I began writing this book as a part of the educational course that I have taught since 2014. When I was teaching in the Medicinal University I was asked to give lectures about scientific basis of healthy nutrition, dispel the myths and fears, and formulate the universal rules of nutrition. At first, these were classes in groups then it became an online training course taken by thousands of people. With each group, we studied out the different aspects of nutrition and their practical implementation in everyday life. For sure, each person‘s situation is unique but there are basic rules common to everyone. Working with different people and treating various diseases I realize that there is a framework of universal nutritional rules in the basis of every personal diet. Understanding and implementing these rules helps each person to create their own habits, which will become the base of a future nutrition plan.
In this book I was eager to tell you about the two most important aspects of nutrition. They are diet (when to eat) and food products (what to eat). I wanted to teach you how to apply knowledge about these aspects in your daily life. Of course, there are many other issues about the psychology of nutrition, nutrition in the case of diseases and other interesting and important topics. But we will go back to them later. Consulting clients and teaching in the course of healthy eating I have formulated a series of universal rules that everyone can add in their life and benefit from it. The book has 12 rules on dietary pattern and 12 rules on choosing food products. The criteria of these rules are as follows: they are scientific information and empirical knowledge (traditions of different cultures and nations). Human experience has tested each advice for thousands of years of and scientific research confirmed them. Each rule has different degrees of practicing; you can start with the easiest variant and move gradually as it becomes more complex.
A plenty of various books on dietetics are published today but the consensus is still a long way off. Some books multiply the number of dietary myths; other books debunk these myths. Some authors refer to their personal experience while others call to ignore it and rely only on evidence-based medicine. And there are third ones who appeal to the evidence that most of the scientific research in nutrition is funded by food producers, and moreover, that besides the last there is someone who is interested in treating diseases rather than preventing, them. The fourth ones focus only on the personal characteristics in the choice of personal diet. The fifth ones recommend to quit all this and to use the intuitional eating. All this resembles an Indian parable about an elephant and the blind sages. Once an elephant was brought into the city and each sage began to touch it. The first blind man felt the trunk and said that the elephant was a snake; the second one felt his ear and began to claim that the elephant was a fan; the third one touched a leg and decided that the elephant was a column; the fourth man grabbed the tail and said that the elephant was a brush. Which of them is right? Everyone is right and wrong at the same time.
Therefore, it is important to adhere to the golden mean taking into account scientific advice, traditions of eating, and your personal qualities and preferences. That’s why I decided to write this book in the form of separate chapters. And the each of them is a tool, or a rule for independent decision-making about food. Each rule is flexible so that any person can apply it by their selves and add it to their lifestyle. Unfortunately, a lot of trends in dietetics are radical extremes. In the same time a middle way exists that will allow you to benefit from different strategies. You can profit from both substantial meal and hunger, from both fats and carbohydrates! The principle of the happy or golden mean is the style of eating, which is convenient for you, brings you pleasure and good for health. And this is real without extremes and fanaticism.
Each of the 24 chapters has the same structure. At first we analyze the history of the issue, find out how people ate before, what our body is adapted to and what has changed now. Then we will find out briefly how exactly this nutritional rule affects our health. You will get to know that both food and dietary pattern have a profound effect on the organism at all levels. They affect the brain neurochemistry contributing to how habits and addictions develop. They affect the work of hormones and the sensitivity of tissues to them; affect the work of immune system, the genes activity and much more. Many of these effects don’t become apparent immediately but do it after many years. The third part of each chapter contains a brief statement of the food rule and its complexity levels. And after that you can find a set of tips and ideas for more successful implementation of the rule. You can start reading this book from any chapter; after all, each rule works even applied separately. But it’s better if you read one chapter a day and put it into practice. It will take almost a month and during this time you will acquire many simple but healthy eating habits.
Healthy eating habits are the key to longevity. Let the changes be small but their daily repetition and the cumulative effect of this will be their strength! Indeed, many modern diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, obesity, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and aging itself do not occur in one day but develop over a long period. Therefore, it is important to think about your diet in the long term as our life is not a sprint of losing weight before the summer but a marathon of being healthy and energetic for many years without early aging. All diets are similar in that way that they are effective in the short-term but fail in the long-term.
Why? Because that the proper nutrition is a way of life. We will discuss how stress, light, temperature, physical activity, and even your mood affect your metabolism. Yes, you have heard me right, joy does burn fat! If you are going to introduce a new eating habit think whether you can keep to it all the time? If not, then you’d better try to take a lower hurdle. It makes no sense if you don’t eat sugar for a week and then start again. But if you introduce the habit of keeping yourself from sweets at least one of every two days then in a year you will get a beneficial effect on your health.
Any effective tool influencing your health has its side effects. Food is no exception. Nowadays we have two opposite trends. They are food dependence with overeating and orthorexia*. Therefore, in the beginning, I want to give you some safety precautions:
The eating disorder characterized by an obsession with "healthful” or proper eating. - Note of author
1. Your health is the highest priority so doubt any information including the information that I give. Remember that the general rules in your particular case may have nuances. Treat information like a researcher, carry out an experiment and make the right decision.
2. Not everything will be clear and possible to do from the first attempt. This is normal, learn from your mistakes, draw conclusions, and find your weakness. This will allow you to act more efficiently in the future. A mistake is not as bad as the fact that you have not learned anything.
3. A sense of humor. Be simpler and don’t forget to laugh, laugh at yourself as well. If you are not amused you have stepped on a path leading to eating disorders. You can eat anything anytime. Food is a great source of energy and not evil. Just for your own good make the borders with it.
4. Do not be drawn into argument and be reserved at all to talk about nutritional changes but help those who seek help. Many people and authors will try to convince you into following their food scheme as the only true one in the world. Remember that plenty of variations of a healthy diet exist and that your goal is to find a benefit one for yourself. Keep from judging people depending on what they eat. If you eat right and consider yourself better than others, be careful this is orthorexia. You or somebody is not better or worse for the reason of different content of your plates.
5. Healthy eating is not just food but a lifestyle. This is dishes from your childhood and home rituals. This is new places and a pleasant company of friends. This is something what brings you deep pleasure and satisfaction from life. The food which is not tasty can’t be healthy.
6. Find a balance between flexibility and stability. Develop rules and principles but don’t stick to certain products or recipes. But at the same time develop delicious recipes with products that you always have at home. Change the diet dynamically depending on the season, physical activity, and body needs.
7. Healthy eating doesn’t begin from Monday but it begins from breakfast. Try not to change your diet dramatically but act smoothly. It is difficult for us to introduce more than three habits simultaneously, and yet their final fixation in the brain takes up to three months! And the overload just increases stress and the risk of giving up. Remember about the stages of change, about the limitations of willpower, the strength of habit, and the importance of small but daily action. Act gently and persistently. Each meal is an opportunity to train to develop the new healthy habits.