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Okay .... I'm REALLY confused!

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Old 10-28-2010, 12:45 AM   #1
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Unhappy Okay .... I'm REALLY confused!

Sometimes too much opinions and "expertise" can become overwhelming.

I've been looking up healthy diets for a long time here lately, and there are so many different opinions ... all saying theirs is the right way.

One says meat and fats is the healthiest things to eat, and just use veggies for taste, and that fruit is like candy bars on trees and that most shouldn't be eaten. http://www.paleonu.com/get-started/

One says meat and fat is BAD, and that fruit is the most amazing, most healthiest thing you can eat.

One says grains is bad.

One recommends lots of grains.

One says dairy is bad.

One recommends dairy....
You see my point.



I'm so confused. What is the right way??
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Old 10-28-2010, 12:52 AM   #2
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There probably is no one right way, however I find many of the "ancestor diet" arguments pretty persuasive (essentially the more modern and processed the food, the more likely it is to be not so great for us).

Even the various ancestor diets disagree over which foods are ok, and to which degree, but most are relatively low-carb, and anti-sugar, anti-grain.

I find that even "good carb" whole grains or too much fruit can make me hungrier and trigger health problems. I don't know that it is true for everyone, but it is true for me.

I think the best tool anyone can have is a food journal and a willingness to experiment. By recording your food (and health issues if you have them) you will eventually find what works best for you. You have to repeat the experiments many times, but if you do, you'll find the patterns that tell you what's best for your body.
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Old 10-28-2010, 12:52 AM   #3
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Personally, I believe all those things...fruits, veggies, grains, fats are good in moderation. I think it's all about portions. I am a calorie counter and for me, this works best. I like it because I'm not cutting out or reducing the amount of any one food group, I'm just eating smaller portions of all different kinds of things.

I agree that it can be overwhelming. I recently thought about switching it up and maybe starting Atkins or something. I decided to hold off, I enjoy counting calories and it's working so far!

Good Luck on whatever diet you decide on!

Maybe you can try a diet for a few weeks, a month (whatever) and see what YOU like and feel BEST doing...?

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Old 10-28-2010, 03:15 AM   #4
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I was considering a diet where I drop grains, processed food, and dairy, and just try the meat, fat, and veggies (with moderate amounts of fruit), but then a site I looked at says that the body doesn't need carbs, and that people should really only be eating meat and fat (which sounds wrong to me).
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Old 10-28-2010, 04:19 AM   #5
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The "no-veggie" mentality is pretty rare, even in the extremely low-carb community. While there's some limited evidence for it being possible to live on a diet of only meat and fat, there's no argument that it's necessary to do so (to my knowledge).

However when it comes to grains, humans (even if you only count homo-sapiens) have been around for about 2 million years, and have only been eating grains for about 10,000 of those years. Which means if all of human existence were to be compared to one day, we've only been eating grains for the last 7 minutess. Also no adult mammal except man (and the animals man feeds) consumes milk.

When it comes to food groups, food can be grouped in dozens of different ways (and have been not only historically, but in modern times as well). The answer to how many food groups there are and which are necessary largely depends upon who, when, and where the question is asked.

If you look at the foods humans have eaten during our time on this planet, it makes more sense to call insects an essential "food group" than dairy or grains, because humans have been eating insects during 100% of our evolutionary history (and many cultures still do).

Cutting out most grains works for me (I still eat a few which I seem to be able to tolerate without aggravating my health issues). I also choose to eat dairy (for the calcium) only because I'm not brave enough to eat insects.
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Old 10-28-2010, 10:26 AM   #6
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Everyone will have their own opinion on what works for them and what they think is best and you need to figure out what that is for yourself. Personally, I can see in our recent past that our health has degraded and what I see that has changed is we eat more processed/refined products including refined sugars and fats. I also see a lack of natural exercise has also affected us.

As far as grains go, there is some evidence that grains have been eaten earlier than thought previously although yes agriculture brought in a higher grain level into our diet. We as humans are also highly adaptive and seem to have up until this point done well with grains in our diet. What seems to have not done us a favor is highly processed grains. Overall, other non-western societies that are highly grain and legume dependent seem to do very well because they grow and eat their own food, get lots of natural exercise, etc. Diabetes, obesity, etc tend to be rare in those societies. Of course as the western world and modern processed foods spread, the health of various societies also seems to be impacted.
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Old 10-28-2010, 10:38 AM   #7
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I agree that there is a ton of conflicting information out there. My quest starting, not to lose weight (I thought that was hopeless), but to eat healthy. Basically, I felt like crap, and I knew it was my diet. I checked out a lot of diet and nutrition books from the library. What I settled on was "Eat to Live" for many reasons. First, it just sounded right-- the information agreed with what I knew, but helped me understand it all better. There was a ton of cites in the book. It is backed up with real science that I could believe in. It is based on feeding your body, not starving it, i.e. eating for nutrition instead of calories. I ended up losing the extra 35 pounds I was carrying in just a few weeks, when I thought I would carry it forever. And btw, I don't have the same problems I was suffering before. I think I would also shed the few extra pounds I still carry, but it is very difficult to follow the plan to the extent I want because some of the things I crave I can't get out of my house-- it's a personal problem. However I eat much better than I ever have in the past.
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Old 10-28-2010, 11:03 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serval87 View Post
I was considering a diet where I drop grains, processed food, and dairy, and just try the meat, fat, and veggies (with moderate amounts of fruit), but then a site I looked at says that the body doesn't need carbs, and that people should really only be eating meat and fat (which sounds wrong to me).
This sounds reasonable to me. I think fruit is fine and healthy in moderation. I get upset with my son when he eats five apples in a day, but one is just fine. The body DOES need carbs. Your brain relies on carbs. I think eating exclusively meat and fat is a recipe for disaster. I'd read a bit on Atkins if that's the route you take. Vegetables are important in that diet.

Personally, I strive to eat all things in moderation with a heavy emphasis on whole foods. All non-whole foods are "treats" for me. I eat a lot of lean meat, vegetables and fruits. I no longer drink milk, I drink soy milk instead, and the only dairy I really eat is yogurt and ice cream.

Whatever you choose, I urge you to choose something sustainable. I have worked my way into eating clean. I didn't start out that way. I started out by switching my Slim Fasts over to eggs, my lean cuisines into sandwiches on WW bread, and my protein bars to Greek Yogurt. Gradually, over time, I have added new and interesting vegetables as I've learned to cook them. I eliminated milk over time, switching to soy milk. I did not make all these switches at once. I'm very happy with my diet now and can't imagine going back. But had I started out this way, I'm sure it would have been too difficult, too overwhelming and too different from my norm. Now this is my norm.
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Old 10-28-2010, 03:04 PM   #9
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I think the best diet is one that 1) can be sustained for life 2) is balanced and based on whole foods

I know this isn't a debate on paleo eating, but I just don't understand these plans. They make absolutely no sense to me.

Why would we look to the way people ate in the stone age and think that means it is preferable to eat that way now? People then ate whatever they could get their hands on. Food was purely for survival and there was no knowlege of nutrition. Just because we could survive on twigs, berries and raw meat doesn't make it preferable. Humans can survive on anything. Look at how our bodies extract nutrients from fast food and chips and cakes. We are designed to take nutrients from anything and hang on to them as long as possible. Look at survival stories where people are trapped and survive on eating cardboard or dirt. Just because we can, doesn't make it preferable! And it doesn't mean those people didn't have major health problems or nutrient deficiences. I mean, they only lived to the age of 30 and we want to take nutrition lessons from them?

Sure modern medicine contributes greatly to prolonged health, but there are a lot of cultures we can look to who do not participate in consuming medicines and they are still on par with average lifespans (and in some cases surpass them). Look at some data from the studies done on the Amish or Seveth Day Adventists (who by the way, are vegetarian and eat whole foods).

As far as grains...most people do eat too many processed grains today, but I think the reason they weren't consumed in ancient times was basically just geographic dispersment from the sources and a lack of knowlege for cultivation techniques. It's fine to reduce grains - probably even go without - but just remember they are important for fiber, which has a direct impact on heart health - cholestrol levels and blood pressure. If you reduce too much you have to make sure you eat a lot high fiber beans/vegetables.

i hope I don't sound too snippy about the whole paleo thing...I don't mean too.
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Old 10-28-2010, 07:00 PM   #10
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I think the reason that there are so many plans out there is because there are so many eating lifestyles that work for individuals.

You've done your research, you know what plans are out there, now you just need to fit the plan that works with the needs of your body.

How do you figure that out? I figured it out with an online calorie counter that tracks carbs/proteins/fats as well as exercise.
Contrary to what some people believe, calories are not just calories. What your calories are comprised of is just as important.
I looked at the weeks I lost and examined where my calories were coming from. No carb/no fat made me hold onto weight like a 6 year old with a fire truck on christmas morning. So add more carbs and fats... but the right kinds. Nuts, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, olive oil. It took some tinkering, a lot of tinkering. I do well with higher protein, too, but the types of proteins... beans and fish contribute to a loss more than chicken or steak. I thought about when I had energy and when I dragged around feeling hungry and how that affected my emotional health and my desire to be active.

You know your body, and if you don't, it's definitely time to get to know it. Once you are armed with that information, you can plug into one of these plans. Or not. It's ok to create your own plan... the Serval's Perfect Eating Lifestyle Plan (SPELP for short).
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Old 10-28-2010, 07:55 PM   #11
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The responsible paleo diets do not argue that paleo foods are right for us because we evoloved eating them - they argue paleo foods are right because of the archaelogical record. What they see in the bones of our ancestors.

Archaeologists couldn't explain why people were growing shorter after the dawn of agriculture. In areas that have been populated from paleolithic (hunter-gatherer) to neolithic (agriculture), the neolithic remains were shorter with more signs of chronic illness.

By studying the bones of our ancestors, they found diseases neolithic remains that they did not find in paleolithic remains. These diseases tied to agriculture (and the consumption of grains) are not found in the few remaining hunting gathering people living a traditional lifestyle. As soon as they begin eating more grains, even whole grains, "modern" diseases begin occuring - tooth decay, arthritis, diabetes and other autoimmune diseases, cardiac disease...

Paleo people died earlier, but they died healthier, with their bones and teeth in much better condition. Agricultural people lived longer because communal living and food production is safer and people starve less often (hunting accidents tend to be more deadly than farming accidents, at least in the prehistoric world). However the bones and teeth of the farming people, show a lot more chronic illness (and not just the diseases that don't show up until old age).

With modern technology, we should be able to create the best of both worlds. The good health and physical stamina of the hunter-gatherers, with the safety and protection from illness offered by modern medicine.

What I find interesting is how much of the science is accepted by the scientific community and yet still considered too radical to put into practice.

A lot of the critiques from other scientists isn't that the information isn't true, but that there's nothing that can be done to fix the problem - that is we don't have enough food to feed people without grains so we shouldn't even try.

The fattest societies eat the most grains/carbohydrates - more carbohydrates than ever in human history. Is a serving or two of grains detrimental to everyone? Probably not. Does anyone really need 12 servings a day? Probably not, as well.
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Old 10-28-2010, 08:07 PM   #12
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Considering traditional east Asian societies eat a large amount of grains and obesity is rare so I'm not sure you can say the fattest societies eat the most grains/carbs. I was also recently reading an article recently about Andean people that get 70% of their calories from potatoes and have an extremely low incidence of disease including things like diabetes.
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Old 10-28-2010, 10:26 PM   #13
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Yes asians eat a high proportion of rice. They also eat a very high proportion of non-starchy vegetables (the ratio of non-starchy veggies to starchy veggie/grains may be important). However, Asians typically eat fewer servings of grain/starch/sugar than Americans. Proportions and quantities also have to be taken into account.

Also, all grains and all carbs are not created equal (even in Paleo diet theory). Many grains have more known "antinutrients" than others (nutrients that can draw other nutrients out of the body, or components that many people cannot digest properly as well as allergenic potential).

Rice is one of the grains people have eaten the longest (even before it was harvested as an agricultural crop). It is easily digested and it's hypoallergenic. Areas of China in which wheat has been the staple, have far higher incidences of diabetes and other autoimmune diseases than areas in which rice is the staple.

Rice is one of the few grains I can eat without triggering flares of autoimmune issues including a lovely skin condition my husband likes to call "face rot." Potatoes ironically (or perhaps not) are another high-carb food that I tolerate fairly well. I do have to be careful with them because they do trigger increased cravings and hunger (of course what I experience doesn't prove anything, nor does one community - there are too many variables).

Another component that may be a huge piece of puzzle is activity level. One theory (with a fair amount of research support) is that exercise counteracts the negative effects of grains and carbs. It's when you don't burn off the excess calories that you start facing the worst of the problems.

There are also genetic differences, some of which have been identified. For example, the genetic markers for celiac disease.

There are thousands (if not millions) of variables. Villainizing grains isn't the solutions (and that's not what I'm trying to do), but the American diet is overly abundant in wheat (and also corn). Wheat is one of the most common allergens (and that doesn't count the people who have difficulty digesting wheat, but aren't allergic, such as people with celiac disease). Corn isn't an uncommon allergen (nor is potatoes).

Genetic heritage play a significant role, because corn allergies are less common where corn has been the main staple for thousands of years. Likewise, potato allergies are less common where potatoes have been the staple for thousands of years. The theory of nutritional anthropologists is that only people who developed a genetic resistence to the allergen survived.

This doesn't appear as true with wheat (it's a much more widespread allergy). It was once thought that America had a lower incidence of celiac disease than Europe, but the modern theory is that the incidence is the same, it's just diagnosed less frequently in America. (Because it's routine to screen children for celiac disease in Europe, but not in the USA.)

It isn't a simple puzzle.
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Old 10-28-2010, 10:49 PM   #14
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All I was trying to say is that broad generalizations should be avoided. Corn and wheat are overutilized in the processed Standard American Diet but there are lots of other grains out there. Millet is one of the oldest eaten grains and is a personal favorite of mine. I think overall, people need to find what works best for them.
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Old 10-29-2010, 02:58 PM   #15
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and the latest finding about the paleolithic diet:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/19/sc...bread&st= cse

i agree with everyone here who says that you have to find what works for you, and that it should be something you can enjoy and stick with for life. so when you read about the diets, pay attention to what makes the most sense TO YOU.

you don't have to follow any particular diet- i didn't, and i lost about 30 pounds and have kept it off for a year on my own "plan." (and "plan" is a key word here!)

for many people, following a particular plan/ diet/ program is really helpful. whatever you do, pick or devise a PLAN that sounds doable and delicious, and fits your lifestyle (or the style of life you seek).

good luck!!
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