Is eating healthy finally going mainstream?

Since we work from home it’s not unusual for my wife to turn Oprah on in the middle of the day. From time to time, she (Oprah) will actually be talking about something that interests me. Today was one of those days where I got a “Miiiike, come watch Oprah.”

Oprah’s show today was about eating healthier and a challenge she posed to each of her 378 staffers to eat vegan for one week. Most of them had the same reaction I had when I first contemplated eating vegan. Things like “what am I actually going to eat” or “I can’t live without cheese”.

The results of the vegan challenge:

For those who successfully completed the challenge, without cheating at all, they lost an average of 4 pounds each. She had several of her staff on the show who fulfilled the challenge. All of them unanimously said they hadn’t felt better in years. They also all agreed they were making more regular bowel movements.

I know it’s yucky to talk about, but regular bowel movements are extremely important. One staff member on the show said that she typically only made one bowel movement per week! However, while doing the vegan challenge she had a bowel movement every day. Folks, if you aren’t making at least one bowel movement per day then you aren’t eating healthy.

Michael Pollan

Another one of Oprah’s guests today was Michael Pollan, one of my favorite authors on the subject of eating healthier. He coined a phrase that I use often, “The food most of us eat isn’t food, it’s a food like substance.” Michael’s written such books as Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, among others.

How I eat:

All of you need to make your own decisions on what food you eat. For me, I settled on what I refer to as a “veganish” diet. I never eat dairy anymore, I eat very few eggs, and do my best to only eat free range chicken or wild caught fish. I also never drink soda, stay away from as many “whites” as possible, and try to buy locally grown organic produce. Whites are things like white bread, white flour, white rice, etc.

Growing up, a typical meal for me was a plate of meat accompanied with one or two sides. Unfortunately, the sides were things like macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes with gravy, creamed spinach, french fries, bread, or some other highly processed food. Not to mention, that I ate a ridiculous amount of fast food and preprepared frozen dinners.

Now a typical day’s food includes a bowl of berries with handmade organic granola, an apple, a pita stuffed with grilled veggies (including red peppers, tomatoes, kale, onions, and beans), and a bowl of cashews / almonds. In fact, that is exactly what I’ve eaten so far today.

Conclusion:

I was excited to see Oprah talking about diet, specifically veganism, on her show today. There is no doubt how much influence Oprah has and hopefully several people from her audience will think twice before they take their next bite of food. All of us have three votes per day to influence what food remains mainstream. The fact is, that corporations will start making healthier food if their consumers demanded.

I’m looking forward to a day when everyone is eating healthier and when people don’t look at me funny because I’m overly concerned about what I put in my body.

2 Comments

  1. Hey Mike, we haven’t met so sorry if this comes across as stalkerish but I stumbled across your blog today and enjoyed it.

    This post really resonated with me. I grew up eating the same crappy food you described and never really thought about it at all until the past year or so. It’s crazy how analytical poker players can be about every little thing in their life, but completely disregard what they’re eating.

    A year ago one of my dirty hippy vegetarian poker buddies gave me a few Pollan books and Food Inc to try to scare me out of eating meat. It worked for the most part. I’ve probably reduced my meat intake by 80% in the past year, and have really focused on enjoying meat when I do eat it and keeping it to high-quality occasions. I still have the occasional awesome steak, but have really kicked the habit of eating meat at every meal just for the sake of it.

    It’s great how easy and trendy it is to eat vegetarian-ish these days, and I think it’s awesome that Oprah challenged her team to do so. One of my main concerns was that I would have less energy or get weaker if I started to focus on eating mainly vegetables and fruit; but like anyone who has tried to change their diet, I found it to be the exact opposite. In my experience eating healthy (for more than 3 days) is all about small sustainable steps rather than jumping from a standard American diet straight into veganism, and I’m happy with the changes I’ve made. I’m a little bit scared to google “is beer vegan” though…

    Take care,

    Cole

    Reply
    • No problem Cole, I’ll get a restraining order if things get too weird. :)

      In all seriousness, I’m glad you stopped by and I’m humbled that you enjoyed my blog so far. Even though we’ve never met, I’ve always had the utmost respect for you and what you’ve accomplished. Unlike a lot of the other kids in this industry, it doesn’t seem like things have “gotten to your head” and that’s admirable.

      In regards to our eating habits, it seems like we made similar progressions. I also would say watching Food Inc. was a defining moment in my life.

      I totally agree that one needs to take a gradual approach to eating better. I equate “bad food” to a drug or smoking; it’s very hard to quit cold turkey. For me it was a natural progression (over several years) as I found out about this and that. First, I stopped drinking sodas. Then, I cut out fast food. After that, I cut out all fried foods. Next was candy and excess sugars. Finally, I became “self aware” after reading The China Study. After I read that book it was a chain reaction of reading several other books and watching Food Inc. By that point I was changed for life. The only thing I regret at this point is not knowing about this stuff sooner.

      In regards to meat, I don’t advocate not eating meat at all. When it comes to diet I use the common sense approach now. I think mankind was made to eat some sort of meat. However, it’s the quality and quantity of meat we eat today that is the problem. When a human ate a cow, buffalo, deer, or whatever 2000 years ago, it was a healthy animal. These types of animals are made to roam vast spaces (exercise) and eat a natural diet. Since you’ve seen Food Inc., you’ve seen firsthand how the food we see in the grocery store today is raised. It’s pretty disgusting – like over the top disgusting.

      I could go on for hours about this. I feel another blog post coming on…..

      Reply

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