Mar 20, 2013

Which diet is the 'right' diet?

This topic seems to be red hot at the moment and I have to say, I prefer not to get involved as I don't believe there is a 'right' diet - not for the masses anyway. But for you my dear? Well yes. As to what that 'right' diet is, I'm afraid I can only help you, educate you with knowledge and support you in your choices and decisions. Only YOU know your 'right' diet.

However there seems to be plenty of people on the web that love telling us all exactly what we should be eating, how much of it, what times of day, and god forbid if we choose to differ from these individuals and groups. We get verbally abused. I know this sounds harsh but I've witnessed it first-hand and yep, it's harsh all right. So when I saw this post written by Robyn from Girl On Raw, I loved every word, read with full attention and respect, and couldn't agree with her more. So here it is --


There seems to be a little bit of a trend going on. Some people who are/were considered leaders in the modern vegan and raw vegan movements have made some dietary changes. Changes that if they were not so prominent in our little online communities wouldn’t really create much of a stir. But because we feel like we know them through their blog posts and social media presence it can come as quite a shock when something like this is revealed as we not only feel we know them, but we’ve also gained so much insight from them in the past.

Raw food, for the unaquainted, is generally coupled with veganism and for me this was true for a period of time however when I first ventured into raw food I was neither vegan nor vegetarian. That came 2 years later and was a gradual nondeliberate process.
My veganism lasted 2 years, until I fell pregnant with my first baby, not for any other reasons over than cheese just tasted good and absolutely nothing else for my first trimester.
It was never a conscious or deliberate decision, and even when I was vegan I never really made a song and dance about it, in fact people just assumed I was vegan because i was into raw food and a formally trained raw chef. I even wrote a blog post on labels here when I was vegan but never did I identify myself as vegan nor encourage others to.

When a friend and previous fellow blogger Natasha of the now defunct blog Voracious Vegan came out  after months of  dealing with her change to an omnivore diet due to health issues, I couldn’t believe the outrage over the nets. Honestly? I know many people become vegan for animal activism and sustainability and that I applaud. However I make no apology for choosing a human’s health over an animal especially if it’s your child’s health. Motherhood brings something tribal out in you. And you will never know it until you are one. On a side note, Natasha’s never looked better since changing to an omnivore diet.
Kevin Gianni from Renegade Health also wrote about why his baby will not be a raw nor vegan baby and neither was his wife during their pregnancy on his post here 5 Reasons We Do Not Have a Raw Baby and their Follow Up Thoughts here.

So what sparked this post? Last night my dear friend, mentor and the girl that got me into this raw thing, Kristen Suzanne blogged last night that she is no longer vegan. My first reaction was cool and ambivalent, but who cares – in a nice way, really girl. I guess because Kristen is perceived as an expert in raw vegan circles she felt the need to explain and I get that.
Sayward Rebhal of popular vegan blog Bonzai Aphrodite recently blogged about her failing health as a vegan but refusal to veer away from her vegan diet.

Heathy from Sweetly Raw also blogged about her problems on a vegan diet in 2010 here, and Joanna Stevens from mentions in her eBook, Well Rounded Pregnancy “an unsupplemented raw vegan and vegetarian diet is difficult to follow for many reasons.” She notes soil depletion, over-pasteurisation of some foods, lack of availability year round of local produce etc.
And it’s not just about leaving veganism, but Penni Shelton, head of biggest raw food space in the place Raw Food Rehab made a video post about full disclosure on her starting to eat cooked foods again here.
In a twitter conversation last year Dhru Purohit of Clean Program but former mastermind behind premier but now defunct raw food hub We Like it Raw, we talked about how it’s not about raw food anymore it’s about being ‘healthy’.

So all this got me thinking that what is it about eating a certain way for a period of time that works, but one day just does not. Well Kristen touched on it in her post, that perhaps it’s a cleaning up of a previously poor diet or placebo. Honestly I think it’s more of the former. Also I think that our bodies are amazing and can cope with so much that we throw at it even if it’s not in it’s best interest. Eating a poor meal choice one or twice may not result in an overall calamity but denying your body of variety and sticking to a militant regime over time can possibly cause havoc.

Of course you are going to feel great after a juice fast, because you have cleansed of years of poor choices, but ongoing you might start to deplete of certain nutrients and vitamins. Same with going vegan after years of a highly processed diet. Yep you’ve cleaned up your act but long term you may suffer deficiencies. These are just examples to give you an idea and not necessarily anecdotal.
Like a friend said to me, some people can thrive on a vegan diet just like some people thrive on an all junk food diet, I just think we are all different.

Do you think our ancestors had to give as much thought to what they ate? How about third world countries? It’s all about survival. And one could argue that we have a longer life expectancy than our ancestors and some of our poorer cousins however we do seem to have an abundance of diseases of affluence.
It’s amazing how much emotion one’s dietary choices bring up in others, good and bad. Again I appreciate the activism and as an animal lover I get it. But again when one’s health is in question would you sake you or your children’s health or life to save an animal. Honestly I really don’t want this becoming an activism speech there are many other forums for it.

In Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, Dr Joel Fuhrman, author of Eat to Live says eating meat once or twice a week can still form part of a healthy diet, despite generally promoting a vegan diet. I admit this is still less than most omnivore household’s current consumption.

The purpose of this post is not to dictate a militant diet regime and honestly I’ve never been about that anyway, plus who am I to talk. I am a chef, I make food taste delicious I don’t prescribe diets, I merely offer educatied guidance. Plenty of my readers and clients are not even vegetarian but are just wanting to eat healthily (whatever that means to you) and I’m all about encouraging more consumption of fruits and vegetables in a society that is either too busy or too unaware to eat their veggies. But I really encourage you to find your own way, and I’ve always been about that.

If you want to add more raw meals into your diet then you’ve come to the right place. I’m all about that too, sometimes even a yummy vegetarian/vegan cooked dish. And for those living in a family like mine where you want to just eat a smoothie for dinner but your meat eating husband and sometimes son wants some salmon and steamed veggies or even a roast chook and your role is to provide then I can relate. I’m not a chemist (i just like making vegetables taste delicious) and if eating a certain way requires supplementation to sustain my health then I’d rather not,  but if it floats your boat go ahead.

Whenever anyone asks what kind of diet I adhere to, I am reticent to put a label on it for fear of it backfiring on me when as a human, I change my mind, but I will say this, I am committed to learning and practicing the healthiest diet I can based on the information I have, what intuitively feels right and what works for me and my family. I feel the closer I stick to nature the better off we will be and am everyday grateful for having the luxury of choice. Especially when I live in a cross section of cultures and backgrounds here and have daily reminders of the adversity and struggle many of us will never experience, every day I step outside my door and am greeted by the company labourers on my compound. Many of which send most of their money home to their families in Bangladesh or Pakistan, and only get to go home every 2-4 years to see them.
I honestly feel there are different reasons and stages in life where different dietary choices are required. For eg a cancer patient can thrive on a juicing regime (Gerson Therapy) whereas juicing and cleansing is not advisable for pregnancy and nursing, weight loss/maintenance, diabetes etc. Seasons and reasons and lifestyle and climate. And so many more.

I believe in moderation in all aspects in life. You will forever find a for and against for any argument you wish to have in life. The thing is, health ‘facts’ and science appear to change all the time.
I’ll leave you with this awesome quote from Josh Rosenthal (founder of Institute of Intergrative Nutriton) --

"Nutrition is a funny science. It's the only field where people can scientifically prove opposing theories and still be right"

I love this post written by Robyn from Girl on Raw as I too have noticed a lot going on in and around the 'raw food world', and have to say I have seen first hand how nasty some people can be towards others that are listening to their bodies and making dietary changes to support their health and it upsets me. I love raw food. I love cooked food. I loved how I felt when I was eating a raw vegan diet, but I began noticing changes in my health that were'nt for the better. So I decided to change things up, and have to say, I'm feeling a lot better, and physically look a lot healthier also. Having said that, there are people that thrive following raw vegan eating habits and I'm happy for them. We should be encourgaing and supporting one another to be the healithiest and happiest we all can be, regardless of whether our dinner plate is cooked food or raw food, fish or lentils.

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts. How do you eat? What feels good in your body? What doesn't? Let's continue this conversation in the comments below and on Facebook :)


  1. Hi Christie, to be honest, I don't think it's fair for anyone to blame a plant based diet and claim it doesn't work, and then tell people that a meat based diet fixed them. I suspect any problems people have with plant based diets are more due to things like eating too many avocados, nuts, oils, seeds, super foods, raw cacao, protein powders, bad food combining, continually eating different types of food at different times of the day, or the problem could even be due to other non food based issues in their life.

    I've now been 100% vegan for over 10 years. I rarely take B12 tablets, I eat Ritter Sport marzipan chocolates, an occasional chai tea with soy milk and sugar, wraps, and a few other crappy foods. And although I'm probably not that fit, the last time I got a blood test around Spring last year, everything was fine, except for a mild vitamin D deficiency due to not enough sun.

    On the healthy side of things, I usually have a green smoothie each day. Most of the time with bananas, dates, mint or other leafy greens. I eat a lot of grapes, my wraps are filled with baby spinach and shredded carrot, and I cook some basic stir fries or curries with sweet potato, red capsicum, carrots, broccoli, grean beans, Asian leafy green vegies etc. Always served with either brown rice, broken rice or quineo. Plus I don't use any oil, just water. And no salt either, unless it's already in a curry paste etc.

    Other than that, I don't eat many nuts, if I eat an avocado, I don't eat more than a full one a day, I've never used macca or any other protein powders, simply because I could buy a huge bag of fruit for the same price which I'm certain would be much healthier. Super foods in general I don't trust. It's always cheaper to buy real whole foods.

    My wife's grand mother is probably a good example. She's 96, but all she eats is a small plate of steamed vegies cut into tiny pieces for all 3 meals. And that's all, but it keeps her going.

    If I ever had any health issues myself, the last thing I would do is suspect that the plant based diet was the cause and switch back to a meat based diet. But I would eliminate all the crappy foods I've been eating and switch to nothing but foods that have come straight out of the ground or off a tree. And if it was something more serious, I'd do another long water fast. Although maybe only a couple of weeks, not 24 days again like I did a couple of years back. No colonics either.

    1. Hi Glenn, Thanks for your thoughts. I love hearing other peoples opinions on food and nutrition.
      I believe (as cliche as it may sound) that each of us has a different make-up and because of this, we all thrive off different foods. For some people it's all vegan, low fat, high fruit. Others need higher amounts of fat and daily avocados, nuts and oils really work for them. The same goes with animal products and meats. But I agree with you in that some times the problem may not be diet related at all. Food (tweaking and changes) are easy to make aren't they though? The majority of us don't like to look at emotional or mental aspects that may be causing us discomfort. I know because I've been there. It's much easier to believe adding meat back to one's diet (or eliminating this, getting rid of that, or adding more of something else) will fix everything, when they might need to look deeper at self-love or anger issues they have (two non-specific examples). I think making generalisations about this gets us no where. Again; we're all unique. Like your wife's grandmother as well. Most elderly individuals eat light meals as their metabolism, digestion, nutritive absorption abilities and so on have declined, and eating the way they did in their 50's no longer suits them or their body.

      Your diet sounds great and full of colourful wholefoods which I also enjoy and recommend to everybody. I think it's good that you wouldn't necessarily jump to conclusions about your plant based diet if you were faced with health problems, as it means you're probably sure in yourself that eating this way works best for you. You're also likely to look at emotional factors which most of us neglect; and these come around to bite us in the bum later on.
      However, some people have already either done that work, or for whatever reason/s, it is their plant based diet that is causing them ill health. I see this commonly in vegetarian females with hormonal issues.

      But whether one's decision to eat meat or to not eat meat is based on an attempt to try and heal their body, ethical reasons, or simply because they want too (whichever way they lean), it's their perogative and theirs only. Who are we to tell them what's right - for them. As only they know.

      Thanks again :)

  2. Fruits and vegetables are good for proper diet.