Healthy Eating: Start with ONE Simple Measure
I just learned that a long-time business associate, someone I consider a friend died very recently of a heart attack. She was in her mid-60’s and was overweight for as long as I knew her (30 years). One simple measure; healthy eating could’ve made a huge difference in her life and I was sad to learn nothing I or others had said or done had made enough difference to get her to act before it was too late. If YOU are reading this now, healthy eating could make a difference for you. But thinking about it and following through on it are two very different things for most of us.
I’m going to share ONE SIMPLE MEASURE for healthy eating you can start on today. It can make a significant difference.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole, get paralyzed & go nowhere.
What do I mean by this?
We know that Americans eat way too much sugar, empty carbohydrates, and processed foods. In fact, the average American gets more than half their daily calories from foods that have almost no nutritional value. Graphic here
It’s easy to say, “Stop eating processed foods.” However, many people don’t understand what is processed and what isn’t. There’s a TON of vegan processed junk food out there, for example. Some people are under the impression it’s “healthier.”
It’s easy to say, “Stop eating high-fat foods.” But people don’t consider chicken or fish to be high fat, though it is higher in fat than what most people realize. Not to mention that while eating a small handful of nuts can be healthy, eating a 12 oz. bag while watching a football game can add a walloping 2,000+ calories and 200gms of fat (1800 calories’ worth of fat!) to your daily intake!
It’s easy to say, “Eat less sugar,” but there is hidden sugar in many foods. And drinking juice by itself (which many consider ‘healthy’) can adversely affect your blood sugar and triglyceride levels as much or more than a candy bar.
And it goes on and on and on.
A simple change isn’t easy for most
It’s easy for someone like me to come along & tell you that you “should” change it all. It’s too easy for you to say, “That’s too much. I’m just going to continue eating what I want and hope for the best.”
That’s the rabbit hole I’m referring to: the one where you get stuck in all the ‘I could, I should’s’ but you stay paralyzed and don’t do a thing to change.
Then, you’re like my friend mentioned above… .6 feet under. . . or suffering the consequences of chronic disease, in constant pain, living between doctor’s appointments and feeling like crap. I don’t want that for you.
Fortunately or unfortunately (your choice) as I often point out, for most of us, how we take care of ourselves during mid-life will dictate how much suffering we do over the final 5-10 years of life. (For simplicity sake, if you’re looking for numbers, we’ll consider mid-life 35-70+.)
One Simple measure of healthy eating you can improve on
What if there were an easy simple solution that would just steer you in the right direction? One thing that you could continually measure and continually work to improve? And what if there were substantial proof that it WOULD make a difference? The good news is that there is.
Now, this solution is far from the ‘end all be all’ but if used in the way I suggest, it will, at least head you in the right direction. Then you can take more steps, by working with me, for example, to better structure your diet for a long healthy life.
So, what is this measurement? You ask.
Simply this: Take a look at your diet; overall; day-in and day-out. What is the percentage of your diet that is plant-based whole food?
More Plant-based Whole Food
By plant-based whole food, I mean fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole (unpulverized) starches. A little more specifically: corn is a whole starch, cornmeal is not. A potato is loosely considered a whole starch, but a French fry, mashed potatoes or baked potato slathered with butter, no. Bread, even whole wheat or gluten-free grain is pulverized; so, not a whole food. Brown rice=whole grain, white rice=NO. Steel-cut or thick rolled oats=yes; quick-cook or instant=no. Quinoa, barley, millet, buckwheat, and amaranth are more examples of whole grains if they are not pulverized and ground into flour.
This doesn’t mean don’t ever eat pulverized grains again. Just be aware of how much you are eating and work toward more whole food (more below).
Similarly, whole fruits are great; juiced fruits; fruit in cans with sugary syrup; not so much. A glass of plant-milk is fine as is a little juice in a smoothie (again, more below).
For practical purposes, don’t concern yourself about juiced veggies but know that pulverizing them in a Vitamix or blender is better than a juice extractor.
Now understand, none of this means your diet needs to be 100% whole foods. That’s nearly impossible; even for crazy health nuts like me!
For most Americans, the sad fact is that their diet is less than 15% fruits, vegetables, beans & grains. The most abundant vegetable in the American diet is the French Fry and the most common fruit is (fiber-less) fruit juice! When calculated out of the mix, Americans get about 10-12% of their daily calories from whole plant foods! NO WONDER WE ARE SO SICK!
We get over 1600 calories per day from processed grains, added fats and sugar alone! In fact, according to Governmental studies, the average 51-70-year-old gets 73.8% of their calories from 30 foods that are all either processed & prepared or are animal-based.
So, the ONE SIMPLE MEASURE for HEALTHY EATING is this: What percentage of your calories daily comes from WHOLE PLANT FOOD?
That number may be difficult to accurately calculate but you don’t necessarily need to. Just look at your diet and estimate realistically. Then, start by adding an extra serving each of fruit and vegetables daily. Get to at least 5 per day if you’re not already there. An additional step can also be to start substituting beans as a protein source/main dish.
Just getting to 5/day along with other simple measures like getting a mere 30 minutes of exercise 5 days/week, not smoking and limiting alcohol to 14 servings or less/week meets the basic parameters for the mid-life changes shown to make a substantial difference.
Once you’re at 5/day, increase to 7/day then more. Become more aware of how much processed foods you eat and start choosing to change that. This will automatically help your one simple measure of healthy eating.
Don’t have the time to avoid eating junk food? Does it take ANY less time to open a potato chip package than it does to bite into an apple? Does it take any less time to cut up cheese and get out crackers than it does to peel an orange? You can buy ‘baby carrots’ & cut up broccoli crowns and dip them hummus (email me for a no-added oil recipe or experiment on your own.) A lot of this is awareness, choice and which isles of the grocery store you choose to spend your time in. (Hint: spend more time in the produce aisle, go to Farmer’s Market or sign up with a local CSA group for home delivery)
Now, if you have major or minor health issues; are on medication, are over-weight, have a hormonal, gut or other health problems, this step-wise progression may be too little to make the progress you need quickly enough to make a difference. I urge you to contact me today and have a Complementary Conversation to discuss working together to help you get the results you need before it’s too late.
For the rest of you, I urge you to begin today. Comment below and let the world know what you’re commi