What can match religion for polarising peoples viewpoint? Diet! That would be my answer.
You’re either with this tribe or that, you either love paleo/keto eating or you have 100 reasons why it’s the worst thing to ever hit the world of health & fitness.
There rarely seems to be any room for the middle ground. You may even scoff at the people who hold opposing views to yours!
Someone once said to me “an emotionally mature person is one that can tolerate ambiguity”. At the time it sounded wise but I wasn’t really sure what it meant.
However, I have since found something it applies to. Health, fitness and diets.
What if we looked at diet and nutrition with this ambiguous mindset and accepted that there is, perhaps, no one size fits all approach and perhaps people some people do do much better on a diet containing more vegetables but some do really well on lots of meat and fat.
The skill in this regard, is to understand when this is the case and match the correct approach to the right person, at the right time.
What do I mean?
A certain dietary regime might work really well for a time and then begin to lose its benefit after a while. Food is like a drug, if you get the right mixture it will balance your body. But if you keep taking it once you have a balanced state, you are naturally throwing yourself of balance. When is the right time to stop?
Your metabolic needs change everyday, in fact, hourly. Your metabolic needs are determined by:
- Genetic needs
- Blood type
- Sleep cycles
- Stress levels
- Activity levels
- Health/disease state
- Oxidation rate (rate at which you burn through food)
- Autonomic dominance (are you more ‘stressy’ or more relaxed in nature)
- For women – the day of the menstrual cycle
Imagine someone who has a long lineage of Inuit heritage who has just moved to the UK. They watch this great documentary on why animal cruelty is terrible and decide that it is indeed time to eat less meat, in fact they go the whole way and turn vegetarian.
They begin to put on weight and after a few months notice they feel lethargic and it’s hard to exercise. They’re struggling to get up without a couple of coffees and they can’t shake off the cold that is going around.
One possible explanation for a scenario like this, is that this persons body does not know how to utilise the fuel it’s being given.
It take 100,000 years for your genes to change 0.1%.
With snow on the ground and freezing temperatures I would very much doubt whether this person’s ancestors saw any salad leaves, goji berries or maca root growing nearby.
They would have sustained themselves very well on whale meat and whale fat mainly. Consuming pre-digested sea vegetables from the intestines of sea life they were able to catch.
What is my point?
I know this is an extreme example and there is not a great number of people emigrating from Alaska to the UK.
But, we have a diverse mix of people throughout the globe today and all with unique metabolic needs.
That is why being ambiguous and open minded is the most healthy approach to nutrition in my opinion.
Metabolic typing is a system of nutritional analysis and coaching that I have used to great affect over the past 13 years.
I’ve worked with those that truly do do better with more vegetables and those that respond very well to high protein and high fat.
It requires an open mind, an ability to listen to what your body is telling you and willingness to let go of the latest diet dogma that is doing the rounds.
Does that sound like a healthier more balanced approach to you? I’d love to know your thoughts on this.