It seems that as smart as humans are, we can’t figure out a healthy diet to save our lives. Literally.
However, you’ve probably noticed that if you go to the zoo, search the web, or look at any sort of animal reference book, you can quickly determine the basic diet of any animal known to man. That’s because animals seem to just know what they are supposed to eat.
For example, giraffes eat leaves and twigs, squirrels eat nuts, lions eat meat, and koala bears eat eucalyptus leaves. It’s really that simple. But not for us humans. Even though we are smart enough to control the planet’s resources and obtain any food source we’d like to consume, there is continued disagreement about what truly constitutes a healthy diet.
So if humans were listed in a book, what would it say we eat eat? I don’t think a generic statement would cover it. Think of the many different types of diets: vegetarian & vegan (plus other sub-types of these), fruitarian, raw food diets, grain free diets, gluten free diets, whole foods diets, and more.
These do not even take into account what seems like hundreds of other dieting strategies such as Weight Watchers, the South Beach Diet, the Atkins diet, diet pills or supplements, the “see food” diet (if you see it, you eat it!), etc. The list goes on and on.
And similarly, if you ask multiple people what foods are healthy, you are very likely to get a slew of different answers. For example, one person might think that a fat free hot dog is healthy while another might state that only minimally processed pastured or organic meat is the right choice. Another may think that iceberg lettuce is nutritious while other people would say darker leaf varieties are really a much better option.
So not only do our many food choices make deciding on a dietary lifestyle extremely difficult, but studies and reports often add to the confusion as they seem to be proving one food good and another bad almost daily. There is also an overwhelming amount of information (sometimes even contradictory) in constant circulation from the media, food industries, universities, private organizations, and more.
Further adding to the confusion is that fact that it often seems impossible to tell who’s really trying to help people or if a person or company is actually just promoting an ingredient or product for their own profits or benefit. All in all, there’s no doubt in my mind that diet-wise we’re on information overload. With all this activity going on, how can anyone identify the right diet!
Another factor worth considering is the many changes and new, non-traditional food additions to our diet (hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup, anyone?). As more and more “fake” or highly processed ingredients sneak into everyday foods and make their ways to our table, how can anyone even keep up on what’s truly good or bad?
It might not even be a huge stretch to say that our own brainpower has been used against us as our eyes and mouths have been fooled by the creation and abundant use of artificial colors, flavors, and flavor enhancers. Unfortunately, it seems that lots of us will eat pretty much anything nice-looking and flavorful in a pretty package- it doesn’t even really have to be food!
Overall, it seems to me that it may be both a blessing and a curse to have such fantastic brains and a myriad of food choices. Unfortunately, we can’t ask animals if there is some other secret to their food knowledge, but maybe it’s time to consider a few different ideas:
- Do we need to get back to basics in terms of food?
- As a population, are we too smart and capable for our own good as it relates to food?
- Do the number of food options that we have available actually negatively impact our health?
- What in our habitats should we be eating?
I guess I’ll leave you with all this totally tasty food for thought. ;)