Nutrition ideas, NOT idealology

Nutrition, July 01, 2022

Your personalised nutrition plan will not fit into a simple one size fits all box.

Bruce Lee is one of my performance and wellness hero's. He wasn't confined to a particular fighting framework. Instead he took what resonated with him from different styles and become one of the most influential masters of Kung Fu in history. He started out learning the Chinese art of Wing Chun Gung Fu, and over his lifetime developed his individual expression of martial art called Jeet Kune Do. He was always listening, eager to learn, and adapting his personal style. The idea of constantly researching and refining his own experience was paramount to the way Bruce Lee lived.

"Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is essentially your own."

One off Information pieces in the media (mainstream and social) about nutrition tend to have click bait titles to grab attention. Any advice is always written by someone with a confounding bias, and can belong to a nutritional tribe. EVERYTHING you read shouldn't be taken as black and white gospel. As I've gained more experience in the health and wellness industry I have come to understand the general public require more general, less conflicting advice - then spend time and energy synchonising that knowledge with their own unique lifestyle. 

To give some context I'm a 47 year old physiotherapist and coach. I love to exercise 7-12 hours a week, and eat with a plant based wholefood framework (95% vegan, 5% vegetarian). I eat processed pre-prepared food for convenience but attempt to choose options that align with health, environmental sustainability, and animal ethics. I ate meat for the first 38 years of my life but have found I thrive on a dietary pattern with minimal animal products. I tend to promote a plant centered eating pattern as this takes into account my holistic approach to nutrition. 

Divisive click bait  headings like - “Meat causes cancer”, “Fruit makes you fat”, “Lectin's are poisoning you”’ and “Vegan diets damages memory” are not helpful. They create increasing confusion as society throw these around to back up their existing eating patterns without even reading the article or investing in any personal change. These 'shock' titles are far too simplistic and don't completely unpack the complexities of individual nutrition requirements. There is NO one size fit all diet. We need to match research and advice with our internal messaging…
  1. How does eating (insert food here) at (insert time of day or before/after activity here) make me feel/perform?
  2. Is this food hyper-processed highly packaged with ingredients that look like a chemistry exam or is close to how it's naturally grown?
  3. Is eating this now serving my longer wellness goal or is it scratching an itch?
  4. Am I eating mindfully or just grabbing whats available due to poor planning?
  5. Is this food choice aligning with environmental sustainability (what resources were required to produce and transport this item?) and animal ethics (animals deserve to be cared for, and should not be bought up in cramped, squalled conditions) 

Rather than fixating solely on external advice with black and white one line statements, work towards a lifestyle eating pattern that compliments your uniqueness. It's an ongoing journey that will change as you age. Nothing stands still.  Don’t just take the lazy way and dive head first inside a nutritional tribe box, or go with the latest journal article without any individual reflection. Taking into account ongoing research and having a more balanced fluid approach is key. 

In Australia 42% of kcal consumed are from ultra processed foods. It's 60% in the US. Aotearoa, New Zealand is probably somewhere in-between. Diet conversations that focus on the small stuff miss the main points. We have a health crisis with almost 70% of adults overweight or obese  - the ivory tower diet tribal leaders need to promote eating plant predominant whole food with sensible combinations, that are time honored. Debate about the variants on this should be secondary and not distract from the BIG picture.  Just get people to eat real food more often.  Policy needs to make real food more accessible with LESS financial barriers to our most vulnerable populations.  It is very difficult to compare very defined diet patterns e.g. Mediterranean vs Pescatarian vs Whole food plant based. You can study a bad vegan diet (coke, chips, and white bread) vs a keto diet (vegetables and quality meat) and come up that the keto diet is far healthier. Unfortunately ABSOLUTE diets sell as people want simple rules to follow - absolute claims are linked to a biased sales pitch. It's very easy to make "your diet" come up well in a study by making it "strong" compared to the comparison diet.  Many claims are backing up a label without substance. There are many issues with a "my diet will beat your diet" beauty contest nonsense. Paleo can mean bacon, hotdogs, and salami, or wild foraged greens with hunted venison. Any "diet" label will be better compared to a standard hyper processed food we eat typically as a society. Just trade up and eat less highly processed food and replace with real whole food when possible.

Diet wars have to stop if we want to move society towards a healthy way of eating. Leaders of nutritional tribes and policy makers have to promote healthy eating patterns without creating confusion. Let’s engage in diet discussion. The worried wealthy well can afford to fight over collagen supplementation, grass fed organic beef, and sea weed snacks as they can afford high end food costs. Most of society need to eat more real food that promotes health more often. If our policy makers made this food more affordable, and available it could go towards saving the country in health costs. I'll leave the last general piece of advice to Michael Pollen. It's now up to you to go and work towards eating in a way that serves you rather than enslaves you - "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants" 

Brad Dixon is a sports physio, coach, and wellness evangelist based at EVERFIT Physio & Coaching. His passion is promoting enhancing daily habits that nudge people towards potential and save the planet. His book ‘Holistic Human’ is available here - https://everfit.co.nz/Store/Category/Book . The power is in our daily habits! Connect with Brad at www.everfit.co.nz, Facebook, Strava, Instagram (@everfitcoach), and YOU TUBE https://youtube.com/c/EverFITcoach

 

Leafy green salad with potato, avocado, tomato, capsicum, and sunfed chicken