By Rob Archangel, 180DegreeHealth.com staff writer?
Happy Monday, everyone! Only eighteen days left ’til the solstice and the end of the Mayan Calendar. Whooo-daddy! Who knows what’s gonna happen? Haha.
Anyway, I’ve been rabbit riding across the web, spreading glad tidings and 180D cheer, ?and I bring you a gift today: a lovely little piece from our inestimable Mateo, entitled Nutrition in Three Words. It’s published over at ?Exterminating Angel Press Magazine; this Winter 2012 issue is themed: Words, Words, Words. No peeking- can anyone guess which three words nutrition is all about?
Thanks to Tod Davies for the feature.
I thought it was: Sugar, Salt, Fat
Sugar, starch, salt, fat is the 4-word summary.
Ah, forgot that, sorry! I like the three word upgrade.
My one word summary:
or God. (for some of those).
Eat The Food!
I agree, of course, with the thrust of this message, however, I do wonder if there is not the danger of another dogma being created here. Could we be throwing the baby out with the bathwater? Without a doubt, people have ruined their health obsessing over diet. I am sure that readers here are, for the first time in a long time, benefiting from not stressing out over their diet. However, I wonder if there isn’t a middle course to be followed and what that middle course might be?
Perhaps the guiding mantra should be “trust your body” and, for the most part, I agree with that. However, there needs to be some discernment in that process. I mean, thinking of an analogous situation, most of us, at one time or another, have “fallen in love” with somebody who turned out to be just horrible for us. We were sure they were our soul mates, but in the end they put us through a season in hell. Why would our intuitions about food be any different? Obviously our intuitions should be one component, even the major component in how we decide what to eat, but I think it would be folly not to bring reason and analysis to bear on the subject…at least somewhat.
Look, I was eating according to Peat guidelines for a year prior to shucking all dietary theory in favor of this “anti-diet” diet :), so I wasn’t exactly carb-deprived. Yet, I have put on some pounds that I don’t seem to be able to get rid of. I would also say that my immune system has been compromised. Nothing big, but I usually only get a cold or two a year. It’s not even Winter yet, and I have already had two colds. This could be blamed on “getting older” or a particularly mean virus this year. Maybe that’s true, however, it has got me to thinking about whether I have not gone too far in the other direction, as regards my diet. I don’t feel strongly about that. I may be wrong. It’s just a thought. “Eat the food” is perhaps an overly simplistic formulation or a cue to be used in the short-term for those who are overly-fixated on their diet.
Any time I’ve fallen for someone who was bad for me, I’ve chosen to ignore intuitive feelings – they were there, I didn’t want to listen. I think most people do this with food, too. We don’t want to want pizza instead of steamed broccoli.
While I do agree that some common sense has to be used (like making sure you’re eating balanced meals), when you really tune in your body should do it. If I overdo it for a few days, my body craves vegetables like there’s no tomorrow. But I do keep some hard and fast rules, like 3 fairly balanced meals a day and including enough vegetables, etc..
Do you know about the “No True Scotsman” fallacy? It’s always easy in retrospect to say that I did not follow my TRUE intuition. I bet if I would have asked you while you were in love/lust about the person you would have told me that you were “following your heart”. No?
However, your next statement about “3 fairly balanced meals” begs the question: what is a fairly balanced meal? Does that mean they include something from the 4 food groups? Whatever your answer, it is, I suspect, based upon some kind of theory. In any case, I am not sure I know what a fairly balance meal looks like, so if you will send me a picture of you eating a fairly balanced meal in a size zero dress that would help my education a great deal.
Haha nice try! I just mean some carbs, fat and protein mainly. Ideally with veggies or fruit, too for some added nutrients. You could have a point about the hindsight part. I just kind of take things day by day now anyway.
Amy, you are a difficult one. Help a brother out….It’s almost Christmas for goodness sake.
I agree that there’s always the chance of calcification, that sensible, provisional experience-based advice can morph into steadfast ideology that trumps logic or reality.
As much fun as I have throwing around ‘Eat the food!’ as a retort to restrictive dieting, I think in its best iteration, it is about intuition as Amy talks about. ‘Eat the food? What food?’ ‘That’s up to you‘. Remove (or neutralize) outside forces as much as possible, and let your inner cues guide you.
I think inner cues are often over ridden though. Like yesterday we made sugar cookies with the kids and of course I couldn’t stop for just one, I had like 3 and while they were so yummy to eat, I felt like crap afterwards and I swore I wouldn’t eat one again. Can you guess what I had with breakfast :) Some of us don’t listen to our bodies very well and I am not sure how to over ride that without some will power to not eat the food that makes me feel blah.
I have absolutely no idea of the mechanism, but I know this. A few years ago, I would have done that with cookies, too, but worse. I couldn’t even have cookies in the house without eating them all. Today, I might eat a few, but if it made me feel like crap that would be it. I almost never crave cookies, and if I do, 1 or 2 is enough.
Somehow, by letting go and eating the foods I want, my cravings for sweets totally disappeared. It took time, though. Wasn’t overnight.
So what were you listening to when you had a sugar cookie with breakfast? I would say you were listening to your body. Our bodies lover sugar. And cookies have salt an butter in them too which our bodies love too. Our bodies love sugar cookies. I say you were listening to your body.
Rob, I admit to being a little cynical…ok a lot. There is something that happens in every diet discussion on the verge of becoming dogma. There is a sort of pissing match that takes place. On Paleo, it is “I eat the most meat”. On macrobiotics it is “I eat the most brown rice.” On Peat, it is, “I drank the most milk/orange juice.”
A pecking order gets established based upon who is the most puritanical. I can easily imagine that happening here based upon who is eating the most salt, drinking the least liquid and eating the most Milky Ways. I am not saying that is Matt’s fault or your fault. It seems to come with the territory and I think it is a good point to raise the potentiality and nip it in the bud, if that is indeed possible.
I agree with the point about “inner cues” but they are not always reliable. Example: you already have people who say that they are thirsty all the time. Now if they were to follow their “inner cues”, they would just drink and drink and drink. Intuition, “inner cues” needs to be tempered with reason.
Fair points, Thomas, and I agree that occasional reminders to interrupt that tendency toward extremism are helpful.
It’s a big learning experiment, and I think you’re right. Teasing out ‘real’ cues from false ones requires some discernment and grounding in something, and how exactly do you teach that in its absence? That’s a big and far-reaching philosophical question in my book, and it applies not just to drinking water or eating sugar.
I agree with you Rob. Discernment is something that can’t be taught and it is something that can only be acquired through experience and attention.
It’s easy to just get lazy (I know that I do this) and follow a theory. It’s also easy to just go with whatever pops into your head and call it “intuition”. Discernment = wisdom.
Mix up that LDN you have tucked away!
Of course everyone needs to have a loose set of rules when “eating the food”. There is do doubt in anyones mind that some things are bad for our health. Hell there are things in the grocery store that dont even have a real food in them. A lot of these “foods” are marketed at kids. You have to use common sense and not go off the deep end of the other side.
That said, trusting your instincts for the most part, eating a good quantity of quality food and reducing any stress you might have from previous diet obsessions will go a long way towards anyones health.
Tierney, what do you mean?
Didn’t you say you had some low-dose Naltrexone you had never taken? You probably won’t get any more colds on it (I don’t.)
Yes, I do have some Naltrexone. You are right. One of these days I need to give it a test run.
Amen. I lost most of my twenties thinking about food and body image constantly. Life is too short, and there’s a lot of great food out there to enjoy! (And in the irony of all ironies, you actually maintain body comp a lot easier this way, too!)
Eat Real Food of course.
It’s All BULLSHIT!
EAT THE FOOD.
I tried to keep it clean for the kiddies. Otherwise I would have said Eat the F*cking Food
Nutritional minutia blown up and made king kong size…. it’s completely batshit crazy.
Maybe we gotta go through some food cult nonsense to see how really stupid it all is. I mean, could you imagine explaining to a child not to eat something they like because of the devil PUFAs or the evil amino acids the protein has? Would they care that Ray Peat said so? Oh man.
It Just Doesn’t Matter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9mf3Bypyk8
That video is right on for so many reasons! Thank you :)
You don’t need to explain it to a child – you’re supposed to feed the child, shop for it and so on. Why would it even ask a question about PUFA or soy protein?
If it needs an explanation, “Your grandmother did it this way” is plenty.
It is this very beautiful and succinct idea that has u-turned me, aptly 180 degrees, from future dietician career to being a doctor. Doesn’t mean being a doctor is particularly special, and geez, I’m gonna be financially crippled for a while, but it sure as hell beats telling people day-in-day-out misguided advice that traps them into submission, all in line with a dogma I sure as hell don’t understand and frankly, doesn’t work. EAT THE FOOD! BE MERRY!
The concept is sound, but i think it is a little too reductive. Dismissing nutrition as just eating the food ignores the decades of failed ideas that have distorted perceptions about what a normal diet is and the continued pernicious influence of the medical community. I would instead argue that a personal health philosophy should be developed which establishes a mental constitution capable of ignoring extremism to support a normal existence (one that doesn’t require medical or dental intervention); this may require a base of knowledge about the bigger picture and the importance of energy regulation.
“Decades of failed ideas”? We are humans, we have been failing since we lived in caves. Each decade brings a new failure, as will every decade to come. The concept is that we just accept that and stop stressing over the details.
I think its also important to focus your life on something other than your diet and just ‘go with the flow’ diet-wise. Food is just one aspect of a rich palette available to us in the modern world.
I stand by my statement. When I was a kid, and unable to control my own food supply, I ate the food that was available to me and got very ill. I now know that it was caused by nutritional deficiencies and therefore preventable. In other words, eating the food was not enough because of the framework that I lived in. I think one of the things that has been lost with the waffling over diets and nutrition is a grounding in tradition that would have at least ensured a modicum of nutritional density. This is foundational and matters. Of course life is about more than just food, I don’t think that goes against my point.
Nira, I agree with you. It is too reductive. I am hoping that people don’t take it too literally, however, my experience with dietary madness is that some people will take it too literally. I noticed in the book that Matt tries to steer people away from that, but that will get ignored by some…or many. “Eat the food” is a good short-term solution, but applied too literally, it will have bad consequences in the long-term, in my opinion.
I am very glad I have found this website a few months ago. After trying all sorts of diets with the feeling that something was wrong with my body, or that I could attain better body composition, I realized that my preoccupation and mindset of food in general had been completely altered through the years.
Growing up as a kid I could have whatever I wanted in regards to food intake. When I felt I needed something I was sure to take indulge. Food had a major role in our family. We would all sit at the dinner table, while talking to guests, and enjoy the various flavors. As I got to working out my mind set started to change. I regarded to food as fuel and how it would benefit me. My body started to change in composition and I felt amazing! I had extensive energy and a zest for life. My libido was amazing and I witnessed many awesome dreams. All the functions that a normal person should be experiencing I had. But then a change happened in my mind set. Even though I was at eight percent body fat and felt great I was not satisfied. I wanted to get in a lower bodyfat and started focusing on the things lacking in my physique. What once was a great joy became a burden. I started reading in to nutrition and at first I started with one diet, then another leading to many more. What I did not realize was that all these diets were having a great effect on me. And yet the more diets I got in to the more my mind set became negative and my body started deteriorating. Even on lower calories and carbs my muscles started become less dense while bodyfat increased with greater exercise. More and more health problems ensued until I had symptoms such as cold hands , low libido, anxiety, sleep issues, weight gain and many more symptoms. Heck even I turned away going out with friends to eat out since I believe most foods would not help me on my quest to improve my health and body image. Once a 5000 calorie eater, I eventually became a 1500 calorie eater.
One day was flipping channels when I passed by a channel on the discovery channel. I observed a show that mentioned these people meditating in India. There was all sorts of people in the temple and what got to me was that these men all had varying diets. The journalist was surprised as well. One “monk” which i will use as a term for now, mentioned that it was the power of belief that had more value than the food itself. The monk said as one monk sitting beside him was consuming a insane amount of milk with beans that he believes that the food he eats is needed, helps him, and is needed to function. The journalist estimated that this monk consumed roughly 5000 cal a day. On the other side was a monk who consumed only 500 cal a day. The journalist asked this monk why he eats the way he does. The monk mentioned that it was his belief that he obtains more energy from the sun, meditating and breathing oxygen. These monks sitting side by side looked exactly the same but they had different beliefs and as a result different food consumption.
As I look in to my past and have been making major huge improvements so far since watching the program on tv and reading your blog posts Matt since then I have tried not to take everyone belief as truth. Also I have been open minded and allow others to eat what they want and how they want with out criticizing them. I can only help another if I have helped my self and still I can not force it upon anyone. What works for one person may not works for another. I am kind of glad I went on this journey of trying diets even though my cortisol is still elevated and testosterone is lower. Even though both lab results have had better improvement the thing I am happy with is my perception has change. The way I look at food, people and life is different and it is ultimately up to us to make the decisions since we are the only one experiencing life in our body. All of this would not have happened if I had not stumbled and fallen, albeit with every adversity comes a seed of opportunity! Hope everyone keeps enjoying themselves and moves forward seeing life as a process.
*wow I wrote a. ton
lol just realized you have to space to indent. Sorry for that lengthy block size paragraph.
This is beautiful. Nutritionism is dead. Long live sanity. I’ll drink/eat to that.
Overfed and undernourished.