Providing unsolicited advice is usually a bad idea. If you are reading this column, come to me as a client or marry me, you get my advice. I do not go to dinner parties and critique the dishes. But there is a subset of people who feel compelled to share their opinion on what other people are eating.
Paleo/low carbohydrate diets are trending. This style of eating is difficult to maintain, so if someone is low-carbing, assume they perceive a benefit. I hope they are getting enough of nutrients such as calcium found in dairy and fiber in whole grains to ensure a healthy intake. Most people I’ve counseled on low carb are doing well. It is a personal choice that does not require uninvited opinion. And for the paleo people, if someone asks, share your opinions about grains, but if not, feel free to eat in silence.
In terms of whether to eat animal products, there is good evidence on both sides of the discussion. The China Study by T. Colin Campbell (Ben Bella Books, 2005), with more than a million copies sold, has dramatically impacted the conversation about the benefits of a vegetarian intake. The takeaway message is that people who eat a vegan diet avoid or reverse the development of many chronic diseases. Think vegan Bill Clinton after his bypass surgery.
A more inclusive intake, with volumes of research, is the Mediterranean diet with a base of beans, nuts, vegetables and fruit. Included in this plan are fish, yogurt, cheese, poultry and eggs. Even occasional red meat and sweets are deemed acceptable. For everything Mediterranean, go to oldwayspt.org. The issue of sustainability and ethics of food intake is complicated and for another column.
Chris Rock said it best: “Most people don’t realize this, but you can eat organic, all natural, gluten-free food without telling everyone around you.”
Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Follow her on Twitter @sheahrarback.