I Eat Staples

Crunch crunch

This is what I eat. Click below the fold to read all about it!

Past

As a kid growing up in Morocco, my staples were eggs, whole milk, white bread, potatoes and ground beef with some tomatoes and cheese thrown in. I was an incredibly picky eater and hated vegetables and fruits of any kind. Rail-thin throughout my childhood, moving to the United States at the tender age of 10 provided me with a weight gain of about 25 pounds that remained with me until towards the end of college. I carried my limited repertoire of taste along for the ride, but this time my mother wasn’t available to provide tailored home cooked meals at every instant. Therefore, my staples instead became convenient or ready to eat food and consequentially, about 90% of my daily diet consisted of corn flakes, bagels with cream cheese and orange juice. My parents at the time tried to cajole me into changing my dietary habits since I wasn’t the only one that noticed the weight gain. My response was to look at the Nutrition Facts, note that bagels only have 1 gram or so of fat per serving and therefore proclaim that it can’t possibly be the bread that was making me fat, since my body can easily accommodate a few grams of fat here and there (Duh!).  Six cavities later, I happen to randomly stumble upon various nutrition FAQs and my embarrassingly amateur understanding of food and its effects began reversing. As a result, I began cooking more and my staples became whole wheat bread, peanut butter, chicken, vegetables of any kind, and lean beef. It worked out well enough, just by counting calories, actually exercising and not binging on bagels every day, I was able to lose weight dramatically within a short order of time.

Present

Since August of 2010, I was intrigued by the whole low-carb/paleo approach and have made minor tweaks over time. I largely follow Kurt Harris’s recommendations, which are pretty much in line with the rest of the “optimal health” bloggers. Generally, I don’t eat anything made out of/with grains, legumes or seed oils, and favor a diet high in well-sourced fatty animal products. I’m a creature of habit, so I tend to rely on a handful of meals. I will definitely post recipes along with photos in the future and update this post accordingly.

“Salad”- This will always consist of a couple of handfuls of spring mix, five hard boiled eggs, a handful of walnuts and olive oil and balsamic vinegar as dressing. Depending on the mood, I might throw in some ground beef or sardines into the mix. I call it Scare Quote Salad since the spring mix is only really there for texture and taste and by no means the main event.†

Coconut Curry- Coconut milk with either beef heart or stew meat with some potatoes and whatever vegetables I feel like throwing in.†

Tomato Sauce Stew– Potatoes and whatever vegetables I’m in the mood for thrown in along with ground beef.†

Meat Pile- Ground beef cooked in butter with a handful of veggies thrown in.†

Snacks & Misc.- Gouda cheese, butter, whole milk, heavy cream (yes, I drink heavy cream), bone broth, and macadamia nuts.

In a given week, I’ll eat anywhere from 2 to 3 dozen eggs a week, 3 or 4 pounds of beef and about 2 to 3 pounds of Gouda*. I only buy pastured eggs from the farmer’s market and I make sure to call Whole Foods in advance in order for them to custom make 80% lean grass-fed beef as opposed to the 90% lean they typically carry. I only buy imported Gouda from Holland since that’s more likely to be grass-fed but also because there is a very noticeable difference in taste with domestic Gouda. Milk, heavy cream and butter (Kerrygold) are also grass-fed for the minute health benefits but largely for the improved taste. Nearly all the vegetables I eat, aside from potatoes and salad of course, I buy frozen. I have yet to find convincing evidence to buy organic. Veggies largely consist of broccoli and Brussels sprouts (vitamin C), spinach (magnesium) and red and white potatoes (starch). I don’t eat any fruit partly because I don’t really like the taste of any, but also because it’s a nutritionally poor food group. I spend about $350 a month on groceries, with half going to just meat and eggs, and a quarter going to dairy. I almost never eat at restaurants since 1) it’s expensive 2) they drench the fuck out of everything in soybean or corn oil.

I tend to eat about once or twice a day and sometimes I fast for 24 hours or more. I don’t count calories or watch intake, I just eat when hungry. I generally range between 1,500 to 3,000 calories a day. Macronutrient wise, 60-70% of my calories comes from fat (USDA recommends less than 20%…ha!), about 50-60% of which (30-40% of the total) comes from saturated fat (USDA recommends less than 7%…lol)‡ with the remaining split between protein and carbohydrates, depending on mood. Micronutrient wise, I consume about 1,000-1,200 mg of cholesterol a day (USDA recommends less than 200 mg…lol again) and my RDAs for vitamins and minerals are all 100% or way above (I get about 1,000% the recommended daily allowance for B12 every day for example) with the exception of vitamin C (60-100%) and magnesium (40-80%). Vitamin C deficiency commonly results in a susceptibility to sickness, something which I don’t seem to suffer from. Despite that, given that vitamin C is the only nutrient that is best found in plant foods (unless you love gorging yourself on raw liver), it tends to form the basis of which vegetables to include in my repertoire. Magnesium and other minerals are likely under counted since it is difficult to get adequate micronutrient numbers on homemade bone broth, something I consume about once a week. The only supplement I take is vitamin D since apparently my North African genes require even more sun exposure than I can manage. Everything is liberally sprinkled with salt, although my blood pressure remains completely normal at 110/65.

I generally don’t excercise because I’m lazy, but I’ll either walk or bike to get around and maybe once a month, I’ll lift something heavy. I don’t really miss any particular food since I always thought legumes were boring anyways, and bread is only as good as the fat you spread on it. I drink wine and hard cider, and avoid beer (gluten) and liquor (headache). Once every couple of weeks, I’ll buy and eat a milk chocolate bar just because.

Weight is stable, energy levels are consistent, sickness is rare and brief when it happens, and mood is vastly and incredibly higher than before. I’m reluctant to change but always open to suggestions and experimentation.

Future

Fuckin’ A as soon as I get student loan money this fall semester I’m going to eat grass-fed ribeye steaks, wild-caught salmon and full fat Fage greek yogurt every day for at least a month, because holy shit do I miss splurging on food!

Cheers!

UPDATE: You can now read all about my cholesterol adventures here.

† I’ll throw in liver when I can stomach it. I still find it gross, with the possible exception of lamb or veal liver.

* Assuming a chicken lays an egg every 24 hours, and a grass-fed steer yields about 600lbs of meat, that amounts to about three chickens laying eggs and a steer being slaughtered every three years for my nourishment.

‡ For an overview on why and how saturated fats got so extensively and falsely vilified, watch this excellent hour long lecture by neuroscientist David Diamond titled “How Bad Science and Big Business Created the Obesity Epidemic”. Although note: I actually don’t think carbohydrates in general will necessarily make you fat. I’m more apt to borrow a term from Harris and put the blame on what he calls “Neolithic Agents of Disease”, also known as wheat (gluten), sugar (fructose), and seed oils (linoleic acid) on the large prevalence of diseases of civilization than just use a broad brush on “carbs”.

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