Saturday, May 18, 2013

The joaquimoly diet

Unfortunately, it's not as delicious as that sounds. It is, though, what has always worked for me.

1) Stop drinking things out of straws. Even diet and no-calorie drinks have ingredients that are not the most natural or best for you, or at the very least they get you accustomed to a sweetness that you then seek out in everything else you drink or eat. On the extreme end, there are those 400 calorie drinks that do nothing to satisfy your hunger, and which overwhelm the 25 calories you burned walking a quarter mile round trip to get them. (Oh, you went to the drive-thru? Never mind.)

2) Learn how to cook, or at least how to stir-fry vegetables. Meals out are designed to make you crave them. The reason tomato soup made with cream tastes "just like restaurant soup" is, well, because restaurants have no qualms about dumping as much cream/butter, fat/oil/grease, salt, and sugar as necessary to make you think their food is "the BEST!" If you must eat at a restaurant, do it no more than once a week, and stop eating when you have eaten half the food on your plate. Eat the other half tomorrow for lunch.

How to stir-fry vegetables: On shopping day, buy lots of several kinds of vegetables, especially bok choy, but also things like carrots, celery, new potatoes (thin-skinned, not baking), onions, garlic, possibly mushrooms, broccoli, summer squash (thin-skinned), anything you like, really. That day or the next, chop up enough to fill a big bowl into small enough pieces that they will find the bottom of the pan when you are stir-frying them. Keep the garlic and the leafy parts of the bok choi separate from the other chopped vegetables. Make a big batch of rice.* Whenever you are hungry, warm the rice, and get out the vegetables, the oil (preferable sesame oil), and a pan. Put the pan on high heat, put in 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil, add vegetables (keeping heat on high), and stir like mad (at least constantly). When they are starting to show signs of being cooked (approx. 3 minutes), add the chopped bok choi leaves and chopped garlic and cook for another minute, possibly two. Remove from heat. Turn off burners. Quickly put some rice on the plate, the stir-fried vegetables on the rice, and sprinkle some ground ginger and some salt over the vegetables until it tastes good to you. Return uncooked chopped vegetables and, when cooled, the rice, to the fridge until time for the next 10-minute-or-less meal.

3) Start breakfast with a really good piece of fruit, fresh fruit. My favorite is a really ripe mango, but watermelon, canteloupe (muskmelon), strawberries, a banana, red bananas, a good pear, or almost anything will do. Alternatively, hot oatmeal poured over a sliced ripe banana or over thawed, crushed blackberries with a little sugar, but no milk (see point one about liquid calories), is also delicious. After the fruit, then go ahead and have a home-made muffin (see point two about commercially-prepared foods) or two or three, preferably also with fruit in them (apple, raisins, blueberries, cranberries).

4) Don't go to bed until you have walked for at least 30 minutes (in addition to the walking you normally do during the day), preferrably 45. Sixty (60) minutes is actually too much to do everyday (in my experience, anyway). If you are considering doing that much or more, you really need to talk with your doctor and/or your psychologist, or you could actually do yourself some real harm. (You are not your weight, and you are good enough already.) Alternatively, run for 15 to 22.5 minutes. You can do this first thing in the morning, at lunch, after work, or right before going to bed, but do it sometime before going to bed on at least five out of every seven days.

5) Garden. If you have never done it before, just get a pot that is at least one-foot deep (this is important, so roots have enough room!), get a tomato plant (at the right time of year for your location—when there is no frost) and some good potting soil and a tomato cage, and put it all together somewhere where it will see the sun most of the day and where you will see it every day, to keep it watered enough to not dry out, and to remember to fertilize it maybe once a month, if it looks like it could be doing better. If you want to expand beyond a tomato plant, do a cherry tomato plant. Then maybe a zucchini plant. Stick to the easy stuff so you will have success until you start feeling like being more adventurous. For true maximum show for little work, plant some "mammoth" sunflower seeds, in the ground, in a sunny location where you will see them frequently and water them.

6) Don't eat on the couch in front of the TV; otherwise, you will tend to mindlessly eat way too much of the wrong kinds of food.

7) If you won't be able to resist it, leave it at the store. Don't buy it. Don't bring it home. If you want ice cream, make yourself get up and go out to the ice cream shop, and then get a single scoop. It's more social and more fun, anyway.

8) Tell yourself the truth. Don't believe that "these calories won't count" or whatever other excuse (lie) you usually tell yourself. Tell yourself the truth, and then either act accordingly, or just be truthful about what you are doing.

9) It's O.K. to be hungry sometimes. If you are never really hungry, you are probably eating more than you need to for your activity level. I am not advocating anything drastic here (or in any of these points). I am just saying that it is not the end of the world to be hungry now and then throughout the day, say for an hour or two before eating. It's also not the end of the world to not be absolutely full, or even a tiny bit hungry, when heading to bed. If you are really hungry, though, by all means eat something, just not too much. I remember reading that the Okinawans follow the practice of "hara hachi bu" (80 percent full)— eating only until they are 80% full. I don't follow that, exactly, but when I know that eating more would, truthfully, be eating too much, I usually stop right there (and maybe just eat any remaining pieces of tomato on the plate; too good, and not particularly fattening, anyway).

And that, my friends, or my Russian blogviews-spam bots, is the totally non-extreme, non-commercial, non-celebrity-related, non-advertised, and rather common-sense way to be healthy (or healthier). Basically it boils down to this: A) give priority to fresh fruits and vegetables, B) avoid liquid calories and commercially prepared drinks and foods (cook at home), and C) walk 30 to 45 minutes most days of the week.

Fresh produce, water (or black tea or coffee or mate), home cooking, and exercise.

It's almost too simple and too easy, and it is, and that's because I am not trying to sell you something. If anything, doing what I suggest here will also save you a lot of money. If it does, just start a new habit of socking most of it away at the beginning of the month, or every week, and then pretending you have to live on the rest. Then, when you are healthier and richer, let me know—and spread the word. :  )

Brought to you by bok choy.

The usual disclaimer: Not intended to be taken as nutritional or medical advice. For that, talk to a nutritionist or a doctor.

*For rice, 2+ cups water for every 1 cup rice. For white rice, bring to a boil then reduce, covered, to warm (simmer) for 15 minutes. For brown rice, do the same, but simmer for 35 minutes. It is better to have too much water than too little. (Easier to pour off excess water than to scrape burnt rice off the bottom of the pot.)

Totally spaced (absolutely forgot to add) this last point:

10) Don't eat red meat, and eat eggs in moderation. Both have recently been closely tied to hardening of the arteries, which is a main cause of heart attacks. There are other negative health effects, too, which you can read about elsewhere, especially on sites with no ties to the USDA, the U.S. government generally, or to ranchers or egg farmers. (WHO sites, EU sites, or Canadian sites tend to provide less biased, more scientific, information.)