If you listen to all the so-called experts on nutrition, we can't eat anything. But here's the good news.
We can at least drink one thing, water. Nobody argues against water itself, although some of the experts tell us that it has to be filtered and we shouldn't buy bottled water because it's not well tested and all those bottles are bad for the environment. Maybe I shouldn't even drink the sparkling water that I love. One correspondent told me that it will do terrible things to my body, like leaching out certain minerals. Another reminds me that the plastic bottles that it comes in also degrade the environment. Maybe I will have to buy a machine so I can make it at home if I can outlast the leaching.
Once upon a time I wrote that if you listened to all the experts, then water and fiber were the only things that we could safely consume. Now, however, it seems, according to one expert, that even additional fiber is bad for us. If you still believe that your body needs you to take fiber supplements, please read this post by Michael Eades, M.D.
If you accept what the vegetarian experts tell us, you can't eat meat and fish. The vegan experts tell us how bad even dairy, eggs, and honey are for us. A vegan subset tells us that fruit is the only thing that we should eat.
If you believe the raw foodists, you won't eat anything that's heated above about 116 degrees.
If you follow the guidance of the American medical establishment, you will load up on carbohydrates and cut back on fat. Conversely, if you follow the recommendations of low-carb gurus like Richard K. Bernstein, M.D., you will do just the opposite.
Other experts tell us to avoid added fructose. Some even say we shouldn't even eat fruit that has fructose in it as most fruits do (avocadoes are the big exception, although the people who hate fat don't like avocadoes either).
Maybe we need to avoid foods that increase our level of AGEs that cooking protein and sugar together produces.
Then, there's soy. I haven't seen any real evidence that it's bad for us. But I've read a lot of anecdotal stories about how dangerous it is.
I'm sure that I have recommended against even more foods on the basis of one expert or another who seems to know what he or she is talking about.
Evidence indeed is what's missing from the whole question of what not to eat. We still have persuasive evidence that only three things are bad: trans fats, table sugar (sucrose, which is half fructose), and high fructose corn syrup.
Almost all the rest is theory. Even the widely accepted theory that eating fat will give us heart disease is nothing more than a hypothesis presented by a charismatic physician named Ancel Keys. If you doubt this, please re-read "What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?" by Gary Taubes in The New York Times Magazine.
Not only have I given up alcohol and coffee but I also cut back on red meat, dairy (except for Greek-style yogurt), and eggs (except egg whites) to say nothing of my restriction on high-carb foods.
After following a very low-carb diet for two years, I am beginning to feel constricted myself in my self-imposed dietary choices. Perhaps I've gone to extremes. This week I am eating some grass-fed beef and bison meat as well as some cottage cheese and hard cheese. I'm even considering eating some whole eggs, even though some people say that they are inflammatory. All this is still low-carb; my questions about it were otherwise.
Our diet is no exception to my fundamental advice about controlling our diabetes that, "Diabetes is a disease that, perhaps more that any other, depend much more on the patient than on the doctor." No way can we rely on any of the so-called experts -- myself included -- to tell us what we should and shouldn't eat.
No one knows which diet is best for you or indeed for the world. Nutrition is an emerging science, one that even now is coming out of the dark ages of unenlightenment. Each of us has to decide for herself or himself what foods will help us to control our diabetes and indeed our health in general. The best approach and the one I follow myself is to read and digest the recommendations of the experts. But take it with a grain of salt.
But please consider the advice that I offer here. Just remember that it's not Gospel and that like any other open-minded person my recommendations keep changing as I discover and learn more.
Each of us has five guiding principles available for us to follow:
1. Does what we eat help us to control our blood glucose level?
2. Does it help us to control our weight?
3. Does our diet help us control our blood pressure?
4. Do our lipid, vitamin D, and other blood tests look good?
5. How do we feel when we eat the foods we do?
All of us are different. If any one of these tests fail, we have to stay alert to the need to make a course correction.
Every time you shop for food or eat out, remember this: If you believe everything the experts tell us, you may not be thirsty. But you will starve.