FOOD, NEED & RULES
Food needs Rules.
More often than not the desire for food outweighs the need for it in that moment.
And who - in that moment - actually considers its nutritional value against the gratification of its taste?
Human energy by and large comes from the air we breathe and from the liquids we drink and much less from the food we eat than we think.
Only a small amount comes from the food we ingest - unless we happen to eat mainly whole foods with a high water (oxygen) content such as raw fruits and vegetables and the majority of us simply don’t do that.
Official RDA's of 2500 and 2000 calories for males and females is too high and is the principal reason why we eat far too much.
These numbers were calculated in the lab and bear no resemblance to what is happening in the unique digestive tracts of real people when they eat and drink.
The importance of being hungry and how to manage hunger came to me pretty much at the beginning of my boarding school life at the age of 8, where food was regarded as almost sacred and was effectively used as a weapon for controlling pupils by being frequently withdrawn for poor behaviour.
My relationship with food today is a respectfully healthy one based on the principle of just 2 meals each day mostly forsaking the evening meal.
And then I supplement. A lot.
I believe that being a little hungry everyday is actually good for you.
Not only are you more mentally alert - you are also less likely to put on weight and more likely to resist those impulses from your brain when temptation is placed in front of you.
Putting discipline between desire and need.
A FEW HARD RULES
TO KEEP LEAN
1 Never ever eat a large meal again.
2 If you do, don't eat any solids for 24 hours.
3 Small plates. Small meals.
4 Drink and Eat slowly. Always.
5 Eat only 2 small meals a day.
6 Feel a little hungry every day.
7 Never eat when you are angry or upset.
8 Never go on a "Diet".
9 No more processed foods.
10 Only good quality foods if possible.
11. Learn to nose breathe slowly every day.*
12. Getting to lean takes time - be patient.
13 Staying lean is a Way of Life.
* See below - Where does the fat go?
1 Never ever eat a large meal ever again.
You really don't need to do this to yourself.
Whenever I see a person eating a massive meal in normal circumstances - human greed or gluttony comes to mind and there are many people I know who do just this every day, knowing full well - because I have told them - that whatever the body does not use will turn to fat.
Unfortunately, people do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.
Einstein's definition of insanity.
Its also called willful blindness.
We know the consequences of what we are doing but we carry on just the same.
It's a sub-conscious habit and we all don't have much control over that when the brain instructs you to eat something.
And it takes an extreme conscious effort to change these habits, which is why most people who diet (over 80%) regularly fail.
Buy the book by Dr Andrew Jenkinson - see below.
A normal stomach can expand to hold up to 4 litres of food, more than 50 times its empty volume. If you eat this sort of volume of food every day your stomach will distend permanently. In other words, it will distend from its natural size (of around the size of your open hand), to 4--5 times the size. A large distended stomach, becomes hungry sooner that a normal stomach, as the brain begins to learn to trigger off hunger pangs earlier for you to fill your stomach and the more you eat over and above the amount your body actually needs will turn to fat. The two types of fat that you have in your abdominal area are subcutaneous fat, which lies just under your skin and visceral fat, which distends the stomach and gives men the infamous pot belly look and its dangerous. Your visceral fat greatly increases the risk of you developing various heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, sleep apnea, some types of cancer and several other degenerative diseases. Women collect much of their fat here too, but also in the hips, bottom, and in the "wings" of their upper arms.
2 And if you do, don't eat any solids for 24 hours.
This will allow your stomach to return to a normal size with normal brain responses to hunger - hopefully with an attachment to moderation - but don't bank on it.
Because if you did this for a week your body's weight set point may move upwards as you pile on the fat.
And you can reflect on what an idiot you have been.
3 Small plates and small meals.
Such a simple lifestyle habit to get into.
Using smaller plates not only prevents you from putting too much food in front of you but it also reminds you to eat smaller meals.
4 Eat and drink slowly, always.
Most busy people in the West eat their food too fast, particularly if they are eating 'junk' food. Here it is mostly a matter of feeding because you’re hungry – it doesn’t much matter what you eat as long as it is something.
It takes the brain 15-20 minutes to register that you are feeling full – by that time your meal is over and you have probably eaten too much.
Digestion begins in the mouth – if you are a fast eater, then you are not chewing your food enough to get the saliva in the mouth to begin to prepare your food for its passageway down the esophagus into the stomach. Most obese and fat people eat fast and don’t realise that this aids weight gain in the form of visceral fat – the fat that is bad for your liver and heart and that can lead to many chronic degenerative diseases.
That’s because the act of eating fast is considered stressors by the body, which results in decreased digestion, decreased nutrient assimilation, increased nutrient excretion, lowered calorie burning rate, and a bigger appetite.
5 Only eat 2 meals a day.
The three meals a day syndrome has become institutionalised in our society and not all people conform to that need, as we are all very different. If you do eat fast and are overweight, then the likelihood is you are eating processed or 'junk' food more frequently because you are most likely to be hungry, more often than most. If you are eating high water content foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, you are probably not overweight, eat the right sized portions at various times of the day and not only when you do feel hungry – so frequency is not a problem.
Some like to eat at the beginning of the day, others in the middle and yet others at the end of the day.
So, if you like breakfast then eat again at lunchtime - no dinner.
If you don't do breakfast - then do lunch and dinner.
Try to create a a general 2 meal food plan you will enjoy every day and stick to it.
6 Feel a little hungry every day.
Another solid lifestyle habit to get into.
I know some people who say they never get hungry.
That's because they are either inactive, bedridden or fat.
Or they just nibble or graze most of the day.
More than anything else though, this is a conscious discipline worth adopting and declining or not being tempted by the freely and constant availability of food all around us.
7 Never eat when you are angry, upset or really hungry.
If you are in a life and death situation, your digestive system shuts down, and adrenaline is pouring through your blood in order to deal with the stress of saving your life. Thankfully, most of us don’t live in an environment where we face this type of stress every day.
However, many of us do live very stressful lives, so whilst our bodies are not having to deal with the levels of adrenaline needed to save our lives, most of us experience chronic stress, that triggers off these stress hormones on a regular basis, which has a major impact on digestion and promotes weight gain, among other unhealthy effects.
Put simply, if you’re angry – don’t eat – let the anger go – improve your mood – and then eat – slowly – and this will improve your mood even more.
8 Never go on a "Diet".
You may be one of the 20% who get lucky.
Lose the weight and keep most of it off.
But by far the majority of people fail and it doesn't stop them trying again and again and yes, again in a toxic mix of self illusion and wishful thinking.
Which is exactly what the slimming industry wants them to do of course.
They can run their highly profitable businesses on a recurring 80% failure rate.
And the remarkable thing is most of these people will go on to regain any lost weight and put more on.
Geoffrey Cannon's little 2008 book has almost made it's title a regularly used figure of speech.
It's true - dieting really does make you fat - in the long run.
In 2015 the highly respected Tim Spector waded in with the science behind his book The Diet Myth, which sort of says it all and points to the establishment and maintenance of a healthy microbiome - read gut and diversity - for a healthy body.
And in 2020 we have a fascinating book from Dr Andrew Jenkinson - WHY WE EAT (too much) who writes about how our environment and our genetics determine our weight set point in our sub-conscious mind and how we can consciously (and slowly only slowly) change it for a healthier life.
9 No more processed foods
No more processed foods , ever.
They are mostly poisonous in varying degrees.
If you eat mostly processed food and drinks, your body has to work harder to digest this type of food, which has a low nutritional factor. In other words, it may taste good and meet your hunger needs, but at the cellular level, where the real work takes place, much of it is rejected as lacking the right nutrients to boost your immune system and energise your body and mind, and that which is not eliminated, simply turns to fat.
This type of food uses up a lot of energy in the digestive process, can cause fatigue and does not make for smooth bowel movements.
10 Only good quality foods if possible.
If you eat high water content whole or real foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables and grains that make up to 80%, of your daily food intake, there is less energy being used in the digestive process. Enzymes found in the water of fresh fruit and vegetables – and not in tap water – produces amino acids that go on to produce all the protein you would ever need.
In addition, the fibre that is present in this type of food is great for the intestines and bacteria in the digestive tract and bowel movements are smooth and regular.
11 Learn to nose breathe slowly every day and night.
No you won't be able to breathe out the fat by lots of breathing exercises.
Its just that when your body begins to metabolise the fat it leaves your body as CO2.
And it's through the nose as mouth breathing affects the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in blood.
It makes a whole lot of other things happen as well....read more.
12 Getting to lean takes time - so be in for the long haul.
One of the best lines I like in Zen is "the rich unfolding of contentment" that the practice of Zen brings with insistence on self-discipline and simplicity of living.
And this is a llttle bit like that.
It is richly rewarding to see how the tiny and permanent changes you make to your behaviour around drinking and eating bring such huge and lasting consequences to your general health and wellbeing.
13 Staying lean is a way of life.
It's also an absolutely brilliant everyday experience.
You feel lighter and more vibrant.
Loads more energy.
"In mint condition" - with the emphasis on the mint.
I have managed to make staying lean one of my purposes in life.
WHERE DOES THE FAT GO?
"The correct answer is that most of the mass is breathed out as carbon dioxide.
It goes into thin air," says the study's* lead author, Ruben Meerman, a physicist and Australian TV science presenter.
If you follow the atoms in 10 kilograms of fat as they are 'lost', 8.4 of those kilograms are exhaled as carbon dioxide through the lungs. The remaining 1.6 kilograms becomes water, which may be excreted in urine, faeces, sweat, breath, tears and other bodily fluids, the authors report.
*UNSW School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences
I know the title is a bit extreme (it was the publisher!) but Michael Greger - Founder of nitritionfacts.org is my choice for being the best nutritionist on the planet.
Modern medicine and human health are at a critical crossroads, and the truth is that you and not your genes are in the driver's seat. You are the one who gets to make informed decisions on how you use and nourish the evolutionary miracle that is your body.
Sayer Ji - the Founder of GreenMedInfo with a heartfelt plea for all of us to follow.
Guila Enders writes a refreshIng and funny book on the inside story of the body's most underrated organ with a great focus on poo, bacteria and microbes.
But most of all you get a far better idea of how it all actually works from an infectiously exuberant academic.