Men Don’t Watch What They Eat, Do They? When So Many Americans are Overweight, They Should.
Here is One Easy Diet To Help Keep you Fit and Healthy.
Men die sooner and live sicker than women. In fact says, Will Courtenay, author of the book Dying to be Men, “For all 15 leading causes of death [except Alzheimer’s disease] men and boys have higher age-adjusted death rates than women and girls.” One of the main reasons women outlive us is due to what we put in our bodies.
According the Courtenay’s research findings, “men are more often overweight than women and they have less healthy dietary habits. They eat more meat, fat, and salt and less fiber, fruits, and vegetables than women.” Courtenay’s findings are validated by a study that followed Americans for three decades and suggests that over the long haul 9 out of 10 men and 7 out of 10 women will become overweight.
“National surveys and other studies have told us that the United States has a major weight problem, but this study suggests that we could have an even more serious degree of overweight and obesity over the next few decades,” said Dr. Elizabeth G. Nabel, Director of National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute who also co-chairs the NIH Obesity Research Task Force. “In addition, these results may underestimate the risk for some ethnic groups.”
Overweight increases the likelihood of developing diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, stroke, breathing problems such as asthma and sleep apnea, some cancers, osteoarthritis, and gall bladder disease. “Even those who are now at a healthy weight need to be careful about maintaining energy balance to avoid gaining weight,” Dr. Nabel concludes. Clearly, weight-control is an issue for 100% of Americans. And men are even more vulnerable than women.
One of the first signs we notice when we’re not eating right is low energy. We feel lethargic and often feel increasingly tired as the day wears on. Most of us become used to this feeling and just come to accept it as “life.” But we know now that there’s a lot more to life than having to drag our way through it. Most of us would be surprised at how our energy levels are affected by our diet.
The Male American Diet (MAD)
I was short and slightly built growing up. My mother thought I needed a “manly” diet so I would grow up to be strong and healthy. Back in the 1950s, “real men” ate meat and potatoes. Like many of our neighbors, my mother purchased a side of beef that was cut and delivered to our new freezer that we kept in the garage. For most of my growing up years I ate hamburgers and fried potatoes for breakfast, hamburger or a chop for lunch (usually with canned apple sauce to get my daily allowance of fruit), steak and potatoes for dinner (usually with a small helping of canned peas to get my allotment of vegetables.)
Back then we didn’t know that the pyramid food charts that we thought reflected the best science for a healthy diet were actually created by the meat and dairy industry. I drank milk with every meal. Occasionally I would exchange my meat lunch for a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches and for a dinner treat we would occasionally have pizza. We often had ice cream for dessert since it was “dairy” and therefore healthy.
My diet didn’t seem to help me get any taller, but I sure “filled out” and put on weight. I’ve spent most of my adult life exercising my butt off and trying every diet that came along in order to get rid of my expanding waist line. I cut way back on the meat and dairy and I ate slightly more fruits and vegetables, but I still struggled with my weight and had periodic health problems, including a couple of prostate cancer scares.
Over the years I saw my doctors regularly and watched my weight increase, but not once did a doctor suggest it would be good for me to lose weight or change my doctor. Not is until my last appointment. My doctor told me, “you’re health is good, but if you really want to prevent cancer [I was worried about prostate cancer] you should change your diet and lose some weight.”
He took me into the lunch room and showed me the huge salad he would be having when I left. He also suggested I buy a book: Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program For Fast and Sustained Weight Loss by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. “This is what enabled me to lose 40 pounds and keep it off,” he told me. I had to admit he looked a lot better than when I’d seen him before he lost the weight.
The Simplest, Healthiest Diet You’ll Ever Find
My doctor sent me home with one page from the book. “Here, this will tell you everything you need to know about eating well, losing weight, and preventing disease,” he said. “Fill up from those at the top of the list.” Dr. Fuhrman calls it “The Nutrient-Density Line” and says that “The high volume of greens not only will be your secret to a thin waistline but will simultaneously protect you against life-threatening illnesses.”
The nutrient-density scores below are based on identified phytochemicals, antioxidant activity, and total vitamin and mineral content. Highest nutrient density = 100 points. Lowest nutrient density = 0 points.
100 Dark green leafy vegetables: Kale, mustard greens, collard greens, Swiss chard, watercress, spinach, arugula.
95 Other green vegetables: Romaine, bok choy, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, string beans, snow peas, green peas.
50 Non-green nutrient-rich vegetables: Beets, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, radishes, bean sprouts, red and yellow bell peppers, radicchio, cauliflower, tomatoes, artichokes, raw carrots.
45 Fresh fruits: Strawberries, blueberries, other berries, plums, oranges, melons, kiwifruit, apples, cherries, pineapple, peaches, pears, grapes, bananas.
40 Beans: Lentils, kidney, great northern, adzuki, black, pinto, split peas, edamame, chickpeas.
30 Raw nuts and seeds: Sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, flaxseeds, almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts.
25 Colorful starchy vegetables: Butternut and other squash, sweet potatoes, corn, turnips.
20 Whole grains/white potatoes: Old-fashioned oats, barley, brown and wild rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, bulgur, whole grain bread, white potatoes.
15 Fat-free dairy
15 Wild meat and fowl
8 Full-fat dairy
6 Red meat
6 Refined grain products
1 Refined oils
0 Refined sweets: cookies, cakes, candy, soda.
Real Men Eat From the Top Down
When I read the book I learned that Dr. Fuhrman says we can eat anything we want. We can eat from the bottom, but do it rarely and in small quantities. He calls it his 90-10 rule. Clearly the meat and dairy industry would like is to reverse the rule and eat 90% from the bottom categories and 10% from the top.
I used to think that only rabbits ate “greens” and who wants to grow up to be like a rabbit. That’s what my “manly friends” believed as well. “I guess they never thought about how a rhinoceros, hippopotamus, gorilla, giraffe, or elephant became so big eating only vegetables,” says Dr. Fuhrman.
Now that I have the facts, I can choose to eat like the man the meat and dairy industry convinced my mother was the best diet for me. Or I can follow the medical scientists such as Dr. Fuhrman and eat from the top down, lose weight, and live long and well. I think I’ll go with my doctor’s advice. How about you?
Photo: Flickr/ BahrainPersonalTraining