7.06.2010

GETTING OLDER: CHANGING WHAT I EAT

In the simplest of terms, I enjoy eating. Of course I may be a bit more discriminating about what I eat but overall if it tastes good, I'm into it. I don't have much of a sweet-tooth but really enjoy savory meals, the kind best eaten when the weather is cold and harsh. So living in Thailand has changed that in regards to my options but what a great city to have so many varieties of food available from West to East. Let's not forget how awesome Thai food is.

So without overstating how much I enjoy food, I now find myself having to change my lifestyle and most importantly my diet. For a number of reasons which include genetic disposition for hyper-tension, natural high-cholesteral count and poor moderation. Today, the most pressing reason for my change in diet is that I recently suffered from an attack of gout. For those that aren't familiar with gout, it is: 

(from wikipedia) ...a medical condition usually characterized by recurrent attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis—a red, tender, hot, swollen joint...It is caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood which crystallize and are deposited in joints, tendons, and surrounding tissues.

Let me tell you, it is freakin' painful and I was unable to walk properly for 2-days due to the severe pain it caused. I was unable to sleep because the sheets would touch the effected the area of my foot and I would wake with shocks of pain. It was treated with anti-inflammatories and pain-killers to sleep, taking a full week for my foot to return to normal. So not wanting to chance another attack without making some serious changes, I took out the following foods from my diet as suggested by my doctor.

red-meat
shell-fish
poultry
dairy
alcohol

What I am still eating is:
fish
eggs
yogurt

Since doing this I've naturally lost 4kg without changing my portions. No booze may be a big contributor to this initial weight loss.

Now I know the subject of gout is not going to effect most of you but it's been a wake-up call for me. In less extreme circumstances, I've had several friends go through some significant improvements in their general health by making similar changes. When asking them 'how did they do it', a large part of their success was the changes in what they ate and more importantly what they didn't eat. Now I am not taking any stance on whether one should or shouldn't eat meat. I don't feel it's my place to say one way or the other as I'm still figuring things out. What I am saying is why wait until things catch up to you to start making those healthy changes.

In the past I've been guilty of making extreme changes and then burning out so this time around I have been doing more research about the subject of diet and more specifically becoming a semi-vegetarian. At the moment, I am reading; The Vegetarian Way: Total Health for You and Your Family by Virginia & Mark Messina. So far it's been quite helpful in understanding the different types of vegetarians from semi-veg/vegan/raw. And what I wanted to stress was what do I eat supply my daily protein and balanced nutrition. I've seen overweight vegetarians so I know it's not a cure-all just by cutting out red-meat, haha. This is still a learning process for me and I am still making the changes each week to accommodate how I feel day to day. In doing so, I've noticed the following:

DIFFERENCES:
-I don't feel cloudy/heavy in the morning
-generally more active and less sedintary
-I do get hungry more often or earlier in the afternoon between lunch and dinner
-usually quite hungry when I wake up
-on some days I feel a bit weak but may depend on what I've had that day
-more sensitive to caffeine

QUESTIONS:
-What do I eat between meals to curb my hunger?
-How meticulous do I need to be about planning my meals and portions?
-Will I require more vitamins to ensure my daily intake is balanced?
-What are common pitfalls people face when making similar changes?
-Where do supplements stand in all this?
-How do I manage this diet while traveling or on holidays?
-Can I chance a weekend of drinking and eating red-meat once in a while?
-What is a key meal or foods to have after training? Would these be different than regular meals like lunch or on non-training days?
-What can I expect to see in my appearance over time? and how does this apply to what may be my natural body-weight? function over vanity?

I'm very curious to hear from those that have made such changes as they've gotten older or whether they've always managed to eat healthily, avoiding such problems that I find myself in now. There are so many different fads in dieting that it'd be great to hear more comments and feedback on the lifestyle changes people have made to make for healthier living. Long lasting changes.

It's also interesting how professional fighters deal with their diet and what changes they make when they have a scheduled fight versus when they're 'off'. Some have to make significant jumps to cut weight while others are able to keep close to their fight-weight most of the year. What about those who binge eat after their fight only to shed it 3-5 months later? I'm sure the yo-yo effect may have negative effects in the longterm. 

-Luke

OTHER REFERENCES:

9 comments:

Luca said...

Hi

Have a look at this blog, from an Exercise Physiologist and great BJJ purple belt! (Yeah I train with him haha!)

My favorite health food shop? - The fruit and veg section of the supermarket.

I'm also getting old (38), and the things that are making the most difference for me are a good diet, fish oil and above all regular yoga practice.

A lot of post-BJJ sores just disappeared when I started doing yoga regularly.

magdalene said...

Check out this book (there is a free download section)

http://www.humankinetics.com/products/all-products/vegetarian-sports-nutrition

it's about vegetarian and sports.. Hope it helps..

LUKE said...

This is great! Thanks!

How did either of you come about this material? Was it as some point where you were making similar changes or have you always been conscious of your diet and overall wellness?

Luca said...

Being Italian, eating good food has always been a way of life haha ;)

But my wife became vegetarian a few years back and that brought a big change into our eating habits. She's the reason I practice yoga, she's also into macrobiotics which has a nice holistic approach to your wellbeing (brown rice is a godsend, being in Thailand you should find it easily).

As I love BJJ and surfing, I'm always looking at ways of improving my longevity in the sports, and I must say eating a mainly plant based diet makes me feel better overall.
This guy has also nice articles and a good eBook on an athlete diet for grapplers:

John Berardi's Nutrition

I can send it to you if you are interested.

Anonymous said...

Eating vegetables is just not the same as a big burger or pizza and a nice cold beer... Or in Thailand it is hard to pass up a nice bowl of salty and greasy noodles and a cold beer.

magdalene said...

Hey Luke, I'm not vegetarian but I had to figure out (fast) about sports nutrition for an older vegetarian endurance athlete. (In his case, he has been a vegetarian for years and relied heavily on tofu and soy products for his protein, then for medical reason had to reduce his soy intake which led to us researching alternatives for him)
The book really opened my eyes to the number of world class athletes that are vegetarians.

LUKE said...

Yes, nothing will replace a fantastically seasoned burger over an open-flamed grill with an ice-cold beer. Nothing!

I will never make the argument that meat, shell-fish and poultry don't taste good cause they do.

But if making these changes prolongs my life, keeps me from experiencing excruciating pain from gout and allows me to enjoy my family and jiu-jitsu as I get older then I'm all for it.

I will treat myself on my birthday without going overboard.

Anonymous said...

eat 2 bananas for breakfast and then eat a normal lunch and then eat as much dinner as you like.

Anonymous said...

I'm 34 and had the same problem with gout. I had a the first attack a couple of years ago and had on other since then. After the second attack, completely cut out red meat, things like liver and shellfish, although I will taste, since I am a chef. I still do eat chicken and pork, but i do eat a lot more veg then I did before, I also drink a lot of water throughout the day. I've been on and off the mats for the past couple years and am hoping to to start BJJ regularly again. It's pretty hard to find reliable info for what foods to eat, so it kind of trial and error. Some people with gout swear by soy/tofu others won't touch it.