Eat like a snake

Danny’s been talking a lot about his alliterative alimentation scheme this year. My entry into the category is Strictly Salubrious Solo Snarfing… or… eating like a :snake:? (SSSS eating, natch)

I commit to maintaining Strictly :snake: eating on weekdays.

For the most part I generalIy eat quite healthily, but I have been working (as opposed to not having to work at it) to maintain my body weight for the past 5 years or so – and even so gradually/occasionally slipping upward. I think most of my upward trend (aside from age-based changes in my hormones etc) is due to snacking problems. The “salubrious” and “solo” constraints will reduce my over-snacking. Chips & cookies when they are available will be eaten with company, not greedily or thoughtlessly shoveled into my maw while no one is looking. But it will also still be fine to make an extravagant cake, or a mess of macarons, or try out a new kind of cookies or whatever as a fun project. Anyway, we mostly don’t buy junkfood, so there is little junkfood to eat. And I like things like giant piles of brussels sprouts as much as I like giant piles of chips. So I don’t anticipate SSSSnake eating to entail a major or particularly difficult shift in my eating habits. Small but sticky shifts should be highly effective in the long run, though, amiright?.

We eat dinner together as a family pretty much every night, and those are mostly home cooked meals from scratch, ranging from things like soup & salad, to quinoa chickpea bowls, to stir fries, enchiladas, quiche or frittata, etc etc. Usually we cook quite a lot of vegetable matter, and they’re probably 80% vegetarian because of our vegetarian 13 year old, and our 5/7ths vegetarian Danny.

Anyway, now I’ve made the public commitment, I still need to nail down what I mean by “Salubrious” because bright lines are good. While I say that I already eat “generally quite healthy”, I would like to target getting more protein and fiber into my diet on a daily basis, because those are the things I miss out on most when I just eat without extra planning/thought. They also lend themselves to feelings of satiety, which will help with general over-consumption of calories.

What constitutes Salubriety?

Danny’s definition is approximately “No eggs, no meat except fish, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts; Nothing with more saturated fat than olive oil.”

For me, I definitely want to focus on whole grains, whole vegetables and fruits, for the fiber++. And meats, especially lean ones and fish for protein. Okay, but getting into the nitty gritty:

Meat

Meat is good since protein++ is one of my goals. But probably I should exclude meats like salami & bacon & balogna. The processed / preserved ones. They are higher in fat, and maybe the nitrites and stuff that they use to preserve them are potentially bad for you? [TODO: what about deli meats like turkey breast or ham?]

Nuts

Nuts and whole food / simple nut butters are probably fine. But also nuts are high in fat, thus very calorie dense, so approach with caution? “Approach with caution” is not a very bright line, which is an argument in favor of excluding entirely. Still, a couple nuts in a salad, or on yogurt or something is hard to argue against, nutrition-wise, and also very yummy…

Dairy

Danny excludes this, because of saturated fats. But plain yogurt and cottage cheese are a good & easy protein source for me. However, dairy does tend to be a major source of dietary fat for me. And yes, fat is not inherently bad, but it is very calorie dense.

  • Does dairy count as a whole food if I get a reduced fat version of it?
  • Should I count cream in my coffee as un-salubrious? If I get a cup of coffee with someone, and then go to my desk to sit and drink it, is that social or solo?

Fat

I’ve mentioned the calorie density of fats a couple times already. Calorie density is only a problem in so much as I am trying to control weight, and so eating things that are high in fat adds up quickly, and in particular if I’m eating a fat source that is not also a good protein source, it just gets hard to like, be balanced? Hard to get the protein++ while not also going over on total quantity of calories.

Vegetarian proteins

Eggs are good, though the ratio of protein to fat is on the low side (1.2). Beans are high in fiber, and low in fat, though also lower in protein compared to meats. Their protein:fat ratio (in grams, not Calories) range from 2.02 (soybeans) to 8 (black beans). For reference: Chicken breast has a protein:fat ratio of 8.6 and chicken thigh 2.8.

I’m not sure what to think/say about the more processed vegetarian protein sources, like tofu (probably okay? it’s like pressed and fermented? but i don’t think they add a lot of stuff to it, and maybe don’t remove that much either in the process?), to seitan (the wheat from whence this came has been pretty dang processed byt the time you eat it. though the wheat gluten extraction is i think mostly physical processing? whch is maybe “better” than the preservatives and stufff kind of chemical processing?), to tempeh (okay? – again mostly pressed and fermented soy beans. i think it’s less processed than tofu actually?), to things like morningstar farms chix patties, and impossible, and field roast…

Protein supplements

This is moving in the more questionable direction as far as “salubriety” goes. I mean, it’s moving pretty far away from the “whole foods” rule of thumb. But maybe supplementing with protein supplements would be fine or helpful? I don’t know. It’s not like they’re something I’m gonna want to snack on or over-consume calories from, i don’t think. I could limit myself to non-flavored ones. Plain whey protein, or collagen, or whatever? (is there actually any value to collagen specifically…? i was using it for a while and thought that maybe it made my fingernails a bit less brittle… but that’s pretty vague).

Bread

Most “whole wheat” bread has a lot of white flour in it too. From grocery store bread the label really just means “we put some whole wheat flour in this”, where “some” could be a very small amount by total percentage. Even in my home made whole wheat bread I usually use about half white flour. What’s a bright bread line I can draw? Eating 4 pieces of toast slathered with butter and cinnamon sugar because the first one was amazing so you make 3 more real quick before you catch up to yourself is the kind of thing I’m trying to avoid, even if the bread were 100% whole grain flours. But a piece of peanut butter toast makes a simple default thing to eat when you notice you are crabby-hungry, you’re in a hurry to run out the door, or whatever. I don’t really want to outlaw all solo-bread.

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I am not 100% sure about industrial production but having made homemade tofu I would consider it not very processed—cook soybeans, grind 'em up, soak to make soymilk, heat soymilk, add a certain kind of salt that makes it coagulate, press. I’d probably put it in whichever category you would put unsweetened soy milk in. But I suppose insofar as probably most of the fiber that must be in the soybeans is lost in the solid bits of soybean that don’t get extracted into the milk, that is still “processed”, and I guess that’s the bit which tempeh would improve on, since AFAIK it’s just made of whole soybeans? More processing as far as fermenting, though, but I assume that’s not something you are worried about. Seitan is also going to be lacking in fiber I suppose.

I guess it partly comes down to whether the main concerns about processing are high calorie density / removal of fiber, or something else.

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omg, tofu is coagulated soy milk? soy paneer. that is amazing. now I kinda want to try making tofu. I guess two of my stated goals were to increase protein and increase fiber (while holding total calories constant primum non amplifico style). So specifically regarding the vegetarian proteins, like tofu and seitan anyway, they’re trading off fiber to more concentrated protein, so maybe that’s a consistent reason to exclude them from my solo-snarfing.

Yeah, I don’t have a clear reason or understanding of what the concerns about “processed” foods are, salubridociousness-wise, which is maybe a genesis of many of the open questions above.

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Yeah! Tofu is a little analogous to cheese (if you squint)!

There’s two main coagulants, but I think most of the ones available in the US use the same one.

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