Geek Jitsu – Fun with food

“The fruit Basket” by frowzivitch

Welcome to the second installment of Geek Jitsu, where you’ll learn the art of living healthy as a geek! Today, I’ll give you an introduction in the secrets of food, and how to master the ways of healthy eating! There’s time to have a snack later, so let’s dive right in!

Many people are under the false impression that losing weight involves eating less. From my own experience, I can tell you that that is simply not true. In most cases, losing weight starts with eating different. Our geeky lifestyles got us used to a rather one-sided way of approaching food. We want something that is easy to make, that can be consumed behind our desks, and that tastes great. This often leaves us with different kinds of junk/fastfood, packed with all the things that clog our veins and make our hearts strike. Thus, the first thing to do when you want to live healthy, is to re-think your eating behaviour. In order to do this, we must analyze two things: the food we eat and when we eat it.

Dear diary
The best way to get a good impression of what you eat, is by keeping a food diary. Get yourself a nice little notebook or a handy app for your phone, to track your meals. Be as exact as you can be! Write down the time, amount and other details of the meal, as well as it’s components. Don’t write “hamburger” down, but also elaborate on the ingredients. Knowing the time of your meals is important for a later step, so be accurate here as well.

After tracking your eating behaviour for at least a week, you can start to analyze it. Look at your meals, and see what kind of food your throwing into yourself. Do you eat a lot of carb-rich meals like bread, pizza or spaghetti? Does every meal involve meat? Do you see a lack of fruit or other sources of vitamins? If you want to be serious about this, take your food diary to a dietitian or your GP, and have him help you with the analysis. Once you know where your problems are, it’s time to adjust your diet.

You will probably discover that there is an abundance of one kind of “source” in your diet, while you have a serious lack of other materials your body needs. It’s a myth that only fat makes you fat, because everything that you consume too much of will be converted into “reserves” in the form of a nice belly or impressive love handles. Thus, the secret is to have a balanced diet, which includes all kinds of nutrition. As a child, you were introduced to a system that will help you in this endeavour, though you might have forgotten about it: the food pyramid. While it is a handy guide to follow, I personally prefer the healthy eating plate from the Harvard Medical School:

This visual representation gives you a good indication of the components of a healthy meal. Hang it somewhere in your kitchen, to remind you of what should be on your plate, and what shouldn’t!

Timing, timing, timing
Remember that I asked you to keep track of the times you eat? Well, I didn’t let you do that just for fun. The timing of your meals also has an impact on your diet. You see, your body is like a furnace, and the fire of that furnace needs a constant supply of fuel to keep burning. If the time between meals is too long, your furnace will start doing some weird things. This is where people who try to lose weight by simply eating less make the big mistake: they screw up their body’s metabolism, causing it to actually work against a loss of weight. If your metabolism (your furnace’s working rhythm) experiences irregularities, it will not burn and process nutrition efficiently, which will hinder your weight loss.

Most people are used to a three-meals-a-day-rhythm, which is not bad at all, as long as you stick to it. However, research has shown that five smaller meals spread out over the day can be more efficient when losing weight, but that’s actually a matter of personal experience. Keep track of the time you have your meals, and see how that influences your weight loss. If you notice that your body runs better on five smaller meals, switch over to that system. If you stick with the classic three meals, a simple rule of thumb is to make every meal smaller: break your fast like a king, have lunch like a prince and eat dinner like a beggar. Your body needs most energy in the morning, and can do well with a limited amount of supplies in the evening.

Homework
So, if you want to get serious about your food, start with your own food diary and see what happens. As I said before, I’m no expert, but if you find this article inspirational, check in with your local dietician or GP, who will certainly be more than happy to help you in changing your lifestyle. Stay fit, readers, and until next time!

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