Food --- Get Healthy and Lose Weight
Food! Volumes have been written about food and diet. Some of what has been written disagrees with other stuff you see in print. Some of it doesn't make any sense at all. How the heck is a person supposed to decide what to eat in order to be as healthy as possible? How can a person get his weight to where it should be and keep it that way?
Amazingly, there's an simple solution to this dilemma (the K*I*S*S* philosophy in action!). Eat what is natural! Why? Well, look at animals in the wild. All of them are healthy, vigorous, and built just right. Did you ever see an overweight deer? Of courses not; all of them are athletes! Compare this to the pet dogs or cats that people own and that eat supposedly "balanced" food from the supermarket aisles. Plenty of fatties there. To me, it's obvious that an unnatural lifestyle is the cause of our problems. We don't eat what is natural and we don't get the exercise that we would if we lived in a natural environment.
The human species --- like other animals --- is designed to eat certain foods. Zebras eat grass and lions eat zebras --- and so on. However, animals are "hard-wired" so that they automatically eat the right thing. They have instincts; we don't. We have to use our head to figure out what to eat! On top of this, even if we can solve the riddle of determining what is the best food for us, we have to use will power to put this knowledge into action.
So, the problem of what to eat reduces down to:
It's very important to realize that, if we discover this natural diet and adopt it, we will be "killing two birds with one stone." Our health will improve and our weight will normalize. Usually, that means we will lose weight. I want to emphasize that we are talking about a lifestyle change, not some crash diet that you will follow for a few months and then abandon and return to what you were doing previously. We are talking about changes in eating that a person will make and stick with for the rest of his life!
On top of dietetic changes that you might make, you should also add some exercise to your lifestyle (Please check out my book, the K*I*S*S* Fitness Program for a great exercise program that anyone can do!). If you do, you will be on your way to a level of health and fitness you probably never dreamed was possible. This is really what this website is all about. Lifestyle! Diet and exercise are the cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle. Look good, feel great, and be healthy. These are the rewards of the fitness lifestyle!
In fact, there is a playful debate among health nuts like me. Which is more important, diet or exercise? There is never agreement. We might say that one is the King and the other is the Queen. Your choice. They are both "royalty."
But, back to food and our question of what is the natural diet for human beings...
The Paleo Diet
-Around ten years ago, I was very pleased to encounter a book by Loren Cordain entitled The Paleo Diet. In a very unprejudiced way, he, like me, tried to determine the natural diet for human beings. However, unlike me, he had the background to do this in a very scientific manner. As I read through his book, I was extremely happy to find out that he arrived at essentially the same dietetic conclusions that I had come to via common sense and trial and error. He discovered that our bodies are best equipped to handle the foods that our paleolithic hunter-gatherer ancestors ate thousands of years ago.
What does this diet consist of? It's very simple (K*I*S*S* philosophy again!). Fruit, veggies, and lean meat. Yes, also some nuts, seeds, eggs, etc. Amazingly, this diet excludes dairy and grains, two large food groups that conventional wisdom says are essential (take a look at the USDA food pyramid!). And, Cordain clearly explains why consuming these two groups of foods is bad for you. Remember, the paleolithic era was way before the dawn of agriculture. We're talking about caveman times here.
What can you expect if you adopt this diet? Your health will improve. If you are overweight, you will lose weight and your weight will gradually stabilize at a healthy natural weight for you. Furthermore, in the long term, this diet automatically lessens or eliminates lifestyle-related health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, and many others. Adopting this diet will help you both in the short term and in the long term. This always happens when a person makes a positive change in lifestyle.
I can see you right now as you throw up your hands and say that you could never live with this. However, it's possible to come up with very delicious recipes that conform to the guidelines of the Paleo Diet. There are many such cookbooks available and Cordain has written one. There are also a number of "programs" available that make the transition from the typical diet to the Paleo Diet quite painless and --- in my opinion --- downright enjoyable.
Personally, I follow this diet (I don't like the word "diet" as, to me, it implies something temporary) and here is what I eat in a typical day. No recipes and nothing fancy at all.
I emphasize two meals per day, a morning meal after my morning cardio work (running or riding on a stationary bike) and an evening meal after my strength workout on the K*I*S*S* Exercisers. If I get hungry between these two meals, I will have a healthy snack.
Morning meal. This is my favorite meal. I cut up three or four bananas and add some other fruit like mangoes, peaches, etc. However, bananas are my staple. Then I make a delicious cream of roughly a half cup of coconut milk (fresh if you live on the tropics or canned if you live elsewhere) and a scoop of egg hi-protein (No whey. Remember we're trying to eliminate dairy products!) and pour it over the fruit. All this is a big bowl of fruit!
Evening meal. This meal is based on a large saled. The main ingredient is prewashed organic "spring mix" or something like that. I will add many different things to this base such as onions, cucumbers, a half avocado, bell peppers, steamed mushrooms, etc. Almost anything that might be in the refrigerator. Some veggies that I don't like to eat raw, I will steam first. Examples might be brocholli or green beans. None of this is cast in concrete and my salads will vary from day to day. That makes the evening meal more exciting. Sometimes, I will eat some baked squash or sweet potatoes as an additional dish, a food that is more filling, and cut back on the salad. For meat, I will eat roughly a half pound of some kind of baked ocean fish --- fresh if I can get it, but I often have to settle for frozen. Finally, I will top this off with a green smoothie that usually consists of more of the spring mix, an apple, and the other half of the avocado from the salad. I usually add some sort of green veggie powder to the smoothie. The logic behind the smoothie is that I don't feel it's possible to get all your nutrients from what you put on your plate. Human beings don't have the time or big stomachs required to live on raw veggies like our gorilla cousins or grazing companions. To top all this off, I will eat some food supplements, the most important of which is a high quality multi vitamin-mineral formulation. The smoothie, green powder, and suplements are as a sort of health insurance.
Optional mid-day meal. Whereas my morning and evening meals have a definite plan, my mid-day meal is flexible --- if I have it at all --- and faily small, more of a snack than a meal. Here are a few possibilities: A second breakfast! I already noted that my morning meal is my favorite. A couple of poached eggs and some steamed veggies. Some raw nut butter mixed with a little bit of maple syrup that I scoop out of a small bowl with slices of apple. Basically, anything that I feel is fairly healthy and not too much of it.
I have no trouble at all sticking with this diet. I'm not fanatical, though. For example, if I eat at a friend's home, I gladly eat whatever is served (although I will always avoid sweet deserts!). Eat the natural human diet but also behave like a polite human being...