Once upon a time there was a pyramid. Children who had eaten square meals from round plates all their lives were given nutritional guidance by a triangle. It was a simple “one size fits all” diet, if we would just eat what the government told us to eat, we would be healthier.
Despite all this excellent information, and a Presidential physical fitness medal, Americans continued to have health issues. Perhaps the pyramid wasn’t easily understood. A more Politically Correct food pyramid was designed, so that no foods were above others. Now, instead of just missing a geometric connection to the diet experience, the more obvious proportions of the previous pyramid were lost. At least there is a rainbow, but designed by the USDA; even the colors of the spectrum are out of order.
This worked so well, Americans created a new food group, “Statins.” It is so much easier to take a pill than eat healthy foods. It never occurred to anyone that perhaps the food pyramid concept was ill advised. Despite all the talk about diversity, some folks kept believing that we are exactly the same under the skin, the same diet would produce the same effects in every person. The International Olive Council thought “wait, why are oils in the smallest category?. Olive oil should have its very own category, right at eye level on the shelf.” They figured out this had nothing to do with health, it was a marketing ploy. After conducting seminars on “The Mediterranean Diet,” in of all places, the Mediterranean, in the midst of American winters, nutritionists suddenly endorsed the benefits of more Olive oil. The Soybean Council started an all out smear campaign against Cocoanut and Palm oils, convincing the public those oils are next to poisonous. They are not. Health advisories should be evaluated with the knowledge of who profits from the impression they are trying to impart, and whether the people profiting are the same people imparting the impression.
Mayhem ensued, as every fringe group marketed their own diet in a pyramid format. There is actually a “Vegan Food Pyramid”, which you might initially expect to be a line rather than a triangle. The pyramid was becoming a dunce cap.
The latest attempt at mass diet control scrapped the pyramid entirely. While not perfect quarters, it appears proteins and fruits are equals, as are vegetables and grains.
Three years into the “My Plate” campaign, one in three Americans is obese, and the related symptom of obesity, heart disease, remains the leading cause of death. Leading cause of death. More than AIDS, guns, and terrorism combined. Maybe this “one size fits all” diet idea doesn’t work.
I have a very high metabolism. I maintained a weight of less than 140 pounds eating anything and everything I desired until a few years ago, when I stopped eating meat. I reduced fats, which caused carbohydrates to increase as a percentage of my diet. I put on twenty pounds and now old friends say I finally look healthy. My first wife quit smoking, and put on so much weight her doctor told her to start smoking again. We are all different, we all need different diets, and we all have a different level of comfort with our body image.
There is an answer that applies moderately to everyone. Moderation. Attributed to my phenotype Oscar Wilde is the quote “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” James Hilton liked the line and used it in Lost Horizons as the high Lama’s explanation for life in Shangri La. Good enough for me.
Let me put it another way. Do what works for you. Your life belongs to you, own it. Don’t worry about what people say about your body, carry the weight the distance you want to go. There is no reason to spend the limited time you have alive trying to live longer if the trying makes the life less comfortable. Enjoy this time, you will have no other life on Earth. I’m not suggesting recklessness, do not waste the gift of life, but do not waste that gift by living in a cage. If you can’t do what you want to do because of your weight, work on your priorities. Gently move your body from one state to another, extremes are one thing everyone agrees is bad for you.
If you want advice on diet, talk to a dietician, your doctor isn’t as well trained in nutrition. At my last physical (fifteen years ago) my doctor asked about my lifestyle. A diet heavy in fats, alcohol consumption above average, and smoking. He gave me a stern look and told me to make some changes, then took blood for tests. I saw him a week later when the results were in. He said “Well, I guess it works for you. your cholesterol is low, all your blood work is great.” This doesn’t mean I’m suggesting you follow my diet, just don’t follow a diet you find on the internet, even if it comes from the “Department of Health.”