When making any lifestyle change, whether getting started on a new dietary regimen or a new exercise program, it is always better to start by adding good or positive things first, and then discontinue the bad habits later or simply let them fall away. By taking the “add positive first” approach, there is not the psychological aspect of self-deprivation slowing you down. For example, if your goal is to get in shape, then going to the gym on your way home from work or going for a walk after dinner is better than beating yourself up by saying, “I have got to stop sitting on the couch watching TV so much.” If you start going to the gym, by default you will sit around watching TV less when you fill that time instead with positive actions and activities.
STEP ONE: Adding Good Habits
When it comes to making dietary changes, adding positive habits are just as important, and for the same reasons. Rather than beginning a new nutritional regimen by trying to stop eating all the bad foods you enjoy and feeling deprived of your favorite mid-morning soda or candy snack, it is better to start by adding a good breakfast, eating large salads at lunch and dinner, and bringing fresh fruit and raw nuts as snacks. You will find that your cravings for the bad junk foods decreases naturally.
One main concept that should be well understood is that of whole foods. So here are some basic steps to start getting more fruits, vegetables and nuts into your diet. Remember, you want to begin any change to your health regimen by adding something positive first; then later, start removing the negative lifestyle habits you may have adopted. Eat a large salad with lunch and dinner. This does not mean iceberg lettuce drenched in Ranch dressing. This means a salad made with green leaf, red leaf, and romaine lettuce, and vegetables such as carrots, celery, cucumber, tomato, avocado, radishes, green beans, legume beans (navy, garbanzo, kidney, etc.), miscellaneous greens (kale, chard, mustard, dandelion, etc.), cabbages (napa, savoy, Bok choy – Chinese cabbage), etc. Make the salad the main dish for your meals. The protein, if there is one, should be smaller or secondary. Start to minimize how many starches you eat (i.e. pasta, breads, etc.). Plus, have steamed vegetables every night with dinner. This is one of the easiest things to add, even while eating out – almost all restaurants will accommodate your request to add or substitute steamed vegetables to your meal instead of rice, fries, or some other starch that typically comes with a dinner.
STEP TWO: Stopping the Bad Habits
As with nearly every aspect of our lives (diet style, marriage, finances, exercise, etc.), success comes not only from doing positive, successful, proven vital behaviors, but also from stopping known negative, destructive behaviors. When it comes to the food you put in your body, this input and its corresponding impact on our health cannot be overemphasized – it’s critical!
So, one of the first concepts to adopt is “out of sight, out of mind”. This means potato chips, soda pop, candy, breads, or whatever it is that you will eat if it is in the house.
These may include the following (or if it has any of the following as an ingredient):
- Artificial sweeteners: Aspartame (i.e. Nutrasweet and Equal) and Sucrolose (i.e. Splenda)
- Hydrogenated oils (also known as trans-fats) and partially hydrogenated oils
- Potato chips, tortilla chips, and other savory fried treats
- Fried foods (this includes french fries)
The Question of Moderation
We have all heard of the adage, “everything in moderation”. The truth is, that much of the toxic poisoning that we are self-dosing ourselves with through our food supply is being done over years in small doses. The fact that it is slowly poisoning in small doses, does not negate the fact that it is still poison and that it will ultimately have adverse effects on our health. This same principle applies to the over-consumption of cereals and processed grains in our culture, which is causing a horrendous obesity epidemic and its knock on effects of heart disease and diabetes.
Unfortunately, our measurement for moderation and portions have become seriously out of proportion.
Need Some Help?
A chiropractor understands that true health and wellness can be achieved when the habits needed to achieve optimal health are built into your lifestyle Only then will this allow new eating habits and proper views on food to be formed. Taking charge of your health now is the best way to reduce your risk for long-term health problems and chronic conditions, including diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
When you follow a specific and well designed plan exactly as recommended, significant change is almost always the end result. So definitely remember that chiropractors do more than simply treat pain or manage symptoms – they treat the entire body.
For Your Health,
Dr. Mark Hardwick and Dr. Mitchell Jacobs