Friday, April 7, 2017

On healthy eating, food that tastes bad, and the Ultimate Trade-Off

By all accounts, I eat in a manner that most people would term "healthy."

Of course, as an American, it's not difficult to eat healthy compared with your countrymen. When you begin to understand what healthy eating really is, you quickly become appalled at what doctors call the Standard American Diet (and its appropriate acronym, "SAD").

We don't exactly eat in a way that promotes feeling good and longevity, folks. We just don't. And what's worse, our #1 export as a nation is our poor dietary habits. The Type-2 diabetes epidemic is becoming a global phenomenon, though I would guess we still lead the world in insulin shots per capita.

I ate that way for a long time. Not as much as some folks, but still not ideal from a medical standpoint. Then I started doing some reading and found out what our bodies truly need. And it ain't the chemical-filled "low-fat" stuff that was all the rage in the 90s and beyond. It's real food, as close to its natural state as possible.

My diet is not perfect. I'll be the first to admit that. These days I don't eat as much protein as I should, and I've not been able to give blood in a while because my iron levels are always too low (though interestingly, I feel like I have a lot of energy most days). I also eat way, way too much fruit. It fills me up, and there can be a lot of sugar in fruit, though as I understand it, it's a natural sugar that's metabolized differently from the added sugar that permeates everything at the grocery store.

But as I try to evolve my eating patterns, I think I'm definitely getting better. There's improvement, which is good.

Here for example is absolutely everything I ate yesterday (Friday, March 31st):

* 1 cup oatmeal (1/2 cup plain oats, 1/2 cup water...I honestly love how it tastes, though I know many people would say it's incredibly bland)
* 1 banana
* 1 cup coffee with 16-18g of half and half

SNACKS (eaten throughout the day...I snack a lot):
* 3 more bananas
* 4 apples
* 1 grapefruit
* 1 carrot
* 1 ounce walnuts
* 1 packet Chicken of the Sea pink salmon
* 1 cup plain Greek yogurt (yes, I eat it and like it plain)
* 1 whole-wheat mini bagel
* 1 Weight Watchers cheese stick
* 3 more cups of coffee prepared just like the one I had at breakfast above

* 1 greens salad (even mixture of spinach and kale) with a combo olive oil/red wine vinegar dressing

* 2 ounces bran flakes with a cup of almond milk (NOTE: This is a very, very light dinner for me. I usually eat more than this, but Terry is out of town and the kids ordered pizza that I didn't want to wait for. So cereal it was!)

This was about how I ate every day last week, and I lost 1.4 pounds (I also jogged four days, which is important to note). That's a good, sensible weight loss, and I didn't feel especially hungry at any part of the day.

Should I have eaten more whole grains and protein? Yes. But that's just one day. It's a snapshot. I get more of those things on other days.

Every day I try to get my share of healthy fats, which generally consists of nuts, the olive oil on my salad, and any fish I can scrounge up when it's available. I try to get whole grains (i.e., not white bread or white rice), I try to get vegetables (though generally not enough), I have no problem meeting my fruit quota, and I'll eat lean meats when we do have meat.

I read all kinds of books and articles about healthy eating, and I know the areas in which I'm lacking. You can suggest anything and I'll probably be aware that I should be eating it. But this is my general approach, and medically it seems to work in terms of my blood pressure, blood sugar, etc. All of those important numbers the doctor always talks to you about.

Many people will say that this type of food isn't enjoyable for them, and that they would rather have fewer but fun years vs. more but bland-eating years. And I offer up no judgment on that whatsoever. It is, in the end, what I call "The Ultimate Trade-Off."

You have to ask yourself: What do I want? What are my goals? What makes me feel best? And while we all know the "right" answer to that question in terms of health and wellness, the real "right" answer varies for each of us.

It may be that you want to eat steak every day for the rest of your life, and if you die early, so be it. And I completely respect that. I am not the Food Police for anyone but myself. What I want out of life and what you want out of life may differ, but neither of our approaches is inherently better than the other.

In the end, as I said in yesterday's weight loss post, we all have to make our own decisions. The key is being truly comfortable with the one you make and living with it. If you can do that, then you've got a big part of this whole "life" thing figured out.

No comments:

Post a Comment