In the 1980’s, dietary fat was considered bad, but now we know that some fat can help in the production of hormones and have anti-inflammatory properties. In the 1990’s, carbs were just the worst, but now we know the benefits of whole grains and the production of efficient, usable energy the body needs to function. In the 2000’s until now, we’ve been hearing about veganism, raw food dieting, and the Paleolithic diet, to name a few.
None of these diets are necessarily wrong, but they’re not necessarily right for a sound diet composition. When people find out what my line of work is, I’m asked, “what’s the best thing to eat?”
There isn’t one correct answer to the question.
Let’s take kale for example. In isolation, kale is great. However, kale isn’t the silver bullet that will turn around a diet, help someone lose a lot of weight, or eliminate a variety of health complications. It’s easy to grow, very versatile, and has pleasant nutritional benefits.
Upon a closer look, though, kale isn’t a whole lot different than, say, spinach based on dry weight.
Kale is on the left and spinach is on the right; raw, uncooked, and measured at 1-ounce portions. They are pretty much equal, but what I do know is that spinach tends to cost less than kale. Also, I don’t see a lot of spinach snacks covered in oil and salt, dried out, and promoted to be healthy.
It’s all about perspective. Kale vs Spinach
Again, what should I eat? The point is that there is not one major “Super Food” out there, but a collection and variety of them that can help you shape up your diet. Kale is the craze today and beets are most likely the craze tomorrow.
Balance is the key factor, and that doesn’t only mean that a balanced diet is key. Balance in all things, really, is what I’m aiming for today. If I have a light breakfast (i.e. 300 calories) and a late lunch (maybe 500 calories), I’m given another 1200 calories to work with on a 2000-calorie diet. Eventually, the numbers balance out and I’m regressing back toward the mean of my caloric needs over a week or month. I’m not fortunate enough to cook every meal I eat or know the precise nutritional aspects of my meals out of the house. However, the awareness that I gain by knowing what I’m eating on a consistent basis provides me with a level understanding of the nutrition I get in a meal. I can eat all of my meals at home and determine them to the exact calorie or I can have a couple of meals out with friends and family and know I’m choosing a nutritionally dense option.
To circle back, there’s really not one best way to eat, but there’s a mindset and sense that comes with knowing the basic nutrition behind your meals. I can achieve balance through experience, trial, and error, or I can follow a strict plan, measure out and weigh everything I eat, eliminate foods that I enjoy eating, and forbid myself from ever leaving the house in the event I ever gain weight by smelling pizza or bacon.
The latter I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.