If you’ve ever listened to reggae, chances are you’ve heard of the term ‘Ital’. In Jamaica, ‘Ital’ means pure. This would lead you to believe that it is a very natural diet. But is this true and how does the diet differ from all the others?
Diet or way of life?
The Italian diet was originally developed by the Rastafarian movement from Jamaica. A key tenet of the diet is that it should be in accordance with their personal philosophy of intense prayer and meditation. So it is not just a path to weight loss but rather part of a complete life philosophy. A crucial concept in the Ital diet is: Livity. This can be loosely translated as internal energy (life force). The diet aims to increase the internal energy market that is available in the body. So any product that has a positive influence on this Livity is allowed. Products that negatively affect energy, so to speak, suck it out of the body, are prohibited. So it is quite obvious that alcohol and tobacco are included. A movement that emphasizes the natural goodness of things and engagement with nature can only be vegetarian-inspired. It turns out that any animal product negatively affects Livity and should therefore be avoided. After all, for the Rastafarian every body, whether human or animal, is a temple. This view therefore means that meat cannot be consumed. All treated foods are also taboo, to the extent that even ordinary table salt may not be used because it has been treated. For those who follow Ital strictly, the diet is almost vegan. They even avoid all milk-related products. And in order to bring their food into line with their philosophy of life, they even want to go so far as to prohibit the consumption of food that has been sprayed with insecticides or treated with artificial fertilizers.
If so many products are not allowed to be used, the perception quickly arises that it is a boring and tasteless diet. However, nothing could be further from the truth, various herbs, spices, exotic fruits and vegetables are used. These products, together with soy, whole grains, walnuts, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds and linseed, form the main component of the diet.
The Rastafarians developed this diet to achieve a state of mind of intense concentration. It is therefore obvious that the food sources chosen must be natural and easily digestible.
What are the pros and cons of the Ital diet:
- Fresh, healthy food is encouraged.
- Processed foods are taboo.
- Salt intake is limited.
- Against the use of caffeinated drinks, alcohol and cigarettes.
- Not just a diet but encourages a lifestyle change.
- Far too extreme for many.
- Exotic fruits and vegetables are used that can only be found in the Caribbean.
- No emphasis is placed on exercise.
- Cannabis use is encouraged rather than discouraged.
- It is not a structured plan.
There are some fundamental problems with viewing ‘Ital’ solely as a diet. The goal of a diet, namely weight loss, is achieved, but it is virtually impossible to maintain. The more or less positive message towards cannabis is also not really consistent with a healthy lifestyle.
The Ital diet is not a strict diet that provides exact guidelines on what can and cannot be eaten. Rather, it is a way of life that can be broadly understood by its followers. It encourages the consumption of whole organic products and renounces a number of unhealthy substances. And perhaps these are the interesting core values to remember from this diet.