Junior Apple Mike F. writes:
“Mark, what can I eat? I hear dairy is bad, fat is bad, then fat is good, but some fat is bad, carbs are bad, but fiber is good. There is nothing left. I can’t even have milk in my tea now – not that I would be caught sipping tea. But if I wanted to is the point. What’s a guy supposed to eat?”
Good question, Mike. The answer: just about everything.
I am pretty disciplined (according to my kids, I’m a drill sergeant). I don’t really “do” carbs, I definitely avoid any junk or processed food, and I try to eat organic. But even being so careful about what goes on my plate, I’d say honestly I get a lot more flavor and variety than some people I know who insist on a steady diet of burgers, beers and pizzas. The truth is, “fun” foods like nachos, pizza and tacos all taste the same: the texture is usually a mix of creamy or crunchy, there’s a lot of salt, some meat-type seasoning, and sugar. Eat that stuff and you’re starving the next hour.
You can eat salad and be a man about it. Seriously. I’m fitter, have more muscle mass and I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been at 5’10″, 165 lbs. and 8% body fat. I do it with a heavy supply of vegetables, of all things. I never worry too much about fat because I eat a lot of “good” fats, which really aren’t too hard to identify. More on that in a moment. But honestly, I never am deprived, hungry or suffer from any cravings. Actually, I refuse to eat something that isn’t delicious, period. To me, the relentlessly boring, salty, familiar flavor of most processed foods is not delicious. The fact that they’re also totally unhealthy is almost a side issue.
This morning, for example, I had my cup of joe with a little organic H&H. I don’t always eat breakfast (there I go breaking all the holy grails of health). This morning I had some scrambled Omega-enhanced eggs, and sometimes I’ll have a piece of fruit or a protein smoothie. I confess I don’t eat a lot of fruit (my wife jokes that men like the idea of fruit but don’t always know what to do with it). I like to get my fiber from vegetables since they’re lower in sugar and have more nutrients than fruit.
For a snack I’ll grab a piece of fruit, cherry tomatoes or some almonds. I completely avoid processed snacks like chips and candy. Fresh stuff just tastes better – but it will take your body some time to readjust its tastes if you’ve been a junk food kind of guy.
For lunch (speaking of lunch…): I always eat a huge salad. I’ve done so for 20 years. But no regular salad – I add in seafood or turkey, mountains of colorful chopped up veggies, and drizzle some balsamic vinegar on it. I do different greens on different days, but I never really put much planning into it. I just grab my favorite big bowl, toss in whatever veggies and greens we have on hand that day, and chow. This keeps me full and the flavor is unbeatable.
In the afternoon, if I didn’t have a morning protein boost, I’ll do a shake, sometimes adding in a banana or other fruit.
For dinner, we always have a meal focusing on fresh steamed, stir-fried or baked vegetables of some sort. The flavor and spice combinations are endless. Some broiled fish or occasional organic chicken is plenty – I don’t like a big dinner. Sometimes I enjoy a glass or wine or a beer, but in general I keep the evenings light on calories.
In my early competition days, I could consume – indeed, I had to consume – two or three times what most people need to eat in a day. No six-pack of beer or carton of ice cream stood a chance around me. It’s hard to understand the incredible calorie vacuum that goes on unless you’ve competed as a marathoner or other pro athlete. Some days you literally can’t get enough fuel. When I retired from sports, obviously that had to change. I won’t say it was a piece of cake (and did I ever eat plenty of those) – but with time my body began to crave smaller portions and healthy foods that have enabled me to look fitter and be stronger than a lot of guys in their 20s.
You can eat flavor and variety. I say I eat salads every day, but they’re always different. There are hundreds of different types of fish, vegetables, fruits and herbs from all over the world that are far more exciting and interesting to eat than your average mashed potato-peas-pork chop combo. You don’t have to be a great cook, either. The great thing about eating fresh and clean is that these things don’t take much time or creativity to taste great – they’re sort of fool-proof (the ideal guy food).
I’d encourage you not to worry too much about what you can or can’t eat. It can seem like everything is bad if you listen to some of the more negative health news. But eating healthy is actually pretty simple. We do learn new things about what foods to eat and what to avoid, but in general, the rules don’t change too much.
So trans fat and too much saturated fat is bad? Sugar and starches are harmful to health? Processed, hormone-injected, and chemically-altered foods are dangerous?
Well, yeah. But if you focus on the positive: eat fresh, eat whole, eat clean, you’ll tend to automatically avoid all the latest food scares and any of the really bad stuff.
Make fresh (yes, organic) vegetables, lean seafood or meat, and some flavorful seasonings and fats the basis of your diet, and you’ll be 99% there.
By the way, “good” fats are just about anything that isn’t highly processed.
Highly processed fats: cheese, fat in snacks and packaged foods, refined oils, fried meats or fried snacks
Minimally processed fats: nuts, eggs, lean grass-fed or free-range meats, seafood, cottage cheese, avocados, certain cold-pressed oils (avocado oil, olive oil, walnut oil, coconut oil)
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This week, Apples, let’s cut out all refined grains of any kind. You’ll give your blood, pancreas, digestive tract, and waistline a very healthy break.
There are lots of refined offenders, but here are the most common: white rice, white bread, so-called “multi-grain” bread, pre-made waffles and pancakes, dinner rolls, white pasta, crackers, cookies, cakes, processed foods made with corn syrup or corn starch, and of course, desserts and candies. Whew! These foods are cheap for manufacturers to produce – and admittedly, they are tasty. But they don’t offer much nutrition, and they can cause serious harm to your health if eaten frequently. Try cutting out refined sugars and starches for a week and you’ll notice a real difference in your mood, digestion, mental clarity, sleep, and energy level.
People who speak more than one language significantly reduce the likelihood of dementia in old age. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t mastered the grammar or spelling of a second language, either (or a first language, for that matter). Simply speaking a second language keeps the brain’s frontal lobe in great shape well into old age. Now, donde esta este estudio? Aqui.
Congrats to Junior Apple, Tracy L., on winning last week’s contest! Apples were asked to share how they got through the holidays the healthy way. Tracy not only had the regular temptations of the holidays, but was on her honeymoon cruise! She told us how she actually managed to lose weight on her trip. Good work, Tracy! We’re sending you a free supply of our favorite healthy chocolate weight-management shake, Responsibly Slim. Congrats to our four runners-up, too.
“I was married Thanksgiving weekend. During our honeymoon, we spent time in Rome before boarding a cruise ship for a 17-day Mediterranean/ Transatlantic cruise ending in New Orleans. We indulged in local cuisine all along the way, and actually lost weight during our trip mostly by choosing walking tours as our excursions. We spent nine very active days site-seeing in our ports. While onboard we chose a wide variety of foods including steaks, lobster, shrimp, fish, frog legs, snails, rabbit, pheasant, burgers, pizza, lots of fresh salads and fresh fruit, cheesecake, pastries, and an occasional fruity drink. We tried to sample new and interesting things while making healthful choices most of the time. Our ship had 18 decks, with our cabin on deck 8. Even as our travel planning was just beginning, we planned to use the stairs, and for 17 days we did. We climbed up 5 flights to the breakfast buffet, and down three flights for dinner, as well as for other activities during the day. Stairs were usually faster than elevators and better for our health! We had heard that average weight gain during a cruise is one pound per day. Even with delicious food available 24 hours a day, we were determined to keep it in perspective. We had a wonderful time, enjoyed a five-course dinner every night, and don’t feel like we missed a thing. The only extra pounds we brought home were in our luggage.”
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Maybe it’s only Monday morning traffic, but I’m noticing people become just a little more aggressive behind the shield of their cars. It’s as if driving in a car grants us sudden power and anonymity – and a license to be rude. Road rage concerns me, not only because of the safety issues, but because it’s a sign to me that people aren’t venting their bottled-up anger properly. It’s not a good thing when anger is the instinctive reaction as soon as there’s no perceived threat or social expectation.
My thought? It’s just so much easier to let things go. It really does feel better to forgive, shrug it off, and laugh. Cars don’t make us anonymous – just the opposite – they make our true character transparent. Do your part to help people simmer down when they’re on the road – let’s set an example. Feeling generosity to others is an important part of being healthy. (And so is venting frustration properly – exercise, meditation, prayer, talking with friends, and “chill out” time are all ways to stay emotionally healthy.)
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