Day Thirty Eight – Simple Steps to Cleaner Eating

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Still nursing the foot.  It’s only Tuesday John, relax.  Rode the short commutes on the single speed and the foot doesn’t really bother me on the bike.  Cycling is easy, but I also want to know I can run.  I was fairly quick when I was young…

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Oatmeal with molasses & agave nectar, blueberries, walnuts, flaxseed and hemp hearts
    • Green Smoothie – Spinach, Kale, melon, strawberry, blackberries
  • Lunch:
    • Quinoa & Black Beans, 1/2 yellow bell pepper, banana, apple, pecans & raisins
  • Dinner:
    • Appetizer: Heirloom carrots, broccoli & hummus
    • Tomato, pesto & avocado on toasted ciabatta bread
    • Yukon Gold baked fries
    • Green Salad with hemp oil balsamic vinaigrette
    • Glass of Cabernet
    • Dark Chocolate

Hey, it was a vegan day again – that feels good.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this dilemma that it’s sometimes hard to tell if vegetarians & vegans as a whole are generally healthier simply because of diet or because they are just generally more health conscious which has lead them to adopt a plant based approach to nutrition along with a tendency to be more physically active and to avoid highly processed and high calorie, low nutrient foods?

I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter.  The two go hand in hand, for the most part.  Yes, you can be an unhealthy vegetarian – Oreos technically qualify as vegan.  Is anyone arguing that Oreos are a health food?  Some things are obvious, some things are common sense, but so often it’s the case that you don’t see the common sense until you are hit over the head with it.

The vast majority of Americans, in particular, are in dire need of a nutritional overhaul. Many, many people who think they are eating “pretty healthy” are still consuming vast quantities of refined sugar and flour.  The link between animal products and coronary disease was proven decades ago, but we love to hear that maybe it’s not quite true.  Maybe Atkins was right?

The point is that most everyone could stand to clean up their diet and it doesn’t have to be perfect and it doesn’t have to follow one strict diet dogma to do you lots of good.  You do however, need to pay attention to a few basic precepts.

If you do two simple things, you can dramatically improve the quality of your diet:

  1. Eat vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, in as close to their whole, natural state as possible.

  2. Avoid packaged, processed, canned, prepared and fast foods.

I didn’t say easy, just simple.

If you really want to go for a clean diet, there are 5 steps I recommend following.  It’s a rare individual who can go all the way from Standard American Diet to nothing but healthy, whole foods in one step.  You have to work your way into it.  And it’s work, but it’s some of the most rewarding work I’ve done.

Each of these steps starts with the verb ‘Eliminate’ which may carry a negative connotation, but the best way to approach this is to think not of doing without, but of crowding out.  Adding lots of nutrient dense, whole foods to take the place of the highly processed, high calorie and low nutrient density foods and food like edible products that are not helping us function at our best.  To help with this idea there are examples in the right hand column of things to add as you reduce and remove the things in the left hand column.  These are just a few examples and as you work your way through these steps, you discover all kinds of new and wonderful things to eat that you never gave a second thought before.  You find what works for you and what you like and you quickly find yourself thinking “Wow, I can’t believe I used to eat that!”

5 Simple Steps to Cleaner Eating:

Eliminate Refined Sugar
Add Fruit, sweeter vegetables like bell peppers, use natural sweeteners like agave nectar, when necessary
Eliminate Refined Flour
Add high quality starches like sweet potatoes, whole grains and sprouted grains
Eliminate Alcohol
Drink lots of water. Replace beer and hard liquor with a glass of good red wine*
Eliminate Meat
Add alternative proteins – legumes, quinoa, flaxseed, hemp, hummus.  Also more dark leafy greens like Kale and even sea vegetables like Nori, Kelp, Kombu and Dulse.
Eliminate Dairy
Add more nuts – almond milk, cashew cream, nut butters and nut pates

*When you are thirsty, drink water.  Water is for hydration. Beer and wine are foods.  Soda is one of the ultimate examples of empty calories.

You don’t have to be perfect about this to reap enormous benefits. You don’t have to go 100% with all of these ideas if you are not ready or just don’t want to, but if you do these things you will be eating a very clean and very healthy diet that study after study has shown will reduce your risk for many serious diseases including heart disease, diabetes and some cancers, will leave you leaner than you thought was possible, give you more energy and mental clarity than ever and expose you to a world of flavors and textures that you’ve never imagined.

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