It’s interesting that the idea of creating good health or being healthy is often perceived as difficult to do. This is probably due largely to the fact that much of our food supply is artificial, processed and loaded with unnatural chemicals, or is a strategic composition of products designed to be highly addictive and of course, taste good. Other programs approach healthy eating as the need to be a nutritional expert or involve elaborate tables for “calorie counting” and measuring fat content, gauging everything by a number system of some sort that makes the whole process tedious and cumbersome. Along with this dilemma, supplements presented as the answer to poor eating habits, are largely synthetic, and usually only abstract one chemical from a whole organism as a vitamin or nutrient, and for the most part, not valuable to our actual health outside of the placebo affect, and are thought, like all synthetic chemicals to cause cancer with prolonged use. This dietary nightmare tends to not only create poor conditions in the body, but also mental and emotional depression that’s low-grade and chronic in nature, and because people are accustomed to it and think of it as ‘normal’, goes unrecognized. Yet, creating good health can be accomplished by simply following a few basic principles.
These health promoting principles deal with whole ideas instead of fragmented ones and should be implemented in stages as small yet consistent steps with reasonable time frames allotted to each stage. Trying to do too much at once, causing a feeling of deprivation, withdrawal, and suffering, will only act to sabotage the overall goal, or simply replace toxic material chemistry with emotional chemistry which produces an equivalent affect. Also, anytime you’re “quitting something”, especially something you really like and are used to, still set reasonable guidelines for when you can have it that reduce it to only an occasional event. Usually, what actually makes a product bad is the frequency of consumption, and anything only eaten occasionally probably isn’t going to hurt you or produce a pronounced affect. Being extreme in any area should always be avoided and a sense of moderation employed instead. You don’t want to take the attitude of correcting one imbalance by producing another.
There are three basic natural substances that are addictive by their very nature because they’re stimulants, and should be recognized as such.
These three products are:
• Sugar (or artificial sweeteners)
• Salt – sodium
• Fats (of any kind)
All of these derived from natural sources and consumed in moderation can be healthy for the body and serve to promote overall health. Sugar obtained naturally from fruits and vegetables that the body converts to glucose, unless you have diabetes or a health condition where all sugar intake has got to be monitored, is probably going to be fine. The energy obtained from natural, plant based foods, gives you the same sugar boost without the crash. Salt, again, is actually a necessary mineral, is important for thyroid health, promotes alkalinity in the body, and is only harmful because the modern diet of highly processed foods uses gross amounts of it not only as a flavor enhancer and preservative but also ‘because’ it’s addictive. Just eliminating processed foods and minimizing the use of table salt will probably remedy and restore balance to your system in regards to salt intake.
Fats are a bit trickier, because we have “good” fats and “bad” fats, but as a general rule of thumb, stay away from any foods that are cooked in ‘hot oils’, which are extremely carcinogenic and known to cause cancer. As a general rule, pick oils that remain liquid at room (ambient) or cold temperatures. Eliminate all forms of margarine which is a synthetic product, and if you need to continue using a similar product, use unsalted ‘real’ butter instead, and only occasionally. If you choose to eat animals, reduce consumption to one serving a day, approximately the size of your fist. Cheese, which is the highest cholesterol food there is, like milk and all dairy (comes from cows), causes mucous and congestion in the body, which is never good. So again, if you don’t eliminate dairy, definitely reduce your intake.
Other chemical additives, such as MSG, aspartame, corn syrup, along with numerous dyes, flavor enhancers, and preservatives, none of which are natural or good for you, can be eliminated for the most part by eliminating processed foods, which are loaded with them. Processed foods are not only boxed, instant powders, and prepared foods, but also any canned, frozen or packaged foods which are processed as a preparation and have chemical additives of various sorts. When considering packaged foods, always read the ingredients to see what’s in it. Always avoid any food that has a lot of ingredients as chemical additives (you don’t know what they are for sure) or that’s fortified with nutritional additives. The reason foods are fortified is because the nutrition normally found in that type of food has been destroyed through the processing and is enriched with vitamins that are synthetic (chemical) versions that your body won’t be able to properly assimilate.
Also, anytime you’re choosing to eliminate one thing or a food group, you need to also decide what you’re going to replace it with. Work by the basic idea that all habits are not “stopped” they’re simply transformed from unhealthy to healthy habits. The adage that “nature abhors a vacuum”, means, that anytime you create a “void” something will automatically be drawn into that void, and knowing this and working with principles of Nature instead of against them, we want to “decide” what’s drawn in that’s replacing whatever we’re removing. By deciding ahead of time what you’re going to replace items with, the “on the spot decisions” are easy, pre-calculated and immediate. Ease is a key feature to change!
To form your initial plan, start with primary ideas, and implement them one at a time (unless giving up something is easy), and as a good rule of thumb, allow at least forty days for each step before implementing the next. It takes approximately 40 days of consistency to transform old habits and establish new behaviors that become natural and automatic. After approximately six weeks of doing something, it becomes natural and no longer requires any kind of effort or actual decision making process.
In selecting the items and behaviors we’ll look at transforming, we’ll naturally start with the worst ones, and work our way down. If any of these areas seem like a huge change (you eat them a lot), then break the area itself down into two or three groups that will make the transition gradual.
These are the areas we’ll start with:
• Soda pop – any carbonated sugary (processed) drink. The carbonation is as bad if not worse than the sugar content and is known to cause bone-thinning as osteoporosis. While water is always the best option, wean yourself off high sugar drinks.
• Deep-fried foods, or any food cooked in hot-oils. Any kind of oil heated is extremely carcinogenic and creates a ton of free radicals, which are detrimental to your health causing general deterioration and cancers.
• Sweets, candy, desserts, ice-cream, and artificially flavored foods. Sugars not only cause weight gain, but also bind to nutrients and carry them out of the body, causing nutritional deficiency.
• Processed foods – most fast food. These are laced with chemicals and the processing strips them of any real nutritional value. The body can’t assimilate synthetic foods. Many of the chemicals used are known to cause cancer as well as an array of health problems. Only eat what looks like real food – whole foods.
• Dairy products – especially cheese. You don’t have to eliminate necessarily, but bring down to one portion a day.
• Processed breads, cakes, and products made with white-processed flour. They contain very little nutrients and are fattening. Go for products that are “stone ground” or made of non-processed wheat.
• If you eat animals, regardless of what kind (including fish), reduce your intake to one serving a day, approximately the size of your fist. Avoid any meat that’s breaded and fried, seared over and open flame, or grilled using charcoal (petroleum based).
• Eat a reasonable portion of grains, seeds and nuts. Avoid salted and “roasted” nuts, as they contain natural oils which are heated through the process of cooking.
• Develop the habit of using healthy “oils”. Oils that remains liquid at room temperatures. Extra Virgin olive oil is a good choice because it’s derived from olives through a “cold press” method and doesn’t involve heating the oil. However cooking with olive oil makes it just as carcinogenic as all oils. For cooking, consider coconut oil, which remains fairly stable when heated. Otherwise, exercise moderation.
• Plant based foods – whole fruits and vegetables should consist of 50-70% of your diet. Keep in mind that grains, nuts and seeds are also plant-based foods. Fats contained naturally in plants (which are very little) have a different affect on the body than fats derived from animal products. So a plant based diet is typically low in fat and calories and high in nutrients and dietary fiber.
Again, when eliminating anything from your diet take an attitude of significantly decreasing while still allotting occasional use. What you’ll find is that in doing so, you lose your taste for it, and after a while, no longer crave it, or when you do eat it, you don’t like it or it makes you feel funny. Keep in mind that your body will grow accustomed to whatever you feed it on a regular basis. By eliminating sugar from your diet over a period of time, when you do eat it, it can seem to make you feel queasy. When eliminating fried foods for an extended period of time, just the smell of grease will turn your stomach. When eliminating dairy over a period of time, you lose interest in it and don’t really think about it.
Again, make sure that at no point you create a feeling of struggling or suffering. When this happens you produce body chemistry as hormones that can be just as harmful as the food chemicals you’re eliminating. If you get a strong craving, indulge it, and then go back to your practice. If you’re eliminating carbonated drinks, for example, allow yourself to have them on special occasions such as when seeing a movie, at a fair or carnival, at a social engagement or sports event, and so on, where you’re still allowed, but only occasionally. The toughest part is breaking the daily routine, not the occasional one. And again, you want to avoid becoming extreme or gun-ho in any area, which simply creates a new “imbalance”. The key to success is a preplanned idea of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, coupled with an attitude of moderation.
About the Author:
Dr. Linda is a Integrative Health Consultant, personal development trainer and innovative business consultant for Physician / Healthcare entrepreneurs. She conducts regular training events for Integrative Health, Mind Development, Personal Transformation, Professional Development, Communication Skills, and Enlightened Leadership. She’s available for private or public speaking engagements, and personal or group Mentoring sessions. To inquire or schedule a consultation, click here