Sunday, August 20, 2017

A Diet I Can Live With

I'm on a seafood diet; I see food, I eat it. If you have 10 pounds to lose then you can 'go on a diet'. What that really means is you are going to temporarily change your diet to achieve a goal. You are already on a diet, everyone is on a diet, whatever one regularly eats is one's diet.

I was obese (class III, to be exact). I didn't need to 'go on a diet', I needed to change my diet for the rest of my life. I needed to get off the 'see-food' diet and find a diet with which I could live for the rest of my life. I needed to destroy old habits and build new ones. I needed to reset my palate so I could learn to enjoy foods that weren't killing me.

I abused food. I'm surprised Hellmann's didn't take out a restraining order against me. I lost a lot of weight in the first two months after my slip - but that wasn't the goal. The goal was to retake control over what I ate so that I could design a diet that I could follow for the rest of my life.

I've cooked in cafeterias and care-homes in the past. For insurance reasons, they need to be able to account for all the choices made in designing the menu. All too often the budget has more influence than good nutrition but good nutrition has to at least be imitated to some degree. To that end, they do not turn to daytime television, super-market checkout magazines, or trendy diet books. I've never seen an institutional kitchen that strives to achieve a gluten-free menu, or lactose-free menu, or even vegan menu.

When it comes to satisfying the insurance companies and the stake-holders, institutional kitchens follow an archaic system known as the Canada Food Guides (well, Canadian institutional kitchens do this). Why do they follow that archaic, bureaucratic system? I'll tell you why. It wasn't written to make the best seller's list; it was written by a bunch of eggheads who have pocket protectors, clipboards, microscopes, access to national health data, and, uhm, the ability to correlate food trends with public health.

Those eggheads have been telling us for generations that we shouldn't be eating too much refined sugar, processed meat, or deep-fried foods. They've been telling us to take it easy on the salt, go hard on the veggies and fruit, and opt for the low-fat version on dairy. I'm not sure when it became acceptable to have a bowl of candy for breakfast but I bet if you went to a local high school and looked at an archive of their yearbooks you could pinpoint the decade when that happened.

In my grandparents' generation, obesity wasn't a problem. They grew up thin but died of heart attacks because they ate too much sausage, baloney, and bacon. The food guides updated to these facts but grocery store shelves just got worse. Let me criticize the Canada Food Guides a little bit more: I don' t think they are emphatic enough about avoiding added sugars and processed meats.

The diet that I am evolving is based on the Canada Food Guides with a couple exceptions. I'm trying to eliminate added sugars and processed meats rather than just limit them. Secondly, for the purpose of getting my BMI under 25, I am gravitating more towards vegetables than fruits.

The diet that I outlined in my last blog didn't have enough veggies and relied too heavily on starches. That was more about making my meals incredibly bland than eating a balanced diet. I lost a lot of weight, but that was mostly because I eliminated snacks between meals to gain control of my diet.

The primary objective in my diet is to control the snacks because I do plan to add them back in. I've already started having a small portion of fruit between breakfast and lunch. Today that snack was 10 cherries. Between lunch and dinner I plan to start having some raw veggies. When my BMI is under 25, I'll add an ounce of low fat dip to those veggies.

My second objective is to keep added sugars to an absolute minimum. I've recently done a little experiment with eliminating added sugars for a week. Oddly, sugar is supposed to contain a lot of energy, but since I eliminated added sugars (sucrose, glucose, dextrose, liquid invert sugar, corn syrup, maltodextrin, etc, etc, etc) I feel like I have a lot more energy.

If I can control how I snack and avoid most added sugars, then I think my third objective will be rather easy; follow the Canada Food Guides. I still need to get more veggies so I'm looking at ways to do so. I've also started looking at how I can get more whole grains without added sugars; even whole grain bread often has a lot of extra sugar in it beyond what is needed to activate the yeast.

My diet is evolving and I'm developing some recipes as I go and I do intend to share them. What I should emphasize, however, is that having a "no added sugar" meal isn't likely to help you much if you can't avoid added sugars between meals. In point of fact, if you are still drinking a lot of sugary sodas then a "no added sugar" meal might just taste so 'off' to you that you won't want another.

The real question, one that I shall try to answer in my next post, is, "How awful is it to live a life without added-sugars?"

No comments:

Post a Comment