I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all approach to exactly what and how people should eat. I do believe, however, that choosing to eat foods that are compatible with our biology – what I frequently refer to here as real food – is a powerful asset when it comes to health as a whole.
There are simply some foods humans thrive from eating, and some that can have negative short and long term implications for our well-being. Rather than fixating on a black and white, all-or-nothing approach based on one ideology, I believe our efforts are better spent choosing foods based on their ability to provide us with the energy and nutrition our bodies need to function optimally.
- enjoying more foods in their whole form, that are nutrient-dense and support a healthy metabolism
- reducing foods that are processed, irritating, toxic, or hormonally disruptive
From there, quantity of food, macronutrient breakdowns, etc. can further be controlled to achieve specific goals, including fat loss, muscle gain, athletic recovery, etc. – even to treat and manage an array of conditions and illnesses.
The food pyramid above, borrowed from Eat Drink Paleo, provides a simple visual guideline to the gist of the foods that should be making up your meals, most of the time.
For those interested in a more detailed overview of which foods to eat and how specific macronutrients (fat, carbohydrates and protein) effect us, I would strongly recommend reading Chris Kresser’s post on the subject, Nourish Your Body. For foods to reduce, I would also recommend reading his post, Don’t Eat Toxins.
For the record, it’s not about replicating exactly “what our ancestors ate” – it’s about choosing foods that are nutrient-dense, with lots of naturally occurring (and bioavailable) vitamins and minerals. It’s also not a “diet” – it’s about eating as much as you need to maintain strength, energy and healthy body fat levels. And this just happens to include plenty of (well-treated, naturally raised/grown) animals and plants.
Not only does eating real food help us look and feel our best while reducing the likelihood of developing lifestyle-related diseases and conditions, it tastes good. It feels good to eat. It’s awesome to learn about. And while incredibly simple, it is incredibly empowering to witness how abandoning flawed (and sadly, at its core, corrupt) conventional dietary wisdom and adopting real food can transform you, mentally and physically.
While I do my best not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, the reality is that there is a LOT of money to be made from sick, misinformed people. From factory-style farms to processed food giants, all the way to the diet and pharmaceutical corporations, these (largely interdependent) industries are worth billions and billions of dollars.
And because there’s SO much profit involved, enormous amounts of money are spent to shape our opinions about food, health and ourselves—through advertising and media, manufactured studies and research, even infiltration of education and certification.
The ideal consumer is as confused as they are unhealthy—and PASSIVE. We’re often made to believe that our health—physical, even mental and emotional—is something that’s out of our control, beyond our understanding and treatable with prescriptions, when this couldn’t be further from the truth. While modern medicine undoubtedly improves and saves lives, what we choose to feed our bodies every day is more powerful in shaping us that we could have ever imagined.
Humans aren’t broken, our system is. And putting real food your plate and learning about how your body works is an undeniably effective way to take your power back.