Damage Limitation Strategies – Nutrition

2016-12-09-16-30-38My mind has the tendency to ascribe meaning, and narrative, to my daily choices/actions/words.

Properly managed, this desire to “make sense” is a powerful tool for positive change.

2016-12-08-08-27-44Nutrition has NOTHING to do with nutrition.

What we end up eating has a lot to do with appetite, habit and availability.

I’ve watched nutritional science change so often, and so dramatically, that it has lost its credibility with me.

Here’s what I’ve noticed…

  • Exercise is the best medicine I can give myself
  • Excessive stress results in poor choices
  • Prior food choices, sleep and exercise impact my neurochemistry

The above can work together in a positive, or a negative, feedback loop.

Regardless, they are always working.

2016-12-07-11-23-01Why does “Eat Huge Salads” work?

  • Buying healthy food makes you a healthy person
  • Preparing healthy food makes you a healthy person
  • Unlike ice cream, cold cereal or beef chili with rice… I have to chew a salad – chewing slows me down (habit creation) and increases my satisfaction beyond the next meal (appetite moderation)
  • A mixing bowl of salad makes subsequent poor choices physically painful (adverse consequences)
  • Large amounts of fiber keep me regular and there is a emotional release from good elimination
  • Salad is the food choice with the lowest number of calories per bowl
  • It works because it works – while my explanations might be back fit-BS, the results are real

Whatever you eat for the next three years, you will come to believe that your choices are delicious. Don’t believe me? Listen to people who think differently. We are hardwired to believe in the merits of our prior choices.

Pay attention to your mantras – what you say after you eat, what you say about food, what you say about yourself.

Choose wisely – our minds are always watching, listening, rationalizing.

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Apples!!!

Two to three apples is a quick way to get a similar effect to a salad.

Displacing a poor choice is easier than resisting one.

Appetite

2016-07-29-10-30-41

Before nutrition, consider appetite.

Appetite is an interesting variable — it starts as a source of pleasure. However, its ability to give satisfaction is reduced as I feed it. Eventually, it becomes a source of pain.

During the holidays, we often reinforce:

  • Competitive binges (turkey!)
  • Manufactured scarcity (gravy!)

Well channelled appetite can be a source of tremendous energy. I’ve used my energy to win triathlons, achieve financial independence and, more generally, get stuff done.

But, I have also experienced varying degrees of ill-effects — functional alcoholism, obesity, metabolic syndrome, work-life imbalance, promiscuity.

 

2016-08-14-19-41-30My appetite touches all aspects of my life.

  • Binging (exercise, alcohol, food, sex, fatigue)
  • Scarcity (fear of missing out, fear of loss, envy)

In order for my nutrition strategy to be effective, I need to manage appetite across all areas of my life.

2016-08-15-16-34-57I seek to model what I teach my children:

  • You’ll get everything you need…
  • Unlimited fruits and veggies…
  • Never praise binges – no eating contests, no comments when we stuff ourselves, no keeping score via food…

While my teaching is designed to break the chain, my nutritional approach is a damage limitation strategy rooted in my personal reality!

2016-07-13-20-42-19The first two of our family mantras are designed to moderate appetite.

  • We’ve already won
  • We have more than we need
  • It’s OK to say “no”

By way of illustration, a father rarely needs to encourage a teenage son’s sex drive.

It’s a lot like that with my appetite.

Living The Plantpower Way

2015-05-03 18.22.19Rich Roll and Julie Piatt have a new book, The Plantpower Way.

I loved it.

The book reflects a way of life Rich & Julie are seeking to bring to their marriage and family.

At it’s heart, “The Way” is similar to what I’m seeking to offer my own family.

However, my home life doesn’t involve tranquil meals after a serene afternoon shopping at the local farmer’s market…

So, I caught myself muttering there’s no way their life’s like that

Then I started laughing.

I was laughing because their reality doesn’t matter and, like Rich, my reality is far removed from the craziness of years past.

The book is filled with proven advice:

  • Plants are a foundation of nutritional health
  • Weight management is linked to veggie consumption
  • To get your family to eat better, involve your spouse/kids in menu selection and food preparation
  • Be the (nutritional) change you want to see in the world (and your home)

If you’re already preparing meals then this is a must-have resource. The recipes are simple, quick to prepare and taste great.

If you’re not preparing meals then start by creating a habit of eating real food. After 20 years of better choices, I arrived at three basic meals. Nutritional liberation doesn’t require complexity.

If, like me, you find yourself intimidated by the thought of 100% compliance then remember weak implementation of plant-based nutrition offers strong results. 

Rich did an AMA that lays out the basics of his philosophy. His humility, tolerance and lack of dogma shine through. It’s a refreshing read.

Practicalities:

  • Double all the recipes – Whenever I fire up the stove, I want to get four to five days worth of whatever I’m cooking. Actually, my wife’s been doing the cooking. You’ll need someone to take the lead in your home.
  • It is not about the goji berries – health benefits flow from replacing sugar/starch with veggies. You can be plantpower’d via CostCo.
  • What’s your goal? What are you seeking to achieve in your life?
    • Weight management? Focus on cranking up the veggies
    • Emotional stability? Be the good in the world
    • Fame? Focus on goodness under your own roof
    • Serenity? Focus on relentless simplification

Understand why you are motivated to make-the-change.

If you can transcend your (food) choices then you will have a roadmap to apply throughout your life. Letting go (of animal products) may be similar to releasing ourselves from other habits.

It takes courage to live an open life.

Respect to Rich & Julie.

100% CostCo 85% Vegan

2015-05-03 18.09.49I bought Rich & Julie’s new book, The Plantpower Way, and we’re looking at increasing the nutritional quality of our diet.

To get a start point, I thought I’d share how I’ve been eating over the last year.

In running through my diet, I realized that I could buy everything at CostCo! That made me smile. I do love the place.

I also realized that I’m ~85% plant based, at least under my own roof.

I have three meals that I eat most days. I’m not all that particular about when I eat them.

Fruit salad – chopped apple, berries, granola, vanilla soy milk, plain greek yoghurt

Veggie salad – mixing bowl of veggies, avocado, seeds and nuts – served with salmon, chicken or nothing – dressing is hummus or a miso-based product

Eggs and quinoa – scrambled eggs cooked in coconut oil, quinoa, olive oil – toss in 2 cups of reheated frozen broccoli – sometimes I toss a handful of shredded cheese on top

Snacks are: apples, dark chocolate, popcorn, unsalted premium nut mix, toast with almond butter/jam, my wife’s banana bread.

No sports drinks, colas, sodas, juices or sports bars.

I don’t eat processed food and won’t eat anything with trans-fat / hydrogenated oils / artificial sweeteners.

We eat out often. I’m not dogmatic (any more). Over the last three months, I can remember eating pizza, burgers, curries, steak and french fries.

When my wife’s out of town, I’ve been known to crack a couple beers and eat a pint of fro-yo from the freezer. My binges are a fraction of what used to happen as an elite athlete and a finance-guy.

My weight has been stable for a decade, my energy is good and my health markers are excellent.

I have a longstanding habit of zombie eating with electronics. I’ve passed this along to my kids (!) and am trying to sort in myself, first.

The Beer and Rice Noodle Cleanse

valentineOne of the most poignant memories of my childhood is being a “fat kid” and wishing that I could have a second chance with my body. I’m certain childhood pain drove a lot of my ambitions as an adult.

Across my life, I’ve been given second, third, fourth, fifth… chances at health and fitness.

It’s only been the last eleven years that I’ve managed to hold a stable weight.

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Towards the end of January, I noticed that I had edged over my “winter ceiling weight.” I have a range that I move between (165-170 pounds).

Because my weight can move 4 pounds in an hour, I watch trends over time. For example, I need to be over 170 pounds for a couple weeks before I’ll take that weight as real.

Typically, when a little heavy, I will schedule a week-long cycling trip and sort myself out by adding a ton of exercise. However, that’s not possible this year so I needed to come up with something different.

I start by looking at the low-hanging fruit…

The week before I decided to take action, I had eight beers and four dinners of Pad Thai noodles. So I latched onto that and came up with the cleanse.

The fact that I was choosing a lot of beer and noodles told me something about all of my choices!

Keep everything the same, ditch two things that are holding me back.

The game is..

  • Little changes, early, before I need them
  • Microchanges are more of an inconvenience, than painful

The result => I’m highly likely to make the changes stick

Then sit back and see what happens.

This leads me to the next stage and I’m reminded that…

Good things happen slowly => I thought I’d be off this thing in less than a week but, absent excessive exercise, my body changes slowly.

Look at the why => week three of living without the “comfort” of beer and Pad Thai showed me that they really weren’t comforting at all. I feel the same. Maybe a little better!

These two “facts of life” are obvious from the outside but I’m prone to fooling myself and need reminders.

This cleanse is relatively easy. The tougher changes are the one’s that touch on our spiritual, emotional and intellectual nutrition!

Nutritional Vigilantes

Paleo diet is back in the news.

Please remember that branded nutrition is a distraction from what matters in your life.

Let’s free our minds by taking nutritional dogma and throwing it in the trash.

We do this by discounting the advice of:

  • Sedentary, obese experts
  • Underperforming athletes
  • Anyone with an agenda to sell us

This leaves us with:

  • Eat less sugar
  • Eat more veggies

…but it can’t be that simple.

Have you tried those two changes and watched what happens?

Focus on simple adjustments that capture the bulk of the improvement available.

Everything else is details.

Don’t debate the details.

Focus on what works.

More veggies, less sugar.