July 27, 2001 (Ira Pilgrim)
The "goodness" or "badness" of anything as complex as dietary fat and its subtypes will ultimately depend on the context of the individual.
All diets but one are based on theory rather than fact. The Pritikin and Atkins diets are based on the theories of those two diet gurus. Various forms of vegetarianism and other food fads are based on someone's theory about what the body needs and what is bad for the body. Only the Pilgrim diet is based on fact.
What is the fact that it is based on? It is that your own body knows what it needs and that it will take what it needs from the food that you eat and drink. It is also exquisitely skilled at removing waste. All of the scientists in the world can't even come close to knowing what your own body knows. Maybe they will some day, but they are far away from it now.
In an article in the March, 2001 issue of Science(vol291, p.2536-2543) Gary A. Taubes introduces it with, " Mainstream nutritional science has demonized dietary fat, yet 50 years and hundreds of millions of dollars of research have failed to prove that eating a low-fat diet will help you live longer." He documents this statement very well. In a book and web site (The Cholesterol Myths), Uffe Ravnskov debunks the theory that eating food containing fat or cholesterol is bad for you. Is margarine better for you than butter? Probably not, and butter tastes better. Over an immense amount of time, the process of mutation and selection has functioned to adapt your body to whatever the predominant diet was for your ancestors. People differ in their needs. People whose descendants came from West Africa would be expected to have different food requirements than people whose ancestors came from middle Europe or the arctic. In several more millennia, your ancestors might well be adapted to a different diet (hamburgers and fries?).
So what should someone on the Pilgrim diet eat? Everything! Give your own body a wide variety of nutrients to choose from and let it do its job. And it knows what to do; make no mistake about it.
Don't overload your body with large doses of vitamins or other things. Even excellent foods like cabbage or broccoli, if eaten to excess, can turn off your thyroid gland. Who knows what other foods can do when taken in excess?
Unless you are engaged in constant very strenuous activity, like the old time lumberjacks were, there is no need to overdo it. A gigantic steak probably won't do you much more good than a moderate sized one or a small one. How do you know if you are eating too much? Simple! Take of your clothes and stand in front of a full length mirror. It will be obvious.
And last, but not least, pleasure and happiness are good for you. Enjoy what you eat. Take your time and relish every mouthful, if you can. Nobody can enjoy gourmet cooking all of the time, but when you can get it, don't pass it up. I find that I can't enjoy food when I am ravenously hungry, so I try not to get ravenously hungry. When I am hungry I eat something even if it isn't dinner time. I don't pretend that the way that I do things is the correct way. There is no correct way. The way that you do it is fine for you even though it may not be okay for me. Some people thrive on food loaded with chili peppers It gives me heartburn, so I avoid too much of it. Some people are allergic to certain foods, so they avoid them; and they should.
Pay attention to what your own body tells you and turn off the people who think that they know better than your own body does about what you should eat. In order to give your body what it needs, remember that variety is the spice of life. And spices make food taste good. As a philosopher once said; everything is good in moderation, even moderation. Last but not least, take everything with a grain of salt.
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