Now that we’ve turned the calendar to a new year and made our new year’s resolutions, it’s time to get started accomplishing all those things we “said we were going to change” in 2012. In the Blog today, I want to talk about “getting started,” especially as it applies to changing our eating habits. I hesitate to use the word, “diet” since that usually has connotations of something with a starting point and a finish line. What we’re talking about here is a permanent “change” to the eating habits and sedentary lifestyle that got each of us to our present position of poor health and being “not fit,” when we consider physical fitness standards. As a result of all this, many of us have gained weight (some have become obese or morbidly obese), developed medical problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, Type II diabetes, etc. etc., and whether we realize it or not, have begun the process of self-inflicting our demise.
Let’s spend a few minutes looking at “fitness” or being “fit.” To many, the words “fit” or “fitness” denote your level of activity…how far you can walk or run, how much weight you can lift or how many pushups you can do, etc. Actually the definition that I am using utilizes about five different areas of your life: 1) your coronary health level, 2) your level of physical exercise or fitness, 3) your diet, 4) how you handle stress and 5) how you relax/meditate. Once you know the answer to all five of these points you will have a pretty good idea of just how “fit” you are at the present or the beginning of your new journey. Another way to look at this is, where are you on the “spectrum” of health/disease. Let’s look at some of these points.
Your level of coronary health can only be determined by your Physician and a few tests. Please remember, it’s NOT how you look on the “outside,” it’s how you look on the inside that counts, i.e. your cholesterol level (ideally below 150 without the aid of Statin drugs), your HDL and LDL levels, LDL particle size (NMR Cholesterol test), A1C level, C-Reactive Protein level, to name a few of the things that might be considered. Some people may need a Coronary Calcium Scan. In the end, it’s TOTALLY up to your Physician to make the final decision, based on your test results, your personal history and your family history. Please remember, I’m a Dentist, not a Physician, so I’m not trying to practice medicine!
Based on your Physician’s advice, you, along with a trainer or exercise specialist, can determine the best exercise routine to follow. For me, I walk, ride an exercise bicycle and lift small weights, not over 20-30 lbs. each…I want to be “fit,” not Mr. Atlas.
There are many different “self-help” books on handling stress, ways to relax, and ways to meditate so we won’t visit these areas in this Blog, but may come back to talk about them in the future.
Now, Diet. This may be the most difficult area to discuss since almost everyone has his/her own set of circumstances and opinions of where they are at the present time and where they want to be for the rest of their life. Let me stress once again, I am convinced that a plant-based or plant-oriented eating plan gives us the best chance of preventing and/or reversing many medical problems and diseases, and I will direct all my remarks accordingly.
Having said all that, let’s look at two ways to get started. First, you can use the “cold turkey” approach, by cleaning out your refrigerator, freezer and pantry, and throw all non-plant oriented foods away or give them to a worthy charity that serves meals. With this approach, your next trip to the grocery store will be both lengthy and very, very expensive, since you have to buy almost everything you will eat for a week or so. It’s OK if you feel this approach is too bold for you and your family. Most people had rather “phase in” this new eating pattern over a few weeks or even a couple of months. I suggest you don’t take too long because as long as you have “the “bad foods” in your house the stronger the temptation will be to “cheat or fudge.” Personally, I took about three weeks to totally change my eating habits and I felt the transition was both reasonable and virtually painless. I was amazed just how quickly I stopped craving my “former” favorite foods. You might start out by having “vegan or plant-based” meals one day a week, then two days a week, then three days a week, etc. etc. until you are totally on the new plan. Once you run out of one of the “bad foods” do NOT replace them!!!
To help you get started, let me suggest two excellent cookbooks that will help make your meal plans much easier and faster…The Happy Herbivore by Lindsay S. Nixon, and Engine2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn. For working moms, The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester may help tremendously.
Actually, getting started is really just a decision and a personal “reason” to make the changes necessary for it to happen. Remember, keep it simple, make it fun and don’t listen to those who will try to discourage you, mainly because they don’t have the courage or convictions to make the “decision” for themself. Not a single one of my “detractors” ever offered to “stand in” for me during either of my heart surgeries or my prostate cancer surgery, therefore, why do their opinions matter now?
I read an interesting and timely article in the AARP Bulletin this week, “The 5 Percent Solution.” In the article it listed, “The 10 Commandments of Health” by Dr. George W. Calver, US Congress’ first appointed doctor…written in 1928. Enjoy:
2-Drink Plentifully (of water)
6-Accept Inevitables (don’t worry)
9-Check Up Occasionally
PS. Give 5% of your time to keeping well. You won’t have to give 100% getting over being sick.”
In an earlier Blog I promised to include some recipes, so here’s a couple you might want to consider…
1-Milton’s Breakfast Smoothie:
1 cup frozen triple-berries (blackberries, blueberries and raspberries) from Sam’s or Costcos.
1 scoop Soy Protein Powder (Earth Fare brand)
1 frozen banana
4 baby carrots
½ Gala Apple or apple of your choice
3-4 slices of canned sugar beets
1 cup Almond milk (low fat)
1 cup pomegranate juice (or Black Cherry Juice)
½-1 teaspoon minced ginger
Place all ingredients in blender and blend to your favorite consistency…drink and enjoy!!
*If this is too much for you to drink at one time, try cutting the recipe in half except the protein powder.
2-Healthy Homemade Hummus by Rip Esselystyn in Engine2 diet (page 236)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Bragg Liquid Aminos or low-sodium tamari
3 tablespoons water or vegetable broth
Blend all the ingredients into a thick paste, using as small amount of water as necessary to achieve desired consistency.
Within the next couple of days we’re going to fix the Mushroom Barley Risotto that was featured on the Today Show this past week. It looked good and I can hardly wait to try it….will let you know the results in a later Blog. Happy plant-based eating!!!
Milton V Massey, DDS