Scott Xiong here, and continuing from Part 1 of the series, Happiness and Health Part 2!

How and why did I come up with the lifestyle plan that I created for myself? Read on (I don’t believe in so-called diets, to me, the word diet is just a term meaning eating habits).

Everything begins with a little health research, not all vegetables are picked ripe, especially if they are imported, they would normally rot or become seriously bruised during transport before they reached the store. Therefore, the majority of fruits and vegetables have to be picked ‘unripened’ so they are firmer, making them easier to transport, and ripen along the way or upon reaching their final destination – therefore not providing their maximum nutritional value. Flash frozen vegetables are easier kept, and are more likely to be picked fresh and ripe before they are frozen. I decided to eat fruits on their own, not combining them with proteins or carbohydrates, and as a light snack. As for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) fruits and vegetables… well, the name itself pretty much explains it. Would you eat vegetables if they were spliced with spider DNA so that insects would stay away from it? Here’s an interesting lesson I learned from a good friend of mine, “If insects won’t eat it, neither should you“.

Except for fish, I drastically cut beef, pork, other red meats, and chicken from my diet, only eating them when I rarely ate out for a social gathering. Don’t get me wrong, I love~ meat, steaks, sausage, ham, chicken wings, chicken breasts, lamb chops, pork chops, meatballs, burritos, hot dogs, burgers, meat pies, and deep fried… the list goes on, however, I’ve come to an understanding about how it can affect my body. My theory is that fish break down much easier in the body than regular meats, most likely because fish are water based animals, and they do not become toxic during digestion like that of red meats, or land animals. I mean, our body has to break things down in order to absorb them, so the easier it is, the better right? Also, fish are full of Omega 3 essential fatty acids, great stuff for a lot of mental and health issues, look it up. Thankfully, I can cook decently well, just a little olive oil, some fresh ground black pepper, sea salt, and a little lemon juice can go a long way.

Also, I did my best not to mix carbohydrates with proteins in my meals. Considering that the body produces different enzymes to break down carbs, protein, and fat, I wanted to be as efficient as possible, and be able to assimilate as much as possible, with minimum waste.

Water is extremely important, I cannot begin to press just how important being well hydrated is. Eating water rich foods like vegetables helps in their digestion, without having to directly drink any. I do my best to avoid drinking water directly during meals, instead, having a glass 30 min before or after a meal so as not to interfere with the breakdown of carbs/proteins. Work and health, one with the other.

Vitamin and mineral supplements, you may have heard a wide range of criticisms about them. Do they even work? Well, let’s put it this way, if a giant, for profit, pharmaceutical corporation creates a report on vitamin supplements, claiming harmful effects from their use, and is instead recommending I buy their patented, overly expensive, chemical infested drugs… I’d take my chances with the cheaper, generic supplements. Maybe you haven’t heard, but medicine is big business, there’s bound to be bias from certain areas of the spectrum. Now, there are vitamin lobbyists out there too, just like there are for pharmaceuticals, and big food companies, however, I try to take things with a grain of salt, and I recommend this to you, the reader as well. You gotta do what’s best for your own development and health.

Also, it seems strange that there happens to be a lot big pharmaceutical backed research claiming adverse side effects of vitamin use (and minimal amounts from their own medications of course), and it may be important to note that there are people who are lobbying for and against the sale of generic vitamins, minerals and supplements of the like. Some claiming that they should be regulated, or are produced by only ‘licensed’ manufacturers. Now what does that mean? Well, in my eyes, if pharmaceutical companies are the only ones legally allowed to produce supplements, then they can put whatever price tag they want on it, and you can expect it to be a big one. I don’t think their research will say anything bad about vitamins when that happens, do you? What is the price of our happiness? I’m sure there are some very interested parties willing to find out.

Am I vouching for vitamins? I fully believe that if you can get the appropriate vitamins and minerals from natural sources, go for it. Be aware though, that we live in an era where the general quality of the soil, and especially the fruits and vegetables that grow in them, are drastically lower in nutrients than they were 60, 40, even 20 years ago. Not to mention we live lives where we may not be able to have the time or luxury of getting the right nutrients daily from the foods we eat (even in this great age of convenience where machines do a lot of our work). Supplementation can be a good alternative. Personally, I take a plant sterol (phytosterol) supplement, Omega 3 rich fish oil supplement, multivitamin, and vitamin C supplement daily.

Fat-free and sugar-free foods, are they the answer to our obesity epidemic? Personally, I stay away from the majority of products claiming to be low fat, or low in sugar, and I’m especially cautious of fat-free or sugar-free products. It’s more of a marketing ploy than anything else. People like to eat food that taste good, and we know that fat and sweet taste good. Take the time to read the ingredients of these products (assuming the manufacturer is being truthful), generally companies will compensate either by filling them with low-calorie sweeteners, which are basically artificially engineered chemicals. In nutrition health terms, that just cannot be good.

Aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, High Fructose Corn Syrup, and/or others are all cheap, artificial/refined, and highly used low-calorie, or extremely sweet, sweeteners used to replace regular sweeteners such as dextrose, sucrose, and glucose-fructose. These, are to be taken with extreme caution. I don’t necessarily think regular refined sweeteners like the ones mentioned are healthy, however, I’ll take them over those artificial low-calorie sweeteners any day. My preferred choice though, all natural, sweet honey, Canadian maple syrup, and cane sugar baby.

There are legitimate, natural, low calorie sweeteners out there, such as the widely used in Europe (especially Finland) xylitol (sugar alcohols derived from the fibres of vegetables and fruits, like birch trees), or stevia (sweet leaf) from South America. However, due to a lot of controversy, export/import laws, and high tariffs/declarations on foreign sugars and sweeteners, it is currently illegal to use ‘stevia’ as a sweetener in the United States, and can only be sold as a dietary supplement in Canada. It leaves me to wonder why an artificially developed by-product like aspartame would be given the green light so easily for consumer use, yet something natural like plant leaves are banned. Hey now, wouldn’t that be an interesting topic to do some more research on? 🙂

That’s it for Part 2! More extra useful information to come in Part 3! So stay tuned!

Happiness and Health – My Secret to Losing Fat, Getting Abs, Eating Great, and Having More Strength and Energy Part 1, Part 3

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