I was just taking a walk and mulling over how to write a post about what food choices form the basis of a healthy diet. Needless to say ... way, way too many thoughts went through my mind. So many different opinions, so many different angles, so much information. Not that I was entertaining any notion of writing the definitive guide on the subject or anything. The best solution I can come up with is to point to two of the finest eating templates that I've yet encountered. I am referring to Dr. Paul Jaminets' Perfect Health Diet and Dr. Kurt Harris' Archevore plan. They are both brief yet thorough. While there is obviously no one optimal plan for everybody, I encourage those who are not familiar with these simple guides to take some time and look them over.
Okay now the easy part - I'll fill you in on my food choices and how they have evolved over the past few years.
I must start out by saying that I've never been overweight. Not as a child, not as an adult. Also, I've never really felt bad or noticed any dire consequences from my food choices. I wanted to make this clear because there was never a tipping point (Mark Sisson, ironically, just did an article on this) that lead me to this lifestyle. Actually, my background is a lot like Mark's in that I too was a chronic cardio athlete and made food choices to mainly fuel my activities (lots of grains and carbs in general). Instead, I've long been interested in learning about nutrition, and the awesomeness that is the information superhighway has led me over time to make choices tilted more in favor of my overall health.
I would say this began in earnest after I read Good Calories Bad Calories by Taubes in the fall of '07. I didn't automatically banish all carbs from my diet right then and there, but I remember vividly thinking over the saying 'to work up an appetite'. That struck a chord with me. I was doing this all of the time with my endurance running, cycling and skate skiing. Now though, as I'm getting older, my brain is starting to win the battle with my body over making food choices. Instead of making them to fuel my lifestyle, I make them with overall health as my number one objective. And my lifestyle, and in particular my exercise patterns, have changed to match this goal as well.
So several years ago I began cutting back on the endurance training as well as the carbs in my diet. The beautiful thing about this was that junk food was the first thing to go. I'm talking mainly about energy bars and gels. They are the backbone of chronic cardio training as they are fast and easy. They are also almost pure sugar ... even if they are called natural or organic (date paste packs one helluva wallop). I started to prepare most of my meals for myself around this time too. Not spending hours and hours training after work all of a sudden opened up some time for me to actually use my kitchen. Instead of just grabbing sushi or a sandwich from the store, I was beginning to take the time to shop for fresh vegetable and meats - and the Farmers Market became my new best friend. And so my Paleo/Primal journey was beginning to take shape and I would soon ditch the grains, legumes and seed oils from my diet as well. In the next post I'll conclude with my current food choices and overall eating strategy.