Foods Men Love
Healthy eating is easier than you think
“Gradually adding healthy foods to your regular diet is much more successful for most men than going cold turkey on the fries and corndogs.”
By Janis Hashe
First, the bad news: Those SuperSized Triple Bacon Cheeseburgers you’re always seeing commercials for? Umm….they’re really bad for you. Men’s Fitness magazine lists “lunch meat/processed meat/fast food” in its article “25 Foods You Shouldn’t Eat.” (This article also lists diet soda, white bread, and alcohol—yikes!)
But there’s good news as well for guys who don’t want to give up all the foods they love and crave. One word: Moderation. Have to have a Triple Bacon Cheeseburger? Fine. Just don’t eat one everyday. A beer after work? Fine. Just not a six-pack. And it’s much easier than you might think to transition to a healthier diet. Again, one word: Gradually.
Foods for fitness
Experts agree that gradually adding in healthy foods to your regular diet is much more successful for most men than going cold turkey on the fries and corndogs. So what are some of the best additions/substitutions you can make? According to
webmd.com, they include:
- Lean cuts of beef and pork, which contain the amino acid leucine, which builds muscle mass.
- Tart cherries, for their anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Dark chocolate, which contains flavanols that help control cholesterol and blood pressure. (But only 1 oz. per day.)
- Shellfish. Rich in zinc, important for heart, muscles and reproductive system.
- Avocado, for its mono fat, which fights “bad” cholesterol.
- Fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines and halibut. Their omega-3 fatty acids battle heart disease.
- Ginger, because its anti-inflammatory properties reduce the pain of overworked muscles.
- Greek yogurt, packed with protein and good bacteria that improve gut health.
- Bananas, for their high potassium content, which brings down blood pressure.
- Pistachios, high in protein and fiber, and, because they need are shelled, prevent over-gobbling.
Even adding these foods isn’t a silver bullet. “Quality nutrients are…critical for maintaining immune function and preventing bone loss, muscle loss, and oxidative damage from the environment. Of course, any one (or 10) foods can't do the job alone. An overall healthy lifestyle, which also includes not smoking and getting regular physical activity, is what's really important for health,” says Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD, on medicinenet.com.
The vegetable dilemma
If you were the little boy who absolutely refused to eat anything green, it’s time to review that particular ’tude. The USDA’s “Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020” say:
“For most individuals, following a healthy eating pattern would include an increase in total vegetable intake from all vegetable subgroups, in nutrient-dense forms, and an increase in the variety of different vegetables consumed over time. One realistic option is to increase the vegetable content of mixed dishes while decreasing the amounts of other food components that are often over-consumed, such as refined grains or meats high in saturated fat and/or sodium. Other strategies include always choosing a green salad or a vegetable as a side dish and incorporating vegetables into most meals and snacks.”
Men’s Fitness suggests the following for “guys who hate greens”: spinach, bell peppers, carrots, mushrooms, beets, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
Summertime’s the perfect transition time
As we head into summer, fruits and vegetables are bustin’ out all over. Shellfish and fatty fish abound. And according to the ancient Chinese theory of the Five Elements, both early summer (Fire) and late summer (Earth) have some ideal food choices leading to optimum health.
Balancing fire and its corresponding heart/small intestine with foods means two things. To balance too much fire, make sure you’re eating bitter foods, such as romaine lettuce, almonds and scallions, and “cooling” foods, such as cucumber, sprouts, watermelon and apples. Try to stay away from too much meat, eggs and oils. To balance too little fire, experts recommend “heating” foods, such as peppers, ginger, butter, meats, cherries and basmati rice.
Five Elements experts suggest you “Choose sugars wisely,” which helps regulate the pancreas and blood sugar levels. Chinese medicine recommends you eat “sweet” foods such as cabbage, grapes, kidney beans, apples, dates, peaches, milk, carrots, olives, lettuce, pears, squash, string beans, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and walnuts. Also suggested is deliberately slowing down the pace at which you eat, allowing the stomach to fully digest the nutrients in your foods.
So, in honor of the late, great, Gregg Allman: “Eat a Peach.”