The Gruen Diet

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Sick of hearing about fad diets, I read a smattering of books and blogs about health and nutrition and rolled my own.

What I came up with is not strict nor restrictive, but rather a health guideline. I started adhering to these guidelines—because they’re certainly not rules or a plan—at the beginning of the summer and have since lost 4.5 lbs. A simple workout schedule and simple-to-adhere-to life choices accompany a simple diet.

Important to note is that these guidelines are sub-optimal: you’re not going to lose weight or gain strength or be physically healthier than you would following a strict regimen. But, it’s optimal in that it makes eating choices easy and I don’t really have to think about it. I can just do it and see the effects over time.

So, without further ado:

On Timing

  • Eat 3-4 times a day. Every day, spaced out from 2-5 hours at a clip. Always eat breakfast within 30 minutes of getting up, even if it’s small.
  • No eating 5 hours before bedtime. Don’t give yourself an energy spike before you try to go to sleep.
  • Drink plenty of water before you eat and after you eat. Unless you have a long drive ahead of you, drinks lots of water. You’ll feel fuller for longer.

On Consumption

  • No High-Fructose Corn Syrup [HFCS]. None. It’s in almost every processed food, so read the ingredients.
  • No high incident of artificial crap. If you don’t know what half the ingredients are (and can’t readily pronounce them) don’t eat it. I can almost guarantee HFCS will be in there anyway.
  • Eat meat no more than twice a day. Red meat only once, if not less. Make sure it’s from animals that were fed on natural diets and get to roam around on a field and would have been, in anthropomorphic terms, happy. If you don’t know, don’t eat it.
  • Follow the same guidelines with animal products. Like milk and cheese and eggs. No more than twice a day. Look for 100% organic stuff from happy animals.
  • Go vegetarian for two meals a day. Eat as many vegetables as you want. Don’t hold back. If you’re a man, go easy on the soy. Stay organic whenever possible, even if it costs a touch more.
  • Whole-wheat whenever possible. This includes pastas.
  • Limit alcohol intake. I shoot for two drinks or fewer when I do.
  • Limit soft drinks. Make sure they’re made from Sugar Cane. Stay off anything labeled diet. The sugar calories won’t kill you, the artificial sweeteners might.
  • Limit caffeine. I don’t drink any, save for the occasional green tea or PowerGel.
  • Never deprive oneself of chocolate or candy. Unless it violates a previous guideline. (Read the ingredients! If you don’t know, don’t eat it!)

On Activity

  • Be active 3-4 times a week, for 30-45 minutes at a time. Actually sweat something.
  • Kick your ass once a week. Do some intervals or wind sprints. It doesn’t take much.
  • Don’t stare at sun-mimicking lights late at night. This includes the TV and your computer. Need to use your computer late at night? Use f.lux.

On Sleep

  • Get up at the same time every day. Weekends and weekdays. Nap later if you have to compensate for a late night out. Your body will go to sleep at night when it knows it has to get up at a precise time.
  • Shoot for holes in your REM sleep schedule. For me, that’s at 4.5 hours, 6 hours, 7.5 hours, and 9 hours. I aim for 7.5 hours every night.

That’s about it.

For me, these guidelines are really easy to follow and don’t require any calorie counting or spreadsheets or any planning whatsoever. I don’t worry that I’m eating too much or too little or what I’m eating—by setting a healthy bar, my body will tell me when I’m being disobedient and point me in the right direction.

Lastly, feel free to break the guidelines at Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, and Funerals. If you’re good to yourself most of the time, your body will be able to handle junk every once in a while.

I should also note I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or anyone with any state- or federally-sanctioned right to offer this sort of guidance. Your milage may vary.