OK, so first up, I am not on a diet.
People who’ve known me for a while have seen me do all kinds of crazy diets to either put on muscle or lose fat. I’m not dissing the craziness — most of those diets worked and the speed with which they did was pretty motivating.
But the stuff dieticians tell you has been true for me, when I make an extreme change to my regular way of eating, it might work, but a few months later I’m back more or less where I started.
So now I’m focussing on gradual, bearable, sustainable changes to how I choose, prepare and consume food. I want to change my personal “food culture” to improve my body composition and (directly and indirectly) my health.
One thing I’m messing with is a kind of “slow carb” eating (which is to say you aim for low GI foods) which incorporates beans. I found it on Tim Ferriss’s blog and something about the idea appealed to me. The key idea is that each meal contains some kind of straight-up protein: meat, eggs, tofu (I guess); some kind of legume or bean and some kind of vegetables. Close to the Paleolithic Diet in some ways, similar to a Low Carb diet in others — but beans as well as being low GI also bring along a whole lot of health benefits.
Subjectively, when I eat just meat and vegies, I get all the odd jittery effects I’ve come to expect on a low carb diet (at least in the first week) when I add beans I get this nice, steady thrum of energy that lasts from meal to meal. I crave sugar and fat less, my energy levels are more stable. It’s nice.
When I started, I was pretty bean clueless so I used canned baked beans and canned chickpeas… which is fine, but a little dull. In the last few weeks, I’ve been keeping my eyes out for good bean recipes. My favourite so far is a dish called Ful Medames. “Ful” is the Egyptian word for Fava (or broad) beans and this dish has been filling the bellies of the hard-working Egyptian people since the place was called Kemet (or so Meave O’Meara assured us on the episode of Food Safari I found the dish on).
It’s a slow-cooked mix of red lentils and fava beans with cumin, salt, pepper and a dash of olive oil added. You eat it with flat bread and a boiled egg or salad. It’s like the ultimate breakfast of champions.
I have another mediterranean-style thing I do with chicken, but I’ll save that for another time. One day perhaps I’ll be able to brag about making feijoada… but not yet.