Category Archives: Nutrition

The Reset Button

I think it’s interesting that people still use the phrase “hit the reset button” (I find around a hundred thousand hits for this phrase on google) when it has been decades since electronic devices actually included an official “reset button.”

The “reset button” is a powerful concept. One switch allows the whole program or system to reboot from scratch. Thus it removes the influence of any malicious codes or unfortunate circumstances arise in the course of use, causing the machine to falter and malfunction.

Yesterday morning, while groping through the mental and physical fog that Friday night’s indulgences had earned me, I knew I would need to “hit the reset button” on my diet and health program. In other words, I needed to take a decisive and effective action that could give me a fresh start.

On Friday I had managed to binge on more than 3400 calories, and drank too much alcohol. Even though the alcohol was all consumed in the name of having a fun and social time with friends — and it didn’t ever seem excessive at the time — the hangover it gave me was a sure sign that I was off track with my dietary program. I hadn’t felt anything like that in many months. Binge drinking and excessive eating easily go together. Alcohol contains a lot of empty calories (there are about 14 grams of alcohol per conventional “drink,” and each gram contains 7 calories), and it also blunts your judgment. So if you are a person who has ever shown tendencies towards over-eating, they are likely to emerge and take control during an alcohol binge.

For me, if I “reset” my program, the “default mode” is alcohol free. Not only does that save you calories, it safeguards your conscious control of decision making around food. So, in the end, I did decide to ‘hit the reset button.’ The result was that I forswore the juice for about ten days. I will make an exception for 2 drinks, a week from today, at a friend’s birthday party, but other than that will not drink again until Thursday the 25th of June. Naturally, I also intend to keep my calories in check during the same period.

It’s a good decision. At least, in the clear and pleasant light of this Sunday morning, my body tells me so.

Running the Numbers: The Past Week in Review

It’s been a big week in numerous ways.

Diet: According to the (estimated) totals found in my food journal, I averaged 2767 calories per day, which is about 40 calories more per day than last week.

Weight and Body-Fat: During the course of the week the lowest weight I observed was 181.6 (Tuesday morning after workout), the highest weight I observed was 186.0 (last Sunday night after dinner). The highest body fat percentage I observed was 16 (first thing Sunday and Tuesday mornings) and the lowest was 13 (Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday afternoon). Today I expect to weigh in at 183 and 13% body fat, which will be my first ever weigh-in at 13%!

Workouts: During this week I did five workouts at CrossFit Asheville, jogged a leisurely 5k with Alex, and completed days 28 (Wed), 29 (Fri), and 30 (Sat) of my Pull-Up Challenge. I created a baseline time for myself on Grace (Tuesday) and a new 1 rep max PR on the Front Squat (Friday). My workouts were focused and intense and fun.

All in all a good week.

Realistically, then, why this talk, above, about “the reset button.” I am looking beyond “good” to “outstanding.” And yes, I am looking even beyond outstanding towards the unattainable ideal.

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Reflection and Rest.

A day of rest, and private reflection.

This week… or is it the past three weeks? … I relaxed a number of “controls” on my eating. I have been aware of the problem, but haven’t done anything about it.

The scale reads two and a half pounds higher than it did last week, at the same body fat percentage (184, 14%).

The numbers don’t lie, but I’m not sure how reliable the individual data points may be. Whatever I may have gained, the difference in weight most likely corresponds to a calorie surplus for the week. I do journal all my eating. This week I averaged 2700 calories per day. I don’t know how many calories of that might be surplus. I do know that working out hard five times this week (4 crossfit workouts and the 5k) could have produced an anabolic reaction, a need for new muscle synthesis. But I could not produce 2 pounds worth. So the best that I can say is that some of the weight difference is water, some is digestive system, some is fat, some muscle. The scale data gives a 0.4 increase in pounds of fat for the week, but caveat emptor.

Bottom line is: I’ll have to do better during this upcoming week. I’m going to try to eat and drink and live more like the champion I want to be.

In other, happier news, I did acquire a cool new article of gear, the Vibram® brand “Five Fingers” shoes which are like gloves for your feet.

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Contemplating Intentionality and the Divided Subject

I’m not feeling great this morning.

Yesterday I was feeling over-tired and deflated. Then — this may be related — I lapsed in my self-control, and overdid it with food and drink. Around 5:00 pm, I began a binge. I ate way too many calories in too short a period at the end of the day: almost half the day’s calories (1305/2658) were between 7:45 pm and 9:30 pm. This process started with a shot of tequila, which was followed an hour later by half of a second shot (it would have been more but I spilled half of the second shot). Dinner was filling chicken and root veggies, and during dinner, I drank about 10 oz. of wine. Then I ate “dessert” right after dinner (it was, comparatively, a friendly dessert of watermelon, cheese, and 2 very small raw and organic chocolate truffles, but still, it was too much).

Of course, it’s almost a joke to call this “overdoing,” when I compare this kind of “binge” to the real binging I know I can do. I have years of experience with eating and drinking over 3700 calories per day. Many times have I downed massive hunks of meat with bread, chips, pasta, potatoes, and gooey cheese, stuffed myself with countless quantities of Oreos and ice cream, and swilled great vessels of booze. So compared to these times I have to admit that I remain comparatively “in control.”

But it’s like the apostle Paul says: “I know and am persuaded … that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. […] …whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom 14:14 & 23). For me, I realize that yesterday my awareness was blunted. I lost the sense of being “intentional,” or using my “will” or “control” in eating and drinking. In this sense, my behavior did not proceed from “faith,” and hence, today I feel regret.

Every gain I have made in the past six months has come through being intentional. In my life, I moved away from a long period where either my behaviors lay almost entirely outside of “intention,” or they were the result of a war of conscious and unconscious intentions, and into a life where I suddenly felt in control. I had been experiencing my life as a series of blurry days where I didn’t consciously choose my behaviors. But I found will-power.

After yesterday, at first I worried that I’d lost it. I remember a time when I could not achieve my best intentions, or they were actively and rudely interrupted by my worst.

In his recent book on the apostle Paul, atheist philosopher Alain Badiou points out that the apostle Paul may have intuited this existential dilemma 2000 years ago (see Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism). Paul also regarded the subject as being a divided structure: our being is divided between an impulse towards death, which comes from something he called “flesh” (although this is for him not the physical body so much as it is our socio-historical being outside of Christ) and an impulse towards life from what he called “spirit” (which is for Paul the transcendent, God-given part of our being). As he puts it: “the intention [Gk: phronema] of the flesh is death, [but] the intention of the spirit is life and peace” (Rom 8:6, my translation; I owe my citation of this verse today to Badiou).

In secular terms, this idea suggests that a part of us inevitably fights against every ideal that we embrace. We tend to resist every force seeking to constrains us, and also every law that we ourselves make. This is what the psychoanalysts refer to as the divided subject. Freudian psychoanalysis sees the human psyche as divided into separate drives. Especially, the Freudians talk of two opposing forces: an inner “death drive,” (thanatos), which does battle with eros, our drive for life and connection. This is important to remember. I should never again be surprised to find myself at war with myself. Civilization (or religion, or academics, or athleticism, or any self-discipline) requires the repression and sublimation of unwelcome, anti-social, or self-destructive drives and desires. These will inevitably resurface and cause havoc, from time to time.

There’s a tension at the heart of all our efforts of bettering our selves. But we cannot resolve this tension by eliminating the divided intentionality of our being, any more than we can stop dreaming. We cannot overcome the fact that we have an unconscious mind. We also have many unconsciously transgressive behaviors. Because this is natural, it is necessary to be patient and loving with one’s self. I believe this love begins with simply acknowledging one’s behaviors. Admitting them allows them to be observed by one’s conscious mind. When we embrace what we do, confessing it to our selves, and even own it as our own real behavior, we begin to restore unity to our intentional being. And from there, perhaps we can let spirit reassert control over flesh.

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Weighing and Measuring Food

This post is the third in a series of posts on my “Weight Loss Arsenal,” tools and tricks that have been essential for me in the process of losing weight and keeping fat at bay.

For most of us, losing weight requires conscious, sustained effort. If you’re anything like me, a big part of the problem you have had with food is that you’re usually not conscious or aware of how much you are eating. In an earlier post, I suggested that keeping a food journal may be the most effective tool for becoming conscious of your food intake. But a second technique goes hand in hand with keeping a food diary. And that’s weighing and measuring your food. This post is about the very practical skill of weighing and measuring food, which has the side benefit of teaching you the habit of accurately estimating food portions.

Reasons to Measure your Food

It is possible that you don’t need to weigh and measure your food. As coach Corey at CrossFit Asheville has pointed out to me, “cavemen didn’t weigh and measure.” Of course, on the face of it, that is true. But usually, cavemen also didn’t need to lose 40 pounds.

Americans are fools when it comes to portion sizing. Cavemen didn’t have access to the super-abundant food-supplies that we have. One of the reasons so many of us are so fat is that we are used to being served portions that are entirely out of balance with the nutritional needs of a typical human being. As a result, many of us have no idea how to eat moderately. We have never developed a sense of proper portion sizing, because we have never attempted to understand precisely how much we are eating.

Let me state at the outset that this post is about a practical skill. I don’t care what your preferred theory of dieting is based on, you need this skill. You may follow the “paleolithic” or “caveman” diet, or the “Zone diet,” or the theories espoused by Greg Glassman and the devotees of CrossFit (Paleo-Zone). (I’ll explain in a later post how my own experience has led me to believe that this diet theory is the best). You may follow the South Beach diet, or the Mediterranean diet, or the Michael Pollan “food” diet. Maybe you use a super-low-fat and high-carb diet, or the Atkins diet, or even a simple calorie-restriction diet. For all of these diets, one thing is certain: you can follow them, but they really won’t work if you still eat too much. The simple fact is that most of these diets require you to measure or at least think about the quantity of food you put into your system. They require you to meet minimum goals of intake for certain foods, and not to exceed maximum limits for others. The diets will fail if you don’t follow them carefully. But there’s really no way to do that accurately, unless you get in the habit of weighing and measuring all your food.

The Kitchen Scale

My kitchen scale.

My kitchen scale.

If you are ready to weigh and measure, the first thing you need is a good kitchen scale. And what is a good scale? Simply put: it doesn’t need to be fancy. It should be functional, quick, and relatively easy to clean.

In using your scale, you need to be bold. Keep it out on the counter, where you regularly prepare food. Use your scale for any food item that can’t easily be counted or measured by volume, or for any type of food that is usefully recorded in ounces or grams.

There are many different times and ways you can use your scale. If you want to keep track of your actual food intake, probably the best time to use the scale is during the process of “plating” your food. So, unless you have an understanding spouse, partner, or table-mate who doesn’t mind you bringing the scale to the dining room table, you might take up the practice of plating your food in the kitchen, where the scale normally sits. But there are also other times you can profitably use your scale: while butchering meats, prepping food for cooking, etc.

If you use your scale enough, you will probably find that you very quickly develop the skill of estimating food amounts. Before long, you’ll be cutting off 1 oz. or 4 oz. chunks of meat exactly, on the first try. You’ll grab a handful of almonds, throw it on the scale and find that it weighs exactly 1 oz. These skills of estimation will become indispensable to you, as they help you learn about the amount of food you’re actually eating. For example, they allow you to go out to eat in a restaurant, or at a friend’s house, and still limit yourself to a sensible quantity of food.

Measuring Cups and Spoons

My doubly and triply redundant set of measuring cups and spoons.

My doubly and triply redundant set of measuring cups and spoons.

For weighing and measuring, you will also need measuring cups and spoons. But there’s nothing quite so frustrating as wanting to measure a teaspoon of canola oil, or a tablespoon of almond butter, or a 1/4 cup of cooked rice, and finding that you can’t find a clean measuring spoon anywhere. So I recommend having at least three sets of measuring spoons, and two sets of measuring cups, and keeping them in a predictable place, right where you prepare and plate your food.

Once you overcome any residual fears that you may harbor about using these tools—will people think I am a freak because I measure everything?—you will quickly discover that a measuring spoon or cup can work very well as a serving device. You can pull the suckers out while plating. Or you can even bring them right to the table and serve things with them. If you know you are only going to eat a 1/4 cup of cooked oatmeal, then by all means serve yourself with that 1/4 cup measure. If you are committed to limiting yourself to one 4 oz. glass of wine, pour the wine first into that 1/2 cup measure. If you’re planning to eat two cups of strawberries, cut them right into the cup measure, and then put them into a bowl. If you keep enough of these things around, and keep them close at hand while you are preparing or plating food, it becomes second nature to grab hold of them and measure how much you are making, or planning to eat.

The great thing is that, soon enough, as with the scale, you’ll learn what three cups of broccoli or cooked kale really looks like on your plate; you’ll learn to serve yourself exactly 1/4 cup of rice without a cup-measure. You’ll learn how full (or empty) your wine glass looks when filled with 4 oz. of Chardonnay.

For the record, it is also helpful to memorize three or four very simple conversions. 8 fluid ounces = 1 cup. 16 tablespoons = 1 cup. 1 tablespoon = 1/2 fluid ounce. 1 fluid ounce = 28 grams.

The Virtues of Weighing and Measuring

The virtues of this way of eating are many. Chiefly, weighing and measuring helps you be realistic and accurate in the record of your eating you make in your food journal. Secondarily, it helps you achieve specific dietary goals, such as controlling calorie intake, or meeting consumption goals for specific macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbs). Thirdly, and perhaps best, weighing and measuring your food trains you to become much more aware of your eating, and how the quantities you eat affect your body and your progress in your diet.

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Keeping a Food Journal

The second in a series of posts on the tools and tricks I have relied on when losing weight.

food_diary_spreadsheet

My food journal, in spreadsheet format. (Click to enlarge).

Among weight loss tools, tricks, and tips, I have found that nothing else works like keeping a food journal.

Before you even begin to contemplate what dietary theory you plan to follow, you should know this. The best thing you can do to ensure your success is to write down every single thing that you eat. Everything. Keep. A. Food. Journal.

I have gone through two periods in my life (1996-1998 and 2009) where I lost a large amount of weight (30-40 lbs). In both instances, the most important weapon in my arsenal was my food journal.

When I keep a food diary, I attempt to record everything I eat, with unrelenting honesty. If I do this, then two things happen.

First, I am confronted clearly with the facts of my eating, and all excuses vanish. When I spend night after night eating candy before bed, that shows up in writing, where it can’t be denied. Its link to my waistline gets documented too, since I record the data from my Tanita Body Fat Percentage Scale in my food journal too.

Second, I am forced to become more conscious of what I eat. I learn to remember more clearly all the things I consume, and over time, my memory of my eating behavior improves. Learning to be honest about what I eat (and drink!) breeds a different kind of honesty, about what I want from food, my body, and my life. Being honest with myself in this way points me towards success.

There is a simple bottom line. One must own one’s own eating. The food journal helps you do that.

But don’t take my word for this! Scientists have noticed it too. As Dr. Sanjay Gupta reported for Time in July 2008, a recent study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine (Hollis, Gullion, Stevens, et al., “Weight Loss During the Intensive Intervention Phase of the Weight-Loss Maintenance Trial,” AJPM 35:2 [2008] 118-126) found that there is one single factor that correlates highly with weight loss. You guessed it: keeping a food journal. Victor Stevens, one of the lead researchers, told Gupta that in their study of weight loss trials, “hands down, the most successful weight-loss method was keeping a record of what you eat.” Over a six month period, study participants who kept a journal lost TWICE the weight of non-diarists.

An effective diary contains a record of what you eat every day, from waking to sleeping. In it, you attempt to describe all the substances you consume, in whatever quantities you consume them. You record the items, the time of day, and, if necessary, additional information.

If you get serious, you will record the exact amounts (see the next post in this series), and all nutritional data.

I actually use an Excel spreadsheet to keep my food journal. I do this because it’s a stable and quick way to record data in a table. The sheet just goes on forever, and I can customize the look, and update my system as I need to. I use different “sheets” within the spreadsheet to record weight, or frequently utilized nutrition data, or data I calculate about recipes, etc.

Also, I like to take advantage of the spreadsheet’s ability to do math automatically. The spreadsheet file I keep needs input only on the list of items I consume, and then I add in the relevant information about grams of protein, fat, carbs, and alcohol. But then I have the sheet programmed with formulas, so that it then computes automatically the protein/carb ratio, total calories, percent of the protein, fat, carbs and alcohol, and even the number of “Zone blocks” this represents. More on all this stuff later. All this data data is extremely useful in the war against excess body fat.

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Tanita Body Fat Percentage Scale

The first in a series of posts on tools and rules I have used for losing weight.

My 8 Year Old Tanita TBF-621

My 8 Year Old Tanita TBF-621

The numbers don’t lie. If you say you want to lose some weight—by which I mean lose some fat, not muscle—then you must be able to quantify the changes to your body. I can almost imagine Coach Glassman saying, if you can’t show that you’re making progress, then what you’re doing isn’t working.

But the thing we have to understand about “weight loss” is that it doesn’t really matter how much you weigh. It’s about the fat on your body. You don’t want to lose weight, you want to lose fat. In fact, unless your weight loss is a loss of excess body fat, then it probably isn’t healthy for you. Enter the Body Fat Scale. I definitely use one. As far as brands go? I really can’t say I’ve tried a variety of brands. In fact, I am familiar only with two models of one brand: Tanita. They’re pretty good. I’ve had mine since April 2001, and only changed the batteries a few times. These scales work by taking a measurement of the electrical impedance of your body. That number, adjusted for age and weight and gender and height and activity level, correlates with the amount of body fat supposedly on your body.

People will sometimes tell you that these body fat scales are not very accurate. In a way that’s true, but not really. What they are is consistent, and their consistency is about as useful as any accuracy. To use them, what is needed is experience and a consistent method of measurement. Then they can be used to track your progress way better than any normal scale.

How to Use a Body Fat Scale

The first thing to realize is that the numbers you get from this scale vary a LOT during the day. Depending on how hydrated you are, depending upon how active you have been for several hours before weighing in, or how long it has been since you slept, depending on the content of your stomach and bowels and bladder, depending on your body temperature or the moisture content of your skin, you may get different readings. So the question becomes, how do you use this thing?

RULES FOR USING THE TANITA

 

  1. Keep track of your numbers on a spreadsheet or chart.
  2. Keep track of the date and time of each reading of weight and body fat, and use an additional column for notes.
  3. Over the course of one week, weigh yourself a few times. Do this at a variety of times: whenever you can manage to get naked in your bathroom. Get at least four sets of readings during the week, all taken at different points in the day.
  4. In your spreadsheet, once a week you should record the range you observed during the week: your highest and lowest recorded weight, and your highest and lowest recorded body fat percentage.
  5. Week to week, don’t expect to see big swings. Just look for a gradual reduction of both ends of the ranges you measure. It’s all about the trend and the averages.

Remember: these scales don’t provide a very precise measurement. For example, mine gives readings only in whole percentage numbers. That means I have to lose more than 1.8 pounds of fat to lose a percentage point on the scale. But over time, the highest weight I record in any given week has always decreased along the same “curve” as the lowest weight I record during the week. The lowest body fat percentage I observe (often this can be measured at the very end of an active day, several hours after last eating) always decreases at the same rate or along the same “curve” as the highest body fat percentage I observe.

An example of my weight chart

Date Weight BF % Fat Observed Range of Weight over the week Observed Range of BF % over the week
3/29/2009 198.5 18% 35.73 195.0—203 18—21
4/5/2009 195.0 17% 33.15 194.2—199.5 17—21
4/12/2009 194.0 16% 31.04 193.5—198.5 15—20
4/19/2009 192.5 16% 30.8 191.0—196.0 15—20
4/26/2009 191.0 16% 30.56 189.4—193 16—19
5/3/2009 191.5 15% 28.7 187.0—193 15—18

As you can see from this table, there are times when your weight might seem to be increasing, or when you might not seem to be making progress, but the trend in the ranges you observe is what shows the real progress.

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My “Diet,” Part II: One Month in the Zone

By MCB

In this post I am looking back at my first month of trying to stay in “the Zone” by eating a “Zone-favorable” diet. The day before I started on “the Zone” (March 1st), I weighed 208 lbs, and had 21% body fat.

As of March 1st, I was six weeks into a new journey towards wellness. And I had realized that doing CrossFit was the key ingredient that was letting me rebuild my life. At the time I didn’t have a strict dietary regimen. I had used rigorous exercise and dietary common sense (especially FAR less alcohol, no desserts, fewer processed foods, fewer snacks with empty calories) to lose about 7 pounds, and had cut my body fat from 25% to 21%. I felt good about that, but something told me I could be doing better. When I think back on it, I see three triggers that got me looking for a new approach: (1) I had bad insomnia; (2) I had a terrible, persistent cold which by that point had lingered for 5 weeks; (3) I felt tired all the time.

Once again, CrossFit was the key… because when I paid attention to the videos and the main site, I saw clearly that the athletes and trainers who were most serious about their performance both used and strongly advocated “the Zone” and/or with “the Paleo-Diet.” Something like 12 years ago I had a personal experience of success with “the Zone,” and more recently, I have had a super-fit friend who is a strong advocate of the Paleo thing for athletics, so I was familiar with both approaches. I then thought: why not try something like this for myself?

I re-read Enter the Zone (and blogged about it). Although I wasn’t completely satisfied with or persuaded by the program it sketched out, I got psyched up to put some effort into it.

I started trying to get back in the Zone on March 2nd. In the subsequent month, I lost 9.5 pounds and went from 21% to 18% body fat.

I have had success following the Zone, but one thing I notice is that, while I average a close to Zone-ideal ratio of about .85 PRO to CHO, I actually end up eating way more fat than the canonical Zone prescribes. I like this, and it hasn’t stopped me from losing weight. I believe that it probably has not harmed my HDL or Triglicerides at all (they are really good anyway, or were when they were last checked, in February).

This proves, I think, that this diet works for me. It has allowed me to extend this period of progress and has given me hope for much greater progress in the months ahead. I don’t know how long I can sustain this. But something tells me that, after I reach my first target of weight and body fat, if I incorporate the widely accepted practice of a “cheat day” (once a month seems sufficient for me; others use once a week) then I could do this forever.

Why do I say this? The “Zone-favorable” diet plan, with the addition of “the Paleo-diet” sensibility, has taught me some basic principles of dieting that I think can be life-long additions to the way I eat.

MATT’S DIETARY PRINCIPLES: Eating the Flexitarian-Paleo-Zone-Pollan inspired way

These aren’t prescriptions for you, my friend, so much as they are descriptions of what I am currently doing.

1) Eat frequently. Plan your day to include your three meals plus one to three snacks, including one before bed (This is a “Zone” principle).

2) Eat a balance of Protein, Carbs, and Fat every time you eat. Don’t ever leave out one of the macronutrient groups. No, it’s not ok to have carbs now, saying, I’ll eat a little protein later. Doing this messes with your metabolic balance. I believe this, because I feel it in my blood after each meal these days. (This is the fundamental “Zone” principle.) Yes, it’s ok to fail at this now and then. Balance out that after-work beer with a few peanuts, and then have some lean chicken when you get home. But don’t make it a habit.

3) Eat small. Strive to keep meals under 500 calories. Strive to keep snacks under 300 calories (i.e. no more than 2400 calories per day, assuming you are working out). (This is another fundamental “Zone” principle).

4) Eat less meat than the average American, i.e. no more than 5 oz at a time. (This is the most important thing: you have to titrate your protein out over the course of the day). Don’t eat more than 35 g of Protein in one sitting.

5) Eat sufficient protein throughout the day, about .7-1 grams of protein per pound of lean mass. But don’t forget rule #4!

5.5) Try to keep your PRO to CHO ratio under 1 and above .6. (That’s simple right? it is a fundamental rule of the Zone; when you learn to guestimate the PRO and CHO contents of whole foods, you can eyeball this ratio by looking at your plate).

6) Don’t eat processed grains. This means you! Stay away as much as possible from: wheat products, corn products, breads, pasta, etc.

7) Eat very little in the way of unprocessed grains: never eat more than 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cooked rice, quinoa, or other whole grain at a time.

8 ) Eat whole fruits. But not too much!

9) Eat LOTS of fresh vegetables, especially green ones. You probably cannot eat too many fresh vegetables. Try it, you might like trying! Make a plan to try to prepare every different kind of vegetable on sale at the supermarket and the farmer’s market. Last night I served a salad of spinach, watercress, and basil, and for a side dish, besides the asparagus, I served a small quantity of dandelion greens (sauteed in 1 tsp. of bacon grease with lemon and salt… HELL YEAH).

10) Never deliberately eat something that has sugar in it. Ok, if you do eat some sugar, maybe eat a little dark chocolate. About 10-15g is a reasonable serving. You DON’T need more than that at a time.

11) Go ahead and eat seeds and nuts. If you are hungry between meals or at night, have a ONE OUNCE serving of mixed nuts. That one ounce serving is about the size of a very small palm full, with your fingers closed and touching the palm. The protein and carbs in nuts are balanced about right, and the fat is mostly hormone neutral or healthy.

12) WAIT for food to digest before you decide if you are still hungry! 20 minutes is a good window.

13) If you drink alcohol, keep it to a minimum. And find out how much alcohol you are drinking! There’s a lot of calories in alcohol, and if the calories you consume go over the number you burn, they WILL end up being stored in your body. PLUS, I’ve learned that the body prioritizes alcohol (when it is present in the blood) above fat, as a source of energy. So drinking alcohol puts the breaks on “lipolysis” (fat-burning). For me, I think about 6x14g of alcohol per week (about six shots of whiskey worth, and 588 alcohol calories) is a reasonable quantity.

14) TRY to pay attention to the “glycemic index” of foods. Some natural whole sources of CHO are better than others because of the way they are broken down by the body. Some cause almost a sugar rush, and others give you sustained energy. Broccoli is to be preferred over bananas. I was eating a green salad today, and loving it, and then I bit into a beautiful braised carrot that was sitting on my plate. You know what happened? The carrot was like candy. My tongue leapt for joy, and a smile spread across my face. Just because something is a natural whole product of agriculture doesn’t make it entirely wholesome for you. But then, what harm can there be in a carrot? Now a parsnip, on the other hand… if you’ve been avoiding sugar one of those tastes like cake .

15) Forget about Potatoes and things made from Potatoes. You might as well eat Ice Cream! Remember, if you do eat potatoes, apply to them the same rule one applies to pasta and rice and oatmeal and quinoa, etc: 1/4 to 1/2 cup COOKED serving size. That’s small! Don’t overdo it.

16) Don’t be afraid of fat. EAT AND ENJOY THE FAT. Especially if the fat is: Salmon fat, Sardine fat, olive oil, flax oil, canola oil, or the oil in almonds, peanuts, and mixed nuts. Eat as much fat as keeps you sane. Always add fat to a meal that consists of lean meat and vegetables or fruit. If your meal consists of a non lean meat like salmon or rib-eye and veggies, probably don’t add fat. AND if you end up eating more than 30% of your calories a day from fat, THAT’S OK. Really, it is. My three most favorite fat sources right now are: mixed nuts, almond butter, and canola mayonnaise. I have been losing weight on a HIGH FAT version of the Zone diet.

17) Stay away from dairy. Yes, I do occasionally make a replacement meal out of whey protein shakes, made with milk. But I haven’t been eating cheese at all. I do eat some butter, but I don’t favor it as a source of fat. Things fried and braised with butter are awesome, though. Gotta love fat (see rule #16). (The only reason to follow this rule is for the “Paleo” principles).

18) The “eat only one” rule. Ok, the truth is, I’ve had maybe two pieces of pizza this past month. Those couldn’t be avoided. Sometimes you are forced to eat something that is strictly speaking not according to the principles you are trying to follow. In these cases, it might be socially rude or even impractical not to eat. Yes, you gotta eat. But you don’t have to eat so damn much! If you do something like that: just eat one. Seriously. Eat only one. So, if you eat some chips, eat only 1 oz. If you eat some cake, eat only one bite. If someone invites you over for dinner and serves pizza, have only one slice. If someone puts hashbrowns on your plate, and you can’t not eat them, eat one ounce (about 1/8 of one potato). If someone insists you eat ice cream, eat only one SMALL scoop. If bread is an unavoidable part of a meal (i.e. with a lovely tureen of seafood stew), have just one piece of bread. Get the picture? Nobody said you have to live up to other people’s expectations that you will pig out.

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