All Diets Are Short-Term
It is argued that all diets fail long-term for various reasons, most especially for lack of support. However, all diets are fundamentally short-term by virtue of being practiced one meal at a time. I explore the implications here.
All diets are done one meal at a time, and each meal is a very short term comparatively. We eat only for a few minutes, but we eat these meals repetitively over a lifetime. All diets fail long-term for two main reasons. Official dietary guidelines are ever present, and there’s comparatively little support for alternatives. The constant and pervasive presence of official dietary guidelines is a type of support. Alternatives don’t have that kind of support, thus they all tend to fail by comparison in that respect.
By design, official guidelines are monolithic, they do not allow alternatives because of fundamental contradictions, i.e. low-carb vs high-carb, low-fat vs high-fat, high-meat vs high-veggies, etc. Guidelines must appear consistent throughout to project a sense of expertise, and to avoid confusion. These aspects naturally exclude alternatives even though they could otherwise produce beneficial results in prevention and treatment.
Each diet produces specific but comparatively small results with each meal, and results tend to accumulate over time as we repeat the meals according to a diet’s overarching paradigm, i.e. low-fat for all meals, low-carb for all meals, etc. These piecemeal effects get overwhelmed by official guidelines’ ever present support especially if the meal is fundamentally different from the guidelines, paradoxically. The effects might be real and beneficial, but it’s hard to measure when it’s just one meal, and it’s even harder to distinguish between this meal’s effect and the next meal’s effect, especially if they are fundamentally different, i.e. low-fat vs high-fat. Individual meal’s effect magnitude easily get overshadowed by the persistent, constant and ever present official guidelines’ mantras.
A secondary principle is that of piecemeal therapeutics relative to baseline diet. For example, with a low-fat diet, a high-fat therapy will be much more noticeable than if the baseline diet was already high-fat. We can see this with coconut oil or butter or lard, when taken with coffee or for “pulling” or just as a sort of supplement. Conversely, if the diet is already low-carb, cutting carbs further will barely have any effect. Piecemeal therapeutics include things like intermittent fasting, meat-free days, mono-food periods, etc. All of these have varying degrees of success according to the baseline diet.
A solution is to encompass all alternatives within official guidelines, and establish appropriate diet-dependent recommendations. We have all the data for this already, it’s only a matter of doing it. For example, with a vegan diet, it’s important to supplement with certain essentials to prevent deficiency. Existing guidelines include some elements of this, yet always relative to the baseline diet, i.e. follow guidelines a priori because it’s the best, but if you choose to follow other diets, watch out for these things, and so forth. The implication is that all alternatives are inferior to guidelines, which reduces or outright eliminates any possibility of support from the guidelines themselves, and guidelines typically reflect this lack of alternative support.
Since different diets produce different effects at each meal and cumulatively, alternative recommendations should include comprehensive information regarding these respective effects so that we can learn to recognize them and then use this to determine degree of success.
That none of us eat exactly the same as any other is not just an idea, it’s a fact. This fact should be reflected in official guidelines, and supported by appropriate recommendations according to respective alternative diet strengths and weaknesses. That any particular diet is pushed as the best is a fundamental fallacy. Throughout history we can’t find a monolithic diet that fits every group, they all ate/eat different diets, sometimes wildly different. My personal bias favors low-carb (especially lots of meat and fat), but for the purpose of this post, I can’t say it’s the best, it’s just one of many diets, and there’s several that work just as well.
Since I’m talking about official dietary guidelines, one difficulty is to re-group public and private sectors because most, if not all, of the support for alternatives comes from private groups and forums. But that idea shouldn’t be too hard to accept because official guidelines are already pretty much a product of private sector pressures and lobbies, i.e. grain and sugar producers, and manufacturers of products based on these.
Alternatively, the various diets’ support groups could begin to encompass other diets into their paradigm, as I myself begun to consider giving genuine advice regarding essential supplements to those who eat a vegan diet. They’re people too, let’s not dismiss them just because they eat differently, mkay? An advantage here is that there isn’t a single group that needs to convince the gubermint, they can all do it independently, and perhaps cooperatively as well. As it stands all groups tend to be competitive to and exclusionary of all other groups, especially when they adopt fundamentally different diets, i.e. low-fat vs low-carb.
Personally I favor low-carb over all other diets, and I usually hang around the http://www.lowcarb.ca forum. This particular forum is interesting as it includes quite a wide assortment of diets that fit low-carb to at least some degree, i.e. from Atkins to Carb Addict Diet and pretty much everything in-between. It’s primarily a support forum but there is one sub-forum dedicated to news/media, and there’s no particular restriction when it comes to the type of diet that gets discussed there. Of course, because of the nature of diets, we usually argue from the point of view of low-carb, always trying to find the low-carb angle and turn the discussion in our favor.
It seems to me that this competitive and exclusionary environment is beneficial for the official guidelines, as it doesn’t have to fight alternatives, they fight among themselves just fine. The fact that alternatives fight the official guidelines makes no difference, because they can’t agree with each other, they don’t form a common front against the guidelines. Well, that will change the moment alternatives get together and begin to cooperate, in spite of any fundamental differences.
For the purpose of this post, support for any particular diet will naturally increase and reach a significant part of the population just because all groups now support all alternatives, however small or basic this alternative support may be at first. It could just start with a link to alternative support forums and groups, then go on from there.
Consider that official dietary guidelines format is competitive and exclusionary. Now consider the idea that all alternative support groups begin to support all other alternatives, and official guidelines as well. Then consider the comparative mass of alternative support, the official guidelines would have no choice but to acknowledge and integrate this new paradigm, and become itself cooperative and inclusive. From there, it’s only a small step to re-write official guidelines to officially cooperate with and include all alternatives, and in turn provide equal support, and in turn increase the likelihood of success for alternatives. The short-term nature of alternative diets will get converted into better long-term success.
What say you?
Martin Levac copyright 22:57 9/22/2016
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