What if in 2016 we forgot about dieting?
The start of a new year usually comes with a lot of promises and pledges to get healthier, fitter and to lose weight. I bet if you asked 20 people what their New Year's resolutions were, you'd find that at least half probably included something related to their diet and exercise habits. I'm here to offer a little alternative and some tools to change the dieting mindset and simply help you enjoy your food. By food I mean REAL FOOD. Whole foods that have been minimally processed, and that are nutrient dense as opposed to full of additives, preservatives, hormones, excess fat, sugar and salt, and all sorts of stuff our bodies simply don't know what to do with. I'm talking about diving into the vast world of delicious and healthful plant-based whole foods that will have your bodies do all the work it's supposed to do.
We've long known thanks to the latest research in nutrition, that a whole foods plant-based diet is the ideal diet for preventing and even reversing chronic illness. We also know that a whole foods plant-based diet is choc full of fiber, the key link to sustained weight loss, meaning the kind you lose and are able to keep off. If you're already vegan or have started taking steps in this direction or are simply incorporating more plants into your diet, you're well on your way, but I have to confess something. With all the amazing vegan products our there, and all the fantastic goodies you can make at home, I sometimes forget about the simple deliciousness of just eating an apple, or a huge bowl of black beans, brown rice, tons of fresh salsa and avocado. This to me is what we should all be striving for, and it's a much better concept of health or weight loss than it is to profoundly deprive yourself of calories and nutrients in order to lose a few pounds.
In my experience, restriction only brings about extra cravings, a desire for the diet to end (which inevitably leads to weight regain), a desire to "cheat", and this can wreak havoc on your emotional well-being, not to mention our bodies.
What if we make a change together?
I'll ask you this question again... what if... in 2016 we forgot about dieting, and based our meals on delicious and natural whole foods? Some people call this clean eating, but I like to call it "getting grounded with plants". Why? Because when I make an effort to eat this way, everything in my life feels more grounded, I feel stronger, I can run for longer, I feel light and nourished and yet it's so delicious and filling. A feeling I never used to get when I restricted calories, carbs or portions in the past.
So what does it mean to eat a diet based on whole plant foods? Stick to the most natural and unrefined form of the food. Does this mean you can't have a delicious brownie, or our decadent double layer chocolate cake? What about pizza or veggie burgers? It is my firm belief (and this is what I do in my daily life), that these goodies must also be included. Treating that little food loving kid in you is just as important as feeding the health conscious adult. I have a scrumptious veggie burger with fries and a REAL decadent dessert once a week without fail, and it keeps me happy and motivated to eat really healthy the rest of the days. There is no such thing of a 100% perfect diet 100% of the time. That yin and yang of food choices is so important if you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle that far exceeds the month of January.
What it means to eat whole foods
By whole foods I mean the most natural form of a food, fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts, seeds, spices, whole grains, and all the wonderful goodies you can make with these. It means that brown rice is more a whole food than white rice because it hasn't been processed as much. It means that a delicious bowl of oat porridge topped with fruits and nuts is better for you than a pre-packaged power bar. It means that eating bulgur wheat is more a whole food than eating whole wheat bread, but whole wheat bread is much better for you than white bread. You get the gist... go to the original source as much as possible.
So what does a day of eating based on whole foods look like for me?
You can get a first hand look of what we eat every week in our Monday series "From our Kitchen Table", and we have over 100 videos and recipes in our membership program, but here are some of the goodies that usually fill my plate:
- Delicious fruits and smoothies packed with greens, fruits and seeds.
- Yummy bowls of oat porridge or overnight oats topped with fresh berries, banana, nuts and seeds.
- Whole grain toast or wraps filled with delicious goodies like peanut or almond butter and jelly, hummus and raw crunchy veggies, roasted vegetables and grilled mushrooms with pesto.
- My favorite bowls filled with beans, whole grains (especially quinoa, brown rice and buckwheat), veggies like roasted sweet potato, kale, and tons of fresh salsa and guacamole to top.
- Stir fries, pastas, risottos, pizza, burgers and all the traditional favorites, but made with yummy whole foods that make these goodies much better for you. Don't forget to include a little naughtiness too. This will help you stick with it for the long haul.
I could go on and on with delicious plant-based whole foods options, but we're going to leave that for another post and give you a handy dandy resource for incorporating more of these into your diet.
Of course I eat the occasional vegan sausage, or add a bit of non-dairy cheese to my pizza. These options are wonderful, especially if you're transitioning. What I want you to do is make whole foods the main component of your diet, and then you can (and should!) have your treats too.
Dr. Greger to the rescue! An app to help you eat more whole foods, and the concept of crowding out
There is nothing more helpful than the concept of crowding out when it comes to eating healthier and losing weight. Instead of focusing on what you can't have (i.e. a negative mindset) focus on all the amazing foods that you can have (i.e. a positive mindset based on abundance). This means that by trying to fill your plate with all the whole foods you'll be eating, you'll be crowding out all the processed foods, as well as the meat and dairy if you're still consuming these.The amazing Dr. Michael Greger, pioneer in bringing us the latest in nutritional research has created an app to help us with this. I've been trying it since it came out and it has been like magic!
It's a free app based on the latest research in nutrition which guides you through 12 food "groups" you should be eating daily for optimal wellness and for the prevention of disease. He goes into these 12 groups in a lot more detail in his latest book "How Not to Die", but the app is perfect for daily living as you mark the portions you've had throughout the day. Carlos is doing this with me so when we decide it's time for a snack, we glance at the list and make up a plate based on what we've missed during the day. I don't need to tell you that delicious banana slices dipped in almond butter, or a creamy smoothie with greens and berries is much better than reaching for the chips or the cupcake!
The app is called Daily Dozen and wait for it... it's free!
I'll be posting more about how it's going in future posts, and we'll also be getting into two other very important factors when it comes to weight loss and healthy eating: moving that pretty booty of yours and eating mindfully. These are coming soon!
To wrap up I want to ask you a question:
What do you think is your biggest challenge when trying to eat more whole foods? Do you think you'll give the Dr. Greger app a try with me? Let me know your thoughts and stories in the comments below!
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