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View Full Version : What exactly is a 'healthy diet', is there a scientific consensus


Wesley Clark
07-19-2011, 01:53 PM
The definition of a healthy diet (my defintion: one that improves a persons physical and mental health irrespective of impact on bodyweight) seems highly varied from author to author. The only common threads I have seen are generally to

eat vegetables
generally avoid refined and processed foods (cooking oils, sugars)

Aside from that they are pretty varied. Some vegetarian thinkers claim whole grains aren't very good for you (since we didn't evolve to eat them), others think they are. The paleo diet promotes various meats, some discourage them. Atkins is pretty much all meat. All claim to be good for physical and mental health.

Even as far as eating fruits and vegetables (which most nutrionists and people promoting eating for health promote) there is diversity on which ones and how to eat them. Some say juice them (to pre-digest them by breaking cell walls), some say smoothies, some say raw. Beans and nuts have varied responses from various writers.

Some say phytochemicals are important, others seem to discount their health benefits. Some claim artificial sweeteners are fine, some don't. Cooking oils like olive oil are featured heavily in the mediterranian diet for health benefits while others criticize cooking oils, etc.

So when it comes to eating for physical and mental health, is there a strong consensus on a handful of concepts (avoid refined foods, eat vegetables) and everything else is a fad diet? Or are there really no strong points of consensus that run along the ideas?

Telemark
07-19-2011, 02:31 PM
I don't believe there needs to be a single "healthy diet". There may be many different diets, all of which can work fine for a subset or even a majority of people.

FlikTheBlue
07-19-2011, 02:36 PM
Atkins is pretty much all meat.

The Atkins diet is popularly portrayed in the media as being all about meat. In truth, low carb fruits like berries as well as vegetables are also a big part of the Atkins diet.

I think carbs, especially simple carbs such as sugars and white bread are big culprits in unhealthy diets. I especially laugh at the high fructose corn syrup commercials that say it is just as ggod for you as sugar. That's like saying that being hit with a hammer is just as good for you as being hit with a 2x4. Their both equally bad for you.

Qadgop the Mercotan
07-19-2011, 02:41 PM
Behold the USDA's new Food Plate (http://www.choosemyplate.gov/)!

It actually gives pretty decent dietary advice.

initech
07-19-2011, 02:57 PM
Also, Walter Willett's version of the food pyramid, which is very useful:

http://www.trustyguides.com/Images/newfoodpyramid.gif

The Hamster King
07-19-2011, 03:00 PM
Behold the USDA's new Food Plate (http://www.choosemyplate.gov/)!You know, when I heard they were ditching the pyramid for a plate metaphor, I thought they were daft. But that's actually a really good graphic depiction of how to balance your diet.

Anaamika
07-19-2011, 03:08 PM
Behold the USDA's new Food Plate (http://www.choosemyplate.gov/)!

It actually gives pretty decent dietary advice.

This is a really great website, thanks!

aruvqan
07-19-2011, 03:12 PM
You know, when I heard they were ditching the pyramid for a plate metaphor, I thought they were daft. But that's actually a really good graphic depiction of how to balance your diet.

Though a bit protein heavy for my taste, but I have seen measuring bowls for portion sizes (http://www.oodora.com/health-and-food/product-reviews/mesu-portion-control-bowls.html) online that look interesting.

blindboyard
07-19-2011, 03:22 PM
You know, when I heard they were ditching the pyramid for a plate metaphor, I thought they were daft. But that's actually a really good graphic depiction of how to balance your diet.

Seems to be a simple pie chart.

voltaire
07-20-2011, 06:10 AM
Although it's focused on weight gain/loss, there's an interesting article in the NYT (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/19/health/19brody.html) about a 20 year study (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1014296?query=TOC&#t=articleTop) that recently concluded.
The foods that contributed to the greatest weight gain were not surprising. French fries led the list: Increased consumption of this food alone was linked to an average weight gain of 3.4 pounds in each four-year period. Other important contributors were potato chips (1.7 pounds), sugar-sweetened drinks (1 pound), red meats and processed meats (0.95 and 0.93 pound, respectively), other forms of potatoes (0.57 pound), sweets and desserts (0.41 pound), refined grains (0.39 pound), other fried foods (0.32 pound), 100-percent fruit juice (0.31 pound) and butter (0.3 pound).

Also not too surprising were most of the foods that resulted in weight loss or no gain when consumed in greater amounts during the study: fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Compared with those who gained the most weight, participants in the Nurses’ Health Study who lost weight consumed 3.1 more servings of vegetables each day.

But contrary to what many people believe, an increased intake of dairy products, whether low-fat (milk) or full-fat (milk and cheese), had a neutral effect on weight.

And despite conventional advice to eat less fat, weight loss was greatest among people who ate more yogurt and nuts, including peanut butter, over each four-year period.

Nuts are high in vegetable fat, and previous small studies have shown that eating peanut butter can help people lose weight and keep it off, probably because it slows the return of hunger.

That yogurt, among all foods, was most strongly linked to weight loss was the study’s most surprising dietary finding, the researchers said. Participants who ate more yogurt lost an average of 0.82 pound every four years

So you can feel free to have a side of yogurt and nuts with your fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. And if you want to snack on something a bit more decadent, a little cheese won't hurt.

The Hamster King
07-20-2011, 08:27 AM
Seems to be a simple pie chart.It's not. A pie chart uses the size of angles to convey information. The "plate" uses a clever mix of angles and sizes to nicely convey ideas like "half of this, half of that", "less than a quarter", "eat the most of this" and "eat the least of this".

Surreal
07-20-2011, 11:34 AM
Dr. Kurt Harris has an excellent set of guidelines of what constitutes a healthy diet from a scientific perspective:

http://www.archevore.com/get-started/

1. Eliminate sugar (including fruit juices and sports drinks that contain HFCS) and all foods that contain flour.

2. Start eating proper fats - Use healthy animal fats to substitute fat calories for calories that formerly came from sugar and flour.

3. Eliminate gluten grains. Limit grains like corn and rice, which are nutritionally poor.

4. Eliminate grain and seed derived oils (cooking oils) Cook with Ghee, butter, animal fats, or coconut oil. Use no temperate plant oils like corn, soy, canola, flax, walnut, etc.

5. Favor ruminants like beef, lamb and bison for your red meat. Eat eggs and fish.

6. Make sure you are Vitamin D replete. Get daily midday sun or consider supplementation.

7. 2 or 3 meals a day is best. Don't graze like a herbivore.

8. Attend to your 6s and 3s. Pastured (grass fed) dairy and grass fed beef or bison has a more optimal 6:3 ratio, more vitamins and CLA. If you can't eat enough pastured products, eat plenty of fish.

9. Get proper exercise - emphasizing resistance and interval training over long aerobic sessions.

10. Most modern fruit is just a candy bar from a tree. Go easy on bags of sugar like apples. Stick with berries and avoid watermelon which is pure fructose. Eat in moderation. If you are not trying to lose fat, a few pieces of fruit a day are fine.

11. Eliminate legumes

12. If you are allergic to milk protein or concerned about theoretical risks of casein, you can stick to butter and cream and avoid milk and soft cheeses.






No counting, measuring or weighing is required, nor is it encouraged.

For what I eat (not what you should eat, just what I eat) see this.

Did you notice that there is no step that says what your macronutrient ratios should be?

Good, because there isn't (and never has been) one.

Archevores typically range from 5-35% carbohydrate, from 10-30% protein and from 50 to 80% fat (mostly from animals) but wider ranges are entirely possible if you are not dieting and you are meticulous about the quality of your animal food sources.

Broomstick
07-20-2011, 12:58 PM
1. Eliminate sugar (including fruit juices and sports drinks that contain HFCS) and all foods that contain flour.
So... basically, no bread or grains, right?

3. Eliminate gluten grains. Limit grains like corn and rice, which are nutritionally poor.
In other words, no grains.

12. If you are allergic to milk protein or concerned about theoretical risks of casein, you can stick to butter and cream and avoid milk and soft cheeses.
This is actually hazardous advice for someone with a dairy allergy - there is no way to ensure there is no milk protein in butter, and there is certainly milk protein in cream. This point alone makes me doubt this guy knows what he's talking about. I'm aware that not everyone with an MD after their name is an allergy expert, but that's really basic stuff about food allergy. And if this is supposed to be a diet emulating what our distant, pre-agricultural ancestors ate why is there dairy at all in it? Does he think that our distant ancestors were attempting to milk lactating wild goats or something?

The site is... interesting, but I have real issues with some of what he says.

Peremensoe
07-20-2011, 01:09 PM
Atkins is pretty much all meat. All claim to be good for physical and mental health.

Do Atkins aficionados really make this claim? (I know it's not "all meat," I mean the health claim.) I thought it was meant strictly as a weight-loss (and then maintenance) technique.

Renee
07-20-2011, 01:29 PM
Broomstick, a few months ago I started eating the way Harris recommends, and it has dramatically improved my health and body. I look and feel pretty great all the time now, my skin and energy has improved, basically my whole life is better. Before I started, I was only about 10 lbs overweight, but that was struggling all the time on a diet like the one initech's link suggests (I ate almost zero processed or fast food before I started, but still wasn't doing all that well). I no longer obsess about food, the food I eat tastes fantastic, and I don't get cravings or have trouble resisting a plate of cookies anymore. I highly, highly recommend the Paleo/Archevore diet. I have no doubt I'll be eating like this for the rest of my life.

If anyone is interested, I find Stephan Guyenet's blog (http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/search/label/gluten) to be well researched and not-crazy.

Broomstick
07-20-2011, 01:39 PM
Look, there's a lot of good there about reducing excess sugar and such, it's a diet that may well work for some people but when he whips out "people with milk protein allergy can substitute butter and cream" he's spreading misinformation, nonsense, and, as I said, hazardous advice. This is such a basic mis-step in regards to allergy that it makes me wonder about the rest of his theory of diet.

Sure, you can always lose weight by eliminating large categories of food - some people eliminate all meat... his system eliminates all grains. Either way, you're reducing calories in your diet. So there is nothing magical or particularly ground-breaking about what he proposes. Sure, you lost 10 pounds - you probably could have done that by some other diet that also eliminates large groups of food. Your health improved - well, losing weight usually has that effect. He emphasizes non-processed or minimally processed food - yes, that usually does taste fantastic.

If it works for you that's fine, what I'm questioning here is the idea that it would work for everyone, and as I pointed out, for some people his advice could actually pose a threat to health.

My view is that humans are omnivores, that means there is likely no ONE diet that is healthy. There are likely several approaches that result in a healthy human being, and given some of the known diversity of the human race (the ability or lack of it to digest lactose past the normal weaning age being one well known example) it is also entirely possible that a diet healthy for one person would not be so for another. On top of that, adding in disorders like food allergies and diabetes and lipid processing problems and you've got a minefield.

I'll at least give him credit for mentioning that for healthy individuals his system poses no threat but we have a LOT of people in the world with chronic issues. Some of these probably aren't really new.... it's just that in the past people died young from them, or complications of them.

Renee
07-20-2011, 03:24 PM
Well, I'm not going to argue with you about it, I'm just saying what worked for me. I'm absolutely eating more calories and way more fat than I used to, and continue to lose weight despite my general gluttony. Specific health issues I'd struggled with my whole life cleared up completely, and like I said, I was eating very much according to USDA guidelines before. YMMV, but for me, this works, and I'm advocating it because other people may not have heard of this way of eating. I had not before a few months ago, and wish I'd started much earlier.

Wesley Clark
07-20-2011, 05:29 PM
Dr. Kurt Harris has an excellent set of guidelines of what constitutes a healthy diet from a scientific perspective:

http://www.archevore.com/get-started/

My problem is that I can find people who have totally different opinions.

A major problem I have is that diet and exercise are mostly treated as vehicles for weight loss in this fat phobic culture of ours, not as health promoting tools in and of themselves. So I wonder how much are healthy diet and exercise overhyped by medicine (because they are seen as vehicles for weight loss), and how much of the advice is based on the impact on weight loss rather than physical/mental health independent of BMI.

Not only that but I get the impression that many nutrition experts have their own biases or philosophies they want to push (such as anti-modernism or anarcho-primitivism), which I do not subscribe to.


1. Eliminate sugar (including fruit juices and sports drinks that contain HFCS) and all foods that contain flour.

Some promote whole wheat flour. I don't know if anyone supports a diet high in HFCS or white flour though, so there seems to be a consensus there.

2. Start eating proper fats - Use healthy animal fats to substitute fat calories for calories that formerly came from sugar and flour.

I've heard some say plant fats are far healthier than animal fats, etc.

3. Eliminate gluten grains. Limit grains like corn and rice, which are nutritionally poor.

Whole wheat is considered healthy by some due to its fiber content and ability to lower glycemic index.

4. Eliminate grain and seed derived oils (cooking oils) Cook with Ghee, butter, animal fats, or coconut oil. Use no temperate plant oils like corn, soy, canola, flax, walnut, etc.

Walnut oil is high in omega 3s, the health benefits of olive oil are a major selling point of the meditterranian diet. Canola, avocado, sunflower, etc oils are also considered healthy. Some consider butter and animal fats unhealthy.

5. Favor ruminants like beef, lamb and bison for your red meat. Eat eggs and fish.

Some favor no meats. Some like the paleo diet only favor foods our ancestors would've eaten. So no eggs or beef.

6. Make sure you are Vitamin D replete. Get daily midday sun or consider supplementation.

I haven't heard any criticisms of that.

7. 2 or 3 meals a day is best. Don't graze like a herbivore.

I've heard some say health benefits come from grazing 6 or more times a day. I've heard other say intermittent fasting (going up to 72 hours at a time without food) is best for health.

8. Attend to your 6s and 3s. Pastured (grass fed) dairy and grass fed beef or bison has a more optimal 6:3 ratio, more vitamins and CLA. If you can't eat enough pastured products, eat plenty of fish.

I haven't heard anyone criticize proper omega 3 content. So that is a point that doesn't seem to be contentious.

9. Get proper exercise - emphasizing resistance and interval training over long aerobic sessions.

10. Most modern fruit is just a candy bar from a tree. Go easy on bags of sugar like apples. Stick with berries and avoid watermelon which is pure fructose. Eat in moderation. If you are not trying to lose fat, a few pieces of fruit a day are fine.

Some say eat any fruit, some say eat only some. Some say eat organic, some say it doesn't matter. Some say eat it raw, some say cook it. Some say juice it, some say use smoothies. So the ideas are all over the place.

11. Eliminate legumes

Some say eat them. Peanuts can help with type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15162131

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18716180

12. If you are allergic to milk protein or concerned about theoretical risks of casein, you can stick to butter and cream and avoid milk and soft cheeses.

Some say avoid all dairy products. Some say eat the whole fat. Some say the skim.


Anyway, I'm not trying to be rude by all that. But my point is that I really don't know if there is a general scientific consensus about eating for health (rather than weight loss) when the advice usually contradicts other advice. Not only that, but much of the advice is for lifestyle change so radical most people can't possibly maintain them for life. I'm not going to give up grains for life for a variety of reasons.

Something as simple as eating breakfast every day and making sure the breakfast is high in fiber and protein can have health benefits for blood sugar, mood and cardiovascular health. Plus it is a realistic lifestyle change a person can maintain.

Or switching to healthier cooking oils. Or using whole wheat grains instead of white. Those are realistic lifestyle changes I can make.

Wesley Clark
07-20-2011, 05:33 PM
I don't believe there needs to be a single "healthy diet". There may be many different diets, all of which can work fine for a subset or even a majority of people.

I don't agree. Like with religion, I think there is only one true path and everyone else is either misinformed or ignorant.

aruvqan
07-20-2011, 08:59 PM
Oats would be better than most other grains, though buckwheat purportedly is good for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, PCOS ...

perhaps a breakfast of oatmeal and buckwheat groats would be good, buckwheat pancakes/crepes/blini instead of wheat, oat based breads and cookies.

Telemark
07-20-2011, 09:54 PM
I don't agree. Like with religion, I think there is only one true path and everyone else is either misinformed or ignorant.
Ah, well, yes, then there are those heathens who like white chocolate. Death is too good for them.

marshmallow
07-20-2011, 10:59 PM
Some like the paleo diet only favor foods our ancestors would've eaten. So no eggs or beef.

Why wouldn't our ancestors eat eggs?

Wesley Clark
07-20-2011, 11:35 PM
Why wouldn't our ancestors eat eggs?

Well, domesticated chicken eggs might be out. I may have been wrong on that point.

Renee
07-20-2011, 11:58 PM
Well, domesticated chicken eggs might be out. I may have been wrong on that point.

You're wrong on both the egg and beef thing, Paleo includes a bunch of both, especially free-range, grass fed beef and pastured eggs.

marshmallow
07-21-2011, 12:04 AM
I'll admit to not being very familiar with the paleo thing and I'm probably about to strawman it, but it seems kinda hopless. I imagine the vast majority of the animals and plants our ancestors ate are extinct. That, or they dramatically changed due to domestication. Most of the stuff we eat now probably didn't even exist 11K+ years ago. AFAIK the only way to get a good mammoth burger would be to grab some shovels and go to Siberia.

And even that assumes that what our ancestors ate is what's best for our bodies. That seems like a huge step right there.

voltaire
07-21-2011, 12:24 AM
I'll admit to not being very familiar with the paleo thing and I'm probably about to strawman it, but it seems kinda hopless.
Yeah, I think beer is a no-no.

I imagine the vast majority of the animals and plants our ancestors ate are extinct. That, or they dramatically changed due to domestication. Most of the stuff we eat now probably didn't even exist 11K+ years ago. AFAIK the only way to get a good mammoth burger would be to grab some shovels and go to Siberia.I'm no expert on the subject, but the real point is to eat natural and whole foods. Also, types of food (and quantities of them) that would have been easily foraged for, as opposed to factory farmed foods that came about as a result of modern agriculture.

And even that assumes that what our ancestors ate is what's best for our bodies. That seems like a huge step right there.The assumption there is that our ancestors evolved over millennia to eat such a diet, so that's what our bodies are designed for. Part of the support for this idea is that obesity and diet-related health problems are exceedingly rare in wild animals. Only humans and domesticated animals have widespread problems as a result of diet.

Dangerosa
07-21-2011, 07:25 AM
There is Michael Pollan's advice....

1. Eat Food
2. Not too much
3. Mostly plants

Its really a complex question though. Whole grains are great for cheap calories - calories aren't much of a problem in the American diet, but calories are the first necessary thing. Add in allergies, diseases, food intolerance, the various amount and types of work and exercise different people do in a day - and you don't get a "one size fits all" solution. But the above is pretty consistent across most mainstream advice.

(By food, Pollan means 'things your grandmother would recognize as food that have a fairly simple ingrediant list" - Twinkies and Nacho Cheese Doritos do not qualify as food).

Renee
07-21-2011, 10:21 AM
Paleo is basically the avoidance of industrial, processed food (including industrial seed-oils), and grains. Eat meat, vegetables, fish, fruit, nuts, and try to have the meat you eat come from animals that live as naturally as is practical in our society (grass-fed beef, for example, rather than feed-lot beef). It really isn't that radical.

jz78817
07-21-2011, 10:40 AM
My problem is that I can find people who have totally different opinions.



like this thread? this is why I usually don't take part in them; threads about diet/nutrition inevitably devolve into a bunch of people who have no knowledge of nutrition or medicine advancing what they think is "correct" based on what sounds good to them. As it is this thread already contains at least one poster advancing the notion of eliminating grains, many fruits, and centering on animal fats; and at least one other poster advancing the philosophy of eating mostly grains and fruits and minimizing animal foods.

How in the hell do you reconcile this?

Broomstick
07-21-2011, 11:06 AM
I reconcile it with the notion that different people are different - there is indisputable proof that some people can digest lactose as adults and some can't, and that is based on genetics. I think it's possible there are other gene-based dietary tolerances which could account for why some people do better with one diet and some with a different one.

That, and there's probably more than one "right" way to eat. Humans can eat an enormous variety of foods, and it's not beyond reason we have more flexibility in diet than some other species.

There's also the fact that different people have different needs. Most of us are pretty sedentary, and food is abundant, so getting calories isn't an issue, getting nutrients - vitamins, minerals, etc. - is the big deal for us. For our ancestors, typically more active, and particularly during times of food scarcity, getting just enough calories alone was the big issue in which case fats and sugars would have absolutely been needed in quantity. The nutritional needs of a toddler are different than those of a pregnant woman which are different than the needs of a 80 year old man. In other words, the diet that works best when you're 12 might not be suitable at 35 or 90.

That said, I think Pollan's advice - eat food, not too much, mostly plants - is a pretty good guideline. In general, the less processed the food, the less altered, the better it is (although some foods, such as cheese, inherently are processed). Even our Mighty Hunter Ancestors weren't always successful on the hunt, so they ate a lot of plant food in between successful hunts. And not eating to excess, regardless of what you're eating, avoids obesity which isn't good for you.

One of my issues with the idea of a "paleo diet" is that a lot of authentic wild foods actually aren't that healthy. In the hunter-gatherer days meat was NOT an every day food (unlike Atkins and a lot of the "caveman" diets I've seen). A lot of wild foods require detoxification to be edible, nor is that a problem for just humans - wild birds have been documented eating various types of clay after eating berries and fruits containing toxins, and primates have been known to eat charcoal after consuming some irritating foods, and both clay and charcoal can absorb some of those toxins (hence their use in human stomach/diarrhea remedies for ages). A lot of what agriculture has done is remove the naturally occurring toxins from our food crops, making them healthier/easier to consume. Paleo meats - the real ones - were full of parasites, and no one checked the hunter's kill for possible transmissible diseases.

Yes, some hunter-gatherers lived to a healthy, vital old age - those that didn't succumb to less than perfect bodies, accidents, periodic starvation, parasites, and the occasional hunted animal fighting back. They avoided cancer and heart disease in part by dying young (by our standards), before they could acquire the diseases of old age.

Yes, it makes all the sense in the world to eat healthy, exercise, and take care of yourself. But it's like arguing one can only be healthy by running - no, there are plenty of other exercises one can do that will give you the same benefits, and some folks may do better with, say, swimming than running and someone else may get better results from a bicycle.

jz78817
07-21-2011, 11:26 AM
(btw, to clarify my post above- I'm not specifically referring to SDMB in my gripe, this topic trends the same way on any message board and IRL.) with that out of the way.

Broomstick, I don't disagree. I think (key word) that in the general case, a diet somewhere between Pollan's recommendations and Atkins' can work well in general. The one thing to keep in mind is that Atkins is not and to the best of my knowledge has never been about "eating all the meat you want all the time." That notion came out of brain-dead news/media outlets that would start off any piece they did on Atkins with a shot of eggs, sausage, and bacon sizzling away on the griddle of some greasy-spoon. The core tenet of Atkins is "fat is not evil, don't obsess over minimizing it. Refined sugar and processed carbs are actually the bad stuff." It does not say "gorge yourself silly on ribeyes and pork bellies."

There's also the fact that different people have different needs. Most of us are pretty sedentary, and food is abundant, so getting calories isn't an issue, getting nutrients - vitamins, minerals, etc. - is the big deal for us.

yeah, this. and realistically, this is the philosophy of a lot of the "new" diets (atkins, Pollan, south beach, etc.) they're all alternative approaches to the core of getting empty processed junk out of your life.

ETA: I think one big step would be for people to stop drinking so damn much soda. I've seen people who drink enough that in terms of calories from sugar they're practically eating the equivalent of 8 or 9 candy bars a day!

gonzomax
07-21-2011, 09:48 PM
I do not know if nutrition is a science or not, but few doctors have any training in it. Where can you get the truth on it? Turn on the TV and the quack of the month is telling you what to do. Next month , somebody new contradicts while claiming great expertise.
I suppose we should all listen to Susan Summers.

Wesley Clark
07-21-2011, 09:58 PM
I do not know if nutrition is a science or not, but few doctors have any training in it. Where can you get the truth on it? Turn on the TV and the quack of the month is telling you what to do. Next month , somebody new contradicts while claiming great expertise.
I suppose we should all listen to Susan Summers.

I like reading scientific studies saying 'minor lifestyle change X can reduce your chances of type 2 diabetes, depression or heart disease by 40%'. Those are interesting because they are scientifically validated (hopefully neutral, but many of those studies also seem to be funded by groups that stand to gain by promoting them), they are realistic lifestyle changes and they treat alterations in diet/exercise as good things in and of themselves, not as tools to achieve weight loss (meaningful long term weight loss requires draconian changes in lifestyle that are not realistic for most people).

I don't know if anyone has invented a list of lifestyle changes based on the above criteria. But they should.

Peremensoe
07-21-2011, 10:20 PM
the "new" diets (atkins, Pollan, south beach, etc.)

I think Michael Pollan would be seriously dismayed to see his name in this grouping, or his thoughts on food characterized as either "new" or a "diet"!

jz78817
07-21-2011, 10:24 PM
I think Michael Pollan would be seriously dismayed to see his name in this grouping, or his thoughts on food characterized as either "new" or a "diet"!

not sure that I care.

Peremensoe
07-21-2011, 10:26 PM
You don't care about his feelings, or about your own understanding?

jz78817
07-21-2011, 10:29 PM
You don't care about his feelings, or about your own understanding?

the former. it was an off the cuff grouping, not a comparison or value judgement.

even sven
07-22-2011, 03:30 AM
Nice to see the old "Nobody can lose weight! Can't be done!" excuse. keep telling yourself that if it gets you through the day. The billions of people who eat regular, smallish, balanced meals and are minimally active (20 minutes 3X weekly is hardly draconian) somehow manage to do it and are generally both slim and healthy.

Everyone is looking for a system. They want someone else to take responsibility for their choices. You guys are looking for a single answer for a question that experience show doesn't have one. We all know healthy 80 year olds who got that way with any number of diets.

But don't use the fact that there is no one answer to abdicate your own responsibilities. You KNOW the basic principles. You know being lazy screws up your metabolism. You know if you eat too much, you get fat, and all things equal that can bring bad things in your life that usually don't some to slim people so quickly. You know soda and white bread don't add anything good and that spinach and blueberries do. You can'tjust throw up your hands and say "There is no system! So I might as well eat cake and bologna by the pound."

For goodness sake, you go shopping every week or so, right? If you are sluggish, fat and/or unhealthy, at least you know for sure that one system doesn't work. Put something else- anything else- in your basket. Repeat until you find something that works. Boom, there is your personal perfect diet.

Nava
07-22-2011, 08:28 AM
I don't agree. Like with religion, I think there is only one true path and everyone else is either misinformed or ignorant.

Doubtful, as for starters that would require a diet eliminating all those nutrients which can produce allergy or intolerance. We'd end up eating pills.

fluiddruid
07-22-2011, 09:45 AM
Broomstick, I don't disagree. I think (key word) that in the general case, a diet somewhere between Pollan's recommendations and Atkins' can work well in general. The one thing to keep in mind is that Atkins is not and to the best of my knowledge has never been about "eating all the meat you want all the time." That notion came out of brain-dead news/media outlets that would start off any piece they did on Atkins with a shot of eggs, sausage, and bacon sizzling away on the griddle of some greasy-spoon. The core tenet of Atkins is "fat is not evil, don't obsess over minimizing it. Refined sugar and processed carbs are actually the bad stuff." It does not say "gorge yourself silly on ribeyes and pork bellies." Right. Keep in mind that, at the start of Atkins -- the induction phase, which is what most people think of when they think of the diet -- you are getting 20g or less of carbs per day. Most people get the majority of their calories from carbs, and all a sudden, you're at near-nil rates (basically enough to get in green vegetables and some kinds of dairy). Calories start to come from fat. I know it's weird to think of dieters eating butter, cheese, and oils with relative abandon, but it's actually pretty hard to get enough to eat without doing so. It's also pretty hard to overeat on fat alone, since there are limits on protein as well. For what it's worth, it varies on weight and gender, but around 6oz of protein per meal is typical. That's not "lots of meat".

People look at dieters eating fried eggs and coffee with heavy cream and go "well, that's obviously stupid", forgetting that the same person is cutting out the grains and sugars that compromise the bulk of most diets. They're also ignoring that the diet heavily emphasizes the importance of the vegetables. It's not uncommon for me to go through a couple of bags of salad mix per day eating low-carb. Salad's a great vegetable choice, has lots of fiber, and is a good fat-delivery system that doesn't require a lot of prep time.

Low-carb is still reasonably contentious, but most nutritionists today would agree that the push to create low-fat foods has created a lot of really bad "diet" choices. Replacing fat with sugar is not an improvement.

fluiddruid
07-22-2011, 09:48 AM
But don't use the fact that there is no one answer to abdicate your own responsibilities. You KNOW the basic principles. You know being lazy screws up your metabolism. You know if you eat too much, you get fat, and all things equal that can bring bad things in your life that usually don't some to slim people so quickly. You know soda and white bread don't add anything good and that spinach and blueberries do. You can'tjust throw up your hands and say "There is no system! So I might as well eat cake and bologna by the pound."
Can we not make this yet another thread about how irresponsible and lazy fat people are?

Wesley Clark
07-22-2011, 10:51 AM
Can we not make this yet another thread about how irresponsible and lazy fat people are?

Or one that implies changes in nutrition and exercise or mainly/solely valuable as tools for weight loss, rather than their impact on mental and physical health irrespective of bodyweight.

Broomstick
07-22-2011, 10:53 AM
It's not uncommon for me to go through a couple of bags of salad mix per day eating low-carb. Salad's a great vegetable choice, has lots of fiber, and is a good fat-delivery system that doesn't require a lot of prep time.
This is why I grow lettuce in my garden - no way could I afford as much lettuce as we normally eat in the summer - not because we're low-carb but because we eat mostly vegees and you need variety. I've got 8 types of lettuce in the garden this year, most of which are very expensive "gourmet" varieties if you see them in the store.

Actually, this year the lettuce is doing so well I'm giving away bags of the stuff, mainly to two friends I know on disability who are even worse off financially than I am right now. I can't really help them any other way, but at least they have good food to eat.

Wesley Clark
07-22-2011, 10:58 AM
This is why I grow lettuce in my garden - no way could I afford as much lettuce as we normally eat in the summer - not because we're low-carb but because we eat mostly vegees and you need variety. I've got 8 types of lettuce in the garden this year, most of which are very expensive "gourmet" varieties if you see them in the store.

Actually, this year the lettuce is doing so well I'm giving away bags of the stuff, mainly to two friends I know on disability who are even worse off financially than I am right now. I can't really help them any other way, but at least they have good food to eat.

Its off topic, but how far off are you and your husband from qualifying for SS? To me, the period of age 50 until I hit retirement (60s) sounds terrifying from a financial perspective. Employers don't want you anymore and are trying to push you out, but you are too young to qualify for SS and medicare to stay afloat. It seems like a period where a lot of people metaphorically fall off the edge of the earth and just struggle endlessly with finances.

Also, I read that in Indiana the HIP plan is planning to accept 8000 new childless adults starting august 1st. So you might want to reapply.

http://www.in.gov/fssa/hip/

Broomstick
07-22-2011, 11:03 AM
Its off topic, but how far off are you and your husband from qualifying for SS?
I'm in my mid-40's, spouse in mid-50's. So, a few years.

Also, I read that in Indiana the HIP plan is planning to accept 8000 new childless adults starting august 1st. So you might want to reapply.
We've been on HIP for... three years now I think? Trust me, as soon as I get the notice to re-up I'm on it. I don't know how we'd cope without it.

even sven
07-23-2011, 02:51 AM
Or one that implies changes in nutrition and exercise or mainly/solely valuable as tools for weight loss, rather than their impact on mental and physical health irrespective of bodyweight.

If America had a huge scurvy problem, conversations about nutrition would focus on vitamin C. 99% of the time, being overweight is a sign something is going wrong in your diet.There is no way to discuss a healthy diet without weight being both a huge proxy indicator and an end in itself. Even the best diet in the world is bad for you if you eat too much and end up with diabetes and bad knees. And this IS the primary challenge to a healthy diet in America. We are not missing macronutients. We are not vitamin deficient. We are ot getting ricketts or scurvy. We are not plagued with goiter. Why should we pussyfoot around the problem?

Dangerosa
07-23-2011, 09:24 AM
I don't know that Atkins and Pollan are that far apart. Once you accept that at its core Atkins is not "all meat all the time" and that Pollans "mostly plants" is followed by a subguideline that the mostly plants is 'mostly leaves' - not plates full of french fries and mashed potatoes - you have pretty similar nutritional guidelines when you get to a mature phase (i.e. not Atkins for weightloss, but Atkins as a healthy maintenance diet). Which looks a lot like the USDA "plate."

Spice Weasel
07-23-2011, 03:18 PM
My experience trying different ways of eating has led me to conclude that it's mostly about vegetables. Vegetables are an amazing miracle food. I tried paleo once, and while it didn't exactly work out for me long-term, the one thing I learned is that eating mostly vegetables can make you feel like a new and improved version of yourself. Fresh vegetables in every color of the rainbow, raw and steamed. Carrots, beans, broccoli, cabbage, kale, spinach, radishes, tomatoes (yeah I know it's technically a fruit, but tomatoes are wonderful.) I only wish I liked things like eggplant, squash, beets and sweet potatoes.

So I guess I'd come down on the Pollan side. Whole foods, mostly plants. Throw in some lean protein, a little fruit, and you're good.

Of course, knowing what to eat and actually doing it are two different things entirely.

Wesley Clark
03-26-2014, 09:14 PM
I'm going to resurrect the 3 year old thread because science finally got around to studying this.

http://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/science-confirms-absolute-best-diet-health-153100393.html

They studied 6 healthy diets. Low carb, low fat, low glycemic, Mediterranean, Paleo and vegan. The consensus seems to be that none is really special above the rest for health, but certain themes among the diets are important for health such as:

Avoid:
Processed foods
refined starches
Sugar
unhealthy fats (omega 6s. They don't mention Trans fats but those are bad too)


Eat:
Plants
whole grains
Animals that were fed on plants (which is odd since wheat and corn are plants. I assume they meant grass fed beef is better than corn fed)
Lean meats
Sea animals
Healthy fats

That is my impression. I didn't read the entire article, and I'm still confused about meats. I'm assuming grass fed red meat, seafood and lean meats (chicken, turkey, etc) are all ok while grain fed red meat is not. I don't know if that is strictly due to the omega-3/omega-6 ratios in meats (hence avoiding grain fed red meat, but lean meats are ok) or what exactly.

If so, that sounds easier to stick with. You can combine the Mediterranean diet with the paleo and end up with a pretty wide variety of food by doing that (whole grains, seafood, grass fed meats, fats, vegetables, fruits, oils, nuts, legumes, dairy, etc).

http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-032013-182351

The aggregation of evidence in support of (a) diets comprising preferentially minimally processed foods direct from nature and food made up of such ingredients, (b) diets comprising mostly plants, and (c) diets in which animal foods are themselves the products, directly or ultimately, of pure plant foods—the composition of animal flesh and milk is as much influenced by diet as we are

DSeid
03-26-2014, 11:29 PM
Wesley that's a very nice review and opinion piece but not a new study.

Its bottom line is that there are lots of healthy approaches to nutrition and the mostly share in common those common sense bits: little refined carbs; little added sugar; little processed foods; relatively litle of "certain fats"; lots of whole plant foods; and with or without lean meats, fish, poultry and seafood. And that, as this old thread illlustrates, the apparent competing claims by advocates for one diet or another that emphasize their differences create noise that overwhelms the signal.The clutter of competing claims likely obscures the established body of knowledge and forestalls progress, much like the proverbial trees and forest (76, 91). We need less debate about what diet is good for health, and much more attention directed at how best to move our cultures/societies in the direction of the well-established theme of optimal eating, for we remain mired a long way from it.

BrainGlutton
03-26-2014, 11:46 PM
Mulch.