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.
What I am still eating is:
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:
-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
-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.