I like to read about how eating affects our wellness. I’m genuinely interested in it and I like to read about the arguments for paleo diets and vegan diets. I like to learn how ketogenic diets work and what the benefits may be, especially for those with serious illness. I came across the meat-only carnivore diet and was curious about this, too. I admire the amount of work that goes into researching these different diets, and the studies that are used to prove theories about how they might help people.
I have yet to settle on a diet or a named way of eating that is the right one. The truth. The diet that fixes all of my issues and makes me look and feel great all of the time.
You can go online and find equal amounts of conflicting information about meat and grain. Some sources will say that grains irritate the immune system and indigestible in the body, contributing to a leaky gut and should be avoided in order to avoid disease. Some sources say that all meats in all forms are acid-causing, cancer-causing, obesity-causing and should be avoided in order to avoid disease.
Which is right? Which is the truth?
I think the answer is whatever the truth means for you and your individual body.
I’ve tried a lot. I was gluten-free, dairy-free and a list of other-free in high school and college due to “food sensitivities”. After a few years I lapsed and starting binging on donuts and pizza again and really didn’t notice much difference in how I felt, as long as I ate these things only occasionally.
I went paleo for two years after reading some of the very convincing books by authors on this subject. I did like how clean I felt, probably because it was so real-foods based. But after a while I felt like I was just eating too much meat. I mean, every meal is meat…with some sort of green vegetable on the side. It began to repulse me. I was irritable a lot of the time. I felt hungry all of the time. But I was so sure that this diet was the way that grains became the ultimate evil in my mind, even worse than sugar!
I tried keto then. Maybe I was eating too much protein and needed more fat. Oh. My. Gosh. It did not last long. One word can describe my entire experience, and pretty much how I felt all day long on this diet: nauseous.
As an experiment, I flipped and went vegan for a week. That week turned into a month and then all summer. I couldn’t believe I didn’t all apart eating all those whole grains, beans and…gasp!…tofu! I felt just as clean as I did eating paleo. Now that made no sense…or did it?
The veganism went on. I felt all pure of mind and heart and body. I actually started to think of myself as a little above those who ate animal products. Yes, here I was, shining and thriving proof that veganism was the answer to all of our food problems.
It took several months, but I began to get sick more often. My menstrual cycle came with cramps that really incapacitated me. My moods felt more down. My body was needing something.
Finding your own wellness path is a journey. So where should I turn next? I’d tried all the diets. I’d tried a lot of what others words and advice told me to do. What if I tried asking my own self?
So I looked to my ancestors. I looked to all of our ancestors, actually. Many of our great great grandmothers and grandfathers ate largely plant-based diets, because plants are easy to plan and cultivate and grow. And they don’t run away when you decide to eat them. But they do have their own silent line of defense, lectins that can irritate the digestion of some people. But our ancestors had a solution, and they developed traditional ways of preparing these plants – soaking, fermenting and preserving.
So okay, that’s pretty vegan. However, I couldn’t find a culture that refused meat when it was available. Meat was sometimes hard to come by, so it was reserved for celebrations or using sparingly in small amounts. Also, when you have to raise and butcher or go out and hunt your own meat, it becomes much more revered. You are grateful for it and grateful to the animal that gave it’s life. More so than the stuff wrapped in plastic that you can grab at any grocery store, gas station or drive through.
Different peoples from different regions of our world ate different traditional diets. I think it is useful to learn more about your own heritage so that you can use your own ancestor’s traditional diets as a guide for your own.
In the end, I think the solution is a diet based on real food that makes you feel good. I don’t really believe in diets have have catchy names or book sales behind them. I do believe in the wisdom of our ancestors and the intuition of our own bodies. Look within for the answers.