I believe it was the historian Will Durant who said the bloodiest wars are often fought over the smallest differences. I think about that now and then when I see people trashing each other in blog posts and comments on blog posts – people who agree far more than they disagree, but get into heated and often personal arguments over relatively minor differences.
I made it a policy a long time ago not to get dragged into blogosphere battles. Now and then some well-meaning reader would send me a link to a hit piece on Fat Head or me personally and write “You’ve got to respond to this!” Uh, no, I don’t. To respond to a hit piece, I’d have to read it first. Then decide how to respond. Then write the response. Then respond to the inevitable response to the response. Get lathered, rinse, repeat. I have way better things to do with my limited time.
Much of the comments-section vitriol seems to result from believing there’s exactly one right way to eat. There isn’t. There may be one right way to eat for you and one right way to eat for me, but there’s no right way to eat for everyone. We all came from different genetic backgrounds and we’re all different.
I’ve heard from people who say their energy flagged on a very-low-carb diet, but they felt great when they added 100 grams or so of “safe starches” back into their diets as prescribed in Paul Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet. I believe them. I’ve heard from people who say if they try adding potatoes or other starches back into their diets, they start craving carbohydrates like crazy and gain weight. I believe them too. (I’m drifting towards a Perfect Health Diet these days myself. I’ll get into that in a future post or two.)
Some people feel awesome if they get into ketosis and stay there. Some don’t. After Jimmy Moore’s ketosis experiment, I bought a keto-meter and tried upping the fat and lowering the protein in my diet to get into ketosis-land. I could do it, but I didn’t like it. I feel stronger and more energetic with a higher protein intake, which kicks me out of ketosis. So I listened to my body. But going with a ketogenic diet has done wonders for Jimmy in the past couple of years. He and I are different. (He’s taller, and I’m better at disc golf, to name a couple of obvious examples … sorry, Jimmy.)
Take a look at real-food diets falling under various labels – Paleo, Primal, Weston A. Price, the Atkins Diet (as it’s designed now), the Perfect Health Diet – and there’s a helluva lot of commonality: Eat whole foods, not processed food-like substances. Most of your energy should come from fat, not glucose. The Lipid Hypothesis is hogwash, cholesterol is not your enemy, and high cholesterol isn’t a disease that requires medicating. Natural fats, including saturated fats, are good for you. Enjoy your meats and eggs; they won’t kill you. Butter is awesome. Eat a variety of vegetables and low-sugar fruits. If you consume dairy products, go for the full-fat varieties and try to get them as raw and unprocessed as possible. Sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, soy products, processed vegetable oils and modern mutant wheat will screw up your health, so avoid them.
Lots of agreement on what makes for a good diet. People following any one of those diets will end up eating most of the same foods and avoiding most of the same foods. So it’s a little silly to go into attack mode because some people consume potatoes or gluten-free bread and (gasp!) insist they feel better as a result, while others prefer to go ketogenic.
That isn’t to say there’s no battle over diet worth fighting, but please, let’s focus on the real enemy — the supposed nutrition authorities who are actually screwing up the nation’s health. Several readers sent me a link to an article that featured photos of school lunches taken by students. Take a look:
Don’t those meals look both yummy and nutritious?
Sara called me from school yesterday and told me she’d forgotten the class t-shirt she needed for a school picture. So I drove it over and then had lunch with her and Alana in the cafeteria. We make their lunches at home, but of course I had to sneak a peek at what the other kids were eating. The USDA-approved school lunch that day was a slice of cheese pizza on a wheat crust, applesauce or peaches in syrup and a drink – chocolate skim milk for most of the kids, orange juice for the others. A wee bit of fat and protein, but most of the meal was wheat, sugar and sugar. Any adherent of an Atkins, paleo, primal or Perfect Health diet would have been horrified – as I was.
The people who push “healthy” lunches like that on schoolkids are the enemy, not other bloggers and readers who have different opinions (probably based on different experiences) on the health effects of rice, tubers, insulin or ketones in the context of a real-food diet.
So let’s label the USDA, the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the other members of The Anointed as The Roman Empire. Here’s how I view people in the real-food community who waste time trashing each other instead of The Rulers of the Roman Empire: