Why one size does not fit all when it comes to nourishing your body.
Most health experts tend to over- simplify things
when it comes to nutrition and metabolism—insisting upon scientific “facts” that are actually far from certain and translating them into one-size-fits-all rules that take all the fun out of food.
But food isn’t just functional. Ideally, it’s so much more than that: A medium for artistic expression and creative exploration. An opportunity for sensory stimulation and almost erotic satisfaction.
An opportunity to indulge, celebrate, experience, and share good times with both friends and family.
Ignoring all of this—denying oneself fine foods and gourmet cuisines—can lead to diet disaster in the form of cheating, bingeing, and overindulging. On the other hand, indulging in a planned, measured, responsible manner tends to help people stick to their nutritional protocols in a far more healthful, sustainable, ultimately realistic way.
KNOWING WHAT TO EAT COMES SECOND; IT’S KNOWING YOUR- SELF THAT COMES FIRST
In order to determine a diet plan that’s best for you, you need to have a realistic sense of your baseline health, as assessed by both medical and naturopathic doctors.
Are you dealing with any diseases, illnesses, and/or conditions? Do you have any food sensitivities and/ or digestive issues? What specific health objectives are you attempting to achieve? For example: Are you looking to burn fat… build muscle… improve performance?
But there are even more basic questions for you to ask yourself. What foods do you love—and which do you loathe? Are you comfortable in the kitchen—and, if not, would you like to be? How much money are you ready, willing, and able to spend each month on groceries? Might you be able to increase your budget if it means looking and feeling better than ever, thanks to the most delicious and satisfying meals you’ve ever eaten?
THE WAY YOU EAT (AND THE ADVICE YOU GET) SHOULD EVOLVE OVER TIME
In the past, the experts at ARM Systems strongly advised clients to learn and follow the now- famous “primal” or “paleo” approach to eating—pretty much without exception—and for very good reason: It works for most people, most of the time, with dining options easy to find at most restaurants and supermarkets.
However, in the past year, “primal” and “paleo” have become so diluted and commercialized—with such a wide variety of packaged and prepared foods on the market— that this diet trend has started to lose its original appeal, which was about eating whole, unprocessed, ultra-high-quality ingredients, straight from the source, that you’ve cooked yourself.
Additionally, some of the science behind the primal/ paleo trend has been disproven over the past year. Paleolithic- era meats and fruits, for example, had nutritional profiles entirely different from contemporary equivalents.
Furthermore, despite popular opinion, late paleolithic-era humans actually did eat grain and dairy—and evolutionary biologists are starting to wonder if these nutrient-dense foodstuffs (admittedly quite different from today’s supermarket selections) facilitated the formation of language, agriculture, and civilization.
Finally, the field of epigenetics exploded in 2015, altering our perception of how quickly human beings can evolve and adapt to changing environments. Turns out it’s faster than ever imagined—a single generation in some cases. So, no, we’re actually not the same as our ancestors, and we don’t always need to eat the same way they did either.
THERE IS NO ONE RIGHT ANSWER—BUT THERE ARE THREE BASIC CATEGORIES OF ANSWERS
If you’re sick, unwell, and/or imbalanced, you may want to try a healing diet, for a period of one month to one year. Popular healing diets include:
THE WILD ROSE DIET is a basic alkalizing diet, paired with a variety of herbal medicines— all of which cleanse, purify, and detoxify the entire body.
THE BODY ECOLOGY DIET offers a radical simplification of Traditional Chinese Medicine’s nutritional wisdom—efficiently repairing digestive problems and restoring probiotic balance.
VEGAN AND/OR RAW- FOOD DIETS tend to be very high in fiber, enzymes, phytonutrients, and anti-oxidant/anti- inflammatory substances. On a temporary, short-term basis, these plant-based nutritional approach- es may be of special benefit to cancer patients and the extremely stressed and/or fatigued.
If you’re relatively healthy but (A) short on time, (B) uninterested in cooking, and (C) looking to improve your appearance and/or performance relatively quickly, then a primal- or paleo-inspired diet may be perfect for you.
But not for the reasons you may have been led to believe! In fact, it’s the simplicity and restricted nature of these diets— their elimination of common allergens and sensitizing agents—that probably makes them so effective. Some excellent primal/paleo resources include:
PRACTICAL PALEO, perhaps the single best primal/paleo book ever published.
MARK’S DAILY APPLE, a blog featuring some of the easiest, tastiest recipes you’ll ever find.
ARM SYSTEMS, home to a gigantic respository of recipes, shopping lists, and helpful hints, not to mention a wide variety of primal/paleo-friendly frozen entrees from the local kitchens of Primal Cravings.
Now come the truly surprising options. If you (A) truly have a passion for fine dining, (B) have a history of bingeing, stress- eating, and/or falling off the wagon from restrictive diets, and/ or (C) know how to cook (or love the idea of learning), then—believe it or not—your best bet may be to insist upon what the experts at ARM have started to call “gourmet traditionalism”.
For a dedicated foodie, it seems too good to be true. How on earth can rich, satisfying, elaborate meals possibly lead to fat loss, muscle gain, or radiant health by any standard? Scientifically, it makes zero sense. But artistically… sensually… emotionally… it makes all the sense in the world. And here’s why: Insisting upon the very best is extremely satisfying. But it’s also expensive and time-consuming—in a good way. The result: Mindfulness takes over, and over-eating is eliminated—or, at very least, minimized.
When you become a “gourmet traditionalist”, you don’t just eat whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want. Food sources must be local, organic, all natural. Preparation methods are decidedly old- school. (Microwave ovens are forbidden. Beans, grains, nuts, and seeds all get soaked. Dairy products are fine—if they’re raw and/or probiotic. You want ketchup on that burger? Fine—but you’ll have to make it from scratch.) Food is eaten on fine china, only when it can be savoured and appreciated the way it truly deserves.
But that’s not all. Gourmet traditionalism means traditionally sized portions, which tend to be small. It also means fasting every now and then—just like our ancestors did when food was scarce—so that, when you do eat, it’s even more satisfying. (Some people, for example, only eat once per day, or skip food altogether one to three non-consecutive days per week.) So many options—but do check in with your medical and/ or naturopathic doctor to make sure what’s right for you.
If the idea of gourmet traditionalism sounds good to you, check out these resources:
FRENCH WOMEN DON’T GET FAT, which reveals a distinctly continental approach to eating sumptuously but never gluttinously.
THE EVERY OTHER DAY DIET, perhaps the most rigorously studied and medically validated intermittent-fasting programme ever developed.
HEALTHY 4 LIFE, a free publication from The Weston A Price Foundation—chock full of time-saving, money-saving tips and tricks. This resource is especially helpful for couples and families who like the idea of eating traditional gourmet delights but want to proceed slowly and comfortably.