What is a ‘diet’?
For the most part, a diet is what and how you eat, where the ‘how’ is as critical as the ‘what’. It is not, technically, a pre-packaged plan laid out by either yourself, a dietitian, a trainer, a book author or a TV personality. A diet is more holistic and does not, by itself, aim to meet any one goal.
Yet many in the US and the West in general, bombarded by health messages touting a variety of ‘whats’ that you need to include, or dump; and of vanity messages that tell you how you should look; and performance messages that tell you what to eat so you can run, jump, lift or whatever activity you do face a myriad of food advice that is somewhat contradictory. Maybe I’m being generous with the somewhat….
Anyway, one thing is pretty clear: for whatever reasons, and there are many, we moderns don’t eat anything like we used to.
Now, that’s not to say we should eat like we used to. Neither Paleo nor seasonal/regional/local satisfies all the needs of us humans. When I hear these arguments, I remind the proponent that we used to not eat a lot of green veggies or many fruits in winter or wherever it is we lived, like the desert or the high mountains. Would anyone suggest we eat like that again?
But we now eat whenever, wherever and without whomever we so choose, and maybe that contributes to the health crises of modern Western society that link to our diets.
A couple of studies recently proposed that our Western diets may be failing us not simply because of the ‘whats’ in our food plans but the ‘with whoms’. Whereas we used to eat with family or friends, or even co-workers, today we tend to isolate ourselves in a rushed state of mind often under-nutrienting ourselves either by skipping meals or eating poor quality ‘foods’, aka junk food.
Maybe it’s time to sloooooow down a bit, and eat like we used to – with loved ones, friends, comrades – and enjoy our foods, those that are cultural as well as regional, local, and even, dare I say, processed though minimally. (What???? you ask. Well, guess what, cheese, yogurt, tofu, and many fruits and veggies, even if raw, and even if natural/organic, are processed if they have to travel from afar. After all, they didn’t get here by horse and buggy; that was fossil fuels that got them here.)