3 tips to eat better; it's easier than you think!

I watched an interesting documentary the other night called, "Forks Over Knives." It's a story about the obvious - America is overweight, sugar intake is at an all-time high, and processed foods are everywhere.  What struck me most about this movie was the focus on protein and the fact that many people eat too much protein.  The doctors profiled are on a mission to convince people to stop eating meat and dairy foods - period!  Based on years of research and clinical trials these doctors have concluded that animal protein is the primary cause of cancer and adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet is the only way to break the cycle of disease. I have to admit that on first blush I was a bit skeptical.  I mean, what's so bad about organic chicken?  As I watched the compelling stories of actual people who switched from the mainstream high protein diets to the whole foods (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans) I was intrigued and impressed to say the least.  People who took numerous medications slowly weaned themselves off, reversed their Diabetes, and sent cancer into remission.  The results are pretty amazing an worth considering.

As I think practically about adopting a whole foods based diet I came up with some quick questions to ask yourself before taking the plunge:

1.  What is the best way to adopt a whole-food, plant-based diet? - The short answer is to not over think it.  In the documentary there were folks with so many medical conditions that they were forced to go cold turkey on their nutrition.  In other words overnight they threw out the processed foods and started cooking whole food meals right away.  In your case, you may not have to go that hard core.  You could start by adding 2-3 vegetable servings at dinner time along with a fresh fruit medley.  Collect recipes that look good to you and try them out.  As you build your base of recipes you'll increase your intake of healthier foods without the cold turkey effect.

2. Should I tell my doctor about my new eating regimen? - It's important to keep an open dialogue with your doctor especially if you want to get off your medication.  Remember, with every medication you take, there's a side effect that comes along with it.  Don't settle for taking medication because you have to. Do whatever it takes to be medication free!  Please don't keep secrets though; tell your doctor what your plans are and get an action plan on getting off the drugs.  If you find a lot of resistance with your doctor or if you're not seeing eye to eye, it may be time to search for a doctor who can help you achieve your goal.

3.  What if my family isn't supportive? - This is a tough one especially if they're used to eating on the run or have some favorite fast foods.  Change takes time and it may be a few weeks or months before the family embraces a new menu.  Be sure to choose meals with lots of color and engage the kids to help you make the meals.  You'd be surprised at the response of the kids when they help prepare a healthy meal and enjoy the fruit of their labor.  During the meal prep, talk to them about the healthy meal ahead and all the positive things that will happen as a result (e.g. feel good, grow taller, get smarter).

Wherever you are on the animal protein issue I think we can all agree that we need to eat more whole foods, unprocessed foods in our diet.  Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables and experiment with colorful dishes.  You can't help but feel better - I promise.

Have you thought about eliminating animal protein and dairy from your diet?

Heart-Healthy Foods, Which Ones are Right for You?

Heart-healthy foods are the craze.  Walk down any grocery food aisle and you'll see for yourself.  Between heart symbols, catch phrases, and all the hype around certain foods you may wonder what foods (if any) really do help your heart.  One fact that we can be sure of is this: there is a lot of confusion around what makes a good food versus bad food.  Once you get into the heart-healthy world, it can be even more frustrating to know the best foods to eat.  Here's an interesting article on heart-healthy foods by Robert Davis.  He delves into some popular foods that you may already have in your kitchen or may have added to your grocery list. The lesson with the above article and so many others is that you've got to know your body and what foods work best for you.  Coffee isn't bad for you - Lord knows I need my morning cup - but for some of you, two cups of coffee can keep you up all night.  Certain foods like nuts can cause allergic reactions and skin breakouts but they're still good for you right?  Bottom line?  You have to know what foods work best in and for your body and sometimes that takes trial and error.  You may react to food differently as you age so it's important to track any changes over time.  In a nutshell (no pun intended) here's what you need to do to get and keep a healthy heart.

  • Exercise daily
  • Watch your saturated and trans fat intake
  • Get your baseline cholesterol, blood pressure reading
  • Keep track of certain foods that may be troublesome (e.g. nuts, oils)
  • Eat in moderation even on your cheat days

My grandmother is 96 years old.  I always ask questions about how she has lived so long without any major problems.  She tells me that she does everything in moderation, doesn't worry too much, and keeps her brain busy by moving around, having good conversations, and getting plenty of rest.  I think my Mama Laura has the secret to heart-healthy living.  I look forward to following in her footsteps.