What a judgmental jerk, right? The title suggests that a statement can be made regarding what to eat that serves a universal purpose, to serve all. Jerk however, is the first thought when health, and to a certain extent fitness, is brought up. The word “diet” does not represent food choices, but implies caloric reduction. Just the word implies you’re already worrying about less of something (like food) and more of another (like exercise). It certainly is not common for someone to say the word “diet” without some type of judgment.
The word sucks from a couple of standpoints. Firstly people should already be on a diet because their body inherently knows what and when to eat. Certainly there are foods that confuse this issue and we will have that discussion, but in general if you eat the right foods at the right times, your body will naturally lose the fat suit it is carrying. Secondly, and more specifically, your diet MAY suck because foods have been demonized as bad or good, or at the very least manipulated by the marketing of nutrient deficient foods. If sugars are bad for you, then 16 bananas a day just might not be a good thing. Believe it or not, oatmeal is not providing any more usable fiber than a carrot. General Mills wants society, and more specifically you, to think oatmeal holds the power of fiber reducing cholesterol and five star health. Perfectly reasonable people have become parrots of a marketing tool that makes no sense at all. People actually ask where to get fiber from as if fruits and vegetables are somehow fiber deficient. So while I realize most people are not going to exchange their oatmeal for spinach, acknowledging the superiority of the nutrients in spinach over oatmeal is understanding how to change your health.
Let’s pretend we are adults here and that oatmeal is not the secret answer to life (you might think I feel bad picking on a food endorsed by Wilfred Brimley but I do not) so a big bowl with brown sugar and raisins is not one of life’s top necessities. Also factor in that there may be other things throughout the day that we might want as a treat making the brown sugar bowl this morning a waste. Perhaps after passing the McDonalds billboard or walking past Burger King and smelling that flame broiled breeze your brain is enlightened. This is how diabolical food marketers are. They convince people that oatmeal with brown sugar and raisins is good for them, and that is the problem. The equivalent of oatmeal in reality is eating a bowl of ice cream for breakfast and actually a favorable argument for ice cream over oatmeal can be made. Now that I have your attention speaking of ice cream’s potential benefits…
Not only do I like pancakes, pizza and yes oatmeal and eat them regularly, but I am under no illusion that any of them are good for me. Maybe marginally bad is best put for me but that is okay. Life deserves to be enjoyed, not just subsisted. Effective strategies for eating these foods while allowing the body and mind to function, using the experience of a million years of evolution is where knowledge meets power. That is key, as your body already knows how to function well. The majority of people are simply sending confusing signals.
It starts with the metabolism. As a certified personal trainer, I have heard countless times that I should eat five to six small meals a day to “stoke my metabolism.” This is a bullshit lie that has been told so many times it seems like fact. Just like it is ingrained in many that oatmeal equates to health, eating all day to keep the body running must be the end all be all as well. Of course it is possible to achieve your health goals eating five to six meals, clearly many people have done that. What is not promoted is that you can get a similar result eating one meal a day. Personally I eat two meals a day most days, and I usually have a small snack in between the two. I am not going to get ahead of myself explaining exactly why that schedule works for me and can for you, but that will be part of what we will explore in upcoming pages. Each person is different and ultimate success needs to meet your preferences. If your preference is six meals a day knock yourself out, but there should be general rules about what those meals look like so you do not end up destroying millions of years of evolution.
Like most people reading this, I became an authority on diets from Weight Watchers and Slimfast to eat-like-a-caveman Paleo and The Zone. Many people hold these diets in high regard. Your ultimate goal for life is to not overeat relative to your activity level but also not count calories, and with the right knowledge to meet that goal you will be set for life.
There are always arguments for more precision and more or less activity. The point is not to convince you everything laid out is always going to be gospel truth, but to lay out guidelines which will allow you to understand how to make your own decisions and prosper in your own body, mind and life. Let’s turn the chaos into confidence and the unexpected into perfect timing.