Saturday, November 9, 2013

Giving thanks for... healthy eating

Almost a year ago, I borrowed Joel Fuhrman's book, Eat to Live, from my mom and I'm not really exaggerating when I say it has changed my life. We all know that we should eat lots of vegetables but Fuhrman presents a ton of evidence about why eating a plant-based diet is so important for your health and, conversely, why eating processed food is so bad. Fuhrman calls his diet 'nutritarian' - it isn't totally vegan but does call for eating dramatically fewer animal foods than most Americans eat. It's also lower fat but more importantly, he stresses plant-based natural fats (like nuts and avocado) instead of animal fat or processed fats. Since reading his book, I've discovered many other advocates of a plant-based diet, though there are slight differences between them (e.g., John McDougall's program emphasizes natural starches like potatoes while Fuhrman discourages them).

I've never been much of a cook but I started cooking more in order to create meals that are more nutritarian. It's actually  surprisingly easy to make really yummy food without adding oil or using processed products but it does take more time than I used to spend. One huge upside is that you can generally eat as much as you want, since vegetables have so many fewer calories. After eating this way for a few months, I had dropped about 15 pounds and has stayed there. But even better, my cholesterol dropped significantly - a year and a half ago, my doctor suggested I consider medication (high cholesterol runs in my family) but the last time I had my blood checked, all my levels were squarely in the normal range, lower than they've been in probably twenty years.

I'm not quite as strict about what I eat as I was when I started all this but my diet is still leaps and bounds healthier than it used to be. And I'm getting better at cooking - I used to feel like I had to follow recipes to the letter but I'm learning when and how to deviate a bit - and I now read through cookbooks and food blogs all the time.

How healthy is your diet?

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