Diets

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Some recommendations on eating were made on the page about maintaining a healthy physical body.  There are hundreds of diets telling you what you should and should not eat, and I tell you with 100% certainty that none of them are right!

The best way of knowing what nutrition your body requires is to get in touch with your body and listen to it.  Meditation helps, but not everyone has the patience or indeed wants to listen to the body.  Nutritional requirements do not always align with the cravings of the taste buds.  There is considerable confusion, especially with women for some reason, between feeling hungry and requiring emotional comfort.

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There are hundreds of good books providing nutritional advice.  One of my favourites is Laurel’s Kitchen.  Some general tips:

  • It is not necessary to be vegetarian or vegan.  Nor is it necessary to eat meat.  I have met people who seriously believe that they start feeling faint if they don’t eat meat for 2 days.
  • If you are strict vegetarian or vegan long-term, you will almost certainly require dietary supplements (eg for B12, Folacin, etc.).
  • Variety is good.  Instead of eating potatoes every night, get your carbohydrates from rice, corn, cous cous, quinoa, buckwheat, bulghar wheat, pasta, pumpkin, etc.  Small amounts of a wide variety of foods.
  • Fresh is best, rather than from a can or frozen.  Try and avoid pre-packaged processed foods – prepare yourself from fresh ingredients.  Some people aim for a 50% raw diet (fruits, vegetables).  It is actually quite easy to do.
  • Smaller meals and eating often is better than starving yourself and then pigging out.  Eating small amounts often helps keep the body metabolism high.
  • If you are going to eat meat, add it in small amounts as a decoration (eg in a stir fry) rather than a 200 g main feature of the meal.  It is hard to get meat from animals that haven’t been raised on steroids – deep sea fish is probably the most free of additives and contaminants.
  • If you are vegetarian or vegan, don’t panic about your protein intake.  Most people in the western world eat far more protein than they need on a daily basis.  All these tofu or soy-based meat-like alternatives are highly processed, and unnecessary.  Most grains and vegetables like broccoli, nuts and seeds, provide plenty of tasty protein.
  • Those things that you are told to avoid are actually what you need most – fat, sugar, salt.  You don’t need very much of each, and what you do ingest should be high quality.
  • Don’t eat if you don’t feel hungry.
  • Eating a large meal before going to bed isn’t good.  Try to have a 12 hour period each day where you don’t eat, to give your digestive system time to do its work (ie have the evening meal before 7 pm, and don’t eat breakfast until after 7 am the next morning).
  • Some people like to fast one day a week, eg Saturday.  This works well for some people, as it gives the digestive tract time to clear out the food and rest for a while.

If you are trying to lose weight, you need to eat less AND exercise.  Particularly the exercise bit!