Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Pragmatics of Paleo

Originally, dating back to the middle of the last century, diets were low calorie, carbohydrate-rich, and fat free. Nowadays, these assumptions have all been challenged. While calorie consumption is still to be casually monitored, the present belief is calorie 'quality' is much more significant than the arbitrary measuring of caloric-intake. 

Counting calories can be useful if one is fully aware of the differences between veggies and starches, natural and commercial, paleo and pathetic. All calories are not created equal. Some foods are better at satiating our appetite, like fat-rich foods, while some foods stimulate our addictions. In my case that would be sugar and sugar-substitute 'treats' dressed-up as tempting psychological substitutes, soft and creamy carbohydrates. As sexy to me, and as ineffective, as all addictions tend to be.

My low carb experiment has proven to me, there is a direct relationship between the amounts of carbohydrates consumed and weight gain. Surrender to my sweet tooth, impulse eating, means a two to four kilo gain within weeks. Meat and vegetables, with sufficient fat, in the form of coconut, butter, and avocado, works... with only an infrequent carbohydrate extravagance, as in the white rice of sushi. 

Shopping, diligently, in the green grocery, and preparing my own meals, makes a world of a difference when adjusting my belt buckle. This reality of domestic persistence, house and garden domesticity, has become a health essential. For as my weight goes, so does my blood pressure, vulnerability to diabetes, back pain, and a slew of other  old man symptoms too embarrassing to list here. Staying as trim as possible is a prerquisite to senior survival.  

The final foundational stone, to Paleo perfection, is exercise... Cross-fit disciplines, or for seniors, simply, counter balancing the stiff joints of maturity with habitual walking. Paleo is an abbreviation for Palaeolithic... a time when our ancestors ate what they could chase down or grab from the ground, a time of natural essentials. For contemporary hunters and gatherers, paleo makes dietary sense, a pragmatic game plan for staying alive. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cacao Magic and Raw rumination

Cacao Magic is a newly opened 'raw food' restaurant and chocolate shop here in Kyoto. My daughter Kai and I were reminded of the delicate flavors of raw cuisine. A few years earlier we had enjoyed a wheatgrass holiday at the Ann Wigmore Institute in Puerto Rico. Feeling clean psychologically, one trusts dedicated foodies, compliments the subtle palate of vegetables and herbs. 
We were lucky to catch Chocolatier Sumire Matsuda open on a weekday expressly for the cherry blossom season, as her new shop is in the blossom viewing heart of Eastern Kyoto, near the Silver Pavilion. 

Sumire is a charming host, fluent in English, having spent years as a fashion buyer in London. There are shakes made of a concoction of healthy goodies too numerous to name. The menu changes every week and I feel I will be tempted to return often. This is not the nurturing stuff of American meat and potato, though it does fit comfortably in my Paleo camp of low carbohydrate and all natural. The Pièce de résistance is her desserts, chocolate of course. Dessert is not voluminous, but it needn't be, as our raw food lunch of dehydrated onion chips, salad with goji berry dressing, and avocado soup filled me to the brim. 
And filling me is never easy.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Complexity of Eating

I have been experimenting with a low carbohydrate diet for one year now. Low Carb works, though at times can be near impossible to maintain. I do a lot of traveling, and when away from home 'low carbing' is tough. Fortunately, my increased awareness of what I am eating does help keep me about 20 kilo south of morbidly obese.

The actual formula for success though demands stricter proportion control, more selectivity, and a better exercise plan. Also, while I have improved my statistics, lower weight and lower blood pressure, I have never been able to feel truly healthy. I feel my sixty-years disproportionate to my peers.

In a large part, this is because of my lack of physical activity. In fact, now it has become severely punishing for me to stand for any length of time. I have become car dependent, and even simple tasks, like doing the dishes, creates lower back pain. Added to this, a string of symptoms makes it near impossible to answer 'How are you?' without a tedious litany of complaints.

I have, for example, leg and hand tremor, all on my left side, all too often... Also what the Japanese call 'goju-kata' fifty years old shoulder, or what might be described as bursitis. Most recently, a severe stomach condition, initiated in the Philippines, lingers after a month with daily cramping and enough gas to impact global warming. A simple day trip into Osaka, though spent joyfully with good friends, was plagued by an underpinning of pain.  I am just no fun anymore.

What to eat... what needs to be changed... what little rituals can I introduce into my life... to bring back vitality? I have learned much from a year researching nutrition, yet feel I know too little. Meanwhile my body flounders and I fear the worse. A spring equinox equaling equanimity, a calm appraisal, with an appropriate response, what can I do right now to fix this?

A fast can be a beginning. Perhaps by creating space, proper choices can find their way in.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

One Year on a Low Carb Diet

The cycles of dieting parallel our patterns in Love. 

There is the initial 'Honeymoon' when a diet can do no wrong, complete submergence, utter infatuation, when pounds pour off your waist line. Then reality sets in... all those little sacrifices on your personal life-style. It is amazing how many little carbohydrate goodies are so essential to our maintaining an equalibrium. A diet can be damn demanding, and that wonder methodology of sacrificial devotion, sacrificing delectable carbs, begins to be more bitch than inspiration.

But... having lost weight, and enjoyed some of the many merits of a steady relationship to health and nutrition... A dieter will return to a successful process despite an 'occassional' affair with a chocolaty distraction. It is hard to be true to one dietary discipline, but, in the end, one good diet prevails over a string of fad distractions. Survival via fitness eventually wins over deluded self-abuse and I tend to stay true when a diet fulfills my fundamental hungers. Greens and meat suffice.

I began my diet at 134 kilo and after a year of loss, gain, and loss again, I presently weigh 114. Twenty kilo lost ain't much for a year, yet it beats the complete futility of overt obesity. Having some handle on a chronic problem, while no longer feeling blissful enthusiasm, I do want to keep trying.

So, as a new year begins, I resolve to give up sugar, and her substitutes, for Lent, on the hope of reaching Easter at 110. It has been about 45 years since my last Lent offering. Let's see if that ancient stratedgy can still move this crusty old sod to stay true.