I have a penchant for short, pithy explanations to things that people – mostly people selling things – try to make complicated. My favorite example is Michael Pollan’s “Eat food, less of it, mostly plants”. There’s a whole lot of health and wisdom wrapped up in those seven words. Along those same lines, I like the advice offered by Runner’s World magazine for The Healthy Runner’s Diet. It lists six rules applicable to anyone interested in health and longevity:
1. Eat seeds or foods made from seeds
2. Eat five different colored fruits and vegetables daily
3. Eat plant foods with their skins intact
4. Drink milk and eat milk products that come from animals
5. Eat foods that come from cold water
6. Eat meat, poultry, or eggs from free-range or grass-fed animals
There are no calculations here and nothing to write down. And you don’t have to be a slave to every word. You won’t sprout hair on your palms if you forget your five colors a day. These are guidelines and not commandments.
I will add another three:
7. There are no forbidden foods. No food will make you die tomorrow. Observe moderation
8. There are no superfoods. No food will impart immediate health and longevity
9. Anyone who tells you to avoid this one food! or to eat this one food! is selling you something
Stay healthy and, as always, please share tips.
Good advice here from Monica Reinagel, The Nutrition Diva
Nothing new under the sun. Then why don’t we do it?
Copyright Dennis Mitton
I admit that I’ve been wrong. I’ve long argued that people know what healthy habits are and that we just don’t do them. So I was shocked, recently, when a friend told me that he traded his cake and candy snacks for a jar of peanuts each day. “I’m trying to eat healthy”, he says. “Huh? You’re eating a jar a day?” “Yeah”, he said. “Better than donuts, right.” Now he was shocked. “Probably not,” I said. “Good gawd. Do you know how many calories are in a jar of peanuts? Probably more calories than you need in an entire day. Dude, you’re going to end up weighing 300 pounds.” He didn’t believe me and grabbed the jar. Sure enough, the suggested serving size was one ounce or ‘about 29 peanuts’. That amount conferred 170 healthy calories. Multiply that by sixteen servings in the jar and you are inviting serious health issues. So don’t imagine that everyone knows the things that Agus writes about. They don’t. And few who do know what healthy means actually live by it.
We need good health advice but where to find it? The fact that my local Barnes and Noble bookstore reserves about fifty feet of shelf space for books offering conflicting advice isn’t a help. So when I find a book offering sane advice consistent with other sane advice, I’m happy to endorse and recommend it. A Short Guide to a Long Life is such a book.
The book isn’t sexy and makes few promises. You will not be a skinny rich movie star pooping golden eggs after reading this book. But, even better, if you choose to do so, you can embark on a path to increased health and longevity. The book is small and short and this bothers some reviewers. I like that the book can be read in a couple hours. It makes it easy to grab from the shelf for a quick reminder o the path you’re on. In it Agus lists sixty-five tidbits under three headings: What to Do, What to Avoid, and Doctor’s Orders. I’m sorry but there is nothing new, novel, or earth-shattering here. No magic pills or secret Chinese bulbs that will keep you in perfect health until age 150. What you will find is very excellent advice in all areas of health and well-being. Advice that is time-tested and accurate. Advice that actually will help you live longer and happier.
There is a good bit of Grandma’s advice here – grow a garden, don’t skip breakfast, have children (!) – but lots of new stuff, too, like scheduling your life on computer or getting a DNA screen. I especially liked the What to Avoid section where he slays a host of health myths: forget juicing (“Does your body really need ten carrots all at once?”), ignore `detoxes’, and no, GMOs are not going to kill you and your children.
I think this is a wonderfully handy little guide that makes a useful reference. Two thumbs way up. Read it all the way through or read a chapter and then work on it for a week. Either way will lead you to better health.
If you think chugging a charcoal milkshake makes sense then just keep on moving (see here). There’s nothing to see. Or if you chase after superfoods and avoid putatively cancer laden staples then you’re probably in the wrong place, too. There are plenty of sites that shill everything from charcoal to fermented who-knows-what that are more exciting and happy to take your money. If you are interested in livable, sensible advice about food and health then we should get along fine.
I try to consciously eat, move, and live in a way that promotes good health and longevity. It’s never glamorous nor is it always easy – I’ve yet to meet a pastry or hot dog that I don’t like and much of the food industry sets itself against me. Like everyone else I am busy and have two girls who will only eat a handful of ‘foods’. I know it’s not the most healthy option for me or for my family but I buy convenience foods and snacks and the kids live on chicken nuggets and noodles. I have no beef with grocery stores or industrial food plants and take lone responsibility for my health.
I have always liked Micheal Pollan’s advice to “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I like what he says because he just makes so much sense. He’s not inflammatory. He’s not chasing. He’s not selling the latest and greatest nor is he warning us that eating this will put in the cancer ward in a year. His focus is on good food and from there touches on all things related to it including nutrition, economics, and family. He comes across to me as a wise friend who encourages me to just try something – if I like it great! If not then that’s okay too.
If any of this resounds with you then you might like to watch the documentary In Defense of Food that is showing on PBS right now. It’s a fascinating and thought provoking hour and a half that looks at food from dirt to grocery to plate. They show how urban kids in last chance schools, given a garden and help growing vegetables, learn how to cook and enjoy eating what they grow. The French Paradox is explored: how is it that the French dine on fat, pastry, and wine and are more healthy than we are in the US? (Hint – they eat small meals, don’t snack, and relish fresh food). I was fascinated with the segment where several people were brought in a room for a pasta taste test. They grabbed plates, spooned up portions, and then discovered that the food was only lukewarm. The ‘hosts’ apologized and brought out another pot with new – slightly smaller – plates. The same folks dished up and each one put less on the plate. Sounds easy and self-evident? Then why not try it? In a similar exercise of social engineering a high school sorted food in its cafeteria line from healthier to less so. Kids filled their plates with the healthy first and found less room for less healthy alternatives. In a very short time the school went from needing 25 pounds of carrots a week for carrot sticks to 75. No one complained and no one demanded more space for pizza. This kind of engineering is foisted on us every day by food companies. They spend millions and millions of dollars each year on advertising, packaging, and lobbying to put more and more food in front of us for more profit. Pollan also addresses meat since he’s been beaten up by both vegans and carnivores for the ‘Mostly plants’ part of his healthy mantra. He clarifies that he’s not against eating meat and that meat can be healthy and enjoyable. It’s the amount of meat we eat that is unhealthy. Be sure to watch for the surgeons pulling solidified cholesterol from a clogged artery – that in itself might help change your habits as much as any sage or sane advice.
I haven’t a clue how long the documentary will run but if the brain health or Wayne Dyer shows are any indication if you miss them this time they will be back.
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