My thoughts on food and healthy eating habits run a similar narrative to other wellness topics that I’ve written about, which is usually based on my past experiences and current lifestyle habits influenced by ancestral health principles. I use the word food instead of nutrition simply because I lack the credentials and scientific background to claim authority. In future Nutrition posts I will leave that up to Registered Dietitians that I’ve collaborated over the years including my wife who has a Phd in Nutrition.
First, my history with food. I grew up middle class with a stubborn dad who loved meat, and a caring, homemaker mom who catered to my dads food preferences. According to my dad and many of his generation, a meal was not a meal unless your plate was half filled with meat. After I graduated from high school and moved out on my own, I continued to eat as I was raised, often stopping by my parents house for dinner. Being an eager to please son and an impulsive young adult on the go, I didn’t give much thought to my meat rich, fiberless, fast-food diet. However, (and this is where it gets a little personal), I had to endure years of painful constipation and trips to the doctors office to treat hemorrhoids until I finally realized that my diet and eating habits had to change. The unacceptable alternative was being subjected to uncomfortable doctor exams, and handed prescriptions for stool softeners and fiber supplements.
Looking back, changing my diet and eating habits was the first time I made a conscious effort towards improving my health. Due to my genetics and active lifestyle, I was never overweight, however, I can relate to those who have tried dieting without much success. There will be other articles written about weight-loss, but for now, I’ll just say that if you want to lose weight (or have regular bowel movements for that matter), no amount of exercise will counteract a poor diet.
Years ago, when I was a young working adult, my lifestyle and eating habits were not much different from my friends. It was more convenient to get my meals already prepared or on the go, than to plan, grocery shop and prepare meals for myself. The transition to a whole food, mostly plant-based diet where I had to prepare and cook my own meals was a lifestyle habit that took years in the making and is still evolving. As you’ve often heard me say about exercise, and can be applied to healthy eating, practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes steady progress.
With the help of a couple of Moosewood cookbooks, I started to significantly reduce dairy and animal products, primarily red meats, shop the produce isles and from my perspective, learn how to cook for a healthier way of eating! For those who are not familiar with Moosewood cookbooks, the one I used the most and highly recommend is Moosewood Restaurant Cooks At Home. They are mostly vegetarian, time-saving recipes that offer wonderful flavors from ethnic cuisines around the world. If I were to pin-point a particular food group that made the biggest difference in my diet it would be legumes. (See recipes for Caribbean Black Beans, and Curried Chickpeas and Tofu). But, the real difference maker comes from an ancestral perspective and food writer, Michael Pollan who encourages people to try not to eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize and learn how to cook! You can read more about ancestral eating from this link. https://psychologyofeating.com/ancestral-eating/
Today, I share the grocery shopping duties with my wife, spending more time in the produce isles and buying more whole foods (sometimes lean meats), than overly processed foods. We prepare, cook, and eat most dinners at home, especially during the pandemic which has limited our access to restaurants or going out to eat. I attribute my current food choices and eating habits for resolving my health issues that I endured many years ago. As your coach and publisher of the Be Resilient Project, I strive towards helping you overcome barriers to living a healthy, more vital life. Don’t dismiss nutrition, or what you eat and how you eat as part of the Be Resilient optimal health equation.
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