This is NOT a detox

Food, detox, nutrition, health

An ordinary meal, provided you take the time to prepare it.

Nor is it a mixture of “super foods” designed to prevent cancer.

It is also not an extraordinary meal that requires hours of work to prepare.

Nope.

All it is, is a meal made at home from basic ingredients.

(Note also that it is not a carefully planned photo shoot: The pictures were taken at meal time, because that’s when I realized it might be worth talking about it in this blog.)

There’s nothing magical about it, no silver bullet for anything in it; moreover, it requires a bit of time and energy to put together.

Nothing miraculous about the ingredients either:

  • Small potatoes,
  • fresh beets (3-4, not from a can),
  • celery (one whole “heart,” sliced thinly),
  • peppers (one red, one yellow, for colour variety),
  • green onions (3, I seem to recall chopping in there),
  • a few cashew nuts to add crunchiness,
  • a bit of coconut powder/flakes (because my wife insisted).

These ingredients don’t come from our garden (not yet), but some (the beets and green onions) were purchased at a local farmers’ market. We are lucky to now live fairly close to one, and of having the free time to go buy stuff there.

Actually, come to think of it, it is not a matter of having the free time to go: It is the desire to take the time to go. It is about resolving not to let easier ways, and the illusion of being short on time, take control of our lives. That’s the real message of this post. And it is a topic I’ll re-visit in the future.

Final ingredient? Home-made mayo. That’s a habit we have taken recently, and it is highly satisfying. We know exactly what we put in our mayo. But if you are not sure about making mayo, you can always use ordinary olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar. We happen to think that such a “potato and beet salad” goes better with mayo, and because it is meant to be mostly made from scratch, it should be home-made mayo.

As a matter of fact, even the home-made mayo only requires a few minutes to make. Really. Therein lies the drama of our modern existence: We are told, and we tend to think, that making food from scratch requires a lot of time. It takes time, but not that much.

Instead of reading the paper, or watching TV, or worse, reading silly stuff on Facebook or the Web about what “famous people” have been up to lately, we can find better uses for our time.

Before I forget, you have to steam the potatoes and beets before using them in the salad. I use a little steamer, and that pretty much dictates the quantity of potatoes I put in, once the beets are cubed and in the steamer. Let them cool down before mixing them in with the rest of the ingredients; you can steam them a day or more in advance, while doing something else, or use the cooling-down time to chop the rest of the veggies. The mayo can be made while the potatoes and beets are being steamed, or hours or even days in advance.

I think my wife added a few spices (some salt, hot pepper flakes) while my back was turned. That’s to taste (and I never question hers).

Nutrition, Food, detox, Health

Go ahead, take some more. It’s all good.

So, this is not an extraordinary meal, and this post is not a recipe. Not quite. But it is good food, so you are welcome to seconds, and you don’t even need to think about the calories.

And even though this mix of vegetables and home-made mayo is not a detox meal, I can guarantee that it is a very effective way of measuring the time it takes food to transit through your digestive system. (This is very useful, because we hear a lot of weird statements about food that “get stuck” in our intestines, etc. We tend to associate some feelings like bloating and heaviness to food consumed a few minutes prior, or many hours earlier, without really knowing our own normal transit time. Well, eat this salad, and you’ll have real data to use in the future…)

Because when it goes through “the other end” after anywhere between 12 and 36 hours, you will notice.

Try it, and let me know how it “goes”…

Photo credits: Sacha Veillette

The problem (as I see it) with nutrition advice

Food, Advice, Nutrition, Everyday, Diet

Food, the final frontier? It is all about how you think about it.

This is going to be a short post.

Primarily, because it doesn’t take long to express what, to my mind, is the problem with nutrition advice.

But also because I would like this to be the starting point for a conversation. (I know, I tend to go on and on when I write, and that can give the impression that I don’t listen to what others have to say. But I promise it is not the case. So there.)

Here we go:

The problem with nutrition advice, and it permeates pretty much all advice on nutrition that I’ve come across, is the idea that good nutrition will make you healthy.

How often have you heard or read that a specific diet will make you healthy? That a supplement ensures health? That this food (or that food, the very next week), will prevent disease?

The truth is the reverse: Bad nutrition makes your body more susceptible to diseases.

In part, this is because it does not have what it needs to function optimally. For instance, to fight off infections; but one often reads that better nutrition will enhance your immune system, whereas the problem is that bad nutrition impedes the immune system from functioning optimally.

The other part is because, over time, bad (or simply excessive) nutrition leads to weight gain in the form of fatty deposits, primarily in the abdomen region, which is proven to lead to chronic diseases like diabetes and nasty stuff like cancers (to name only those main life shorteners).

In my estimation, the way nutrition advice is given, implying that eating right will make you healthy, leads perniciously to all sorts of damaging beliefs about nutrition and health. It points towards a constant search for a special diet, super food, secret ingredient, or other magic pill, to keep disease at bay.

But the truth is otherwise: Given what it needs, which is a lot of movement and good nutrition, the body is, naturally, healthy. The body does not become healthy by having plenty of exercise and good food; removing those things from your body, however, can (and often does) lead to chronic disease and problems coming from sub-optimal functioning.

You might be tempted to say that the difference is only semantics. My contention is that the difference has a big influence on how we think about food and nutrition. The way the advice usually goes (eat well to be healthy) leads to thinking some additional, external, and effortless solution can be applied. The advice focusing on the way the body works (eat well to allow your body to be healthy) hints, on the contrary, at changing habits, removing bad nutrition, and letting nature take its course.

Let’s use an example, albeit an extreme one, to illustrate the logic.

Does not smoking make you healthy? Can we say “if you don’t smoke, you will become healthy”? No, of course not. That would seem absurd. Smoking can, and does, cause you to be at risk for a whole lot of nasty things. Absence of smoking is how things should be for optimal health, but not smoking is not the cause of good health.

This is analogous to what I was saying earlier: If you stop eating bad food, you will not become healthy. The absence of bad food, or the presence of good food, is not the cause of health. The presence of bad food on a daily basis is an impediment to your body’s optimal functioning (a.k.a. health).

So eating “right” will help the body restore itself, and will reduce the likelihood of chronic diseases and the incidence of other problems. But it won’t make you healthy. Your body will do that all by itself, given half a chance.

And to give it more than half a chance, to give it a full chance (and a chance-and-a-half), it is not just a matter of eating right. In fact, a larger proportion of the solution resides in moving more.

But that will be a subject to be covered (again) in another post.

Picture from Pixabay.

What’s NBF all about – a refresher

Fitness, Exercise, Sport, Triathlon

What’s NBF all about? More than this picture, that’s for sure…

To celebrate the 40th post of No-brainer Fitness, I thought it worthwhile to offer a brief recap.

Basically, in case you are still wondering, or if you are fairly new to No-brainer Fitness, here’s what it’s all about, in the form of an interview, but definitely in No-brainer Fitness style:

What does NBF stand for?

NBF is my acronym for No-brainer Fitness.

Ok, smart ass, but what is it all about, really?

No-brainer Fitness is about getting fit so as to be, and remain, as healthy as possible, for as long as possible.

Why the “No-brainer” part?

Because it is my contention that, in order to get and remain fit, you don’t need to do anything very complicated. Also, the benefits of being fit are so good and numerous, that you should not have to think twice about it.

Don’t you have some secret agenda?

You mean other than helping others reap the benefits of fitness?

Yes.

No.

C’mon, admit it! You are trying to create a cult to fitness, or at least get rich from this, aren’t you?

Well, it would be nice to make a living helping others, but I still do it for free.

So, no cult?

No cult. Quite the contrary, I promise.

Ok, prove it: How does one get fit?

You need to move more. A lot more. On a daily basis. Not just 30 minutes of intense exercise every other day, and then sitting on your chair or sofa the rest of the time. Instead of seeking ways to save your energy, you need to get into the habit of using more energy. Walking more, taking stairs instead of escalators or elevators, doing some light strength exercises, not sitting so much at work, picking up a fun sport again, etc.

That sounds like hard work: I’m getting tired just reading about it. How does one get there?

A big part of it is changing your mindset so that you no longer think about moving as hard, but as something that your body craves, much like you crave food. Our bodies really do crave movement, and as you get moving, you start to feel it more keenly.

Talking about craving, what about eating super foods and taking supplements that will make me fit and healthy and help me lose weight? Isn’t that a lot easier?

There is no such thing as “super foods”, and if you eat well, you don’t need supplements. Losing weight comes naturally from moving more and eating a good diet, not from dieting. But the key is moving more. First and foremost, that’s what you have to focus on. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to sell you something (like supplements).

Unlike you?

Unlike me.

But if we wanted to buy something from you, we could. Right?

Well, if you are interested in picking up running or triathlon as a sport, because those are great ways of getting and remaining fit, I could help with that, too. And for that, yes, I do get paid, because it demands much more attention to make sure it is done right, and you reach your personal objectives.

What else do you provide? Surely it can’t be that simple…

It is. Really. But I try to make it enjoyable to do the right thing, and I provide advice to help steer through the wild west of products and tips out there. Because being fit is both simple and fun.

Hmmm… What else?

Well, it doesn’t hurt to stay away from things that are clearly bad for you, what I call NOT FOOD. But the key, I insist, is in moving a lot more.

Ok, I think that’s enough for now. I almost believe you.

Feel free to ask me other questions. Or read some of my 39 previous posts; you are sure to find more about what NBF stands for, and how to be more fit.

Move on!

Health, Fitness, Exercise

Working on some visuals for No-brainer Fitness… Feedback welcome.

 

Things we don’t like to hear

We don't want to hear

We don’t want to hear

It has been a while.

Perhaps you thought I had gone away.

But that’s not the case; it is simply a matter of having recently started a new job, running a trial program of No-brainer Fitness: E, and getting caught in doing research for a post on dieting.

All of that busyness got me thinking about some of the things we don’t like to hear. So I decided to write this short post before finishing the more serious one.

In part preparation for the dieting post, and in part as a reaction to having to face the fact that there are simply not enough hours in any given day, here are some of the things we don’t like to hear. But must come to accept if we are to succeed in being fit and healthy for the long-term.

There are no such things as Super Foods

Most claims on Web sites are about a single item, more often than not a vegetable, sometimes a fruit, and on occasions red wine. It changes depending on the site you browse to on any given day. The fact is that any one food will not make you healthy. And in large enough quantity, any one thing is toxic. Yes, even kale.

The flip side: I once saw a list of so-called “super foods” that consisted of 63 or so items. That’s longer than my typical grocery list, despite the fact that I get kudos from the health-conscious store clerks where I usually buy groceries.

If you have to buy and eat so many different food, then clearly no single food is that super.

As is generally the case, with a balanced and diversified diet of mostly plants, you don’t need anything to be super. The overall diet is what is super. Because it is real food.

Food supplements simply don’t work

In the sense that they will not make you healthy. Especially those that claim to do precisely just that.

In situations where someone is truly lacking some essential vitamins or minerals, or to ensure that you have plenty (as for pregnant women), there may be benefits in taking some, if only to have complete peace of mind.

But claims of miracle dietary supplements to make you lose weight or cure you of whatever you are lead to believe (typically from the same ads) you suffer from, are hogwash.

But at some point, we have to grow up

But at some point, we have to grow up

It requires (some) effort on your part

This could also be called “there are no free lunches.” (Or, at least, no healthy free lunches.)

Basically, to be fit, you have to put in some sweat capital. Fitness does not come from a pill; you can’t get fit by hooking yourself up to a machine and letting it do the work for you. You have to do the work.

The trick is to find the kind of working out that is pleasant for you, and the purpose to commit and maintain good habits. But you have to move, lots, and regularly.

Coffee, wine, chocolate, and a few other things we like are NOT FOOD

Sorry. That’s just the way it is. Enjoy in moderation.

Dieting doesn’t make you lose weight in the long run

That’s the intro to my next post. You have to take my word for it. For now. But the evidence is pretty damning…

*****

Since first writing this post, a few interesting (and timely) tidbits came my way, so I’m adding links to other readings you might consider after being done here:

Diet Lures and Diet Lies is an interesting piece along the lines of the above discussion of super foods and supplements.

Why I don’t do CrossFit is all about the importance of not training too hard. Better yet, if you read the text carefully, you’ll notice mention of how Olympians train, and that is what I am driving at with the notion of being an everyday athlete…

Photos by Pixabay