Nutrition can be controversial, and it is akin to a religion when you gather a room full of so-called experts with their “research-based” ideologies.

Each representative of each philosophy of eating will argue their way is the best and anything outside of their way is detrimental to health and longevity. Below are some of my thoughts that are connected to nutrition-based controversies.

Is it of value to follow a set way of eating?

Most people do benefit from a set way of eating, but the way of eating needs to be balanced and have an emphasis on nourishment. Moderation is a very vague term for most people and is interpreted in multiple ways. While rigidity leads to emotional turmoil and stress.

Chaotic and erratic eating patterns can be harmful as well. Thus, it is imperative to have a basic sense of what you consider foods that promote health and wellness and foods that lead to disease and illness, and then act accordingly.

Other components of a set way of eating would include eating for pleasure, practicing flexibility with choices, and eating for cultural and social purposes as traits of a healthy and well-balanced life.

How do diets divide us?

We are a very opinionated species and hold on to these ideologies as a means of creating our identity, connecting with some people, and separating us from others. Whether it is how we eat, whom we decide to either worship or not worship, whom we elect as our government officials, or what school we choose for our children, division is an inevitable part of our human condition.

Several features go into the division that occurs when people consider their diets. First, many people have set ways of eating based on religious or cultural beliefs. Therefore, when the way of eating is challenged for someone with these beliefs, not only is his/her eating choices being challenged but his/her belief systems are being tested as well.

Second, numerous people choose to eat due to convictions related to environmental issues and conservation of humanity. Thus, you often see irate vegan or vegetarian extremists (i.e., Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)) hurting humans, the notorious throwing of red paint on fur coats, and defacing public property in the name of protecting animals.

The extremists of every group, whether religious, political or philosophical, can harm the mission of the group and create more division through their divisive actions. Even the less extreme can create division, whether they are vegetarian or carnivore, if they are too presumptuous when promoting their way of eating.

Finally, division occurs when people simply have the mentality of, “what works for me should work for everyone else.” This closed-minded approach is very offsetting to most people and definitely creates dissention.

Can we be “possibilitarians”?

The idea of possibilitarian was introduced to me in graduate school, and it really resonated with me. To be a possibilitarian is to be open to the idea that not everyone has the same nutrient needs and preferences as you.

Also, it implies you are willing and open to trying new food experiences for yourself and your loved ones. Several people must work within a more limited framework due to allergies, food intolerances, health complications, etc. Consequently, they can still be possibilitarians, but must do so within the framework of what works for them.

Acknowledging your limitations and embracing your possibilities is the essence of living the life of a possibilitarian.

How about you? Do you feel like people should follow a specific diet or is it possible to be a possibilitarian? Post below!