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Man tries diets to see what makes him feel the best


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Has a lot of solid dietary advice for anyone, after trying a range of diets including Paleo, Mediterranean, and the government food pyramid.

He ended up with something that has carbs but no dairy and very little red meat:

My diet looks pretty much like the Mediterranean diet filtered through the experiments I lay out at the end of the story: Kale-and-berry smoothies for breakfast (occasionally swapped out for a spinach omelet with bread dipped in olive oil); veggie-and-turkey wrap sandwiches or salads for most lunches; pastas, salads, fish for dinner; no dairy; few nightshades; very little red meat (and only grass-fed and/or game meat when I do); a lot of almonds and almond butter; liberal use of olive oil. And once every week to 10 days, I eat whatever the hell I want.

Healthy eating means moderation of everything more than elimination of anything.

Few nightshades means few tomato products, potatoes and eggplant?

http://www.livestrong.com/article/367949-list-of-nightshade-vegetables-fruits/

(I can have a beer /ice cream float once every 10 days!)

Mushrooms aren't plants, they're fungi. Potatoes and peppers -- both sweet and hot -- are the other major nightshades.

Oops, was editing while you were writing apparently.

Did he ever explain why no nightshades?

those seem to be more individualized in their effects 

One big takeaway: snacks are best used to PREVENT hunger, rather than to address it.

A handful of nuts, a slice of melon, or peanut-butter toast a couple of hours after each meal kept my energy levels even throughout the day. Whenever I worked out, I was adequately fueled.

It's tough to exercise when you're hungry.

The winning strategy:

I also love the fact that, in a book that's ostensibly about weight loss, Acquista's only real discussion about calories is to say that counting them will ultimately derail attempts to lead a healthier lifestyle. The core message: Eat as many vegetables as you can, plus healthier versions of most of the foods you already like, and find activities you enjoy. But don't forget that sometimes health and happiness depend on big, festive meals and afternoon naps. If your pants get tight, eat less and exercise more.

"This one will be a fallback for the rest of my life."

i just copied this exact same excerpt to paste here!  foiled again by adam rifkin!  :)

this is a great article.  the guy did a lot of dieting to come to some sound conclusions!

i can't stand calorie-counting.  i think it is distracting, depressing, and the undoing to all my diets!

It seems like many people who successfully manage their food intake use this strategy. 

Sorry I foiled you. :)

and i guess on some level i do it still, all the time.  i just can't get too calorie-focused or i get weird!

Calories are just a shorthand for understanding what's in what you're eating. 

true.  and now that i understand it, i don't have to obsess over it anymore.  phew!

The hardest thing is training our brains to go along with it. 

Also, be careful wielding that Tofu.

Consuming excessive amounts of soy products can pose health risks, including disrupted hormone levels.

How to find what works for you:

What I can provide, though, after 12 months alone in the diet-industry wilderness, is a strategy for finding what does work for you— my own take on what is commonly referred to as an elimination diet. You'll have to keep a diary of everything you eat and how it makes you feel, but it won't take a full year— more like two months.

The first two weeks will be the hardest. Eliminate prepared foods, coffee, dairy, nightshades, wheat, soy, alcohol, corn, eggs, processed grains, processed anything else, added sugar, and all but the most organic, free-range, grass-fed of meats. Relax—this leaves you with a lot of options. You'll find most of them in the produce section. Mix in the occasional serving of fish, turkey, or buffalo, drink herbal tea, discover spelt bread, and learn to cook quinoa. You'll get through.

After that, start methodically experimenting, one at a time, with foods you eliminated and see what happens over the next 72 hours. Did that omelet make you feel nauseated? Any skin issues after tomatoes? Did meat make you feel better? You see where this is going. After two months, you'll have a functioning idea of foods that work for you and ones that work against you. If you can, see your doctor and ask for blood tests at the beginning and end of your two months.

Doesn't this kind of start from the idea that MOST foods make you feel bad? Nausea, skin issues, blood tests?!?! WTF people!!! Elimination diets used to be for doctors to help DETECT ALLERGIES... using an approach like this takes a "food is dangerous" mindset to the extreme. I do not dig that. I don't need an extreme approach like this to help me conclude that white sugar is more an architectural element in patisserie than a food, or that spelt bread costs way too much money, or that homegrown tomatoes are a completely different food than imported winter tomatoes... cause I have COMMON FUCKING SENSE, which apparently is out of fashion now.

Perhaps we can bring back common sense. 

What did I learn in the end? 

Lean protein, good fats, healthy carbs. More specifically: modestly sized meals consisting of lots of produce, a bit of lean meat now and then, and grains that haven't been bleached and pulverized into submission. Also, olive oil is good, and snack on nuts and dates.

A last bit of advice:

Once you've settled on a nutritional approach, cheat. Every now and then, eat whatever you want and wash it down with what's on tap. Knowing you can do this will make it easier to eat well the rest of the time.

Let me offer a few simple foundational ideas as to why ANY "best" diet approach always misses the mark and is a red herring for many, many smart folks:

1. We are what we eat.  

Who we really are and how we really feel arises from the foods we eat.  You can’t exercise or meditate your way out of a bad diet.  Unless you’re already a god.  

Our foods not only introduce the raw materials of our physical existence, but they also cultivate and curate our intestinal micro-flora, which drives our entire micro-biome in a never-ending ecological cycle.  We humans can and do modify that biome, and entire societies have adapted to thrive in all environments on incredibly diverse and contradictory "diets" that are aligned with, and arise naturally from, healthy local surroundings.  This is why we find carnivore, vegetarian, omnivore, monodiets across all sorts of diverse indigenous peoples around the world.  Hint: the Mediterranean diet makes sense for people in... wait for it... Mediterranean environments and ecosystems.  But guess what else, any naturally evolved “diet” is better than...

2. Our food today is not our food of yesteryear.  

When we arrogate about a diet of this category or that category, cite PubMed studies about specific foods and so on we are widely missing the mark of what matters most: nearly all modern foods and animals in our food supply have been genetically modified to reach industrial production rates (both by scientific interventions as well as the ecological influences imposed upon their biomes by industrial feeds, constrained and overcrowded physical conditions and polluted environments.  All foods and animals produced in great volume today are pure crap compared to the exact same representation of itself we think of as being consumed with common sense of our grandparents in yesteryears.  Their rules and diets don’t apply anymore because the constituent elements on which those rules were evolved no longer exist.   Worse, we continue to make false distinctions and romantically imagine that an idea of a food that our grandparents ate and grew (their exercise in maximum value and pride) is currently what we can buy today.  It is not.

3. Terroir is the single and most important aspect of ALL food quality and nutrition.

The quality and provenance of the environment in which our foods come to exist and are consumed is everything. We mostly only have commercial access to foods made by scientists and mono crop industrialists, whose primary objectives in any targeted market is shelf-life stability and increased profit margins.  Yes, even our precious grass-fed (is it grass-finished?) and organic narratives are near total bullshit marketing built with the naive help of pop-science dietitians and lifestyle sycophants erecting a house of cards on an extractive commercial experience.  We are entirely interdependent upon a system of prescriptive health and vitality.  And compiling food is just like compiling code: crap in = crap out in all vectors, not just your toilet.  It really doesn't matter how you serve it.  There are no real foods in our commercial marketplaces any more--real foods are simply unavailable unless you raise them yourselves or get them directly from people who do.  Don't let that organic label fool you--an absence of pesticides and hormones doesn't mean a presence of vital soils and pure environment.

4. In the long run we’re all dead--fuck it and just have fun.

Most of these above realities and illusions don’t really matter much for each of us individually, unless we are the few and deranged who believe our only way forward is to buck the environmental and commercial forces weighing down upon us by scratching out a fringe existence in hopes of a robust nomadic hunter gathering lifestyle utterly dependent upon fast disappearing vital foodstuffs as the entire source of our increased equanimity and healthspan.  Hey--it’s happy hour at Hooters!

We often don’t know how to start such a journey and of those of us that do, many of us won’t, and of those of us that will start, we will find incessant social and commercial forces pulling us off the path with their own myths and reasons.  

And in this spirit it oftentimes makes the most sense to just eat whatever DOES make you feel better, moment to moment.  Bon appetit!

Yet the illusion of the path remains.  

5. It takes what it takes to walk the path.  

Maybe it's courage, maybe it's ignorance, maybe it's simply a fuck you attitude to the status quo, or even all these things and more. Or nothing at all. But one thing is for certain: once on the path it extracts a tenacious dedication from you to stay on it.  And it's harder to walk a path without a village to go to... and oftentimes you’ve simply no other option but to make your own village up ahead even before you get there.  And you can.  So don’t lose heart... ever.

As my teacher told me after I took up the path of dedicated practice, “Better to have never begun... now get back to work.”

Rob, this is very thoughtful. How many years did it take for you to refine this position?

Refining items 1 through 4 above took no time at all... just look around in the world and write down what you see.  Anyone can make these observations.

Item 5. above is taking all the time in the world and is still quite unrefined, and I'm not done refining it yet: it's axiomatic I'll never be done, for better or worse, "Better to have never begun..." ...sigh...

Item 5 is proof that our brains sometimes work against us. 

It's much harder to walk the path than it is to logically see the path. 

those are all great points, rob.

your teacher's comment is a sobering one!  "better to have never begun..."

yet here we are.  doing our best.

ignorance is bliss... unless you're dying of malnutrition!

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