Eat yourself to a better life

food intro

Billions of people are eating their way to the grave. Are you one of them?

Read on to discover five eating habits that will change your life.

—————————-

This post is part of RethinkingTruth’s “How to achieve health” Series and it reveals the first principle of health: Eat right.

I’m not the only one who recommend eating differently. World-class athletes and sports scientists are too.

Luckily for you eating right is dead easy. All you need to know is:

  • How living the five eating habits will change your life
  • What the five life-changing eating habits are
  • How to start living the five eating habits

Let’s get straight to it!

How living the five eating habits will change your life

life-changing

Living the five eating habits has profound effects. Here are the ones I find most life-changing:

  • Fat loss, even without changes in exercise routines
  • Increased happiness
  • Reduced stress, frustration, annoyance and irritability
  • Improved health and less sickness
  • Increased energy that last the whole day
  • Improved mental focus and clarity
  • Improved sleep
  • Reduced hunger and cravings for bad foods
  • Less bloating, stomach pain and gas
  • Reduced symptoms of aging

I understand if you find this hard to believe.

All I can say is that these effects are very real. The only way for you to know is to try the five eating habits for yourself.

So what are these five eating habits?

The five life-changing eating habits

#1: Enjoy lots of meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and healthy fats

meatMeats, fish, eggs and vegetables are your best friends. We, the human species, have eaten these foods for tens of thousands of years, we’re very well adapted to eating them and these foods contain the most important nutrients we need to thrive.

But, in order to eat yourself to a better life you have to understand that fat too is a dear friend of yours.

Did you know that fats have been one of the most important human nutrients for hundreds of thousands of years?

Before the cognitive revolution, around 70 000 years ago, we had to wait patiently for the likes of lions and other top predators to make a kill.

Then, we had to stand by while the top predators ate what they wanted. Only when these dangerous animals had finished eating and left would the humans approach, crush the remaining bones and eat the bone marrow within.

Bone marrow is basically fat and fat has been one of our key energy sources since the early days of our species.

If you have “fat-phobia” you have a problem as fats are crucial to eating yourself to a better life. Check out this post to learn the truth about fats and if you still want more, check out Andreas Eenfeldt’s excellent collection of randomised controlled trials.

Now, let’s look at some examples of what to eat within each of these four categories:

Meats

Top choices:

  • Lamb
  • Game meat (reindeer, moose, antelope so forth)
  • Grass-fed beef

Decent choices:

  • Pork (I eat bacon nearly every day…)
  • Beef (not grass-fed)
  • Chicken/Duck/Turkey
  • Other meats

Fish

Top choices:

  • Salmon (wild caught is better than farmed)
  • Trout
  • Mackerel
  • Other fatty fish

Decent choices:

  • Cod
  • Pollock, coalfish, coley, saithe
  • Catfish
  • Other fish

Eggs

Top choices:

  • Eggs from organic, truly free-range chickens and other fowls

Decent choices:

  • Eggs in general

Vegetables

Top choices:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Seaweed

Decent choices:

  • Arugula
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Green, leafy vegetables and vegetables in general

Healthy fats

Top choices:

  • Butter (grass-fed is the best)
  • Lard
  • Coconut oil
  • Fat from meats and fish in general
  • Cream (I use double cream in my coffee every morning, absolutely delicious)
  • Cheese

Decent choices:

  • Extra Virgin Olive oil (cold pressed is the best)
  • Macadamia oil
  • Other non-vegetable oils

Lots of tasty foods right?

One last tip: add lots of fats to your vegetables. Not only will that make the vegetables delicious but the fat will help the body absorb nutrients too.

#2: Enjoy fruits, berries and starchy foods every now and then

berries

Fruits and berries are nutritious foods that provide you with many important vitamins and minerals.

However, these foods contain glucose and fructose too. The glucose isn’t a problem as you’ll see below, but I’m not a big fan of fructose.

Consequently, eating fruits and berries a few times a week is what I recommend and that’s not a controversial opinion.

What’s more controversial, however, is the topic of starchy foods (foods rich in the stored form of glucose).

These foods are also nutritious but the main reason why I recommend eating them is because our body needs glucose to survive (this, again, is not controversial).

For example, parts of your brain, your red blood cells, and the retina, lens and cornea in your eyes require glucose to function. And interestingly, we require glucose (stored as glycogen in the body) to carry out explosive anaerobic exercise (happens when your body needs more oxygen than its able to get).

What is controversial is whether or not you need to eat glucose as the body is able to produce the glucose is needs from protein through gluconeogenesis.

As always when the research isn’t clear people have strong opinions. This is unfortunate as the truth is this:

We don’t know which of the two, eating foods containing glucose or converting protein to glucose through gluconeogenesis, is best for us.

What we do know, however, is that the Japanese, who has one of the highest average life-spans in the world, eat starchy foods (glucose) pretty much every day. And, we know that some people function poorly on very-low glucose diets.

Consequently, I believe, although I don’t know for sure, that for most people, diabetics excluded, eating some glucose is smart. And hey, these foods are delicious too and that doesn’t hurt does it?

Therefore, I recommend eating a low-glucose diet which I define as less than 150 grams of glucose pr. day. Check out the graph below for some more details:

carbs pr dayHowever, if you’re a diabetic or someone who wants to badly wants to lose weight you’ll want to eat even less glucose. Ketosis might be right for you.

Consequently, enjoy the lovely foods listed below but eat them in moderation.

Fruits

  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi

Berries

  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries

Starchy foods (be careful with these, especially if you want to lose weight or if you’re diabetic)

  • Rice
  • Sweet potatos
  • Yams
  • Cassava
  • Potatos

#3: Eat as little sugar, processed foods, grains, bad fats and alcohol as possible

sugar

Whereas meats, fish, eggs, vegetables and healthy fats are our best friends, sugar, processed foods, grains, bad fats and alcohol are our worst enemies.

The best way to eat yourself to the grave at full speed is to eat the foods below often and in large quantities:

Sugary foods

  • Sweets and candy (chocolate with more than 80% cocoa is fine and I eat a little bit almost every day)
  • Sugary drinks (sodas, fruit juices and all other drinks with added sugar)
  • Sugary cereals (cereal is rarely good for you and when sugar is added it’s terrible)
  • Foods with lots of added sugar in general (cakes, sweet sauces, ketchup and so forth)

Processed foods

Processed foods includes most ready-made foods that aren’t included in eating habit one, two and three. Some examples are:

  • Crisps
  • Frozen pizza
  • Gorby’s and similar stuff
  • Fast food (chicken nuggets, burgers, french fries and so forth)
  • All low-fat products

Grains

  • Wheat (by far the worst grain)
  • Corn
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Oats

Bad fats

  • Margarine
  • Vegetable oils such as
    • Corn oil
    • Sunflower oil
    • Soybean oil
    • Canola oil
    • Other vegetable oils
  • Other processed fats with high omega-6 content

Alcohol

  • Beer
  • Spirits
  • Wine

Additionally, I’m no big fan of legumes (lentils, beans and so forth) and processed milk (milk that isn’t raw), but the foods above are worse.

Do yourself and your loved ones a big favour: Eat as little of the above foods as possible!

#4: Eat super-foods and supplement smart

liver

Our planet provides us with some foods that are so nutritious that it’s hard to believe they are real.

Earlier in this post I mentioned that green, leafy vegetables such as arugula are nutritious. But compared to my favorite super-food, liver, they are absolutely nothing. Check out the table below:

liver versus arugulaGo and see for yourself here (liver) and here (arugula).

Now, that’s some serious arugula ass-kicking by the liver!

The foods below are so nutritious that if you eat them all the time you’ll likely get too much vitamins and minerals and you don’t want that (the human body’s need for most vitamins and minerals is like in a bell-shaped curve).

Eat the fantastic foods below every week but in moderation. For example, I eat about 200 grams of liver and 100 grams of nuts weekly.

Super-foods

  • Liver
  • Kidneys
  • Spices
    • Turmeric
    • Cinnamon
    • Cardamom
    • Lots of other spices
  • Nuts
    • Macadamia
    • Almonds
    • Brazil nuts
    • Lots of other nuts

Supplementation

With regards to supplementation I find it more difficult to provide recommendations I truly believe in. The reason why I’m sceptical about supplementation is because supplements often isolate certain elements of what’s found in nature without providing its original context.

We know we don’t understand how all the different components of what we find in nature fit together. Consequently, isolating just one part of that whole and eating it in large doses might have unforeseen consequences.

Having said that, I take three supplements:

1. Magnesium
Our soils are becoming more and more magnesium depleted. Supplement for improved sleep and digestion (read this article to know what type to buy). How much you need depends on you. I supplement 400mg with the last meal of my day.

2. Vitamin D3
Vitamin D3 is a crucial and luckily for us our bodies naturally produce it when sunshine hits our skin (sun lotioned skin prevents/reduces vitamin D3 production).

However, I live in Norway and the angle of sun we get is too narrow for the body to produce vitamin D3 from October to March.

Consequently, I supplement with 1000 IUs of vitamin D3 in liquid form during this period.

3. Salt (sodium)
I don’t eat a lot of glucose. Some days I only eat around 40 grams, mainly from vegetables. Other days I might eat around 150-200 grams. The consequence is that my body doesn’t hold on to water and for that reason is flushes out sodium amongst other things.

For some people this is no big deal but for me it is. If I don’t supplement with salt the sodium levels in my body will be too low and I’ll start feeling dumb, not present and other weird things.

Salt is crucial for the body and not dangerous. I recommend that you at least salt your food generously. If you suddenly start feeling like described above sure you supplement with salt and/or eat some more glucose and you’ll be fine.

#5: Cut yourself some slack, use the 80/20 rule!

80 20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re still reading this post you’re really interested in eating yourself to a better life. Well done.

Now, let’s be brutally honest about one thing:

It can be hard to eat according to the life-changing eating habits all the time.

Yes, eating right makes you feel good and with time your desire for bad foods will all but disappear.

But…

Are you never going to eat pizza again?

Are you never going to eat pasta again?

Are you never going to drink alcohol again?

If you told yourself that you could never eat any of those things in your life again, wouldn’t you feel very restricted?

I know I would.

The fact of the matter is that “all” of us eat some deliciously bad foods every now and then.

That’s completely fine.

Live the first four eating habits at least 80% of the time. Doing this will be enough to significantly improve your life.

Then, make sure you cut yourself some slack and live eating habit give as well. The times when you do decide to eat something that isn’t ideal don’t feel bad. Just enjoy the food and then return to your normal eating habits.

How to start living the five eating habits

Now that you know the five eating habits the key thing is to get started. There are four actions I recommend that you do, starting today:

  1. Read about the four simple and delicious dishes below. It will take you about 10 minutes.
  2. Throw away 90% of the terrible foods in your house (see eating habit #3) and leave only a few treats you’ll enjoy when you cut yourself some slack (the 80/20 rule). This will take you about 15 minutes.
  3. Go shopping. Bring this article with you either as a printed document or on your phone and enjoy buying life-changing foods. This will take you about 15 minutes of in-store time.
  4. Stop reading what the media has to say about eating; they have no idea what they’re writing about. This gives you more time, nice.

Oh, and to make sure you remember what foods to eat, check out the picture below:

food pyramid sisson

Regards from Oslo,
Bjarte.

NB! I’ve borrowed these pictures: DinnerFood pyramid, Carb graph, Nature, Sugar, 80/20. Thanks a lot.

Does eating like this make sense to you? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

26 thoughts on “Eat yourself to a better life

  1. Bjørn B. Bakke

    Supert innleggJ

    Håper du når ut t mange….

    Fant en setningsfeil (se under bildet):

    carbs pr day

    However, if you’re a diabetic or someone who wants to badly wants to lose weight you’ll want to eat even less glucose. Ketosis might be right for you.

    Bjørn Far

    Fra: Rethinking Truth [mailto:comment-reply@wordpress.com] Sendt: 8. desember 2013 13:44 Til: bbbakke@broadpark.no Emne: [New post] Eat yourself to a better life

    Bjarte Bakke posted: ” Billions of people are eating their way to the grave. Are you one of them? Read on to discover five eating habits that might just change your life forever. —————————- This post is part of RethinkingTruth’s “How to achieve he”

    Reply
  2. Cobb

    Amazing post Bjarte Bakke!

    This is so true on so many levels and people follow everything else for weight loss and stuff. The fact that eating the right food is not only for weight loss is what makes that particular ‘habit’ stand out.

    Great post again.

    Reply
  3. huypham

    Hi Bjarte Bakke, I really love this post. Love the way you write your posts. The information in this article is really unique and useful for me. After reading this article, I think I have some ideas for myself. I do follow your articles recently. Thanks for sharing this post. Hope to read more interesting information from you. Have a nice day.

    Reply
  4. Matt

    Great article! I’ve been eating exactly like this for about 6 months now and I can confirm all the positive effects. I’ve lost over 2 stone, only need to eat 1 or 2 meals without getting hungry like I used to, better sleep, moods and energy levels.

    I urge anyone to give this way of eat a shot it’s a life changer for me!

    Reply
  5. Cornel Smit

    Hi there. I am training for an 8 day mountain bike event which covers more than 700km’s. Training for this I need to do around 15hrs a week. Do you think that the body would be able to do this with a low carb intake diet?

    Thanks for great article, I am starting today!

    Reply
  6. Anderson

    Hello,
    I really agree with all the items, but about oats, I have doubts because I always thought it was a good food. I would like to clarify their curses. thank you

    Reply
    1. Bjarte Bakke Post author

      Anderson,

      Good question. I see it like this: Some people do well on oat, many don’t.

      Oat generally doesn’t contain gluten (that’s a good thing) but it does contain proteins that are similar enough in structure to gluten to initiate an immune response in sensitive people.

      Oats also contain phytic acid which reduce the bioavailability (how available the nutrients in a food is to our bodies) of the nutrients in this grain.

      I generally don’t recommend eating oats for the reasons above but I know of several people who do well on this grain.

      Conclusion: If you’re sure that oat works for you by all means have it but remember that it’s not a super-food. Also, important to keep in mind that even though this food might work for you that doesn’t mean it will work for most other people.

      Regards from Oslo :)

      Reply
  7. andrew

    I always slam back a few slices of sandwich meat with my porridge in the morning, But my favorit is to trice up some nuts and dried fruit with mine

    Reply
  8. The nutrition geek

    Bjarte. Your food pyramide is completely off.
    I would be surprised if this pyramide works for you?
    Have you had your blood tests taken, or blood pressure?

    Too much meat causes heart disease, diabetes, bloating, slow bowel movements and even shown many links to cancer. It is filled with antibiotics, unhealthy fats and is in general really hard for your body to digest.

    You are correct that fat is essential and extremely important to the human body. People have an irrational fear of it. There are many types of healthy fats in for example, walnuts, flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia, sunflower seeds, avocado, coconut oil, to mention a few.

    You are correct that humans have eaten meat for a long time, but did you know we did not evolve to eat meat? The way we chew our food (our teeth grind back and forth) is only seen in herbivores. Carnivores chew with a snapping motion. Also our digestion system is much longer than that of a carnivore. Carnivores intestines are shorter than herbivores so that they can digest and pass meat much faster. Our intestines are long and work well with a lot of fiber (found in fruit and vegetables). When we eat meat, it takes so long for it to pass through our intestines that it basically starts rotting before it comes out again.

    Humans are opportunistic. We were originally gatherers, that’s why our bodies are so adaptable to change. We would eat what we found. The first meat we ate would have been from small creatures we managed to hunt (mice, rats, insects, the occasional egg when we found a birds nest, or once a year in nesting season for birds etc).
    The amount of meat, milk and eggs people eat today is insane. There is no way we ate the amount of meat we eat today. Think about it. Some poeple have egg every single day for breakfast and slices of meat from large animals like pigs on every single meal. And milk in absolutely everything. There is nothing natural about eating such a huge amount of meat and consuming SO MUCH cow milk (which is meant for baby cows, not humans). What is natural about cow milk, why don’t humans drink giraffe milk? We only started using cows as “house hold” animals because they are placid, peaceful and easy to obtain. Unfortunately we digest milk and the calcium in milk very poorly. Other sources of easily absorbed calcium that are easy for us to digest is in for example sesame seeds, beans, rice, dark green leafy greens, collards, oranges. Calclium is even found in wheat and other grains. All these things are easier for our body to digest because of the high amount of fiber and would be readily available for gathering in nature.

    Did you also know that carbs are also very important for normal brain function? There is a lot of carbs in fruit, as well with lots of minerals, vitamins and essential aminoacids.
    The sugar in fruit is also not something to be afraid of, as many people are. It is processed sugars and artificial sweeteners that people should be aware of and eat in scarcity.
    Carbs in grains and rice also help keep you full and give you energy. Someone was asking about oats earlier and it is true that we should not base our diets on grains (there is a lot of evidence that many sicknesses are caused by too much yeast), but a portion of grains a day is good for you (depending on what grain you eat, grains contain vitamins B and E, magnesium, and specific antioxidants not found in other food groups).

    Humans thrive on a diet of dark leafy vegetables, juicy vegetables, lots of fruit, dried and fresh, sprouts, seeds, grains and oils. We can also absorb nutritions (but is not necessary to thrive) from the very occasional egg, meat occasionaly, insects.

    The way most people eat is: bread/grains, meat, milk products, only a select few vegetables and fruits.
    It should really be: Vegetables in abundance, fruit, grains, seeds, nuts, oils.
    All humans are different and the “order” of the pyramide varies, so one must always take it with a pinch of salt. Listen to your body and find what works best for you. Some people thrive more on grains and fruits, while others feel better on fruits and oils to fill them up.
    If you feel like a dish is “missing something” without meat, remember to incorporate unami in cooking to create fullness and maturity to the palate (sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, fermented foods, foods from the sea etc.).
    Fermented foods are also argued by some to be very healthy.

    Anyway, nutrition is an interesting topic! I much enjoy reading studies about it and I agree with you that the way we eat definitely effects the way we feel – not to mention our overall health.
    There are more and more studies “proving” nutritional theories and ever changing advice on “what we are meant to eat” and “what we should eat”.
    I think it takes an open mind to learn something new. But also a critical mind to see through which industries are trying so hard for you to keep buying their products (like how milk adverts constantly promoting how happy their cows are and how you can only get calcium from milk etc. When it doesn’t matter how happy the cows are when it’s a very unnatural thing for humans to drink, studies show it causes osteoporosis and since I quit milk products, I still yet haven’t had a blood test show that I’m lacking calcium!)

    Anyway, an open mind and an open heart – as well with a bit of critical thinking are key in life, to learning, to understanding ourselfs and others and our impact on the environment around us.
    I very much enjoyed reading your “four most important things in life”. Well written and thought through article.
    Wishing you all the best.

    Reply
    1. Bjarte Bakke Post author

      Hi! Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts :-)

      I think that we probably agree on most things about healthy eating, and there are some areas in which we have different views. I’ll highlight the three points that it seems to me are the key differences between what you and I believe:
      1. Meat/fish/eggs/organ meats are amongst the healthiest foods on the planet. Sure, if they are packed with chemicals and hormones this isn’t good but that’s a separate discussion. Humans thrive on these foods, are fully capable of digesting them and have eaten these foods for hundreds of thousands of years. Without eating these foods you will become severely deficient in some micronutrients which likely will impact your health. Weston Price is one of many good resources for learning more about this topic

      2. Carbohydrates are a good source of energy for some people in some situations but it is not necessary to eat carbs for most people in most situations. It is correct that the brain needs some carbs to function, the retina and certain other parts of the body are also only able to use glucose as fuel. However, what you don’t mention, which I think is very important, is that the body is itself capable of producing these carbohydrates through a process called gluconeogenisis. Briefly explained, if the body needs more glucose (carbohydrate) than it gets through food to provide fuel to the organs mentioned above, it can create glucose in the liver from protein and glycerol. Most people don’t know this and therefore make the (wrong) assumption that you have to eat at least some carbs of you will die or your brain and eyes will stop working. This is false.

      3. Saturated fats are a great source of fuel. The research on this is strong and it’s only a matter of time before this is standard knowledge. To learn more about it I recommend starting by Googling “time magazine eat butter”.

      Finally, I want to thank you again for sharing your views. I respect your views even though we don’t agree on everything. Willingness to admit that we may be wrong, to admit ignorance that is, and having the courage to allow for disagreement is essential to improve our knowledge of the world!

      Reply
  9. The nutrition geek

    If you like, try reading about acidic blood and alkaline blood, how what we eat effects this and the incredible link to cancer it has.
    Very interesting topic!

    Reply
    1. Bjarte Bakke Post author

      Thanks for the advice. Currently, I’m skeptical about the topic you mention as science indicates that there is no correlation between what you eat and blood acidity. There is a correlation with urine but I’m not sure how this impacts our health.

      However, if you have some great material on this topic I’ll be happy to check it out.

      Thanks!

      Reply
  10. The nutrition geek

    Hey!
    Glad you answered. Yes, we disagree on a few things. Especially on the subject of meat. I do not believe that people who eat little to no meat lack nutritients. Just because I have yet to find evidence of say B12 deficiancy in people who eat a varied enough. The biggest correlation between deficiancies (I have found) tend to be when people lack vitamin D. Studies have shown that vitamin D from sunlight help absorb nutrients and people with low vitamin D often are lacking in their blood. So get out in the sun, peeps!

    What is cool is that Australia recently updated their food pyramide (like only a month ago) and concludes that vegetables should be the bulk source of food, which also supports my arguments.
    The American Dietetic Association (now Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) also claim that “well planned vegetable diets” are healthy and even recommended for pregnant women.
    See quote:
    “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”

    On the other hand, I do believe that the human body is extremely adaptable (since I believe we originally are gatherers/scavangers) and even though it’s not necessary, we can definitely absorb nutrition through animal meats. I also agree with you that organs and bone marrow are better to eat than the parts of meat our western society lives on today. In the past humans used to eat the intestines of hunted animals and “throw the rest to the dogs”, now it is opposite. We eat the sick muscles and fat of obese and sick animals. Also, we eat way more meat than our ancestors, or even just our parents ate! I truly believe we do not need meat in a meal to make it complete, although I already mentioned that.
    When it comes to eating liver… Since liver is the cleansing organ which the body used to rinse out toxins etc, I would imagine it to be an “unclean” organ to eat. Do you have any articles about what nutritional benefits liver has over other organs? I know many people say liver is healthy, I am just curious as to how (have not read up on it myself).

    On the topic of alkaline and acidic blood, I am still reading and searching for studies. I have read a few “debunked” articles about the subject. Although I don’t feel like it has been disproved properly and there are more questions than answers on the topic.

    I will check out Western Price, thanks for the tip!

    Reply
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  12. Holly

    It took me 10 years to figure out everything you laid out so nicely in this article. Granted I just learned what I could when I could, but that is exactly how I eat and I’m always being asked how I look so young. Thanks for the likeminded thinking. It’s refreshing.

    Reply
  13. Leo Tat

    Bjarte,

    Your post is the summary of LCHF diet.

    I’ve been on this for the past 4 years, and I definitely noticed better energy, focus and clarity throughout the day.

    In the past I used to get really tired just after lunch. I’ve always put it down to not having enough sleep even when I was sleeping 7-8 hours per day.

    After about 1 month into low carb, I noticed I don’t get that anymore. Infact I don’t get any energy dips at all. My energy is stable throughout the day.

    I also mix in intermittent fasting too.

    I take magnesium and vitamin d3 with a bunch of others everyday.

    Reply

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