Calling off the search for the holy grail of diets
LIVING NATURALLY with Olwen Anderson
QUITE some time ago we farewelled the scientists as they departed on a quest for the holy grail of nutrition.
Equipped with test tubes and armed with theories, they sought out the one perfect diet that would suit everyone.
Messengers brought back bulletins of their progress. First they had found proof that low fat was the way to go to prevent heart disease. So those of us keen on living longer, better lives duly complied and opted for skim milk instead of full fat.
But it didn't work.
Low fat eating wasn't particularly satisfying, inadvertently increased sugar intake, and obesity rates rose. Until a new directive arrived: That low fat eating is too high in carbohydrates. Switch to full fat everything, and reduce your carbohydrate intake.
Steak was back on the menu; what a relief. But that diet wasn't perfect for everyone, either.
Then came instructions to adjust our meal sizes. To think about rationing calories a couple of days a week and eating normally the other days (the 5:2 diet). The intention?
To mimic the way our ancestors lived back when there wasn't a constant over-abundance of food. With each new pronouncement most of us have adjusted the contents of our supermarket carts in the hope of a longer, healthier life.
But there's a catch: whatever the current recommendation, it won't suit everyone.
I think it's time to call off the search. Maybe accept that everyone as individuals need a different diet. Instead of trying to fit into a protein/carbohydrate/fats combination rule, perhaps the better approach could be to develop the (insert your name here) diet.
The food combination that suits your particular physiology. How can you find out the best eating plan and nutrient balance for you?
Some folk look to the traditional diet of their ancestors, who gradually adapted to their geographic locations over centuries. For example, consider the different traditional diets of an Eskimo versus a Pacific Islander. Both work.
Some people like to arrange genetic testing to reveal the best nutrient combination for them. And still others like to establish their ideal diet through trial and error.
Any one of these approaches could suit you. So if you find yourself sighing as you read yet another report about the 'right' way to eat, maybe it's time to switch to reading something more enjoyable and get on with working out the right diet for you.
Olwen Anderson is a naturopath and counsellor. www.olwenanderson.com.au