“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
― Hippocrates (the father of modern medicine)
To be completely honest, I see a ton of people in their twenties and thirties eating only junk food, drinking themselves stupid, who smoke regularly, and still happen to have good skin and hair, lean physiques and good amounts of energy.
You could reasonably assume from this example that as long as you keep stress under control and get exercise, you could get away with a shitty diet.
You could also assume that their lifestyle hasn’t yet to caught up with them. After all, the body is amazingly resilient, but it’s not infinitely so.
Whichever the case may be, a good, healthy diet will help you recover faster and more efficiently, arguably boosting the effectiveness of everything else that you do.
The way I see it, eating healthy is a necessary but not sufficient condition to getting better quickly. Healthy food by itself may or may not necessarily nurse you back to good health, but it is essential to form a foundation to good health and peak performance.
The dietary changes I have outlined here are very easy to apply with a minimum of effort. If you need to tweak them or apply them only partially, then do it. Something is better than nothing. And it is infinitely more important to just get started and start a routine that you can actually SUSTAIN, rather than jump in the deep end.
Here it is.
Fruit salad for breakfast. If you need a full breakfast, have the fruit salad a half hour before breakfast. (You could also have just one kind of fruit each day)
Vegetable salad with lunch and dinner.
Fruit/salad as evening snack atleast 4 hours after lunch. (You should always have fruit on an empty stomach)
Snack on (ideally raw) nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews etc (Note: peanuts are NOT nuts) when you feel the munchies.
Coconuts are brilliant! They should be a food group all on their own.
Btw, the right fats aren’t bad for you. In fact, they are essential for optimal health. Good sources of healthy fats are nuts, coconuts, avocados, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, fish oil sourced from wild fish (for the omega 3 fatty acids) and cream and butter from pastured, grass-fed cows.
That’s it. Just add raw whole foods like fruit, veggies and nuts to your diet (for now). Organic is better. If organic isn’t available or out of your budget, use what is available.
(Budget Hack: I just realised that you don’t have to go organic cold turkey. Find the organic fruits, veggies and nuts which are not much more expensive than the regular ones [say no more than 1/3 more costly] and buy only those. The rest buy regular.)
And yeah, try to cut down on processed foods. Especially important is to cut down on refined sugars, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, foods with preservatives, MSG, and any ingredients on the label a 12 year old can’t spell. 😉
Remember, the chemicals added to processed foods, and the processing itself is done for the convenience and benefit of the manufacturer, not necessarily for the consumer.
Also, just because the label says that the “food” contains X vitamins, minerals and proteins, does not mean they will be readily absorbed by your body. Foods enriched with lab-created vitamins and minerals only means your kidneys and bladder will be working overtime to filter these out of your system. That’s because the label says nothing about the BIOAVAILABILITY of the nutrients contained therein.
The nutrients contained in whole foods are more bioavailable than the ones in enriched food products. Bioavailability is the ability of your body to actually absorb and make use of the nutrients present in a food item.
I have been reading up on the role of gluten in autoimmune conditions and chronic pain. There is a ton of research linking the two, but I have not yet had a chance (read:energy) to try going gluten free. I encourage you to read up on it, and if you have already tried it, I’d appreciate it if you leave a comment detailing your experience with it. 🙂
There is much more to a good diet that what I have briefly summarised here, but this should get you off to a good start.
I personally follow this diet. I’m on my way to a full paleo diet, but I also recognise that it’ll be impossible to do until I have enough sustained energy to fix all my meals myself. Till then, I’ll have to make do with mom’s cooking. 🙂
A word on meat. Anthropologically speaking, meat is definitely a Yay. Human hunter-gatherer tribes have been hunting wild game for tens of thousands of years. If you exclude meat for religious or ethical reasons, I recommend you make sure the rest of the food you eat supplies all the micronutrients your body needs. It shouldn’t be too difficult, with all the information available on the internet. I personally am vegetarian (but then, I was born into it). If you’re a meat eater, go for organically raised, pastured, grass-fed beef, wild caught fish (as opposed to farmed), free-range, non grain-fed poultry, and wild game.
About dairy, I recommend doing your own research and deciding what works for you. I have dairy, but limit myself to yoghurt, cottage cheese and homemade butter.
Ps: If you have any questions about diet and/or want more information, I recommend checking out marksdailyapple.com, the hub of the modern primal/paleo movement.
I don’t agree with everything Mark says, but the information in that site is gold. Everything there is backed up by either clinical research or anecdotal evidence (often both) and grounded in common sense. What I like about it is that Mark’s beliefs are formed by existing research and anthropological evidence, not the other way around. In other words, his logic is sound.
Next up, Meditation.