Here at The Detox Diva we are all about busting through the hype of “diets” and bringing a more balanced, healthful approach to nutrition. Food should never become a religion and it should never be so dogmatic it’s not enjoyable.
Lately I have been getting a lot of “hate” mail in my inbox from vegetarians and vegans who believe I am flip-flopping from my “plant based diet” mentality and allowing for the possibility that some people do well on protein from animal sources. (And I have gotten a fair few number of emails from readers who think I should be shot for even thinking to tell people that they can have a cup of quinoa or a potato now and again!) Let me state for the record. I AM NOT A VEGAN NOR DO I PLAY ONE ON TV. I am a flexivore. I am a careful omnivore. I eat intuitively, and yes, that means part of the year, when the vegetables are out of this world beautiful tasting and abundant, I eat a predominantly vegan diet but only because my body is totally and completely satiated on plates of veggies and summer fruits. I don’t even want meat in the summer though I will certainly not turn my nose up at the odd grass-fed burger straight from the grill. I know what my body needs and wants and when it wants it. Sometimes that includes sustainable, organic, free-range or even wild animal products, especially in the winter when my body feels the need for more warming, grounding, settling foods.
Yes, I said it. I eat animal products when my body wants them and I will not apologize for that! I do NOT, however, eat animal products that are not the absolute best quality, most sustainable, grass-fed, free-range, preferably foraging and, even better, wild! You will not catch me eating conventionally raised pasteurized, homogenized, grain-fed, factory farmed any kind of animal product IF I can absolutely avoid it. Let’s be logical, however and admit sometimes, extreme circumstances happen (let’s say at a truck stop while travelling through the deep South where everything is either deep fried, smothered in some unknown white gravy like substance, and probably meat from the factory farm down the street or iceberg lettuce and some kind of genetically modified tomato fertilized on NPK from fossil fuels and coated in canola, soy, or corn oil based creamy dressing) and you either suck it up and eat or starve because there are no Whole Foods Markets for 300 miles.
I have personally gone vegan for a long stretch of time. I have also gone through long stretches of detox symptoms from conventionally raised animal products and pesticide laden fruits and vegetables. For awhile my energy soared and my skin glowed. Eventually aches and pains started, energy lagged, and for me, in the dead of winter, I was freaking freezing ALL THE TIME, not to mention hungry….. errrr…. no, hungry doesn’t say it, I was starving despite eating every few hours. We were staying at a friend’s farmhouse for a week for a wedding. They were carnivorous, to say the least. On the first day they were cooking venison saddle from a deer shot that deer season. I decided I would not be a burden and ask her to cook something different for me so I had a small piece, telling myself it was just to be polite, that it didn’t matter, but inside I flagellated myself. Within an hour I felt an energy I hadn’t felt in a very long time. That week I had fish, chicken from their farm where they allowed them pretty much to run wild with roosters, no less, and even, for the first time in my life, wild boar, which is, well, for those of you who eat meat, something that EVERYONE should experience.
I allowed myself grass-fed beef every so often, and foraging chickens and wild fish every now and again over the winter and my energy levels returned to what they were before, and, because my diet still contained little grains and a lot of veggies, I gained absolutely no weight but my fingernails, which had been brittle and splitting despite eating loads of a wide variety of nutrient rich vegetables, fruits, and nuts, drinking fresh juices, and eating a large percentage of my food raw, started growing by leaps and bounds.
Now, I am not saying every person on earth should eat meat. I am not saying every person on earth should go vegan either. Nor am I being wishy-washy saying this. We will be, as we launch our 21-Day Reset, Recharge, and Renew program, be talking about metabolic typing and the vast difference between protein types, carbohydrate types, and mixed types of metabolism.
I am, very much, a mixed type. I still do not do well on a diet with a lot of grain unless they are sprouted beforehand and even then, those grains should be as whole (and low gluten) as possible rather than ground into a flour, but I can eat a large number of beans and lentils (also prepared properly) as my protein as well as loads of vegetables and some fruit thrown in for good measure. I thrive on the way I eat. I look forward to my vegan summers as much as my flexivore winters. My body is in tune and in balance with the seasons. I do a seasonal cleanse that sometimes does include protein infused juices for no more than a week and if I am ever out of balance, I revert back to my “reboot” for a few weeks.
As a holistic nutritionist, I see clients with all types of issues. Some want to lose weight and some are recovering from an eating disorder. Many want to conceive a child and/or are suffering from PCOS, endometriosis, fibroids, perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms or severe PMS symptoms. Many more are seeking healing from illness, often autoimmune related. All of them have something in common. They have all come armed with at least one of the latest diet “crazes” that they have either tried or want to try. Most of them want quick fixes. There are none.
Some want to try veganism. If this is where they are drawn I am happy to design a program that accommodates that desire making sure they are getting plenty of protein, fats and the right kind of carbohydrates in a balanced way all the while explaining to them that to truly be a vegan, they have to be prepared to understand that the foods they are eating must still be from a local, sustainable and organic source otherwise they are fooling themselves into thinking they are, in some way, reducing their carbon footprint when many of the fruits and vegetables still have to be trucked or flown across the country or increasing their health as many fruits and vegetables are now genetically modified and heavily sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. I also help them understand that many of those organic veggies are grown on farms that use animal manure to fertilize the soil. My points are not to try to dissuade them from being vegan. I have a great deal of respect for “moral vegetarians” who really practice what they preach provided they aren’t sneaking off and buying Oreos because they are safe for vegans.
For those who say that the human body was not meant to eat meat of any kind, let me point out that our stomachs do produce hydrochloric acid and our pancreas produces a variety of enzymes to digest a variety of foods, both animal and vegetable. Don’t shoot the messenger. The human body is a complex system for which nobody has all the answers.
So if that’s true, how do I know McDonald’s isn’t perfectly healthy? Well, we evolved eating lots of plants, grasses, fruits, seeds, and yes, sometimes even meat and fish. We did not learn how to mill grains into flour until the agrarian age and, even then, we didn’t harvest those grains until they had sprouted. We didn’t learn to refine those grains until the ‘industrial revolution’ and that’s when chronic diseases started to climb steadily. Couple that with the fact that in the last 125 years our sugar consumption has risen from about 5 pounds per year to about 135 pounds per year per person and that both white flour and white sugar are AS ADDICTIVE as cocaine and heroine it pretty much explains why in rehab clinics candy and cookies are readily available and often replace the addiction to drugs with an addiction to sugar-no less deadly but might kill you more slowly.
All those refined, industrialized, hybridized grains have caused gluten sensitivities, chronic inflammation, a dramatic rise in certain cancers, colon cancer being the most notable, autoimmune diseases, and a host of other symptoms stemming from insulin and other hormonal imbalances. Sugar consumption has caused insulin resistance and a steep yet steady rise in Type 2 Diabetes cases (and in younger and younger victims), PCOS and a host of other illnesses stemming from hormonal related problems and unfriendly intestinal flora causing a multitude of issues including malabsorption of essential vitamins and minerals.
Seriously people, all the hate mail because I say if you are going to eat meat make sure it is from a sustainable source, that it is raised on a farm that allows them to eat what they were biologically meant to eat and allowed to live a happy healthy life will not make me change my mind and extol the virtues of veganism for every single person on the planet. And all the mail that says that “I can’t call myself the Detox Diva if I don’t realize that the symptoms people get when they cut out meat for extended periods of time are detox symptoms” is not going to make it actually true.
I see no evidence in all my years of practicing that says it is healthy in any way, shape, or form, to still have detox symptoms after a year of not eating meat. I’m sorry, I don’t want to be the one to tell a client suffering from an autoimmune illness that after six months of feeling that “change in diet” glow, after cutting out sugar, meat, and eating more vegetables than an entire organic farm along with all the other lifestyle changes we make, that dip in energy, return of inflammation, or any other symptom that comes up is “just more toxicity” that they have to purge from their system (as if somehow they are repenting from some sin) and how weak willed they are for not being able to “hang” with a vegan diet when they simply might need a little fish to make them feel better.
I love what I do. I love being able to find the absolute perfect way of eating for my clients but I also know that there is truly no “one-size-fits-all” approach to making that happen. Some of my clients do well on a strict vegetarian diet. Some do well on a Paleo diet with sustainable, grass-fed, free-range animal products including raw milk. I create programs that include properly prepared whole grains and a lot more still that restrict grains in general depending on the health goal. There are many factors that go into the way I craft my nutrition plans for my clients including health histories, medical test results, abilities and desires to cook, etc.
I will never attempt to tell any one client that there is only one way to eat to lose weight/heal from an illness/conceive a child/detox/ or go through a hormonal change because, with all my research and the research of many learned people who have come before me, I don’t believe anyone has every single answer nor do I assume that I have them either.
What I do believe is that the food we consume, whether it be vegetarian or omnivore, should be of the highest quality possible, preferably not genetically modified and filled or fed on pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics, and locally and sustainably produced. These foods should be whole real foods; not brands of foods, rather, types of foods; and in the absolute purest form imaginable.
There is no room in my practice for food dogma.