Jason Hartman’s guest on episode #41 of The Longevity and Biohacking Show, Dr. Steve Young, encourages listeners to seek simplicity in learning how to live longer and healthier. He suggests we toss aside the mind-numbing tsunami of diet programs and pay attention to three concepts: eating the rainbow slowly, the 80/20 rule, and don’t judge food.
Not THAT Steve Young
Steve Young won a couple of Vince Lombardi trophies while quarterbacking the San Francisco 49ers in the 1990’s. But we’re not talking about that guy. Today’s episode features Dr. Steve Young, a fitness trainer consultant and person with a passion for healthy living. From his website, some of his favorite things to say are:
“The only thing you can control is your perception”
“That has chemicals”
“The thing is not the thing”
“I want to be Batman”
Tools and apps and programs and diets are all worthless unless you can stick to them. The human mind has a tendency to not get back up on the horse when it fails at a fitness or dietary program. Dr. Young recommends three basic principles related to the food we put into our bodies. It’s all about moderation.
Core Principle #1: Eating the Rainbow Slowly
Young’s first suggestion is to eat the rainbow slowly. No one will snicker if that makes you think of unicorns and Skittles, but you would be way off. What the good doctor is talking about is the idea that we should eat different colors of food and also rotate the kinds of foods we eat on a weekly basis. He says that eating the same food too often, even a healthy food, can result in an inflammatory response from your body. Young’s rule of thumb is to not eat the same food within a four-day period. This means ALL food. Even stuff like broccoli and avocados!
If you’re interested in discovering which foods you are overeating, ask your doctor for an ALCAT test. By measuring cellular reaction to more than 450 substances, this blood analysis might help pinpoint food and chemical sensitivities that could negatively affect your long term health.
His reference to eating “the rainbow” is illustrative of the idea that eating different colors of food helps you get the most balanced diet possible.
Why Eat Slow? You’ll Live Longer!
Even if you make it a point to eat healthy food in order to live longer, scarfing it down without really being in the moment and focusing on what you’re doing creates an emotional dissonance that counteracts the high nutritional value of your meal. Your goal should be to connect with the food. Sounds silly but Dr. Young believes that we need to develop a habit of chewing slowly and thoughtfully at mealtimes in order to reap the fullest benefit possible.
The other problem with eating too fast is based more in science. You’ve probably experienced this before. You’re starving and tear into a meal with a fork in each hand, shoveling in food at a frenzied pace. You feel hungry, hungry, hungry – and then suddenly you’re full. Not the good kind of full. Rather the kind of full that stretches the boundaries of decency and common sense and leaves you curled on the floor in the fetal position.
This happens because there is a lag time of several minutes before the food you eat registers in your brain, which allows us to eat up to one-third too much before we get the signal to stop.
Core Principle #2: The 80/20 Rule
This principle tells us that we need to eat healthy 80% of the time. Of course the big question then becomes how to define healthy eating? Dr. Young’s position is that a food qualifies as healthy if it has not been put through a machine. Any time you involve a machine in the process, either nutrition is taken out or chemicals are added. The rest if the time you can eat whatever the heck you want, even triple-stuffed Oreos.
If you can do the simple math involved in calculating how much is 80% (or 20%) of your diet, you’re golden. The reason Young relies on this ratio comes from his desire to apply an easy-to-understand concept to act as a guide in our eating. Rigid rules almost never work in the long run and the good doctor has developed a severe distaste for the marketing driven diet industry that tries to convince you to “just do this one thing” and all your health goals are guaranteed.
Core Principle #3: Don’t Judge Food
Everyone knows it’s a bad thing to judge people, right? There’s even a biblical saying associated with it that goes something like: judge not, lest ye be judged. The trouble with judging people is it sets you up for a fall when you inadvertently find yourself doing the exact thing you’ve been condemning.
Dr. Young likes to apply this idea to food and it sort of makes sense when he says not to judge food. Here’s an example. Say you’re suddenly confronted with a slice of Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake, clocking in at a hefty 1,540 calories, from The Cheesecake Factory. The thing weighs close to three-quarters of a pound and contains enough saturated fat for three days. Beside it rests a 100 calorie medium banana packed with oodles of vitamins and minerals and health conscious stuff.
You gonna look at those the same? According to Dr. Young you should, yet most of us with even a smidgin of health consciousness would immediately categorize the cheesecake thusly, “Cheesecake is the devil!” In reality, you would simply put the banana in your 80% and the cheesecake in the 20%. It’s that simple. No need to leap to value judgments. Of course, eating that slice of heavenly goodness will likely throw your percentages out of whack for a few days; you’ll need to tilt your diet more heavily towards 80% food to catch up but that doesn’t make the cheesecake the devil.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve been having trouble sticking to the latest fad diet, why not give Dr. Young’s three core principles a whirl? Who knows? You might find it works and you’ll live longer. For more information on Young’s work, visit his website at www.drsteveyoung.com . (Image: Flickr | SantaRosa OLD SKOOL)
More from Jason Hartman:
The Longevity and Biohacking Team