Thoughts on Matt Stone’s “Diet Recovery 2”

It’s a bit weird reading this book as someone who hasn’t gotten obsessive about diets. Not the way many people have. I agree with a lot of his philosophy, I like finding a book whose main message is “Your body knows what it needs, listen to it”. I don’t agree with other aspects of it, though.

I think the philosophy is much more important than the specific “diet” suggestions.  The general idea behind the book can pretty much be summed up as: If you eliminate a food from your diet, and your body craves it, and eating it makes you feel better… maybe you need that food, even if it’s “unhealthy”. Your body knows what it needs better than a random expert who’s never met you.

I will give Stone credit that he doesn’t want people to follow his rules to the T when they aren’t working, and he makes it clear that his diet suggestion is just a guideline because a lot of people need that guideline. However, he does act as though the “three ‘s’s” are the be-all-end-all of healing stress (“Holy trinity”) and they did absolutely nothing to help me, but cutting all three down has left me feeling better.

It really bothers me that he doesn’t talk about how food intolerances can seriously mess up your body’s signals. Instead he suggests that his diet may help cure them. Gluten made it completely impossible for me to hear my body’s signals (or perhaps, made my body incapable of recognizing its own needs). Any diet that doesn’t include cutting out gluten would be doomed to fail for me for this reason. Yes, maybe eventually I’ll be able to get to the point that I can re-add gluten without such horrible effects, but it’d be a lot harder to get to that point while still on gluten.

It’s also convincing me that people do have different metabolic types.

I’d already been wondering about it, because my partner has a very different response to food than I do, and this is cementing it. I used to be on his advised recovery diet- high calories, high starch, high sugar, high salt, lots of rest, no excessive fluids. It did nothing for me. My body temperature was 97.6, my fibro was bad, I was miserably depressed, I never reached a point of my body’s signals getting loud and clear. I also didn’t gain weight- but if every other aspect of my health is going to hell, that isn’t a consolation. If anything, it pisses me off, because if I was gaining weight, people would actually be pushing me to get healthier rather than just letting me waste away and saying “Well, you’re thin, you’re young, what’s your problem?”.

Matt Stone’s suggested metabolism recovery diet is awful for me. Carbs are not my friend, but he is seriously pro-carb, talking about the “superior properties of sugar and starch for metabolic recovery”. Except that I had a lot of signs of metabolic failure while I was on a carb heavy diet, and they never got better. He only warns against going higher than 60% carbs because in his opinion it makes food unenjoyable, not because it’s unhealthy. The three “s”s (starch, sugar, salt) don’t help me. When I eat a carb-only or even just carb-heavy breakfast (or any meal), I feel really crappy after. I need protein and healthy fat. I don’t think that I don’t need any carbs, they’re still a regular part of my diet and I have a hard time feeling satisifed with a carb-devoid meal, but they can be a very small portion. They’re probably around 30% of my intake, and that may be generous.

Instead, I got results by doing the exact opposite of what he suggested. I cut out gluten, sugar, and salt. Starch is probably less than 30% of my diet (half of his suggested 60). I don’t crave them, since cutting down sugar I actually have a much healthier relationship with it. While I used to be unable to imagine going a meal without a sugary drink or dessert (I dumped sugar on my breakfasts), I can now have half a brownie once a day and be happy. My preferred source of sugar are also dairy-based (chocolate milk, ice cream, etc) or something I need a glass of milk with (brownies, chocolate cake, cookies) meaning that there’s protein as well. I don’t think I can eat sweets without protein. I don’t even think I crave gluten anymore, I just really miss the taste of the foods that contain it and it’s disheartening to have such a hard time eating out. Gluten-free substitutes often just aren’t the same. If gluten free substitutes were close enough, I’d have no problem. Gluten free pasta and bread is actually very close, and I do not miss gluten-based pasta or bread. I just miss pastry. So much.

Since cutting out gluten and cutting down sugar, I was shocked that my body temperature has never (that I checked) dipped below 98, when it used to never get above 97.9. I still have other signs that my metabolism isn’t the greatest it can be, but clearly my low-carb, high protein/fat diet has been a lot better for my metabolism than Matt Stone’s suggestions.

It’s kind of ironic to me that a book that’s supposed to be about cutting out unhealthy diets gives advice that could cause people to try to stick to a diet that is harmful to them. Don’t take any diet advice as a given, listen to your gut. If your gut says “this is a bad idea”, maybe it’s a bad idea.

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