Summer Reading – A Karma Sense Eating Plan Update

Executive Summary

The last post in the Karma Sense Eating Plan series was part 1 of a 2 part description of mantra #4, Eat Whole Food Carbohydrates After Vigorous Exercise. That post and its sequel flow like a typical 7-period high school class. Because I broke that post up, we now run the risk of our own form of “summer brain drain” as we eagerly wait for part 2. This mid-week update will prevent that from happening by offering you some light mental stimulation.

Long Division

In the last Karma Sense Eating Plan midweek update, I posted my decision to release the description of mantra #4 in one fell swoop even though it was long enough to break into two parts. Then I got distracted because I decided I needed to know what the heck a “fell swoop” was. Through my research, I learned that it has something to do with Shakespeare, but nobody really knows. This made me think differently about the whole “fell swoop” thing and I did end up breaking it into two parts.

The response from you to that post is exceptional. I spend enough time reading research where I know correlation is not causation. Therefore, I won’t automatically assume that this is due to the abbreviated format of the post. Still I can take a hint and will try harder to be succinct in the future. Now that I’m convinced that the Karma Sense series is better suited for longer format publishing, this should be easier to manage.

Addition

If you’ve been following the Karma Sense series for a while, by now you should either be annoyed or bored by any reference to the Karma Sense Eating Plan being inclusive. If not bored or annoyed, the only other option is that you’re impressed by my persistence. I’m kind of like the paperboy in Better Off Dead who wants his two dollars.

In fact, I was a paperboy and the kid in that movie wasn’t nearly persistent enough. Ask the people on my route. Some of them are still talking to me.

But there actually is a sound basis for Karma Sense to focus on the positive behaviors you should adopt and the benefits of doing so. Research shows when it comes to healthy behaviors, being told what you should do is more effective for most people, than being told what you shouldn’t do.

But there’s another reason why Karma Sense aims for inclusivity. Food is awesome. It’s right up there with oxygen, sexy time, Marvel Comics, and sleep. Let’s enjoy it, responsibly.

Sorting

Speaking of research, Thrillist did some very important research by ranking every Ben & Jerry’s flavor currently available. I find their results suspect. They ranked Chubby Hubby square in the middle of the pack of 41 instead of at the top. In defense of that boneheaded blunder, they provided this comment:

Peanut butter? Good. Pretzels? Uh-huh. Fudge? Always. The vanilla malt is a little weird, but we can let it slide.

I’m sorry, but “vanilla malt” is the essence of what makes Chubby Hubby the manna from heaven that it is. If I have to share my Chubby Hubby stocked desert island with you guys, I expect a full Karma worthy apology. But I’ll share regardless. Karma.

Geometry

The post on mantra #1, Eat Slowly and Stop Before You’re Full, included a discussion on how the U.S. government tried to influence our eating behavior through a progression of shapes. First there were the Basic Four Food Groups (a square), then there was the more complex Food Pyramid (a tetrahedron), and now we have a Plate (circles).

USDA_MyPlate_green.svg_

Though each attempt gets better, they always leave a lot of desirable advice off the, ahem, table. The biggest reason for this is that the government is being unduly influenced by the Healthcare Industrial Complex.

Meanwhile, our friends from the land Down Under have stuck to the tetrahedron and it appears to be a Karma Sense model.

My commentary starting from the bottom and working our way up (without going all Area of a Tetrahedron = √3a2 on you) are:

  • It gives deference to physical activity.
  • It includes water, herbs and spices as critical parts of nutrition. They’re calorie free so they don’t take up real estate in the pyramid proper.
  • It honors mantra #3, Eat More Vegetables and Fruits by giving fruits less real estate than vegetables.
  • It comes the closest I’ve seen to honoring the Eat Whole Food Carbohydrates part of mantra #4. It combines legumes and starchy vegetables in the same tier as vegetables and fruit. The Karma Sense Eating Plan differentiates between these plant-based foods and non-starchy vegetables. However, by placing them here it recognizes that legumes, starchy vegetables, and fruits are a better choice of carbohydrate than grains. Just like they did with fruit, it would be Karma Sense to give legumes and starchy vegetables their own section in that tier instead of lumping them together. But they opted for simplicity which is also Karma Sense.
  • In geometry class, I would often base my answer by eyeballing the shape and answer accordingly. Teachers were wise to this and that is why they always made us show our work. If I eyeball the pyramid it looks like grain doesn’t get much space in the diet. But when I look at the Nutrition Australia’s work (here), they recommend 3 to 6 servings of grain per day for adults depending on age and sex.  I have nothing against grains. They’re fine for most people, but they’re not as nutritious as other carbohydrate choices. Karma Sense would say they shouldn’t be emphasized as much as they are. On the other hand, they are delicious.
  • Dairy is put on the same tier as other sources of protein and fat. Also, dairy alternatives (e.g. soy milk) get a nod. The Karma Sense Eating Plan does not treat dairy differently from protein. Again, looking at Nutrition Australia’s work, they recommend consuming a significant part of your protein in the form of dairy and alternatives instead of meat and other protein sources. This rubs me the wrong way, but their total recommendation does indeed honor mantra #2, Eat Protein in Every Meal. So I’ll remain calm.
  • The final tier is for healthy fat. We haven’t covered mantra #5 yet, but the pyramid does indeed recommend that you Eat Good Fats Daily and Get a Balance of the Different Types of Good Fats. It does not take a firm stand against saturated fats but recognizes that you can get what you need by eating real food and that you should supplement monounsaturated and Omega-6 fats by adding oils or fatty plant foods to your diet.
  • It recommends limiting salt and sugar. It is Karma Sense that eliminating use of these taste enhancing ingredients would be overkill.

One item that is glaringly absent is alcohol. Given how Australians feel about their beer, I assume they consider it as a subcategory of water. “Some people” have also been known to say that  given the quality of Australian beer, it should absolutely be classified as water.

Taken altogether, following Nutrition Australia’s guidelines as depicted in the pyramid leads to a Karma Sense way of eating. It is much clearer than the American equivalent. This is probably why every Australian look like this:

wolverine

And so many Americans look like this:

IMG_20150524_0002

The next installment of the Karma Sense Eating Plan is part 2 covering mantra #4, Eat Whole Food Carbohydrates After Vigorous Exercise. It will be released next weekend. Don’t be late.

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