Diet: Change Your Diet, Change Your Life

April 23rd, 2014

Diet – as in, “I’m going on a diet” is really not the purist form of the word. Essentially a diet is a program for eating. I stopped at ten definitions when I did a search. You cannot pick up a magazine or watch Dr. Oz (have I said that before?) without the word “diet” being discussed. Often it is in the context of “miracle” or “easy.” It is little wonder that we are a nation of chronic obesity which inevitably leads to many forms of disease. Where does common sense fit into this picture?

Metabolically speaking, you are what you eat! It is that simple. Notice I did not say “easy.” Everything you put in your mouth, every sip, bite, taste contributes to the total you. So, what is your body saying you are…. Two Twinkies and a Pepsi? Or is your smart body saying, vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and olive oil?

What you eat contributes to your overall health in positive or negative ways. Articles in health magazines scream of the increase in mortality from chronic diseases that are occurring around the world. Making unhealthy choices in our eating is blamed for much of our illness problems.

Since this information explosion changes almost daily—coffee is good for you/coffee is not good for you (substitute peanut butter, salt, whole wheat, dark chocolate for coffee as you please). I cannot/will not offer a prescriptive diet. That’s not my job or my training. I signed on with a nutritionist and learned a great deal from her. It was interesting to hear advice from a trained person, rather than the hype in magazines or the hype from food companies or pharmaceuticals. These folks often want to get rich by selling you a magic pill to boost your energy or your metabolism (more on that in the next blog—think exercise) or a magic pill to make you lose five pounds in a week.

But, let me say this about that (some of you will smile). We do know from much research (not funded by food companies) that there are certain givens in the field of nutrition. These tips come from the nutritionist I studied with, here's what we know:

  • A plant based diet is healthy
  • The more vegetables and fruits you eat—the more nutritionally sound your diet is
  • The darker the color of vegetables and fruits—the healthier they are for you \Eat (dark) green leafy vegetables
  • Eat from a color pallet – (dark) green, yellow, orange, red, purple vegetables/fruits
  • The closer to the source (ie. garden) the better for you
  • The least amount of processing – the better for you
  • Drink water – it is good for your entire body and brain
  • The choice of portion size is important for overall health (skip the “supersize”)
  • Cut (way) back on white: sugar, salt, flour, rice
  • Eliminate transfats. Your government and mine has helped with this issue
  • Eat red meat occasionally
  • Eat fish - aim for twice a week
  • Drink water
  • Eliminate processed cold cuts (bologna, salami etc.)
  • Eat nuts - almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts (they are nutrient rich)
  • Eat legumes – beans, lentils, peas (they are nutrient rich)
  • Drink water
  • Avoid sugar substitutes – you do NOT need more chemicals in your body

Please note that I put vegetables in front of fruits. There is a reason for that. While fruits (fresh is best- frozen without sugar is second best) are a wiser alternative to doughnuts, they still contain sugar (albeit natural sugar). Wash all vegetables and fruits well to remove traces of pesticides, particularly if you are going to eat the skin. Many vegetables and fruits pack nutrients in the skin so eat it as much as possible (disregard this suggestion with Kiwi fruit).

Sugar substitutes (think pink, yellow, blue) contain chemicals – read the label. If you must bow to your sweet tooth, choose natural sweeteners – honey – pure maple syrup. Check it out.

One more very important thing – BECOME A LABEL READER. Ingredients are listed in the order of quantity. Put anything that has sugar or salt as first ingredient back on the shelf. Put anything that lists ingredients that you cannot pronounce back on the shelf.

Let me repeat (and you will probably hear this again) we make choices every day. The foods you eat will either contribute to a healthy body and brain by providing the nutrients you need to function optimally OR they will add to calorie rich and nutrient poor diet that will indeed, impede good health which in turn lets you age less well.

Thinking ministry – Start a campaign to have your church serve healthy snacks – fruit and whole grain products as opposed to doughnuts and sugar and fat laden snacks. Everyone will be healthier.

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