You chose to follow the Nutritarian diet because you made the logical decision to obtain the best health and nutrition possible. You have learned that drugs, surgery and medical care are insufficient to protect you against a medical tragedy. You Eat to Live to avoid the need for medicines, to avoid the need for medical intervention, to avoid invasive surgery, and to avoid the medical tragedies that are so prevalent in our society. You decide to Eat for Health because you realize life is valuable and worth living fully, with your full mental faculties and physical abilities maintained into your later years.
However, for most of us, there is a catch, an internal conflict —we want to be healthy, but there is some pleasure seeking part of us that operates without regard to the consequences. At times, we give into an inner voice that says it is okay to eat foods that we know are a bad choice.
Giving up unhealthy foods that you like, along with the difficulties of change, can derail your best intentions to establish a healthy diet and live the Nutritarian lifestyle. The key is to learn about the importance of a healthy diet and “practice” by eating healthy foods until you instinctually prefer them.
These concepts are explained in more detail in The End of Dieting. All of my books stress a Nutritarian life, and all are all great reads; each one has its own emphasis. For instance, if you prefer to ease into living the Nutritarian lifestyle Eat for Health outlines a gradual process to preferring this health-promoting diet.
The following 8 vital guidelines are key to adapting the Nutritarian lifestyle:
1. Understand food addiction/cravings
Learning all about food addiction and cravings is crucial to being able to make dietary nutrition changes. You know that your diet and health are important, but your primitive brain doesn’t want you to change. Your primitive brain will always want you to avoid discomfort, and because changing to a healthier diet creates both emotional anxiety, and even physical discomfort (or withdrawal); your decisions may be influenced by your primitive brain’s subconscious desire to avoid this discomfort.
Your primitive brain may be looking for excuses and rationalizations to explain why making a significant diet change is too difficult or just not for you. This primitive portion of your brain can be your body’s worst enemy.
You have to learn about the addictive nature of processed foods and make a commitment to avoid them for a period of time to break free of this addiction. The only way that works is to let no excuse stand in your way. If you feel poorly for a few days as you improve your diet that is perfectly normal and should not undermine your commitment. Your feeling poorly is your body detoxifying, which supports the idea that you need to get your body healthier. If your body were truly healthy, it would not feel crappy when changing over to a health-supporting diet. There is a solution for every potential obstacle when you allow yourself to look for it.
2.Understand the concept of nutrient density
What makes my dietary advice unique is that it is focused on quality, not quantity. It focuses on the type of foods you eat. Its most important nutritional concept is:
Health = Nutrients/Calories
For excellent health and life expectancy, concentrate on consuming foods that contain a lot of micronutrients and fewer calories. Micronutrients are vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals; they do not contain calories, but they have vital functions in the body. Calories come from fat, protein and carbohydrates. You want to take in the foods that contain the most micronutrients per calorie. You want to get the most nutrient bang for each caloric buck. When you eat this way, calorie-counting no longer matters.
High micronutrient foods come straight from nature; whole plant foods, such as vegetables, fruit, seeds, nuts and beans, should be the basis of a healthy, anti-cancer diet. Without adequate micronutrients, food cravings, discomfort, and the demand to over-consume calories can be overwhelming and derail any effort to lose weight or eat healthfully.
3.Reroute your thinking
Your brain also wants to avoid being different from others in your social circle. Ask yourself, and honestly answer, “Am I afraid to be different?” Am I engaged in eating behaviors that are detrimental to my health?”
Unhealthy eating most likely is the norm with those around you, but you don’t have to follow the crowd. Be proud of yourself for being different than those practicing slow suicide with food. Learn as much as you can to understand the benefits of healthy eating. Gaining knowledge helps us change our behavior more easily.
My patients and the thousands of people who have read my books and articles are successful because they have become experts in nutrition as they follow my program. They know that heart disease, diabetes, and even cancers are mainly the result of poor diet and lifestyle choices, not primarily the result of genetics or aging. Once you truly understand the powerful effects—both positive and negative—that food can have on your body, you will feel empowered to eat healthfully and to stick with it.
4. Plan and Organize your Nutrition
The ability to make the right decisions consistently requires planning. You need time to prepare and organize your life so that you have good-tasting healthy foods around you at all times to lessen temptation. Creating a quick and simple weekly schedule will help you organize and utilize your time more efficiently. Make shopping lists. Cook enough for multiple meals each time so that you do not have to cook every day. Take advantage of time-saving foods like frozen vegetables and bagged salads.
Make sure to leave room for exercise, recreation, and spending time with family. The better you plan your schedule in advance, the easier it will be to adopt your new habits into your life.
5. Re-train your taste buds
You may have to try a new food 10-15 times before you begin to really like it, especially if your taste has been desensitized by the intense sweets and overly salted and processed foods that are the standard in the American diet, Like developing any new skill, it takes practice to begin to enjoy new foods
As you learn to enjoy the taste of healthy foods, your desire for unhealthy food will continue to lessen. Try new and different produce, for example dishes made with artichokes or exotic mushrooms, and experiment with different herbs, spices, and salt-free seasonings to create dishes that you love to eat. You will find lots of terrific recipes in my book the Eat to Live Cookbook and my other books, The End of Dieting and Eat for Health (which contains 150 recipes). My Member Support Center has a recipe database of over 1500 recipes.
6. Embrace your natural sweet tooth
Our natural sweet tooth has a purpose—sweets from fresh fruits and sweet vegetables provide us not just with carbohydrates for energy, but also with a large assortment of phytochemicals and other substances that prevent illness. Fruits make the best desserts. For example, try blending frozen berries and bananas with a little hemp milk and vanilla extract for a delicious and easy berry-banana ice cream.
7. Make the salad the main dish and eat lots of anti-cancer foods
Leafy greens are the foods with the highest nutrient to calorie ratio. Eat one large salad every day. You can do this right now. It can be your first step in obtaining great health. It is important that you use a healthy dressing to keep the salad healthy. I love to create delicious, healthful, nut-based salad dressings that taste so good you will not only enjoy salads, but you will also love the dressings! For those that don’t have the time to create a salad dressing, you might want to try some I’ve developed.
Be sure to use lots of onions, mushrooms, and beans in your cooking as they have powerful associations with lower rates of breast and colon cancer.
8. Avoid nutrient deficiencies
A blood test is the best way to know if you are not lacking in any important vitamin. No one diet can supply the optimal amount of nutrients for everyone, and individuals have different abilities to absorb certain nutrients. One of the most important deficiencies is Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin. Over half of the world’s population is deficient in vitamin D.
A healthy diet can be sub-optimal in zinc, B12, iodine, Vitamin D and DHA for many people. If supplements are necessary, take the time to read all the ingredients. The problem is that most multivitamins and nutritional supplements contain dangerous forms of nutrients, such as folic acid and Vitamin A, which can increase one’s risk of cancer. Review my Vitamin Advisor for safe alternatives.
Life has so much to offer. My hope is to help you enjoy it to your maximum ability.
Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is a board-certified family physician, six-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional methods. Dr. Fuhrman coined the term “Nutritarian” to describe his longevity-promoting, nutrient dense, plant-rich eating style.
For over 25 years, Dr. Fuhrman has shown that it is possible to achieve sustainable weight loss and reverse heart disease, diabetes and many other illnesses using smart nutrition. In his medical practice, and through his books and PBS television specials, he continues to bring this life-saving message to hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
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