Dietary direction can be defined, very simply, as the cumulative effect of specific groups of foods on our overall health. The groups are based on protein, carbohydrate, and fat intake which are the three macronutrients the human body depends on for life-giving energy. The body reacts in certain predictable ways when a person’s dietary direction leans heavily in favor of one macronutrient over the other, for good and for bad.
The three established dietary direction categories are catabolic (alkaline, cleansing, breaking down), anabolic (acid, grounding, building up), and neutral (warming, comforting). These states of being are determined by our personal food choices, and those choices help determine the state of our overall holistic balance.
Catabolic foods, for example, include fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, fresh juices, and herb teas. All the foods included in this category have some fiber content, and are high water content foods as well. They are hot weather foods that help remove toxins from the body, and are good for quick energy, but not for sustaining it. A catabolic diet direction is carbohydrate-dependent, with 70 – 80% of its calories supplied by carbohydrates, 10 – 15% by protein, and 10 – 15% by fat. A beneficial catabolic dietary direction makes use of unrefined and unprocessed carbohydrates which are those found in natural plant form.
Anabolic foods include red meat, poultry, fish, dairy products such as butter, milk, and cheese, soy products, eggs, beans, seeds, nuts, and nut butters. These substantial foods are settling, stabilizing, and grounding, and are common components of a balanced diet, especially for people with a high metabolism, or for those suffering from all forms of Attention Deficit Disorder. However, some of these foods can be clogging and cause sluggishness, and must be balanced. An anabolic dietary direction receives 40% of its calories from carbohydrates, 30% from protein, and 30% from fats. A diet that is consistently high anabolic, or acid-forming, will set the body up for illness on a cellular level. The Standard American Diet is a high anabolic and acid-forming dietary direction.
A neutral dietary direction strives for a more balanced caloric distribution, as 50 – 60% of calories are supplied by carbohydrates, 20 – 25% by protein, and 20 – 25% by fat. Neutral foods have a neutral pH level, and include cooked starches, root vegetables, whole grains, cereals, breads, pastas, soups, and nut milks. A neutral dietary direction does not necessarily correlate with an optimum diet, as many of these foods can be depleting or clogging to the body if eaten in consistently high quantity. However, a neutral dietary direction includes foods that are considered comfort foods, or foods that are warm and stabilizing (oatmeal, for example), and are welcome additions to a balanced diet.
Understanding dietary direction helps put the eating experience in proper perspective. The concept of dietary direction provides a simple explanation of how to balance the body through food choices; it is uncomplicated, and easy to understand. With practice, you will be able to determine your dietary direction, and adjust your food choices accordingly.