There is no perfect diet for everyone, in spite of what you might have heard.  It seems the human body can adapt to almost any diet and survive, even thrive!  Consider the diet of the Inuit, the people indigenous to polar locations such as Siberia, Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. Theirs is a mostly meat diet, and yet they are a hardy population who consume few to no vegetables in their diet.

In the US, experts recommend a diet largely focused on healthy grains, fruits and vegetables.  Most Americans don’t get the recommended 5 servings per day, and even fewer eat the 5-9 servings that is considered ideal.

It is my theory that nutrition experts in the US recommend a diet high in fruits and vegetables because of three factors that influence how we eat.

  • We eat too much processed food. Americans not only eat out more than we should; when we eat at home, we often purchase processed convenience food.  These foods contain high levels of sodium, sugar and fat, often fat that is not healthy for us. Eating foods high in antioxidants, like vegetables, is a great way to clean up the mess that is created by American eating habits.
  • We have an obesity problem. The problem with obesity is complex.  Besides the fact that mostAmericans don’t get enough physical activity and eat too many calories, we also have unintended consequences of living in a post-industrial society.  We not only move less, as most of us don’t perform manual labor, we also have many conveniences for the home, kitchen and work.  While these labor-saving devices save time and energy, they also mean we are not as physically engaged in household and work activities. Most of us also drive rather than walk. Eating nutrient dense, low calorie foods like fruits and vegetables is viewed as an important part of the strategy for battling obesity.
  • It is a scientific fact that a plant based diet is a healthier diet.  In the scientific community, facts are everything.  Many dietitians and other health experts recommend the actions that are evidence-based solutions to our health problems.

The fact that we can adapt to almost any diet may seem like an argument for NOT eating fruits and vegetables.  That is not the point here.  Eating produce will aid in preventing catastrophic health issues like heart disease and cancer. The point is that while we CAN adapt to any diet, our lifestyle dictates that we probably should not.

Many of the diets that are quite popular right now – think Paleo and ketogenic diets – suggest that we primarily eat foods that have a massive impact on the environment.  Beef in particular, requires a huge output of finite resources.

So, what is the answer?  There is no easy answer. In the end, we all have to find the food plan that works for us.  No two people are alike and no two diets should be either.

Andrea wants to live in a world where the neighborhoods are walkable, bike lanes are plentiful, and the food is fresh, delicious and readily available. A 20-year veteran of the health and wellness industry, she started her career in the fitness industry while earning a master’s degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion, and then on to the burgeoning field of worksite wellness. Andrea has competed in collegiate level soccer, worked as a personal trainer, fitness instructor, wellness coach, and master trainer, climbed 14ers, and completed cycling centuries and metric centuries. All of these experiences give her the opportunity to view well-being from many different perspectives. When she’s not helping others to be their healthiest self, you can find her at a farm to table restaurant, down dogging at the yoga studio, or experiencing the Colorado landscape on a bicycle, snowshoes, cross country skis or on foot.