Nutrition: Which Diet Should I Follow, by Julie Daniluk
For years I have been asked, “Which diet should I follow?” Macrobiotic, Diabetic, Paleolithic, Vegan, Vegetarian, South Beach, Specific Carbohydrate, Low Fat, Fruitarian, Atkins, Low Cal, Raw, 100 Mile, Blood Type, The Maker’s, Weight Watchers; the list goes on and on. I can understand why people feel so confused about this subject. I do not believe that there is one generalized diet that is good for everyone. We all come with our own specific medical background that we need to pay attention to in order to know what we should be living on.
The Basic “Live-it”
I believe in a “Live-it” style approach to the food we consume. Dieting suggests a temporary state that you can break off once you have obtained your weight loss goal. Feeding your body nutrient-dense vegetables and fruit while on a ‘diet’ only to go back to ‘living’ on refined carbohydrates and rancid oils is completely counter-productive.
I believe Michael Pollan’s quote, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” summarizes how you should be eating. There is way too much food being consumed in most westernized countries, so the concept of calorie restriction does play a factor in a healthy Live-it. I do not believe in actively counting calories, but I do believe you should have an awareness of what is high in calories so you can tailor the amount you eat to the amount of activity you participate in. For example foods such as avocado, coconut, dates, raw nuts and seeds are all high in macronutrients such as sugars or fats. These foods are healthy and should not be avoided, but you wouldn’t want to eat them by the cupful unless you are planning on expending a lot of energy within the next 12 hours.
After all of the research I have read on subjects such as diabetes, arthritis, ADHD, heart disease, cancer, weight loss and a host of other diseases, I believe in consuming 10 servings of colourful, organic, fresh vegetables per day. (I do not include corn and white flesh potatoes in this category.) If you have ever tried to eat 10 servings of green, yellow, orange and/or red vegetables in a day, you will know that this does not leave a whole lot of room in your stomach for junk food.
Fruits give you a range of certain phytochemicals that cannot be obtained from other sources so I believe in eating 2-3 servings of them per day. Besides, they bring so much pleasure! Feeding your emotional self is just as important as feeding your body.
To Cook Or Not To Cook?
This is a controversial question in the health food industry. Fresh, organic, raw fruits and vegetables do have the largest amount of nutrient content. They also have the active enzymes that you require to help break down your food. But eating a lot of cold raw salad, vegetables and fruit is counter-intuitive during the long, cold, damp months of a Canadian winter. It is important to point out that there are certain nutrients that are more bioavailable when they have been cooked, so having a variety of cooked and raw foods might be the best balance.
Eating What Is Available
Not that long ago many of these diets would simply not be possible as they require the use of modern day petrochemical transport. I seriously question when someone proposes that we are to only subsist on foods that must be transported from halfway around the planet. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the benefits of organic coconut, olive oil, quinoa, spices and the variety of fresh fruits we have access to throughout the year but a time may come when we cannot use these products so freely. We need to focus on what we can grow locally to get the nutrients we need to be healthy. Either that or we need to migrate to a location were we can have access to the foods we desire. I strongly believe in supporting our local organic farmers, as they are the backbone to our homegrown health industry.
Julie Daniluk, RHN, hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that highlights the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition by using unique groups such as bikers, dragon boat racers and ballroom dancers to challenge their taste buds with nutritious foods. Julie is excited that her show was chosen to be part of OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network). Similar to Oprah’s book club, programs on OWN explore stories of strength and transformation. Television viewers also recognize Julie from her “busted” segments on The Right Fit (W Network) and The Marilyn Dennis Show (CTV) where she examines the foods people need to stay healthy, acting as a nutrition encyclopedia. Her fun and engaging style comes in handy when she creates a recipe a week that is packed with health tips for www.chatelaine.com.