Metabolic Typing

Mixed salad leaves with candied bacon, crouton...

What is “Metabolic Typing”?

Honestly, this is just a fancy way of categorizing the way we eat.  Ever wonder why there seems to be so many different diets out there that people SWEAR by.  There are vegans.  There are paleo people.  There are starch eaters.  There are low-carbers.  They all think that their way is best.  Are they all right?  Are they all wrong?  What is going on here?  Enter Metabolic Typing.

METABOLIC TYPING:  In my own words, metabolic typing is a dietary theory that leaves room for differences in genetics, ancestry, climate, age, and location.  We come from different areas of the planet.  Our ancestors ate different things.  Humans have traveled the world and filled the globe.  We are all human, yes?  Yes, but we all come from different places.  We are in different phases of life and do different activities.  Trying to fit EVERYBODY into the same box just seems a little arrogant and crazy right?  Ultimately, there are infinite numbers of metabolic types because we are ALL different and unique.  For the sake of sanity, most people break down the types into three main categories.  Let’s take a quick peak and give a few tips on how to succeed as each one.  Keep in mind that your metabolic type can and often does change with the seasons, age, activity levels, and so forth.  Listening to your body and eating real food is always a good guide.

PROTEIN TYPE:  This is the realm of the “modern paleo” diet trend.  Lot’s of meat and fat.  Regardless of what vegetarians or “vegans” tell you, some of our genes require meat and fat to do well.  How much?  It depends on the person.  Protein types are usually people who feel best having some sort of animal protein a few times a day.  They usually crave dark meat, rich meats, eggs, butter, fat, full fat cheese, etc.  Nuts are often sought after as a snack.  This person is usually inclined towards strength-training and doesn’t do quite as well with cardio exercise.  They need a bit more sleep than most to feel good.  What gets this type into trouble?  Overeating.  Especially on crappy food.  These include all pasteurized dairy products, grilled or heavy cooked protein foods, fried eggs, too much bacon or preserved meats, roasted nuts, etc.  How to balance this type?  Focus on QUALITY over QUANTITY first.  Get yourself good quality, grass-fed meats, fish, fats, and eggs.  If you kilter towards animal foods, go with raw cod liver oil, raw butter, raw or lightly cooked eggs, rare fish and other meats, bone marrow, etc.  If you kilter towards plant foods (most don’t), go for the avocados, olives, coconuts, raw nuts, etc.  Another pitfall for this type is eating too many carbs or sugar.  They will usually crash if eating a lot of sugar by itself.  An example would be drinking a LARGE glass of orange juice first thing in the morning without anything else in your stomach.  People naturally slide more towards the protein type on the scale in the winter months.

MIXED TYPE:  Ah, the mixed type.  These are the “middle-of-the-road” people.  They are usually the least picky of eaters.  They can get by on pretty much everything as long as it is fresh, real food.  Cravings will shift often.  Sometimes we want some juicy rare lamb.  Sometimes we want a big bowl of vegetables or some fresh juice.  Maybe I didn’t want any fat for lunch, but boy does it sound good at dinnertime.  Mixed types are exactly how we sound.  Everything in moderation right?  The best foods for you?  Fresh fruits and vegetables as they feel right.  Some fresh juice in the morning maybe.  Moderate amounts of animal foods.  You may find a super heavy breakfast will weigh you down.  For example, a mixed type usually will do better with a lighter breakfast, as opposed to a big plate of eggs and sausage links.  The mix between preferences for animal and plant foods usually is mixed as well.  Sometimes animal fat does the trick.  Sometimes plant fat hits the spot.  Keep a wide variety of foods around and choose what feels best at the time.  This type usually likes some bodyweight exercise as well as cardio.  Problems?  It is easy to go off-balance.  Sometimes we eat too much protein and fat and get bogged down.  Sometimes we eat like the carb type and get jittery or anxious.  This all has to do with learning your own bodies preferences.  As usual, things change with the seasons and activity levels.

CARB TYPE:  The carb type eh?  This is usually where vegetarians lie on the scale.  Personally, I believe that most people need SOME high-quality animal products to be healthy long-term.  There are few people who do well in a cold climate on a carb diet.  My guess?  Most CARBS and heavy sugar fruits grow in tropical climates.  Some of us evolved in those regions.  Others evolved in colder regions.  So what are the characteristics of the carb-type?  A little hyper.  Quick to move.  Quick to think.  Usually favors cardio exercise.  These people often get cold easily in the winter, but LOVE the summer months.  Sometimes they are mixed types in disguise.  (If I eat a ton of sugar I will be very FAST for a while also.)  The difference?  This type of thing sustains the carb-type during the day.  What are the best foods for carb types?  Primarily fruits and vegetables.  Relatively little meat and fat here.  These types usually prefer plant sources for the bulk of their protein and fat.  Maybe a few eggs or some white fish or chicken here and there.  An example of a BAD meal for the carb-type would be a giant breakfast with a lot of rich meat, butter, bacon, or fatty fish.  Being a carb-type is NOT an excuse to go eat a bunch of “junk-food.”  Just as the protein type has to be wary of bad fats and overcooked proteins, the carb-type needs to watch it with the processed starches and sugars.  Things like potato and corn chips.  Granola.  Cereals.  Sweets.  “Healthy junk.”  Gluten, processed foods, and sugar are best avoided by everyone.

So those are the types guys and girls.  As a general guideline, you will slide more towards a protein type in the winter and when you are doing strength training, or are under stress.  You will usually slide towards the carb type in the summer months, doing a lot of mental-activity, and doing more cardio exercise.  Don’t “LOCK” yourself into any one category.  We change just as the seasons change.  Let your body be your guide.  Metabolic typing can be a good system to help you figure out where you are on the scale and adjust accordingly.  Happy hunting =)


-JOE

Vegans, Fruitarians, Paleos, Low-carbs, OH MY

English: This is my own work, Photo by Gila Br...

 

There are a lot of fancy terms thrown around these days.  People will say; oh I’M a vegan.  Or I am a 100% raw food eater.  Maybe it’s the “caveman” diet.  Where did this all come from?  

It comes from humanity.  And from frailty.  It comes because we ALL want to be healthy.  Those who have developed health issues in the past or present are desperately searching for the “correct” diet for them.  This often leads them through a series of “gurus” or “dogmas” that lock them into very strict guidelines of what they should or should not be eating.  For instance a “fruitarian” eats only fruit.  A “low-carb” eater would say it is the worst thing in the world to do that.  It would overload the body with carbs.  So we can’t all be wrong CAN WE?  We often forget that by eating a whole-foods based diet; we are eating better than 90% of the country.  Let’s start focusing on the positives here shall we?  Here are a few basic rules to remember so you don’t fall into the “diet trap.”  First and foremost focus on lifestyle basics.  I don’t even count this as a step.  But remember to breathe fresh air, drink clean water, sleep enough, exercise enough, and deal with stress.

1. WHOLE FOODS:  Cut out all the junk.  The fried foods.  The gluten and pasteurized dairy.  The breads, pastas, cookies, ice creams, blah blah you get the point.  The soda pop.  Most of the stuff that comes in boxes or bags.  Focus instead whole foods in the form of organic fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, proteins, etc.  Variety is important here.  Listening to your body is also important.

2.  VARIETY:  Make sure that your diet is well-varied.  For instance, when eating fruit in the summertime; opt for cherries, berries, apples, grapes, whatever.  Don’t eat JUST apples every day.  Same thing goes for vegetables, meats, and fats.  Mixing it up will give your body a wide array of nutrients.

3: QUALITY:  This step is a little more advanced.  Really take the time to source clean, preferably local foods.  This would include going to farmers markets, farm stores, etc to get in-season veggies, fruits, and meats.  This also means you will be eating foods that naturally grow in your area.  Cooking methods really make a difference as well.  Eating 2 or 3 raw or lightly cooked eggs is going to contain more nutrition than a half-dozen fried eggs.  Eat your food lightly cooked when possible.

4: SUPERFOODS:  Often we eat because we are craving vitamins and minerals; NOT calories.  Maybe I want the B12 in a big steak so I want to eat the whole thing.  Eating a small piece of liver may satisfy the craving without requiring to digest the steak.  Liver, sardines, raw butter, coconut oil, beets, and wide varieties of fruits and veggies will help here.

5: LISTEN:  Listen to your body.  I don’t care what anybody says.  I am not going to live off of fruits and berries in a cold winter when I have to be walking around outside a lot.  Fruit does not grow in my area in the winter.  The fruits I will stick with are cold weather fruits like apples and pears.  This will be rounded out with an abundance of vegetables.  Probably root vegetables harvested for fall and winter.  I will also partake in some animal products.  In the summer I noticed that I could get by on more fruit and less animal food.  It also depends on your activity level.  Those actively “healing” will usually require more protein.  This includes healing internally or externally in the forms of building muscle or new tissue.  Make sure whatever you are eating sits well, digests well, and makes you feel good.  Eating a ton of raw salad in the middle of the winter just doesn’t make much sense.  Remember that what your body wants today or this year may change dramatically.  Maybe you move to Alaska and more animal food sounds right.  Maybe you move to the tropics and fresh fruit sounds delicious.  It is the nature of the world trying to balance itself out.  LISTEN!

6: FOCUS: Focus more on your “other” inputs.  Humans have at least 5 different ways to gather energy into our bodies.  Food is actually one of the ones lower on the chain but we have been raised to think it is KING.  So let’s see here.  Oxygen and deep breathing would be the most important.  Pure water would be next.  THEN food.  Sunlight and Grounding are very important also.  Point being; when we start realizing that we can live off of things besides food, we stop needing it so much.  Our lives stop revolving around it.  Look at television.  Look at radio.  Our world REVOLVES around food.  You don’t need to be sucked into that trap as well.

So in the end, everybody AND nobody is right.  I believe that there are people eating only fruit that feel good and healthy because of it.  I also believe there are people eating high quantities of animal products and doing well.  It depends on the season.  It depends on the body.  It depends on the location.  I think all of this “he said, she said” is stressing people out a lot.  Our bodies have an innate intelligence.  We just have been tricked with all the junk-food.  Get rid of the junk and let your body sort itself back out.  So what are YOU?  Vegan?  Fruitarian? Whole-foods eater? Carnivore?  Maybe just Human?

-Joe

 

How To Beat Cravings

English: Snack food vending machine in Australia.

 

 

Everyone talks about cravings these days.  Man, I have a craving for some ice cream or some chicken wings.  Wow, I really want some candy right now.  Sugar sugar sugar, dairy dairy dairy, carbs carbs carbs.  Sound familiar?  So many people struggle with cravings.  There are several reasons why we crave certain foods and I’m going to list a few of them here as well as how to BEAT them.

 

 

1. NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCIES:  This is probably number one on the list for a reason.  Most American’s are severely deficient in all kinds of nutrients.  Our bodies are designed to function with nutrition, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  We can dump all the calories into the body that we want and still starve from malnourishment.  Evolution has provided us with a pretty simple answer for this.  If you are malnourished you should eat right?  Well a lot of people have not even been introduced to nutritionally dense food.  So the body doesn’t even have a database to crave so we crave junk.  By eating a wide variety of whole, organic foods, we can eliminate these deficiencies and a lot of cravings disappear on their own.

 

 

2. TRICKED:  Simply put; we get tricked.  There are some savvy marketers out there that know exactly how to make foods addicting.  If you think foods are not addicting; look again.  Going down the supermarket isles you will find primarily four or five ingredients in different combinations.  Gluten, GMO corn, Sugar, Pasteurized Dairy, Potatoes.  Potatoes are starchy so I get that one.  As for gluten, sugar, anything fried, and pasteurized dairy; they are ALL physically addicting to our bodies.  Then you have the chemicals people put in food.  The table salt, the MSG, who knows what else.  Addicting.  The best answer for this is honestly just staying away.  If you have a favorite food that contains these ingredients, switch it out for a healthier version.  You may find that you weren’t craving the FOOD but the chemicals or sugar that the food contained.

 

 

3. NOT LISTENING:  With all these dietary guru’s, dogmas, fad diets, and strict “plans” out there, a lot of us forget to listen to OUR BODY.  Personally, I usually do best with fruits, veggies, plant fats, eggs, and leaner proteins.  I don’t eat potatoes or red meat every day.  So?  Yesterday, i was wanting a steak so I ate a steak.  Some people are on “low-carb” and are literally afraid to eat a piece of fruit.  Others are “vegan” and think that eating an egg or a piece of meat every once in a blue moon will destroy them.  Come on guys.  Let’s give our bodies a little more credit here.  Assuming you are moderately healthy, your body will not crave a REAL FOOD unless it wants it.  Just don’t eat anything period unless your body is truly asking for it.  If you have been eating light or fasting for a long time, maybe it’s time for that soft sweet potato with a good chunk of raw butter or that fatty rib eye.  Our bodies have cycles.  They change in the seasons.

 

 

4. EMOTIONS:  This is a very complex area but many, many people eat for emotional reasons.  The scope of this is giant but could include; boredom, stress, avoidance, mental programming, distractions, stuffing things, trying to “numb out,” etc.  Ultimately it comes down to just being honest with ourselves.  All this stuff is programmed into us as children.  DON’T fall into that trap.  Fight it.  Deal with your emotions instead of running from them.  Don’t eat at 5 pm if you’re not hungry just because its dinner time.  Don’t eat to weigh you down so that you don’t have to deal with whatever stress is on your mind.  Feel the feelings, allow them to come up.  Remember, stuffing feelings doesn’t make them go away.  It just pushes them deeper inside of us to be dealt with later.  And what happens to other messes when you leave them for a long time?  They get bigger.  So don’t let this happen to you.  If you identify a pattern of emotional eating, figure out the reason or reasons you are doing this.

 

 

5. BUGS: This is not the most fun topic, but something most American’s need to realize.  Most people have parasites and bacterial infections lurking in their bodies.  Especially adults.  People who have eaten junk, sugar, and processed food much of their life.  Remember, processed food has ZERO vitality or life energy.  You may refer back to a previous post “Ridding yourself of Bacteria and Parasites” for more information on this topic.  Basically, after these things take over, they kind of run the show. They cause you to crave food they want; namely things that are not so good for us.  Things like sugar, pasteurized dairy, fried foods, gluten, etc.  Basically things that make you weaker make it easier for them to live in your body.  So again, cutting out the junk, focusing on whole foods, and adding in specific antifungal/anti-parasitic herbs and foods will help in the long run.  Things like raw garlic, oregano, coconut oil, fermented foods, fresh cinnamon, etc.  If you have a serious problem you may need to resort to more intense remedies but this will help start the process.

 

 

SO these are some reasons why many of us suffer with cravings.  Personally, I have noticed that by tackling all of these problems I rarely crave junk any more.  Sure, sometimes I want that large serving of sweet potato/butter.  Sometimes I want a big meal.  But there is a big distinction with the junk.  The second I crave it, I ask myself why?  Looking to this list, you can usually figure out where it is coming from.  Don’t fall for it.  Conquer your cravings.  You will be much healthier and happier for it.

 

 

-Joe

 

 

Are Low-Carb Diets Healthy?

 

Meat!

 

You hear all about this today.  Low-carb this and low-carb that.  What is all the fuss about?  Are low carb diets really healthy?

This depends on a few factors.

1. What does low carb even mean?  For some people this means cutting out grains and beans and that is it.  For others it is seriously restricting fruits and veggies.  I have even seen some people go on pure meat/fat diets.  So what level are we talking about here?

2. Does it work for YOUR body?  Not for some celebrity or health-guru, but for you.

Ok, so before I get started, I would like to clarify something.  “We are ALL different.”  We have different health levels, different activity levels, live in different areas, have different genetics, and different emotions.  Given that, we all need different foods, imagine that.  So please don’t judge what you should do off of somebody else.  Some people have excellent guidelines but you need to let your own body be your ultimate guide.

So about cutting out processed carbs, grains, sugars, candy, donuts, etc.  This will be cutting a lot of “carbs” out of your diet so yes, that is a good thing.  This does not mean you are eating a “Low-carb” diet.  It simply means you are cutting out all of the junk.  This alone will greatly help your health.  I would recommend this as a first step as anyone experimenting with a low-carb approach.  It happens to be that most junk food is carbs.  Don’t fall for the gluten-free “healthy” junk food.  Packaged dead food and sugar is still junk even if it doesn’t have gluten.  Stick with fruits and vegetables.  If you want some good high carb veggies and fruit; sweet potatoes, potatoes, quinoa, bananas, squash, acorn, winter, butternut, spaghetti squash, papaya, plantains, etc.

Ok, so I can eat bananas all day and get insane amounts of sugar and carbs without eating grains.  Is this healthy?  Not for me.  I would get sugar buzzes like none other and get very hungry without protein and fat.  I also live in a climate that gets somewhat cold in the winter.

Here is the bottom line. “You shouldn’t be eating anything that your body doesn’t need or want.”

As a general rule, the more strength-training you will be doing; the more protein/fat you will need.  If you are doing less, you may not need as much.

If you are eating fresh, living foods and your body is craving them, it is probably a sign to GO FOR IT.  If you feel better cutting out the starchy vegetables and tropical fruits then do it.  But don’t buy into this low-carb thing.  The same exact thing applies to the opposite side of the spectrum where people hardly eat any protein or fat.  Here is the thing.  You can’t eat low-carb and low-fat at the same time.  You just need to find that sweet-spot that your body likes.  Think of it as properly fueling your car.  You have 3 macronutrient ratios.  What can you digest?  Maybe your liver is bogged up and your fat processing is down.  Your body may want more carbs until that gets up and running again.  Personally, in the summer I do best on primarily fruits and vegetables, some plant fats, some animal protein/fats.  In the winter, my fruit intake will drop a bit and my animal proteins/fats will go up a bit.  My plant fats will go down a bit.  Your body is smart.  Let it be your guide. If you feel best eating “low-carb” then go for it.  Just don’t starve yourself of something you really want just because somebody said so.  I have seen people who eat LOW-CARB for a long time and are craving carbs that feel AMAZING after finally giving in and eating a big bowl of fruit.  Likewise, I have seen VEGANS cave and eat some juicy eggs or sardines that feel AMAZING afterwards.  You will learn quickly (or not so quickly in my case) that no matter what you are eating or how you are eating, SOMEBODY will have something bad to say about it.  Don’t be one of these people.  Lions don’t need somebody telling them the science behind why they need meat.  Neither to gorillas need somebody telling them to eat leaves and bugs.  We are the same.  Just don’t let your taste buds be tricked.  Don’t eat the junk, sugar, pasteurized dairy products, chemical laced food, etc.  These all override our normal judgements on what to eat.  Eat fresh, organic, real food.  Your senses should guide you.

-Joe

What’s the BEEF with FAT?

Olive oil from Imperia in Liguria, Italy.

 

What is the beef with fat?  It has been demonized in our culture as synonymous with “being fat.”  If you don’t want to be overweight and obese then the answer is to eat a low-fat diet high in grains, starches, and fruit right? ERRR wrong.  The human body burns food for fuel.  Proteins act basically as body builders.  They help build the physical structures to your body but they do not provide much fuel.  Fat and carbohydrates are the primary fuel sources.  Which your body prefers depends primarily on your genetics, age, and location.  Some people use a mixture of the two.  Good fats are not the evil weight gaining things to stay away from that we have been told they are.

Now of course; stay away from BAD fats.  These are man-made or man-altered products that are not natural at all.  These would include things like pasteurized dairy products, high-heated vegetable oils, fried foods, roasted nuts, greasy burgers/fries, pizzas, etc.  These will help clog up your liver and system in general.

I am talking about the GOOD fats today.  This doesn’t matter if you are a vegetarian or a carnivore.  Here are some options for both categories.  Personally, i feel best with some of both depending on how I am feeling.

VEGETABLE FATS: Avocados, Raw soaked nuts and seeds, Olives/cold pressed olive oil, Coconuts/cold pressed coconut oil.

ANIMAL FATS: egg yolks (preferably free range and raw or lightly cooked), fatty fish (sardines, salmon), cod liver oil, bone marrow, bone broth (chicken stock, beef stock), Lightly cooked meats.  Raw dairy (kefir, butter, milk, cream) goes here if it is a food that works well with you.  Some swear by it.  Others swear against it.  Most cultures have used animal fats for thousands of years.

When it comes to fats, cooking seems to be the enemy here.  Don’t fry your food.  Try to eat your fats as lightly cooked as safe and possible.  Think things like crock-pots, steamers, etc, instead of frying pans.

So these good quality foods will help you stay satisfied and not so hungry.  Our bodies need some high-quality fat to function correctly.  In general, living in colder climates seems to require more fat.  Listen to your own body and let it guide you as to what it wants.  As for the carbs, I don’t see anything wrong with them either.  The problem is that carbs appear to be the easiest macronutrient to overindulge in.  Potatoes, pasta, bread, etc.  Carbohydrates are a valid fuel source for the body and humans have been eating them for a long time.  The problem is OVEREATING them.  It’s like putting too much fuel into the gas tank.  There is leftovers for most people.  This translates to excess weight and a clogging up of the system.  Exercise will help this a little bit but the real answer is to stop eating so much of the heavy starches.  Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables.  Cut back on the pastas, cereals, granolas, breads, potatoes, etc.  There is nothing wrong with some potatoes every now and then for most people but mix in some good broccoli or other green veggie and some healthy fat to balance it out.  So please, don’t have a beef with fat.  It is not the enemy.  Eat a well-balanced diet that feels right to you.  I believe that if you are eating mainly whole foods, then your body will tell you what it does and doesn’t want.  Eat some mono-meals (1 food at a time) here and there to really get a feel for how that food sits with you.  Above all, listen to your body and don’t be afraid of any food that nature has made and people have been eating for a very long time.

-Joe

 

Remove yourself from “Health Land”

English: A Burger King bacon cheeseburger.

 

 

It is a great thing to want to be healthy.  It is a great thing to want to be in amazing shape and to have everything going for you.  However, often we lose sight of where we really are on the health train.  So often it seems, people end up learning more about health and fitness for all the right reasons.  They want to regain their lives, get more energy, get in shape, whatever it may be.  Somehow though, along the way, they get caught up in the “health land trap.”  This is the trap of infinite online resources and countless “expert opinions” on what is the best way to do things.  Maybe we should be on a low carb diet and strength train a lot.  Maybe we should eat a lot of fruit?  No, because it has too much sugar.  It can get to the point where we don’t listen to our bodies anymore but instead get so caught up in it that we never really feel “right” eating anything anymore.  I will tell you one thing for sure.  There is hardly anything you can put in your body that somebody won’t have something bad to say about.  Meat is bad for you.  Cooked food is bad for you.  Raw food is bad for you.  Fruit is bad for you.  Fruit is good for you.  Is this all really possible?  If you don’t have serious health challenges, just follow the basics.

Eat a whole foods based diet preferably local.  Soak your nuts/grains if you eat those.  Get rid of the processed foods. Fresh.

Ok. So how do you remove yourself from health land?  I promise you will NEVER dig through all of the information out there.  It is just too much.  So what can we do?  I accidently came across a unique way to feel a hell of a lot better about it all. With all the time you take learning and researching the best new diets, exercise plans, foods, etc, put a little bit of time into looking at what OTHER PEOPLE are doing.

 

Look up unhealthy meals and lifestyles.  Look up obesity rates.  You will find things like Burger King’s new “bacon sundae.” Or Texas Roadhouse’s 2000 calorie sticky cheese fries.  Afraid of the sugar in that piece of fruit?  Look into some of the decadent desserts people are making in this country.  It will completely shock you.  You will realize that that fruit isn’t so bad.  Now i wouldn’t recommend spending too much time doing this because it can be somewhat depressing to see what our country has become in this area but just enough time so that you take a deep breath and regain a sense of normality with your own life.  Start looking at food again as nourishment and good for you instead of something you need to keep a strict and careful eye on.  Of course this extends to other areas besides food, but it seems that this is the main one people get trapped in.

So do yourself a favor, remove yourself from health land.  Realize that you are doing amazing things for yourself and cut yourself a little more slack when you fall off the wagon.  Never before have we lived in a society with this degree of obesity and “disease,” but just look at how much our bodies put up with before they get that way?  If you eat healthy 95% of the time, don’t be afraid of eating that dessert your mom made or that heavy meat dish your friends cooked at the Tailgate.  Just follow what your body wants and realize that it really is OK.

-Joe

Food Pyramids are DUMB

Food Guide Pyramid - Vietnam Style

Food Pyramids are dumb.  Do you go with the US food pyramid? Certainly not.  How about the zone diet?  The paleo diet? Vegetarian, vegan?  What about Mediterranean? The Irish food pyramid?  Where does it end?  Let’s start with some basic truths.

1. No two people on this planet are identical.  We have unique biology, genetics, activity levels, habitats, and interests.

2. Different nutrients are required in different amounts by different people.  If i am ill or have digestive problems i may need large amounts of nutrients that are easily digestible.  You may work outside in a cold climate and need a high supply of animal foods.  As a general guideline it would appear that in colder climates people need more protein/fat as well as people doing intense strength training.  More carbs/sugars are needed by people in hotter tropical climates and people more engaged in endurance type of exercise.

3. Your nutrition CHANGES.  You have “vegan” people living in california on a diet of raw fruits and vegetables that may take a trip to alaska.  The temperature may drop 50 degrees but their dogma on what they think they should eat is “locked in”.  So maybe they stick with their fruits/veggies thinking this is best for them while everyone else is eating plenty of meat and fish.

Having a locked in food pyramid for yourself makes life extremely rigid.  It uses your mind over your intuition.  The problem here is that big corporations, chemicals, and processed foods and chemicals have pressed override on our senses.  Our sense of smell is constantly messed with using things like perfumes, colognes, body wash, air fresheners, cleaning supplies, smog, etc.  The sense of smell does not work like it should.  Also, there are “fake foods” and chemicals that are tricking our taste buds.  Sugar, MSG, aspartame, fried foods, and a barrage of others make certain foods addicting. (I dare you to eat ONE Oreo cookie.)  The problem with the food pyramids is that they are so nice to look at.  We like graphical representations.  They are easy to remember and easy to look at.

So how do you figure out what your OWN food pyramid is?

1. Eat a whole foods based diet.  Cut out the junk (processed foods, sugar, fried food, pasteurized dairy, table salt, boxed foods.)

2. Cut out the things that are skewing your own senses.  Opt for natural soaps, colognes, deodorants, candles, use essential oils instead of air fresheners, etc.

3. Often it can be helpful to find out your genetics/background.  If you come from a long line of Native Americans odds are you will fare well on a similar diet.

4. Let your body take you for a ride.  It will generally tell you what it needs at any given moment.  One thing i think the food pyramids can do is give you a good gauge of approximately where you are on a daily basis.  For instance, for me, the “zone-diet” food pyramid is the closest thing to how i currently eat.  Now i’m not afraid to have a day like a carnivore if i have done a ton of strength training.  I’m also not afraid to have a day like a vegetarian if im not feeling well and don’t want a bunch of heavy food.  So use them as guidelines to see where you are at, not where you MUST be at all times. And don’t let your friends or family dictate what you should or shouldn’t be eating.  Some friends are mowing through pizzas and beer every night.  Don’t feel like you have to do this too.

5. Be aware that your body may change over time.  If I was a competitive bodybuilder maybe the Paleo diet with tons of animal products, meats/fats would be great for me.  Then i stop competing and all of a sudden all that meat is bogging my system down.  So maybe i end up changing to a more balanced approach with more fruits and vegetables.

So don’t get sucked into these “food pyramids.”  These are just guidelines.  They do change.  Don’t let anybody tell you this is the only way for you to eat.  All of these people are trying to create a healthy way to eat, often they are just skewed by their own experiences.  So if you want, find the one that most closely appeals to your own personal tastes and use it as a guideline.  Just don’t let it dictate what your body wants =)

-Joe