Plant-based, or vegan, or paleo, or flexitarian, or VB6, or. . .
Nutrition advice is, by and large, confusing. The recommendations vary widely depending on the source, and there are frequent studies on micro-aspects of diet, like particular micronutrients. There are always competing interests going on (we all know government guidelines aren’t free from industry influence, and often others are also selling supplements, books. . .) There is too much information and not enough context to evaluate it. It would be a full-time job for a team of PhDs. On top of that, it’s tempting to believe advice that tells us what we want to hear (red wine and coffee are good for you!), and to focus on these small things when we think about our diets.
So, it’s not your fault you are confused and maybe not making great choices always. BUT, the simple thing to do is, stop listening to the chatter. There’s no magic bullet, there’s no quick fix, there’s not one easy thing you can do to be skinny and live to 100. Ignore the headlines that were written to sell magazines. Ignore the click-bait.
So, here’s the most basic advice: Eat whole foods, and as much as possible from plants. That’s it. As a rule of thumb, the more basic advice is, the better.
Every successful dietary strategy that’s been shown to be associated with good health over long periods of time falls within this umbrella. It doesn’t require a lot of specifics, you can eat things you like depending on your tastes, you can be flexible rather than bound by rigid rules. There’s no dogma. There aren’t factions. There’s no deprivation.
It’s what I try to do in my life, and it works. I think about what I’m eating. I cook. I try to choose things that are close to how they grew. I very, very rarely eat meat, and I don’t eat other animal products as part of my regular routine (though I do eat them when I want to– I eat pizza with cheese, I have an occasional egg). I cook vegan meals probably 70% of the time. If I’m going out, or I’m at someone’s house, or I’m traveling, I eat what I can to feel good, but I never let it run my life. I eat fruits and veggies at every meal. And, (this is key!) I don’t obsess.
Are there tweaks that you could make for your particular goals and preferences? Of course! If you feel better focusing on cutting out some particular food, fine. If you’re an athlete and you perform better when extra something-or-other, do it! That’s the beauty– this isn’t a rule, it’s a philosophy. There’s room for all of us.