It would seem that eating sub-optimal food is a right of passage for a man. Chicken wings, hot dogs, pizza, chips, and of course beer, all accompany your typical North American Super bowl Sunday (or any day that involves watching sports). To eat a clean meal while getting together with your male friends almost seems taboo, like you just shouldn’t do it. I may be a woman, but I grew up with brothers. I see this in my male clients and friends, through the men in my family and watch my husband struggle with the same mentality-real men eat whatever they want.
The problem with this mentality is that beyond the age of 21, this slowly starts to backfire. Genetics and metabolism only go so far before you start to experience the pains of an unhealthy diet. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, joint problems, weight gain and estrogen dominance are no respecter of persons-male or female. What you used to be able to “get away with” when you were in your teens/early twenties are going to be, or already are, a thing of the past. Continuing down a road of belligerent unhealthy eating for the sake of keeping your manhood is a bad idea to say the least.
The men in my family aren’t particular healthy, in fact, most of my family isn’t really that healthy. From German descent, I grew up eating meat, potatoes, some vegetables (mostly carrots and peas), cream, margarine and lots of processed foods. A typical after school snack was a pack of Ichyban noodles or a bag of microwave popcorn. A typical after school snack for my 6’7 older brother was a whole loaf of bread and half a container of Skippy peanut butter and jam. As I got older, I started to become acutely aware of my body and how it looked. I was a tall child but as I got into my early teens, I started gaining weight. I began to exercise and watched what I ate (aka ate less) because I never wanted to be overweight or unhealthy (my great aunt weighed over 400lbs at 5’4). My siblings didn’t share the same enthusiasm for exercise or eating vegetables as I did and as we all got older, the effects of each one of our diets were plain to see.
My brothers, in particular, started to display health symptoms from the effects of eating poorly the older they got. They eat a ton of meat, processed foods and little vegetables. They may claim they eat vegetables, but it’s usually only a token slice of tomato on a burger or a few veggies thrown on the side of a heavy meal consisting mainly of meat and starch. Both are overweight and both have health issues that are directly linked to what they consume as well as their lack of exercise. And they’re not the only ones. Most of the men in my family (and women) don’t exercise or consume anywhere near the recommended amount of vegetables. Nutritionally they are starving, but physiologically they are overfed. If I bring up eating more vegetables to them, they often sneer and mock me saying “my food eats what you eat”, like not eating vegetables makes them more manly.
Think about this for a moment though- when we accumulate fat, we store more estrogen (a predominantly female hormone) in our body. The more fat we have the more we synthesize estrogen from other hormones. Having high levels of estrogen signals the body to make more fat cells which in turn causes more estrogen. In men, this means fat on the butt, hips, thighs and chest (the infamous man boobs)…not super manly, and not at all healthy. I love my brothers, but eating less vegetables and more junk doesn’t make them more manly.
My husband used to make fun of me because I crave vegetables, but now he does too. He still eats the chips and drinks the beer, but on a much smaller scale. He cut out sugar just before we met and dropped 40lbs in 6 months. His workouts became more focused and his eating became cleaner once we got together. Now he sits beneath 10% body fat. You can see his muscles, he’s strong, has a ton of energy and is quite the spectacle if I do say so myself. But most of all, he feels masculine because he’s healthy. He’s healthy because of the food he eats and the food he doesn’t eat.
Eating vegetables alone won’t make you healthy, but it’s sure a good start. A simple guideline I follow and coach my clients to follow is that at least 50% of the food you eat should be in the form of non-starchy vegetables, if not more. If you start to incorporate more and more healthy foods, you won’t have room for the unhealthy foods. Add exercise on top of that, and you have the basis for a healthy body.
Real men care about their health.
Real men are grateful for the bodies they have and in turn honour them with healthy foods and exercise.
Real men cook.
Real men give a damn.
Real men eat vegetables.
That’s all for today. Have a wonderful week and don’t forget to eat your veggies!
All my love,
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