What The Heck Am I Supposed To Eat?
by Marcus Antebi
Article at a Glance:
For too long, the “diet world” has emphasized things such as calorie consumption and amounts of processed sugar in particular products. But how much nutritional value calorie for calorie is in the products you consume is more important.
Embracing a healthy diet as a lifestyle pattern is crucial: Your diet should be tailored to your own needs, practices and disciplines. It should include a great deal of fruits, nuts, sprouts, and seeds, and little or no animal protein.
When I write about dietary issues, I focus more on telling people what not to eat and what not to do rather than specifically what to do. The “diet world” for too long has emphasized things such as calorie consumption and amounts of processed sugar in particular products. But how much nutritional value calorie for calorie is in the products you consume is more important.
The ways people ate in the distant past should be considered. Many generations ago, smart human beings lived close to the land and honored all aspects of its giving. They weren’t tearing things out of packages or eating foods laden with harmful chemicals.
Mankind’s circumstances have always differed from continent to continent and from climate to climate. In much colder climates, people had to rely on animal protein because they had access to little else, not having today’s networks of efficient food distribution and access. So people ate in accordance with the seasons and what the soil would bear.
They ate what the forests or the jungles would put into their paths. Sometimes that would be the flesh of an animal or an insect. They breathed clean air and drank pure water, both free from chemical compounds that would harm their bodies. They were extremely active as individuals, they collectively had a great sense of daily purpose, and they had rich spiritual and metaphysical world views.
Their lifestyles and practices generally resulted in positive attitudes and respect for the present moments they experienced. Most of us in the modern world have lost the good things they had in varying degrees, primarily because of our bad habits and our belief in lifestyle misinformation that our modern society has given us.
For a number of reasons that I’ll go into later I will not prescribe a specific diet in my website content and other writings. But I will give a little bit of information about the diet I keep for myself, as follows:
I drink at least 16 ounces of fresh raw green juice every day. If such juice is not available, I have a very pure USDA organic superfood powder that I mix into water. I like how it makes me feel—very strong and healthy.
My diet is 100% plant-based. I love fruits, vegetables, nuts, and produce. I drink a very small amount of espresso coffee in the morning (I’m working on quitting). I love every single vegetable on planet earth that’s edible to humans. I like to eat them raw, and I like to eat them cooked.
I recommend that if you’re starting a diet that you commit yourself to 30 days of 100% uncooked vegetables and fruit. Go through the experience. It may make you gaseous or tired at first, but I advise “gutting it out” just to prove to yourself that you can subsist on nothing more than fruit and vegetables.
Some may ask, “What about my thyroid problem or my diabetes?” By all means seek competent medical advice under such circumstances. As I am not a medical professional as such, it would be inappropriate for me to offer medical advice to those who have such afflictions. But I can confidently say that one should not be fearful of uncooked fruits and vegetables.
Do not drink alcohol during the 30-day period, and eat 100% raw food from plants only. You must rid yourself of your faulty thinking that you will die without processed food and/or animals and animal products.
After your 30 days, you can begin to add things back into your diet and see how you feel. If you were addicted to sugary junk food items before and ate them again after the 30-day period you’d feel better, but the good feeling would be deceptive. When adding food items back into your diet, make sure that they are nutritious.
The human body can heal itself miraculously. If you have a good diet, you will experience changes in body chemistry. Given time, your chemistry will change to cause you to be at the exact weight that you should be. Your chemistry will be different from the body chemistry of an overweight person, and it will affect your mood and your thinking.
You may be considering dietary changes with weight loss in mind. If so, I applaud you. And if that’s the case, you also need to be aware of something outside of the food items you consume that affects your ability to shed the weight.
I’m speaking of emotional problems in general and the issue of anxiety in particular. Many who overeat or eat compulsively do so because they experience anxiety frequently. If you were indulging in bad eating habits driven to some degree by anxiety and/or the suppression of it, then you’d likely still feel anxiety after losing weight.
If that occurs in the process of your weight loss efforts, you must make efforts to address and overcome that anxiety. You will need to have mechanisms and processes in place. This will include things such as prayer, calling friends, writing, and working on your journal. You should write to document the times of the day that you feel like overeating or eating junk food, times of day that you feel noticeably anxious, and times of day that you feel numb. Observe the patterns.
You need to understand that lifestyle improvement pertaining to weight loss or anything else must be regarded as a journey. The journey will require that you dig deep into your own emotions and intellectual processes and deal with any problems that you uncover. Among the greatest tools for this journey are good talk therapy sessions, especially group therapy. Group therapy is less expensive, sometimes even free, and there are no “bad” groups: I say this because any group that you go to is just a collection of people who you can talk with about anything that pertains to your feelings and theirs.
You can browse the Internet to find online groups, brick and mortar real people groups, all different types of groups that allow you to talk to and listen to live people discussing feelings. This is how we make positive progress with our emotions; this is where we begin to develop the tools to arrest the dysfunctional behaviors that we wish to rid ourselves of.
As you enter into the methodology of changing your diet, understand that you’re simultaneously engaging in a healing process. To make the healing more effective, you must alleviate the emotional traumas that you carry. You must repattern your brain to make sure that what you’re doing is not just another way of hiding from your pain and trauma.
In this day and age we spend enormous amounts of emotional energy and time trying to liberate ourselves from the past difficulties of our lives. Of course there have been beautiful experiences in the lives of most everyone—marriages, children, business success, etc. But it’s a problem that these things have been conditions that brought us happiness. The feeling of being happy about just being alive should be our only condition for happiness.
Most of us had it when we were children, but we lost it. Now we have to set out to recover it. Most of us think of recovery (e.g., 12-step recovery) in terms of recovering from the damage that our addictions have caused us. But recovery should be thought of not only in terms of recovering from something negative or damaging. Recovery should also be thought of as the attempt to regain something positive.
What that positive thing is is usually somewhat different for everyone. The desperate drunk is trying to recover the ability to live happily and productively when sober. Speaking for myself, I’m trying to recover the tremendous joy I had from just being a child, being able to feel and express my feelings, desiring to explore the world, experience things, and find laughter.
In childhood we experienced uncomfortable and traumatic things. We learned to drift away from present moments of that time because the present was uncomfortable. When we live in the past we focus on moments of sadness and feelings of loss and desperation. Even if the past was beautiful, if we compare it to the present moment we may be disappointed that the present moment is not as beautiful.
Thinking too much about the future can also be problematic. Thinking about the future may cause stress, worry, and negative predictions. And even if you’re thinking about the future in terms of something pleasant, there’s a danger of becoming dissatisfied with the present moment because of being in a place of yearning and craving.
Hopefully it’s clear to you at this point: When intake of food is a problem, it’s a systemic problem. We usually eat the wrong things because there’s something going on in our emotions that makes us feel out of control or in pain. So it’s necessary to develop a thoughtful and prayerful way of living to be able to rise to the challenge of dealing with addictive behavior cycles. You must learn how to deal with difficult emotions and psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, lack of perspective, lack of motivation, and a great many other things.
I look at my own life and the lives of others for evidence of the effectiveness of dietary techniques. I look at how many people I’ve met in my life who have not succeeded in their diet goals. I look at the number of people who achieved their diet goals and lost weight but still had other problems and switched from food addiction to other addictions over the long run.
“The ultimate weight loss diet” is a myth. Food and happiness are inextricably linked. We all have to come to individual understandings of intelligent measures to take to ensure our survival. We have to make the changes that are necessary, and we often have to try many different things.
The rule of thumb regarding animal protein is to eat it only three days per week (every other day) or less, and always with a large leafy green salad. This is the knowledge that’s been passed on from generation to generation by people who understood what animal protein did to the digestive system and to body chemistry.
Somewhere in our history the great teaching of salad with protein got lost, and people instead ate protein with starchy vegetables. Or even worse, they ate protein with refined starchy carbohydrates like bread. The sandwich was invented by a chef, not by a chemist. It’s completely antithetical to human chemistry, as it causes fermentation and indigestion.
What I just stated may be difficult for many to hear and accept. I don’t intend to be insensitive, but I do want to help people face up to their dietary mistakes.
Many who begin dieting want to be told exactly what to do to lose weight. To some degree this equates to emotional immaturity. To use a little hyperbole, it’s as if they are one-year-olds sitting in high chairs waiting for someone to feed them. That’s not a good solution for grownups: Those with unhealthy lifestyles in general and weight problems in particular must take ownership of their issues.
There are many books on diet that go into extreme detail regarding precise portions of specific foods. Read some of those books if you like. But I repeat that the most important thing that people need to learn about their diets is what to eliminate and what to reduce.
Eliminate processed food and reduce your intake of animal protein. Reduce your intake of protein in general. Too much protein is a problem in the diet, not a solution. Reduce the amount of stimulating compounds that you ingest, such as coffee, chocolate, and foods with caffeine.
The next most important thing is to break bad habits that disrupt body chemistry—for example, eating late at night.
Calorie counting schemes and various diets fail because people don’t learn new lifestyle practices and thinking habits from them. But the long battle many people have had with food their entire life can come to an end fairly easily if they choose to live one day at a time trying to make the right dietary choices.
You must train yourself to only think about the day you’re in. That doesn’t mean you can’t do a certain amount of planning for the future. But you must always keep in mind that you’re planning for something that may never happen, or may happen completely differently than how you planned.
Once you have the strength to not overeat and to disengage from your food addiction(s), you have taken a massive step forward in your life. Believe that at the moment you decide to stop overeating or stop eating toxic foods that your entire body forgives you for anything that you’ve done to it in the past.
On Day One, make sure that you drink plenty of water. When you fill your body with water, you will satiate some of that hunger. Water is actually a nutrient that is both good for you and essential to your well-being.
Next, decide on an emergency favorite fruit to go to first if you feel yourself having a compulsion to eat something unhealthy. Regarding the fruit choice and the amount, a person should take into account their own unique health issues. If a person is a diabetic or has other health problems, there might be limits on the type and amount of fruit to eat.
Having said that, fruit is incredibly nutritious and highly recommended for relief of unexpected hunger pangs. Fruit should never be regarded as a bad food source. To me, this is the gospel: Consuming a very simple fruit should be a golden moment for you. That the earth provides such an abundance of delicious fruit truly is a miracle.
Fruit has enormous amounts of a compound group called antioxidants. As their name describes, they are beneficial for going against the substance of oxygen, which in excess slowly damages cells. So antioxidants, in effect, slow down the aging of cells: This is critical for a creature made up entirely of cells.
You’re not supposed to eat a mountain of fruit all day long—you should stay within a total calorie range for each day. Not all fruits have to be extremely sweet ones. For example, avocados and tomatoes are magnificent fruits.
Warning: the consumption of fruit will lead to the consumption of vegetables.
It is always safe for you to eat a salad that’s made with big leafy greens. Chop it up and even eat it without dressing the first few times just to taste it’s goodness. Later you can add dressing in moderation. If you don’t have a taste for greens, start off with iceberg lettuce. You can work your way through to Romaine, and then get to the really bitter stuff.
The rule of thumb in making dietary change for the better is to avoid processed food. This bears repeating, and I will say it again and again. In the beginning, be very mindful of what processed foods are. If you look on the back of a food package to see the ingredients, if you don’t see just fruits and vegetables and maybe a small amount of spices and perhaps an all natural sweetener like maple syrup, keep looking. If you then see many names that look like the names of pharmaceutical medicines, you’re probably eating processed food. Sometimes food boxes depicting animal figures and fruits and vegetables have been very heavily processed—artwork is often a deceptive advertising ploy.
For breakfast one should consider eating fresh fruit. For lunch one might consider eating lots of leafy green salads, and you don’t need to add animal protein. But if you choose to eat animal protein, don’t do so more than three times a week.
I do not believe in prescribing a particular “one size fits all” diet. There are too many factors to consider from one person to the next. The general rule is that you probably can afford to eat somewhere between 1820 and 2500 calories per day depending on your activity level, your age, your size, and what particular food items are in your diet. A person who is eating a plant-based diet could probably consume more calories than a person on a high-protein diet. A person who abstained from processed foods could also probably eat more calories.
Be aware that all calories are not the same, just as all automobile fuels are not the same; dirty fuel affects a car’s performance. Gallon for gallon, a car with the cleanest fuel will perform the best. This is also true of the human diet—those who eat clean foods will be healthier than those who don’t.
Don’t eat late at night. As the sun sets, your chemistry changes, as does your mindset. The important thing to do at night is to be in a resting and healing mode, calming yourself down from major activities. Time in the evening should be for family, rest, relaxation, reading, showering, organizing, journaling, and the like. Daytime is the best time for action, movement, exercise, business endeavors, dealing with difficult struggles, and consuming food and drink.
In modern times, and particularly in the West, we have been taught incorrectly about activity cycles in accordance with times of day and night. Look at yourself metaphorically as a vampire but in reverse. Daytime is the time for being outdoors doing things. Nighttime is the time for you to be inside and become more inwardly focused. This is how human body chemistry works.
Ideally, just prior to sunset should be the last time you eat food. People make excuses for why they can’t do this. They say their lives are too busy and that they have too many things going on that prevent them from living in accordance with natural body cycles. This is a fundamental problem and a big deterrent to living the way we’ve been designed to live.
Some don’t have the choice to live in such a way, for reasons such as working on night shifts. They can acclimate themselves to their circumstances and live very long, healthy, and prosperous lives, even if their first meal is at midnight. But they are exceptions to the rule.
Human chemistry has a very specific pattern that it seeks to follow. A person can adapt to something different from that pattern, but doing so is not optimal. We want to try to create optimal conditions for us to combat all of the different ways that lead to our breaking down and falling ill. This relates not only to times of day that we do things, but to the particular things that we do. Things such as reducing stress, writing, being creative, laughing, eating good foods, getting plenty of exercise and rest, having good hobbies, and having good relationships are all integral parts of what will make a diet successful.
If you are on a new health- and diet-related journey, do not skip over any of the steps of the holistic process. You must be engaged. You must take interest in your life and your health and proactively do certain things. The first thing to do is to educate yourself on many topics pertaining to food. Food is the most important aspect of your survival.
Regarding educating yourself, a word of caution is in order. Pay attention to sources when you Google topics. Be hesitant to believe things that you read in commercial magazines; they may not have your best interests in mind. Also be hesitant to accept everything you read on government websites. Such sources generally contain a mix of truth and error.
In addition to seeking knowledge, learning about nutrition requires you to actively try different food products and processes for yourself—slowly but surely, you’ll be able to differentiate between the good and the bad. But you must be careful: An unhealthy fad diet might make you feel good in the short term but be harmful to your body in the long run.
I repeat that when it comes to designing your own particular diet that no one can do it for you. In addition to research and careful experimentation, strongly recommend that you take holistic steps as part of the process. Sit quietly with nature, read excellent books, have good mentors, and participate in meditation. Prayer will be in order as well.