Easy diets

FOOD FOR THOUGHT - Chit U. Juan - The Philippine Star

It is never easy to go on a diet, yet we can find hacks or what they now refer to as “secret tips” of successful dieters.

The NO MEAT diet. If you are a meat eater and you avoid red meat, you will surely lose weight and you will learn to eat a healthy mix of vegetables, fish and chicken.

The NOTHING FRIED diet. A friend who had very high cholesterol numbers was advised to just avoid anything fried. It worked. He lost weight and he controlled those nasty LDL and HDL numbers.

The NO CHICKEN diet. If you love chicken, this is the diet that may work for you. After all, eating a lot of chicken (especially with its skin) is also not good, especially if it is fried. Most farmed chickens also cause allergies in sensitive people. So moderation is key.

The NO PORK diet. If you love pork, skipping it for a week or two may do wonders for your weight and your blood tests.

The NO to something, like NO desserts, sounds like a Lenten sacrifice, but may be the easiest diet to start with. Once you start to lose the excess weight, you already can do the other NO choices stated above. Or switch them around. But be a more conscious eater or diner. Sometimes all we need to do is be mindful of what we eat. And we can go on a diet without being a killjoy or a wet blanket to some other people’s food escapades or enjoyment.

I ate so much meat on a recent trip that I stopped eating meat for three days, just so I could feel I cleansed and did a detox. On the fourth day, we were invited to a special lunch with some meats, and I ate guiltlessly. That is also another hack. Space out your meats. Avoid meat for three days a week and you will do yourself a favor while doing the environment a bigger favor. Meat, especially beef, comes from animals who excrete methane gas which contributes to GHG or greenhouse gases, exactly what is causing the hot temperatures around the globe. Can you imagine the gas (from pigs for example) being captured to be used in cooking stoves? We did this before, maybe 30 years ago, and it worked. We knew an inventor, the late John Long, who in the 80s had the idea about solar cookers to solve cooking gas shortage in poor countries. He had a huge dish that captured the sun’s energy before photovoltaic cells were in fashion. At the center of the five-foot diameter dish was a holder for a cooking pot. It probably worked with mirrors at the time, instead of PV cells.

So imagine if you ate less meat. You may be helping the Earth get cooler. Now that is a cool idea, pun intended. We are not saying stop, we are saying to moderate our meat cravings to help cool the planet. So if you cannot plant trees, you can also help simply by changing your diet pattern. Less meat in our diets is less demand for meat consumption that will moderate the supply and its need for water, feeds and land. See? You have already helped by simply NOT eating beef or pork every day but just some days.

What about fish? If we ate less fish, we can help repopulate the overfished seas. It is always good to eat fish that come from the deep sea, except it is getting more expensive. This is why the available fish are now mostly farmed fish, which may not give you as much fish oil. If you are a regular fish eater, stop and skip the fish for a few days a week. If we had less demand for fish (including canned sardines, tuna and mackerel), manufacturers will moderate their production and will fish less, allowing the seas around the world to regenerate and repopulate.

Now what are we left with? Vegetables and fruits. Let us continue to consume local varieties of vegetables so our farmers will continue to plant them. If we make our vegetable selection varied – the likes of pinakbet, sinigang and dinengdeng – we will distribute the demand and make more farmers happy. If we stopped or if we ate less chopsuey (cabbage, carrots and cauliflower) and ate more local varieties, more farmers will benefit in the process. The chopsuey vegetables were introduced in the highlands when the Americans came. They need higher elevations and cooler weather. So you will see them in Benguet, Bukidnon and similar high elevations and cool climes. The Americans wanted to eat cabbage, carrots and cauliflower. So they planted them there in the Cordillera. Then I saw that Mount Apo in Davao had the same industry because their weather is like that of Baguio. I went to Batanes and they were also planting these chopsuey veggies when they have beautiful local leaves like rerey similar to kangkong. Batanes also has uvud, made from banana heart. Yet, when they took us to a farm to pick vegetables for our lunch, guess what was growing in the farm? You are right! We picked chopsuey veggies. How sad that local vegetables were not being promoted. The gifts we were given to produce are kangkong, talong, kalabasa and ampalaya. These grow anywhere – even in a backyard.

The key to sustainable consumption and production lies in our plates and our everyday fare. We eat three times a day (well, most of us do), and it is exactly how we can help to make positive change. Not only for our bodies physically, but for the planet, too. If we start to eat less of meats and fish and consumed more local vegetables, even supply chain issues will be addressed as local vegetables can be sourced as close to our homes as possible. Think Cavite, Laguna and Batangas for Metro Manila.

Eat local.

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