April 29, 2011

Conscious Eating and Depleting

So, I gained 10+ pounds last year. Between my brother living with us after his accident and starting my own law practice I found myself with many reasons to eat richly and not as many openings for vigorous caloric expenditure as I might want.

Lucky for me, I'm dense. I carry excess weight fairly efficiently. Based on how I look, I've never been problematically obese. I didn't have to buy new clothes, they just looked a little less attractive. So, I packed on a little less than one pound a month for a year and that was that.

But, now that I'm facing reality, obviously I need to lose the 10 pounds. And, once I started looking into the latest health and diet information, I found that I couldn't ignore the reports on adipose tissue around organs in western people vs. Afghanis.

And, I really can't ignore that as a very slow runner, I'm 30+ pounds heavier than my newfound hero Desiree Davila. As the fastest American Female Boston Marathoner, she's the epitome of health. While I, shorter than her, am fighting off 10 lbs to get to a *goal* weight that is 20+ pounds heavier than her race weight.

I've heard Kevin Patterson's saying: "Your body will forgive you for eating just about anything if you move enough." I like that logic. I just need to start moving enough to make me feel like I belong to the covered class.

Unfortunately, I've also read Born To Run (Awesome Book!) and it led me to think that if the secret to human health is running like the historic running cultures, then truly, it's also about a simple diet made primarily of plants.

Moving alone may not be sufficient.

Plus, in my newfound quest for health, I read the reports from the Biosphere and the amazing health benefits the previously healthy by western standards biospherians experienced from eating a diet that was entirely self-produced. And, there are tons of articles and studies showing the benefits of applying the principles of anti-inflammation to the modern diet -- most of the experts in this field have specific foods they recommend and almost all of them are unprocessed plants. It's pretty obvious where the science is headed (and I'm sad to see the information isn't getting as much press as I'd like because there's no money to be made off of it).

We may not like it, but it looks like Healthy Humans do best with regularly meeting 90%-100% of their needs (easy to do with a primarily plant-based diet), plus the occasional celebration full of caloric/protein/fat/mineral/vitamin/co-vitamin excess and the occasional starvation every now and again.

So, where does this leave me?

Well, for starters, I'm moving more. As I mentioned, I'm training for a marathon. It feels great to be so full of motion and momentum. Yesterday, I ran the fastest 3 miles I'd run in 2 years. I felt so alive.

On the other hand, if I am honest with myself, I think the issue is not just about movement. Let's say I accept that 1 tsp once every three days of Turmeric can significantly reduce inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis, or that 2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil is as good as 200 mg Ibuprofen for calming muscular inflammation.

If that's true, then shouldn't the counter be true? Shouldn't 2 tsp of fats or sugars separated from their natural counterparts have similar strong effects on me? Isn't it weird that at the airport, when they offer me something fried as my quick meal before I board my flight, I can consume (in addition to whatever has been fried) 200 Cals of plant fats without the mulitple pints of fiber and all of the vitamins and minerals I'd historically have to consume to get those plant fats?)

And, yes, I'm aware of the Sugar is Poison movement.

But, I don't have a sweet tooth and I'm watching my caloric intake to get back into my acceptable weight range (so I can evaluate whether I need to re-define "acceptable"). Therefore, at the moment, I have no direct issues with sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Since I've been trying to eat primarily plant-based foods with minimal processing (limiting my grain intake to unmodified whole grains has been educational) and generally shy away from pre-prepared food, I haven't seen much of the backlash from this article, which apparently is large and fascinating. Good for Lestig.

In summary, tonight, at a local mediterranean joint, I was shocked when my squid came breaded and fried. The menu said that it was cooked in white wine and garlic. Little did I know that there was a breaded/fried portion of the prep. I realized it had been weeks, if not months since I had had truly fried food. Don't worry, I got over the surprise, enjoyed my unexpected treat, and the leftovers are in the fridge for tomorrow post run.

But, it got me thinking. If you're actually looking to implement a historically, evolutionarily healthy diet/lifestyle, you probably have to start with avoiding almost all of the culturally normal American food (fast food, restaurant food, packaged pre-prepared foods) and getting down to what Americans would consider an almost starvation weight. Once there, you'd need to stay active and continue to avoid the majority of the culturally normal American food except the occasional (once a month, perhaps?) splurge.

So, Washington -- Thanks! You gave me the time and space to experiment with instituting an eating pattern and level of running activity to become much healthier. Oh, and you made me appreciate my Californian weather in ways that nothing else ever could.


Cathy said...

My trip to Bali ended up inadvertently being something of a cleanse. Eating primarily local foods (and no HFCS) I lost interest in snacking. Three modest meals a day, of largely non-chemical-laden food, was all I really needed.

Biting Tongue said...

Cathy: glad to hear it. I've definitely noticed my food preferences change as I've changed my intake. Interesting.

Arvay said...

Very interesting. Thanks for taking the time to share!