Diet Diatribe

Are you a vegetarian? A vegan? Do you eat low fat, low carb, no carb? How about paleo or raw foods? Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig? There are dozens (maybe hundreds) of different diet plans out there, and guess what? Each one works for somebody. What fascinates me is how many people get angry if you don’t subscribe to their particular eating style. And just like David (or Bruce) Banner, you wouldn’t like most people when they’re angry.

Yesterday I read an interview with a man who has written a book about the benefits of a high-starch diet. Yep, you read that right. Even though the South Beach Diet has mostly gone out of style, we are still a nation afraid of carbs, so this book is quite controversial. The comments on this article included several from people who were downright furious, not only that the author would advocate eating starches, but because he also claims that a paleo diet is very bad for you.

Again, there are plenty of people who have lost weight (sadly, still the main marker of a “successful” diet) and gained health (better!) on a paleo diet. And there are people who have done the same eating a high-starch diet. So why, if different things work for different people, do we have to get angry about it? Just because something works for you, doesn’t mean it will work for someone else. I’m not a big meat eater, so a paleo diet doesn’t appeal to me at all. Does that mean I think the paleo diet is a bunch of bunk and no one should follow it? Nope.

Here’s the thing I hate about all commercial diets: They all claim that if you follow them, you’ll “keep the weight off for good.” And yet studies consistently show that nearly all people who lose weight on a diet gain back the pounds – and more. What a revolution we would have on our hands if these diets promised us lowered cholesterol, lowered blood sugar, and better overall general health. But the promise of shedding pounds sells, even if the reality of permanent weight loss evades almost every one of us.

There are simple things we can do, no matter what diet we choose to follow, to make ourselves healthier. We can stop drinking calories. We can cut out highly processed foods. We can control our portions. If you’ve found a style of eating beyond these rules works for you – bravo! Tell your friends and family. But don’t hulk out if they don’t want to follow along. Eating is a personal choice.