Since I’ve gotten a Fitbug with my company’s wellness program, I’ve been entering my food data every day. There are some things that, after I ate them and entered the data, I decided that I’d never eat them again. That led to me checking on things before eating them and adjusting my intake appropriately. Then there were other things that had a good-to-great level of nutrition per calorie, so I’m keeping those in the diet.
My basic plan is to enjoy one vendor lunch per week, but to eat carefully in the restaurant. It won’t kill me to have the odd burger here or there. Every other day, though, I’m going with what I call a “Dawn of History” diet. I made it up myself, so I know it’ll be awesome for me. YMMV.
While I like the idea of a paleo diet, I’mma gonna have my tortillas. Also cheese. Both of those things were available early on in the civilized human experience, so that gives me an opportunity to coin a new name for the diet.
The heart of the idea is portion control. When I look at what I’m eating and keep things to proper portions, I can enjoy a range of foods that I like, sampling them here and there, and not feel full during the day. When I do hunger, I follow the adage, “If you’re hungry enough to eat an apple, eat an apple.” Carrots, bananas, oranges, and other fruits and vegetables work just fine as substitutes. If, after having one of those, I still need a little taste of something sweet, a single chocolate miniature (40 kcal) hits the spot and I’m good.
So what do I eat? Greek yogurt, bananas, frosted mini-wheats, whole milk at breakfast. Tortillas (2) and 1/3 cup cheese for lunch, along with a cup of mandarin oranges in light syrup, and a serving of baby carrots for lunch. Snacks can include 1 oz of beef jerky, a chocolate, more fruit, or a bag of popcorn. Dinner is whatever the family is going to have for dinner, but I’m sure to have a reasonable amount. We typically have chicken or turkey as a supper protein, with a goodly amount of vegetables served up. That’s good stuff. Drinks are all zero calories, like water or diet soda. OK, so diet soda wasn’t available in 3000 BCE, but the name of the diet is just a guideline, not a rule.
Added to this is a good walk on most days of the week. A good walk is around at least 20-30 minutes of brisk walking, enough to where I can feel the blood pumping in me and I take in some good breaths. If I can eat that light lunch quickly, I can use my hour to drive to the botanical gardens (10 min), walk around and see the sights (40 min), and then head back to work (10 min). I feel great after that walk and I don’t feel like crashing around 2PM. If the weather is bad, I can hit a local museum on any day but Monday – and on Mondays, I can take in the hothouse at the botanical gardens for a tropical stroll.
I’m doing this because I want to get good value out of what I eat, I want to enjoy art and nature, and I want to be a happy person. Crash and fad diets leave people unbalanced and miserable. I’ve seen portion control work for Alton Brown and others for a simple reason: it involves a permanent change in the way one looks at food and lifestyle. I can eat whatever I want to eat because I make a strict accounting of everything I eat… and that leads me to not wanting certain things because of their lack of underlying value.
That’s why I like calling it a “Dawn of History” diet. That takes my mind back to philosophers of old that advocated finding a balance in one’s life. It takes me back to when men did not think themselves masters of all that they could see, but wanting to find harmony with the nature around them. Sure, I’m romanticizing and picking and choosing what philosophies and folkways I identify with: that’s the whole point of creating a theme for an otherwise hokey meal plan. By making it a process that I’m aware of and intrigued by (accounting) and framing it with a motif (ancient philosophies), I can savor my life choices and see this as what I permit myself to do and not what I am forbidden to do. I am forbidden in no thing, but I am free to choose to decline that which does not keep me in balance.