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Week 30 on my Facebook journey, week 2 of my diet

I've heard comparisons between vegetarians (and their ilk) and religious proselytizers, so I'm a bit reluctant to revisit the topic one week later. I shall because I've learned "What the Health?" has stirred up water cooler conversations and social media blowback, much of the latter based on sheer emotion and other unhelpful energies. More rationally, one meat-promoting expert tackled how the many dozens of studies cited in the documentary didn't show causation (proof) only correlation. This is true, but that's still evidence, the best we have for now. Nutrition, with its hundreds of variables, has proven a tough science as my extensive follow up then reinforced. Hopefully we'll finance more rigorous studies sans the influence of the food industries. That though may take lobbying reform to accomplish. *sigh* Chiffon V Neck Short Sleeve Plus Size Wedding Dress

So what have I learned?
-Meat is fine if it isn't raw (duh), isn't charred (cancer!), isn't red (many reasons), isn't white (similar to red, but better PR), both is and isn't fatty (awkward...), most certainly isn't processed (can't emphasize enough) and isn't even meat (more reasons). Plus, meat taxes the environment exponentially more than other foods.
-Seafood, for Omega-3s, is superlative unless processed, salted, overfished, or it comes from the sea because that's where too many pollutants collect.
-Vegetables are fine if unfrozen, uncooked, unprocessed, unsweetened (and unsweet), washed, and generally weed-like. Yum.
-Fruits are fine unless you like them too much, then no. Dried fruits are and aren't bad and processed fruits are a death knell.
-Grains are a gory mess of information vs. counter-information depending on how one focuses on them. Plus they vary too much for generalizing statements, except when processed. Then they'll kill you.
-Alcohol is terribly caloric & dangerous, except one drink now and then is healthy, unless it's not your daily red wine which is recommended, even required, except when discouraged.
Makes sense.
-Dairy should be nonfat to avoid clogging arteries and whole fat to appease one's appetite. And should be avoided, but drank every day. Ditch the lactose, especially the further from Europe your genes originate. Processed dairy, i.e. cheese, = death.

In a nutshell, processed foods undermine health the most, especially re: sugar & meat, two mainstays of the U.S. diet. The bugaboo of the term "processed foods" seems less to do with food going through a process (heck, cooking & seasoning are processes) and more to due with the horrible processes industry puts our foods through. Those usually involve unhealthy additives that improve the foods' market value, a.k.a. our enjoyment or convenience, much to our detriment.

As with all topics, keeping the discussion focused on obstacles and lost treasures rather than paths and opportunities is of mediocre aid. Since all foods go through some degree of processing, it hurts morale if us hungry folk can't visualize the complex and controversial map. Luckily in all the hullabaloo I did find respite, some havens with nearly universal agreement:
-Fresh kale, spinach, broccoli, watercress, and quinoa (my fave superfood) cover vitamins excellently.
-Have leafy greens and a panorama of colorful veggies as base.
-Avocados, almonds, & cashews are healthy protein sources.
-Tomatoes, peppers, and many berries are nutritious & flavorful.
-Fruits are fine if you respect their sugar content.
-Also flavorful, spices. Much flavor with few flaws. Many spicy dishes require no heavily processed foods.
-Pumpkin seeds for serotonin.
-If you shun seafood, eat flax seed for Omega-3s.
-If you avoid meat, have a vitamin B12 source.
-If you shun vegetables, you're screwed. Seriously.

Of note, there's a lot of leeway corresponding to the resilience of our bodies and our personal exercise habits. This means most anything goes if done in moderation and if you're healthy & active to begin with. It becomes a matter of how healthy do you want (or in my case, need) your baseline? The most proven nutritional truth is that a diet with lots of fruits and veggies (6+ per day) leads to huge health benefits across the board.
So get shopping. A lot & often.
Cheers, JMK