The diet war

Now more than ever, I’m witnessing the health food diet craze running rampant everywhere.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a good sign because it means people are starting to decipher how food plays a part in their lives and how it affects their health. As an eternal optimist, I truly believe that people are starting to wake up to the reality that a McNugget meal is not only going to put you in a nasty food coma, but it can also play a huge part in destroying your body and health. I truly believe we are entering what I like to think of as “The Food Revolution,” or, rather, a new chapter in how we produce, distribute and consume food. It’s extremely exciting stuff!

That said, just like any major change, there is a lot of controversy behind the diet food craze, so much that it’s turned into a full-on diet war. You can see it on any food-related posts online. For example, someone posts a comment on how eating meat is bad, and suddenly there’s an onslaught of replies, some agreeing wholeheartedly, while others protest against the practice. Half the time, the protests aren’t subtle or civilized—people get angry, hurtful and have absolutely no problem voicing their harshest opinions.

I am pleased that people are passionate about their health, and moreover, those passionate enough to share their discoveries with the rest of the world in the hopes of helping another individual on the road to a better lifestyle. But I find the hostility that accompanies this passion to be overzealous, where people cross the line from voicing their opinion into shoving it down everyone’s throats. This is really where people stop caring about helping others and simply want to win an argument. It isn’t healthy, it isn’t constructive, and it fuels the war.

What irks me most about this diet war is that people truly believe they know absolutely what’s best, with no wiggle room. They take no consideration for the individual’s needs and are headstrong that their diet—whether it be vegan, vegetarian, paleo or whatever else—is the diet that will not only bring everyone to the pinnacle of health but will also somehow help save the world. While I agree that having a society that thrives health-wise will help to develop a better world, I don’t agree that we will all get there in the same way.

There are too many factors that go into developing an appropriate diet for the individual, so stating that one diet works for everyone is a huge misconception. We have to look at things like body type, environmental factors, ancestry, childhood diet, emotional and spiritual tendencies, culture, age, sex, health issues, and the list goes on and on.

As a petite woman who grew up on the tropical beaches of Costa Rica, my body needs a lot of protein and vegetables as well as foods that will keep me warm come winter time. On the flip side, a burly man who was born and raised on the Alaska plains will probably want to adhere to a diet that’s quite different from mine. Furthermore, an individual’s diet can change many times throughout their life. What might have worked for them as teenagers might not be what they need as they approach their 50s.

The bottom line is that with practice, patience and intuition, we can all learn how to read our bodies and understand what they need in order to achieve optimal health. This can be accomplished through trial and error, investigating the factors that contribute to our specific dietary needs, and learning to listen to our bodies when something is wrong—trust me, your body will want to let you know when it isn’t happy!

I am by no means ruling out the notion of sharing your dietary beliefs with the world since this is how we all learn about food, but we have to draw the line when personal vendettas step in. Be conscientious when voicing your opinions, sending them out only with the intention of helping others.

Best of luck in your endeavors as a vegan, vegetarian, paleo, raw food, fruitarian, industrialized or whatever diet keeps you vibrant. Let each other know what works and what doesn’t, but in the name of peace, let’s keep it civil!