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Reviewing diets for national nutrition month
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Forsyth County News

In honor of National Nutrition Month, and in light of the challenge I issued readers a few weeks ago to not eat anything processed for a week, I have an update.

I heard from several people who did indeed take me up on the challenge. Their responses ranged from “I felt better and had more energy,” to “It is impossible to eat whole food and nothing that is processed.”

I really do understand the challenges. The only way to really make it work is be willing to cook and plan every meal. Eating out also is difficult, unless eating salad with oil and vinegar.

Still, it is a worthwhile endeavor and will definitely improve health.

There are so many mixed messages out there, but pretty much all of the latest diets have flaws.

The Paleo, or Caveman, Diet is really big right now. It claims we should go back to the way our ancestors ate — primarily meat and vegetables.

Of course, this appeals to meat lovers. The diet calls for eliminating grains, dairy, salt, sugar, processed oils and legumes.

Legumes? I love beans and think they are super healthy, so this won’t be a diet I would consider.

Heard about the GAPS diet? That stands for gut and psychology syndrome. In a nutshell, this diet calls for eliminating certain foods, and then adding them back and analyzing what affect they had. That sounds way too complicated and unrealistic.

Vegetarian and vegan diets are popular and seem to be growing in numbers. A few years ago, I tried going vegan for six months. Now that’s a tough diet.

Like vegetarians, vegans don’t eat meat, fish, chicken or pork. Vegans take it one step further by not eating any form of an animal product, so no dairy, eggs or even honey.

I love eggs and eat them almost every day. I try to limit dairy, but a life without cheese is surely a sad thing. Ditto for honey.

On a positive note, when Paul and I went vegan (yes, I made him do it with me), we both lost weight and lowered our cholesterol and blood pressure.

For me, being vegetarian is much more attainable than being vegan. A vegan diet is super healthy, as long as I eat real, whole food and stay away from the plethora of processed vegan products out there.

They are no better than their meat counterparts. Don’t believe me? Just check out the ingredient labels.

Gluten-free diets are all the buzz too. Gluten is a protein that gives elasticity to dough. That is to say, makes it so delicious.

Unless a doctor finds an allergy to it, there is no reason to avoid gluten, although limiting bread or pasta intake could be important for the waistline.

Grain-free diets also are popular. There is quite a bit of research out there about how consuming wheat is bad for the belly and brain.

I worry about eating wheat because of the heavy use of pesticides. So when I do eat it, I try to make my own using organic wheat. Thankfully, companies are making this more readily available.

The main thing I would stress about eating nutritionally is use common sense. Don’t necessarily believe the latest studies on what we should or shouldn’t eat.

Remember when eggs were supposed to banned from our diets? That has largely been reversed.

What about “evil” coffee? Now that is OK, so go ahead and power up.

What about chocolate? When I was a teenager, we were told it would give us acne. Now dark chocolate is healthy. As with most things, moderation is really the key.

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables (don’t even get me started when diets say to cut fruit out) and lean proteins (I recommend spending a little more for grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, wild-caught fish and other seafood and pastured pork).

Also be sure to use good quality olive oil, and try to limit the consumption of processed foods.

Good luck on the quest for better nutrition.

 

Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at contact@adlenrobinson.com.