I had a recent “spirited debate” about my diet with a friend, and by “my diet” I mean the Phase III nutrition plan of the DDP Yoga guide. The debate centred around whether or not the food combining is a fad diet, or has some basis in science.
The argument for it being a “fad” is pretty straight forward. The gluten-free, dairy-free and food-combination rules create the same temporary calorie restriction in a similar fashion to the low-carb, low-fat, only eat foods of a certain colour, only eat foods while standing on one foot, or any of the other fad diets you’ve heard about. However, there’s a little more to it than that.
When you think about what we’re meant to be eating, you need to look back to our caveman ancestor, or one branch over on the evolutionary tree to the chimp or the bonobo. The first think you’ll notice is that none of their food comes in packaging, nor is it delivered to them by a waitress; your food shouldn’t be either. Start in the produce aisle and buy whole foods.
The next thing you’ll notice is that their food is not laden with chemical pesticides or fertilisers, or any of the other other zany additives that are in our food-like substances these days. When our cave-dwelling great, great, great…. great-grandparents prepped their food, they did not use two-hundred and forty-something ingredients. Neither should you!
“But Ms. lizDDPyoga,” you say, “it sounds an awful lot like you are promoting the Paleo diet?” Well, yes and no. The Paleo diet has the best of intentions when it comes to eating cleanly and healthily, though I think the DDP Yoga nutrition plan is better for a number of reasons, some of which I will get into here, and offers a stepwise approach that allows you to ease in and avoid getting overwhelmed. The issue I have with the Paleo diet is that it wildly overestimates how much meat our ancestors had access to, or how healthy large amounts of animal products are in the human diet. If you look at our chimp or bonobo cousins’ diets, you find that they are largely vegan. While they do eat some meat, it constitutes less than 1% of their diet, and, if you want to be a fanatical Paleo dieter, you should know that a lot of their animal protein comes from termites, yummy! That said, if you absolutely, positively, cannot or will not go vegan or vegetarian, the Paleo diet is infinitely healthier than the typical western diet, so in that respect I am promoting the Paleo diet.
However, the DDP Yoga diet has some benefits that the Paleo diet lacks. First, as I mentioned above, it has three distinct phases that comprise logical steps to transition from the typical US diet to the healthy DDP Yoga diet. It also contains a lot of wiggle-room to make it your own. For instance, while it does not promote veganism, it is compatible with a vegan diet, or any other restriction you may have in your eating.
Second, and in my mind most importantly, the thing that sets the DDP Yoga diet apart is the food combining phase. The phrase “combining” is a little bit of a misnomer here. We already combine the foods; the DDP Yoga plan asks us to stop! Again, this may strike you as a little “faddy”. But think back to our ancestors again. Mrs. Cavewoman probably wasn’t combing home with a bushel of apples, sticking them in her cave fruit bowl, going back out to get some lettuce and celery, bringing them home, sticking them in her cave fridge’s crisper, and then hopping into the car to get some eggs. The apples would have rotted, or been stolen by the time she got the eggs. Instead, she probably ate the apples the second she picked them. They were probably long digested by the time she found her celery or proteins.
You may also think, “who the heck cares what Mr. and Mrs. Caveman ate?” The reason it matters, and therefore the reason the DDP Yoga nutrition plan is grounded in reality, is that our digestive system evolved around the availability of food, and eating habits of our ancestors. We were not built to have dozens of ingredients, or different types of foods flooding our digestive system at once. We were built to eat simple, whole foods, and to eat certain foods separately.
Certainly, there is a balance to be struck here, and these food philosophies can very be taken to extremes. But I highly recommend at least trying as many features of the DDP Yoga nutrition plan as you can. You’ll be surprised how great it feels to be healthy!