Step One: Positive Additions First
When making any lifestyle change, whether getting started on a new dietary regimen or a new exercise program, it’s always better to start by adding good or positive things first, and discontinuing or removing bad habits later. By taking the “add positive first” approach, there isn’t the psychological aspect of self-deprivation slowing you down. For example, if your goal is to get in shape, then going to the gym (okay, you have to join the gym first) on your way home from work or going for a walk after dinner is better than beating yourself up by saying, “I’ve got to stop sitting on the couch watching TV so much.” If you start going to the gym, by default you will sit around watching TV less when you fill that time instead with positive actions and activities.
STEP ONE: Adding Good Habits
When it comes to making dietary changes, adding positive is just as important, and for the same reasons. Rather than beginning a new nutritional regimen by trying to stop eating all the bad foods you enjoy, and feeling deprived of your favorite mid-morning soda or candy snack (that you may be literally addicted to), it’s better to start by adding a good breakfast, eating large salads at lunch and dinner, and bringing fresh fruit and raw nuts as snacks; you will find that your cravings for the bad junk foods (think of them as “disease foods” or “die fast foods”) decreasing. One main concept that should be well understood is that of whole foods.
So here are some basic steps to start getting more fruits, vegetables and nuts into your diet. Remember, you want to begin any change to your health regimen by adding something positive first; then later, start removing the negative lifestyle habits you may have adopted.
- Eat a large salad with lunch and dinner. This doesn’t mean iceberg lettuce drenched in Ranch dressing. This means a salad made with green leaf, red leaf, and romaine lettuce, and vegetables such as carrots, celery, cucumber, tomato (I know, tomato is technically a fruit), avocado, radishes, green beans, legume beans (navy, garbanzo, kidney, etc.), miscellaneous greens (kale, chard, mustard, dandelion, etc.), cabbages (napa, savoy, Bok choy – Chinese cabbage), etc. Make salad the main dish for your meals; the protein, if there is one, should be smaller or secondary. Minimize how many starches you eat (i.e. pasta, breads, etc.).
- Have steamed vegetables every night with dinner. This is one of the easiest things to add, even while eating out – almost all restaurants will accommodate your request to add or substitute steamed vegetables to your meal instead of rice, fries, or some other starch that typically comes with a dinner.
- Snack on raw veggies (i.e. carrots, celery, jicama), raw nuts, and fruit, etc. Take the time to cut up some vegetables, put them in Ziplock™ baggies. In another baggie or Tupperware™ container put some raw almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts (filberts). Along with an apple, banana, tangerine, etc., you now have some take-along snacks for work or the car (especially if you’re transporting little people). Taking these preparatory steps will enable you to avoid succumbing to eating junk food, fast food, etc.
- Start eating nutritious breakfasts. If you’re not eating breakfast, shame on you – it’s the most important meal of the day (I know your mom told you that!). If you are eating breakfast, what are you eating? Cereal? Bagels? Coffee (please, not with some poisonous, chemical-laced “non-dairy” creamer!)? Soda pop (yes, people actually drink soda pop for breakfast; and we wonder why 55% of U.S. adults are overweight or obese and 1 in 4 Americans will develop diabetes)? Start eating fruit, whole grains (i.e. oatmeal with raw nuts; to sweeten, add cinnamon, raw Agave nectar and fresh berries or sliced bananas), and raw nuts for breakfast; or poached eggs on sprouted grain toast (no wheat flour); or make a batch of egg-salad (with grated carrots or zucchini, or chopped left over vegetables from the night before) and eat it straight out of the bowl or have it with avocado.
STEP TWO: Stopping the Bad Habits
As with nearly every aspect of our lives (diet style, marriage, finances, exercise, etc.), success comes not only from doing positive, successful, proven vital behaviors, but also from stopping known negative, destructive behaviors. When it comes to the food you put in your body, this input and its corresponding impact on our health cannot be overemphasized – it’s critical!
So, one of our first concepts is “out of sight, out of mind.” This means potato chips, soda pop, candy, breads, or whatever it is that you will eat if it’s in the house, and therefore shouldn’t be in the house…get rid of it – NOW! Just go through your cupboards and refrigerators, and toss all disease foods. These include the following (or if it has any of the following as an ingredient):
- Artificial sweeteners: Aspartame (i.e. Nutrasweet and Equal) and Sucrolose (i.e. Splenda)
- Hydrogenated oils (also known as trans-fats) and partially hydrogenated oils
- Potato chips, tortilla chips, pork rinds (do people really eat fried pork rinds?)
- Fried foods (this includes chips)
- Milk and milk products (unless it’s raw milk; also, organic butter and heavy cream don’t have the milk proteins in them and are therefore relatively healthy)
- Roasted, salted nuts – switch to eating raw nuts – they’re incredibly nutritious and energy providing (and non-gas producing; your spouse will be happy!)
- Soda pop (this includes ALL soda pop, diet or regular)
- Fake “juices” (you know, the kind that say “10% real juice” – do you wonder what’s the other 90%?)
- Wheat flour foods (breads, pasta, cakes, cookies, crackers, etc.) – this is a stumbling block for many people, but it will prevent you from developing diabetes and being overweight
- Cured meats (bacon, sausages, and lunch meats; anything with nitrates, nitrites)
- MSG (monosodium glutamate; now disguised as hydrolyzed yeast extract, etc.)
- High fructose corn syrup (in many foods: ketchup, soda pop , sport/energy drinks)
- Low fat, non-fat or “lite” foods
- Non-dairy “creamers”
- Chewing gum (especially sugarless – artificial sweeteners are toxic and cancerous)
People love to hear good things about their bad habits – never is this truer than when it comes to the “crap” people put in their bodies. You’ll hear opinions, even by respected, well intentioned doctors, such as “everything in moderation.” Well, if that’s true, then, is it okay to have a “little” crack cocaine? Or is it okay to cheat on your spouse “a little?” Is it okay to dump a little toxic waste into our rivers and oceans? The truth is, that much of the toxic poisoning that we are self-dosing ourselves with through our food supply is being done over years in small doses. The fact that it’s a slow poisoning and in small doses (in living systems, called bioaccumulation), doesn’t negate the fact that it’s still poison and that it will ultimately have adverse effects on our health. Just look at the cancer rates – they keep increasing (despite the false celebration of the development of earlier diagnostic detection technology yielding improved survival statistics). This same principle applies to the over-consumption of cereals and processed grains in our culture, which is causing a horrendous obesity epidemic and its attendant pervasive heart disease and diabetes, which our society as a whole is in complete denial of its causes; however, that denial doesn’t make it any less true or serious.
It’s time for all of us to be convicted on these facts. Let’s move forward (now that we know the truth, it’s our moral duty to move forward), and let’s move back – to our genetic roots of eating whole, fresh, nutritious foods. It will impact every aspect of our lives and health.