On a regular basis, I get asked what I eat. When I talk about my diet with a friend or client at the gym, I realize the way I eat sounds pretty boring to some and pretty restrictive to others. But, it works for me. I’m leanest I’ve ever been as an adult. And, it hasn’t been all that difficult to maintain.I have a few guidelines that I follow at home . . .
1. I don’t eat grains. That means that I don’t eat bread, crackers, cereal, pasta, rice, oatmeal, etc. Occasionally, I’ll eat some organic blue corn tortilla chips to have with guacamole, but that’s about it.
2. I don’t have much dairy. The only dairy I have is the 1/2 & 1/2 in my tea or coffee. I don’t drink milk or eat much cheese. I don’t eat yogurt – never been a huge fan anyway. My biggest challenge with “no dairy” is ice cream and frozen custard.
3. I don’t eat sugar, except for some very dark chocolate (85%) daily. I’ve given up all sweeteners or sugar in my hot drinks, including sugar-free sweeteners. This was difficult at first, but now sweetened drinks are too sweet.
4. I eat 2 big meals each day. Most days I skip breakfast altogether, and just have my tea and coffee until I eat a big meal at lunchtime. On days I go for a ride or am going to have a hard workout, I will eat a light snack for breakfast. But, for the most part, I eat a big lunch around noon, then I eat a big dinner around 6 or 6:30 most days of the week. I don’t consider this intermittent fasting (IF) because I consume quite a bit of tea and coffee (with 1/2 & 1/2) in the mornings. Since I am typically not very hungry when I wake up, a few months ago I decided to see how I tolerated skipping breakfast. Why eat if I’m not hungry? So far, it hasn’t hurt me or impaired my workouts. Also, I’ve found that not making breakfast has given me more time in the morning.
5. I cook a lot. As a family, we only eat out about 1 meal each week. When we eat out, I’ll splurge on pizza, french fries, or something I usually don’t eat very often. Planning & cooking our meals each week helps my family eat healthier, and helps me stay organized and prepared in the kitchen.
6. I don’t drink much alcohol. During my fatter days, I’d have a glass or two of beer or wine most nights of the week. Drinking also promoted snacking. Now, I hardly ever drink. If I do, it’s maybe one beer or cocktail 1 or 2 nights a week.
7. I’m not afraid of eating fat. I cook with coconut oil, ghee (clarified butter), pasture butter, olive oil, etc. I eat fatty meats. I try to avoid fake and processed fats as much as possible. I think one of the main reasons I’m able to survive on just 2 meals a day is because I eat a fairly high-fat diet.
8. I eat a lot of animal protein. The bulk of every meal is some sort of meat or eggs. It tastes good, it fills me up, and it keeps me satisfied for a very long time.
Vices? Everyone has vices. My biggest challenges with eating . . .
1. Ice cream or frozen custard. If I have ice cream in the house, it’s hard for me to stay out of it. So, I try not to buy it. If/when I do, I usually buy flavors I don’t like. I will NOT buy Moose Tracks or French Silk. Ever.
2. Diet Mt. Dew. This is my pre-tennis, on a hot summer day cocktail. Paired with a couple of Advil, my back and energy usually are good throughout the entire match.
3. Popcorn. If I make hot-air popcorn or old-fashioned, on-top-of-the-stove popcorn, I cannot stay out of it. It’s loaded with butter and salt and I could eat an entire bowl (or two). I do not care for movie or microwave popcorn, though.
4. Hint of Lime Tostitos. The last time I ate these was 2 years ago on a family vacation. I killed an entire bag in less than 3 days. I cannot have these in the house.
Now you know my basic rules I follow for my own personal diet. It’s pretty simple and it works for me.
I don’t keep a food journal, but I have rules I stick with most of the time. I don’t track calories. I don’t obsess about food. I don’t feel like I’m deprived or missing out. I eat when I’m hungry. I don’t eat if I’m not. I don’t stuff myself at mealtime. I’m not militant or rigid, yet I stick to my guidelines fairly faithfully.
I do like knowing what’s in the food I eat. I like knowing how it’s prepared. I like having a fridge full of food & leftovers, so we don’t have to get take-out or go out to eat.
Next up: How I eat – Part 2 – A typical week of meals