

Each of these food camps are insistent and can present compelling reasons for their choices.

Intuition, however, always gets short shrift in this land we call our land.  We like standardized approaches, we like to force a framework on things.  We box everything within rigid outlines.  We like creating formulas and “bibles”.  We then swear by our little handbooks so that we can set aside things like reasoning, logic and foresight.  It is compelling to be spoon fed a way of eating (Atkins), a way of living (The Secret), a way of thinking (any number of Dr Phil types getting richer by the minute).

So we have enough experts out there.  If something works for someone they decide that their singular insight can be packaged and sold in bite-sized pieces to all the blind, stumbling masses.  All sheep need shepherds.

Millions get minted on the basis of something that worked for someone.  One size fits all, what could possibly sell better?

Take the debate over whether three meals a day or constant grazing needs to be the norm, the healthier strategy.  There are as many dogmatic opinions and “bibles” here as there are people on the leanness and obesity karmic wheel!

Each person is different, each person’s metabolic needs are different, their hereditary factors dictate their needs, their biochemical wiring dictates requirements.  One size can never fit all.

The only prevailing logic, the only decision driver should be the fact that all things are interconnected: your psychological state, your habits, how you adapt, how you grow, your very own personal circumstances.  Perhaps your post-prandial insulin spikes send the right neuro-transmitters through your system, perhaps some others need to minimize those spikes and keep them steady.  Perhaps some can only do well with a three-meal strategy while others need to graze throughout the day.  It can’t be dictated through someone’s idea of a one size health and nutrition blockbuster for all.

One size never fits all.  Not in life, not in nutrition.  “Schools of thought” simply skew thought.  We have to be our own monitors, our own judges.  We have to think for ourselves, be curious, be empirical and above all – be earnest.

Leave a comment

No comments yet.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Follow Curlicues's Weblog on WordPress.com