Monday, December 8, 2008

On the Menu

Since starting my diet, I've had to explain to other people what I eat and don't eat. My short answer is to say I eat "whole foods" and then proceed to make a list of what I don't eat: junk food, grains, corn syrup, and vegetable oils. I explain that I avoid processed foods and sugar as much as possible. I've gotten some very confused looks, particularly when I get to the part about eating lots of animal fat.

I try not to eat processed foods or sugar. When it comes to things like pasta sauce (to use on spaghetti squash), I get those labeled "organic" (*), with olive oil instead of canola or corn oil. But I do eat some things, like sausage, for which I haven't been able to find any local stores which sell uncured versions. I have to stand there for five minutes reading the ingredients to find one which isn't made with corn syrup, and make a guess about which has the fewest negative ingredients. Some things I get have extra preservatives and other chemicals, like dried apricots, figs, and apples (most other dried fruits have sugar added, unfortunately). I sometimes eat canned fruit in natural juices. Also, I do drink a couple whey protein shakes each week . My one consistent vice is chocolate. I get 85% cocoa "organic" chocolate (Green & Black's), which I make last for a week or more.

I do pay heed to the principles of the Paleolithic Diet, considering how nutrition fit into the evolutionary process before agriculture. But I don't strictly adhere to the guidelines of that diet. I eat cheese, "organic" whole milk yogurt, unsalted butter, and "organic" whole milk and cream quite often. Yogurt (with fresh berries) and cottage cheese make great desserts, though I don't miss them if I go without for a couple weeks. I also eat legumes occasionally. And, I eat potatoes (baked, mashed, or cooked with a roast or stew).

When I started in September, I chose to simply eat what was "good" and avoid what was "bad" without regard to percentages of fat, proteins, vitamins, etc.. That way, I could eat what sounded good at the time, and ease into the transition. Now and then, I feel the irrational urge to binge on something decadent, perhaps to relieve stress. And, where that would have involved junk food in the past, now it means eating lots of fruit or dairy. I still don't think my diet is as balanced as it should be--too much fruit and not enough vegetables. But I'm progressing and finding my natural cravings to be informative.

  • Breakfast usually involves eggs and uncured bacon. If I have enough time, I make an omelette or frittata. I like to add onions, garlic, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, and peppers.
  • Lunch usually involves either leftovers, salads, or steamed broccoli. I got tired of making salads from lettuce, as it tends to dilute the flavors of some ingredients. I like avocados, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, hard-boiled eggs, tuna or salmon, and balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
  • Dinner varies quite a bit. My preferred main course is steak. Salmon is also a favorite. An easy one is a ground meat (beef, lamb, bison) patty with cheese. A store-bought rotisserie chicken or spiral ham (I messed up by adding the glaze last time) on occasion is a nice break. I try to eat more of the fat of these meats than everyone else. Slightly more involved recipes include cauliflower pizza, spaghetti squash, ratatouille, sausage and cabbage stir fry, rosemary lemon chicken, stew (my wife's recipe includes a spoonful of flour for a big pot, and mixed vegetables which include corn, so I make those compromises), and corned beef with cabbage. Vegetables are usually frozen, steamed cabbage, or salads (with oil and vinegar).
  • Snacks throughout the day usually include fruits (bananas, melons, berries, grapes, dried fruits), nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans), summer sausage and cheese.
As Nikoley points out, it becomes much easier not to cheat. I can count on one hand the number of time's I've "cheated" with pastries or Thanksgiving corn bread stuffing. None of them have been so satisfying enough to make it worth my while, though.

* My wife reminds me how I had made fun of her for looking at "organic" produce in the grocery store, just a few months back. I based this on a general distrust of fads, ambiguous definitions, and unscientific hysteria. I still think the label is often misleading or irrelevant.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link. And, good luck with the diet.