(Dietary changes should be discussed with a health care provider.)
“Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. When we read, we begin with A, B, C; when we sing…” we recently covered our A, B, Cs and 1, 2, 3s; so, let’s move on to a different subject. Like all Gaul, nutrition is divided into three parts. There are only three macronutrients (calorie contributing nutrients): CARBOHYDRATES, FAT and PROTEIN. We need them all! They are best gotten from food because food helps balance them while also providing vitamins, minerals, fiber, micronutrients, phytochemicals, antioxidants and enjoyable flavors.
We often hear that one of these is more valuable or one more dangerous than the other two – indeed yesterday’s trash (avocado, coconut) is often today’s treasure and vice versa (margarine, milk). Sometimes it’s the nutrients themselves that health agents promote or demonize and sometimes it’s the foods that we associate with each nutrient – whether the associations are correct. Remember balance, moderation and variety? You simply cannot decide to cut out or overload on any one macronutrient without throwing off the balance between the three. We can’t make up for excess through elimination. We should not cut out fat; we should cut back on fat – unless we were already enticed by the complete removal school in which case we should resume partaking responsibly. We should not cut out carbs; we should cut back on carbs – well cut back on bad carbs. On the other hand don’t load up on protein. There is only so much room for the total caloric load of the three; thus, loading up on one requires us to skimp on the others.
A friend of mine recently asked me for book recommendations. She was looking for contrasting views so that she could compare the evidence and arguments on “opposing” sides. Of the two books she chose she said, “they’re both saying that diet has a profound impact on health, but they are arguing for different diets”. I think people get caught up in the “differences” and lose sight of the “profound impact on health”. This is so tragic because the differences are in the details. The different long-term diets that have proven healthy over a lifetime, through both research and track record, agree on the important base issues – namely that we should MOSTLY have real food, whole food, natural food and, if possible, uncontaminated food, and mostly stay away from ADDED sugar, highly PROCESSED food, REFINED grains and EXTRACTED/UNBALANCED fats.
Other than that, they all include the SAME cast of characters (carbs, fat & protein), and they all tell a SIMILAR story (there are better and worse versions of carbs, fats & protein); they just disagree on whom to cut from the chorus (wheat, meat, dairy, soy, cooked food, out of season food, out of area food) and on who should be the star.
Anyone who has read half a dozen of these posts knows my choice for one of the lead roles by now: not only are vegetables the “triple threat” (equally strong singer/dancer/actor) that you want on your stage, because they contain carbs, protein AND fat, but they have charisma & sex appeal that launch them to the top of the call-back list. They have those literally-attractive, colorful, reparative micronutrients that supporting players like grains and animal products just don’t.
NOTE Re: the GOOD the BAD & the UGLY
GOOD CARBS: All Vegetables, Natural Whole Grains, Fruits
BAD CARBS: ADDED sugar, HFCS corn syrup, HIGHLY PROCESSED grains, REFINED/STRIPPED grains
GOOD FATS: Vegetables, Seeds, Nuts, Avocados, Coconuts
BAD FATS: Man Made TRANS/PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED fat (which damages your DNA), ADDED fat, UNBALANCED fat (unbalanced because it has been extracted from its food source and lost something or because the food source has been meddled with and the balance has changed within the food, or because the food is very high in fat with little else to offer), CONTAMINATED fat (many chemicals and toxins are fat soluble; so, they are passed to us more easily in fatty foods)
GOOD PROTEIN: Green Vegetables, Seeds, Sprouts, Nuts, Lentils, Legumes (Beans, including green peas, fermented soy (in moderation) & peanuts), Some Whole Grains, Organic/Anti-biotic-free/Hormone-free/Free-range/naturally fed meat (in moderation)
BAD PROTEIN: DAIRY protein (which we were not meant to consume after the age of 5), FACTORY meat, CONTAMINATED PROTEIN (laced with drugs/chemicals/toxins)
NOTE on the NOTES: Please notice it’s not the macronutrients (which cross food groups) nor the foods (which contain multiple macronutrients) that are bad; it’s the adjectives that turn them bad – added, refined, hydrogenated, contaminated, etc.
CHALLENGE #25 of 50:
If you are avoiding “fat”, piling on “protein”, or visiting either extreme with “carbs”, consider lifting the generic bans and voiding the card blanches. Associate with upstanding foods that accept their full heritage.
Try not to judge foods by their family, and try not to condemn nutrients based on their stereotypes. Accept that two proteins can look as different as two fruits, and they all have something to offer if they are genuine inside & out.
QUOTE of the WEEK:
All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness; the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.