A friend of mine thrives on a low-carb diet. When she skips grains and avoids sugar, she maintains a healthy weight and has lots of energy. Another friend cut out all animal products, eat loads of veggies and whole grains (plus a bit of dessert every day) and has never felt better.
So which one is eating the “right” way?
That was a trick question. Because there is no right way.
The longer I’m a dietitian, the more I believe that different ways of eating work for different people. The right way to eat is the way that makes you feel your best. And I think trying different patterns of eating is a good thing. Personally, I like experimenting with my diet, especially as I get older and my body doesn’t, ahem, respond the same way it used to.
If someone has found a way of eating that feels good to them, I’m not going to tell them they’ve got it all wrong. Especially if I haven’t even been asked for my opinion.
Yet that’s what I see people doing on social media: criticizing each other for not following a certain type of diet or including a food or food group that they themselves have deemed unhealthy or unnecessary. They use words like “garbage”, “dirty”, and (my all-time least favorite and quite possibly most widely-abused and inaccurate characterization of food) “toxic”. Case in point: When I posted a photo of some meatball subs I’d made one night, someone commented “Nobody should be eating bread”.
I can understand an animal activist feeling a moral obligation to discourage others from eating meat. But why are people scolding others for eating bread?
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As a health professional, I follow the research–some of which seems to ping-pong, some of which builds a solid case. And in my opinion, there’s awfully good evidence that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, fiber, whole grains, seafood and fish, nuts, and unsaturated fats like olive oil and avocado has a host of health benefits. So I try to make those the cornerstones of my eating. I also like dairy products and meat, so I include those too. One day my diet might look vegan. The next day I eat pasta carbonara with lots of bacon and cheese (here’s my recipe!).
I know it’s trendy to slap a label on how we eat, but personally, I couldn’t neatly sum up my diet in one word or short phrase. And I’m pretty sure that I’d have to qualify anything I said with “…but really, I’m just trying to do the best I can.”
In other words, I’m doing me.
So you do you.
And let’s respect each other for it.