What about Your Diet Cult?
We were sitting in a lounge zone at Ritz-Carlton hotel.
I was having my Camel Milk based hot chocolate drink. No sugar added.
He was having his Almond Milk Latte. No sugar added.
Health/Weight Loss conscious people we are. In most places, there is nothing on the menu, we can order without modifying it. And that's fine, I guess. Our world these days is "unhealthy by default", as I like to call it. Most food choices, we are offered today, are not something, I would consider healthy. Food suppliers add to otherwise perfectly healthy foods things, that make all the health benefits disappear.
But then again, these days for the food to be considered healthy, it has to pass quite a few biased, in most cases, personal tests.
Take my friend, for example, he would never drink any kind of animal milk, because he believes, that animal milk is not meant for our digestive system, and will cause health problems. Even in tiny amounts. He looked at my camel milk drink rather suspiciously, and definitely did not approve my choice. He wouldn't even try it. Not even a sip. Thanks to all the propaganda he consumed.
I believe, that trying things in small amounts never hurts anyone. On the contrary, it actually can benefit our health, exposing us to some novelty, new nutrients, and yes, maybe a little bit of stress. Healthy body can handle nutrition experiments just fine, as long as we take care of ourselves on a regular basis.
What is healthy, what is not healthy these days anyway?
With some foods it's pretty clear, like processed sugar "“ nothing really is healthy about it, no need to consume it. But then again, having a dessert once in a while, never killed anyone.
What about milk? I personally did not feel any discomfort after drinking my camel milk drink.
Some might say, no other animal consumes milk of other species. It's not natural. I used to believe that too. But then again, no other animal knows how to milk a cow or a camel. And I do remember very clearly, how happy our cats were at my grandma's farm, when they got to drink some fresh cow's milk.
Maybe they would get milk themselves, if they knew how, that is.
The way we eat, our diets today are very similar to religious cults. The book "Diet Cults" by Matt Fitzgerald, opened my eyes to this fact.
We eat certain foods, not because they feel good in our body, but mostly because of some nutrition theory, we choose to believe. Sometimes theories are tested and based on researches and case studies, sometimes not. But even when there is a research, rarely we can interpret the results with 100% certainty one way or the other.
We might follow a vegan diet, because we believe every creature deserves to die peacefully. But then again, in nature, everything consumes each other. It just how the life is. Although, I agree, our behavior, the way we treat nature, not only animals, is not something, I personally approve. And then again, lots of vegans would almost kill fellow humans, when the latter behave inappropriately towards animals. That is kinda funny for me.
Some people claim, that it's been proven, that not consuming animal products gives us better health, better karma, better life. But I've seen many people, like me, consuming animal products once in a while, being in a perfect health, living a happy, disease-free life. And I've seen some pissed-off and sick vegans, for sure.
Some people follow Paleo diet, believing that we were designed to eat like our ancestors used to eat 10 000 years ago. They believe our digestive system didn't change much since then, but they forget to mention, that even then, there were many diets on the planet, not just one. Human diet changed, depending on where people lived. Even though we did not grow our own grains back then, we were consuming them, when we could, archaeologists prove that.
And anyone who changed their diet, because of some reason, knows, that our digestive system adapts much faster to the changes, than we are made to believe by Paleo people.
Then there is something like raw food diet, that I personally followed for 4 years, until cravings made my life miserable and not enjoyable. Cravings, detoxes, alkalizing"¦ God, I'm happy I'm over it.
Raw Foodists say, that no other animal in nature consumes cooked food. But then again, no other animal has enough brain to cook the food, and no other animal got to be as advanced as human beings are now. Maybe cooked food was the reason we got so smart, who knows? Who can be sure? AND animals don't seem to mind cooked foods, when they are offered it. Most domesticated animals stay healthy on a cooked food diet, when the rest of their lifestyle is healthy. Not to mention all the examples of perfectly healthy human beings, who lived long happy life changing the world, who couldn't care less about raw food or any other diet cult.
These days I'm a flexitarian, as I like to call myself. Again. Some label. Some cult maybe. It's just easier to think of my choices, of my way of eating, when it has a name and some rules, when I can identify myself with some culture, feeling that I belong to some community, even though it might not be a mainstream one, just yet.
Flexitarian eats anything, that can be identified as food. He/She tries things, eats as he/she feels, adapting, changing, not banning or judging any foods. As long as food supports health and well-being of an individual, flexitarian eats it. And for sure, a flexitarian can try things like camel milk.
Tasted like pancakes, my mom used to make, when I was a kid.
Will I drink camel milk on a regular basis? I don't know. Probably not. But I know, how it tastes now. I experienced something new. And I highly doubt the fact, that the experience affected my health in any measurable or noticeable way.
What are your eating habits? Did you join any of the food/diet cults without even realizing it? Are you eating, because something makes you feel good physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, or are you eating, because you or people around you believe, it's the best way to eat?
Did you know, that you can be healthy on any diet out there, as long as you don't consume too much of processed, food-like items – cookies, candies, trans fats etc., eating regularly foods that are healthy – fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, good animal products, whole grains.
Did you know, you can experiment with your foods and change your diet and still be healthy?
Did you know, that your body needs different nutrition at different times during your lifespan? In different environments?
Did you know, that your body usually knows better, what it needs? Better than all the nutritionists combined? And that your "gut" feeling is probably the best judge of your nutritional needs at the moment?
Before I finish this post today and leave you with the questions to think about, I want to share 3 pillars of successful weight loss that the author of "Diet Cults" shared with us.
People, who lose weight successfully and keep it off, staying healthy and fit, usually do 3 things, that have nothing to do with any diet:
1. They measure their weight or progress one way or the other REGULARLY.
They weigh themselves, or they evaluate how their clothes fit.
Measuring the progress is especially important, when we try to lose weight, or try to change our body composition.
What gets measured improves.
2. They don't vary their diet much on day-to-day basis.
They don't have days off health. Weekends, days off, holidays – people, who successfully lose weight and keep it off, eat consciously. They are consistent with their meal routine, no matter what day of the week or season it is. No matter what holiday is on the calendar.
Did you know that most weight gain happens over the weekends and holidays? Holiday Weight is the number one responsible for most weight gain over the years, weight gain that stays with you.
3. They exercise REGULARLY.
Exercise is not about burning calories only. In fact, it's the smallest, least important reason to exercise.
Unless you a professional athlete, spending hours every day training, you can eat a chocolate bar, or a cookie, and the calorie effect of your workout will be gone.
It's all the other benefits exercise gives, physical and non-physical, that we should be motivated by, that will continue to improve our life and health: better, more efficient metabolism, better absorption of nutrients, more oxygen in our blood for our muscles and brain and other organs.
Nutrients are delivered more efficiently, our body producers happy hormones, our immune system works better, our body handles stress better.
We join exercise culture, connecting with people, who support our new lifestyle – that, by itself, can ensure our long term success with weight loss and fitness.
We are more confident, feel better about ourselves. Negative effects of the environment, not-perfect diet are handled better by our body, when we exercise regularly.
All the other things – particular diet we are on, foods and "super-foods" we eat or don't eat "“ all that don't really matter.
As long as we can stick to something, as long as it works for us, making us healthier and happier human beings "“ we should continue doing it, no matter what society chooses to believe, or what new diet cult is popular at the moment.
When our diet becomes our religion, and it's not about well-being anymore, but about following blindly principles, we chose to believe "“ that's where we get all the problems. That's where our health is screwed. That's when we fail to lose weight and keep it off easily.
Let's check on ourselves daily.
Ask yourself more often:
How are you feeling today?
What do you feel like eating? Doing? Not Doing?
What do you feel, will make you healthier and fitter today?
What do you FEEL? "¦ not what you THINK or BELIEVE!
Inspired by "Diet Cults: The Surprising Fallacy at the Core of Nutrition Fads and a Guide to Healthy Eating for the Rest of Us", Matt Fitzgerald.