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The Dogma Of Diet | Community Spirit

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The Dogma Of Diet

My experience with natural food diets has shown there are two primary reasons people have for choosing one of the many types available.  

The first reason is public exposure of the intolerable and abusive treatment of factory-farmed animals, along with the chemical processing of these products and their resulting in poor quality.  One would be hard-pressed to argue in favor of the negative effects on one's health from consuming to much processed and refined foods laden with preservatives.  However, these facts can also be misconstrued to mean that any and all farmed animal products are detrimental to health.  

Many vegetarian crusaders, intent on the elimination of the atrocious practices involved in raising factory-farmed animals, are either blinded by their cause or simply unaware of traditional methods used to raise animals for food and of the important role naturally raised animal products have played in a healthy traditional diet for many thousands of years.  This one-sided perspective has led to many extremist reactions against the human consumption of any and all animal products.

While this point of view is prevalent in many natural diet philosophies, it is most evident in the plant-based raw foods groups (there are animal-based raw food groups as well) and the vegan groups.  Ironically, it is within the vegan groups that we find the most extensive use of imitation animal products made from highly processed soy, fungi, and other ingredients.  

The second common reason for choosing a natural diet and lifestyle is as a way to define one's personal identity.  Human beings have a long history of identifying strongly with a wide variety of lifestyles.  Religions, professions, and other cultural factors have long offered ways in which we can develop identities to which we can "belong" and with which we can label ourselves and others.  Identifying with a particular diet group, even becoming a proud model for and example of what it represents, is a common path to distinction in today's world.  

For many, the need to be part of a group with high ideals is very important; many diet groups offer unique combinations of philosophies and lifestyles.  The foods that make up a particular diet are often used to feed the identity of an individual.  At the same time, those foods prohibited by the diet are often the ones that end up actually defining the individual.  

Even if diet groups with leanings toward moral, spiritual, or philosophical agendas are your thing, you still need to examine whether or not you are thriving while nourishing yourself with your chosen approach.  It's easy to find support in subculture diet groups such as raw foods, vegan, macrobiotic, and others, but it is just as easy to lose this support if you question or challenge leadership or the basic dictates of the regime, or if you stray from the path.  Intolerance of dissension, criticism, and even persecution are common within such groups.  Knowing this in advance can be helpful for those exploring new paths to health with diet groups.

Another vitally important thing to know about diet groups is that when health issues arise, whether concerning oneself or others, it is essential to search for consistencies within the group before accepting stock answers from experienced group leaders.  Nutritional deficiencies are common in natural diet groups and can manifest as hypothyroidism, loss of libido, loss of menstruation, premature aging, premature hair-loss, arthritis, extreme weight loss or gain, and more.

It is not uncommon for nutritional deficiencies to be addressed (or dismissed) as a "cleansing experience," a "period of adjustment to the new diet" or as a reaction caused by "straying from the diet."  Some true, some complete propoganda.  It is even not uncommon for such predicaments to be criticized as being symptomatic of the individuals adherent's ineptitude or lack of understanding.  While some of these assertions can be true to some extent, if several cases of similar deficiencies show up among other followers in the group, it is important to consider making improvements and changes to your diet.  

In fact, it makes most sense to look for these problems first, before diving headfirst into something that could cause more problems than what you began with.  Look first at the children, as they tend to be the first to be adversely affected by nutritional problems.  Be cautious, stay grounded, and remember that while there can be many health benefits and much to learn from diet groups, your safest approach will be one where you seek out the rational and traditional aspects of the diet and avoid the extremes.  

Take care.