My fitness beliefs and habits, part 2: Food and Eating
What I eat
I don’t feel like I pay attention to what I eat that much, although I’ve habitualized a lot so I probably eat healthily without thinking about it.
I don’t pay attention to proteins versus carbohydrates. I definitely don’t count calories. I think paying attention to those things means you’re eating the wrong things. I mean, I’m kind of aware of those things, but the more I eat fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, the less I pay attention to proteins, carbohydrates, and calories and the better my body seems. How can you eat too much spinach, mangoes, or oats? Can you? I mean, your body will stop you before you can.
With sugary beverages, I’ve noticed your tongue always sends signals to drink more, never to stop. Similarly with salty, fatty junk food (although your body will at least start to feel sick and tell you to stop those). So I find best not to start with those, since they create unrewarding emotions, except with my fun chip-rationing discipline-building habit.
I avoid refined sugar and sweetened foods. Breakfast is nearly always whole oats cooked in water with fresh fruit and nuts on top. Nearly all other cereals have too much sugar. Boxed cereals are usually too processed. Granolas are usually way too sugary — they seem more like ice cream or cookies than breakfast food to me. I don’t know how most granolas end up in health food stores.
I don’t eat meat, as I’ve written about at length. I don’t eat anything I know has hydrogenated oil or corn syrup, and I’ll check the ingredients. I usually avoid the Pepperidge Farm, Kraft, Keebler, etc aisle of the supermarket. Long ingredient lists with long, chemically-sounding ingredients I find unappetizing. I eat whole grains more than refined. I’ve increased my fresh fruits and vegetables for a long time. My main snacks when I’m at home are mixed nuts and dried fruits, but I eat a lot of potato chips because I like salty foods. Although a lot for me means no more than one bag every three days.
I don’t keep track of how much alcohol I drink. It probably averages out to about a glass of wine per day — many days with none, some days with a few beers. I rarely get drunk. If I do, it’s probably because I’m at an event with an open bar with a good single malt scotch or wine and I have good friends with me.
I don’t remember the last time I ate at a fast food place — maybe a few times in the early 90s. I don’t like restaurants whose food arrives pre-made in frozen cardboard boxes from a factory. I like restaurants whose food arrives as raw fruits and vegetables.
I don’t drink soda. In college in the 80s when I joined students boycotting companies that did business with South Africa under Apartheid, I stopped drinking Coca-Cola. When the boycotting ended and I prepared to start drinking the stuff again I thought “I remember why I stopped drinking it, but I don’t remember why I started in the first place.” I couldn’t find a good reason to start drinking that stuff again, so I didn’t. Eventually I cut out all soda, diet or otherwise (I do drink plain carbonated water). Now I look at soda as a weird chemical concoction or result of a laboratory experiment. I can’t imagine drinking them anymore. I’ve reached the point where I have to work to understand how people could drink those things — they look to me like they’re smoking cigarettes.
I stopped drinking boxed orange juice after reading what I wrote about in this post. Now I view most packaged juices as refined food — little but the sugar with some vitamins added for marketing. Now I prefer eating oranges or juicing the whole fruit, including the peel (nutritional content here), which turns out to have more vitamin C than the inside and has nearly all the fiber. I don’t trust Coca-Cola or Pepsi, who make Minute Maid and Tropicana, with any food or beverage.
Come to think of it, I think cutting out orange juice made the biggest difference in reducing my belly fat.
How much I eat
When I have fresh fruits and easy-to-eat vegetables like carrots or celery, I eat as much of them as I feel like.
Nearly every meal I eat I feel like I ate too much and feel full. I think eating foods with lots of fiber does that, but I’m not sure. I’ll eat all the guacamole I can if that’s the fresh fruit around, and I hear it’s pretty fatty. I don’t care. It’s fresh fruit that tastes great so I see no reason not to put it in my mouth.
How I eat
I eat slowly. I’m almost always the last person to finish eating in any group. The last kid in my family to finish eating when we were kids would playfully taunt the others that he or she still had food and the others didn’t, so I learned to eat slow.
Since the highly transformational (to me) three raisins exercise I did that I’ve been meaning to write about for a while (I’ll write it up soon), I savorÂ and pay attention a lot more to the flavors and textures of foods than I used to, which has slowed down my eating even more.
At least once a meal I tune out the world and pay attention to my food, doing my best to sense all the nuances and detail I can in the few seconds I do it. If I’m eating something juicy, like a fruit or carrot, I often suck the juice out of the fruit to get the best flavor. I’m not sure how to explain that. I chew it to increase the surface area so I can suck the liquid out. Then I swallow the fiber.
How I develop eating beliefs and habits
I don’t seek out information on food. When I come across information, I’ll incorporate it into my beliefs and habits. All the above beliefs and habits developed over years. If I could go back in time, I doubt I could implement them all at once if I tried.
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