So I eat cookies. I eat carbs. I even drink coffee supposedly loaded with mycotoxins AND ALL MY LOVED ONES ARE STILL STANDING, DAVE ASPREY.
Lastly, I ate fruits and vegetables with every meal and cut back on booze and desserts. This is not hard. I have two clementines or a banana or a split broiled tomato for breakfast. I eat a big salad of mixed greens or a side of coleslaw or a ripe, juicy pear for lunch. For dinner I’ll saute a mess of spinach (olive oil, garlic, pan on medium heat, salt and pepper, done) or grate a quick carrot side salad or dice and roast some sweet potatoes. I do this while I’m cooking my proteins.
I try to shoot for 30 grams of protein at each meal, which I just eyeball (that’s about a palm-sized piece of chicken, fish, whatever) and a fiber-rich side (kale, whole grains, blah blah blah).
And then I either choose to have a beer with or after dinner or a simple dessert, like a slice of pie or a piece of dark chocolate. If I’m not craving something sweet, I’ll have a cup of tea. Yeah. Tea.
My Biggest Challenges
The holidays. Parties with buffet tables set up. Red Lobster’s Endless Shrimp. But you know what? I see these things for what they are: off-seasons within a yearlong perspective of healthy eating. Diet’s like Whole30 put god-awful endpoints, stages, or “phases” to eating plans, which grow ever-more restrictive with the passage of time. They argue these draw-down periods help the dieter acclimate to change. To me, this is the equivalent of gradually turning thumb screws tighter. Why take the fun out of eating?
My Biggest Successes on a Sensible Diet
I’ve maintained a healthy weight of 155, give or take five pounds, ever since reaching a max of 170 post-college. I haven’t incurred any terminal diseases. I have boundless energy for my wife and kid. I’m happy. I like food. I don’t have to bore people or madden restaurant servers with an endless list of things I “can’t” eat. I don’t have to go to a health food store because those places smell weird. I don’t have to count points because that sounds terrible and I’m bad at math. I don’t have to give Dave Asprey any more money. I don’t have to feel guilty. And did I mention I like food?
My Lifelong Lessons from a Sensible Diet
Eating should be enjoyable. Not temporarily enjoyable in the I-had-a-stressful-day-so-I’m-going-to-pound-this-five-dollar-hot-and-ready-Little-Ceasar-pizza-in-my-car-in-the-parking-lot enjoyable. I’m talking about the kind of enjoyable where you don’t feel shame because you maxed out your Weight Watchers points for the day or accidentally ate a spoonful of non-Paleo peanut butter or didn’t put Dave Asprey’s fucking Brain Octane oil on your sushi roll (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ql2trIZMJS0).
Here’s my main takeaway from 10 years of eating sensibly: If the plan you have for what you feed yourself causes you more stress and adds more work to your already-busy life, you’re not eating well. If you’re meticulously counting calories, or carbs, or worse yet tiny milligrams of sodium, you’re going to drive yourself crazy, distance yourself from the enjoyment of eating real food, and continuously subject yourself to the downward spiral of yo-yo weight loss and weight gain perpetuated by trendy diets that only really, truly care about one thing: how much money they make off of you.
The best diet isn’t sexy. It doesn’t have celebrity endorsements. There’s no plan you have to buy into. Hell, it doesn’t even have a marketing strategy. The best diet is one that is based on the inclusion of healthful foods—not the exclusion of food groups—and will last you far longer than the lifespan of whatever Atkins, Zone, Whole30, South Beach, low-fat, low-carb, Paleo, Mesozoic, Bulletproof, or keto plan is the hot new thing.
Now, what’s for dinner?
Paul Kita is the Food & Nutrition Editor at Men’s Health. His new cookbook, A Man, A Pan, A Plan has plenty of easy, healthful recipes you can cook, like, right now.