Part 5: Nutrition- I am what I eat

The most important, most well known factor to a better lifestyle and it is also the most overlooked. I am going however to keep it as simple as I can explain it. I don’t consider myself overweight though I am concerned about the dreaded belly gut. I love to eat and eat the things I should not eat. I am sensitive to lactose which it creates a problem because I love cheese. When I say I do love cheese consider that when I traveled to Holland, I was afraid that customs was going to confiscate my cheese because of the quantity I had. During my years in service, the food available was the good ol’ M.R.E. or meal ready to eat. I was constantly deployed in the field and MRE’s was the “what’s for dinner” and lunch and breakfast. Each bag consists of an appetizer, main course, and a dessert. It was loaded with preservatives for extended shelf life, packing approximately 1,250 calories each bag.  During my deployment to Bosnia, I was eating 4 sometimes 6 of these. One time I ate an MRE dated from WWII, with a real Lucky 7 cigarette included, no kidding. I liked MRE’s, cheese and crackers my favorite appetizer, spaghetti or chicken a la king my favorite meal. Needless to say I got big. I didn’t get fat though because I was constantly exercising whether at the gym or with my duties.

However my digestive system took a huge toll. It became lazy, sluggish and I was feeling just like that tired, unable to concentrate, lacking energy.  I was feeling constipated, bloated and was having problems enjoying the food I love. I tried to cut back on dairy products and avoiding greasy foods also trying herbal supplements. Yet little relief was accomplished. 5 or 7 years passed until I met a friend through an Aikido school who is a Doctor in Natural Medicine. He suggested natural supplements and information to deal with my issue. He also prepared me an individual profile of my health to identify the offenders and areas deficient of nutrients. I too got interested in the subject and through my local library found a book called “Eat Right for Your Type: The Individualized Diet Solution to Staying Healthy, Living Longer & Achieving Your Ideal Weightby Peter J. D’Adamo, ND. He believes blood types affect the digestive system and that some foods good for people of one type are “dangerous” for another.  I am type O, the universal blood type. It is also known as the Caveman’s blood type because it is considered the oldest type of blood in humanity. In short Caveman’s didn’t eat dairy products, they eat meat. Meat is high in Protein and I was not eating much protein. Dairy products were identified as the offending food and should be avoided.

Today, I do my best to eat lean though I cannot say that I am fully diligent on it either. Yes, I fall off the wagon too! I do avoid greasy foods and abstain from buffets or taking big portions, except when I am on vacation. Diet goes out of the window when one is on vacation though there is always room for improvement. My parents are superb cooks, preparing Puerto Rican food with flavor which unfortunately includes oils, condiments, loads of carbohydrates and fat.  I make an exception here because I can’t deny a delicious dish of Puerto Rican flavor. I do compensate by staying active, burning those calories and fat with exercise. I avoid dairy products having occasionally small amounts of cheese so I don’t break cold turkey. Cheese and chocolate are my weaknesses, I admit it.

Alcohol is also a big factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I like to have few drinks from time to time and was not considering the amount of empty calories I was consuming, let alone the effects on my liver. Moderation is the key, maintaining alcohol consumption in control. I eliminated beer because the obvious “gut effect” and prefer a glass of Sangria Wine instead. There is more work to do in this area.

So in conclusion, eat right for your blood type, avoid greasy, fatty, fried food. Choose 5 small meals instead of 3 big ones. That is a well balanced portion for breakfast, mid-morning healthy snack, light lunch, healthy mid-day snack and a moderate portion for dinner preferably before 8:00 PM. Avoid eating after this time as most will be stored rather than utilized and you know where that storage is in your body. Use moderation on carbohydrates and proteins, exercise regularly, good cardio- muscle toning program. Drink water and plenty. I think of water as the WD-40 lubricant for the body. It loses a sluggish constipation, penetrates and hydrates my system to protect it from harm. Over all to me is about trial and error when dieting. Try different approaches until you reach your desired weight goal and diet. Identify the food offenders that rob you of energy and don’t help you like candy, over processed foods, sugar in excess, etc. Monitor your progress and adjust accordingly. You are what you eat, as the saying goes, and it shows on your skin, hair, nails, behavior, and performance. So improve it and make your nutrition shine.