Don’t let me tell you what you must eat and when you must eat it
I’ve been asked recently how I’m doing on my 2013 goals and ideas, which I so publicly revealed. The answer is some better than others. They’re all ongoing, so the end of the year is when I’ll fully assess, and if I haven’t achieved and maintained them I’ll get a big ‘FAIL’ stamp tattooed on my forehead.
One of the things I wanted to do was ‘try new things’, and I’ve approached this in one way by trying out some experiments with food. By food experiments I don’t mean genetically modifying tomatoes to be as big as footballs (although I would try that if I knew how), I mean experimenting with how different foods and eating patterns affect my mind and body.
We’re constantly bombarded with information on diet and nutrition. Magazines and online fitness ‘gurus’ tell you what you MUST do, and use powerful statements such as ‘eat this food to turn your body a fat-burning machine’, and ‘if you don’t eat breakfast your body goes into catabolic starvation mode and your metabolism grinds to a halt’.
When it’s written with such strength and conviction, who cares if it’s true?
Decisiveness sells and attracts people, I get that, but this is one area that requires a more diplomatic approach – experiment with different things, monitor closely how it affects you, keep an open mind and discover a personalized solution for you, which admittedly doesn’t sound quite as good as ‘eat this and watch the fat melt away’.
I guarantee, in 100 years there will still be people telling you that you MUST do this, you MUST do that, and the masses will be lapping it up and paying for it, both with their wallet and their poor results.
Discovering what works for you is possible for anyone with a little intelligence and the will to succeed. Unfortunately a lack of will is what stops most people…
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
My first food experiment was a month without meat. I’ve eaten meat all my life and I’ve tried almost every meat imaginable. If it has a brain and moves, chances are I’ve eaten it. I believe meat consumption is largely healthy, but my big issue comes with the quality of meat. Organic grass-fed beef is very different from supermarket beef lasagne, which probably contains more unicorn than beef. So I rather hesitantly embarked on my no-meat journey and loudly proclaimed it on facebook to get some feedback and hold myself accountable.
I could write a lot about how I felt and reacted to no meat, but I want to summarize the main points to keep this article at a decent length.
I was told by some that a no-meat diet would leave me feeling clean, fresh and light. I didn’t find this at all. I actually felt quite heavy and bloated. A lot of my meat seemed to be replaced by grains – pasta, bread, rice etc. Interestingly, some of my vegetarian friends have confirmed that almost every meal they have is grain based.
If I saw this I had to turn around and run for my life
For the first few weeks I was lacking in energy. This improved towards the end but I was a long way from feeling at my best. I stress, this could have been due to many other factors – sleep, stress levels etc, but I definitely didn’t feel ‘alive’, like some said I would.
It made me realise that I enjoy eating meat. It tastes good and I feel good from eating it.
I was really looking forward to eating meat again, but my first meat meal after the month was a bit of an anti-climax. It tasted good, but not spectacular like I’d envisaged. But overall I was happy to get it back into my diet.
It showed me I could go without meat fairly comfortably if need be. The longest I’d gone before this was probably a day or two at most.
I’d like to stress at this point that this was a long way from being a scientific experiment. I continued eating some fish and as mentioned previously, so many other factors could have played a part in how I felt during this month. I’m open to the idea that if I’d perhaps given it longer or tried some other no-meat diet solutions, these could have been more positive. Perhaps I’ll try that later. I have some friends who are vegetarian, eat loads of bread and pasta and look and feel great. I’m not doubting this works for them as I can see the results, but for now I don’t think it’s for me.
The biggest and most positive thing I took from this experience was how I view the quality of the meat I consume – how the animals kept and fed and how that affects the taste and nutrient profile of the meat.
So that’s a summary of what I discovered about myself. Nothing too profound, but I’m glad I did it and it’s already set me on the path to thinking more about what I consume.
And in case you’re wondering, I put on about half a kilo.
About half way through the no-meat month I was looking at a wholewheat bagel I was eating and thinking about how it was making me feel, when it came to me – the next month I would cut out all grains, which meant no bread, rice, noodles, wheat etc, or anything deriving from grains, such as rice vinegar, wheat extract (found in a lot of processed foods) and most alcohol including beer (oh dear!). I knew it would be harder as many food items are off the menu, but I was excited about trying this one.
In my next post I’ll let you know how I got on…
Also, please note that we offer nutritional guidance in Bangkok at BASE.