Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Thoughts On Diet

Not that long ago, I was talking with a group of people about what I believed an athlete could or should be eating. At the mention of "oatmeal", the crowd grew restless. Later, I realized that "oats" didn't fit in with the neanderthal diet that many of them were following at the time.

I've mentioned this before, but diet isn't something I choose to overthink. But let's ponder this; if one were to simply look at oatmeal from a caloric perspective, is it really so awful? Do these people EVER eat junk food? It's a rhetorical question, because I'm pretty sure they do at least once in a while.
I ate a King-Size Reese's Peanut Butter Cup the other night without even thinking - I'd have to eat about three or four BOWLS of oatmeal to take in the same amount of calories (I'm pretty sure I can't do that without even thinking about it). A can of Coke, for example, has zero protein, 39 GRAMS OF SUGAR, and significantly more calories than a bowl of oatmeal and people are making grains out to be the culprit???

The thing that irritates me the most about the diet-pushers is that, instead of teaching people how to re-love healthy and natural food, they are teaching people to restrict their dietary choices to the point that they will have no choice but to repress urges that, unexamined, will resurface later. As those urges return, so will the weight...

Let's assume an active lifestyle with as little sitting around on our asses as possible (it's a big assumption for many Americans, I know). I believe that...

*a varied diet
*as few highly processed foods as possible
*generous (but not ridiculous) portions
*plenty of vegetables with almost EVERY meal
*very little sugar
*meals four to five times a day
*no or little eating too close to bedtime
*go light on the caffeine
*really, really light on the booze more than enough for most people to be much healthier than the average American. Will you be "ripped"? Maybe not, but I'm guessing that neanderthal man, given any choice in the matter, wasn't ripped either.


firemama said...

I too, roll my eyes and throw up my arms in desperation when I hear people start talking about diet... and oatmeal. At 40 years of age, I have seen all the diet fads come and go. Eat this, no, eat that... don't eat this.... don't eat that. Such a horrible bore. With my work as a firefighter, I have learned to just eat well when my body tells me to, and so what if I want a scoop of ice cream. Saves me from the deprivation and bingeing on a whole tub later on. And every morning at the fire house we have oatmeal for breakfast laden with fresh fruit and yogurt with a couple of hard boiled eggs on the side. It keeps us going. Carbs are not a bad thing. An oatmeal cookie tucked in my bunker gear pocket has saved my hide at many a call when my blood sugar has started to dip and there's still a couple hours of overhaul to do.

Anyway, just wanted to chime in here in agreement. REAL food as close to it's natural form ain't a bad. thing. A bagel with cream cheese ain't gonna kill ya'. It's about time we stopped being so neurotic about what we put into our mouths. And just eat.

Niel K. Patel said...

I'd add to the list "drink water throughout the day."

It seems obvious, but it's quite surprising how much water people drink.

All in all, people over think food. I've heard anything having sugar as bad. I don't understand when fruits turned evil.

Boris said...

That sounds like an almost perfect breakfast to me. Some people certainly could use some re-programming when it comes to eating, but you're absolutely right - being neurotic and overly restrictive is just asking for trouble. Thanks for chiming in!

Agreed 100%.

Charlie said...

Diet is a critical component of fitness and one everyone has had arguments about for as long as people have been on earth. Mostly because we all have some control over the foods we eat (at least theoretically). I think the following quote sums it up quite nicely...

"One swears by wholemeal bread, one by sour milk; vegetarianism is the only road to salvation of some, other insist not only on vegetables alone, but on eating those raw. At one time the only thing that matters is calories; at another time they are crazy about vitamins or about roughage. The scientific truth may be put quite briefly; eat moderately, having an ordinary mixed diet, and don't worry."
-- Robert Hutchison (1877-1960), Newcastle Medical Journal, Vol 12, 1932.

As for the "Paleolithic Diet" it strikes me as another example of unadulterated quackery, foisted onto the thoughtless. Check out:

Lets face facts:
1. No one really knows what cavemen ate for sure and there is evidence for intensive fish and grain usage found at several paleolithic sites.
2. Since meat doesn't keep well, and hunting is an uncertain and dangerous way to get food, it's likely that gathering of fruits and veggies were the largest component of the diet back then, just as they are for modern apes and most primitive tribes that still exist today.

PS: I start every day with oatmeal and raisins (cooked in the winter and soaked raw overnight and chilled in the summer) with applesauce and yogurt in a big bowl - delicious.

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Trinigirevik said...

Oatmeal rocks! Add nut powder and raisins to it and you have a breakfast that has me saying, "Yeah, baby" (in Austin Powers accent).

In short, I agree with this post. Do you agree with mine? Feel free to leave your comments, even if you want to trash it.

Michael said...

I discovered paleo inspired eating and living 2 years ago now. It was at the same time I stopped distance running and started strength training. During that time my personal philosophy on fitness and health underwent a total paradigm shift. My eating habits and my fitness practices would not have changed independently; they operate together in the same holistic realm. So I am not surprised that many in the strength and fitness realm are also aligned with paleo inspired eating. Eating and movement are some of the most innately human (spiritual) things we do on a daily basis. It only makes sense that thoughtfulness and introspection of each are practiced. I like to "overthink" my movements (e.g. training) and "overthink" my eating. They are the main components of my well-being as a human. To me it would be sacrilege not to be mindful of each. Anyways, just wanted to share why I - just one individual - like to "overthink" by practicing a paleo based diet. I enjoy the blog very much! Happy training!