As we have seen before, health is one of the fundamental pillars needed to achieve long lasting life satisfaction and happiness.
Most people will say that they already eat health. If indeed it was truth, why do we have obesity and diseases that could be avoided by dieting and medical and sport professionals who suggest we change out diets?
For these of us who actually proactively are thinking about what we should and should not eat, what we really have in mind is the question of perfect diet.
What we wanted to know is that we should eat this and that, and we should not eat other products. Unfortunately, the few people who actually promote the formula above don’t have the full picture or don’t have our interest in mind. This is because unfortunately there is no such thing as a “perfect diet”.
I hope you agree that some food, such as sweets, we tend to overeat, while other food, like vegetables, we tend to under eat. I further hope you also agree that some food like fast food is bad for us and than there is food that we think is good for us while it is not. For example, pre-packaged juices are often filled with sugars and taste enhancers and other chemicals, leaving very little to nothing healthy about these drinks. Furthermore, we need to also be careful with other trusting sources like cooking books, restaurants and chefs, because they are also guided by self-interest. By making delicious food they attempt to have us come back and buy their products again and again. This is done by making food taste better, by adding extra sugars, salt, fat or other not per se healthy ingredients. In fact, anything pre-cooked and packaged is often modified and unhealthy. We should stay away from that food. We can eat it from time-to-time, but to have a truly good diet we should be careful eating it.
You may also have heard of a 80/20 dieting formula, which stands for 80% diet and 20% exercise. What this formula entails is that we have to have much more control over what we eat much than we need to exercise, which can come as a disappointment for gym junkies, who prefer eat bad and exercise to compensate. This may also be a disappointment for all the tourists who decide to go wild for few days of their vocations saying that they will compensate by walk it off.
This is not to say that we can forgo exercising and just focus on healthy food. The best results are found in combination of these two factors. Still 80% is a lot, so what going on in there?
We need to have a good diet to have more energy, focus, creativity, longer life and less procrastination.
This being said, there are millions different diets in the world. There is a fast food diet, Paleo diet, vegetarian diet, vegan diet, high protein diet, raw-foodism, gluten-free, Atkins, South Beach, Jenny Craig, NutriSystem, Sugar Buters, juice cleanses, Slimfast, and even a Kellogg’s breakfast cereal, to name a few.
Each of these diets has advocates and critics, former especially from other diet practitioners, who proclaim superiority of their diets, making healthy eating and dieting one of the less understood and most controversial subjects in the literature.
This controversy is good and bad at the same time. On one hand it helps us to think about what we put inside our bodies, but it also creates unnecessary stress because there is no clear guidelines to a “perfect diet”.
Each diet claims its superiority basing its evidence on positive results achieved by its practitioners. But so do the other diets. In the middle of this confusion Matt Fitzgerald resolved part of this discussion in his book Diet Cults by saying:
“The first principle of the healthy-diet cults is the idea that there is a single right way to eat for optimal health. The fact of the matter is that evolutionary history of our species has left us with the ability to adapt to a multiplicity of diets. (…) Various healthy-diet cults produce good results that support the illusion of their superiority.”
What Fitzgerald means is that while people are different, they are also very adoptable, making many diets acceptable for good living.
Fitzgerald further adds that “we don’t chose diets, but diets chose us.” By this he means that our diets often come from our peer group, such as our parents or friends who eat in a specific way, from whom we learn the food that we should or should not eat. This discredits the popular myth that we obviously know what we are eating or should be eating, because we simply copy other peoples diets. Because different diets work, because it is hard at times to see effects of specific products on our overall diet, and because corporations make food to taste good, making us think that we chose good food based on taste, we end up thinking that we somehow know what we are choosing and that our choices are rational and even healthy.
We can also say that our lifestyles choses our diets, such as a coffee diet used by many overstressed workers or a high protein diets chosen by body builders. Still, most of the times our other peers in these circles have influenced how we eat, by suggesting us specific foods.
Food supplement industry is another target of controversy. It is the industry that most claims that we need extra nutrients for perfect dieting, but for industry that is worth $37 billion dollars in US, according to one source, there is little to no evidence that it actually working.
Finally, a search for a perfect diet has no end, nor should we are suggested to pursuit one. Happiness does not come from being healthy alone. We also need to have friends, money and mental health. If we chose to over emphasize on only dieting, we may forget about other things that are important in our lives, creating unnecessary stress.