A world filled with street-corner diet “experts” making different claims has many of us asking in bewilderment, “But how do I find the best diet for ME?”
When I started my plant-based restaurant Fruitive, I was completely unaware of how many different diets are out there. And I don’t just mean popular ones, like the Mediterranean and Paleo diets.
Many of my customers seem to have come up with their own “smorgasbord” diets. Typically, these were mash-ups based on foods they liked, what they read on the Internet, and advice from :
- their trainers
- their chiropractors
- their current medical doctors
- their previous medical doctors
- health-food store employees
One customer had a spinach allergy. Another couldn’t tolerate fruit. Still others had to avoid grains.
That some of us require a particular diet makes sense to me now. On any given day, up to half, our patrons asked to exclude ingredients from their meals. Our kitchens are very strict about these requests.
And we take extra-special precautions when an allergy is involved. However, the sheer number of order changes can be mind-boggling!
Who Might Know the Best Diet For Me?
I’m curious about where we get some of our diet ideas. As I wrote in reviewing Fiber Fueled earlier this week, top doctors seldom have training in nutrition.
The book’s author, Dr. Will Bulsiewicz, writes of his own experience:
“I was a celebrated doctor at one of America’s elite medical institutions, and I had such little awareness about nutrition that I was completely incapable of advising my patients, let alone myself.”
During a routine checkup in 2018, my doctor asked about my diet. On learning it’s 100-percent vegan, his knee-jerk reaction was, “You need to eat meat.”
He wasn’t kidding; that I didn’t eat meat or drink dairy genuinely disturbed him. I switched to a plant-friendly doctor.
When it comes to nutritional studies, dieticians and nutritionists have much stronger backgrounds than most MDs. I have some great friends and former employees who’ve gone on to get their degrees with a nutrition focus.
While they come from different schools of thought, their recommendations often reflect their personal dietary choices.
For example, this past year, I read books authored by vegan dieticians, promoting plant-based eating as the best diet for me. At the same time, my non-vegan dietician friend recommends drinking dairy and consuming meat. Which dietitian is correct?
Medical professionals have learned to understand the human body. Most are pretty open to their patients’ diet preferences; they genuinely want to help their clients live a healthy life. However, beyond the objective professionals, I’ve discovered that diet recommendations vary wildly.
Who Doesn’t Know the Best Diet for Me?
Health-food store employees might be the last people I’d seek advice from on the best diet for me – especially when considering how bad their medical advice can be.
A researcher from the Cancer Research Center Of Hawaii went undercover to pose as a breast cancer patient’s daughter. She visited 40 different health food stores, asking the employees for cancer care recommendations. Employees at 36 out of the 40 stores offered to sell her something.
What was their top suggestion?
Idiots! Multiple studies warn against the use of shark cartilage in the treatment of cancer.
The authors of Shark cartilage, cancer, and the growing threat of pseudoscience warn this snake-oil cure is causing “… a dramatic decline in shark populations and a diversion of patients from effective cancer treatments.”
Canadian researchers also went undercover to visit 34 health-food stores and ask the employees for recommendations on helping breast cancer patients. The responses were all over the medical map, with 33 different products suggested (from 34 stores!)
Other undercover Canadian researchers posed as asymptomatic HIV-positive individuals. The natural-food store employees promoting various treatments went as far as suggesting a remedy known to interfere with HIV medications!
The study’s conclusion?
“The products they recommended had limited evidence supporting their efficacy and in some instances were potentially harmful and had considerable costs.”
Bottom line? Don’t get advice about anything from random health store workers. Not about your diet, your supplements, nor what to take for your medical conditions.
My Top Way to Find the Best Diet for Me
I’m not an expert, self-proclaimed or otherwise. My advice comes from the books and studies I read and attempt to understand.
I’m an amateur sleuth, scrounging the library and Internet for clues on the best diet for my family and me. Each day, I write about what I’m learning and share it with others.
Last year I read well over 100 books on the subject of the plant-based dietary lifestyle. As I continue my search, my 2021 reading list will include authors opposed to plant-based eating.
I’ll dig into popular books about other diets than my own, attempting to approach their writing and research with an open mind.
My interest is in learning whether any non-vegan authors have scientific evidence strong enough to shake my confidence that I’ve already found the best diet for me.
I hope not. But follow me on my journey of discovery, and we’ll learn together!