Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Starvation Diet

Given some recent family illnesses, the fact that diabetes, breast cancer, and a whole host of other things runs in my family, and a general desire to feel less exhausted all the time, I've been looking for healthier eating options.

Less wheat, fewer carbs, more veggies, less sugar, better meat.

Here is what the internet has to say.

If you eat meat, you'll die.
If you don't eat meat, you'll die.
If you eat wheat, it will kill you.
If you don't eat carbs, your brain will cease to function and you'll die.
If you do eat carbs, you'll become diabetic and die. 
If you eat veggies, they're loaded with poison, and will kill you.
If you eat fruit, it has sugar, will cause diabetes, and you'll die.

Generally speaking, if you eat it, it will cause your untimely demise.

I'm getting more than a little irritated with the interwebs right now.

In addition, no one can agree on which of the grains is healthier, carb and caloriewise. Or how much is too much or too little. And since our wonderful government is so reliable these days, I'm sure they have the right information on nutrition... right? We can trust them?

Plus every author on the subject has an agenda - publish a new lifesaving diet book that tells you everything you knew was wrong and this is how to eat. That way, they make money.

If you combine all the information into one pile and boil it down to its root, what you get is "don't eat anything, its all bad for you." Everyone should go on the Starvation Diet because the safest thing to eat is nothing.

So here is what I've decided to do:

Reduce grains intake in general and wheat intake in particular. Why? Gluten does funky things to your digestive system. I'm going to substitute rice flour for some wheat flour and attempt to overall minimize the breads and pastas we eat. This includes attempting to cook fish about once a week. Increase the number of veggies and fruits that we eat.

My action plan for this is:

  • Try a new recipe once a week, and make it the first time with healthier choices. (Olive oil for saturated fats, etc).  I can't do a lot about the recipes we already love, because changing them means we won't eat them. But I can find new recipes to integrate.
  • Purchase rice noodles instead of wheat noodles. Add lentils and beans for variety. 
  • Maintain a recipe master of meals we will eat. I've already set this up, in a spreadsheet format that will help me easily plan a meal. It is a little anemic right now.

See? Not much on the spreadsheet. The idea is to pick an item from the first four columns (beef, chicken, fish, vegetarian) and then add something from the next few (sides, soups, fruits) and maybe throw in something from the dessert column if I'm feeling particularly decadent. We have to love it for it to make this spreadsheet and all recipes will be printed and put in a binder for easy reference. No recipe goes in the binder unless we will eat it.

This mean committing to cooking at home, not as easy feat when I'm working full time. Wish me luck!


  1. As someone who actually studied nutrition at university, I would suggest ignoring just about everything anyone says on the internet!

    All the complex nutrition stuff we learned could all be summed up in one sentence as: "Eat as wide a variety of food as possible, all in moderation". That's because all sorts of nutrients work together in complicated ways in our bodies, but the best way to make sure you have what your body needs is to eat a huge variety of foods. And the moderation bit is obvious - overeating adds weight, but pigging out on any one type of food means less chance that your food intake will include the variety of nutrients you need.

    Good luck with your healthy eating plan!

  2. I think that's some great advice from Vireya. My understanding of gluten was that it only effects your digestive system if you have a sensitivity to it. This also made me think of two things worth sharing...

    1. The Terrible Tragedy of the Healthy Eater (some language) (for a good laugh)

    2. and on a more serious note...Go Kaleo ( who has a fairly refreshing anti-fad-diet approach to health.

    The spread sheet is a great idea. We're trying to get on with the cook-at-home thing too, but the dishes can't keep up :)

  3. Oh my gosh, haha, "As you read more you begin to understand that grains are fine but before you eat them you must prepare them in the traditional way: by long soaking in the light of a new moon with a mix of mineral water and the strained lacto-fermented tears of a virgin." This is pathetically representative of healthy eating advice these day!

  4. Have your read anything by Michael Pollan? He had an interesting book called in defense of food. There is a lot of conflicting information out there.