When people first get into learning about health and diet, they're bombarded by reports that this or that is bad for them, stop eating it or you will DIE, or start eating it or you will AGE. It seems to get to the point that everything is bad for you, and only occasionally things we thought were bad get put back on the good list.
Any diet you read about is all about what to do versus what not to do. The best ones take into account the fact that we are all different; that's why I like Ayurveda and Blood Type guidelines. And at least their guidelines aren't saying that a particular food is bad, altho some people do tend to interpret it that way, it's just that you shouldn't overdo on certain food types that promote certain reactions in the body in order to maintain balance. For instance, a Pitta person runs hot. The last thing they should do is exercise in the hot sun. I'm a Vata and O Positive. That means bananas are neutral to avoid for me. But we all know you won't die from eating a banana! A zillion chimpanzees can hardly be wrong! ;)
My recommendations for anyone going crazy with the "can't eat" list is to ignore the fads and don't listen in too hard when they find one certain thing "wrong" with a popular food. When figuring out what to eat and what not to eat, take a look at:
1. Your genetic background. Did your ancestors eat this food? Or did they do poorly when they switched to a diet that included this food? For instance, I'm half Japanese, and most Japanese, like Native Americans and Eskimos, do poorly on the standard american diet full of processed, refined foods. We get fat and diabetic and lose our teeth.
2. how long this food has been around. Any foods created in the last few decades are suspect, including Sugar substitutes, margarine, eggbeaters. Any food that's been around since the Roman Empire is probably okay at least in moderation.
3. how refined is this food. If it has additives, has been mashed up and mixed by huge machines, had part of it expelled, chances are it's dead and won't do you much good.
4. your body type and metabolism. Some people can drink beer, I cannot. Some people can eat anything and do fine, I cannot. Some people can walk in the cold wind without a sweater, while I'm getting out the gloves and scarf. This is something you just have to accept and mitigate best you can.
5. your level of activity. Active people can eat more food in general and more junk. When I was a total basketball jock for a really fanatic coach, I was too embarrassed to turn in school assignments asking us to list what we ate all week because I ate so darned much! 3 donuts one day, pastries the next, several apples and bananas a day, ice cream, and I was tiny. Tiny!
6. Aim for variety. A little bit of everything ensures you get the widest variety of nutrients, as all foods have different proportions of nutrients, and some foods have things that no other food has. Try to learn about the foods sitting there in the produce section that you never eat. When's the last time that you ate a beet? A rutabaga? Zucchini? Sugar snap peas? Did you know that fresh spinach sauteed with butter and garlic actually tastes GOOD?
7. Remember that vegetables keep their nutrients best when fresh, and if you can't always eat fresh, remember this order:
- fresh is best
- frozen next best
- canned is worst