This morning while I was weight training and then swimming at the Brooks YMCA, I couldn't help but think how strong and healthy I feel. A bit sore and tired but nothing worth worrying about as I am always focusing on the small components of the bigger picture.
At the age of 29, I feel better now than ever before. Always focusing on what I can do today in order to make for a better tomorrow, I believe my journey with food, exercise/fitness and goal setting has allowed me to improve my quality of life.
Karel often tells me that he doesn't feel his age. With a very competitive drive and the energy of a teenager, I often wonder if Karel is really 35 years of age!
In the November issue of Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter Vol. 29, Number 9, there were two excellent articles explaining the benefits of consuming a more plant based diet. You will never hear me tell a person that he/she must stop eating meat in order to live a more healthful life. Despite the large amount of research demonstrating the benefits of consuming a vegetarian diet, the focus is not on what you can't eat but rather what you CAN eat.
Over the past decade, there has been a large emphasis on processed foods geared for weight loss or weight control. Thus, resulting in little emphasis on (or cravings for) fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats and quality protein. In other words "pre-packaged" processed, calorie controlled snacks, foods and meals have taken precedent over wholesome and natural foods that the body actually knows what to do with when consumed.
So as you approach the new year and open your ears to the latest diet fads, trends and products to help you "quickly drop and shed those unwanted pounds", I ask you to de-consider a lunch of a Special K bar and Special K Protein drink, a breakfast of egg whites and hot sauce, a 100-calorie granola bar for a snack or a dinner of steamed broccoli and spray butter and open your mind (and mouth) to consuming real foods.
Rather than focusing on the calories, focus on the foods that you are emphasizing in your diet in order to help reduce risk for disease, improve performance/fitness and improve your relationship with food.
According to Tufts (Nov 2011 issue), too much meat or too little fiber in the diet have been shown to contribute to diverticular disease (painful inflammation of abnormal pouches in your intestines). In a recent study quoted in the newsletter, vegetarians were 31% less likely than meat-eaters to develop the disease and less likely to develop the disease and less likely to be admitted to the hospital or die from the condition. "While not calling for a wholesale conversion to vegetarianism, Crowe and colleagues concluded that their findings "lend support to public health recommendations that encourage the consumption of foods high in fiber such as whole meal breads, whole grain cereals, fruits and veggies." "
According to the article, consuming lots of vegetables and fiber helps hold on to water and prevent constipation. Crowe and colleagues suggested that by speeding passage of food through the gastrointestinal system, these foods could reduce internal pressure in the intestines, reducing the risk of forming pouches or bulges (diverticula) in weakened intestinal walls. Eating lots of meat, the researchers added, might also alter the metabolism of colon bacteria in a way that weakens the intestinal walls.
In a separate article (same newsletter), substituting nuts, whole grains or low-fat dairy such as yogurt for one daily serving of meat can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by 16%-35%, according to the largest and most comprehensive study to date of meat eating and diabetes risk. On the other hand, the study reports that eating just four ounces of red meat daily boosts your risk of developing diabetes by 19%. Processed meat was linked even more strongly to added risk, with a daily serving of two ounces - about one hot dog or sausage, or two strips of bacon - associated with a 51% greater likelihood of diabetes.
Because the diet is a very personal and individual component of a large scale equation, it doesn't take a lot to start changing habits overnight. However, if you feel you have clinical concerns relating to the diet, I highly recommend seeing a trained professional, such as your physician and a Registered Dietitian to diagnose, treat or assess medical conditions. Unbeknown to many, according to state law, only a medical doctor or registered dietitian may treat medical conditions through the diet....however Registered Dietitians have the proper education, which is solely dedicated to evidenced based practice. So, if you continue to read facebook posts, blogs or articles from authors other than those who are legally qualified to provide nutritional advice, and are encouraging you to give up x-food or to stay away from x-food because it will "cause cancer" (as an example), consider a more balanced approach to eating by working with a trained professional who will help you meet your personal needs and goals.
In other news.....
Today left to donate before Karel shaves off his 'stache!!! I am so proud of Karel for wanting to raise money for a wonderful cause...rather than just growing a stache because it is MOVEMBER. Karel has raised over $500 and would love to get to $600 by the end of today. If you can spare a few $$ (even just $5!), please
ALL proceeds support prostate cancer and other male cancer initiatives.
*Feel free to check out the page to see the progress of Karel's 'stache!