Friday, October 16, 2009
eat to live
I've been wanting to write this post for awhile, but just haven't made the time. And since stupid ABC.com isn't letting me watch last night's episode of Grey's I figured I should finally get around to writing it.
Last month I read Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Furhman. This book can change your life. I do not exaggerate. It takes the science that is in The China Study and makes it practical. The book is marketed as a diet book, but even if you aren't looking to lose weight, you should still read it.
Dr. Furhman works with patients who are dying. People with heart disease and diabetes. People who are severely overweight. He presents a plan for people like that who need to lose a significant amount of weight to save their lives. But he also explains the whys and hows of food's effect on our body. He debunks diet myths. He gives recipes. He backs everything up with science. And he explains how we ALL can eat to PREVENT disease and prolong our lives.
The basic gist of his approach is that we should be eating a diet with a high density of nutrients. He says Health=nutrients/calories. So we should be getting the vast majority of our calories from whole vegetables and fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes because these are the most nutrient dense. Everything else should be minimized. For people who don't need to lose a lot of weight or who aren't already suffering with disease he says to think of it as 90% fruits, veggies, grains, beans and 10% can be refined stuff, sugar, animal products, oils. So you can eat whatever you want as long as you keep 90% the good stuff. (He is more stringent with people at immediate risk.) He says to have this in mind: "Salad is the main course!"
The other great thing is that there is no portion control when you are eating the good stuff. You can eat as much as want. We've been eating HUGE salads like the one pictured above. We've been eating tons of fruit. We eat really big portions. It is awesome! I never feel at all deprived.
Something Dr. Furhman said that I love and makes so much sense is that the reason we have a sweet tooth is so that we will eat fruit. Fruit has SO much good stuff in it. It is full of micro-nutrients and antioxidants that prevent cancer and other disease. We NEED fruit!
And here's a little secret.... when you begin to eat this way--when you stuff your face with yummy whole foods and realize how satisfying it is--you begin to lose your desire for the fatty, processed stuff. It's true. I've experienced it. One day I wanted a milkshake and got one and ended up not even really enjoying it. It was so sweet and rich. I ate it, but then I totally regretted it. And last week when I was visiting my parents, I had a couple heavy, greasy, meaty meals and felt totally sick afterward.
We all know that we should eat our vegetables, but I think that our desire to maintain our bad food habits and the crazy diet industry have combined to make everything seem SO complicated. I used to think I was a pretty healthy eater but I was still a bit overweight and unhappy about it. I wasn't obsessed or anything, but I thought the only way for me to lose weight would be to exercise a ton. The truth is, although exercise is very important, by eating the right foods, my body shed the weight even without exercising an hour a day. And I never had to think about it. I didn't start eating healthier to lose weight. I did it because I wanted to BE healthier and prevent disease.
And it really is so simple. Just aim for that 90/10 ratio of good to bad. I still eat treats and once in while I eat meat or dairy. But I have begun to want them less and less because I realize how good I feel when I don't eat them.
For many people, shifting to eat this way is going to be really challenging because it goes against what they've done their entire life. But if you want to prevent disease, if you want to cure disease, if you want to feel better or lose weight, go read this book. There is SO much information in Eat to Live--I've barely scratched the surface. But I hope its piqued your interest. Have an open mind and just read it. It is SO motivating. And it gives you the tools to get started.
Forgive me for getting on my high horse and being so evangelical about it, but I really want everyone I know to realize how simple eating well really is. And that it can literally save your life. Knowledge is power, people. Knowledge is power. :-)
Dr. Furhman also wrote a book about feeding kids called Disease Proof Your Child. It is also excellent.