Cecilia J. Kim, a journalism student at New York University, recently asked me some questions about my practice of Calorie Restriction. This is a transcript of the interview:
Q: Why did you start CRON? How did you come across it and do you advocate it to others?
A: I needed to lose some weight at age 60, and I started researching several diets to determine which might be the best one for me. I liked the scientific foundation of the CRON diet as described by Dr. Walford. The CRON diet puts emphasis on Optimum Nutrition which is what you need to do when you reduce your calories.
Q: Are you aware that most research has been conducted on lab mice, simple unicellular organisms and non-human primates? Some scientists believe that extrapolating findings based on experiments with such animals is not valid for humans, but from your experience do you feel physically younger?
A: You are right, the longevity studies for CRON have been conducted on laboratory animals, but CRON is not only about longevity. It is about longevity in good health. There is already substantial scientific evidence that being overweight or obese leads to many health problems. CRON helps you to stay thin and avoid the problems brought on by excess weight. Even if humans cannot live longer with CRON, they can stay healthier longer. That is already beneficial.
Q: Do you experience perpetual hunger? or has your hunger subsided with the duration of your practice of CR?
A: I am not perpetually hungry. I am quite satisfied for several hours after I eat. 🙂 However, I eat only three times per day and I don’t snack. This means that I am hungry for an hour or two before my next meal. I think that these periods of hunger help my body burn excess fat and keep my blood glucose from increasing as I age. If I don’t lose weight on a day-to-day basis, I know that I am not starving myself in spite of being hungry.
Q: How many additional years (approximately) do you expect to gain from from your practice of CR, basically how old do you expect to live to?
A: I probably already increased my life expectancy by at least 10 years by learning how to eat right. Before CRON, I was eating a lot of pastries, hydrogenated fats, and fried foods. Since I started eating the right foods in the right proportions, my cholesterol and my weight have both normalized. Being lean reduces your chances of getting cancer, but if you want to live long you also have to avoid risky activities like mountain climbing, driving without seat belts, and riding bicycles in the streets of Washington, D.C.
Q: Is exercise a part of your CR lifestyle? If so, do you believe that exercise or your restricted diet plays a larger role in your general health?
A: I exercise approximately 30 minutes per day. I do vigorous, strength-building exercises to try to stay fit. Exercise has improved my lung function and eliminated some of the allergies and sinus problems that used to bother me. Scientific studies have confirmed that people who exercise regularly have a lower death rate than sedentary people. Exercise and diet are two different aspects that contribute to overall health. You cannot really separate one from the other.
Q: I’m also interested in how CRONies handle American traditions like Thanksgiving. Can you describe your Thanksgiving dinner (how it was prepared, the thought that went into it) if it were indeed prepared to fit the CR diet?
A: Holidays can be celebrated with healthy meals. A nice plate of roast turkey with stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and a mixed salad fits very nicely into a CRON diet as long as it is prepared wholesomely. This means no butter or hydrogenated fats. Avoid double helpings. Stuff the bird, not yourself. With modern conveniences like freezers, you can have a nice Thanksgiving dinner and save the leftovers for many, many meals.