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Cathy’s Diet Journey (or how I spent 34 years trying to figure out what the heck to eat!)

It is sometimes said that folks teach what they most need to learn for themselves. I’ve been lecturing about diet and nutrition since 1984, and I can attest to the truth of that statement!…AND I’ve also discovered quite a bit of useful info along the way that I’d like to share with you, especially since almost everyone in all my classes has confessed to a confusion about what really is the BEST diet.

Guess what? There is NO one “best” diet. Different “diets” work for different people, and the trick is to match up the food choices to what each individual person’s body needs and prefers, NOT what our minds are convinced is “right.”

After trying SAD (the Standard American Diet that I grew up on), I became a vegetarian, then a vegan, that back to vegetarian only with food rotation…then while still mainly vegetarian I ate some fish, tried the Eat Right for Your Blood Type diet…and still something wasn’t “right.” So on to a truly radical departure: Aajonus’s Primal Diet (where all your food is raw, including vegetable juices, meat, eggs and dairy, all of which I ate in plenty) and again, after several years…Am I ever going to figure this out!? I was doing my best of combining everything I had ever learned: lots of raw foods (dairy, eggs, soaked nuts and seeds, and a little meat), 7 to 9 servings of fruits and veggies a day (mostly raw), some cooked foods (fish, whole food starches), fresh vegetable juices, home-made fermented foods and almost all my food organic….good grief, why don’t I feel good!?

Then just a few months ago I asked for help, from 3 different sources. I did a hair analysis of minerals (and ratios of minerals), went to a Chinese acupuncturist who also has a PhD. In Nutrition from Harvard, and went online to do Dr. Mercola’s metabolic typing test…and lo and behold they all (mostly) agreed! Shock! Turns out I’m (almost) back to where I started (minus the Velveeta, the white bread and the canned foods). I’m a mixed metabolic type who does better with more eggs, meat, fish, beans, seeds and nuts, and less grains and dairy. My constitution says yes to lots of fruits and veggies, but not very many raw, especially in the winter. Who knew? Raw is NOT always better. One can be TOO alkaline. The focus on low protein via The China Study has turned out to not be based on good science.

What I also learned was that just eating the best foods for your body type and constitution may not be enough. I am not just low in food enzymes (which I’ve been taking for years and which finally helped me digest fats), but also hydrochloric acid and pepsin. So now I can eat cooked meat and not have “problems.”

Interestingly enough, my 2 favorite books on diet and nutrition, Sally Fallon’s “Nourishing Traditions,” and Diana Schwartzbein, M.D.’s “The Schwartzbein Principle II; The Transition” have turned out to hold true over time for the most people. Add a dollop of metabolic typing (William Wolcott and Trish Fahey’s “The Metabolic Typing Diet”) and/or Dr. Mercola’s diets for each metabolic type), and defining one’s basic “constitution” (via a good Acupuncturist, Ayurvedic, or Naturopathic physician—though only the first of those worked for me) will give anyone the basic puzzle pieces with which to work out the details.

For the next several weeks I will focus on some basics that seem to hold true regardless of metabolic and/or constitutional “type.” Because of the amount of toxins (GMO, chemicals in food, water, soil, air) we are now exposed to, and the stresses of modern living, we all may find it harder to thrive on foods that aren’t the best we can afford. My dad’s mom lived to age 87 on a diet of (typical meal) pork chops cooked to shoe leather, canned green beans, instant potatoes, as well as 2 packs of unfiltered Camels a day, not to mention that she was an alcoholic who went through several pounds of candy a week….or my mom’s mom who lived to be almost 101 on the SAD, including a desert with every dinner. I think those days are gone for most of us. We really are going to have to pay more attention….and I hope to make that as enjoyable and tasty as possible!