Monday, March 17, 2014

The Current State of My Diet

It has been a while since I've felt I had something to say about diet. Today I have come to the conclusion that what I have been doing for the last couple of years makes reasonable sense to a reasonable person. I want to share it now because there is so much information out there and much of it conflicting, confusing, and contradictory. 

One approach is to eat mostly fruits and vegetables like our oldest ancestors the primates. Our digestive system seems to be designed for this, and fruits and veggies get assimilated with least amount of work. And, they taste great (well, fruits anyway) just as they are naturally without human interference. (The 80/10/10 diet is a prime example of this way of thinking.)

Then you have the plant based diet with more emphasis on vegetables and grains. Plenty of science out there supporting the health claims here. This diet is easier to follow than fruit only and more fun. (Dr. Joel Fuhrman's diet guidelines are best example of this approach. And I highly recommend reading anything he writes.) Just don't go off eating french fries and potato chips and think you are being healthy.

And the latest health approach that has gained a lot of popularity is the Paleo Diet which says we should be eating like cavemen. Mostly meat and vegetables. I am not crazy about this because it sounds too much like the Atkins diet which is great short term for losing weight but has serious health issues. Anyway...

Here is what I have decided. The Buddha's main advice for a good life is to follow the middle path, balance everything. So, I have been following this approach without really being aware of it in my dietary habits the past few years.

For breakfast I am pretty much follow the 80/10/10 diet, or something like it from the Fit For Life book and the Natural Hygiene people. (We should always be eating fruit on an empty stomach.) This works out perfectly. Fruit for breakfast and I'm fine. Get a little hungry before lunch have a fruit snack.

Lunch I am a plant-based diet person and let Dr. Fuhrman's guidelines guide me. I have a big salad with leafy greens and munch on lots of vegetables while I'm making it. (I make my own veggie dip and eat lots of broccoli, cucumbers, peppers, etc.) I do have small bowl of organic whole grain cereal after the salad and that really does the trick for filling me up.

And for dinner I'm a small-time paleo man. Probably something starchy (comfort food) and a small amount of meat. I keep it small because I really don't believe in the Paleo Diet but I think of it as insurance and there may be some benefit to eating a little bit of meat here and there. Plus, I think I'd go crazy if I couldn't have a hamburger once in a while.

So, there you have it. While I do not believe this is in any way perfect, it is kind of a balance between all of the different approaches. I know we need fruit, I know we need vegetables, I know we need less of grains and animal products. And this is my way of surviving. Who knows? I don't know, but it is a middle way and can't be all that bad. For me, it's something I can do without spending all my time thinking about food. There are other things in life you know that need our attention.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Back In Vietnam

I'm back in Vietnam teaching English. I'll be here till May with a few weeks break to come home for Christmas. As you may know I love it here. The people, the climate (unbearably hot sometimes), and the food. I find it so much easier to eat healthily here. Lots of alternatives, exotic fresh fruits, fewer temptations to eat junk food, and interesting healthy Vietnamese options.

My mornings begin with some yoga stretches, and a 5 mile run along the beach. I've begun running barefoot on the cement sidewalk and my feet love the freedom. Today I ran the whole 5 miles without shoes. (My daughter Gina got me interested in the benefits of running barefoot.) It was nice because near the end I could just run into the ocean for a swim, run out, and continue my jog. I rehydrate with some water, a shower, and fresh coconut water. The young coconuts cost only 50 cents each.

I have a smoothie for breakfast, usually mango, pineapple, and fresh squeezed orange juice. I go teach a class and for lunch I snack on chopped up broccoli, carrots, and cucumber while I prepare a salad. I brought raw tahini with me so I could make that marinade dip I mentioned a few blogs ago. I absolutely love that dip! Between the veggies and the salad I'm feeling pretty good. I may have a durian if I'm particularly hungry. Or some small bananas.

I teach an early evening class every night and then usually eat out at a Vietnamese restaurant. The options are endless and I've really begun enjoying the different flavors. Even the nuoc mam (fish sauce) tastes good now. I will either eat vegan or a dish with very small amounts of crab, squid, or chicken for flavoring.

I've lost 6 pounds in the three weeks I've been here without even trying. Life is good. Thank you to those of you who have made comments to the blog, and especially Isabel from Denmark. And Teresa.  And Jessica. And Renee. I feel a close spiritual connectedness to so many of you.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Succeeding With Your Help

Those of you who have commented recently are awesome!! Your ideas and suggestions have really made a difference. I think you all have helped me get another step higher up the health ladder. Wonderful! This is what you said that made a difference:

Teresa suggested that I try drinking a large smoothie late in the afternoon to cut down on my evening cravings. I actually started doing that a couple of days before she posted that comment and had been having success. I've now been eating a simple, relatively light lunch, and at the same time making a banana chocolate smoothie and keeping it in a small cooler. Knowing that if I got hungry I could go for it. Usually sometime between 3 and 4  I drink it. This totally takes the edge off my cravings and I eat less for dinner and less after afterwards. So now I have a fruity berry type smoothie for breakfast, dehydrated flaxseed crackers and dip for lunch or a salad, a banana smoothie for late afternoon, and a light dinner and or snacks in the evening. Totally satisfying and no cravings so I can control my evening food consumption. Teresa I am completely on the same page and path as you. Thanks a bunch!

I want to thank A Little Bunny who shared about her headaches. She suggested that mine could be from the bananas. If they go past their prime they can trigger headaches. I've been watching for that and cutting out any parts that have turned brown more headaches! I was blaming it on the cacao, I am so glad that was not it. Imagine a world with no chocolate!

A number of you also wrote about being 75% raw and the rest just trying to be vegan. I totally agree with you.  Whole wheat pasta or steamed potatoes was suggested for dinner. I love both. Also hummus, which I like to have with flaxseed crackers, but that is more like lunch for me.

Well, thank you all for your ideas and support. I feel like I have made a significant advance. Actually, this may be enough. Let's see, what else do we need to do. Not much more. Blessings to you all!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Spectacular Recipe!

Every once in a while we come across a recipe that just blows us away. That happened the other day. I was so excited I literally ran around the house. And I found it quite by chance.

I was flipping through books and Almond Butter Marinade caught my eye. This is in Raw Foods For Busy People by Jordan Maerin. The only reason I tried making it was because I had almond butter in the cabinet that I wasn't using. What the heck? I'm not much of a marinade type of guy, but I gave it a try.

Here is the recipe with a few changes:
1/2 Cup Raw Almond Butter
1/2 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Honey
4 cloves Garlic
Lemon Juice to taste (I used one lemon)
Cayenne Pepper to taste
Crushed Red Pepper to taste
Sea Salt to taste

I generally don't waste time putting up recipes but this one is so good everyone should have this!

Just blend it all up and toss with your favorite veggies. I chopped up zucchini, carrots, and then put in cherry tomatoes. Marinade for 3 hours at room temperature or leave in the frig. Oh my god! This is sooooooo good!!!!!

A couple of days later I brought a small container of the veggies and marinade to the beach for lunch. It was so filling and delicious. This is one more easy to make addition to my raw food arsenal, what a great way to get raw zucchini into your diet!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Well, it's been a while since I've written anything. That's because I refuse to write if I have nothing to say and I haven't had a thing to say for a while. That doesn't mean I haven't been...hum...thinking about things...and experimenting. Mostly it's been a struggle for I don't know how long. I've been stuck in the muck. As summer winds down I'm beginning to see something new going on.

As I've written before, if the day ended at 5pm I'd have no trouble living on the perfect diet of smoothies, and salads, and cereals. But come dinner time and after dinner and, well, I'm still waiting for the answer. The idea that if we just eat nourishing foods we will not want to eat the junk stuff any more is not true. At least it's not true for me. I want heavy crappy food by the time the sun starts to set.

Which brings me to where I have something to say. No, I don't have all the answers yet. But I'm beginning to get some clues.

My modest success starts with awareness and continues with planning. Just being aware that from 5pm on is when things get dicey helps. As we say in counseling...awareness itself is healing. I'm aware that I tend to make stupid eating decisions later in the day. Which leads me to the second thing happening. I plan for it. I have not found the answers yet to perfect night eating, but progress is being made. For one thing, I keep the poisons out of the house now. No junk food, no salty food, no fatty food. (I've only had ice cream sandwiches at my dad's all summer long. No Ben and Jerry's, no Cold Stone!)

I'm not satisfied that I've found the ideal foods to eat for supper, but they are better than the typical meals I was eating. Reading books by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Dr. Max Gerson is giving me some reasonable alternatives, such as steaming potatoes. I have a feeling that the answer is going to be something simple like being happy with a salad and a tasty raw desert like my daughter Gina is famous for. Now that I think of it, a salad and her strawberry parfait...what's better than that for dinner?

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Finding What Works

It has been a while since I posted a blog. That's because I haven't had anything new or worth writing about. I'm not sure that I do now but you be the judge of that.

What is happening in my life these days is that I'm trying to figure out what works best for me. Ideally I would like to be 90% raw and 100% vegan...and no junk food. These days I'm about 70% raw and 85% vegan...and more junk food than I would like. So I've been experimenting on how best to improve. I've also been having headaches which I believe has been caused by the raw cacao in my chocolate banana smoothies.

I'm not certain but I'm pretty sure the cacao has been giving me headaches. I've switched to carob and they have gone away. And the smoothies still taste really good as long as I put nutmeg in for more flavor.

My diet would be much better if I could control what I ate from 5 o'clock on. I have no trouble being raw and vegan all day long. I love my smoothies and salads and fruits, but come dinner time I have not found something that I can eat to fill me up and make the evening cravings go away. I try different things but nothing works. And that is where I am today. So, please, if any one has suggestions, I'm listening. I'll share something if I learn anything myself. But at this point I haven't got any answers.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human (Part Four)

In the end I did make it to the end of the book, which was a surprise. Not only in finishing it, but that the book ended before the end. By that I mean that the second half of the book was just notes on the first half. Going through the notes I don't believe they added a thing to the book. All of this just led to a frustrating experience. I like it when my beliefs are challenged, which is what I was hoping for when I purchased this book. Instead, I got the run around. The feeling of this book was more like Wrangham was a paid consultant to the food industry than an actual research writer. He just never supported his claims with logical data.

I will give Wrangham this much, it is possible that his claim that cooking made us human is true. He doesn't prove it, but he brings up the possibility and I can accept that. I can believe that cooking animals allowed human beings to live in places that they couldn't have if they depended only on the foods that they evolved to eat. So, while our bodies are designed to eat plants, we can survive, at least to reproduce, by eating animals and cooking tough plants.

To this I say: So what? Cooking animals may have helped us live, but not live longer and healthier. And that is what I am concerned with in the 21st century. Over and over again Wrangham cites studies that show that cooked diets result in more disease and higher mortality rates. And, "The less processed our food, the less intense we can expect the obesity crisis to be." So why in the world this idiot rails against raw foodists is beyond me! He ends the book with this statement: "We must find ways to make our ancient dependence on cooked food healthier." Dear Dr. Wrangham the answer is staring you right in the face. You keep referring to it all through your book. We need a reasonable, rational, realistically raw food diet.

I am sorry you did not help me. I will still feel uneasy whenever I do give in to my love of...hamburgers.