The curse of social media is that we tend to avoid posting the negative stuff. January has been a rough month for me physically. In just three days of reexamining my recent dietary choices I feel significantly improved. As the habitual creatures we humans are, habits (both negative and positive) are created quiet easily but switching them tends to be slightly more challenging. Going to an alternative habitual behavior requires an intense level of resolve and focus, two qualities of a mindfulness practice.
The holidays tend to carry a certain level of inhibition and relaxed focus, particularly revolving around dietary decisions.
As a very disciplined person, many of my alternatives are healthier than the norm, more fruit is certainly better than more snickers bars but ultimately your body is forced to process and run on a higher amount of sugar. As my diet was one of the biggest factors in bringing me back from a very unhealthy state compared to a decade ago, I have no doubt that my somewhat relaxed diet of December/January is exactly why the past month has been less than ideal in terms of my health. I happen to be fortunate enough to have a body that lets me know when it is in pain... Swollen joints, irritable digestion, excessive fatigue are three of the signs its time to get back to my usually clean diet.
I’ve listened to a couple good podcasts this week: Joe Rogan Experience #752 with Mark Sisson and The Tim Ferris Show 11/3/15 Dom D’Agostino, that have reinvigorated my practice of examining my diet. While I tend to eat a mostly paleo diet with an inclination toward burning ketones (fat as opposed to glycogen/sugar), most of the time the health benefit comes from looking at what you should eliminate instead of what you can add. Many vegetarians, vegans and paleos alike have the mutual benefit of avoiding factory farmed meats and generally poor sources of nutrition mono crop fruits and veggies.
Lately I’m taking the time to write out some dietary plans for a professional athlete I’m working with as well as students who battle with inflammation (it turns out these seemingly different populations require some similar direction). For my students suffering from a chronic issue similar to my own an elimination diet such as the GAPS is proving to be a good start (www.gapsdiet.com). A modified fast of sorts, showing some success in getting folks back on track. I am intermittently fast for 16 hours most days of the week and am now scheduling in a larger fast quarterly (which my friend and business partner @mysticalphysical is also keen on. Aside from the physical health benefits there has proven to be a psychological and spiritual benefit from fasting. Stoic philosopher Seneca, teaches that one should periodically seek out adversity and discomfort to build a mental armor to possible challenges.
The clearest place to move after an elimination diet (or if one isn’t needed) would be to avoid basic inflammatory foods. Alcohol for certain, and most sugars are to be avoided (if we create a hierarchy less refined are better - ie., fruits are your best option but even these should be in very low quantities (no more than 50 grams of sugar per day, would be good to at least get your body less reliant on glycogen). I would avoid or at least limit gluten and dairy. I avoid corn for the GMO argument alone. Grain, including rice, barley and quinoa work for different people, I have friends and experts that function well on grain, though I don’t seem to be one.
In general it is advantageous to shift the Omega 3 to 6 fatty acid ratio your are consuming and this will help. The easiest start is to eat mostly whole foods (non packaged), meat (grass-fed beef, free range chicken, wild caught fish - aside from ethically the alternatives carry a poor fatty acid profile that tends to result in some inflammation), veggies, fruit (in limited quantities) and lots of healthy fats (organic coconut oil, grass-fed Kerrygold butter (if your body can tolerate, this works well for me, but if you have a problem with milk fat/protien, this may be one you introduce later with grain to see how you respond), and olive oil. Avoid all nut and seed oils they have a very imbalanced fatty acid profile.
With personal success on a more ketogenic diets and reducing inflammation, I find it is good to consume more of your calories from fat (lots of veggies accompanied by healthy fats).
This is a general overview, obviously not individualized as would be more helpful, but I hope it is a start for any of you that suffer with just about any chronic condition (diets very similar to my own, have been shown in the clinical research to kill most pre-cancerous cells and even a large success in cancer patients and assisting traditional chemotherapy).
Some useful resources I frequent and have frequented in the past include: