For the last several months, I’ve begun to change my views on food. I see it as medicine, and my body reflects this. I’m eating healthier than ever, and all my vitals are better than ever.
Because I have diabetes, I get blood tests twice a year. My blood pressure is usually around 92/60. My LDL cholesterol is usually around 108 mg/dL. Some would say this is a little high. Yes, it’s in the family, but my HDL (good) cholesterol is an astronomical 107 mg/dL. My triglycerides are 50 mg/dL. I’ve got a heart Al Pacino would say is “strong like bull” and my A1C (average blood glucose over two to three months) is 5.9%.
I’m not a doctor or a dietitian, but I an expert on my health, particularly what I eat and how it impacts my body. You’re an expert on how you eat and how it impacts your body, too.
I’ve written about this before, but maybe never as bluntly: Food is medicine. I see the evidence everywhere I go. So many Americans regularly chow down on, as David Kessler writes in The End of Overeating, “salt on sugar on fat on salt on sugar.” That’s his description for most foods we eat–from doughnuts and giant cinnamon buns, to chain restaurants’ platters of artificial creamed spinach in a white bread bowl, and fried chicken in sugary BBQ sauce.
I’m not saying we need to eat a perfect diet. I’m not a monk or a martyr. I enjoy occasional fried calamari, cheese, crusty bread, flourless chocolate cake and dark chocolate. But seeing food as medicine does make me more motivated to eat foods that nourish me, rather than sicken me.
You can’t get healthy by just eating less junk. You’ve got to also eat nutritious foods. That includes lots of veggies, some fruit and dairy, lean protein, 100% whole grains, healthy fats, lentils and beans. So as we close out another year and welcome in the new, here’s the way to jumpstart a healthier diet.
Food As Medicine Tips
1. Your Important Reason
Decide why being healthy is important to you, and keep that motivation front and center.
2. Set Yourself Up for Success
Fill your house with healthy foods and throw out the junk. If, when you’re hungry, you can only reach for a carrot (not pretzels or candy), you’re helping yourself succeed.
3. Each Day is a Clean Slate
The day you fall off the wagon is only a day. Start new right after your fall. What you do in a week counts more than what you do in a day.
4. The Past is in the Past
Your history doesn’t have to be your future. You can change now.
5. Be Patient
If it’s tough at the beginning, remember that in a few weeks your taste buds will change and you will lose your taste for overly processed foods.
6. Coach Yourself
Talk yourself through a weak moment. Tell yourself if you’re dying for a piece of cake at 10 PM, you can wait until morning to have it. Come morning you won’t remember.
7. Nothing is Off Limits
If you need it, eat it–but just a little.
8. Pace Yourself
Go slow or cold turkey, whatever works for you.
9. Think Ahead
Remember: Next year, you’ll either be exactly where you are now, or more healthy. It all depends on the choices you make now.
10. Just Do It