In December of 2013 the FDA announced a momentous baby step. The agency finally proposed a voluntary limit on use of antibiotics as growth enhancers in animals raised for food. I am hopeful, but waiting to see how this proposal plays out. Proponents of a vegan diet didn’t wait at all. Just two days later the LA Times published a letter to the editor from a staffer for the PETA foundation chastising us meat eaters for not seeing the light. There would be no problem if only the rest of us ate a delicious and nutritionally superior vegan diet.
If only. For forty years the public health and medical community presumed a single dietary approach was best for everyone, and they were flat out wrong. In the early 1990’s I ventured to add more protein and fat to my diet, telling no one. The higher carbohydrate diet recommended for all Americans and especially for athletes failed me. Ornish’s and Pritikin’s vegan and almost vegan protocols didn’t help. I readily gained weight, felt awful, and struggled with food. I rarely felt satisfied. I ventured to try a higher fat and higher protein diet.
A BETTER DIET
With more protein and fat I felt less bloated and lost body fat. I thought more clearly. I enjoyed greater energy and stamina. Over time I stopped feeling like I would pass out any time I got over hungry. I felt more content and less preoccupied with food. My immune system improved and even my nails grew stronger. Clearly this was a better way for me to eat. A high carbohydrate, low fat diet just didn’t work.
After years of research and personal experience, I have worked with many clients who are also insulin resistance. They don’t handle high carbohydrate diets, no matter how “healthy”. I came out in 1995 with my first paper regarding insulin resistance and today continue to work with many individuals who learn how to thrive when they eat primarily protein and produce. The Paleo craze only reinforces my observations, despite the fact that they suffer from the same myopia as other fads. There is no one right way to eat, and even folks who don’t handle carbohydrates are not always insulin resistant to the same degree. There is a wide range of tolerance and the challenge is to figure out an approach to food that works for any one individual.
Ironically I stepped directly into the food fray just days after the LA Times article hit the press when a girlfriend invited me to join her for lunch. Craving a specific dish, she suggesting Real Food Daily in Santa Monica. I demurred, thinking maybe RFD was vegetarian. If they served eggs and dairy I would be fine. I stopped short at the door: RFD Vegan Cafe. I debated going inside, but Marlene was already at the front desk. When she asked what I thought I schrunched my face and pondered whether to stay. The RFD staff eagerly stepped into the void. One server quickly told me that everything was delicious. I wouldn’t even notice there was no animal meat. The hostess chimed in that they served “complete protein.” When I balked, they continued to talk at me. So annoying.
As the debate ensued I realized here was an opportunity to experiment. I handle carbohydrate better today than ever, and require less protein than I used to. Insulin resistance is fluid that way. I relented so we sat down and ordered. I chose the Three Amigos garbanzo bean and cauliflower fritters and a side salad topped with tofu. I know how to complement proteins, but the meal was still mostly carbohydrate. The food was tasty, even though I found it less than satisfying. I could feel the impact as I ate. When I am not satisfied I don’t feel grounded.
Obviously people who thrive eating a vegan diet have no idea. It doesn’t matter that the protein is “complete”. I can complement amino acids in food all day, but if my meal doesn’t contain adequate protein and fat I don’t feel my best. If only the food evangelists of the world would consider that what works for them won’t necessarily work for everyone else.
I could tell I would need something else before we finished paying for our $25 lunch. I grabbed a latte down the street and finally started to feel content.
The largest manufacturers of antibiotics are reported on board with the FDA proposal despite the potential loss of revenue. Currently 80% of all antibiotics are used with animals. But there is time for public comments and that should be interesting. Already the hedging begins, with some stakeholders claiming that the antibiotics they use don’t compromise the antibiotics used in humans. I am left wondering how this will all turn out, considering that the over use of antibiotics is only one of many problems with conventional Confined Agricultural Feeding Operation (CAFO) practices.