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I know I shouldn't eliminate whole food groups...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

... said the dog before sticking his nose into the cat litter box.
I apologize for introducing my topic by grossing you out. If you were eating dinner, too bad, that's not something you should do in front of the computer anyhow.
But I'm trying to make a point, so bear with me and beat me up when I'm done if you wish. emoticon
What is a "food group" anyhow?
Well, it depends on who you ask. One could consider vegetables, meats, grains, fruit, dairy etc. food groups. That seems to be the most common use of the word. By that definition many people who are allergic or sensitive have to eliminate whole food groups.
Then one could consider carbohydrates, proteins and fat food groups, but usually those are called macro-nutrients, same with vitamins and minerals which are usually lumped together as micro-nutrients. Out of the macro-nutrients only protein is truly essential on a short term basis, meaning we could survive, and even thrive for quite a while if they were eliminated. Even a very thin person has about 40,000 calories stored as fat. Our body can make sugar from protein in the liver (gluco-neogenesis) that is absolutely needed for brain function. Of the micro-nutrients most are essential, some the body can produce.
We can also distinguish foods into natural and processed foods with the second category having many levels, from simple freezing, chopping or cooking to very elaborate chemical processes. Most people know that most highly processed foods can safely be eliminated and are definitely not essential for a healthy person, quite the opposite.
And then there is yet another definition of food groups, the one that makes the least sense of all, and that leads me back to my original example: Foods that we commonly eat and are in a strong habit of eating or like to eat or foods that have been presented to us on a regular basis and that we consider "normal food" for that reason.
The question is why would anyone even consider such a non-sensical definition of food group? I can only think of a few reasons:
-The person could be addicted to the food and justify/rationalize using it. An example of this would be wheat or sugar or alcohol.
-The person was exposed to this food for a long time and everyone around them frequently ate that food. An example of this would be trans fats, corn, peanut butter and jelly (for Americans) and wheat and sugar fall in this category as well.
-Someone put a lot of energy and effort into convincing us that this is indeed a worthwhile and/or essential food. A good example for this is fast food and frozen dinners, because we are convinced that they save us time. Whole grains and soy and peanut butter may also fall into this category.
Most of us simply don't have the energy to wade through mountains of information on the internet, much of which is contradictory, to determine the right way to eat. Therefore the above approach, "I shouldn't eliminate whole food groups" seems to be a way to eat somewhat balanced and avoid the worst mistakes.
Let me suggest an alternative: Invest a few hours, maybe a total of 10, to research very different approaches to healthy eating over the course of a month. Even if you have to take this time out of your precious exercise time I think it will be worth it in the long run. Read about several very different approaches that many people consider healthy nutrition, maybe vegan, paleo, low-fat, low-carb, vegetarian, organic... whatever has been suggested to you.
If you were to buy a new car you would do your research (I hope). You want to get a good return for your investment. With a car purchase all that's at stake is your money. With your food purchases your life is at stake.
I want to encourage you to learn enough to where you have a clear understanding about which food groups are truly essential for health and which ones are just advertised as such by interest groups that want nothing but your money.
If you are wondering if some foods may have an addictive hold on you try to eliminate them for a month. You may be surprised.
And if necessary, put a pressure-gate in front of the room that has the cat litter box in it. emoticon
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Definitely do the research, I would suggest from various sources to help get a balance point of view. Great blog

    1879 days ago
    Wow, you've given us a lot to think about! I have been trying to do a little reading here and there so that I can make the best food choices I can. I think that the best we can do is spend the time to do as much research as we can. Getting our information from reputable sources of course and then being our own guinea pigs, so to speak, and really listen to what our bodies are telling us. The problem is that most people don't want to take the time or don't think they have the time to do the research and they don't listen to their bodies. I think there is a lot of so called "food" out there that really is not good for us! Thanks for posting this blog! emoticon
    1890 days ago
    emoticon I loved this blog post.

    I've been researching a lot lately, and with some better informed choices in front of me, changed a few eating habits and I'm feeling GREAT!
    1893 days ago
  • -LINDA_S
    Great blog! This site drives me crazy on a regular basis with some of these dietary platitudes, and I regularly answer questions on the quiz or trivia the way I know they want me to, all the while knowing that they are WRONG! I was looking at a magazine this morning called "Clean Eating" to see what they were referring to. Well, of course it was replete with healthy whole grains and ways to reduce fat intake. They had a nice recipe from Suzanne Somers but couldn't resist adding that reducing the butter and oil would make it healthier. Suzanne knows better! I've done quite a lot of research, which can be very confusing, as you know. I don't know what the answer is, but I suspect it can vary greatly from person to person. Real food, adequate protein, lots of good fats and lower carbs seems to work for me.
    1893 days ago
  • ERIN1957
    LULUBELLE65, said it better than I could have.
    I look to the professionals and follow the science, not the professional sales person or guru. Many can take a study and twist and turn it and make it fit what they are selling.
    As well, OOLALA53 make valid points too.

    I love that you brought this subject here.

    Oh how we change, when we learn to read, and see like a parachute...of course one that is functionally open. LOL
    1894 days ago
    Great blog Birgit,

    I am in complete agreement. I also agree, based on my own research over the last couple of years (recreational, not scientific or exhaustive), that much of the research out there is questionable, even the research from "reputable" sources.

    If one really wants to dig down, there are usually a multitude of confounders in any research, there are also conflicts of interest (research being sponsored by parties with a financial interest in the result), and just poor science. Epidemiological studies are not useful for determining an individual's response to any given food, groups of food or eating patterns - there are just too many possible variables in those studies, not to mention most of them are self-reporting, which means we have to trust people to accurately remember what they ate or did and to then accurately report it.

    I agree with you Birgit, that 10 hours would give one a reasonable foundation for making some decisions, but to be 100% sure, it would take more than 10 hours - I have probably invested 100 and I am not SURE.

    So how do we decide. In psychological research it is called "converging evidence". At some point enough evidence is amassed, through research, the experience of others and our own experience, that it becomes reasonable to make a conclusion.

    For me, after doing the research, reading and talking to others who have tried various things, I decided the only way to truly know what would work for me was to test it.

    That doesn't mean I was reckless - I did the research, and listened critically to what has worked or not worked for others and then tested. I have found some things that work for me - at the same time, I and the process, are a work-in-progress - I am still testing - there are so many variables it can be challenging to sort through them all.

    When I hear "you can't" or "it's not healthy to eliminate a whole food group" I have to question if that is actually true - that is the first science I tend to look into - has anyone done it, for a long periods of time, successfully.

    There is quite a bit of "evidence" available, my caveat would be to evaluate people's experience, ask critical questions and not listen to opinion - and ironically, that's just my opinion.

    To your health

    1894 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/11/2013 1:23:27 PM
    I don't eliminate whole food groups entirely -- but for a time.

    Being Celiac -- doctor diagnosed not BS -- I went off anything with gluten (of course) and once healed, began doctor-supervised year + of elimination testing. Due to also having a few auto-immune disorders, that included common trigger foods (that I can eat some of but better not go too crazy with).

    Point being: nightshades, citrus, garlic, etc. I can eat them. I also will start reacting (mouth ulcers, fevers, joint swelling). I'm eating tomatoes this week after all that chatting about potassium. I'm limiting myself to one serving a day and enjoying it immensely! I hope that I can get away with that on a long-term because I DON'T like the idea of having to cut out such wide swaths of foods! I'm being careful doing this and not doubling up (having citrus or garlic TOO).

    All I can say is boy, is it nice having tomatoes! :)

    I still cheat with dairy, too and I've known for over 40 years that I cannot digest it. I get a lot of skin problems from dairy, which are unsightly as well as painful, so you'd think that I would avoid it entirely. Nope.
    1894 days ago
  • LEW0213
    Excellent blog and well written. Really gives me something to think about as I go on my search to figure out how to get off this plateau I've been on for the last year. Thanks.
    1894 days ago
    I would caution that when you do your research, you need to make sure that you are looking at scientific research from reputable journals which have been peer reviewed, and which follow proper scientific procedure. There is a whole lot of questionable "science" out there. If the study cannot be recreated, or is of a tiny sample, it is not really valid research, however tempting the outcome is.
    1894 days ago
    Hey Gopintos, are you on Mark Sisson's site as well? I was reading up (catching up actually) and saw what looked like you. :-)
    True that about wheat. My personal n=1 bears me out at least. Rhuematoid arthritis - gone, joint pain - gone, gut issues-gone; all with eliminating wheat. Every time I've strayed back into wheat for a quick reality check or just craving the first thing out of the block is my tummy roars, gurgles and splurgles. Closely followed by joint pain and swelling.

    Anyway...I'll keep the kiddie gate up on that one.
    1894 days ago
    I agree 100%!
    We must be mindful of what goes into our body!
    Read my blog on hope!
    Fall 7 times, get up 8
    1894 days ago
  • OOLALA53
    I have researched it. It's not about what is needed. It is about what research has shown people have been likely to change in the long run.-five years or more Yes, there are some successes, but they are in the extreme minority and have often had very specific health issues. But it's a free country.
    1894 days ago
    I know. The other one that gets me, is "everything in moderation"

    I was just re-reading my notes from Perfect Health Diet, on wheat in particular. THere's tons of science in the book but the takeaway is this: "Cereal grains damage the intestine and impair digestion. They impair immune defenses and make people vulnerable to chronic infections. They can be addictive and cause or worsen schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. They trigger autoimmune disease. They promote cancer growth. They reduce IQ and brain volume. They promote obesity. They measurably increase mortality rates in gluten-sensitive and diseased populations. They are the food most strongly associated with mortality in the China Study. We know how hard it is to give up bread. Yet there may be no single step that can do more to improve health."

    If I read nothing else, this should be enough: "Epidemiological evidence suggests that nearly everyone who eats wheat dies earlier."

    1894 days ago
  • GLC2009
    emoticon WOW. pretty heady writing. when is your book coming out? you know alot and you certainly write well. impressed, as usual.
    1894 days ago
    Good analogy. I get kind of tired of hearing that phrase myself. When it comes down to it, there are precious few food groups that we really need (vegetables and some animal protein basically). However, I won't dismiss a style of eating that does eliminate food groups. Paleo certainly provides me everything I need, but for sake of convenience I still choose to eat other foods part of the time (kind of an 80/20 approach). People with allergies obviously don't have the same luxury, and it certainly makes sense for you with the dramatic results you've seen by eliminating dairy.
    1894 days ago
    1894 days ago
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