I’ve really only ever given my diet passing thought. But an accumulation of the following things nudged me to give it some serious thought and to form some new habits:
- Being diagnosed in 2010 with
- High Blood Pressure
- Elevated Cholesterol
- A buddy recently being diagnosed with Bowel Cancer
- My wife’s nagging to improve my diet
- Reading the following books :
- The China Study by TC & TM Campbell
- The 4 Hour Body by Tim Ferris
- Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham
What I concluded
Firstly there is no perfect information. In fact it is one of the most confusing topics on the planet.
This is a classic example of one needing to develop a Personal Philosophy for their own diet.
The authors of the China Study recommend a diet with almost no animal proteins – basically Vegan with the lot.
Catching Fire is a great book, particularly for anybody with an interest in Evolution and evolutionary processes. The credible proposition is that we were using fire and cooking much earlier than previously thought. Cooking makes our food more easily and quickly digestible (chimps and apes spend over 4 hours per day chewing their food) which lead to evolution in our bodies, social, family and work patterns. Even the male (hunter) and female (gatherer) division of duties can be traced back to fire and cooking of food.
Tim Ferris ( as usual) nudges you to just make some changes and see what happens.
My Personal Diet Philosophy and Rules
- Don’t eat (or minimise)
- Anything that is white or was white – potatoes,rice, pasta, bread
- Anything that is heavily processed
- Food with added sugar
- Don’t drink (or minimise)
- Drinks with sugar
- Fruit Juice (high sucrose content)
- Eat More
- Wholefoods (i.e. Unprocessed)
- Have one ‘Binge Day” per week where you can eat as much of absolutely anything (no matter how “bad”)
I am now less worried about “fat content” and “calories” more worried about “added sugar”.
Once you start focusing on it – the level of added sugar in just about everything is extraordinary.
A lot of what I needed to do has been about “substitutions”. Eat / drink this , not that.
My Key Substitutions :
Machiatto (no sugar) for Cappucino (one sugar)
Green Tea (straight) for White Tea (one sugar)
Cooked breakfast including several of eggs, spinach, tomato, salmon (or bacon), mushrooms, lentils(no toast) for Muesli with milk or Toast
Small portion of superior [anything] for large portion of inferior [anything]
Vegetable juice for Fruit juice
Fresh Fruit and nuts for “Bad” snacks
After about 8 weeks I have dropped about 6 kilos (12 kgs from my all time peak) but more importantly 2 belt holes.
(It is that visceral (belly) fat that is the most dangerous as the fat wraps around the key organs).
My body is a better shape, the belly is gone and I feel good.
People who I haven’t seen for a while are saying that I look good / healthy.
I’ve yet to have updated Cholesterol and Blood Pressure tests but I’m expecting at least a little movement in the right direction.
Things that I have noticed :
- Vegetables are “real” food – not just something in the way of the meat
- I don’t miss milk
- The Binge Day is brilliant. You can defer cravings and then make a pig of yourself. On average on any given day – Binge Day is only 3 days away.
- The idea of “smaller portion size but higher quality” is applicable across many aspects of life and is now a “core philosophy” of mine.
- Added sugar and things that are white or were white are the big enemies.
- Green Tea is great – why didn’t I get on to it 20 years ago ?
- I quite like vegetable juice
- There are very few “healthy options” available on the run – e.g. at events.
- There are some great healthy vegetables, beans, lentils etc in cans – and they are really cheap.
- Cooking healthy meals can be quick and easy
- Herbs in particular are ridiculously overpriced and almost everybody should at least grow their own herbs
- If you grow your own food (e.g. herbs) you can just harvest what you need – rather than clogging up the refrigerator and see a good portion of it spoil.
- Exercise is not about “burning fat” but about “flicking metabolic switches” that send signals to either pass fat, build fat or burn fat.
- I haven’t got stressed if by circumstance I have to break “my rules”. I just try to minimise the portion size of the “out of rules stuff” and make a mental note of what I might do to avoid the problem in future. But a little lapse here and there doesn’t really matter. I’ve successfully made substantial positive change.
There you have it. So far this is working for me and I see no reason to change or that these new habits can’t be maintained permanently.
But – diet is such a personal thing that I encourage you to at least reflect on your own diet.