“Thou shouldest eat to live not live to eat” Noted Socrates around 450 BC “Modern food is incompatible with human life. Jack Lalanne noted in 1940”
Two and a half thousand years ago Socrates had to encourage his society to eat for nourishment and not just pleasure.
500 years before Socrates as a species we used to live off what we could pull from the ground, trees or water or from what we could kill. After collecting or killing our food we would eat it shortly thereafter.
Does this sound anything like what we do as a society these days? I think we are worse than the society Socrates was talking to.
We are getting further and further away from Nature in many ways but moving away from natural food will kill us and already is.
Even “natural food” we find in supermarkets today is often not as natural as it should be – grown in poor soil, treated with chemicals and pesticides, sterilized so much nutrients are removed, packaged in plastic and beefed up with a few extra preservatives to make it last longer on the shelf.
“Not everything we can chew and swallow is worthy of the term, food.”
We go for convenience instead of quality because we don’t take the time to plan and prepare our meals properly.
We have littered the earth and polluted our waters with soft drink packaging when all we need to drink is water.
We reach for tablets to get our nutrients because they are quick and easy. As consumers we are subjected to that many different diets (where businesses are making millions) because we all want to hear the quickest and easiest way to get out of the hole we have dug for ourselves and our own health and fitness.
I haven’t mentioned fast food outlets yet or excess sugar consumption and this is all part of the same problem.
“If food is medicine, then modern processed food is poison.” “If God made it, eat it, but if man made it, leave it alone”
If you can’t relate to the word God in that statement then replace it with nature and it is just as undeniable. Our bodies are designed to live off what we find in nature. This has been the case for thousands of years and yet in the last few hundred years we have moved well away from nature.
We have moved away from natural eating and the poor health of our society and individuals is the result we deserve.
Have you heard of cancer? I’m sorry – I’m not being comical about such a wide-reaching and damaging disease but merely getting to this point. Many of our modern diseases – including cancer are caused by the foods we ingest. The cause being some of the chemical crap that is in some processed “foods” and the stress this places on our systems. (refer to chek stress)
Eating natural food can not only promote optimal health, vitality and energy it can also massively decrease your risk of acquiring disease. What I am proposing is not a diet. Its nature.
Stephan coveys write of “The importance of understanding the difference between principles and values. Principles are natural laws that are external to us and that ultimately control the consequences of our actions. Values are internal and subjective and represent that which we feel strongest about in guiding our behaviour. Hopefully we will come to value principles”
The principle here is to choose foods from nature. Amazingly our modern societies and governments have made it increasingly harder and more expensive for us to access unprocessed, untreated foods. (reference chek on food ) The almighty dollar often treads on public health and safety issues to keep the wheels of government and economy rolling. If you don’t believe me just look at drug companies and some of the products they are allowed to produce and sell to the public under the guise of nutrition. Fortunately in Australia we are relatively better off than many other countries like the US and China but this does not mean we are safe. Check the incidence of cancer rates over the past 30 years and you will see an
increase not decrease despite the millions being spent on “research” and cures.
“Nutritional habits make a significant difference to overall morbidity and mortality.” Saving Your Life – Roy Sugarman
Obesity rates are the same as cancer rates – “The incredible things is that after all this marketing – and all the government campaigns – there is not a single country in the world that has successfully reduced obesity rates” Steve Biddulph – Raising Girls
Our food choices are not great and so we get unhealthy and fat. Then we go a diet! And that’s another mistake.
“The issue with diets, even if they work, is that they usually do not constitute a lifestyle, and are therefore not sustainable. All diets must end, and the result is often a yo-yo effect with increased weight gain.” Saving your life, Roy Sugarman
“You may be shocked to learn that 50 years of research has come to an astounding conclusion
– that dieting hardly ever works. Approximately 95% of all people who go on diets regain the weight lost within two years. There are no diets anywhere that do better than this.” Steve Biddulph – Raising Girls
Here is a list of Roy Sugarman’s suggested food Rules:
- FOLLOW A MEDITTERANEAN DIET – or a natural diet for overall brain and body health
- STAY WELL HYDRATED – 300ml for men and 350ml for women per ten kilos of bodyweight
- CONSUME THREE PORTIONS OF FATTY FISH PER WEEK – like salmon or at least 3000mg of good quality krill oil if possible
- AVOID ANTIOXIDANT SUPPLEMENTS – eat a diet rich in dark berries, some red wine and dark chocolate
- DRINK COFFEE AND TEA IN MODERATION – without milk if possible
- AVOID EXCESS SUGAR AND SALT – avoid any processed fruit products including juice and avoid dairy and grains
- AVOID ALCAHOL –
- STICK TO WHOLE GRAINS – in cereals and breads but limit these
- EAT FOOD THAT IS AS FRESH AND AS ORGANIC AS POSSIBLE –
As you can see this list fits well with my general recommendation – eat naturally. Here are some other good tips for helping you to manage your nutrition and make positive changes in your lifestyle:
PLAN AND PREPARE – You are much more likely to make healthy choices in alignment with your goals if you plan ahead and are prepared. Taking a packed lunch tends to be a great option but even if you are eating out – knowing when you will eat and what you are choosing ahead of time helps you to make best choices. A great way to apply this is to record what you are going to eat ahead of time and just stick to the plan.
VARY YOUR FOODS – Variety is the spice of life for more than just taste reasons! Eating varied foods will help your enjoyment but also provide more varied nutrients and help to prevent food allergies and side effects. Food rotation can also help to identify which foods work well for you and which do not. So many people eat the same things daily. Try to have at
least 4 different staple plans you can rotate over four days but even better have seven. If you do record what you are eating and plan and prepare that can help you apply this rule.
Challenge yourself to come up with some alternatives to “the usual”.
BE GOOD – NOT PERFECT – “for those of us who can delay gratification, the world is pretty much our oyster” (Roy Sugarman, motivation for coaches). You don’t have to be perfect to get results. Focus on making good principles part of your daily routine. Try your hardest to stick to your principles the majority of the time. But allow yourself days where you can have your treats as well. A smart practice is to be good during the week and allow yourself 1 or 2 treats on weekends. These extras can be burnt off by doing a bit of extra exercise next time you are at the gym or going for a walk or bike ride on the weekend! If you try to stick to a super strict diet and deny yourself everything you are much more likely to fail altogether. I’m sure there are some things you need to limit but you don’t need to deny all pleasures.
- What are some treats you will allow yourself and when (and what will you do to counter this)?
- What are some treats you will remove or limit?
EAT LESS THAN YOU “NEED” – most people eat too much. If you are trying to gain weight and muscle that can work in your favour. If you are trying to maintain or lose weight obviously this will help. The thing about doing this is it is hard to know how many calories you are burning and consuming. Be careful however not to eat too little. Though better than overeating this can also affect your health and fitness adversely. This is where I highly recommend making use of some of the great apps and websites out there that help you track your calories.
- Are you eating less than you need?
- Are you eating too little?
TRACK YOUR CALORIES – I’ve been in the health and fitness game for over twenty years now and when I first started I soon realised this was asking people way too much. Unless it was a completely self-absorbed bodybuilder this was not a good strategy. You had to weigh food, make notes and records and calculations etc. Moving on to the 21st century and now it easy to track your calories with apps or websites. These systems are not perfect as they still
rely on accurate data input by you but using them is far better than just wondering if you are getting it right. Most databases are extensive in terms of food choices and very easy to add your personal metrics, goals and calories in and out. The app I recommend here is called myfitnesspal. And before you say – “still too much trouble” you don’t have to do this for the rest of your life. Just use for two weeks or month until you get a very good idea of what you are actually doing and whether you are on track or not. The app also makes it very easy by storing your foods so they are easy to reference in future.
HYDRATE WITH WATER – Notice the last word in this strategy. W.A.T.E.R – water!!! We really don’t need anything else and before you say “I don’t like water” please re-read the philosophy and attitude principles. If you have that attitude it is a “luxury” you are kidding yourself with. The fact is we didn’t use to have any other option except water and without it we die. Still not satisfied with water? OK – add some fresh fruit and ice to your water to make it more enjoyable. For males try to get 300ml per ten kilograms of bodyweight and
females should take 350ml of water per ten kilograms of bodyweight. I can go ahead and list all of the benefits of water….
…. but I’m not going to – you can Google them if you like but before you do this ask your intuition if it makes sense to stay well hydrated for better health and fitness?
Glass or steel bottles are better for your health and the environment. We don’t need to pollute the earth or our bodies with plastic. It saves you money and health to have a reusable glass or steel bottle.
Many people believe that drinking water causes fluid retention. In fact, the opposite is true. Drinking water helps the body rid itself of excess sodium, which results in less fluid retention. The body will retain fluid if there is too little water in the cells. If the body receives enough water on a regular basis, there will be no need for it to conserve water and this will reduce fluid retention.
SUPPLEMENT LAST – nutrition first! What this strategy means is do not rely on supplements to get your nutrition. Natural food will give you more than enough nutrients if you actually eat it.
“There is not any compelling research on the value of taking antioxidants as a supplement in pill form. Not only do they not help, but worse, they are clearly harmful.” (Roy Sugarman, saving your life one day at a time)
Supplements clearly come under the category of processed food and therefore should be avoided unless you are advised otherwise by a medical professional who has done blood analysis. Instead eat a diet including lots of varieties of fruits and vegetables.
DO NOT DIET – Do not ever bother going a “diet”. They are proven to unsuccessful for permanent weight loss. Instead make long term, lifestyle changes that you can see yourself maintaining forever! By adopting good habits over the long term you will achieve your ideal weight and maintain it.
- What are the 3 worst nutrition habits you can change now?
- What are some other changes for later on?
EAT NATURALLY – The Number one strategy to apply this principle is this – eat naturally. If nature made it – put it in your mouth. If man made it – keep it out. Here are a few examples of things nature made – meat, fowl, fish, egg, vegetables (and their oils), fruit, nuts, seeds
If it has been on a shelf for a long time it is probably bad for you. Generally speaking the longer it has been there the worse it is for you.
If it died recently it is probably good for you – like lettuce you just pulled out of the ground yourself or bought from a local farmer. Avoid processed, packaged and refined foods (the four white devils are white sugar, white salt (do use 100% unprocessed sea salt), white flour and white processed milk. If you can’t pronounce what’s on the label –don’t eat it! (Preservatives, colours etc) Processed/packaged foods are full of junk and create stress and inflammation internally.
- What are some processed foods that you can stop eating now?
- What are some natural foods you can add to your diet?
FOOD TYPE TARGETS – The following food type targets are taken from nutrition expert Matt O’Neil’s metabolic jumpstart programs. AIM to eat:
- Vegetables = 4-5 serves
- Fruit = 2 serves
- Dairy = 2 serves
- Protein = 1-3 serves
- Healthy Oils = 3 serves (fish oil capsules are a great way to get in ½ of this*),
- Starches = 3-5
One food that deserves a special mention here is – Omega 3 good fats. The best way to take Omega 3 is via fish consumption. Especially in salmon, cod, sardines, and barramundi.
Omega 3 oil is available from plant sources as well, such as flaxseeds and flaxseed oil (which is quite volatile and needs to be kept cool). Omega 3’s are great for your brain, cells and metabolism so make sure your fat consumption includes them on purpose.
SKIP SUGAR – One of the best books I have read on the affect of sugar on our bodies is this one by Gary Taubes, “Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It”. He makes it pretty clear that the science concludes it is the unhealthy carbohydrates and sugars in our diet that triggers fat storage. I don’t read any book and take it as truth but he provides compelling evidence in his discussion and has the following things to say on the topic:
“The simple answer as to why we get fat is that carbohydrates make us so; protein and fat do not”
“The simplest way to look at all these associations, between obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cancer, and Alzheimer’s (not to mention the other the conditions that also associate with obesity and diabetes, such as gout, asthma, and fatty liver disease), is that what makes us fat – the quality and quantity of carbohydrates we consume – also makes us sick.”
“it’s carbohydrates that ultimately determines insulin secretion and insulin that drives the accumulation of body fat.”
“Any diet can be made healthy or at least healthier—from vegan to meat-heavy—if the high- glycemic-index carbohydrates and sugars are removed, or reduced significantly.”
“Eat as much as you like of meat, fish, fowl, eggs, and leafy green vegetables. Avoid starches, grains, and sugars and anything made from them (including bread, sweets, juices, sodas), and learn for yourself whether and how much fruit and non-starchy vegetables (such as peas, artichokes, and cucumbers) your body can tolerate.”
Any kind of processed sugar in particular here should be targeted to be removed from the diet. This aligns with the “Eat naturally” idea and with a little preparation it is not hard to apply. Personally I don’t apply Gary’s ides to the extreme (I allow more fruit and weekend treats) but any kind of move towards them would be a healthy one.
“Sugar is a type of bodily fuel, yes, but your body runs about as well on it as a car would” –
DON’T CANCEL – REPLACE: This principle comes from another of “The Great courses audio books: Brain based Strategies to a better you” by Professor Peter M Vishton. The idea here is that you will be more far more likely to succeed at changing any nutrition habit by aiming to replace the bad behaviour with a good behaviour rather than just cancelling the bad behaviour. For example – instead of telling yourself – “no more lollies” – tell yourself – “have some grapes”.
TIME YOUR MEALS – “Whether you’re taking a Yoga class or practicing on your own, the guidelines for eating before Yoga practice are similar to the advice given for most physical activities. With even the lightest meal, such as fruit or juice, allow at least one hour before class. For larger meals with vegetables and grains, allow two hours and for heavy meals with meat, three to four hours. Eating right after class is okay.” Yoga for dummies.
Another strategy here is to eat 3 – 6 smaller meals per day: choose what works best for you….the most important thing is that you ONLY eat the amount of calories you should be eating for the day based on your weight, height, and goals. What works best for you (are you a grazer or 3 meal/day person.
EAT LIKE A PYRAMID – If want a “V” shape body use an upside down V (pyramid) approach to your diet. Bigger breakfast. Medium Lunch. Lighter Dinner. If you skip breakfast, have a light lunch and a big dinner you will more likely get fatter!
- What is your biggest meal of the day?
- Do you eat for what you have done or are about to do?
CHOOSE HIGH NUTRIENT LOW CALORIE: Choosing more nutrients rich foods (like green beans, spinach, apples, cottage cheese, raw almonds, yogurt, lean beef, and fish) can help increase your metabolism and help you feel more energetic and aid fat loss.
- Which Nutrient Rich Foods you could be adding and which Nutrient Poor food you could take away?
- Which Energy Sparse Foods could you be adding and which Energy rich foods you could take away?:
In conclusion here is a basic guideline of foods to choose and avoid taken from both the paelo diet and a cross-fit program for elite athletes (before you say “I’m neither a cave man or an
elite athlete” I present the diet below because it is a great summary of eating naturally:
· All the Meat you want:
Any beef (ground beef, steak), pork (chops, ham), lamb, duck, chicken, turkey, eggs, fish, seafood (clams, scallops, etc). Fresh or frozen.
· Plenty of Veggies:
Any fresh or frozen veggies (except potato, corn, and beans)
· Supplement with Nuts/Seeds:
Any nuts/seeds (except peanuts), raw/ lightly roasted and unsalted; or any nut butters
· Add some other Healthy Fats:
Avocados, olive/almond/coconut oil, or flaxseed/grape seed oil
· Some Fruit:
Any whole fresh fruit (no juice), but in moderation (1-2 servings)
Here is a list of things to minimise:
· Sugar or Artificial Sugar
(Equal, Splenda, Stevia, agave nectar, pure cane, corn syrup, fructose, molasses, honey, maltodextrin, etc)
· Junk Food
(cakes, desserts, cookies, candy, chocolate, pastries, chips, crackers,ice cream, snack foods, etc)
(wheat products, corn products, rice, pasta, bread, oatmeal, cereals, etc)
(peanuts, lima beans, kidney beans, black beans etc)
(milk, ½ + ½, cream, butter, yogurt, cheese, etc)
(Includes wine, beer and hard liquor)
Here is what to drink:
(black coffee, any unsweetened tea)
You don’t have to be perfect with your nutrition – just try and eat naturally as often as possible and I’m sure you will improve your health and fitness.