Today’s post will outline the diet plan I intend to follow for the next year and the rest of my life.
1) NAG Diet. As I mentioned, at school they called it “NAG”: natural, alive, good quality. So what does this mean?
Natural: foods that are not processed or are minimally processed. So nothing packaged, no frozen dinners, no prepared cakes, cookies, buns, muffins, breads, nothing with preservatives, colorings, additives, chemicals, or anything like that. Does this sound hard? Actually, it’s the way I usually eat anyway, ever since my diagnosis with candida in 1999. What’s great about this category is that everything is just what you see when you buy it: an apple is an apple, quinoa is quinoa, beans are always beans. Nothing added, nothing taken away.
If you can eat this way (at least some of the time) you’ll find two things: first, your groceries are cheaper. When you buy brown rice and cook it yourself along with onion, peppers, and herbs, you are paying waaaaay less than buying pre-packaged rice pilaf mix. Second, everything you eat is more filling, more substantial, and, eventually, more satisfying. You’re getting real food, with real nutrition. Oh, and a third, one worth mentioning: everything takes much longer to cook. I’ll deal with this issue throughout the blog, as I list what I’ve cooked and how long it takes.
Alive: for optimum health, “live” or raw foods are recommended. This is not to say I’m advocating following a raw diet. No, just raw some of the time (I’m aiming for something raw with each meal, 30-50% raw each day). This could mean a fresh apple cut up into cereal, a salad with lunch, baby carrots for a snack, cucumber slices with dinner. Or it could mean a raw almond-veggie pate as a lunch option (recipe to follow–promise!). As raw foodists know, raw foods contain health-enhancing enzymes that also help us to digest food better. You digest faster and more efficiently with raw. . . it only makes sense to include it.
Good quality: this trait refers to many things, but generally I think, “organic.” I try to include as much organic food as possible in my diet. One rule that’s absolutely essential to me for those on a NAG diet is that any animal product be organic. After learning what’s done to milk, meat, eggs, cheese, etc., I wouldn’t even give my dogs non-organic in these areas! (Lucky for Elsie and Chaser, they get lots of organic veggies with their organic dog food for dinner.) (“We do appreciate that, Mum, really!”)
I guess I’m lucky in that I do love healthy foods, so it’s no hardship to eat this way. The problem is that I also love unhealthy food. So I can eat a perfectly healthy meal of my favorite almond-curry stir-fry with tofu and mixed veggies, then 30 minutes later eat 6 cookies. Granted, the cookies are my own creations, made with spelt flour and Sucanat or maple syrup. . . but it ‘s the quantity, man, the quantity!
Which leads me to. . . the rest of the diet.
2) PORTION CONTROL. Ideally, if I follow the diet I see in my head, I’ll be able to eat moderate amounts of very healthy foods, with small amounts of less healthy foods (such as my beloved desserts or a glass of wine occasionally). For me, this is probably the biggest challenge: I don’t feel I’ve “eaten” unless I feel full (sometimes, almost to the point of bursting). So being able to eat a regular-sized meal followed by a regluar-sized dessert would be an amazing accomplishment for me.
3) EXERCISE. Technically, not part of the diet, but an integral part of the plan related to it. The mission is to alternate my weights with aerobic exercise, 6 days a week. This means treadmill for me, as bad knees prohibit either running or cycling.
Interestingly, I do already walk every day by virtue of my furry girls (“No problem, mum, we’re happy to remind you to take us out!”). I generally take them out every afternoon for a minimum of 20 minutes (this in addition to their morning walk, courtesy of C., and their evening walk, which we all take together). I see this as one of the major benefits of having dogs. Though I have to say here, that when we watch The Dog Whisperer, one of our favorite shows (“No! Don’t watch that, mum! Don’t watch that show!”), I’m always amazed that when asked how often they walk their dogs, people say things like, “Well, I manage to get out once a week. . . .”. Huh? Knowing that dogs were basically born to be outside running around, I would destroy myself with guilt if I didn’t take them out at least twice a day. Strangely, though, the twice-daily dog walks don’t seem to affect my weight. Ergo, adding in the aerobics every second day.
That’s it for now. Tomorrow, I’ll cover the Goals section of the plan, after which I’ll really be on my way.