Diet 101

Basic Eating and Cleansing for a Healthier Life

The food and drink you consume must be managed like every other important thing in your life.  Eat more small meals, less big ones.  Hydrate with pure water instead of drinks dolled up with color, sugar and chemicals.  Plan your snacks.  Supplement. Move!!

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Note: This is article 3, part 3 to my FREE four-part series about how to build a strong and youthful body.

THIS IS my primer on “diet” which along with A Blueprint for Eating Right presents quite a few ideas to improve eating habits.

In this post, my intention is to outline the tenants of a good “diet”. For the purposes of this post (specifically) and blog (generally) this means the food and drink you regularly consume — not some special food concoction that you plan to consume for a specific period of time…

… and then woefully abandon.

Diet is part of your lifestyle.  Got kids?  If so, your lifestyle needs to accommodate them, which hopefully means that you fit them into your life.  Got a job?  Same thing. Eat and drink?  Well, it makes sense that how you fuel your life fits with how you wish to live your life.

Better Fuel = Better Life.

Obesity levels in the industrialized world are skyrocketing.  Currently, the U.S. holds the coveted #1 spot in the world for percentage of the population that’s obese, coming in at a mind-boggling 31%, with the percent of over-weight topping 60%.  (Find your country in this handy graph.)

At its most simple, we gain weight when the number of calories consumed exceed the number used by our body.  (Though there is the “thermogenic effect“.) What’s not so simple is to understand why the number of calories consumed has skyrocketed, by Americans in particular, over the last 20 years.

HintFast Food + Processed Food – Sweat = 31% (the USA obesity rate).


Emotional Eating

It’s nice to have a straightforward formula to follow, but were it this simple no one would have a weight issue. But it’s not so simple.  Food consumption is a complicated conundrum, because we don’t eat only to sustain ourselves.

We eat emotionally.

A little stressed -> EAT.  Lonely -> EAT.  Bored -> EAT.  Misunderstood -> EAT.

Maybe it all started as infants.  When we cried it was mother’s breast or a milk bottle — food — that came to the rescue and comforted us.

I’ve thought and have read a lot about the emotionally underpinnings behind the stuff that makes us do what we do. If behavior modification was imposed upon us in a Pavlovian manner, we could change our behavior without reflection. If left to ourselves, however, behavior can not be changed unless you grok what instigates and sustains what you do, and why you do it.

But, having just blathered about it, behavior modification is beyond the scope of this particular post.  Here, my aim is not to capitulate to my penchant for psychobabble, nor is it to give an exhaustive list of food menus (there’s more than you can digest on the Web for that); instead, this “Diet 101” post focuses on my general understanding of non-fast, non-processed food and drink that can become part of your lifestyle, and help get you more fit.


Eat and Drink What’s Natural

With your Diet 101, do this…

Choose foods that contain water. Choose foods that look close to what they do in nature before they entered the supermarket.  Choose foods that are perishable — those that can not comfortably rest on your shelf for months.  Some examples: veggies, fruits, nuts, legumes, beans, purified water, lemon-water, tea, almond milk.

For protein, choose lean meat, like chicken and turkey, and fish such as wild-caught salmon. If, you’re not a big meat-eater, supplement with whey-based, hemp, pea or rice protein powder.  If you don’t  have a cholesterol problem, eat the best eggs you can afford.  If cholesterol plagues you, try egg whites which you can separate from the yolk, or buy them already separated.

[Beware mercury in fish… check out this list from the Natural Resources Defense Council]


Eat Three moderate Meals and Two Small Ones

This advice is for those who can eat “two small ones” on your Diet 101.  If you are unable/unwilling to control portion size, then forget about eating five meals per day.  Some people do better with three, or even two, as long as adequate nutrition is consumed. That said, here’s what three moderated and two small meals looks like in Diet 101…

1. Breakfast is important as it fuels you to meet your day’s activities. It’s called “break fast” for a reason — you’re breaking the fast of your sleep time. Research shows that people who skip breakfast wind up eating more total calories and have less energy throughout the day.

UPDATE: According to new research published by Outside Magazine in June, 2014, skipping breakfast does not necessarily lead to weight gain, although it can dictate how much physical activity you do. My takeaway from the findings is that a high quality breakfast is a good idea if your day is going to require energy output. More on this here.

Try eating slow-cook oatmeal (make enough for several breakfasts so you don’t have to spend too much time cooking it each day) topped with a few walnuts or almonds, a touch of maple syrup or guava for sweetness, and almond milk. If you can’t fathom taking the time for the slow-cook kind, choose the whole, steel-cut five-minute variety.

Another favorite of mine is a bowl of blueberries, chopped apple and banana, with a handful of sunflower seeds, walnuts, or roasted flax seeds on top, along with a touch of almond milk mixed with why protein powder so I get my protein count up, which is important for me given the resistance training I do.

If you can’t bring yourself to make a good breakfast then at least substitute with supplements.  The idea is to get some nutrients in you in the morning before you set out to slay dragons. I kinda go over the top with this, but since I’m often asked about my morning “tonic”, this is it:

Joe’s Morning Tonic [Updated]:

Need I say that this tonic is an acquired taste.  Good thing taste buds are malleable.

2. Mid-morning Snack. You need not fill up for breakfast, or for any other of the major meals for that matter, because right around the corner is a snack; in this case, the Mid-morning Snack.  Like with all snacks, be prepared for this so that you snack on the right stuff.

I’ll often eat an apple or banana, a handful of nuts, or make a small smoothie. (Careful on the amount consumed — smoothies can be stuffed full of calories of the simple carb variety.)  Or, how ’bout one piece of whole wheat, sunflower-seeded toast with a layer of almond butter on it, and sliced banana to top it off?

3. Lunch can be more challenging than breakfast if, instead of being in the controlled environment of home, you’re at work  But then again, remember that Diet is part of your lifestyle, like your work and kids, and so plan for it.  If you bring lunch to work, plan some choices, such as a container of last night’s leftovers, or steamed veggies with some high quality extra virgin olive oil spritzed on it, along with some White Chia Seeds (an Omega-3 Superfood which I often sprinkle on anything with a high Glycemic Index cause it slows down assimilation and increases nutrient absorption), or a sandwich with lean meat and plenty of red lettuce and sliced tomato.

If you go out for lunch, then you need to sharpen your mind and prepare.

Restaurant food can be deceiving.  What looks like a healthy meal may not be.  A salad is not healthy if it’s dominated by breaded-something stuff and smothered with sugar and fat-laced dressing. If in doubt, choose water-laden foods (if you put them in a juicer, watery juice would be extracted) and foods that resemble their natural state.

So, adorn the salads with veggies, avocado, a few nuts and some sliced hard-boiled eggs. Try to get sandwiches with whole wheat bread, veggie stuff like sprouts, tomatoes, avocado, sautéed zucchini and/or eggplant, and go light on the cheese and meats.

4. Mid-afternoon Snack.  Good for you if by mid-day you’re thinking about your Mid-afternoon Snack because you didn’t overeat at lunch.  If you went out to eat, perhaps you saved a portion of your lunch — not wanting to eat too much — and now can finish it off?  Or perhaps this it the time to eat carrots, celery with a spread of peanut butter, almond butter or cottage cheese. Search the Web — get creative.

5. Dinnertime is not the time to pig out.  Yes, perhaps you want to reward yourself for facing yet another tough day — five dragons slain — but if you’ve eaten the four other meals, you should be able to comfortably cruise up to din din sans drool.

Wild-caught Alaskan salmon and other fish tend to be the mainstays of my dinners (and an occasional grilled ranch-raised chicken), amply surrounded by vegetables of all stripes, with some millet, quinoa, brown rice or brown pasta as a small side dish.


Beware making carbs the centerpiece of your meals, particularly pasta!

Oftentimes, my dinner food are all nestled in one bowl, and are stalwart representatives of the three macro-nutrients: (lean) Protein, (complex) Carbs, and (mostly Omega-3) Fats. (Strive to get each of these macro nutrients in each meal.)

A typical example of a Bowl Dinner is a bed of raw spinach, basmati brown rice, various sliced veggies (some raw), half an avocado, kalamata olives, anchovies, raw sun flower seeds, and some basmati vinegar and cold-pressed olive (and/or flax) oil dressing.

I have no problem mixing cold and hot.  I’m not too concerned with separating one food type from the other, except that I usually don’t mix fruits with protein.  The idea is not to eat at the same time foods with very different digestive transit times. Fruit digests quicker than steak. Thus, I eat fruit before anything else… usually.

My principal aim is to eat organically grown, fresh, whole foods that together offer me nutritional balance.


What to Drink?

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.  Well, we’re not drinking enough water but that’s not because it’s not available (at least in the industrialized world).  No, the reason water is just for bathing for many of us is because drinking has become an occasion to delight the taste buds rather than quench thirst to keep ourselves properly hydrated.  Soda rules.  Coffee rules. If you’re addicted to this stuff and face a daunting challenge to wean yourself from soda and coffee, then at least drink more water.

Drinking a large glass of water upon arising and before meals will also help curb your hunger. Other drinks to try that are good for you include green tea, lemon water and almond milk.  Almond milk is a fine alternative to the stuff that female cows produce for their 200+ pound offspring featuring four compartmentalized stomachs ably suited to digest their momma cows’ milk.



In a perfect world, we would not need to supplement our food with supplements, right?

Actually, I don’t think so!

Yes, most of us do not get all the nutrition our bodies need through food, but supplements can be more beneficial than just providing basic nutrition.  There’s some cutting edge stuff that might also contribute to longevity, increased energy, and immune enhancement.

[See these supplements for assisting longevity and these that fight free radical damage.)

So, consider what’s not in your Diet that you need. If you’re not getting enough veggies and fruits, supplement with a good powdered substitute such as Ultimate Greens, and a strong multivitamin/mineral supplement such as Maximum Wellness Formula.  [Discontinued… see the replacements above.] Not enough fiber, mix psyllium husk powder in your water, or take psyllium husk capsules. Spend some time to figure it out.  The benefits could be everlasting.

Have no clue about what your body needs? Consider getting a hair or blood analysis done.  Or ask your doctor’s advice, hopefully one that has been trained in nutrition. (Most aren’t.)



What goes in must come out.  Right?  Hmmm… this is a nasty subject, but I’ll just dive right in and say that there’s debate about what is constipation, how many bowel movements a day is right and whether cleansing is even necessary.

I’ve done extensive cleansing and I’ll tell you what I’ve discovered:

1. Even with a healthy, fiber-rich diet, elimination-destined stuff doesn’t always and fully eliminate.

2. The “natural” number of bowl movements each day should on average equal the number of major meals eaten each day.

3. Cleansing promotes energy and clear mindedness.

Let’s check each of these statements starting with what gets eliminated when.

Although some doctors will dispute this, over time fecal matter will accumulate along your colon walls.  Think of a drain pipe that never gets cleaned.  Eventually gunk sticks to it.  I’ve had a “clean” diet for thirty years and yet when I cleanse with herbs, cleansing drinks, I still have bowl movements even during the fasting period of a cleanse, which occurs in the fifth week!  (Yes, I admit that some of it is the cleansers and herbs I ingest during a cleanse.)

Fiber really is helpful — not only does it promote regular elimination, but it helps keep you from over eating; however, it is not enough to support a clean colon long-term. To do this requires a cleansing program.

Turning next to toilet pit stops… do I really mean to say that the number of pit stops each day should equal the number of main meals (not including snacks)?  Yup.  But that’s not definitive… there is debate on the topic.

The naturalist side of the health practitioner ledger tend to extol that If you eat three main meals a day, then you should have three bowel movements each day. The first bowel movement should take place in the morning when you wake up or soon after you have had breakfast. Ideally, you should experience the urge for a bowel movement 20-30 minutes after you eat. The other bowel movements should occur sometime during the day, and then just before bedtime.

In her book, Healthy Digestion the Natural Way, D. Lindsey Berkson defines constipation this way:

“A healthy person should have at least one bowel movement a day. Medical textbooks state that individual variation goes from several times a day to several times a week. However, having worked with people for many years on improving their health, I would define constipation as not having one to several daily bowel movements, or having too long an intestinal-transit time.”

If you eat three meals a day and only have one or two bowel movements, then the second and third meal are backing up in your colon and staying there too long. That’s why the number of times you “go” is not definitive — the “transit time” needs to be considered.  It’s not enough to “cover the throne” three times a day if what you’re pushing out has taken up residence in your colon two days earlier, which, by the way, can be the case with meat.

Yeah, meat has a way of staying with you.  Other dense stuff does too.  I say “clean the pipes!”  And I do, usually in keeping with the Seasons; namely, four times a year.  Some cleanses are one week “quickies” that don’t disrupt my schedule. Others are five weeks long and bring me within reach of saintliness.

Yes, the clarity and peace of mind can be startling.

Anyway, if all this cleansing stuff has you scratching your head, just do this:

  • Add fiber to your Diet, either with fiber-rich foods or a supplement like Psyllium Husk Powder or capsules
  • Drink Aloe Juice.  Found at your health food store, or here.  Aloe juice has a strong, rather unpleasant taste, so combine it with some healthy drink you like.
  • Drink eight ounce of water (preferably with lemon juice) before each meal.
  • Move your body — stagnant body, stagnant bowls.
  • Try a cleansing program.

So concludes my Diet 101 opus.  Feel free to comment below to your heart’s content.

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Last Updated on February 7, 2024 by Joe Garma

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Joe Garma

I help people live with more vitality and strength. I'm a big believer in sustainability, and am a bit nutty about optimizing my diet, supplements, hormones and exercise. To get exclusive Updates, tips and be on your way to a stronger, more youthful body, join my weekly Newsletter. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

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