There is no reason to fear your body. All you must do is know it.
Flipping the Equation
The last two months I’ve assumed that if I can get food in only limited quantities (let’s say “not enough,” relatively speaking), then I should prioritize getting calories in, rather than micronutrients. This means eating a lot of high-calorie, inexpensive fruits like bananas, and nuts, which are high in fat (and therefore calories). Simultaneously, it means that vegetables and lower-calorie fruits take the backseat.
What would happen if I turned this equation around? What if my body even desires micronutrients moreso than it does calories?
My initial approach seemed sensible, since the calories I was getting also had health-substance to them (e.g. the fiber, potassium, fat, and protein in nuts and bananas). It’s not like I was consuming “empty calories,” which you find in soda, for example (i.e. nothing but corn syrup and chemicals).
But now I’m wondering if calories are a tad overrated. How much can calories really do when the vitamins and minerals that help you to use energy aren’t present?
An Ideal Diet
Since I’m not well-versed in the science of nutrition, I’m not going to try to sound like I am. This exploration arises mainly from feelings that have been building up over time, rather than pure reason. However, I need reason to guide and make sense of this exploration. I need reason to provide order to what is currently a haze of impulse.
The feeling-driven side of this exploration asks, What if I only ate/had to eat those foods that I truly feel connected to and good about? What, then, would I eat?
My answer to that question is that I would indeed flip the calorie-micronutrient equation around. If calories didn’t matter at all, there are definitely foods that I would stop eating and others I would eat much less of.
For example, as I said, I often eat bananas because they are inexpensive and high in calories. However, I often eat them begrudgingly. If calories didn’t count, I’m not sure I would ever eat another banana again.
Dried fruit is a bit more enjoyable, and can also be high in calories (dates, for instance), but I don’t feel very good about it. The dryness almost makes it addicting, in a way. Sometimes I feel like when my throat is dry or I’m otherwise not well hydrated, food is more addicting. I just want to keep shoving it in my face. Additionally, like bananas, dried fruit is enjoyable to eat with nuts, but not so much on its own. Overall, I’d say dried fruit is worth dropping (again, in a calorie-free world).
As for nuts (raw and unsalted, to be specific), I’m not so sure. Something feels a bit off to me about them sometimes. Apparently the majority of almonds on the market in the U.S. are pasteurized, so that might have something to do with it. Maybe I would still eat nuts, but in smaller quantities than I do now.
A couple of other tiny details: I have no interest in oils, and I don’t know where I stand with coconut, but I know I’d prefer not to have dried coconut (for the same reason I’d rather not eat other dried fruits).
As for what I would eat, I would have way more vegetables. All in all, green vegetables (“leafy greens”—kale, spinach), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower), high-water content fruits (tomatoes, berries), and avocadoes would top the list. A few nuts and perhaps some hemp seeds would be thrown in here and there, too.
This is not only because of the micronutrient content of these foods, but because I happen to find them delicious. Think of a juicy cherry, or a salad consisting of greens (not Utica greens!), broccoli, the plumpest tomatoes imaginable, and avocado. My my…
So, in a world where I am not obligated to treat my body like a coal furnace, that is basically what I would eat.
There’s really no depriving being done here. I’m just doing away with things I don’t really want in the first place. It’s like living in my car: I’m downsizing not for its own sake, but so that I am surrounded only by those things I can truly appreciate.
I don’t care for minimalism. I just care for living—that’s all.
How would such a diet be made possible (and not horrifyingly uncomfortable and miserable)? In addition to taking in enough micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, water), the basic approach is to take power over yourself.
What got me thinking that such a diet could be viable is Wim Hof, “The Iceman.” Wim has developed breathing techniques, known as the Wim Hof method, that enable him to accomplish feats such as running a marathon in the desert without any water and climbing Mt. Kiliminjaro while wearing nothing but shorts. The idea is that deep, conscious breathing allows people to tap “deep” into their physiology, and take control over normally-subconscious aspects of our bodies such as the brain stem.
Wim has suggested that not wearing clothes, when in cold environments, enables him to take more conscious control of his body. He has to take that control in order to survive. He can’t fall back on clothing. Either he has to be attuned to his body, or perish.
My own idea- similar to his- is that when we aren’t in conscious control of ourselves we need more food—or, at least, we perceive that we do. I find that I rampantly crave food more the more that I sit around, stay inside, and neglect to exert my body. And I know that this isn’t genuine hunger, because the cravings come from what feels like an angry, lustful monster, rather than simple need. Essentially it’s like telling yourself that you need a cupcake—which, of course, you never actually do, because it won’t feed anything for you except for your addiction to it.
The solution is to be in tune with yourself. Not just your body, but your whole self.
This involves a number of factors: the key is how much you insulate yourself to the world. The more you try to disconnect from your experience of yourself, the less autonomy you will have.
Some environments, for example, are more insulating than others. In general, I avoid spending a lot of time in places that feel very “cushiony” to me. There isn’t any objective environment that is inherently cushiony. For me, “cushiony” means the same as “unengaging.” The environment is too familiar, and it’s too easy to be complacent and checked out of life while there. What once was my bedroom is a good example. Likewise, bad dinner parties almost always fall under this category.
At this time in my life, changing towns frequently and camping out in the woods provide the opposite of a cushiony experience. If I stay in any one place longer than I’d really like to, though, the cushiony-waves start to reach the shore. Then it’s time to get out of Dodge.
That being said, engaging with life and avoiding insulation isn’t merely about the physical world. When is it ever? You also have to pay heed to your internal world. In particular, you have to allow energy to flow freely through you, using it to rise to desires and challenges. That’s what the energy is for, after all. If you can’t do those things, what’s the point of having the energy in the first place? If you choose to avoid living your life, life will avoid you.
This is the list of factors I’ve found relevant to feeling healthy and being in a high-energy state:
Time spent outside/exposure to the elements
Interaction with the natural world
Exertion of the body
Time not sitting
Movement of the body (not necessarily the same thing as exertion)
Exposure to extreme conditions (heat, cold, nutrient deprivation, oxygen deprivation)
Insulation (i.e. lack thereof)
Deep, conscious breathing
Connectedness to the food you’re eating (i.e. how do you really feel about it? Does it feel good to you?)
Outflow: allowing energy to flow through you and out of you (i.e. doing what you want and know you must do)
Practice and acclimatization to these things over time.
It’s interesting to note that at the same time that humanity tries to insulate itself from nature (both the nature that we refer to as “the natural world” and the nature that lies within us—i.e. our true desires), our bodies are also insulating themselves more, by putting on fat. I have to wonder if there is any connection there. If you consider that the body is a reflection of oneself, I’d say that makes perfect sense.
Out on a Limb
Anyway, as for the action I’m going to take, I’m not going to set any specific timeframes or rules. I think it will take some time to clear confusion from the path and get acclimated to living this way.
Then again, it might be much easier than I suspect. I think what I need most at this time is correct information. From there I’ll be eager to experiment and put that information into action.
This may sound a tad extreme, but the extremes are where the good stuff is. If I go out on a limb, at the very least I should find a nice piece of fruit. :)
I’m sure I will have more to say about this in the future. This ought to be interesting.
Read Related Articles: