Because no single way of eating works for everybody.
Ever find that the mills of your mind grind slowly? Mine sure do, sometimes. I’ve been thinking lately about how some people succeed with a completely vegan diet, while others do best with a paleo diet, and others with a traditional diet, and how still others achieve their best health eliminating gluten but not all grains… the list of variations goes on. People are different, with unique biology and health concerns, and so on. But is there something more? Such different ways of eating are all claimed as optimal for health. Is there something they all have in common?
And, slow though I’ve been, I’ve finally figured out what it is.
It’s fresh, natural ingredients.
Every one of these ways of eating – meat or no meat, carbs or no carbs, gluten or no gluten, grains or no grains, dairy or no dairy, cooked or raw – whatever variation of Healthy Eating you can point to… they all stress eating real food. Not processed, denatured, laboratory-tested food-products with stuff taken away from them and other stuff added. As much as possible, the ways of eating that really work for people – the diets people say have let them increase their energy or alleviate their conditions or lose their weight or generally get their health back, and keep it – all of them emphasize the importance of cooking – or not-cooking – fresh, natural foods.
I used to work with a guy who said he was a vegetarian. And he was… technically. He never ate meat; he lived on a steady diet of French fries, protein bars, and beer. And he was fat, tired, and grumpy. Avoiding animal products hadn’t given him good health, because the non-animal foods he did eat were rubbish.
If he’d been like my other vegetarian colleague, who only ate food that was actually food, he’d have been as healthy as she was. No chips for her; she ate real vegetables and legumes and fruits, and she could have been the poster child for the health benefits of a vegetarian diet.
One thing we humans do have in common is that we’re part of nature. Despite what we sometimes do to our poor planet’s environment, we are a natural part of that environment. We evolved here; we’re part of the landscape. We can’t exist as optimally healthy creatures if we’re eating a bunch of stuff we were never designed to use as fuel. And while I suspect our bodies can deal with a little bit of Unpronounceable-Chemical-X and Polysyllabic-Preservative-Y, we’re really not equipped to deal with a steady diet of it. Not and stay healthy.
So to my thinking, that’s the point of commonality. Eat real food. The exploration, the adventure, comes in experimenting, and discovering what variations of that idea will work for one’s individual needs.