We may have this whole thing called nutrition backwards.
The average American eats "nutrient poor, calorie rich" foods. Things like a McDonalds hamburger, a slice of pizza or a box of sour patch kids.
These foods provide more than enough calories, but woefully lack high nutrient profiles.
What if we switched this pattern to "nutrient rich, calorie poor" foods? It's likely that you've heard this before, right?
Instead of the pizza for lunch everyday at work, have a kale and quinoa salad. You're also probably mildly annoyed with getting beat over the head with a message you've heard 612 times too.
So let's present this same proposal in a different context.
When we consider changing our eating habits, our tendency is to focus on what we're going to give up - a stance of deprivation is assumed if you will.
For anybody, this trigger influences push-back. Therefore, that's why trying to eat healthy feels like attempting to solve a Greek puzzle.
Assuming the obverse mindset of deprivation - one of abundance - is the key to making the transition to eating better a lot easier.
When you attach your behavior change in a way that makes you feel like you are gaining more than you are losing, you're more likely to sustain the habit.
You already know that eating nutrient dense, whole foods is healthy for you. And if that hasn't heaved you into a better pattern of eating, then consider this:
"The model revealed that a man diagnosed with type 2 diabetes between the ages of 25 and 44 can be expected to incur related costs of $124,700 over his lifetime. A woman diagnosed at the same age may incur related costs of $130,800 over her lifetime.
Type 2 diabetes, which is a lifestyle related disease can cost you over $100,000 over the course of your life. That's a lot of paper for something that is largely preventable.
This is an opportunity to shift from a deprivation mindset to an abundance mindset. Instead of thinking about how you'll have to cut back on the curly fries with ranch dressing, you can start thinking about how your healthy habits are saving you thousands of dollars.
To kickstart your healthy eating habits, I've included a list of plant based foods below. But before you dig in, I want you to consider this quote:
In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins; not through strength, but through perseverance.
If you're fired up and ready for change, I'm excited for you - you're in a good place. I also want to augment that enthusiasm with some guidance grounded in past personal failure.
Excitement is not the same as committment.
As you step into your new habits, know that perseverance always wins. Be like the stream and set yourself up to play the long game.
In order to do that, I want you to keep your entry point into healthy eating as simple as possible.
The first step was to think about how much you're gaining from making this change.
Second, is to include foods into your daily diet to support your new mindset about healthy habits.
At this point, there's no need to count or restrict any of the foods below. The goal is to add them into your diet consistently so it eventually becomes second nature to your eating decisions.
These choices are not exclusive. Think of this list as one of many trailheads on your journey to healthy eating.
Here is a simple and practical list of plant based foods to consider:
Blueberries pack the most anti-oxidants of any fresh fruit, boost your immune system helping you fight off constant colds and those nasty viral and bacterial diseases.
One cup of blueberries contains 4-5g of soluble fiber helping you keep your bowel movements regular and satiation levels par.
Oxidative stress can accelerate our brains aging process. Studies have shown that regular blueberry consumption can significantly slow cognitive impairment. In fact, one study of over 16,000 subjects revealed that blueberry consumption was linked to delays in cognitive aging by 2.5 years.
Over 1,000 subjects in a study on the dietary intake of mushrooms was conducted in Southeast China. The researchers concluded that the phytochemicals found in mushrooms enhanced the activity of immune cells that attack and kill virus-infected and cancerous cells.
Additional research suggests that regular mushroom consumption can reduce the risk of breast cancer by up to 60-70%.
3. Kidney Beans
Kidney beans are an excellent source of slow burning energy that don't shoot up blood sugar levels. They also pack a great amount of protein, at 15 grams per cup.
As with all beans, they are also considered a resistant starch, meaning that, even though they are a high carbohydrate food, the body digests beans as fiber and doesn't absorb it's full calorie content.
In other words, although whole foods (like beans) and processed food (like a french fries) have the same amount of calories, we absorb fewer calories from whole foods. Since resistant starch isn't completely digested, we extract only 2 calories per gram (versus 4 from other starches). This means that 100g of resistant starch (like beans) is only 200 calories, versus 100g of other starches is 400 calories.
A plant native to South India and Indonesia, it packs boatloads of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which is largely responsible for it's positive benefits.
If you are an active person, you cause inflammation in your body. Whenever inflammation is present, it impedes with muscle repair and recovery.
So, by reducing the amount of time you stay inflamed, the quicker you can recover and get back to your next training session. The most common ways to incorporate tumeric into your diet is via tea, capsules and food. This post does a great job of diversifying the use of tumeric.
Buckwheat has more protein than rice, wheat, millet or corn and is high in the essential amino acids lysine and arginine, in which major cereal crops are deficient. A bonus of buckwheat is that it contains no gluten—the source of protein in true grains—so if you're intolerant of gluten, this is a safe grain to have.
6. Hemp protein powder
Certified organic hemp protein powder is a power player when it comes to eating a plant based diet. It contains all of the essential amino acids with no gluten, no sugar, no cholesterol and for those wondering, no, it doesn't have any THC.
In addition, it contains a wonderful amount of anti-oxidants and chlorophyll which helps combat acidity and normalizes your body's pH level.
You're ready for change. You've made the pivot from a deprivation mindset to an abundance mindset.
Take your enthusiasm along your new perspective on health, and support them with the practical options you're now armed with.
And remember, when you're aiming for ultra wellness, it's a long game. Be like the stream.