Five simple dietary rules (and park rules too)

…the truly important aspects of food intake can be summarized on a page or two in our notebooks. Our dietary rules are simple: to maintain optimum weight, to provide energy, and to avoid deficiencies. The rules, too, should be equally simple. Godfrey Fowlere, an Oxford University physician, has summarized them well:

  1. The main task is to avoid obesity. This is more the province of exercise. We are not overweight, we are overfat. Only exercise will give us muscle to replace that fat. When you exercise consistently your preoccupation with diet will disappear.
  2. Average sugar intake should be halved. Cut down on candy, soft drinks, sugar in tea or coffee.
  3. Fat should be reduced to about 30 percent of the diet. Cut down on butter, margarine, cream, fat on meats and fried foods.
  4. Increase intake of fiber. Use whole-grain cereals, or, in a pinch, Metamucil.
  5. Alcohol intake should be kept to two “units” a day (two pints of beer or glasses of wine).

As you can see, dieting need not be complicated. An obsession with calories is not necessary. These basic rules come down to what is now called “the  prudent diet.” It has a reduced sugar and fat content with some increase in fiber. Salts and alcohol are also reduced but not to limits that would interfere with normal bodily appetites.

— Dr. George Sheehan

Each Monday (or at least this was the plan back at the beginning of 2010) I write a post for a theme I call Motivation Monday, based off a quote from Dr. George Sheehan, especially from the book titled Dr. George Sheehan on Getting Fit & Feeling Great. The book includes three books: How To Feel Great 24 Hours A Day, Running and Being and This Running Life. I might also include quotes from other running gurus such as Jeff Galloway and John “The Penguin” Bingham, from time to time. I hope this will help motivate not only myself, but also you as we both start anew each week. This week’s quote comes from a chapter titled “On Sleeping” in How To Feel Great 24 Hours A Day.

Sadly, this is only my 18th Motivation Monday post with me writing my last such post back at the end of March. However, I’m going to start where I left off, in terms of where I was in the book anyway. As such, I’m on Chapter 5 of How To Feel Great 24 Hours A Day. I’m not going to leave off, though, where I was in terms of exercise and where I have been for the past almost six months: nowhere. To that end, this afternoon before writing this post, I took myself out for a walk around our neighborhood. I wasn’t concerned with distance or time today, but just getting out the door and doing it.

As for today’s quote, my wife and I both have been thinking about diet a lot recently. We both have tried different diets several times, only to rebound to our “original” weights. My wife writes about her struggles in this review of the book Lessons from the Fat-o-sphere: Quit Dieting and Declare a Truce with Your Body by Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby on my wife’s blog Your Basic ‘Dare To Be Great’ Situation. I will continue to write about struggles here. I think we both have realized that the latest diet fad is not the answer. What is? For myself, I think Sheehan and Fowlere’s advice is a good place to start, or rather continue.

My lack of exercise and proper diet has been exacerbated by several factors in recent months, but primarily these few which roughly correspond to the five rules from Fowlere:

  1. Not walking to work at the library or to volunteer at the senior center.
  2. Drinking too much soda.
  3. Eating too many fried foods, especially eating out at restaurants.
  4. Not eating breakfast.
  5. Too much alcohol, mostly on weekends, but still too much alcohol — and combined with the other factors, definitely not helping me.

I’m not making any grand pronouncements here or resolutions. I just will say that I’m going to work on each of these slowly but surely over the next few months.

The only part of a rule of Fowlere’s with which I have a problem is the recommendation of Metamucil. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want this happening:

Wife also noticed the fine print which said something to the effect “Obey park rules” as if someone really was going to pour Metamucil into Old Faithful. Too funny, on many levels.

4 responses to “Five simple dietary rules (and park rules too)

  1. The Wife’s approach to health is much more rational, and much kinder, than how most of us treat ourselves in the areas of food and exercise. We need to quit being so demanding of ourselves. It’s just too negative.

  2. The difference, for me, is one of emphasis. I no longer buy the idea that all one’s efforts should be focused on becoming thin. The idea of ‘health at every size’ is simple: eat for true hunger and honor your body’s cues as to when you’ve had enough. Don’t eat because you are sad, angry, bored, or whatever.
    Two, move because you want to move. Exercise and enjoy it, don’t go at any program like its the Bataan Death March and don’t do things you hate just to ‘lose weight’.

    Three, make good food choices because you want to support your body. Eliminate things, perhaps, in the interest of avoiding health issues and NOT because some food is righteous and some food is evil, and don’t make some sort of forbidden list because that’s a setup for failure.

    Rather than driving downward to some arbitrarily designated (and questionably calculated) height/weight chart, caring for yourself in this way will mean that eventually weight settles somewhere that makes sense for YOU. I will never be rail-thin. Fortunately I no longer buy the lie that its necessary.

  3. I think one of the hardest things to do in the world is lose weight. I used to be so skinny (5′ 10” and 127 pounds) that people made fun of me. That changed when I turned 40 and seems to be getting worse now that I’m 50. I’m just not motivated to get up and move around like I should be. But, like you, Rambler, I’m trying. I’m trying.

    • I used to like the Yoda quote: “Do or do not. There is no try.” But anymore, I think there definitely is trying, because I keep doing it…again and again and again.