15

votes

How do you respond to people who say, "Just eat a balanced diet!"

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 21, 2011 at 3:34 AM

When the conversation turns to food, dieting and health, at some point someone in the group will inevitably utter the maddening phrase, "Just eat a balanced diet!" It's maddening because they're not wrong, and yet what they consider to be balanced is more than likely anything but. I usually respond by making a lame joke: "'Balanced' as in 'a cupcake in one hand and a donut in the other'?" [guffaw] Anyhow, how do you guys usually respond?

6714718e2245e5190017d643a7614157

on April 11, 2012
at 01:33 AM

But, is your Draino grass fed???

B0454de6d4f4cdd9ca2e59021dc105bf

(606)

on June 23, 2011
at 05:15 AM

Nice one. "Everything in moderation" is a close cousin of "JEABD". Grrrr!

B0454de6d4f4cdd9ca2e59021dc105bf

(606)

on June 22, 2011
at 02:07 PM

LC does indeed get people bent out of shape, Matt, in my experience, but I'm with you on white bread buns. I factor in a few meals a week for those situations where I know I'm not going to be able to avoid grains, starch, sugar. Just the other day I had a sausage McMuffin and loved every bite of it.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on June 22, 2011
at 01:49 PM

I don't think low-carb gets folks bent out of shape all that much. There's loads of diets out there that focus on low or lower carb levels. That's sort of mainstream. What I think people think is unreasonable is the complete phobia of some foods. I myself make efforts to avoid grains in my own kitchen, but when I'm out eating elsewhere with other folks, I'm not going to have a meltdown or go on a hunger strike because somebody brings me a burger with a white bread bun.

61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on June 22, 2011
at 01:47 PM

One restaurant I frequent often, Outback Steakhouse, used to cook their green beans in butter with just a little seasoning on top. Now they cook them in some kind of oil and coat them with seasoning. I wonder if they add so much more seasoning because they know the oil is disgusting? I really miss the butter...8(

61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on June 22, 2011
at 01:45 PM

Yes! Very good way to say it! 8)

B0454de6d4f4cdd9ca2e59021dc105bf

(606)

on June 22, 2011
at 01:36 PM

Matt, actually I hear it a lot whenever low carb comes up. If you think low carb is unreasonable, abnormal or extremist then I guess you're one of those "maddening people". But, hey, if that's the case, no hard feelings. I genuinely appreciate your comment :)

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on June 22, 2011
at 09:49 AM

Erk, nutritional subjectivism...

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on June 22, 2011
at 06:57 AM

Extensive research and analysis would have to be done - are you up to it?

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on June 22, 2011
at 03:42 AM

That's exactly what "balanced" should mean, if the USDA and Dieticians weren't so useless they would, as the ultimate authorities they are, come up with decent reasons why what they call "balanced" conforms to that most useful definition. In the meantime I'll be doing something similar to Perfect Health Diet where they do give good reasons for why their diet is optimal and balanced, at least until someone makes better arguments for each point.

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on June 22, 2011
at 02:38 AM

Actually I tell them I'm prediabetic - that covers just about everything except fake food (preservatives, artificial sweeteners etc). Besides - I suspect it was even true a little bit.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on June 21, 2011
at 09:22 PM

I like the thick gel kind. Digests more slowly for a more lasting sense of fullness.

95eda9fa0cec952b482e869c34a566b6

on June 21, 2011
at 08:21 PM

Do you prefer the extra or regular strength Draino? ;-)

95eda9fa0cec952b482e869c34a566b6

on June 21, 2011
at 08:20 PM

I also like that response and I'm going to use it!

60c061f4b024f9ac421b27bf93b40ebe

(220)

on June 21, 2011
at 05:56 PM

What a great response! It's polite but clear and it ends the debate. I'm going to steal it.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on June 21, 2011
at 05:48 PM

Omg, I never looked at it like that before. We could chart new territory for health-seekers.

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on June 21, 2011
at 05:11 PM

I mean, you need the 'bad' (Cocaine) to balance the 'good' (Hookers) :-)

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on June 21, 2011
at 04:02 PM

I don't care if it's bad for me, I want to know how much until I'm "balanced".

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on June 21, 2011
at 03:56 PM

Cocaine is bad for you

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on June 21, 2011
at 03:55 PM

Here "balanced" also means "all those details make my head hurt. Stop trying to make me think."

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on June 21, 2011
at 03:37 PM

Wow; I'm in agreement for a change. ;). Yes, I think the ideal, varied, "balanced" paleo diet ought to work beautifully in an optimal, uncompromised body. Those of us with several generations of obese and otherwise ill ancestors, though, and whose bodies have come up with new challenges in addition to those, may find ourselves eating a more "extreme," or at least less varied, diet in order to have any kind of decent life at all.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on June 21, 2011
at 02:48 PM

Dave S., I propose self-experimentation. ;)

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on June 21, 2011
at 02:34 PM

A diet being "balanced" or not can't have anything to do with being a "dogmatic dietary extremist who talks... [of] omega ratios, antinutrients and WWGD" - a diet being balanced is by definition about the content of the diet. The real implication of "just eat a balanced diet" is that a) it's obvious what the best 'balance' is and b) your diet is unbalanced. This is obviously circular though- the person appealing for "balance" assumes that balance involves 50%+ carbs and multiple portions of whole grain, when you might as well think that balance = 33% carbs/fat/protein or 50%+ fat.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on June 21, 2011
at 12:49 PM

I go with "I'm diabetic" (true). Tends to backfire on me when they see me sneaking a cookie. I can't help but to chastise the folks at the "Healthy Nutrition" table outside the company cafeteria, when they're pushing the USDA food plate brochures. I mean, they're asking for it!

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on June 21, 2011
at 12:44 PM

Indeed. By the way, what is a balanced amount of hookers and cocaine? Inquiring minds want to know...

B61f6513a155cd874b42efdad55312f6

(231)

on June 21, 2011
at 11:59 AM

I've had people say it to me. When they ask what I eat, they're appalled by the reduced carbs and absence of dairy/grains. Even though my health is evidence they still seem to believe their opinion correct. They say 'just eat balanced', or 'everyone is different'.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 21, 2011
at 07:58 AM

"there really are better and worse ways to eat" - but the judgment as to which is which is ultimately hinges upon personal definition of 'value': someone may say: "i want this cake, and i don't care about consequences - even if that means becoming diabetic"

Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

17 Answers

24
Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on June 21, 2011
at 05:26 AM

"Balanced diet" is a truism - it says absolutely nothing of value. Of course we want to be balanced. Too much or too little of something is bad by definition. This tells us nothing about what constitutes balance. What is a balanced amount of trans fats? Or sugar? What is a balanced amount of cocaine and how many hookers until I'm balanced? Then it becomes a question of "why?" Then they see that they have to give me one reason to eat grains. They can't, if they try they get embarrassed because there exists none and the usual "but how will you get your fiber?" BS is flat-out wrong.

"Balanced" according to organizations that are in bed with the food industry? Pleeease. I'll go for "balanced" according to what the evidence tells me is balanced. That doesn't mean I don't eat some unhealthy food. I eat grains sometimes, but I don't view it as magical like some people do.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on June 21, 2011
at 04:02 PM

I don't care if it's bad for me, I want to know how much until I'm "balanced".

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on June 21, 2011
at 12:44 PM

Indeed. By the way, what is a balanced amount of hookers and cocaine? Inquiring minds want to know...

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on June 21, 2011
at 03:56 PM

Cocaine is bad for you

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on June 21, 2011
at 05:48 PM

Omg, I never looked at it like that before. We could chart new territory for health-seekers.

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on June 21, 2011
at 05:11 PM

I mean, you need the 'bad' (Cocaine) to balance the 'good' (Hookers) :-)

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on June 21, 2011
at 02:48 PM

Dave S., I propose self-experimentation. ;)

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on June 22, 2011
at 06:57 AM

Extensive research and analysis would have to be done - are you up to it?

9
1568416ef28477d1fa29046218d83ddd

(6235)

on June 21, 2011
at 03:46 AM

"Oh I think that balance is a very personal thing, this works best for me because I discovered some food sensitivities"

60c061f4b024f9ac421b27bf93b40ebe

(220)

on June 21, 2011
at 05:56 PM

What a great response! It's polite but clear and it ends the debate. I'm going to steal it.

95eda9fa0cec952b482e869c34a566b6

on June 21, 2011
at 08:20 PM

I also like that response and I'm going to use it!

61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on June 22, 2011
at 01:45 PM

Yes! Very good way to say it! 8)

8
667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 21, 2011
at 12:43 PM

I don't really respond with much. I kind of agree. I mean, if someone truly did eat a balance of meat, veg, seeds, fruit, grain, dairy from birth all the time, and it was all of very good quality and properly prepared then yes I'd say they're probably right. I do not really disagree.

The catch of course, and its a big catch, is that most people at least nowadays don't start with a clean slate. We are firstly birthed my mothers and fathers who prolly ate crap. We were prolly fed crap since birth. Our food quality is very low, relative to less-factoryprocessed meat, fruits, and veg around the world. And we sit on our asses and don't live vigorously.

So, many times what food discussions turn into are discussion really about not just plain old eating, but rather eating in such a way that will ameliorate the impact all the above has had on us. With this in mind I think paleo, or at least simply sugar- and grain-free living, is probably important.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on June 21, 2011
at 03:37 PM

Wow; I'm in agreement for a change. ;). Yes, I think the ideal, varied, "balanced" paleo diet ought to work beautifully in an optimal, uncompromised body. Those of us with several generations of obese and otherwise ill ancestors, though, and whose bodies have come up with new challenges in addition to those, may find ourselves eating a more "extreme," or at least less varied, diet in order to have any kind of decent life at all.

7
34a367e60db77270bd7096dc04270fdc

(4171)

on June 21, 2011
at 03:46 AM

Since the way people eat seems to be a subject like politics or religion, I don't usually get too much into a conversation unless they seem truly interested and I know them to be a rational person. Generally I'll just say I'm allergic to grains so I don't eat them. They can't really say much after that.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on June 21, 2011
at 12:49 PM

I go with "I'm diabetic" (true). Tends to backfire on me when they see me sneaking a cookie. I can't help but to chastise the folks at the "Healthy Nutrition" table outside the company cafeteria, when they're pushing the USDA food plate brochures. I mean, they're asking for it!

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on June 22, 2011
at 02:38 AM

Actually I tell them I'm prediabetic - that covers just about everything except fake food (preservatives, artificial sweeteners etc). Besides - I suspect it was even true a little bit.

6
B7fec4bf394de8dfa6403067aea94e1b

on June 21, 2011
at 03:46 AM

I just respond with, "I do. I just measure with an internal, not external, scale." And if that doesn't work, I just tell them I'm lactose intolerant and diabetic. And if that doesn't work, I say "well, there is a reason that at 31 I am often mistaken for 22 or 23."

4
47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on June 21, 2011
at 06:41 AM

Just try the classic: "I eat a balanced diet too. Some meat, some vegetables, some arsenic, and some Draino."

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on June 21, 2011
at 09:22 PM

I like the thick gel kind. Digests more slowly for a more lasting sense of fullness.

95eda9fa0cec952b482e869c34a566b6

on June 21, 2011
at 08:21 PM

Do you prefer the extra or regular strength Draino? ;-)

6714718e2245e5190017d643a7614157

on April 11, 2012
at 01:33 AM

But, is your Draino grass fed???

3
489d6842b84b920fabcb9eeb83783c91

on June 21, 2011
at 02:26 PM

i hear it all the time, usually happens when people are about to have dessert (shocking, right?)

i tell them that i agree (to make them feel open to their comment and views), but say that i would change the order of the words a bit to something akin to... "just eat a diet that keeps you balanced".

people tend to agree with this statement and it generally opens up the conversation to discussing homeostasis, which then leads to a quick blurb on the broad effects dietary components have on homeostasis.

i keep the explanation short and [anti-]sweet, have found that 1 (many times 2) out of 3 people want to talk to me in depth about my thoughts about all of this.

simple curiosity management gets great results.

2
D10ca8d11301c2f4993ac2279ce4b930

(5242)

on June 22, 2011
at 12:42 AM

Balanced has to do with eating particular foods or a class of foods in an amount that maximizes benefits while minimizing toxicity, ill effects. This will vary from person to person in terms of which food items are particularly helpful and which food items are particularly detrimental. It will also vary from person to person in terms of acceptable macronutrient ratios. For some items, this will mean complete avoidance (for me wheat and dairy). Others will have a tight window of toxicity (PUFAs particularly n-6s come to mind). Too strict of avoidance of PUFAs will have derogatory effect. A balanced diet will provide enough but not too many PUFAs which would increase inflammation. Some people will have to drastically minimize carbs, other folks may have issues with high fat diets. Eating a balanced diets will depend on issues unique to an individuals immune system (allergies, sensitives, etc). It will also be predicated on the reality and generality of being human (golly, cyanide will kill us all). You should get the idea by now with out my droning on.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on June 22, 2011
at 03:42 AM

That's exactly what "balanced" should mean, if the USDA and Dieticians weren't so useless they would, as the ultimate authorities they are, come up with decent reasons why what they call "balanced" conforms to that most useful definition. In the meantime I'll be doing something similar to Perfect Health Diet where they do give good reasons for why their diet is optimal and balanced, at least until someone makes better arguments for each point.

2
1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

on June 21, 2011
at 07:21 PM

Kick them in the balls and show them your 8 pack abs..

2
7e36094a0f7a2fbad24290225405220b

(2064)

on June 21, 2011
at 07:08 AM

By 'balanced' they usually mean you need to eat carbs so I just tell them that vegetables are carbs too.

2
7767e05a8c4504f6be03f13ee40815cd

(1299)

on June 21, 2011
at 05:19 AM

I say "Sure, balanced is good - but 'balanced' relative to our evolutionary adaptation and relative to societies that don't have obesity or our other diseases of civilization".

2
65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on June 21, 2011
at 04:02 AM

I say I'm allergic to grains. At restaurants I say I'm allergic to canola and vegetable oils so they make sure not to cook my food in them. I've come to discover that a lot of restaurants don't have pure olive oil, they have olive/canola or soybean blends. Barf. I realize this only half relates to your question.

61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on June 22, 2011
at 01:47 PM

One restaurant I frequent often, Outback Steakhouse, used to cook their green beans in butter with just a little seasoning on top. Now they cook them in some kind of oil and coat them with seasoning. I wonder if they add so much more seasoning because they know the oil is disgusting? I really miss the butter...8(

1
5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on June 22, 2011
at 03:02 PM

I tell them I do eat from a balanced food group. They all have a balanced number of legs or fins...

1
61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on June 22, 2011
at 01:56 PM

I don't get the "balanced diet" comments, but I get the very similar "everything in moderation" comments. My mom is especially big on this one. 8)

My response is usually to just smile and tell them that it is their choice to eat that way, but my choice is to avoid certain foods that do not agree with my body.

B0454de6d4f4cdd9ca2e59021dc105bf

(606)

on June 23, 2011
at 05:15 AM

Nice one. "Everything in moderation" is a close cousin of "JEABD". Grrrr!

1
Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on June 21, 2011
at 06:25 AM

Another insidious one I heard recently was "everybody is different, so you just need to find what works for you". That sounds reasonable on its face, but the implication is that different people are like different species of animals requiring entirely different foods, and you just need to know what is right for "you".

It's similar to "balanced" that it disregards that there really are better and worse ways to eat and it's important to know the difference. You can't (for purposes of lifelong health) just average them out or randomly pick one.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 21, 2011
at 07:58 AM

"there really are better and worse ways to eat" - but the judgment as to which is which is ultimately hinges upon personal definition of 'value': someone may say: "i want this cake, and i don't care about consequences - even if that means becoming diabetic"

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on June 22, 2011
at 09:49 AM

Erk, nutritional subjectivism...

0
22212e9ba2a041e6da6c963d4d41615a

(5773)

on June 22, 2011
at 02:39 PM

Unless someone is truly interested in changing the way they eat I have just decided to tell people I have a gluten allergy. That way I don't get those ridiculous responses about moderation and balanced diet!

0
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on June 21, 2011
at 11:36 AM

I've actually never been told to "just eat a balanced diet". I think you hear that line when you start being sort of unreasonable in your dietary requirements. When you turn into some dogmatic dietary extremist who talks nothing more than omega ratios, antinutrients, and WWGD (what would Grok do), you're going to get the "why can't you simply eat a balanced diet" spiel. What they're really saying is "why can't you be reasonable/normal?"

B61f6513a155cd874b42efdad55312f6

(231)

on June 21, 2011
at 11:59 AM

I've had people say it to me. When they ask what I eat, they're appalled by the reduced carbs and absence of dairy/grains. Even though my health is evidence they still seem to believe their opinion correct. They say 'just eat balanced', or 'everyone is different'.

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on June 21, 2011
at 03:55 PM

Here "balanced" also means "all those details make my head hurt. Stop trying to make me think."

B0454de6d4f4cdd9ca2e59021dc105bf

(606)

on June 22, 2011
at 01:36 PM

Matt, actually I hear it a lot whenever low carb comes up. If you think low carb is unreasonable, abnormal or extremist then I guess you're one of those "maddening people". But, hey, if that's the case, no hard feelings. I genuinely appreciate your comment :)

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on June 22, 2011
at 01:49 PM

I don't think low-carb gets folks bent out of shape all that much. There's loads of diets out there that focus on low or lower carb levels. That's sort of mainstream. What I think people think is unreasonable is the complete phobia of some foods. I myself make efforts to avoid grains in my own kitchen, but when I'm out eating elsewhere with other folks, I'm not going to have a meltdown or go on a hunger strike because somebody brings me a burger with a white bread bun.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on June 21, 2011
at 02:34 PM

A diet being "balanced" or not can't have anything to do with being a "dogmatic dietary extremist who talks... [of] omega ratios, antinutrients and WWGD" - a diet being balanced is by definition about the content of the diet. The real implication of "just eat a balanced diet" is that a) it's obvious what the best 'balance' is and b) your diet is unbalanced. This is obviously circular though- the person appealing for "balance" assumes that balance involves 50%+ carbs and multiple portions of whole grain, when you might as well think that balance = 33% carbs/fat/protein or 50%+ fat.

B0454de6d4f4cdd9ca2e59021dc105bf

(606)

on June 22, 2011
at 02:07 PM

LC does indeed get people bent out of shape, Matt, in my experience, but I'm with you on white bread buns. I factor in a few meals a week for those situations where I know I'm not going to be able to avoid grains, starch, sugar. Just the other day I had a sausage McMuffin and loved every bite of it.

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!