Of late, I have wandered off my core topics a little bit here and there. Today I’m going right off the reservation. Let’s talk nutrition.
Recently I gave you the mind blowingly original advice to clean up your diet. I Mostly I talked about reducing the amount of garbage you eat, and related it back to a healthy lifestyle rooted in regular, vigorous exercise. More recently I noted that low testosterone is linked to poor diet.
Add to it that we’ve got a serious problem with obesity and diabetes, a population that is both aging and aging poorly and then it’s time to talk nutrition. I’ll start with a piece of good news, can fix a lot of problems by cleaning up your diet.
But where to start? There is so much competing information about health and nutrition out there.
- Red meat will kill you, go vegan.
- But we’re evolved omnivores, we need meat .
- But carbs are making you fat, go Keto.
- But we need the micro nutrients in fruits and vegetables.
- But fruits are pure sugar, rot your teeth and make you fat, eat meat.
- But cholesterol will plug your arteries and give you heart disease and strokes.
- But that’s LDL cholesterol, we need the HDL cholesterol.
- Eggs are bad, don’t eat them.
- No, wait, eggs are good, eat them.
- And on. And on. And on.
So, again, where to start?
Well, let’s start with a disclaimer. I’m an engineer, not a nutritionist. What I write comes from decades of observing life’s little absurdities and (hopefully) a bit of common sense. Further, I’m just a guy telling stories. If you have serious health concerns, consult an expert, m’kay?
I gave you the advice, “Stop eating crap,” and I really mean it. I picked up that phrase from a book entitled Younger Next Year. It’s a great book, you should read it. The dietary advice contained within wasn’t (as I recall) particularly exacting. Don’t eat too much. Don’t eat crap. Cut down the carbs. Eat more white meat than red. That sort of thing.
But what is crap? Basically, it’s processed foods filled with sugar, refined carbs, chemicals (flavours, preservatives, colouring, etc.), trans fats and so on. Crap really seemed to enter our diets in the 70s; TV dinners, kids’ sugary cereals, snack cakes, etc. In addition, around then experts changed the food guide to recommend getting the majority of your daily calories from grains. Purely by coincidence, I’m sure, the sharp rise in obesity, diabetes and related illnesses began at the same time.
What if those two things, eating too many carbs, and the ubiquity of crap, are the big wins? Stop eating crap and stop eating so damned much bread, cereal and cake. What if, and I’m just spit balling here, but what if the diet that served us for centuries is actually, you know, pretty healthy.
My Grannie was born in 1902, never exercised a day in her life and ate a diet of meat and potatoes, maybe a veggie on the side, drenched in butter. She lived through two world wars, the depression, early widowhood, and buried two of her children (I don’t think you can say she lived a stress free life). She lived to be 91, so if the experts are telling us her diet is killing us, I’m thinking the experts are overthinking our diets.
What is the big thing about the diet of pre-1970? No crap. So, when it comes to my diet, I don’t stress it. I don’t consult nutritionists and doctors. I’m not on some brand name diet found in the healthy living section of the bookstore. I’m on a simpler diet, the “don’t eat too much bread and cake, and would Grannie recognize it as food?” diet.
I started with “poor nutrition messes with your testosterone.” I moved on to “too much carbs and crap make you fat.” I finished with “eat like your grandparents.” I live this advice, mostly (damn you Vachon and your delicious snacky cakes). I’m 6’ 1”, 182 lbs, 32 inch waist. You know, not fat (my wife complains I’m actually too thin) and every year at my annual physical I get the standard bloodwork done and every year the results come back normal. No hormone problems.
I’ve advised you to destress your lives. Well, diet is one stress I’ve removed. Maybe you can do it, too.
Cross posted at Medium.com, where I tell a lot of non-posture stories.