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Veggies and the moderation myth

Most people equate carbohydrate dense foods with gluttony. Mention chocolate and biscuits, and most people will mention their waistlines don’t need that. The list is pretty easy to rattle off: pasta, ice cream, cake etc.  We know common sense tells us to avoid such carbohydrates, but that is not their real problem.  Pasta and biscuits, to begin with are not a natural food source any way you look at it. Both are refined and processed foods.

To change the gluttonous attachment we mentally have to carbohydrates means changing what we view as a source of carbohydrates.  Foods like spinach, sweet peppers, tomato sauce and kale all have carbohydrates.  Vegetables are a dietary source of carbohydrates that not only fill you up but provide you with big allotment of micronutrients to add to your body’s bank account of vitamins and minerals. Such foods are very difficult to overeat simply because nature provides you with foods to eat, not gorge on so they are going to be self limiting. Try to overeat kale or broccoli tomorrow, it cannot be done without some incredibly uncomfortable side effects, at which point you are obviously not listening to the signals your body is sending.

Eating a colorful salad with spinach, sautéed skirt steak, peppers, and carrots is going to leave you satisfied from good nutrition, the crunch of fresh vegetables, taste from spices and herbs, fiber and fat to enhance digestion…but, it will never taste like a bowl of ice cream. There’s no illusion there. Learning to feel your body’s response to nutritious food is very important however, and that response will be had after such a meal. Satisfaction is feeling good mentally and physically about the food you eat feeling confident it will carry over for a long period of time. Eating in a way that leaves you feeling genuinely well and energetic will always be superior to feeding the  mental addiction and taste of overly flavor enhanced food.

It is ironic when people question where fiber comes from with when processed grains are reduced as a result of eating more whole foods. Vegetables believe it or not are chock full of fiber calorie for calorie and ounce for ounce. There is a reason you use the bathroom after eating a salad heavy meal… fiber.  Clearly I am having a little fun here  but often people do know fruit and vegetables have fiber and still make the shocking assumption that somehow it is lacking. The nutrient density of vegetables also provide lasting satisfaction.  When you eat a diet that consists of mostly vegetables and protein you are full a lot, so the temptation to overeat is much less. Becoming full happens because you give the body what it wants and needs so little room is left for mental temptations and cravings.

“But I don’t like vegetables”

So, if you are reading this you are probably an adult so let’s quit acting like a child.  Every family can have occasional candy or sweets, but access in the house to such foods is unnecessary. Leaving the house to go as a family to enjoy an ice cream cone is different than the nightly 3 sleeves of Oreo’s while sitting on the couch watching TV shows.  If you ‘need’ something sweet have an apple. Add some nuts with the apple to make it go further and last longer.  The whole family should have confidence in being able to eat anything in the house they want because all the food provided should be healthy – there are no ‘bad foods’ ‘cheat foods’ or foods off-hands.  At every meal you should try and have a vegetable, and it doesn’t always have to be the ‘best’ vegetable. Eating spinach and collard greens is not necessary every day.  More often than not though, you will get the best bang for the buck with common hearty vegetables.  Besides if you want to have ice cream it’s just best to have it after having a big nutritious meal, that way the likelihood and tendency to overeat is reduced.

Starches

The long and short of starches is that they are higher in calories than in nutrition.  Even the few considered to be good for you like sweet potatoes and squash do not offer a wide variety of nutrients.  Starches that are good for you tend to be good for you because of the vitamins they have.  Most of those vitamins you can get from foods besides starch and will usually accompany many more minerals.  In the case of athletes starches can be a very valuable tool and we will talk more about that in a later chapter.

The case for Pasta

I love Bolognese and while I could certainly eat it with no pasta it is just better with it.  So that is how I eat it.  The difference between the way I eat it and the way that others eat it is the difference between being lean and not.  For instance, there is a local joint that serves adequate portion sizes, meaning small and worth every bite- think French cuisine, fantastic but allowing for only a few bites.  When choosing to eat for mental satisfaction, like pasta and similar empty foods, going for quality is superior to quantity. There is no point in eating empty food for size. A restaurant is a good place to allow for a treat- you get a serving and there is no going back for seconds, thirds…and then a binge.

An appetizer with meat or salad of some sort makes for less room to attempt to meet all your satisfaction with an empty food course, like my favorite pasta Bolognese.  Of course it is more expensive, but I could have eaten at home for cheaper so I am not going to use eating out as an excuse for eating bad.  Another strategy might be to have a steak with the pasta. Don’t be above ordering two entrees, not only will the waiter love you, you’ll allow less stomach room to be spent on junk. As a normal size guy I eat pretty big, so it’s always amusing to order 2 entrées.  I am pretty active and getting most of my food  from real natural sources allows me to eat more due to the efficient processing of my metabolism. My body is in tune to expecting good food and is ready to put it to use.

Moderation?

Do not get twisted what is being said with ‘moderation is key.’  The point is your waistline will expand when you do not provide an environment of nutrient dense foods.

Moderation looks like for a lot of people:

Breakfast: Lowfat Yogurt (carb) and Oatmeal (carb) with some fruit (carb)

Mid morning snack: Kashi Bar

Lunch: Subway 6 inch turkey (low fat everything with some spinach instead of lettuce because Jared lost weight this way) with baked chips

Dinner: Chicken Breast, Brown Rice and Broccoli

See how this person is left gutting it out from lunch to dinner having provided no long lasting source of dietary fat. This will leave an individual ready to eat his arm off and by dinnertime appear to be a possessed raving lunatic. This is a good set up for failure.  So the answer is not eating less of the foods you might be eating now, the answer more likely is replacing those foods with more whole unprocessed foods and eating those foods occasionally.

Oprah once told her audience not to have a single grape after 6pm so they listen, after all, she is Oprah (this example was me). Actually the original advice came from Bob Green (because who should take advice from Oprah…but that Bob Green guy seemed fit).  By 11 pm I was straight starving and choking down Melatonin, known for drowsiness, just to get to bed. Of course I usually awoke around 3am with a rumbling and furious stomach.

Following the bad diet day example and notorious night hunger, it should be obvious that regardless of what you’re eating, if you’re not eating enough you’re going to be hungry. No one should go hungry; it is the worst slap-you-in-the-back way to lose weight because it will always result in the opposite effect once you are fed up with a loud noisy stomach as your body eats away all your muscle. While sending insulin through the roof and crashing down hard is unhealthy, it is not nearly as deterring to mental well being and enjoyment in life as starving all the time. If you believe going hungry is the only way to lose weight, then you are reading the wrong book.

How Moderation Looks now

On Monday’s as a family we have ice cream.

There will be multiple examples of the meals forthcoming, but needless to say I am not dieting.  Food is a big priority in my life as well as my family’s- food has been and will always be social.  I not only enjoy cooking and eating it but I love how it fuels my body.  The majority of the time I eat things that churn the machine. In the instances where I have a treat it is not excessive because I know the results- the ill stomach, the bloat and the loss of energy all for a measly minute of tasting something my tongue wants to taste. Excessive overeating makes you sick- it is really as bad a feeling as under eating. Listening to your body and its reaction to food should be front and center when finding a way of fueling your body that will work for you, forever.

The Take Home

Although all fruits and vegetables likely contribute to offer variety in nutrients, green leafy vegetables such as spinach, Swiss chard, collards and mustard greens are superior. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale and excellent and citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit all contribute to overall health in a positive way.

Vegetables and fruits are clearly an important part of everyday health. Almost everyone can benefit from eating more of them, but variety and color is as important as quantity. No single fruit or vegetable provides all of the nutrients you need to be healthy. From cancer, vision and gastrointestinal health to blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and skin aging, your carbohydrate intake should always be based around a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables- an no worries, you will get plenty of fiber this way. Experiment and try new dishes, exotic fruits and seasonal vegetables- you may surprise yourself!


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