An increasing number of people are realizing that a tremendous amount of pleasure can be derived from a life that is pared down to the essentials. The same can be true of the diet. Few people are interested in creating gourmet meals after a long day at work. In fact, most people use lack of time as an excuse for eating poorly. If pared down to the essentials though eating well does not have to be overly complex or time consuming. Here is how you apply minimalism to the diet.
The objective of a minimalist diet
Keep in mind that your overall goal is superior nutrition. Nutrition that meets not just your caloric needs but your micronutrient (vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients) needs. The best way to make sure this happens without getting bogged down in analyzing all of your food in a database somewhere is by making high nutrient foods the focal point of your diet.
Minimalist Cooking Strategies
Dr. Furhman helpfully suggests selecting two cooking days a week in Eat to Live. Large batches of soup can be cooked in advance and ready for a quick warming at the end of the day. Once a month cooking can be helpful but it is a mammoth undertaking. Cooking and freezing a few soups in advance can be less intimidating and just as useful. I use my crockpot often to make bean and vegetable soups to combine with a salad when I get home. Most of your salad prep should be done the same day you buy it. If you are buying enough salad for about three days at a time it’s a good idea to go ahead to cut, wash, and dry the lettuce and the more resilient components of your salad (carrots for example not tomatoes) and place them in the fridge. Just before meal time during the week you should only be worrying about assembling the meal. There likely won’t be any way to avoid going to the store at least twice a week. I keep a running grocery list either using Yummly or the Buy me a Pie app. I get in a quick run to the grocery store on a lunch break during the week and a more substantial trip on the weekend.
Decide on a general outline for your meals
For example mine is a follows
Breakfast: Vegetable Soup
Lunch: Salad with beans, fruit on the side
Dinner: Soup and Salad, fruit smoothie for dessert
This is what has proven to be the most satisfying and simple for me. Just making three meals a day the rule frees up a lot of time, not to mention allows time for digestion between meals.
A standard nutritarian diet will be helpful for all thyroid disorders as well as Graves’ disease; but Graves’ disease patients especially benefit from goitrogenic food as they help discourage thyroid hyperactivity. While there is a lot of confusion surrounding the benefits of goitrogenic food, they are in reality only problematic in people who already have iodine deficiency. This problem is unlikely to occur in individuals who used iodized salt. Here’s a, by no means exhaustive, list of widely available goitrogenic foods.
- Brussels sprouts
- Bok Choy
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
What to Avoid to Protect Your Thyroid
Pesticides: opt for organic or grown your own food
Toxic Personal and Home Care Products: see the myriad of DIY tutorials on Pinterest or select a company that makes non-toxic products
Chlorine: Chlorine can potentially disrupt thyroid function – perhaps not in all people but if you are already suffering from thyroid dysfunction it would be best to avoid
Many theorize that Graves’ and other autoimmune disease are a response to the overwhelming amount of toxic substances in the environment. Obviously there are other pieces to the puzzle but it certainly won’t hurt to reduce the amount of poison in your life.
Bercz JP, Jones LL, Harrington RM, Bawa R, Condie L. Mechanistic aspects of ingested chlorine dioxide on thyroid function: impact of oxidants on iodide metabolism. Environmental Health Perspectives. 1986;69:249-254.
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune condition that causes thyroid overactivity and a slew of other unpleasant symptoms. While of course you should follow a doctor’s recommendations for treatment most do not include diet in their treatment of the disease.
There is a great deal of suspicion that Graves’ disease is trigged by environmental and nutritional factors. In the treatment of my own Graves’ disease I’ve found eating a high nutrient diet and eliminating toxic personal care products from my routine very helpful. If you want to dig deep in learning the benefits of a high nutrient diet Dr. Furhman’s Eat to Live is a great place to start. This is a general idea of how I approach my day.
The diet should be composed primarily of fruits and vegetables, organic when possible. Convention produce is a better option that processed or boxed food labeled organic. In the weeks to come I’ll be listing specific foods that are particularly helpful and sharing some simple recipes that incorporate them.
1. Eat at similar times daily. Sit down to snack if you feel the need.
2. Obey your appetite above all else. Eat when you are truly hungry. Stop when you feel satisfied. Satisfied is not the same as uncomfortably full.
3. Recall the days of your childhood and remember what it was like to think meal times were fun. Focus on desire and joy and mealtime and re-experience those sensations.
4. Trust yourself. Trust your body. The idea of eating at will is only scary when there is fundamentally no trust in the body or self. This takes time to build, especially after years of dieting. Set the intention to build that trust and it will come in time.
5. Fully experience your food. Eat with no distractions, the only exception being the face to face company of another person.
Additional Resources to Help You Along
Ellyn Satter Institute – How to Eat
Most people tout cardio as the primary way to burn excess calories; most women limit their workouts exclusively to cardio. This is a mistake. While cardio has some benefits (supporting cardiovascular and brain health) it is not the best form of exercise for anyone who wants to be lean without struggle. In the end what you eat has the biggest impact on body weight but building lean muscle mass is the best way to spend the bulk of your workout time.
Take notes from men’s fitness
The fitness advice given to women doesn’t focus on effectiveness as often as men’s fitness advice. You will also note that several physically fit men do not dedicate their lives to their physical appearance . They don’t obsess over their diet; they don’t live at the gym counting calories and running on the treadmill. While men naturally have a greater amount of muscle mass which makes weight management an easier task, their approach to fitness encourages the retention of muscle mass. In contrast excessive dieting and cardio destroys muscle mass, leading many women to struggle to maintain their weight constantly.
Focus on Strength
Instead of weighing yourself to monitor your progress focus on building strength. You will get the results you are looking for without an outrageous time investment. Thanks to your natural hormonal makeup,the end result will be leanness not bulk. As a bonus muscle strength is directly correlated to bone strength so if you keep this up you are far less likely to fall and break into a million when you fall down in you later years. There are a ton of resources available to help you get started. Here are a few of my favorites
15 Minute Beginner Weight Training
8 Muscle Building Exercises for Beginners
Be Your Own Gym
It’s well established that typical diets do not work over the long term. After analyzing multiple studies UCLA researchers determined that “Diets are not effective in treating obesity.” Dieting was observed to be a consistent predictor of future weight gain. My previous post reviewed a few other reasons why you should avoid dieting like the plague. While temporary calorie restricting has been proven ineffective, eating mindfully and following one’s own hunger cues has a far better track record. Here are just a few reasons to start applying mindfulness to your eating habits.
1. Mindful Eating puts you right where you belong, in charge of your own body: Eating mindfully builds your intuitive eating skills and liberates you from mindlessly following external cues.
2. Reduction in Stress: Many people experience anxiety around food. Eating consciously and according to your own desires as a rule, eliminates this stress. Stress reduction in turn is supportive to the reduction of abdominal fat.
3. Binge Urges Dissipate: While dieting often incites binge episodes, eating with awareness has the opposite effect. Tuning in to the body makes sitting with uneasy feelings possible and eliminates the need to temporarily bury uncomfortable feelings with food.
4. Natural reduction in intake: Eating according to the body’s cues leads to natural balance. The body does the best job in determining its own energetic/caloric needs. Following its dictates leads to a energy balance without deprivation.
5. Sustainable: While learning to slow down and fully experience food is not an easy process, once you learn the skill you will have developed a sustainable eating style that supports and empowers you.
I realize I’ve given you plenty of reasons to replace dieting with mindfulness without actually giving any steps for developing a mindful eating practice. Mindful eating resources abound these days. Here is one particularly concise place to start How to Practice Mindful Eating Every Day.
Dieting Does Not Work, UCLA Researchers Report | UCLA. http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/Dieting-Does-Not-Work-UCLA-Researchers-7832. Accessed May 18, 2015.