Pick Your Poison
I hear people say this a lot “Well, you have to die of something.”, and “Everything causes cancer.” But the phrase that really gets my goat is “Everything in moderation.” ARGH!
Life is full of choices and unfortunately they are not all equal. We were created with brains to make wise choices. Using afore mentioned excuses, most of us give very little thought to what we eat. We are creatures of habit and tend to eat what we were taught by our parents or friends. Ever try a new restaurant you have never heard of before? Ever make a recipe with ingredients you have never heard of before? Doubtful.
My challenge to you this week is to record in some way, by notebook, on your smart phone, sticky notes, voice recorder or whatever, everything you eat and drink for one whole day. Be sure to write the quantity as closely as possible. Don’t forget things like coffee creamer, sandwich condiments, salad dressing, etc. For example, “Iced black tea, 24 oz, lemon juice, 2 T, sugar, 2 T”. It takes purpose, intention, and planning, so mark the calendar for the intended day to do the exercise.
What is the point?
Study after study has proven that those who keep a food diary lose more weight than those who do not regardless of diet. To my point, it is not about losing weight; it is about getting a close look at the actual content of our diets. Weight loss is temporary, healthy living is permanent. I always challenge my clients to focus on eating for health then the weight loss will follow. If you really think about the content of the meal you choose, especially if you do not prepare it yourself, i.e. order from a menu, you will choose more wisely. This will not resonate until the food diary task is performed.
The nature of poison
Another peer-pressure diet-buster is the phrase “a little won’t hurt you”. I contend that it will. If you have worked hard to avoid the poisons ubiquitous in the SAD (standard American diet), the taste of just a little of it will give your brain a dose dopamine which makes you want more. That’s why I never tease myself with high fructose corn syrup, the “crack cocaine” of sweeteners. The same for animal fats of any kind; cheese, cream, butter, or even chicken broth. The feel of animal fat in the mouth is so much more pleasurable than plant fats, like nuts and avocados, that it will cause a release of dopamine as well. I tell my tempters “No, a little won’t hurt me, but I’ve worked too hard to forget what that tastes like and I don’t want to go back.” They never argue with me because they have no idea what I am talking about.
Forever is too permanent
When I began this vegan journey I never told myself that I would give anything up forever. I just planned to make it a very special occasion when I would have my favorite poison and it would be the best version of that poison I could find. For example one birthday I had a homemade cinnamon roll that a friend made for me from her mother’s recipe using Amish butter, etc. She offered to make a dozen for me and I said “NO! Just one, please.” fearing I could never regain my resolve to avoid them for the rest of the year. Every year on my birthday I eat something that I really want. I don’t eat it all day or eat everything I want; I plan out my poison and it’s dosage very carefully.
Temptations are everywhere
If the smells in a restaurant or the displays in the grocery store are tempting me, I look up from my menu or the display and see who is dining or shopping around me. Do I want to look like them? This helps me refocus and order/choose wisely. Try it. I promise you the person loitering in the bakery section of the store has a butt the width of your shopping cart handle and the diner in the booth next to you who was just served their bloomin’ onion has their belly or boobs resting on the table. It’s a great appetite suppressant! Yep, nothing tastes as good as size 4 feels!
Tools to simplify life
If you are serious about changing your health, the shape of your body, and your future, take my call to food consciousness seriously. Download the myfitnesspal app, or log on to a website like sparkpeople.com which have food logging capabilities. They make it very simple to record daily intake because most foods are already in their databases. You just add quantity. They are free and fast once you do the initial set up. You can start with only the goal of keeping a record of what you eat and once you get the hang of it you can set a consumption goal like number of calories, grams of fiber, grams of cholesterol, grams of sodium or whatever is important to you. Then you take it one day at a time.
A good friend told me at the beginning of my vegan journey to keep reading everything I could find about plant-based diets, that it would strengthen my resolve. She was right. There are hundreds of websites on diets for health, plant-based, and vegan diets. I get at least three emails a day with recipes and articles on nutrition. My resolve is usually very high but don’t get me wrong, I can eat way too many nuts and drink too much kombucha on occasion! And, I still plan to eat cheese if I ever return to France or Italy, and bread if I’m ever in Germany again. But while in America, I will avoid everything the typical American eats and consequently avoid obesity and doctors.
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All the best,