Have you been searching for the perfect diet? Is this the plan that will bring you ultimate physical health? Better brain function? Awaken you spiritually? Are these goals even exclusive of each other?
It should be vegan, right? Perhaps vegetarian? What about the nutritional value of free-range eggs and wild salmon. What about the evolutionary call of going Paleo? Isn’t that how we ate thousands of years ago when there wasn’t the cancers, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and the other health challenges of that we have today?
What are we really designed to eat?
This question has caused so much confusion, debate and even anger at groups of people just because of the way they eat. What can be even more confusing is which nutritional approach is good for us and the world.
Do you have the answer?
Others think they do too. Still the evidence can be countered with opposing facts, likely disputed and shown to be flawed. Why?
The Problem with the Perfect Diet
Simply, you are an individual. And like a snowflake, you are unique.
While evolutionary biology, ancestry, epigenetics and changing biochemistry throughout different life stages can create sweet spots when it comes to eating right, prescribing one-size fits all perfect diet has inescapable limitations.
While you might really want a boilerplate solution to make nutrition so simple you can “set it and forget it”, the dynamic nature of life and being human doesn’t fit neatly into any pre-fabricated package.
Many experts will claim they have the ideal approach and while there is certainly value in well researched, laid out and tested dietary models, it doesn’t guarantee the same success for you as for others.
So what are you to do? Give up? Eat McDonald’s?
The Perfect Diet is…
Eat dogma! Not dogs, dogma.
That’s right, take the dogma you are being fed and chew it up until it is no longer in a spotlight on a silver plate up on a pedestal.
Now, clear your system and be open to your optimal health.
Let me elaborate.
Go ahead and embrace a lifestyle that is congruent with your intellectual, physical, spiritual and practical needs but be cautious to not to close your mind to changing. There might come a day when how you lived is no longer serving you or your world in the right ways.
- I have known steak-lovers who turned to veganism for environmental reasons.
- I have also known spiritually-minded vegans who embraced meat for the necessities of their own health.
- I have known people who remained set on a Mediterranean diet even though it was causing them digestive distress and contributing to unsustainable food and ecological practices.
- I have also known those who maintained strict plant-based nutrition even though their diet perpetuated the damaging effects of factory farming – the very thing they were most against.
Stay mindful of your own health.
Stay mindful of the many variables that affect the planet’s health.
Stay mindful of the needs of others.
Stay mindful that your mind does not close and that you do not judge your answer as THE answer.
No matter how well-meaning and solid our perspective is, there are always missed or new variables that change things. Absolutism is the enemy of health.
Things are rarely black or white.
While I could go on and on about the intricacies of each dietary school, the bottom line is you will be best served by listening to your gut, literally and figuratively. Continue to listen to your gut as you continue your journey and be open to change.
Although nutrition is best individualized, here’s some general principles that will be good for most people most of the time.
The “perfectly” imperfect perfect diet:
1. Eat more plants.
2. Stop before you are really full.
3. Choose clean protein that is not filled with pesticides, herbicides, genetically modified, antibiotic or hormone-laden.
4. Strive for local and seasonal foods.
5. Minimize processed and packaged goods.
6. Support farmers and food producers that truly care about people, health and the planet rather than just profits, growth, and fancy marketing.
7. Eat mindfully by chewing slowly and thoroughly, being relaxed and present with people, or in settings, that elevate meals beyond a refueling episode.
8. Do not entirely neglect macronutrient categories (i.e. carbohydrates, protein, fat).
9. Make sure eating is giving you energy and not taking your energy.
10. Appreciate that you have food and clean water and be grateful for the bounty of the Earth.
To capture the big goal of nutrition in a single phrase:
choose with energy in mind.