Healthy Eating Habits that I Follow and Commend
Richard Z. Cheng, M.D., Ph.D.
For the last several years, I have been eating 2 meals a day (skipping breakfast, eating lunch and dinner for 6 days a week. On Sat, I skip breakfast and lunch and eat dinner (that‘s a 24-hour fast). Skipping breakfast is not hard for many people, esp. Americans. So it wasn’t really much a challenge for me to skip breakfast. Fasting for 24 hours a day once a week wasn‘t much challenge either since all I do is to skip a lunch on Saturday. That’s wasn’t hard. Now, I begin to try alternate day fasting, or fasting 24 hours a day for 2-3 days a week. Usually, I‘ll play badminton 3 days a week on Tues, Thur and Fri. So I’ll fast on Sat, Mon and Wed. I tried a week so far, it wasn‘t terribly difficult either, since all I do, again, is to skip lunch on those fasting days on top of skipping breakfast which I have been doing anyways.
For those who have not started this type of intermittent fasting yet, I advise you start from eating only 2 meals a day, but eat these 2 meals withint 6-8 hours, for example, eat a late breakfast around 11 am and an early dinner around 5-6 pm. I’ll tell you what to eat below. Once you are used to this, then try a 24-hour fasting on weekends. You‘ll find it to be a breeze.
Nearly all adults with or without health issues can use these healthy eating habits. Generally, the worse your health is, the more necessary it is to you. But of course, always have a trained professional as your coach. Should you have any quesitons, I‘d be happy and honored to help you and to guide you through these.
We talked about when to eat, now let‘s talk about what to eat.
Eating is a big part of our life. Eating is not just to stay healthy. Eating is also a lot of fun and joy. I don’t deny that. I, like almost everyone else, love certain foods, particular sweets, who doesn‘t by the way? Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to eat only to survive, you can also eat to enjoy. Habits are formed and can be changed. Trust me, I have been there and done that.
My general rule is, for my first meal of the day, that is my lunch, I eat a big lunch. First, I‘ll try to eat as much vegetables as possible. I try to get bulk of my vitamins, minerals, nutrients from vegetables. Here vegetable, I mean the non-starchy kinds, generally leafy vegetables. I recommend salads. Try not to cook these vegetables, as the cooking process generally will destroy vitamins. Or at most cook lightly. Don‘t overcook vegetables. I try to eat as much of these vegetable as to I feel 60 or 70% full. Then I’ll fatty food. Fatty pork, beef, lamb, or eggs (esp. egg yolk), buttter, cheese, fatty nuts (e.g., macadamian nuts), avocado etc. A typical lunch in China for me will be like this: after lots of leafy green vegetables, I may eat 2-3 pieces of fatty pork. I‘ll make sure the pork is so fatty that I may feel a bit queezy after 2-3 pieces. I won’t feel hungry throughout the day, even at dinner time. I may drink bullet proof coffee or bullet proof tea as a meal. I love cheese, so I eat cheese often. I sometimes just eat butter, esp. when I am traveling in China and stay in a hotel whose meals are Chinese style where I don‘t have much choice. But I found these hotel meals almost always supply eggs and butter in addition to vegetables, sometimes bacon too. So I’ll eat lots of vegetables, 2-3 eggs (whole eggs), several strips of bacon, and butter (6-8 packets each time), until I am very full. I usually don’t touch high carb foods.
Anyways, I‘ll stuff myself at lunch time, so that by dinner time, I won‘t feel too hungry. Then I‘ll have a light dinner, likc a bone soup with vegetables, some meats and again more vegetables. Most of the times, I won‘t eat carbohydrates like rice, wheat products, potatos (regular and sweet potatos), corns (particularly bad), or other starchy foods. I will eat some legumes. I also often eat Natto, a type of Japanese food rich in Vit k2. For 5-6 days of a week, I try not to eat any carbohydrates. On the weekend, I may a little bit, but I am choosy. I don‘t really miss rice any more. For example, this is the Mid Automn Festival season, so I may eat a moon cake. When seseme balls are available, I may eat one or 2. I may eat some Jiaozhi, but I almost never eat noodles. As for fruits, I eat some fruits, like berries, apples, grapes, etc. But I usually don’t eat fruits that are too sweet, at least not a lot. I usally don‘t snack. Recently I begin to try some ketogenic ice cream (made of lots of butter, cream, and stevia or erythritol, not sugar). I was thrilled that actually I can’t taste the difference between ketogenic ice cream from “real” ice cream anymore. I love ice cream. Now I can enjoy ice cream again and don‘t have to feel guilty and it’s actually healthy. I don‘t count calories and I don’t recommend calorie counting. It‘s impractical. With that said, at the beginning of your journey onto healthier eating habits, you‘ll need to learn calorie counting. You’ll need to learn what what foods contain how much fat, carb and protein. You‘ll need to learn how to estimate the nutrition values and calorie amount of different foods. You’ll have to learn all these by yourself. No one can do this for you, unless you’ve got someone providing you food all the time (very few of us in the world live like this).
Low carb/ketogenic diet varies a lot. Depending on the health conditions one is in, the degree of strictness varies.
1. The most strict Ketogenic Diet-Restricted Ketogenic Diet (R-KD): the only clincial application for R-KD so far is for cancer treatment. Refer to Cancer as a Metabolic Disease by Thomas Seyfried and our Chinese version for more details. We have been using this diet for various cancer patients. In general, cancer patients respond well. Fat calories: ~80%; proteins: ~10-12%; Carbs: ~8-10%. Total calories: 600 or above. Non-carb, non-starchy vegetables: unlimited.
2. Diabetes management and auto-immune diseases and diseases where leaky gut and dysbiosis are suspected as the primary cause. I also use a very strict ketogenic diet for these patients, as blood sugar is a hallmark of diabetes and glyphosate type of contamination in carb rich foods is the primary culprit for auto-immune diseases (and others). For auto-immune disease patients, once they‘ve recovered and their GI is healed, I may allow them to slowly and gradually add some carbs back, but not before they are healed. Fat calories: ~80%; proteins: ~10-12%; Carbs: ~8-10%. Total calories: individualized. Non-carb, non-starchy vegetables: unlimited.
3. The management of other chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome, obesity, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, gout (hyperuricemia) etc. These diseases will all benefit from a low carb/ketogenic diet. If they don’t have a high blood sugar issue, they may not need to be as strict as for diabetes management. however, when I start these patietnts on ketogenic diet, I always ask them to learn to be very strict at the beginning. Once they’ve learnd the diet, then they can modify to fit their own needs. Fat calories: ~80%; proteins: ~10-12%; Carbs: ~8-10%. Total calories: individualized.
4. Normal people without apparent diseases: I recommend low carb/ketogenic diet. Many of us apparently “normal healthy” people may already have metabolic problems, we just didn‘t realize it. One hallmark of these problems is that we often rely too heavily on sugar, not fat, provding us our energy needs. If we don’t start letting our body to learn to release and metaboilze fat, eventually we‘ll develop metabolic problems. So again, I recommend these “normal healthy” people to go on a strict ketogenic diet for 2-3 months to get yourself keto-adpated. Once you are keto-adapted, then you can allow yourself some carb treats once a while. Your‘ll find lots of benefits of doing this, such as feeling more enegetic, able to tolerate hunger better, increased physical endurance, clearer mind, and more efficent, to name just a few. Then you can enjoy some carb treats once a while. And you‘ll find it even more delicious!
Happy Keto-Dieting! Who says low carb/ketogenic diet is no fun!?