Scheduling meals to fight fat

To get an idea of how Bonny Damocles has maintained a 30-pound weight loss since 1991, here is a sample chapter from a book we collaborated on in June 2017, Type 2 Diabetes Pioneer: The No-Drug Success Story That Keeps Getting Better Year After Year. It’s available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle format.  The following chapter, “Scheduling Meals to Fight Fat,” is from pgs. 74-81.

SCHEDULING MEALS TO FIGHT FAT

Before his diagnosis, Bonny ate whatever he wanted, whenever he felt like it.

He never bothered to time his snacks so they wouldn’t interfere with his meals. As far as he was concerned, anytime he was around food was snack time.

“When a poor Filipino gets the chance to come to the States, the first thing he does is eat as much as he can,” he offers by way of explanation. “If he can eat every hour, he surely will. There’s plenty of cheap and delicious foods here which we had never seen in the Philippines.”

After his diagnosis, one of the first things Bonny did was give up snacks. Doing so would not only help him lose weight, but avoid raising his blood sugar at random intervals throughout the day.

Though it took some getting used to, going without snacks didn’t necessarily mean he had to endure hunger. It just meant that he focused more closely on his meals, packing them with nutrientdense food that filled him up.

Over time, he built a routine in which each meal was constructed with the same building blocks: a banana, a cup of grapes and a handful of unsalted nuts.

For breakfast, he would add two to four slices of raisin bread to complete his meal. For lunch and dinner, the added components were soup (typically bean, potato, mushroom, or tomato), vegetables, half a cup of rice, and lean meat. Chicken was always eaten with the skin removed. If he ate pork, the fat was always trimmed. If he was still hungry after his meal, he ate more meat or vegetables.

Bonny’s enhanced meal plan, in conjunction with his exercise program, did a good job of keeping both his weight and his diabetes under control. But as he learned more about the disease, he began to incorporate new ideas into his routine.

When a relative sent him an article in which a nutritionist explained how the body was able to process the natural sugars in fruit without using insulin, for instance, he began eating fruit first at every meal. He liked the idea of his favorite foods reaching his cells quickly, without the need for an insulin boost from his pancreas.

“This must be beneficial to me because I do a lot of mental and physical activities,” he reasoned. “My cells must always be adequately fed.”

More recently, when he read about the benefits of intermittent fasting, Bonny decided to experiment with cutting back to two meals per day.

According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, whose mercola.com website is among those that Bonny frequents, taking a daily eating break of 14-16 hours drains glycogen reserves and forces the body into fat-burning mode. Because fat is a slowburning energy source, Mercola writes on his website, there are fewer blood sugar highs and lows.

Recent studies, such as one published in the October 2016 Journal of Translational Medicine, show that several health biomarkers improved in a group of resistance trainers who practiced intermittent fasting. Besides attaining lower fat and greater muscle mass than a control group, the intermittent fasters also recorded lower blood glucose and insulin levels.

Bonny was also intrigued by an article he read about the renowned cardiologist Dr. Michael DeBakey, who died in 2007 at age 99. Though he traveled the globe, lecturing and treating world leaders such as Russian president Boris Yeltsin, DeBakey was not an indulgent diner, typically eating only one meal per day.

Did DeBakey’s lone daily meal contribute to his longevity? There was no way to know. Bonny thought at some point he might try DeBakey’s eating schedule. But the first step was going from three meals to two.

Bonny’s meals had been scheduled at rather conventional times, with breakfast in the morning, lunch at midday and dinner in the early evening, around 7 p.m. Because he liked to stay up late and then sleep in, aiming to get eight hours of sleep between the hours of roughly 2 a.m. and 10 a.m., he moved his first meal to midday and his second meal a bit later in the evening, to around 8 p.m.

As with his adjustment to going without snacks, the move required a bit of getting used to. But before long, the sense of deprivation that came with the elimination of breakfast was quickly balanced out by the satisfaction of simplifying his routine. Now he was raising his blood sugar only twice per day instead of three times. He was spending less time preparing and cleaning up food.

Most importantly, his exercise now felt much more targeted and potent, attacking specific blood sugar spikes rather than a constant barrage of glucose overload.

Tackling his stair running each morning on an empty stomach, Bonny thought of how the lions he saw on the TV program “Wild Kingdom” waited to hunt until they felt the first pangs of hunger. Like them, he sharpened his appetite through exercise. By the time he earned his first meal of the day, he was truly able to appreciate his food.

These days Bonny’s meals follow a specific format. The first course is fruit, as much of whatever he has on hand as he likes. His preference is to eat whatever is fresh and in season, which not only tastes best but tends to be the cheapest. He loves mangoes, melons, pineapple, cherries, grapes, and Golden Delicious as well as Red Delicious apples. But he will eat any kind of fruit, including berries, pears, peaches, plums, tomatoes and avocado.

After his fruit course, he eats 10 prunes to help with digestion. He may then have a chicken breast or fish, followed by a natural peanut butter sandwich made with whole-grain bread. Another option is a simple egg salad made with chopped onion and roma tomatoes, using only salt-free Mrs. Dash seasoning for extra flavor.

Vegetables of all varieties, including every type of potato and all types of beans, are fair game.

“To me, everything that comes out of the ground is either fruit or vegetable and I have no problem eating it, even if I don’t know its name,” he says.

Occasionally he will have a footlong roasted chicken Subway sandwich with plenty of spinach, onions and lettuce, or two slices of an extra-large Papa John’s pineapple pizza made without meat or cheese toppings.

Each meal consumed at home includes one scoop of plain nonfat Greek yogurt. He then typically finishes his meal with unsalted cashews.

“The amount depends on how full I feel,” he says. “If something else has already filled me up, then I stop eating.”

Bonny looks forward to his meals, but doesn’t get overly hungry in the interim.

“I have always been a heavy eater,” he explains. “I love food.”

“But I have to schedule my eating and I always make sure that I don’t overeat. By eliminating one meal, I surely reduce my food intake. If it is not my meal time, I am disciplined enough not to eat.”

Some people would call that willpower. Bonny prefers to think of it as a habit that he has built through practice and repetition.

“The way I do things is generally to simplify, to make things easy to do all the time,” he says. “I want to reach my 100th birthday. To succeed in reaching my goal, everything I do must keep me healthy, strong, happy, productive and feeling young.”

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