There are so many fad diets going around right now. Note that I say “going around,” as if diets are a strain of the flu. That’s because I believe that diets are a sort of communicable insanity. Here’s how they’re transmitted:

A friend tells you about the evils of gluten or dairy or soy and how it’s burning holes in your “gut” like molten lava mixed with napalm, and before you know it, you’re gnawing on faux bread made of recycled, organic, free range, cardboard boxes.

Some of the smartest women I know are eating Neanderthal food. How ironic is that? Sure, nuts, berries, and iguana-kababs kept those hideous, hunched over, hairy people alive 40,000 years ago, but did you ever stop to consider why they died out? Or maybe, that they didn’t have any other choice in regard to food selection?

HEB CroogsCan you imagine the expression on a cave man’s face if they walked into an HEB or Kroger?

Other dear friends have endured fasts, cleanses, and detoxes. They swear that once their deprivation is over, they feel so incredibly good. “Well, yeah,” think I, “Your body went into starvation mode and then you finally fed it real food.” The elation they feel upon ingesting nutrients is probably not unlike that of a freshman tasting their first margarita.

Please don’t be sad. Or mad. I love you all! (Well, some of you). And, I am a proponent of eating healthy. I could totally imagine being a vegetarian if meat didn’t taste so good and I liked beans a lot more. But I don’t think starving oneself sounds very fun or wise. I also feel that reverting to the diet of our naked, stinking, flea-ridden ancestors is questionable wisdom. I mean … they went extinct for a reason, right?

It used to be that if people had allergies they just didn’t eat whatever they were allergic too. Nowadays, if someone thinks anything makes them gassy, sleepy, heachachy, water-retainy, sweaty, or whatevery, they go all fancy-pants-diety on us and can’t eat from at least two of the five basic food groups.

Now, now, now; before you get uppety and are all like, “Jennifer, you’re squishing on my persnicketies and not offering real world alternatives,” hear me out. Here’s how I recommend we all eat healthy:

  1. Eat whatever real food you want, but in moderation.
  2. Don’t eat anything you can’t pronounce the ingredients of. Apocarotenal? Um, no.
  3. Don’t eat anything if the ingredients sound like they might explode. Pyrophosphate? How ’bout not.
  4. Enjoy variety. Never eat the same dinner in one week.
  5. Eat lots of colors. The more colorful your food the more diverse the nutrients in it are likely to be … and it’s usually a lot tastier too. Red meat. White meat. Purple cabbage. Red tomatoes. Orange oranges. Pink peaches. Green broccoli. Yellow bananas. You get the idea.
  6. If you want to lose weight, eat smaller portions. And exercise. Exercise is good.
  7. Gluten is fine, as long as you’re not allergic to it.
  8. Dairy is fine, as long as you’re not allergic to it.
  9. Chocolate is awesome, as long as you’re not allergic to it.
  10. In fact, just don’t eat anything you’re allergic to. That’s a good idea.
  11. GMOs are fine, especially if you cook them to kill all the science. Heck, you can even eat a cloned space alien as long as its core temperature has reached 165°.
  12. Don’t eat dirt. Don’t eat anything that tastes like dirt either. Dirt is bad.
  13. Don’t eat too many carrots. People claim carrots are healthy, but if you’ve ever fed carrots to a baby, you know that they look about the same coming out as they did going in. Ew. Just ew.
  14. That goes for corn too. And peanuts. Eat in moderation. Because, wow.

Diets are temporary. Cleanses, detoxes, and all these fad things invented by people with last names like “Jupiter” and “Avocado” are here today and gone tomorrow.

Like phrenology. That used to be a thing.

Eat real food. Eat enough food. Don’t overeat. Exercise. Drink tons of water. And BOOM. You’ll be living a healthy lifestyle. Once you have established a healthy lifestyle, you won’t just be improving your health exclusively during the ____ day period you diet / cleanse / detox / fast / whatever. Instead, you’ll continually feel better and have plenty of energy.

Obviously, if you have certain health concerns you’ll want to follow your doc’s instructions and consume less sodium, sugar, fats, or ______. But generally speaking, E A T F O O O O D.

Food good.

Starving bad.

Even Neanderthals knew that.

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