Food is Medicine: 10 Tips to Change the Way You Eat

By Riva Greenberg - diabetes author, columnist, international speaker, peer-mentor and health coach.


food-is-medicineFor 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

ref-with-healthy-foodFill 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

woman-eating-french-friesIf 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

Begin now!




(2 Articles)

Riva Greenberg is a passionate diabetes advocate and educator sharing a flourishing–approach to diabetes with health professionals and people living with diabetes. She conducts workshops and gives lectures worldwide.

Having lived with type 1 diabetes for 42 years, Riva is committed through her research, writing, workshops and lectures, to help others live an exceptional life, notdespite having diabetes but because of it.

Riva is the author of three books: an instruction book for managing diabetes, Diabetes Do’s & How-To’s, 50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life and the 50 Diabetes Truths That Can Save It and the primer for developing emotional strength and resilience, The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes. She also tells her story in, My Sweet Life: Successful Women With Diabetes. Riva is also part of QuantiaMD’s series, ”Ask the Patient” to help health care professionals work more effectively with their patients.

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