I know! I know! I seem like a hypocrite. I call myself The Healthy Humorist®, yet whenever I write about diet and nutrition, I appear to be decidedly unhealthy. Cheesesteaks in Philly. Pizza in Chicago. Barbecue in … well, wherever it’s nearby! (See The Healthy Humorist®’s Unhealthy Eating Adventure Across America (#THHUEAAA).)
But that’s me on the road. I splurge. Most of the time, though, I try to eat healthy. And I encourage others to do the same, offering nutrition advice whenever I have an audience. With so many diet plans (sorry, “lifestyle choices”) out there, I know how confusing the issue can be.
At the moment, many of my friends swear by the Paleo diet. They tell me that our caveman ancestors in the Paleolithic era did not develop heart disease or cancer despite eating a lot of animal protein and very few carbohydrates. But what they don’t point out is that those same caveman ancestors didn’t live long enough to develop such diseases, as they all died in their mid-twenties via dinosaur trampling.
Anyway, if you’re trying to lose weight, here’s the plan I recommend:
- Eat whatever you want.
- Eat as much as you want.
- Don’t exercise at all.
- Drink eight glasses of water a day … from Guadalajara, Mexico.
You’ll quickly lose a lot of weight (and your appetite!) And you’ll gain a sense of accomplishment (and a bottle of Imodium!)
Ha! I am kidding of course. The truth is I keep my nutrition advice very simple. First, choose healthy foods.
Personally, I’m trying to eat less red meat. And when I do eat meat, I’m eating more buffalo, as it’s generally leaner than beef. I especially love those buffalo wings! Fry up a few dozen of those and dip ‘em in ranch dressing! What a healthy snack!
Ha! I am kidding again! So, where does one learn about healthy foods? Recently I found a surprising source: Cookie Monster. Yes, Cookie Monster. He’s healthy now! My kids were watching “Sesame Street” recently and I caught him saying “Me want a carrot!” So his grammar still sucks but at least he’s eating better! By the way, you’ll be happy to know that Oscar isn’t as grouchy since his doctor put him on Zoloft. Sadly, though, Big Bird is obviously still using anabolic steroids.
Cookie Monster wasn’t so healthy back when I was a kid. I had to find out what was healthy by looking at the USDA food pyramid. Remember the good old food pyramid and its horizontal categories of food types? You ate very little of the sweets and treats in the small category near the top. And you ate lots of the good stuff at the broad base. Simple. Then a few years ago they changed the food pyramid. Instead of horizontal categories they divided it vertically, because everyone knows vertical lines make you look slimmer. The horizontal stripes made the pyramid look fat. I think the whole change was basically a fashion decision!
Then a few years ago they changed the pyramid again. In fact, they turned it into a sphere because apparently they had given up. “Let’s just make this thing the shape of obesity,” said the USDA. No, the truth is they made it a circle to represent a plate. And the plate is divided with half of it filled with colorful fruits and vegetables. Good advice.
My only beef (so to speak) with the USDA is they didn’t mention the size of the plate, which brings me to my second bit of advice for healthy eating: eat smaller portions.
In case you haven’t noticed, our plates have gotten bigger over the years. Standard plates used to be nine inches in diameter. Now it’s not uncommon to see plates that are a foot or more in diameter! And we tend to fill whatever size plate we’re using. If you remember your geometry, the area of a circle is (pi)(r squared). Or is it 2(pi)(r)? I forget. But the point is it’s now easy as pi 2 eat 2 much pi!
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently weighed in (ahem) on this issue of portion sizes. A serving size of chicken or steak or fish, he said, is three ounces, which is roughly the size of a deck of cards. An ounce of cheese is the size of a pair of dice. So clearly, folks, the Surgeon General has a bit of a gambling problem. And, by the way, the Surgeon General is neither a surgeon nor a general! What a liar! How does he get away with that? I can’t trust him anymore. He probably smokes like a chimney despite all his big warnings! Maybe I should start calling myself the Astronaut Billionaire!
So there you have it! The Healthy Humorist’s® diet plan: choose healthy foods and eat smaller portions. And one more thing: laugh! You’ll burn a few extra calories. It’s not a lot, I admit, but every little bit helps, right? And it sure beats running from velociraptors!
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The Healthy Humorist®—Brad Nieder, MD—is a doctor, funny speaker and clean comedian who believes laughter is the best medicine ... unless you have giggle bladder incontinence. Dr. Brad dispenses healthcare humor with wellness advice and an uplifting message to audiences across the country. (www.healthyhumorist.com, (303) 364-9061, @HealthyHumorist, www.facebook.com/healthyhumorist)
Copyright © 2015 Brad Nieder, MD, CSP