Monday, December 7, 2009
The big no-no's
One of the foundation principles of The Big 5 is that it's not a diet. Nothing is prohibited for you to eat or drink. The Big 5 simply suggests you replace as much non-Big 5 food with Big 5 food. There are just a few things that are more beneficial to sacrifice than others. And without getting into any kind of scientific argument (I'll point to articles as they come into my range of vision, which is relatively wide on the subject), I wanted to provide a bit of guidance on this point.
I have to say my biggest dietary no-no is high fructose corn syrup. I'm not a huge fan of sugars in general, especially fructose. The reason this is cheaper for U.S. companies than cane sugar is because we don't allow Cuba to send cane sugar here and we put a tax on the Brazilian product. If there's one source of sugar we have in abundance here in the U.S., it's corn. Plotting the usage of HFCS in the U.S. vs. the incidence of type 2 diabetes is shocking. If you want to cut 1 thing out of your diet completely, HFCS gets my vote.
And speaking of corn, if you thought it belonged in the Big 5 as a fresh vegetable, you were mistaken. Corn is a grain. My second choice for food to avoid is grasses. Call them Grass, call them grains, call them cereal, the group that includes wheat (whole or otherwise), barley, rye, rice, and yes, corn gets my second vote as a food to avoid. We're back to that good old Paleo principle again here folks. Humans became the way we're built by living in the savannah, eating mostly what we could hit with a spear. with whatever we could pick off a bush or tree or vine as accoutrements. To suggest that we would be best served to get the majority, or even a significant component of our dietary intake is tantamount to suggesting that we'd be better served sleeping during the day and working/playing/grocery shopping in the pitch black of night. It's simply not how we're built because it's simply not how we were built.
Third are starchy root sorts of things, like potatoes and yams. The Big 5 isn't about calculating macronutrient ratios, but trust me that they'll come out more how I'd suggest if you eat an extra piece of steak or buttered cheese omelet rather than a baked potato.
Honorable mention goes to alcohol and unrefined sugars. They only receive honorable mention because we already know these are to be used sparingly for best results. And basically, anything that's not in The Big 5 is in the "use sparingly" column anyway.
Now, to mention a few things that probably don't need to be used as sparingly as the aforementioned:
Processed meats. Of course real, whole, natural, native-diet fed meats are the most nutritious and have the least bad stuff in them, but contrary to what you've been told for however many decades, I think you're better off eating 4 slices of bacon than one piece of toast. And a life without bacon is hard for even me to contemplate, and I follow a far stricter regimen than what this blog proposes for sane and rational people.
Nuts and seeds. These have great nutritive value, and if I weren't trying to keep the Big 5 simple, they'd go in some sort of "eat regularly, but not in too great a quantity" column. Peanuts can be considered part of this column, despite the fact that they're legumes, but they're not nearly as desirable to your body as almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds (the raw, unsalted kind), flax seeds, and other nuts.
Peanut butter. Because I can't live without it and I wouldn't ask anyone else to. Realize, however, that it takes more time for your stomach to feel full than it takes to eat an entire jar of peanut butter (for me, anyway). Also realize that peanut butter is extremely calorie-dense and relatively high in carbohydrate content. So don't eat 14 spoonfuls in 5 minutes, because you'll have a tummy ache in half an hour, and you will have probably given your body most or all of the calories it needs for an entire day.
Next post: The offensiveness of vegetarianism. A reasoned discourse on this everyday affront to humanity.