Feb 8, 2022

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Scot: Do you ever feel like you're constantly struggling with eating well? Well, we've got some tips to help today. This is "Who Cares About Men's Health," providing information, inspiration, and sometimes a different interpretation about men's health and what you can do to be healthier.

So today's perspectives brought to you by me. My name is Scot Singpiel. I bring the BS. By the way, my guilty nutritional pleasure in is cheap trashy pizza. That's my weakness. The MD to my BS, Dr. Troy Madsen. Welcome him to the show. I understand he has a weakness for drive-thru Mexican.

Troy: I do like drive-thru Mexican.

Scot: All right. Our favorite nutritionist, Thunder Jalili, is with us as well, who has no weaknesses that we're aware of.

Thunder: No. Untrue. I have weaknesses, and I'm happy to share. I love things with chocolate.

Scot: All right. Fair enough. And Producer Mitch is a roller food aficionado.

Mitch: Yeah. I can't quit them.

Scot: Ah, can't quit them. If you want to know where the different types of roller foods are, where to go, he's your hookup. Trust me.

Mitch: Yeah.

Scot: So on "Who Cares About Men's Health," it can be really easy to end up in . . . I don't know we've ever called it this before, but I'm calling it health rabbit holes. You're focusing on these things that don't make a lot of difference to our health, like what kind of supplements should you take and what's the best exercise to be in peak performance. And it could also be really easy to get overwhelmed where to start if you're a beginner as well.

So when that happens, it's always a good idea to return to the basics. And it could be easy to discount the basics, but in football, what are the basics in football, Troy?

Troy: Basics in football? I don't know. Are you referring to just the rules of football or . . .

Scot: No. Tackle. Tackling. Good tackling. Good coverage. Those are the basics, right?

Troy: It's like you actually know what you're talking about, Scot.

Mitch: Yes. Tackle.

Troy: Tackle. Make touchdowns. That's right. That's it, yeah?

Scot: Yes. Those are the basics. So when that happens, returning to the basics is a great place to start. And it could be really easy to discount the impact of activity, nutrition, sleep, and emotional wellness, but they can make a big difference in how you feel now and in the future in your health.

So this is an episode about nutrition. It's our first episode in a series on the Core Four Plus One More: Getting Back to Basics. All of us are going to talk about our relationship with nutrition, what works for us, and where we fail in hopes that it will help you with your journey to eating better as well.

So I think the first thing to say, and I don't know that we've got to go a lot into this because I think you could get 100 men in a room and ask them, "Is nutrition important?" and they would all agree, but why exactly is it important? Thunder, do you have a couple sentences for us, the impact of nutrition on our health?

Thunder: First of all, there are nutrients that we need for optimal health to prevent deficiencies, to make sure we have enough energy to go about our daily business and to make sure all of our body systems function. That's kind of the basics.

The second layer of why nutrition is so important is because there are other things in food that actually help our bodies prevent chronic disease. So we get these chemicals, for example, in fruits and vegetables that aren't necessarily vitamins, but they have extra value in that they enhance our antioxidant defense and they help reduce the risk for things like cancer that involves oxidative damage or heart disease. So that extra layer of protection from eating good unprocessed food.

So those are my two reasons why I think nutrition is important.

Scot: And nutrition isn't just about avoiding bad stuff. It's about eating good stuff, it sounds like, is what you're talking about, to get those chemicals.

Thunder: Yeah, absolutely. And you bring up a good point, because I think too often we get fixated on avoiding this or avoiding that, and we don't think about all the things we should be eating, things that are healthy and we should be increasing.

So if we just focus on the negative of avoidance, then I think nutrition becomes a little harder. So focus on all the things you can have that are good.

Troy: Yeah. I mean, I think it just impacts so many aspects of our lives. It's not just about what we're eating, and weight, or muscle mass. It's about mental health, sleep, I think just performance in our work. It's just one of those things that it translates to . . . I think good nutrition translates just to so many aspects of what we do.

Scot: Yeah, it crosses over the core four. I mean, we do talk about the core four, right? But they don't live in isolation. Each one impacts the other. And when you're eating well and getting the things your body needs, you sleep better, you're able to deal with stress better, and you're more likely to engage in activity.

So we're at the point where we're going to talk about some of the tips that have worked for us to incorporate better eating habits, better nutrition into our lives. Each one of us has three things. Maybe one of these things might work for you. That's the hope.

But before we get to that advice, here are some of the basics when it comes to nutrition.

Reduce or eliminate the amount of processed foods you eat because they really lack the vitamins and minerals and they can have a lot of calories.

Reduce added sugar, whether it's hidden sugar like in yogurt that you didn't realize was there or if it's just getting rid of sodas or trying to reduce sodas or those coffee drinks.

Reduce your alcohol consumption.

Try to stick to a plant-based diet or a Mediterranean-type diet. Those have been proven time and time again as good diets.

So those are kind of the basics, right? Those are the things you should kind of start working through.

Now let's get to the advice that we have that we've either learned through personal experience or learned on this podcast that might help you do those things or that might be just a piece of advice that reframed something for us that made it a little bit easier.

So let's start with you, Thunder.

Thunder: Okay. So my three pieces of advice are, one, focus on adding the foods you really like rather than being fixated on all the things that you cannot eat. So if you like blueberries, find ways to add blueberries in your diet. Mix them with your yogurt, put them in your oatmeal, things like that. Find ways to add the foods you like.

Number two, and I may be kind of stealing from Mitch a little bit, because I have a feeling he may go here, but number two is find creative ways through a cookbook or something to make your food and to make it a social experience, to do it with your family, to do it with your friends where you all get to make a meal together that's healthy and enjoy it. That can be a bonding experience and a very positive social experience.

Number three is utilize the power of the smoothie. Smoothies are great. You can put virtually any kind of fruit or vegetable you want in a smoothie and, miraculously, it always ends up tasting pretty good. My wife puts crazy things in smoothies and I'm oftentimes afraid to drink them, but then they end up being pretty good. So utilize the power of the smoothie to add all those plant-based foods that we're always telling you that you should eat.

Troy: What does it take to make it taste good? Are you throwing in all kinds of crazy vegetables and then . . . I don't know. What's the secret to make it taste good?

Scot: Yeah, like kale and rutabaga. What's going in there?

Mitch: Rutabaga?

Thunder: Extra rutabaga.

Troy: What's the secret sauce here?

Thunder: I'll tell you guys. The secret of a smoothie that'll overcome any kind of weird things you put in there -- pineapple, sweet pineapple.

Troy: Oh, I like that.

Thunder: You can put spinach, kale, chia seeds, rutabaga, but as long as you add pineapple . . .

Scot: What? You act like rutabaga is bad.

Thunder: Well, it's one of those foods I don't typically . . . It's not my first choice. But add pineapple and you're golden.

Scot: And that's good for our digestion.

Troy: So not pineapple juice?

Thunder: Not pineapple juice. Put in the actual pineapples because if you put in the actual pineapple chunks, you're getting fiber out of it, right? And that's one of our benefits of having a smoothie.

Troy: And let me guess. You've got frozen pineapple in your freezer, chunks of pineapple you just dump in there.

Thunder: Absolutely.

Troy: I love it.

Scot: Make it simple.

Troy: Awesome.

Scot: Good three pieces of advice. Mitch, what do you have?

Mitch: So, for me, the biggest thing is to . . . Everything that you can do to make sure that your nutrition is not a chore. That's the biggest thing that I think comes with any of our core four, is that it just seems insurmountable. There are a million things that you've got to remember, etc.

So for mine, one, macros, while they are important to kind of keep in mind, make sure that numbers aren't the only thing that's involved with your nutrition. Whether or not you succeeded in having a good food day is not whether or not you hit your numbers absolutely perfectly. It's whether or not you ate things that helped you do what you want to do.

Second is to find food that you enjoy, right? I think back to our Theresa Dvorak series and our man meals and everything that TD shared with us, is making sure that you not only have the food around that you enjoy eating, but you know how to make, it's easy, it's comfortable, you've practiced. So cooking healthy for yourself is not difficult, is not a chore.

And then I guess the one that Thunder kind of stole for me with the cookbook and the social thing is that make sure that cooking and eating is fun, right? You want to make sure that you are trying new things. You're looking for new ways to kind of eat healthily. Find ways to replace bad foods in your diet rather than just focusing on what to cut out, and making meals this caloric intake that you take two to three times a day. Make sure that it's actually a meal and it's something you enjoy.

Scot: That really speaks to me because for a long time I ate the same things over and over and day in and day out, mainly because I was trying to get those macros, right? I was trying to get my protein, my carbohydrates. I mean, it was good, because I was having chicken breasts usually with just very little seasoning on it. I was eating brown rice. I was eating vegetables. But I'll tell you, it got boring after a while, and I started to stray.

Theresa, TD, really kind of brought me back around to show me that you can still have those healthy ingredients in a meal and you can vary it up. The Buddha bowls were great because you just put a different sauce on it. Boom, different meal.

So in order to be consistent, which is one of the main things with any of our core four, consistency rules, it's got to be something you enjoy. So that really resonated with me, Mitch.

My list here, number one, portion sizes. I think we've been used to such large portion sizes that you've kind of got to reprogram that. I used to weigh my foods, so I have a pretty good idea, but any time I suggest that to somebody, their eyes glaze over. And I don't blame them, really.

So what I've done is in your plate collection, you've got the big plate, and then you've got kind of a smaller plate, and then you've got the little saucer plate, right? So I use that smaller plate now as opposed to the big plate. What happens when you have a big plate? You want to fill it up, right?

Also, I haven't used it, but I've heard a lot of people that have had success with the MyPlate, which is another way to kind of look at your portion sizes and make sure you're kind of getting the right foods on there.

Number two, don't think the objective of eating healthy is to lose weight. It's really to provide your body with the nutrients that it needs. Losing weight is a whole different deal. I think a lot of times we ask our nutrition to do something else, which is lose weight, so then when we don't lose weight, we're like, "Well, what's the point of me eating healthy?"

And a lot of times those benefits of eating healthy can be invisible. Sometimes not so much. I notice a difference when I eat healthy versus when I don't in my energy levels, in my mood, in my ability to sleep.

But I think you need to think that eating healthy, the objective is to get your body the nutrients you need to feed your soul as well, as Thunder has talked about. I really like that. Thunder and Mitch.

And number three, have those four or five simple recipes that have healthy ingredients. Make them in bulk so you have them for lunches for the rest of the week. That's huge for me. Having that stuff accessible is just crucial for not reaching for the stuff that you might regret later.

Troy, what's on your list?

Troy: Well, Scot, the first thing I'm going to say here goes completely against something you already said, but I think here we're talking about things that work for us. The thing that works for me, and again, it probably kind of strays away from the idea of the variation you talked about, but is having a food routine. I find the thing that really works for me is I have the same thing for breakfast, I have the same thing for lunch, I have the same snacks. And I know that's completely different than what you said. For whatever reason, that works for me.

But then I kind of mix things up at dinner, and maybe that's probably the takeaway here, is to find what works for you. That works for me, having the variation at dinner, but pretty much having the same thing breakfast. I know I'm getting a banana in the morning. I know I'm going to snack on some fruit in the afternoon. I know I'm going to have some peanuts in the afternoon. I know I'm going to have hummus and Triscuits for lunch. That's my lunch.

Scot: Wow.

Troy: I know.

Thunder: Wow. You're like the metronome of nutrition.

Troy: I hate to even admit this. I find that I say too many things on this podcast that then I later regret revealing. But that's what works for me for whatever reason. It's not quite the Soylent diet, but maybe it's close.

Scot: Hey, Thunder and Mitch, would that work for you, the same thing over and over again? How would that work for you?

Troy: Probably not.

Thunder: There are a few things that I do eat very, very regularly, like Troy. I have oatmeal and smoothies a lot. But beyond that, I really like to try to mix it up a little bit. But you know what? I think that's another kind of element of good nutrition. We're kind of beating up on Troy.

Troy: Fair enough.

Thunder: And maybe we shouldn't, because you do end up eating the same types of foods fairly regularly when you are trying to go for healthy choices. But you know what? If you eat a unhealthy processed diet, you're probably doing the same thing. You're probably going to those same foods in that diet as well.

Scot: Yeah. And I think maybe that's kind of where this came from. My diet used to be sugary breakfast cereal every day. I thought it was healthy. It was Frosted Mini Wheats, but it's frosted and it's got a lot of sugar. That was my breakfast.

Thunder: That's the giveaway.

Troy: Yeah, that's the giveaway. My lunch every day, I used to buy these chicken strips, these fried chicken strips, whatever, and I would heat those in the microwave and I would make a sandwich that I'd melt cheese on. That was my lunch every day. And so I was kind of doing the same thing with just an unhealthy diet with processed foods and sugary foods.

So again, like you said, Thunder, we may all kind of do that subconsciously where we just kind have our go-tos, and those go-tos aren't healthy. For me, it just works to say, "These are my go-tos," and I crave those things. I get up in the morning and I crave a protein drink and a protein bar. I really look forward to it and a banana. It's just a good way to start the day.

I don't know. That's what works for me. So that's number one for me.

So, number two, and I think I kind of just mentioned a little bit there, is to create good cravings. It's funny. We've talked about being vegetarian and that, and it's funny. I came to a point several years ago where I thought, "I'm a vegetarian and I don't eat vegetables. That doesn't make a lot of sense."

Thunder: That's incredibly skillful that you can do that.

Troy: It's pretty remarkable, but it was a lot of processed foods. So, yeah, it was vegetarian, but it wasn't healthy. So I think creating good cravings.

I really tried to bring more fruits and vegetables into my diet, have a salad every night for dinner, and now I find that I crave those things. I love having a good orange. Before, I just was not into eating fruits, and now I just love having, like I said, that banana in the morning, a good orange, or an apple, or I love having salad in the evening.

So if you can create those good cravings where you look forward to those things, I think that, again, makes the diet much more sustainable and enjoyable.

And then I think the last piece of advice I would give people is something that I've heard people do, and I did, and then I eliminated it and it made a difference, and that's cheat days. So I would have cheat days where I would say, "One day a week, I don't care what I eat." And then I found I was binging on those days.

I was getting the takeout from Domino's, and it wasn't just the pizza. It was also the brownies, and it was also the cinnamon twists, and I was eating the whole thing. And that's probably not a good thing in terms of just diet. And then I would find I really, really looked forward to those days and I would take advantage of those.

So I think eliminating that has also helped to shift those cravings to the healthier foods, like I mentioned. Again, maybe you just need that cheat day just to kind of let loose and have some foods you're not eating otherwise, but I've personally found that eliminating that has been better for me.

Scot: Thunder, do you have a cheat day? Do you do that?

Thunder: Nope. I don't do cheat days, but if I want to have something I know is unhealthy once in a while, I don't beat myself up over it because I recognize that 90% of what I eat falls under what we would consider healthy foods.

Troy: Yeah. And that's something I should say too. It's not like I'm saying, "Oh, I'm never going to have a brownie or a dessert or something," but I found that when I was doing the cheat days, I was kind of starting to binge on those things a little bit.

Scot: It was just an all-day gorge fest.

Troy: Yeah, exactly. Maybe not quite all day all, but . . .

Thunder: Taco Bell in each hand and just going crazy.

Troy: Yeah. It was just like, "Man, I am definitely ordering and we're going for it."

Scot: We're going for it.

Troy: "I'm making up for the other six days of this week."

Thunder: For those same reasons that Troy articulated, I don't like cheat days. And I know there are actually diets out there that have that, like, "Saturday is your free day." I don't really like that. I think you should be mindful all the time, but, again, if you want to have something unhealthy once in a while, it's not a big deal.

If I want to have ice cream, give me the ice cream. I don't care how much fat and sugar is in it. But I'm not going to eat that ice cream every day or even once a week. For me, maybe it's once or twice a month.

I think that's a more healthy way of approaching it. You're not putting up a barrier. But if you have it, you're not going to also punish yourself for it either.

Scot: For me, cheat days are difficult because then I get a taste for all that sweet stuff again and it's hard to switch back. I don't know if it's something maybe like Mitch quitting smoking. If you were to have a cigarette after you quit and then a couple days . . . Like, every Friday you decide, "Oh, I could just smoke as much as want," that would make it a little harder to quit again, wouldn't it?

Mitch: Mm-hmm.

Thunder: That's like the alcoholic example. People who are alcoholics and they don't drink, they don't drink at all because they would just fall back into that behavior. I think maybe some people, when it comes to food, would fall in that same category. If they have a cheat day, they would just totally fall off the wagon, like you were saying, versus just having a little bit once in a while saying, "Okay, I can handle that, but I'm not giving myself a whole free day just to go crazy."

Scot: All right. Before we wrap up here, has anybody's advice changed the advice you would give, or does everybody feel pretty good about their advice?

Thunder: I'm good with it.

Troy: Yeah, I feel good with it, but I think it's worth noting, obviously, Thunder is a nutritionist. He knows what he's talking about. I'm just trying to figure this out. So I think any advice I give, it's always evolving. I have learned so much from the podcast, and from Thunder in particular, that has really helped to refine my approach to nutrition. I think hidden sugars have been a huge thing for me and looking at that. And then also just, again, as we talked about with the Mediterranean diet.

I think anyone's approach to diet changes over time, and I think we refine it and figure what works and what doesn't work. We're not going to be perfect and we might have some failures along the way, but we just keep working on it and figure what we like and what's sustainable.

Scot: Yeah, because that's really the trick, isn't it? I think most of us kind of know what we should and shouldn't be doing. But actually executing that in the world we live in where we're all busy and where there are other things that taste really good and where sometimes we're like, "Well, maybe just a little comfort meal." How to actually do that is trial and error, and it is going to vary for every person.

Thunder: Good keyword that Troy used by saying "sustainable." That's really the ultimate goal of all this.

Troy: Yeah, sustainable. And I like, Thunder, how you also mentioned you don't beat yourself up. It's like, "Okay. I had some ice cream. Whatever." Don't beat yourself up. You're doing well. Keep working on the good stuff and occasionally you're going to have some sweets and all that. Maybe you may take some steps back, but I think as long as you just keep working on it, things continue to improve over time. So that's the goal.

Thunder: Yeah, that's all part of enjoying food.

Scot: What's worked for you? Do you struggle with something in particular? We would love to hear what your strategies are, how you get through it. Or if you have a question, maybe you'd like some insight from somebody on the podcast, let us know. It's really easy to reach out to us.

Troy: Yeah, you can contact us. Email us at hello@thescoperadio.com. You can contact us on Facebook, facebook.com/whocaresmenshealth. Give us a call on our listener line, 601-55SCOPE. And check out our website, www.whocaresmenshealth.com.

Scot: All right. And most important, share this episode if you know somebody that would benefit from listening.

The next episode in the Core Four: Back to Basics series is about activity. We'll go through why that's important and some of our strategies to get activity into our life.

Thanks for listening and thanks for caring about men's health.

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