When low-carbers begin following the low-carb lifestyle, they start to feel free. Free of the hunger that forces them to eat every few hours even though they are morbidly obese. Free of enslavement to particular foods that they have never been able to resist. And after a while, free of many, many pounds of fat that they have been hauling around everywhere, all the time.
Low-carbing is an odd way to eat, but the freedom makes it worth the trouble of figuring out a new way to shop and a new way to eat out in restaurants. There are many low-carb bulletin boards and blogs for support. There is more and more scientific evidence demonstrating the superiority of low-carbing in the control of diabetes and heart disease and its efficacy in weight loss as well. The recent appearance of the paleolithic approach to low-carbing has given a common-sense aspect to the low-carb lifestyle. When observers object to low-carb food choices, low-carbers can point out that this is the way humans have eaten for millennia. It's only recently that humans began to eat lots of refined carbohydrates, and with that change in diet, perhaps not coincidentally, humans also began to experience the diseases of Western civilization.
So far, so good. But as I look back on my recent blogposts and those of other bloggers, I have started to notice a more rigid, regimented (shall we say Nazi-like?) aspect to the world of low-carbing. Some examples:
- It's good to eat fat, but be sure the fat has the right omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.
- It's good to eat nonstarchy vegetables, but remember that broccoli has goitrogens and tomatoes are nightshades. And wheat, even whole wheat, contains many compounds that can damage the human digestive tract.
- It's good to eat meat, but it should be grass fed, not grain fed.
- It's good to eat eggs and chicken, but they need to be free range.
- It's good to eat seafood, but watch out for the mercury.
- It's good to avoid sugar, but it's better to avoid artificial sweeteners as well.
In the last couple of days I've noticed one low-carber who seems to be on the edge of dropping out because of the difficulty of following all the extra rules all at once. Another works 60 hours a week and is not sure he has the time required to be sure all his food meets the higher standards for healthy low-carb eating. A third concern is that, although low-carb foods tend to cost more than the Standard American Diet, the more strict versions of low-carbing become prohibitively expensive for people on a limited budget.
Low-carbing is literally a lifesaver for people who are on their way to diabetes, heart disease, and morbid obesity. Some people have additional health issues, and it is fine to refine the low-carb lifestyle to help address those needs.
However, it's important for low-carbers to remember that we don't need to sacrifice the good for the sake of the perfect. For those who are new to the low-carb lifestyle, or for those who don't have the concentration, the time or the money to pursue all the ins and outs of healthy eating, can I make a plea for mercy?
Let's not become low-carb food Nazis. Low-carbing is a gift. Please let people enjoy the freedom it provides. If they want to add additional aspects to it, fine. If not, we can rejoice that they are at least doing something that will significantly improve the quality of their lives. With that knowledge, we can follow our own set of dietary rules while giving other low-carbers the freedom to choose what additional modifications they will or will not follow.