Battling Nutrition Dogma

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.


22 replies
  1. SusanMcCord
    SusanMcCord says:

    Great article~ I love the way you write!! I agree with you that there is no “one size fits all” eating plan & people should not be reprimanding you about your choice to eat animal protein. I agree with you that it gives you energy. Many of my strict vegetarian friends are often sick and complain about their weight and low energy levels. Maybe they are not doing it the right way and eating very high glycemic foods but I prefer to eat everything in moderation but paying close attention to food quality & where it comes from.
    Happy eating in 2013!

    • thedetoxdiva
      thedetoxdiva says:

      I’m lucky, right NOW nobody dare talk to me personally about eating meat because with three babies growing away inside they seem to WANT meat…. but the haranguing is coming from people about my posts not focusing enough on ONLY plant based foods and you know, I do a LOT with veggies….. but at the end of the day, sometimes clients who either want to eat or have families that want to eat animal protein really need options!

  2. donkeyminga
    donkeyminga says:

    i wish I was your client! want i wouldn’t give for a knowledgable holistic practitioner who cared about my entire body…not just putting a bandaid on my symptoms.

  3. revitalize
    revitalize says:

    I loved your article! So important to eat the healthiest foods we can to feel and look our best!
    Just wanted to share with you about an Organic Nutritional Cleanse I recently did and lost 30 pounds and 37 inches!!! I was amazed with the healthy results and the great energy!
    I am sure this is something you would love also!
    Have a look at my web site or email me for more info and I’d love to share!

    • thedetoxdiva
      thedetoxdiva says:

      I have to be honest when I say I would rather my clients learn to eat real food for weight loss. There are very few cleanses (though there ARE a few) that involve protein shakes that I recommend to my clients and they are for a short time (maximum 21 days). The shakes you recommend are whey protein which I find are difficult for some of my clients to digest. Also I don’t see where Isagenix claims to be organic. It says it “exceeds USDA standards for organic” however that is very loose. I know these would probably be great for people who need something very structured but they would still need to be coached as to how to eat once they come off the plan and that’s where most people fail.

  4. Leigh
    Leigh says:

    I love this 🙂 I know your approach is based on natural products and healthy food – that’s what it should be in my opinion for my life anyway. My “diet” didn’t go as planned last week 🙁 I definitely didn’t eat nearly enough veggies…

    • thedetoxdiva
      thedetoxdiva says:

      The problem comes in (probably why I have a job at all) when people do NOT know what’s good for them or how to nourish themselves.

  5. Kristl Story
    Kristl Story says:

    My teenage son’s New Year’s resolution was to go vegan! Surprisingly, he’s still sticking with it, but I suggested to him the other day that he could be a flexitarian or a flexivore as you call it! Extremes are tough! I’ll have him read this post. Thanks!

  6. Becky Jane
    Becky Jane says:

    Excellent article. I like to follow a guideline of moderation in all things. I’m looking forward to the 21 day reboot!

  7. Jeanne Medina
    Jeanne Medina says:

    Excellent post! There are so many extremist voices out there. Sometimes the moderate views get lost in all that noise. I like how you worded this because it’s powerful enough to be heard.

    Even when people learn about what’s good for them and what they should avoid, it’s often still difficult to stick with it because of how addictive the sugar and artificial sweeteners are.

    My mom was addicted to diet cokes, that she had switched to when she found out she had type 2 diabetes. She took the education classes and tried to eat healthier but was never successful and kept putting on more weight year after year. She was drinking about 5 diet cokes a day and the rest of her diet was… (lets just say scary amounts of fast food). She was also getting increasingly feeble. I was really starting to worry about her.

    Then in 2011 my uncle (her brother), sent her some fat burning tea that he had used to get healthier. She lost 38 lbs. in about 4 and a half months, and her doctor took her off the diabetes medication she had been taking for 17 years!

    Just like drug addicts sometimes need help breaking their addiction, I think sugar/fake sugar addicts may need something to help them, because they can feel just as powerless. The tea really helped my Mom, because it took away her craving for sweets. She stopped snacking and was better able to stick to her meal plans.

    Over the past year and a half it changed our whole family, but it didn’t happen overnight. The tea helped, but it also began with baby steps, choosing one thing at a time to improve. After switching our coffee to fat burning coffee, and tea to fat burning tea, then we switched from white potatoes (which are high glycemic) to sweet potatoes (low glycemic); skipped bananas (high), in favor of apples, pears, or berries (low), left half the bun off, to eventually leaving the bun off altogether. We started to shop at the farmers market once a week, instead of always eating canned veggies; and found healthier places to eat while we were out. Now we are buying healthier meat to cook at home, and eating much less of it in a day.

    Our family has lost over 300 lbs! 😀 We are healthier and more energetic than ever!

  8. Courtney~Mommy LaDy Club
    Courtney~Mommy LaDy Club says:

    It’s so nice to have a dogma free zone here. Lately I feel like we have religion in everything, and the made up drama is so tiring. I don’t think we’ll ever evolve beyond our canine teeth. An astroid will surely hit us before that happens. Did you see that one came so close, and they are pretty worried about its cycle? It’s about the size of a skyscraper. I always love to read from you and learn!;)

    • thedetoxdiva
      thedetoxdiva says:

      I happen to agree with you and I am so sick of the drama. EVERY single day I have at least one client arguing with me about the plan we come up with because they “heard” something somewhere else and either wants to avoid it or wants to try it even though it might really help or really hurt them. I have heard about the asteroid! It’s a little scary but considering the earth is ready to shake us off like fleas….. it’s not surprising….lol

  9. Mina
    Mina says:

    I am going through your pages and articles in this website and its just mindblowing ..Thank you for all this wonderful information here ,Well,i have a question…I also agree that there is no one size fits for all…How should I find my own healthy path which is for ME ,any tips how the meals should be as a basic or a way to understand that?

    I also wonder if you dont access frequent poultry and fish becoz the meats r highly being manipulated by hormones or in some cases its way expensive for some people here n it just lets them to have it once a week ,,so with a limited or rare range of meat (animal proteins) with metabolic syndrom(that u wont be able to mix carbs to get the 21 chain amino acid)what will be the solution?
    any suggestion?Since all carbs r being deleted …as u said in my case.

    • thedetoxdiva
      thedetoxdiva says:

      IF you can find farm raised poultry (available still from Shiraz I am sure) then you are ok on the poultry. Beef and lamb should be grass-fed/free-range. I think much of your lamb still would be. The problem is, for you, starch breaks down into pure glucose which is spiking your insulin level, however, in your traditional cuisine, you have a lot of polyunsaturated fats (and you cook with things like vegetable oil instead of ghee, butter, or olive oil) which are not helping the insulin get to the cells to energize them (thus leaving a lot of it floating around yet the cells are not drinking it the way they should be.). My best advice…. Go have a FULL thyroid panel done. TSH, FT3, FT4, RT3, TSAb, and even TGAb, then on your third day of your cycle, have a full hormonal panel done. FSH, LH, Prolactin, and Estradiol. On your 21st day, have your progesterone levels checked. Make sure within that cycle you have a Fasting Insulin test done and a Blood Glucose test done. GET the results. This will give you a fairly clear picture of what is truly going on in your body and what you need to build up, and what you need to reduce. My guess is because you eat a LOT of rice and legumes, snack on a lot of rancid nuts, eat bread, and are eating hormone laden meat, you have at least secondary hypothyroidism with an estrogen dominance issue leading to PCOS type symptoms. But that is a lot of supposing on my end without those test results.

  10. Mina
    Mina says:

    I will try ,,thank you so much .And also I try to do more detox as im getting flashes these days which im on my 6th day of my there anything special with detoxing or just tossing all veggies like cabbages (salad ingredients)in the blender n make smoothie?
    we do use olive oil and grapeseed oil in cooking but as u suprisingly wrote its the same about cuisine which I cant take..Rice n bread with beans or veggies are the main.

    and meat n poultry also have become madly expensive here for every day usage.can nuts n dairy or egg or sesame puree(tahini but organic one) make a good combination along with vegetable soups or salad?

    • thedetoxdiva
      thedetoxdiva says:

      Eggs, vegetables, tahini (preferably freshly made), but I don’t see why you don’t just eat the vegetables instead of making a smoothie. You could do with the chewing action. For awhile I would just watch any starch. You can eat a TON of vegetables, salads, cooked veggies, a LITTLE rice won’t hurt but make sure you are using a good fat like olive, coconut oil, or butter!! Eat lots of eggs as your protein if you aren’t doing meat and avoid much of the bean dishes until you heal your gut.

  11. Mina
    Mina says:

    well,its becoz I dont crave for cold foods at all like salad. specialy a week before I get my period and the sourorange or lime juice in it drops my blood sugar..But I will try my best.

    I will for sure.Thank you so so much! OH butter is also fine?weve always been heared its a NO-NO!!
    But I will for sure follow ur rules…and be educating myself more and more about this field .
    Thanks a world for lighting up the candle for me.

  12. just me
    just me says:

    To me, the indication whether my diet is good is my skin – acne never fails to remind me what I am not supposed to eat (gluten is the worst ever). I cannot find and I cannot afford such high quality meat but I have found out that if I eat pork or beef my skin likes it. Rice is also ok in small doses.
    BTW, have you heard the theory about the link between meat consumption during childhood and height? It’s amazing how in some Asian countries the young generation is so much taller than the old people there who lacked good nutrition while they were growing up. So I think it’s irresponsible to force your child to be a vegan/vegetarian.

  13. Allie
    Allie says:

    Loved this post. After my breast cancer scare, I quit all animal protein..turned completely into juicing, vegetables and fruits..some nuts and seeds. I lost 10 pounds in less than a month, my skin and hair are great but I have no energy..again, eating every few hours (and not doing any strenous exercise). After my surgery, intuitively I knew I needed protein – especially for new tissue and muscles – I have now started to incorporate some wild fish once or twice a week, some free range, organic eggs and they have made a huge difference. The way, medicine is heading to be individualized (not two cancer patients with the same kind and staging react the same to the same treatment) there is more to a one size fits all approach — diets also should be individualized.

    Sad to hear you got hate mail for mentioning beef. You have provided such a great forum for people to learn and exchange different perspectives in a respectful way. You deserve credit but most of all respect for what you do!


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