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21 Food Rules Every Guy Should Follow
At the Grocery Store, In the Kitchen, and Around the Table
Yeah, I know what you're thinking. It's ridiculous that we need rules for eating. I mean, when's the last time you got advice on how to breathe?*
Still. Mom's no longer buying our groceries and one look at the high obesity rates and growing erectile dysfunction rates among young men—10% for guys in their twenties—make it pretty obvious we're not choosing our foods wisely.
We have less energy, less sex, and more man-boobs. Not good.
So, we can do one of two things: live off mac-n-cheese, microwaveable dinners, and the sympathy of our girlfriend's parents or we can follow some rules, buy high-quality food, and eat like kings. (Muscular, healthy kings, mind you.)
The following are a collection of "food rules" I follow—or try to follow—every day.
At the Grocery Store
1. Go grocery shopping more than once per week – We're buying fresh food here, not boxed crap. I usually get enough food for two or three days at a time.
2. On your grocery list, think "meals" instead of individual food items – Making a steak with potatoes and a salad for dinner? What about eggs, toast, and fruit for breakfast? List every ingredient you need and don't buy anything else. That's how food gets lost in the refrigerator.
3. Try to buy local as often as you can – The nutritional content is usually a lot better, you'll pay a cheaper price, and you're supporting local farmers. All good things.
4. Shop the perimeter of the aisles – Vegetables, fruits, meat, and dairy are on the perimeter. Doritos, Pepsi, and microwave popcorn are in the aisles. (This one isn't fool-proof, though. What's in a tube of Go-gurt anyway?)
5. Buy oats and nuts in bulk - Never buy meat in bulk unless you have a very large freezer.
6. Speaking of freezers, the only things you should be grabbing from them are frozen vegetables, fruits, and meats. No Hungry Man dinners allowed.
7. Buy grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, cage-free eggs, and organic vegetables and fruits when possible.
8. If you don’t have one already, get a water filter of some sort - According to Dr. Jonny Bowden, "There are hundreds of chemicals and pollutants that have the potential to wind up in our water; the government determines what an appropriate or acceptable, "safe" level of these compounds is." I'll take my water without the arsenic, thank you.
9. Don't be afraid of fat - Stock up on mixed nuts and avocados, and whole milk (as long as it's from a cow who hasn't been pumped with a bunch of steroids). Also, try olive oil for low to medium heat cooking and coconut oil for high-heat.
10. Need dessert? Pick up some dark chocolate – Cocoa is loaded with antioxidants and flavanols which, again from Bowden, "prevent fatlike substances in the bloodstream from clogging the arteries." Make sure the cocoa content is 70% or higher.
12. Have a "snack list" ready – Because you're gonna eat more than three meals per day. Get things like cottage cheese, yogurt, fruit, beef jerky, Lara bars (whole food bars), and whey protein powder.
13. Make big batches of food that you can re-heat – If you're in a rush, it's easy to stick a bowl of homemade chili in the microwave.
14. No time? Do your cooking on one day – Dr. John Berardi recommends chopping vegetables and cooking your meats on a Sunday. It'll take a few hours, but you won't have to stress over cooking during the workweek. (Not recommended for date nights. Sticking a cold chicken breast in the microwave isn't very romantic. And if it is, you may want to find a new date.)
The Cooking Experience and Eating
16. Put on some music - Grab a drink and cook with your girlfriend. Or grill with your friends. Cooking is a fun experience and a time to wind down and have a conversation.
17. Use a cookbook and try some new recipes – I don't care how great your roast chicken tastes, you can't eat it every day. I recommend:
The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth (Not a cookbook, but a great resource.)
18. Take a digestive enzyme – Chances are you're not assimilating all the nutrients in your food because you're not that efficient at manufacturing hydrocholoric acid and digestive enzymes. (Or there aren't enough quality nutrients in your food to begin with). I recommend taking one with every meal.
19. Eat slowly – Chew your food (better for digestion) and actually try to enjoy your meal.
20. Don't eat in front of the TV – Also, turn off your cell phone, and don't surf the Internet. Enjoy the conversation instead. If you're alone, read a magazine article or book. Better yet, sit there and enjoy the different flavors.
21. Do the dishes within an hour of eating – Because they'll never get done otherwise.
So that's my list. What about you? Any rules? Let me know in the comments!
*By the way: in through the nose, fill the belly, don't let the chest rise, out through the mouth.