Symbols and weight loss



            I’ve found that it has helped me to simplify the image of food consumption, energy absorption, and waste disposal. It seems that the more obscure the process, the more room for self deception. Diets rarely make a clear connection with the food we put in our mouth and the stuff we poop out. We’re just told to wash our hands before handling our food and after taking a poop. Now there’s a connection you can wrap your mind around. By this logic, we should be washing our hands at least twice a day, preferably four times: three meals and a poop.


          So now we have a starting and ending point to the human gastrointestinal system, and we can consider the hand washing as the quote marks surrounding the process. It goes like this: Hand wash – eat – poop – hand wash. There isn’t much room for modification in this process as defined so far. This just gives us the big picture, and we can probably agree that we want this process maintained with a smooth, consistent flow. I don’t think it would be advisable to eliminate any of these steps, and I don’t think we want our food getting hung up anywhere in the process.


          Now, if you think this is complicated so far, just wait. I want to dive smack into the middle of our nice neat quote: The “eat – poop” part. Now we can spend months, years, and PhDs attempting to decipher each of the thousands of minute processes, organs, and mystical hogwash that takes place between the “eat” and the “poop.” Careers, products, books, diets, and exercise devices are designed to take advantage of the obscurities going on between the “eat” and the “poop.” I intend to eliminate these obscurities by simply ignoring them. So there! Did I mention that I’m not a doctor, dietitian, or have the foggiest notion what I’m talking about?


          I’ve broken the entire system down to a simple pipe, two and a half feet long. That’s about the distance between the “eat” and the “poop” openings. That is, as the crow flies. I find it a lot easier to understand than the traditional models. You put food in, it rumbles around for a while, it supplies energy, sometimes expels gas, fore and aft, and gets pooped out. If you put more in than needed to supply energy, belching, farting, and pooping, it gets stored as fat by one of those not- to-be-mentioned obscurities.

          Personally, using my two-and-a-half-foot pipe symbol, I’ve had a lot of success by beginning my day with a healthy serving of oatmeal and ending my evening with a nice serving of popcorn. This gives me the image of a high-fiber plug at each end of the pipe. In between, I try to fill in with a lot of green stuff, just trying to keep a fair balance of fiber and protein. Usually after my first morning cup of coffee, the next plug in line is ready to pop. Now, where the plugs are really located and how they’re working their way through my system is immaterial; the symbol works for me. Then I wash my hands and have a bowl of oatmeal, thus getting double duty from one hand washing. Here you can see the process engineer at work, saving steps.


          I’m convinced that any attempt to lose weight would be futile without a reliable, consistent digestive flow. My model of oatmeal – green / fiber stuff – popcorn has worked miracles at stabilizing my system, thus enabling me to just concentrate on the green/fiber stuff, the fun part.


          As an engineer, I’m accustomed to real-world challenges that require elegant solutions within certain parameters, specs, and limits. Weight control and/or a vegan lifestyle is such a challenge. I am going to assume parameters suitable for sensible, working people--say the average couple with one and a half kids, dogs, or goldfish. Whatever. The specs are the questionable dietary recommendations of some politically-appointed government board. The limits: human possibility.


An elegant solution would require no calorie counting or heavy exercise routines, and allow you to eat all you want for three servings a day. What can possibly be difficult about this?


          First, we take the working-couple parameter. Making breakfast should require no more than one eye open and semi-awareness. Lunches hastily prepared should embarrass no one when opened. Supper has to be ready to serve within thirty minutes of entering the kitchen . . . piece of cake.


          Next, determining the specs requires navigating the foggy swamplands of dietary recommendations by the bought-and-paid-for government experts whose only real bureaucratic responsibility is to perpetuate their own jobs by offending no one. Why, even a major outbreak of Mad-Cow disease couldn’t convince these people to cross the National Cattleman’s Beef Association. The only time in recent years that we’ve even heard from these “Experts” was to announce that there was no proof that “Swine Flu” was caused by eating pork.


          Finally, we have to limit the solution to methods that are humanly possible. Since I have survived, and my wife, a real “meat and potatoes” gal, has endured without major discomfort, I think this meets the requirement.


        Beginning a vegan diet can be discouraging if every recipe has sixteen unpronounceable ingredients. Most vegan cookbooks offer delicious dishes worthy of a place on a three-star restaurant menu but really, who has the time, energy or the pantry. If you can't come home from a hard day's work and produce a healthy-delicious meal within thirty minutes, you're not going to continue with any long-term plan.


    A few of my friends and family have asked how I made the switch, and that's what I hope to demonstrate with this site. Chris calls it a "Meat and Potatoes Cookbook for Vegans." There are methods I've unconsciously incorporated into our diet that can ease the transition. Meals should have the familiar look, feel, and texture of traditional dishes. You don't have to survive on tofu and bean sprouts. As I've said before, meal preparation should be easy, quick, and use readily available ingredients, most of which are probably in your pantry right now. 


Give it a try, experiment, and relax.  Soon you'll find that you've lost weight, you're sleeping better, your blood sugar has stabilized, and your blood pressure has dropped.  


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