Human beings are omnivores, which means that (in theory) we can eat just about anything we want! So why do we want to stick to one thing? Why do some people become emphatic about forgoing all animal products while others recommend bacon for every meal? Why do some folks claim raw food is the only way to go, while ancient healing practices, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, place a heavy emphasis on cooking?
The fact of the matter is we were meant to eat in all sorts of ways. We absolutely should be vegans, but also carnivores. We should eat our food raw, but also cooked. Why take the extremist route and focus on eating one way?
The fact of the matter is, you need to eat different ways at different times. So let’s take a look at which eating styles will benefit you best and when!
You need to eat differently than anyone else.
Remember that whole "one person's food is another person's poison" business? You have a completely different biochemical makeup than anyone else, which means your body metabolizes and oxidizes food in a unique way. In Ayurveda, a person's ability to digest and assimilate raw or cooked food, vegan or animal protein sources depends highly on that individual’s constitution, or dosha. Those with pitta characteristics (fast oxidizers) should emphasize a diet focused on more animal proteins and less carbohydrates. Those with vata or kapha characteristics (slow oxidizers) would do best on a diet focused on more carbohydrates and less animal proteins.
Our own bio-individuality is what makes some thrive on a paleo diet, while others flourish on a vegan plan. Many more need a little of both.
Eat less meat: If you are a vata or kapha type
Eat more meat: If you are a pitta type
Eat more raw foods: If you are a pitta or kapha type
Eat more cooked foods: If you are a vata type
You need to eat differently during different phases of your menstrual cycle
Hormones and biological factors cause a woman’s needs to differ from week to week depending on where she is in her menstrual cycle. Iron deficiencies during menstruation mean women’s bodies need more animal protein sources and warm cooked vegetables leading up to and during menstruation, while the weeks during and surrounding ovulation require lighter, more raw meals with fewer animal proteins.
Eat less meat: During your follicular and ovulatory phases
Eat more meat: During your luteal and menstrual phases
Eat more raw foods: During your follicular and ovulatory phases
Eat more cooked foods: During your luteal and menstrual phases
You need to eat differently during different seasons of the year
Have you ever felt you just couldn’t get warm no matter how hard you tried? Are you eating salads? Tropical fruits? Coconut oil? Of course you'll freeze if you eat like you live in Costa Rica but reside in New York. During the cold, dry winter months your body needs more fat, more animal proteins and more cooked foods in order to achieve equilibrium. Similarly, spring and summer require cleansing raw vegetables and don't need as much protein to balance out the warmth and humidity.
Eat less meat: During spring and summer
Eat more meat: During fall and winter
Eat more raw foods: During spring and summer
Eat more cooked foods: During fall and winter
You need to eat differently during different phases of your life.
Finally, your age is a major factor when it comes to which foods are best suited to your needs. Ever noticed that you have different needs now than you did 10 years ago? Your body is constantly changing and needs fine-tuning as we age. Infants require easy-to-digest foods that are cooked and pureed, while adults generally need more animal protein to protect the cellulose in our bones and the strength and stamina of our muscles.
Eat less meat: During infancy, childhood, 20s-30s
Eat more meat: During adolescence, 30s, 40s and beyond
Eat more raw foods: During adolescence through your 20s- 30s
Eat more cooked foods: During infancy, childhood, 30s, 40s and beyond
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Your body is a complex organism and needs different love and care depending on how nourished (and deficient) your surroundings are. You'll have different needs depending on where you live, where your ancestors are from, which health scenario you find yourself in, and what inclement weather you might be experiencing. No matter what, diversity is key in order to get all those nutrients your body so desperately craves. Listen to your body and find out what works best for you!