If I had to describe my diet in one word it would be "utilitarian." I eat to live and I don't live to eat. If I could take a pill that provided all the dietary requirements for a day I would because I view food and diet as more of an annoying obligation to stay alive than a pleasure to indulge in. Its something that interferes with the day instead of embelleshes it.
I view the utilitarian approach to food as probably one of the healthier aspects of my personality. I am not someone who is making a day out of standing in line at Porto's, or someone who is spending a significant amount of their income on restaurant dining, and I am part of the ever shrinking pool of people in America who are not obese.
I think the obesity issue in America is due to many factors. A lot of it is the refusal to eat healthy every day, a lot of it is laziness or a lack of self control coupled with excuses of self-diagnosed medical disorders, or the made up notion than healthier is expensive.
All of the above are false and at the end just excuses. Everyone can opt for a salad over a burger but most people just don't want to do that. Its easier to choose fast food over going to the grocery store and cooking produce. Its easier to pretend that the laws of thermodynamics don't apply to you and that a slow thyroid is causing you to overeat and not exercise. And its easier to say you just can't afford healthy, while that bag of chips and bottle of soda costs the same as pounds of fresh vegetables and water.
But at the end of the day the excuses really only hurt the one who is making them.
A crown only the sick can see
I don't make excuses when it comes to my health, and my health has always been a priority of mine. The reason why is because in the rare time when I get sick, there isn't anything more valuable than the memory of when I was healthy. Even if it is just a seasonal flu, I would trade anything to feel better in that moment.
And thats just a flu . But for those who eat poorly, you aren't just susceptible to getting contagious diseases more often, a lifetime of obsesity, sedentary lifestyle and poor life choices will accumulate over time to accelerated aging, poor skin, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and a shortened life.
What is needed, nothing more, nothing less.
It is for this reason I take a utilitarian approach to eating. I pick out the foods that are best for my health, cover all the bases of nutrition while keeping me as healthy as possible. And I can just eat what I need and move on to more important aspects of the day.
I believe my pragmatic approach to diet has had the following benefits:
1. Avoidance of the common worldwide contagious diseases
2. Low, but healthy body weight
3. Healthy skin that hasn't had a pimple in years
4. Energy throughout the day to do a full day at work and a strength-training workout at the gym
5. Low blood pressure and healthy blood sugar levels
6. Hair that grows fast
7. Healthy bones
8. Quick recovery from injury or a common cold
I also pretty much eat the same thing every day, and with the below diet I can do that because it is high in a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and has enough protein, fat and carbohydrates needed for sustainability.
There are many benefits to eating the same thing 5/7 or 6/7 days a week. Firstly, I know exactly how much I need every week and I know the exact things I need, so when I go to the store I know exactly how much to buy and I consume everyting by the end of the week. No waste of food, no waste of money. The other benefit is that I am not wasting time figuring out what to eat or where to get it. That saves hours every week that are better spent on other pursuits.
I also eat vegetarian about 350 out of 365 days out of the year. Of the remaining 15 days, I would say I have fish about 10-12 of those days out of the year. And about 3 times a year I have red meat, but that is only if I get sick with something like the stomach flu. I never eat chicken because I think dietary chicken causes breast cancer among other diseases and I never eat pigs due to personal ethics.
Things I gave up
There are some food or drink choices I gave up over the years, or only have on occasion:
1. Diet sodas. I used to drink soda 3-10x a day. I would say I have a diet soda once per week now.
2. Soy milk. Soy can be heavily processed so I try to avoid processed soy as much as possible. Soy in tofu is minimally processed but in soy milk the process is a bit more involved and includes a lot of sugar and artificial ingredients.
3. Cereal. I used to always have a box of cheerios or other cereal at the house to snack on, but they are so overprocessed I gave up buying it. I have learned that if its not in the house, I have no desire to eat it.
In terms of indulgences, I don't really view food that way. If I am going to "treat" myself, once a year or whatever, I would rather have a cigarette than a slice of cake. I don't really think of a good time in eating a calorie-dense meal, so I do not really engage in "cheat meals" or "fun foods" because I don't know what that would be for me and it sounds more like a punishment than a good time.
What I eat in a day
1. Homemade energy bar- I started making my own version of Clif bars with peanut butter. I have been making these as my breakfast for at least 5 years now. They have healthy carbohydrates,fats, and oats to keep me full for morning without a dip in blood sugar or energy.
2. Coffee with salt, coconut oil and non-dairy creamer.
3. Vitamin D supplement
1. Salad with spinach or romaine lettuce, feta cheese, tomatoes, tofu, avocado, lemon, vinegar and olive oil.
* Sometimes a side of pita bread if I need more than just the salad. Usually if I exercised a lot the day before.
3. Mulberry Juice
1. Vegetarian sandwich: Bread I bake myself, tofu or pumfu, cheese (usually mozzarella), broccoli sprouts, sundried tomatoes in olive oil, hummus, avocado and mirepoix.
2. Side salad: spinach or romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, feta cheese, olives, olive oil, vinegar
3. Curry vegetables. This I make in a large amount early in the week and dole it out throughout the week: Eggplant, nopales, red peppers, onions, broccoli with turmeric, salt, pepper and coconut milk with red curry paste.
4. Water or sometimes Kombucha if I bought it that week.
1. Rooibos tea with honey
2. Sometimes I'll have a few pieces of chocolate if I have a sweet tooth or fruit like oranges or kiwi.
The above on a daily basis is probably around 1300-1800 calories which is all I need. Throughout the day I feel good, I am not hungry in between meals and I dont engage in snacking behavior. I just don't want snacks and I dont crave them.
The above diet costs less than $10 a day.
I think the above diet is good for those who are moderately active throughout the day but it is not enough for young people who are very active. Those with a more active lifestyle need more calories. But for me, someone who stands for about half the work day then puts in a one hour strength training workout 3 days a week, this diet is more than sufficient. Any more would lead to weight gain, and any less would lead to weight loss. Neither of which are things I need.