Every day of our lives, over and over, we have to ask the eternal question “what should I eat now?”
For most of us, the answer to that question is a combination of which food is most convenient, how it tastes, and then some guilty feelings about health that might float around on the periphery. If one or more of these factors is outsized-for example, insanely convenient, tasty AND free (the breakroom dilemma), we find ourselves taking the path of least resistance and making bad choices which, over time, take a toll on our health.
Then when we make bad choices, we blame our bad, bad selves for our lack of “will power.”
I was one of those people who have almost no will power when it comes to food. I love good food and am very fussy about my food tasting “just right”. Meaning I can’t just eat any old thing because it’s supposed to be “healthy.” But after we switched to a Plant-Based diet and began eating legumes and whole grains every day, we were never hungry in between meals for the first time in our lives (Pro tip: never being hungry will boost your willpower by about 500%). I even remember the second day of my life that I didn’t have any milk or yogurt, how much slimmer my belly was. All day! Not just in the morning. Who could have known!? I was 49 years old before I ever went a single day of my life without dairy! But even after I lost 20 pounds and achieved a healthy Body Mass Index of about 23.5, I was still worried that I might just blow it somehow and put all the weight back on. But almost 2 years later, I’m still at that same healthy weight. And I still don’t have much will power.
So how do we pull it off?
First, I had to be convinced that I needed to cut out meat and dairy for health. This was easy because my husband had just been diagnosed with pre-diabetes and after spending my entire adult life caring for patients with congestive heart failure (which frequently starts with diabetes, then leads to a heart attack, and then heart failure), I had all the motivation I ever needed to make sure we didn’t go down that same path. Once I learned the connection between animal protein, excessive refined fats, and all the chronic disease I had been combatting for decades in my career as a cardiac RN (you can learn about this too by clicking here to view my FREE webinar), all I needed to know was how to implement these changes on a practical basis.
In the process of getting my Plant-Based Nutrition Certification, much of the conventional wisdom I had absorbed from school, the medical field, and media was turned on its head. And once I had a clear understanding as to what to prioritize (FIBER instead of protein) for optimum health, then it was simply a matter of figuring out the tastiest new recipes to stay within these new health parameters. Once you have a clear understanding of WHAT to eat to prevent, improve, and reverse chronic disease, the world wide web is pretty handy for having an infinite variety of recipes to fit what you are looking for.
The Pareto principle states that about 20% of targeted effort in any given endeavor usually produces about 80% of the results. In our endless quests to “get healthy”, I’ve tried all of the same tactics that I’m sure many of you have: limiting carbs, drinking more water and green tea, eating all organic foods, eating all-natural food (I was all about eating the “all-natural” versions of yogurt and cheese!), and endless exercise goals that we can never maintain for years on end. (I lost 15# by running a literal marathon and then felt like a loser when I couldn’t maintain that level of commitment. But I actually lost 5# more than my post-marathon weight by switching to a Plant-Based diet and just exercising moderately.)
So why not simply make the most EFFECTIVE choices to lose weight and prevent or reverse chronic disease instead of spinning our wheels with tactics that might help only in some technical academic sense but really don’t yield many results in real life?
So I’m going to share a couple of easy peasy “eat this, not that” tips that will make a HUGE difference in attaining not only your weight loss goals, but also preventing, greatly improving and even reversing common chronic diseases–like diabetes and heart disease- our most common causes of death and disability. The more you can make these switches the EASY and CONVENIENT food choice in your everyday routine, the faster you’ll see results and won’t need to rely on will power!
- Instead of beef chili, switch to this delicious mushroom chili! (If you mince the mushrooms in a food processor, they really soak up the tomato/chili sauce in a way that is similar to ground beef, but infinitely healthier!)
Note: When you switch out meat for plants, aim for real plants like beans and mushrooms (with health-promoting fiber) as opposed to “fake meats” which can slow down improvements we want to make, especially with heart disease and diabetes.
- Switch out ranch dressing for cashew dressing on salads. Cashew cream dressings are even superior to oil-based vinaigrettes from a health point of view (I explain why in Class Three of my course). I make this amazing chipotle ranch dressing that I put on all my salads. I can’t even imagine picking a dairy ranch dressing over this option because it’s so delicious. So I can enjoy my salads, lose weight, avoid chronic disease and I’m not even suffering eating icky “diet” food!
And with a Whole Food Plant-Based way of eating, there are no limits on serving sizes! Because whole plants are naturally low in calories. You’ll actually end up eating much larger servings than you used to. And you’re never hungry because of the high-fiber content of these whole food plants!
After almost 2 years of eating this way now, I’m just not even tempted to go back to my old food. My new recipes are an ingrained habit now and when we can develop an ingrained HABIT, we don’t have to “white-knuckle-it” or use willpower at all!
To learn more about the health and chronic disease reversal benefits of a Whole Food Plant-Based diet, click HERE to view my free one-hour webinar “Change Your Food, Change Your Life!”
To purchase my comprehensive self-paced online Plant-Based Transformation for Beginners course for yourself or as a GIFT, click HERE.
Wishing you health and hope,
Stephanie Spencer RN, BSN
Certified, Plant-Based Nutrition
T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies