Friday, April 9, 2010

Dietary Disorder

I've had some vehement arguments in real life with some friends and family members as of late regarding diet and nutrition.

It's getting real old.

The typical one begins like this:

"How did you lose all of that weight several years ago...and continue to keep it off? What kind of diet are you on?"

At first, I would use this occasion to launch into a lengthy narrative about how I discovered that the conventional wisdom regarding saturated fats, animal based proteins, and plant based foods was all wrong, and that switching to a low-carb/high-fat and protein diet was not only great for losing all that excess weight, but also for improving my overall health and well being.

Most people's eyes would glaze over after a certain point. The cultural programming is just too ubiquitous...the conditioning, too thorough. Even with a living, breathing example standing right in front of them, showing a literal embodiment that attests to the very things I'm arguing for...they refuse to make the connection.

I must be lying.

Or...if I'm not lying...well, yeah, maybe I did lose all that weight, and maybe I do look rather athletic and in top shape...but my arteries must be clogging up and I must be setting myself up for a heart attack at 50.

Or, because people that know me, attribute it solely to my physically active lifestyle....never mind the fact that I was just as active 3-4 years ago when I was 35 lbs. overweight and contemplating buying a whole new wardrobe to accommodate my expanding waistline.

So, after awhile, I got tired of it. I started telling people I "went paleo" or "primal." If people asked for sources, I'd tell 'em to check out Mark's Daily Apple or Free the Animal...both excellent sources of info on the entire genre of "primal" dieting.

Yet, I no longer call my "diet" primal or paleo either....because I'm not. The only time my diet would truly be "primal" is when I go hunting, and I catch a pig, and I eat it. While I do in fact do that frequently, it is by no means my primary method of subsistence. See, I like my dairy too much....and dairy is not "primal." Butter from grass fed cows, whole milk organic yogurt, sour cream and heavy whipping cream, and a wide variety of high quality cheeses are staples in my diet. Same goes for my eggs I get from my little flock of hens. Somehow, I doubt grok kept a flock of hens around for their eggs...he probably just killed and ate any chicken that he could get close enough to.

Nowadays, I simply call my diet a "as nutrient dense and naturally derived as possible."

I'm done with trying to hand out the dietary red pills to resistant blue pill addicts.

Unless someone persists, than I'll usually just say I don't eat "junk food" anymore. That's usually good enough. The only thing is that I know MY definition of junk food is usually much different from most people's ideas of what is "junk."

Nevertheless, I've finally come to realize one very important thing regarding diet: the search for dietary purity is impossible. It sucks the joy out of life to be the stickler in the room...the killjoy at the dinner party. So now, if I'm at a birthday party, instead of regaling the room with a lecture on the evils of high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, I just shut up and eat some of damn cake and ice cream.

Sometimes it's better to poison your body a little bit, than to poison your relationships.


Anonymous said...

I'm living the same lifestyle minus the dairy. I'm a Canadian Indian and as you may be aware obesity is rampant in my community. The primal lifestyle has changed me totally. I'm cut and ripped at the age of 50.
You are right when you say one can't be a preacher...god knows I've tried. If my community wants to live the good life they will have to figure it out on their own.

Anonymous said...

I follow the PaNu way. (, never felt better in my life. I'm not so shy about poisoning my relationships.

jon w said...

I hear ya braddah. I just tell people, I quit eating junk: sugar and wheat. But as Kurt Harris said, if you dont live up to it when you're around other people, they will attribute it to lucky metabolism or good genes, and will never see that you actually do something different than the SAD. I still have fun at parties - I just eat the meat, spread on some butter or cream cheese and drink liquor, say no thanks to cake and beer.

I dropped a lot to get back to highschool weight, for awhile I was afraid of carbs but learned from experience wheat and sugar will put the weight back on but otherwise the rice, potatos, nuts whatever, are no problem. But then everybodys different.

Anonymous said...

"... the evils of high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils ..." Google "double danger of high fructose corn syrup". Is the typical American diet with a high % of processed foods a dangerous experiment with many unknown variables?

Aaron said...

I don't try to evangelize on nutrition and diet anymore either. As you say, people are way too conditioned on the subject. If they don't accuse you of lying, they'll fall back on some mumbling about how, "well, everyone's different; no one diet is gonna be the best for everyone." Which may be true in the sense that some people will be fine with dairy and some wouldn't; but it's not true in the sense that some people can be healthy and trim on meat and green veggies while others can do the same on Pepsi and Froot Loops, which is what they're hoping when they say that. A lot of nutrition and biology is universal.

But people are simply hammered with mainstream thinking on diet and nutrition. They get it constantly from TV, print media, product packaging, friends, relatives, etc. It's reinforced in dozens of little ways every single day. There's no way that you, with your 15-minute exposition on diet, are going to change their minds -- unless they're already prepared to reject the conventional wisdom. If they've reached that point and they ask you for info, that's one thing. But if they say, as someone said to me yesterday, "How can you eat 5 eggs a day? Don't you know those are bad for you, with all that cholesterol?" you might as well just smile and change the subject.

Pattaya Blog said...

if only the high protein / fat diet was more restaurant friendly.

Anonymous said...

I tell people to go read "Good Calories, Bad Calories" and form their own judgments. If that plus "low carb worked for me" isn't good enough, oh well, too bad.

One of my overweight Chinese friends said "I just can't live without rice and noodles". Not a thing I can do about that.