Fad Diets Are Out – Join the New Wave of Eaters for Health
By Natasha Longo
A wave of highly informed seekers of clean and healthy food is taking over the information highway and leaving yo-yo and fad dieting methods in the dust. They are representing a new generation of educated consumers who seek not only to maintain a healthy body, but supercharge their longevity and well-being with foods which are free of toxins and genetically modified organisms (GMO). They do not necessarily fall into any specific category whether vegetarian, fishetarian, vegan, raw or any other known pattern. They’re simply interested in eating clean, fresh, unadulterated foods that agree with both their palate and physiology.
The old tried and claimed true methods of eating less fat have clearly failed millions of people on these types of calorie reduced diets. More importantly, they damage long-term health by lowering critical cholesterol levels which may cause more serious diseases such as cancer.
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Eaters For Health (EFH)
The masses are currently gearing up for a nutritional revolution that is likely making its mark for decades to come. Eaters for health (EFH) is about eating clean food, free of toxins such as chemical additives, coloring and preservatives. It’s about foods free from genetic modification, pesticides, herbicides and anything “cide”. We’re talking organic, wholesome, nutritionally dense, full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Eaters for health are not necessarily concerned about going vegetarian, fishetarian, vegan or raw, despite the claims from these groups that their way is the only path to true health. Many who pursue these lifestyles actually end up discovering the opposite, and that restricting foods to any reasonable extent can actually be quite damaging to certain metabolic types especially with ancestral origins that relied on some type of animal protein as a primary food source. Sooner or later, many (not all) of these ethical eaters dabble back into animal protein simply because it makes them feel better.
Toxic-Free Eating, Not Restricting
Regardless, that is not the concern for EFH. They embrace those who choose the path of ethical eating practices and don’t judge them based on their decisions. If it works for them–great, but if it doesn’t, that’s fine too and there’s no shame in selecting another path that focuses on clean, toxic-free eating. They’re not out to stake any claim to emphasize that it’s their way or the highway. EFH understand the diversity of choices and their primary cause is to educate themselves on toxic-free foods.
Many EFH do eat animal protein, but their focus and prerequisite insists on consuming products from animals that are treated humanely, allowed to graze fields, or swim wild in the oceans, and consume organic produce which is as close as possible to their natural diets. They choose non-vaccinated, hormone-free and toxic-free animals that are traditionally raised in loving farm environments where farmers actually care about the well-being of their livestock. They also emphasize humane slaughtering methods and insist that many of the animals enjoy several years of their life without being slaughtered one year after birth.
Eating On Intuition and Instinct
They understand that all life is consciousness and there is no such thing as eating a plant, sprout, grain, or anything that is a lower life form that lacks consciousness. If they are eating eat, it is consciousness, whether it is a plant or animal. From that perspective, it allows them to make conscious decisions to consume plants, animals or marine life on the same level of reasoning and depending entirely on the individual needs of each person.
An important part of the EFH drive for healthy eating is to follow their intuition and instinct. If a food doesn’t taste or feel right to their palate or digestive system, they will not continue to consume it regardless of the touted health benefits. They educate themselves on their ancestry, what their ancestors subsisted on, including climate, soil, and even air quality. EFH are also very interested in their genetic and metabolic predispositions and select many foods based on this research.
Nutritionist and raw food expert Eugene Hillary says the EFH movement is gaining credibility without a label. “These people have not even label themselves, yet they know exactly what they want and how to achieve it in order to increase their health,” he stated. Hillary asserted that those who escape from the yo-yo fad dieting trends and adopt EFH type lifestyles immediately see modest weight loss within a few short months, usually without any exercise because they cut out all toxins and tailor diets to their specific metabolic types.
“This is great news because studies have shown that even a 5 percent reduction in weight can lead to improved health,” said author Jacinda M. Nicklas, MD, MPH, MA, a clinical research fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. “With more than a third of Americans now obese and fifty to seventy percent of them trying to lose weight, this is important because the health risks associated with carrying that extra weight are substantial.”
The authors found that, “self-reported use of popular diets, liquid diets, nonprescription weight loss pills and diet foods/products were not associated with weight loss.”
“It’s very encouraging to find that the most of the weight loss methods associated with success are accessible and inexpensive,” says senior author Christina Wee, MD, MPH who conducts research on obesity and health disparities as the Co-Director of Research in BIDMC’s Division of General Medicine and Primary Care. “There are lots of fad diets out there as well as expensive over-the-counter medications that have not necessarily been proven to be effective.”
EFH consider how a food is produced, how the various foods they eat interact with each other, and how they can balance nutrition with food enjoyment and our overall well-being. When shopping at the grocery store, they make conscious decisions that can have profound effects on their life and on the world as a whole.
Common themes EFH adopt include:
1. Buying Organic, Non-GMO
Many EFH believe in not restricting what they eat as long as they are ethical in their buying practices. There are many in the holistic-eating communities who believe that there is nothing wrong with responsibly produced meat and other animal products.
The best chance of consuming the least amount of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides comes from buying organic produce from local farms. Most farmers who have sustainable organic practices will only use Non-GMO seeds, and essential ingredient in the EFH lifestyle.
2. Going Local
If they are not raising and harvesting the food themselves, the only way they can know for sure that the food they buy is ethically produced is to buy organic from local reputable farmers with the sustainable practices mentioned above.
Whenever possible, an aspect of EFH is making sure that the food they buy is as environmentally friendly as possible. Food that has been transported from the other side of the world or even from across the country does not fit the bill.
3. Buy in Season Whenever Possible
No matter where they live, there is always going to be something in season. They go online and look into what is in season during the various times of year in their area, and then focus their meal planning around seasonally appropriate foods. This means that they will have to get used to not eating certain fruits and vegetables during certain times of the year. It is how our ancestors did it for thousands of years, and EFH are conscious of this too. In fact, the restrictions of buying in season can actually make food choices more varied and interesting.
4. Avoiding Sodas and High Calorie Sugary Drinks
Following the tenant of EFH aims to remove added sugars from the diet. They choose water or tea (with the occasional coffee) for their beverages, or juice their own fruits and vegetables and enjoy them without added sugars or preservatives. They avoid all sodas without exception due to high levels of toxicity.
5. Eating Several Small Meals
EFH consume several small meals to keep blood sugar stable and to avoid overeating. They choose snacks like nuts, or fruits and vegetables. Some EFH prefer organic yogurts and raw cheese and others prefer to avoid these products all together.
Note that some people who live a clean eating lifestyle don’t eat dairy products while others adapt clean eating to a vegetarian lifestyle.
6. Balance Acid Forming Foods and Base Forming Foods
The typical Western diet is high in animal protein, which increases the body’s acidity slightly. Fruits and vegetables reduce the body’s acidity–that is, make it more alkaline. It’s not that meat is acidic, but rather that it contains acid-forming compounds, such as amino acids and phosphorus. Similarly, fruits and vegetables have alkaline-forming compounds (even though many of them taste acidic). EFH try and balance both extremes. They never eat animal protein with complex carbohydrates at the same time. Instead to always eat either animal protein or complex carbohydrates with vegetables to better balance acidity and alkalinity levels.
7. Avoiding All Toxic Additives, Preservatives and Coloring
EFH choose fresh, unprocessed foods over canned or processed products. They believe in fresh fruits and vegetables and that processing them reduces their nutritional value and fiber content and adds salt, fat, sugar and chemicals. They choose fruit instead of fruit juice and if they must pick a processed vegetable, frozen is always better than canned.
They avoid all chemical taste enhancers, additives and preservatives like MSG, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, maltodextrin, gmo emulsifiers (i.e. xanthan gum, soy lecithin), artificial coloring and flavoring, sucralose, gmo soy proteins, etc.
All of the above may seem overwhelming to the average consumer thinking about trying the EFH lifestyle, however most will tell you “it is just a way life.” It becomes part of the routine and second nature like picking the right berry off a plant.
Another major emphasis is to not let it consume you or cause unnecessary anxiety. There will always be times when they must break their own rules to conform to a specific social situation or circumstance. They are well aware and even anticipate such events. When they can, they bring a snack of their own preference. When they can’t, c’est la vie. A true measure of a dedicated EFH eater is not how rigid they become in their dietary lifestyle, but how flexible and creative they become when their ideals are challenged. Because no matter what, they will always revert back to their ideal when the challenge has passed, and that’s all that matters in the end.
Natasha Longo has a master’s degree in nutrition and is a certified fitness and nutritional counselor. She has consulted on public health policy and procurement in Canada, Australia, Spain, Ireland, England and Germany.