The internet is saturated with controversial health advice. One blog post or study will explain how sugar is bad. The next blog post or study will explain how sugar is good. Paleo is great but following it strictly is not ideal. Gluten free is a hot health trend but will striving to be 100% gluten free do more harm than good? No one needs gluten but most folks don’t need to be so strict about it either.
What is the ultimate goal? To be as healthy as you can possibly be or, to eat in a way that allows you to enjoy life as much as possible?
It’s difficult to know what to believe. I trust a lot of bloggers including Mark Sisson (he started it all for me!), Matt Stone, J. Stanton, Emily Benfit and even Ann Marie Michaels even though I wrote an epic rebuttal to her I’m not Paleo post one year ago. Mark continues to stand by his carbohydrate curve while Matt Stone said the following in this interview (emphasis at the end is mine).
Sugar, and carbohydrate in general, is the preferred source of metabolic fuel. By sugar, that means anything that tastes sweet – fruit, fruit juice, dried fruit, honey, molasses, maple syrup, the white stuff, etc. Just a few weeks ago I helped a diabetic woman passing sugar in her urine in large quantities to quickly eliminate that by displacing more of her normal diet with sweet foods. Fruit in particular. RBTI is cool because it’s a discipline all about hugging the midline – the balance point. But the belief that sugar raises “sugar levels” is absurd. I can think of no better way to improve glucose metabolism than to jack up carbohydrate intake.
I take everything that I read with a grain of salt.
I believe the following tips can suit everyone. You may not need to follow any of the tips but can you go wrong with them? I’d love to read your thoughts. Just leave a comment below.
1. Enjoy every bite of food as if it’s your last
You may not wake up tomorrow. Knowing this as a possibility, why would you ever feel guilty about any bite of food that you take? It doesn’t matter if you eat a bratwurst with the bun and ketchup with high fructose corn syrup halfway through your round of golf or homemade baked kale chips at home for a snack. It doesn’t matter if you have cake and ice cream at your siblings wedding or a homemade wine smoothie at home for breakfast.
What if you dive into peanut butter with a spoon and end up eating one cup? Enjoy it. Eating a cup of peanut butter with joy is a hell of a lot healthier than eating a cup of peanut butter with guilt. If you enjoy that cup of peanut butter then doesn’t it seem likely that the chances of you doing it again are slimmer compared to if you ate that peanut butter with guilt?
Now go grab a spoon and your jar of peanut butter, then sit down with a smile on your face and savor every last spoonful. If you ever feel the slightest amount of guilt then toss it out the window (your guilt, not the peanut butter). You can eat whatever the hell you want in the quantity that you desire.
2. Try new (or old) foods frequently
For the first 21 years of my life I was afraid of seafood. I simply never gave anything a chance. I had seafood phobia. Four years ago at a friend’s wedding, I decided to eat the fish that was served. This decision was completely random. It wasn’t terrible but it definitely wasn’t awesome.
I now enjoy a variety of foods from the sea. I currently eat this tuna daily for lunch. I love many more white and other colored fish too. I’ve tossed back raw oysters on three different occasions this year. I took a bite of a fish eyeball last year. I love scallops, crab and lobster. I eat salmon with the skin. My favorite seafood dish is grilled octopus from Greek Islands in Chicago. Even grilled calamari (squid) is decent!
I even thoroughly enjoyed escargot (snail) twice on the low carb cruise in May. The texture rivals mushrooms.
Liver is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet and while the taste does not suit me yet, the liver pate from Practical Paleo on top of cheese is to die for.
When you are open to trying new foods, your palate will naturally grow. Whether you like a food or not is mostly pre-determined. Trust me on this one. Your mind plays games with you. I never hated seafood I just decided I hated it before I ever gave it a real chance. I always had a negative attitude until I randomly decided to flip the switch. You can do the same with other foods. It may take some practice but it’s well worth it in the end.
How frequent should you try new foods? That’s your choice.
Before you eat, before you even begin preparing a meal, pause. Perhaps you are about to dive into that jar of peanut butter. Before you do, pause. Pay attention to your breathing for one moment. This may mean 10 seconds or 4 minutes. After you pause, you are more likely to consume the amount of peanut butter (or whatever other food) that your body truly wants.
If you do this before taking that first bite of a hamburger or fries from McDonalds then maybe, just maybe, you will instead toss it into the trash and never come back.
Do you forget to enjoy your food no matter what it is you are eating? What foods have you tried in the past year that you now love? When was the last time you have paused prior to eating or preparing a meal? Did it offer feedback? Leave a comment below!