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dosboot
05-11-2010, 08:49 PM
Let's have a thread about eating a healthy diet. This isn't about eating right while eating tasty, this is about science and important eating decisions for your everyday diet (what you plan to eat for the long term, not temporary).

Anyone read this book (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1594201455)? I enjoyed the author's motto in particular "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Good book and very informative. Somehow no amount of knowledge is ever complete though. There's always discussion and uncertainty about what to eat if health is your only compass.

Possible topics for discussion include:

-What's your diet like right now on the health front? Do you eat any/some/lots of processed foods (a slightly vague category)? Do you read the labels (and ingredient lists)? How many servings of vegetables do you try to eat? Only organic?

-What do you think is the ideal diet? Calorie ratios (fat/carbohydrates/protein), food groups, nutritional daily values, or ...

-Foods/ingredients you won't eat or try to eat as little as possible.

-What do you make of various pieces of conventional advice? Do you worry about dietary cholesterol (which has all but 180'ed from the original warnings)? Saturated fat? Omega-3?

Ethan
05-11-2010, 09:33 PM
I think the key to healthy eating habits is to devote real time and attention to eating, and to enjoy your food. Passive, rushed eating is dangerous because it lets you tune out important cues about how your body is reacting to your food. If you really concentrate on eating, you will find it easier to recognize the ways in which certain foods affect your emotional and physical state, and you will be less prone eat past the point of satisfaction.

The way I see it, your own body is able to give you much more realistic nutritional guidance than a bunch of numbers on a package can, so a cultural change in the way you approach eating is going to help you more than keeping a tally of numbers. After all, a lot of our understanding of those numbers is based on guidelines set by the FDA, which basically means the corn and meat lobbies have a say in telling you how much starch and protein you should eat, which is bad news.

To word it another way, if you're eating something that's trashing your body, you are going to feel nasty after eating it. If you're eating something that is exactly what your body needs, you are going to feel energized after eating it. And if you're too distracted from your meal to notice how it makes you feel, bad things will happen.

Violentvixen
05-11-2010, 09:42 PM
Anyone read this book (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1594201455)? I enjoyed the author's motto in particular "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Good book and very informative. Somehow no amount of knowledge is ever complete though. There's always discussion and uncertainty about what to eat if health is your only compass.

I have not read that one, but I am in the process of reading this one (http://www.michaelpollan.com/omnivore.php), which is fascinating.

Possible topics for discussion include:

-What's your diet like right now on the health front? Do you eat any/some/lots of processed foods (a slightly vague category)? Do you read the labels (and ingredient lists)? How many servings of vegetables do you try to eat? Only organic?

-What do you think is the ideal diet? Calorie ratios (fat/carbohydrates/protein), food groups, nutritional daily values, or ...

-Foods/ingredients you won't eat or try to eat as little as possible.

I am still trying to revamp my diet after the discovery that I have incredibly low blood pressure. I rarely break 2000 calories and get less than half of the daily value of sodium/potassium. When I do get the right amount of electrolytes I feel better but all my clothes are noticeably tighter which is discouraging.

In short my diet is really bizarre. I rarely buy meat to eat/prepare at home due to the expense. I eat TONS of vegetables, though. I mainly buy veggies from the local farmers (whoo CSAs!).

-What do you make of various pieces of conventional advice? Do you worry about dietary cholesterol (which has all but 180'ed from the original warnings)? Saturated fat? Omega-3?

Bwah? Do you have HDL/LDL confused, maybe?

As for Omega 3's, I've found them to be incredibly helpful when I'm stressed out (to the point where I can stop taking my panic meds), but not useful day to day.

dosboot
05-11-2010, 10:19 PM
I'm referring to the cholesterol present in food, and namely how they say it doesn't really have a big effect on the body's cholesterol levels. Originally the warning was based on the observed relationship between cholesterol levels and heart disease, but the link between food and the body was not tested. I've read that vegetarian animals don't have a regulatory mechanism for controlling the cholesterol they consume, so animal tests will show that if you feed a rabbit lots of eggs for example they quickly develop problems. But humans and omnivores however can supposedly regulate cholesterol they digest very tightly.

It's confusing though, and not just because experts used to say one thing and now say another. I still find experts giving the old warnings about consuming cholesterol when I research around, but others say eating an egg a day is fine and dandy. Yet others seemingly acknowledge this research but hedge their bets by recommending something like "it's healthy to eat eggs, but no more than X per week". It'd be nice if the picture was clearer, because it just makes it hard to believe any of them.

Olli T
05-11-2010, 10:53 PM
I have discovered an amazing snack: carrots. More specifically, I peel them and cut them into medium-sized chunks. It doesn't take much effort and they're crunchy, tasty and healthy! They can also be dipped if you're into that kind of stuff - not as healthy, but much better than potato chips or nachos.

mopinks
05-12-2010, 02:50 AM
we've made huuuuuuuuge dietary changes in this house over the past couple weeks, and I am feeling really good about it.

my girlfriend is an incredibly picky eater, and the only thing she likes to eat is really really bad stuff. it got to the point where she was bringing fast food home practically every single day, which meant I'd end up eating it too, because I am WEAK - and since we both work from home, we weren't exactly getting any exercise either.

through some miracle (a SAUCE miracle) we finally found a way she can eat nice lean boring chicken breast and a pile of vegetables every night and actually ENJOY it, so what we've been eating has completely changed. it is all NUTS, APPLES, YOGURT, GREEN LEAFY THINGS, and SMALL PORTIONS OF LEAN MEAT AND/OR EGGS up in here now, and we are doing a really swell job of sticking to it. and not starving!

eating healthy is easy enough for me, but it's a whole lot easier when someone's not downing a bacon cheeseburger in front of you every day.

Torgo
05-12-2010, 03:19 AM
They can also be dipped if you're into that kind of stuff - not as healthy, but much better than potato chips or nachos.
Keep in mind of course that "not as healthy" simply means more calorie consumption, which depending on your diet is perfectly fine. You're still getting the same nutritional value out of the carrot, and unless you're absolutely drenching it in your dip, it's not turning it into a bowl of ice cream.

(Sorry, I tend to get a little aggro about this line of thinking. It's the same thing when people crinkle their noses over salad dressing. "Oh but that totally ruins it! It's bad for you now!")

Reinforcements
05-12-2010, 07:41 AM
(Sorry, I tend to get a little aggro about this line of thinking. It's the same thing when people crinkle their noses over salad dressing. "Oh but that totally ruins it! It's bad for you now!")
To be fair though, a lot of times people eat salad specifically because it's low calorie, and also often the salad will consist of iceburg lettuce and not much else, which is not particularly nutritious. So yes, if you're covering your pile of lettuce in ranch dressing you have kinda defeated the purpose. Then again, I just hate ranch dressing.

Violentvixen
05-12-2010, 12:45 PM
All salad dressing is evil.

And iceberg lettuce is the worst thing in the world. Romaine all the way!

The salad spinner we got has made my life infinitely better. Lettuce with craisins and chopped pecans is awesome. The best thing is that I can cut up and wash a head of lettuce and it will keep for a couple of days thanks to these Produce Saver (http://www.rubbermaid.com/Category/Pages/ProductDetail.aspx?Prod_Id=RP091261) things we got, the craisins come in a huge bag and we stuck a massive amount of pecans in the food processor so those are ready as well. Easy lunch every day!

demonkoala
05-12-2010, 01:00 PM
Pickle slices are a good snack. Good alternative when snacking and only ~1 calorie a pop.

Patrick
05-12-2010, 01:28 PM
http://i.adultswim.com/adultswim/tools/img/shows/wiki/timandericawesomeshow/characters/drbrule280.jpg

For your health.

gamin
05-12-2010, 05:28 PM
Health is no concern to me in my eating habits, but at the same time I hardly ever eat out and I never pig out on anything. I eat whatever the cheapest and easiest thing is to prepare from Safeway, and generally stick to a diet of pasta, chili, rice, fried rice with chicken, grilled cheese sandwiches and Top Ramen+egg.

I keep under 2000 calories almost every day, and take several vitamin supplements with breakfast. This seems to work out well for me and I have never felt healthier in my life then I do now. I think the calorie count is key--as long as I keep under what I burn, I am perfectly fine.

mablem8
05-12-2010, 05:58 PM
I try to eat healthy foods as much as I can, focusing on the standard tropes: proteins, complex carbohydrates, and unsaturated fats while avoiding saturated fats, simple carbohydrates and sugars, and artificial or processed foods.

When it's available, I'll buy organic. However, I don't necessarily buy it in order to support the idea of all-natural farming and what not; I consider the idea of hydroponics and genetic engineering to be relatively practical. Instead, I try to buy organic because it's the easiest way to stay away from additives and preservatives. It's just a good idea to avoid taking random chemicals into the body.

I've experimented with different ratios of food types, i.e. diets high in protein or low in carbs, and I find that, for a long-term lifetime diet, unbalanced extremes become unsustainable (although they can be useful for attaining meaningful results in the short term). Getting a good mix of all nutrient types lends itself to the best feeling of well-being.

The conflicting reports on cholesterol intake via foods confuses me as well, but most of the foods making up my diet don't contain significant amounts of cholesterol, so I just don't worry about it. In my experience, Omega-3s are great, and they make up a good portion of my unsaturated fat intake (see ground flaxseed meal (http://www.bobsredmill.com/org.-golden-flaxseed-meal.html)).

As far as I can tell, saturated fat is the only food type that can be encountered naturally and is actually downright bad for the body. Things like sugars might make it easier to put on some body fat, but they don't necessarily have outright negative health consequences, particularly if you're going to be burning that energy off soon anyway. Sugar only becomes an issue when eating a lot of processed foods (or homemade baked goods, I guess). Compounds like lactose and fructose exist in dairy and fruits, but you can't really get a sugar rush from those.

I guess the most important thing is to pay attention to how your body feels about the food you eat. Squid Brand said that pretty well. And yeah, it definitely helps when the people around you don't seem to be actively plotting against you, like with that bacon cheeseburger mopinks mentions.

dosboot
05-12-2010, 09:21 PM
Omega-3 from flax is apparently not very useful. There is a theoretic understanding that it cannot be used by the body to produce important things that Omega-3 from animal sources can be used to produce. Short term studies tend to conclude that flax produces very marginal changes compared to fish. Finally, cultural studies will only represent the effects of omega-3 from fish -- there aren't nations or cultures to represent flax consumption as far as I am aware. I still incorporate some flax into my daily diet, it feels like there isn't a downside since if nothing else it still is a perfectly good nut/seed to eat.

Sugar taken in excess is worrisome because it can also cause insulin resistance (and dental problems I guess). Consumed in moderation it is "ok" but there is no nutritional reason or positive benefit for doing so that I know of. I think it is better to replace added sugar with fruit if given the choice. It was surprising to me how enjoyable your most basic and bland cereal (e.g., Cheerios) is when you add your own chopped up fruit. One would think this would have become the norm at some point given that people generally seem to know that most cereal isn't very good for you.

I've read respectable opinions claiming saturated fat is not the culprit we think it is (a NYTimes article (http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/21/good-news-on-saturated-fat/) is what I immediately found at the moment). Ancel Keys and his study comparing national fat consumption and heart disease in the 1950s is the historical reason which started the saturated fat warning, but Keys left out data from countries which didn't support his conclusion so it was basically bogus. The warnings stepped ahead of the research, and that warning is now ingrained in the general public, but I honestly don't think scientists know the truth even today. Most experts today recommend limiting saturated fat, but how much of that is lingering momentum from the original advice I don't know. Like with cholesterol, the other side likes to point out that the conventional experts don't acknowledge newer research. I don't want to push the other side here because I don't know who is right, but if nothing else they will make you very worried about 1) whether there is still an on going bias for proving saturated fat causes heart disease and 2) is there even remotely enough evidence to justify the warnings.

Dizzy
05-13-2010, 10:47 AM
http://i.adultswim.com/adultswim/tools/img/shows/wiki/timandericawesomeshow/characters/drbrule280.jpg

There is something deeply unsettling about that man.


I keep under 2000 calories almost every day, and take several vitamin supplements with breakfast.

I doubt the power of vitamin supplements. Do they really work? A lot of them are not FDA approved and could be placebos. I don't think I need them since I can the minerals I need from the food I eat. I can drink fruit juices, eat fruit or yogurt. And some of those multi-vitamin supplements come packed with iodine, which if I consume in enough quantities can transform me into Freddy Krueger.

Patrick
05-13-2010, 01:27 PM
There is something deeply unsettling about that man.


It's your friend and mine, John C. Reilly. Here are some of his health tips. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SEiMu3dGyY)

mablem8
05-13-2010, 02:58 PM
The most disappointing aspect of trying to eat healthy is the utter lack of creditable, scientific data. Diet is still an alchemy. In a sense, it almost has to be. There is no way to describe an eating plan than fits every individual due to the fact that activity levels, fitness, and body structure can vary so widely. At the same time, there are certain "facts" that need not be ambiguous at all.

Omega-3 from flax is apparently not very useful. There is a theoretic understanding that it cannot be used by the body to produce important things that Omega-3 from animal sources can be used to produce.

This fact falls into that category. I've read speculation that Omega-3s from plants may not provide the same benefits as those from animals, but I haven't seen any proof. That's kind of embarrassing; in general, all humans metabolize compounds the same way. No matter who they are, people cannot digest cellulose. It should be easy to test whether people, in general, digest and process Omega-3s from plants and animals differently. Simply looking at the chemical makeup of the compound could be helpful. Is there a difference in the structures of these molecules?

But without concrete data, I tend to follow the mantra of "better safe than sorry." Aside from using flax seed meal, I usually down around three to four servings of salmon a week in addition to a couple of servings of tuna, shrimp, scallops, or other seafood. When it comes to flax seed, dosboot says it well:

I still incorporate some flax into my daily diet, it feels like there isn't a downside since if nothing else it still is a perfectly good nut/seed to eat.

gamin
05-13-2010, 05:18 PM
I doubt the power of vitamin supplements. Do they really work? A lot of them are not FDA approved and could be placebos. I don't think I need them since I can the minerals I need from the food I eat. I can drink fruit juices, eat fruit or yogurt. And some of those multi-vitamin supplements come packed with iodine, which if I consume in enough quantities can transform me into Freddy Krueger.

What are you even talking about? There's a Nutrition Facts label on supplements like anything else, and it tells you to the mg just what is in the pill. It's not all going to be absorbed into your system, of course, but every little bit counts. And before you badmouth iodine, understand that you need it to maintain your metabolism and thyroid gland.

dosboot
05-13-2010, 08:32 PM
He might be talking about "herbal supplements" which aren't FDA approved and seem generally risky to take. I think I've read an article raising concerns about vitamins which had under reported dosages but I don't really know the regulatory status about that. There also is logical criticism about the quality of the nutrients in vitamin pills as well as the fact that you are taking so much at once, but it is also reasonable to believe the body gets some boost out of them too.

This fact falls into that category. I've read speculation that Omega-3s from plants may not provide the same benefits as those from animals, but I haven't seen any proof. That's kind of embarrassing; in general, all humans metabolize compounds the same way. No matter who they are, people cannot digest cellulose. It should be easy to test whether people, in general, digest and process Omega-3s from plants and animals differently. Simply looking at the chemical makeup of the compound could be helpful. Is there a difference in the structures of these molecules?

Here's one article (http://thehealthyskeptic.org/why-fish-stomps-flax-as-a-source-of-omega-3) that makes the difference between omega-3 sources more explicit.