10 Personal Food Rules That Contradict Conventional Wisdom

In my own experience and research, I have a number of peculiar notions that most people find odd. I’ve come to these through my own research, as well as my own experimentation. I have way more than 10, but here is a list of 10 that I pretty much adhere to most of the time.

These are personal – I’m betting on them. I might be wrong. I’m not in the advice business – I’m just sharing. I leave it to my readers to draw their own conclusions about these rules.

  1. Soy isn’t all that great for you. It mimics estrogen and can affect your thyroid, as well as prevent the absorption of minerals. I stay away from it except for fermented types like miso.
  2. Saturated fat won’t hurt you. For the past 7 years I have eaten quantities of saturated fat daily that equate to other people’s monthly intake. Last I had it checked, my cholesterol was slightly elevated – nothing my physician feels necessary to treat.
  3. Grains need to be considered very carefully. Depending on how they are produced, they can be either OK in moderation or just plain awful for you. It is also very hard to get a healthy loaf of bread because what make bread so great is also what makes it bad for you.
  4. Most foods with a label containing more than 8 ingredients, or added vitamins, or anything that sounds like a chemical name are probably worthless junk and not worth purchasing.
  5. You have no idea what is in your supplements, so you shouldn’t depend on them for nutrition.
  6. Avoid seed oils like corn oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil like the plague.
  7. Use olive oil but be sure that it is cold-pressed. When they start heating it up to try to extract the last few drops is when they ruin the product. Cooking with it at high heat does the same thing, so add it at the end to a dish that is cooked at a high heat.
  8. Buy direct from local farmers if it is at all possible. You have a much better shot of getting food with a higher count of nutrients as well as interesting varieties that can’t take the stress of a supermarket supply chain.
  9. Even seemingly ‘natural’ food are ‘tarted up’ with added ingredients. Some sour cream for example has gums and cornstarch to make it thicker. Look for versions with only the necessary ingredients.
  10. The jury is still out on GMOs. How many years did science believe margarine to be OK? I’d like to give GMOs the benefit of the doubt, and believe the proponents when they say that it’s the same as selective breeding, but there’s a difference between two beans sharing genetic material and a bean and a fish sharing genetic material – I’ll pass at present.
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11 thoughts on “10 Personal Food Rules That Contradict Conventional Wisdom

  1. I totally agree. Just wanted to let you know tho’ if you have a Trader Joes they have a yummy bread.It is Sprouted Rye.
    Oh BTW lost 3 1/2 LBS. this week. Maybe this is the year for me.

  2. I am asian by origin and have read a few book chapters, articles and papers lately about the negative impact of soy. I am still wondering whether this has to do with genetic differences between the west and the east. Both Japanese and Chinese practically live on soy (tofu in particular) though the Japanese have more fermented versions. Even such long term exposure did not cut down their longevity I suppose.
    I believe in your saturated fat wisdom as well, but what is your opinion if the diet is high in saturated fat but very low in both protein (<20g/day) and carbs (<20g/day)? Will saturated fat still be harmless?

    • I think you might be on to something, Irving. Descendants of European stock tend to have less lactose intolerance than many other races because they got used to milk and cheese. Many other races have a harder time with dairy. Perhaps Asians better tolerate some of the negative effects of soy because it’s been in their diet longer. I think Americans really began to add soy in their diets only in the 1980s.

      As to low carb AND low protein – I’m not sure about that – especially long term. My own working hypothesis for myself is that saturated fat is malabsorbed by the body when consumed with large amounts of carbs, but is OK when consumed with low carb veggies and protein. As protein and fat usually come in the same piece of meat, and I generally agree with the Paleo notion that ‘what we ate then is more or less what we should eat now’, I personally think reasonable amounts of protein are OK.

      Why would you want to go so low on the protein?

      • Thanks for the reply. I started my low carb diet (Atkin’s) 3 years ago in order to get a few kilos off but I stayed at induction too long so that my BMI dropped to 15. I am now around 16 and absolutely do not want to put on any extra weight. Starting from last year though, I think my body got used to all my tricks and unless I go low in both protein AND carbs, my weight will creep up. I must admit my body is not in an ideal condition and my metabolic level stay quite low. Cravings creep in all too often too. Do you have better advices? Are there other ways to boost energy levels without adding weight?

        • How’s your thyroid doing? Hypothyroidism *might* be a cause for a low metabolic rate. Maybe the trick is to go see a doctor. Use him as an advisor. My doc doesn’t entirely ‘get’ the low carb thing and probably considers my low carb lifestyle as somewhat eccentric, but he does try to be helpful and will run certain tests for me if I ask him and provide a good reason.

  3. Very interesting. Since I have been working on a low carb diet, I have noticed that I don’t eat any pre-processed food anymore and I feel better. One of my new rules is, when you go to the grocery store you should only visit the perimeter of the store. This means I visit the fresh produce, fresh meat, fish counter, and dairy sections located on the perimeter of the store. I never venture into the isles in the center of the store.

    • It’s a great rule of thumb, Arthur. I’ve been doing low carb for more than 7 years and when I go into those center aisles and look at the stuff, it’s like I’m going to another culture.

      ‘People eat this crap?’

  4. I agree with all of your “rules” and try to practice them myself. We do eat edamame and miso. I also think Nourishing Traditions and Weston Price are on to something in regards to saturated fats and grains. In particular, they argue that grains are healthy depending on how they are prepared – like soaking oatmeal overnight.

    • I *love* edamame – I just don’t have it too often. I also have tofu on occasion – I like it – it’s just not a regular part of my diet. I avoid most other packaged soy products, though *fermented* soy like miso is a whole other matter. What I’ve heard was that the fermentation process reduces the negative effects and makes it healthier.

      I read a good part of ‘Nourishing Traditions’ and thought it a fascinating book – especially the sidebars throughout the book. I want to pick up a personal copy – I had borrowed it from the library. I think some of their recipes are somewhat ‘out there’, but I liked it enough to want my own copy.

      • Yeah, I can’t say I like too many of the Nourishing Tradition recipes – I just like the information and the website is pretty useful too. Not only are some of the recipes too weird for my taste, most have a lot of ingredients and/or hard to find ingredients. But the book does inspire me to go “more traditional”.

  5. i find i agree with most of these.

    wrt soy in my own eating i find what i call “traditional” soy ok — by this i mean edamame, tofu, fermented soy products like miso, tempeh, etc. i avoid like the plague western soy products like fake meats, soy cheese, soy chips etc. i also skip soy sauce because it has wheat

    wrt seed oils, i do use sesame oil.

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