Since I’m so heavily involved in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, I thought it would be worthwhile to explore what the Gracie Diet is all about.
I’ve been on many different diets over the past 15 years, but none of them ended up being long-term solutions for me in terms of helping me reach my weight loss goal. The only thing that has worked for me is the parameters set by the Whole Life Challenge. Ever since I had success with that, I haven’t looked at another fad diet. I’ve just focused on eating as clean as possible.
Now, I’m not a fan of the word diet because I think it is linked to many negative ideas (which I wrote about in my previous blog post). Even when I first saw ‘Gracie Diet’, I kind of rolled my eyes and thought – it’s just another trend. However, given that I am so involved with Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (as mentioned above), I thought that I should at least read the book and understand what it was all about. What became clear to me was that the Gracie Diet was not a fad diet. It’s a certain way of eating — an eating lifestyle if you will. If you take the word ‘diet’ in the purest sense of the word, it refers to “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats” (Oxford Dictionary). Keeping that in mind, the Gracie Diet is a system of eating habits that focuses on optimal digestion to improve overall health.
In order to learn more about the diet, I purchased the book, written by Rorion Gracie.
The book is short (123 pages) and includes 16 recipes and a 2-week eating plan. It even has a brief guide of menu choices that are in line with the Gracie Diet from a number of popular restaurants (e.g. Cheesecake Factory & Applebee’s). It’s an easy read and I would recommend it for the narrative if not anything else.
The basic principles:
- Eat foods in specific combinations to optimize digestion. Here’s a link to the different food groups.
- Leave at least 4 1/2 hours between your meals.
- Don’t drink alcohol or eat pork.
- Avoid sweets, canned foods in syrup, pepper, clover, cinnamon, pickles and vinegar.
What I liked most about the book is that it presented the diet in a very practical, logical manner. They address grocery shopping habits, dealing with Halloween, involving children in the lifestyle and so forth. The information is presented in a way that makes you realize that it is possible to make a change. You want to eat in a way that makes you feel your best, right? Very few people (if any) would answer no to that. However, the challenge is whether or not people will take the necessary steps to make sure they eat in such a way.
Even though I know what foods are healthy and which ones are not, I still eat unhealthy foods at times (chocolate is my main downfall). To put good habits into practice takes discipline and constant effort. I know that if I want to change the way I feel (i.e. become healthier), then I need to take a closer look at my diet.
What I found interesting about the Gracie Diet is that very few foods are ‘off-limits.’ Rather than prohibiting a whole list of foods, what the diet focuses on is eating them in a way that allows the body to digest the foods in the most efficient way possible.
Rorion Gracie presents a 3-phase plan of easing in to the Gracie Diet way of eating.
Phase 1: Space your meals at least 4 1/2 hours apart. No snacks. No beverages except water. Just your main meals.
Phase 2: Eliminate desserts and sodas. You actually can eat sweets in the Gracie Diet, but once again, it has to do with how the dish is prepared, what other foods are being combined with it, and when it is being eaten.
Phase 3: Do not mix different starches within the same meal.
A few quotes from the book that stuck with me:
“The human body naturally functions in perfect balance. Don’t complicate things by feeding it the wrong foods! Eating right is easy. All you need is common sense and a willingness to learn some basic concepts” (p. 12).
“For many people, two erroneous beliefs are at the heart of their inability to manage body weight. The first fallacy is that you can’t control your weight … the second misconception is that you’re more tired than you actually are” (p. 20-21).
“Never let yourself feel that change is beyond your control. You have the power to defeat any internal adversary, starting today!” (p. 26).
“Confronting the temptation and then denying it caused the craving to vanish. It made me stronger. It put me in control. It increased my self-worth. Not only is this self-mastery the single most important element of the weight-loss equation, but it will positively impact every aspect of your life” (p. 76-77).
My initial thoughts:
- Combining foods in a certain way makes sense to me.
- It will definitely take me some time to get used to the 4 1/2 hour gap between meals. (Read about my experience here.)
- Desserts/sweets are my downfall. I’ll need to work hard to avoid them.
- I find it interesting that there are foods that are ‘allowed’ that I have eliminated from my diet (for the most part) – e.g. flour, cheese. Even though they are permitted, I don’t see myself reintroducing them as a regular part of my diet.
- I won’t know whether it will work for me unless I give it a go!