Nutrition quick-tweak: try the “Binary Diet”

September 14, 2010

Is there a difference, when describing what you eat, between “not very good for you” and “bad for you”? Does “bad for you” even get used in your vocabulary for anything other than cigarettes?

In this 3 minute video, I talk a bit about this and come up with a “binary diet” challenge that I think will change the way you look at a lot of the stuff in your kitchen.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa September 15, 2010 at 11:55 am

I just found your blog yesterday and laughed at my stupidity – I could never get those teflex sheets dry!!! Thanks for sharing your genius. And this morning upon rising my mind went to sweets…hmmm and quickly my spirit admonished me – then your posting to keep me focused on the changes I need to make. Thanks ! Can not wait for the next posting.

Jason September 15, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Melissa, thanks for finding Staying Vegan, and more importantly, thanks for letting me know that I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know how to dry teflex 🙂

Seriously, sometimes I put something out there and I wonder if it’s on the level of “water is wet,” so it’s awesome to know that I helped!

James September 15, 2010 at 5:24 pm

I find this is easier to implement at the shopping stage rather than the eating. When I go and buy food for myself, I have no great urge to get the middling stuff and can stick to “good for you” fare.

When it’s in the pantry, though, I’m all about the “Do I have some now or later, and how much, and how should I feel about that…” nonsense.

Jason September 15, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Great point James, moving the binary thought system to the shopping stage makes a TON of sense once you’ve gotten the hang of it at mealtime.

Oh, and congrats on your self control for even asking “now or later” and “how much” rather than “is it time yet?” – I doubt I’m the only one whose brain puts crap at the top of the food priority list once it’s in the house (true story – that frozen treat only lasted as long as it did because it was designated as a prop for that video!)

James September 15, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Well, that’s the thing: once you’ve bought it, it’s going in you. Probably doesn’t matter much whether it goes in you now, or some now and the rest after dinner.

James September 15, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Thinking about self-control, I just got an idea and I wonder how it would work. Hear me out:

When we have a box of, say, ice cream sandwiches, we’re going to finish that box that day or the next. (We just are.) Sometimes this leads us to do stupid things like “Well, there are two left, and it would be silly to leave just one, so,” boom, we just ate two ice cream sandwiches, which we’d never do in except to achieve that magic empty box. And then buy another.

(I bet people who buy pints of ice cream eat the whole pint, because hey, serving size, where people who buy big packages may eat less than that per serving when the endgame is out of sight/mind.)

So I’m wondering if there are situations where it’s better to buy a huge amount of something rather than a medium amount. This doesn’t have to apply to “bad for you” foods – which are better bought in nonexistent amounts – but maybe with something like nuts. If you have a small tin of nuts you can zoom through the whole thing and get too much fat for one day, whereas if you buy a giant bag, you might eat more reasonable amounts spread out over several days.

Does that make any sense at all?

Jason September 15, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Makes sense, and I’ve tried something similar, but let’s just say it didn’t work for me – I’ve got completionist tendencies that get me into all kinds of trouble 🙂 I’d be curious to find out how other people fared under a plan like that though.

Steph September 17, 2010 at 7:48 am

I did a lot of reading on mat leave and over the summer and was stressed out about finding the best way to eat/be kind to the planet/eliminate waste. So I’m going to the Farmer’s Market, finding the bulk store that lets me bring my own containers, shopping at the supermarket owned by locals instead of the big chains, etc. Then I was reading about raw, macrobiotics, etc, etc, and shifting my focus from “minimizing the damage” by not eating bad non-vegan food to “optimizing health” That’s so tough! There’s so much conflicting info out there and I just don’t have the time. I made the sprout and greens smoothies for weeks, but I didn’t actually feel much different. But I was so stressed. So now I dial in my stress level and keeping food a pleasure. It’s making my life better, and it’s sure easier to eat fruits and veg and whole grains if I’m looking forward to cooking and eating the recipe instead of just looking at food as high or low quality fuel.

Meredith September 20, 2010 at 3:34 pm

There are definitely days when my entire diet falls into that “not very good for me” gray area. I do realize it at the time, but there is often not a whole lot I can do about it. I do recognize a few things as being bad for me (ie high fructose corn syrup, msg, hydrogenated fats) and avoid those completely. It is just hard, especially when I am not at home, to eat vegan AND gluten free AND not end up eating at least some junk food or borderline junk food because that’s what is available. I like the concept here, though!

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