I think it’s time for us to talk about
the diet myth. The diet myth is a pervasive myth, and it’s one that I
fell into for a very, very long time, until I learned a few things that I’d
like to share with your right now. The first is that the word “diet” is
unique in our use for humans. This is what I mean. You see,
animals in the wild have a diet. Humans go on diets. This may seem
like a small change of semantics, but I want to really get into it with you
here for minute, because it’s important. You see, the original meaning of the word
“diet,” the old Greek and Latin words, what they meant were lifestyle.
So diet was something that someone had as a lifestyle. It was not a temporary
alteration to their eating patterns in order to fit into that outfit for a
specific event. It was not a temporary change to their normal habits.
A diet was something that they lived into and lived through. Now,
we’ve taken that word and we’ve changed it, and that causes all
kinds of problems. Like I said, every animal in the world has
a diet. Elephants have a diet. Cheetahs have a diet.
Leaf-cutter ants have a diet. Mosquitoes have a diet, don’t they?
Think about it. Like an elephant’s diet is eat 200 kilograms of grass and fruit
and bark and that sort of thing, and drink about 70 liters of water every
day. That’s their diet. If they’re on it, they’re more healthy. If they’re off it,
they’re not. If you look at something like the cheetah, you’ll find that the
cheetah’s diet is to eat about 2.5 kilograms of fresh meat every day.
Their diet is so specific that they won’t even eat meat off an animal that’s
already dead, say, like a hyena will do. Their diet is quite specific.
And the leaf-cutter ant’s diet is not leaves, you might be surprised.
What they do is they go off into the jungle and they collect up leaves and they
bring them back to their home and then they use those leaves to farm
fungus, because they’re fungivores, they eat fungus. What I’m trying to say
here is that every species on Earth has a diet, and we are no exception.
We have a diet. And yes, there are some subtle differences between
people’s metabolism systems and men and women and that sort of stuff,
but here’s what we’re really wanting to say, right, everybody needs
vitamin C. Everybody needs calcium. Everybody needs iron.
Everybody needs certain fats. Everybody needs certain proteins.
Our needs are consistent across the species. We might want to
make subtle changes within those needs, but our needs are consistent across the
species. And so when someone fools us into or manipulates us into going into a
temporary diet, what they’re really doing is asking us to create imbalance.
Most diets work on the basis of creating imbalance. For example,
somebody goes on a diet and then they eat less food and they start to starve
themselves. How long is that going to work? For some people, a day or two;
for some people, a week or two; for some people, a month or two;
but in almost every case, they’ll end up slingshotting back and
putting the weight back on plus some. Other diets rely on creating imbalance
through focusing on a particular food, a particular food that may well stimulate
weight loss, but that particular single food does not meet the full spectrum
of nutritional requirements that a human needs. And so the diet works
for a period of time, until eventually, the body is screaming for the missing
nutrients and that triggers cravings, which then go out to create a problem.
And that problem is the yo-yo diet. What I want to be very clear about is we
are now in an age that it is time to move beyond the diet. And we’re in an age
where it needs to happen quickly. Look, these days, there’s all this
political debate about universal health care and how it should be funded and
should the government be involved. I want to be really clear with you.
We do not, in the developed world, have a health care crisis.
We have a self-care crisis. What does this mean? Look, are
you going to eat better so you can live forever? No, but what about
your quality of life right now? Would you like more energy on a day-to-day
basis? Would you like your memory to work better? Would you like to sleep
better? Would you like to have a more powerful sex drive? Would you like
to have more energy in the afternoon, when everybody else is getting tired?
Would you like to be healthy more often? And how about this? This is kind
of sad but really think this through. A hundred years ago, cancer
and heart disease weren’t even near the top 10 killers in the western
world. And today, they count for 66% of death, 66%. One in three people that
you know, unless they start making some lifestyle change, one in three people
that you know are going to die from heart disease, and another one in
three, from cancer. This is not something to put off until next year. This
is not something to put off until tomorrow. This is something to think
about now. So what does that mean? It means starting to get rational.
It means starting to get knowledgeable. It means starting to take steps
toward improving your diet. And that does not mean worrying
about cutting out all kinds of things. It means worrying about getting your needs
met. You see, your health is far more determined by getting your nutritional
needs met then by removing the toxins. When you’re really well-nourished,
your body has a tremendous capacity for cleansing itself of toxins and
when you’re really well-nourished, your body doesn’t crave a lot of
those nonfunctional foods anymore. And so the steps that we need to take
right now dramatically increase your intake and your quality and quantity
and variety of fruits and vegetables. Fruits, maybe a little more rarely;
vegetables, in an unrestricted way whenever you can. Get high-quality
proteins from the best possible sources you can. Make sure you’re drinking lots
and lots of water. It’s the only thing you need to drink. And if you want to have
a little bit of herbal teas, go for it. Once you’ve achieved all of that,
you might find that you change your relationship with some of the less
functional foods. That’s fine, if it happens. It’s not the most important
thing. The most important thing is that you get what you need to be healthy.