People often ask me for advice when they desire to create a healthier
diet LIFE-it. Out of these conversations, as well as my research, self-reflection, etc., i’ve developed a strategy that may be helpful to folks going through that process. I mention vegan and raw food often, but the ideas can be applied to and embraced by those who eat animal products as well. This is a work-in-progress, so i’ll update it periodically as i learn more about healthy living.
If i’m ever famous, then the saying that i hope people associate with me is that being vegan and/or raw is harder to think about than to actually put into practice. It’s as simple as cutting an apple or making a delicious Green Smoothie! [note: i strongly encourage that you CHEW your green smoothies as opposed to gulping them down. it will help you digest better and allow you more time to listen more carefully to your body as you eat.]
As you begin to cut animal products from your meals, don’t worry about protein.You’ll get enough unless you try (very hard) not to! Instead, think about trying a variety of veggies, especially the green leafy ones. Look up recipes on www.vegweb.com, www.fatfreevegan.com, etc. There is a list of great websites below. Consider what meals you already like, then look up the vegan versions of those recipes.
Stay away from sugary foods and added salt as much as possible.I’ve experimented with this in a variety of ways. I noticed that i feel my best when i’m not adding much (if any) salt to my recipes. Also, try to consume only a minimal amount concentrated sugars and high-sugar fruits (agave, honey, dates, raisins, figs, etc).
Finally, eat organic green leafy veggies with every meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner).It’s not as difficult as it may seem. Begin your day with a green smoothie, have a hearty salad with lunch, then maybe eat some lightly cooked greens with dinner. If you’re eating a head of lettuce or bunch of greens (along with other veggies) each day, then your body will love you!
I emphasize vegetables because i, and many other people, have made the mistake of being junk food vegans. We depend(ed) on processed, fake meats, tofu, etc. There is nothing wrong with consuming these things in moderation. But some folks overdo it. Also, many of us depend too much on fruit and nuts, which can also be a bad thing.
Drink More Water. Make the eight glasses of water thing your bare minimum. Most of the natural health experts suggest drinking half of your body weight (in ounces) worth of water. In other words, if a person weighs 160 lbs then s/he should consume 80 ounces of water each day.
Getting Good at It
Invest in some appliances that will help you become more creative with your edible art! You may want to purchase a good blender, food processor, high quality water filter (at least something like this), juicer, and dehydrator. If you only get the first three, you’ll be very happy. I highly recommend a juicer, because i believe that drinking store bought juice is similar to drinking soda and artificial “juice” drinks. Having a dehydrator is also a great investment for people who are serious about eating raw and/or low-heat (under 105º) prepared foods. It definitely makes more options available for anyone who’s trying to diversify their recipe book!
Soak your nuts and seed before eating them. One naturepath told me that they’re “1000% healthier that way.” I believe it!
Learn the best food combinations: http://www.rawfoodexplained.com/digestive-physiology-and-food-combining/food-combining-rules.html
Eat alkaline forming foods: http://www.acidalkalinediet.com/Alkaline-Foods-Chart.htm
Find other vegans to hang out with. People seem a little less hostile to vegans now than when i first started down this path. Even still, it’s great to know people with whom you can eat out without worrying about whether their preferred restaurants are TRULY vegan friendly (i.e. complete separation of vegan food from animal product food). You may also want to attend some of the local vegan meetups like these: http://www.meetup.com/The-Raw-Chicago/ and http://rawfood.meetup.com/222/.
Cleanse/fast regularly. Most of the health gurus recommend doing a variety of cleanses that help the body purge built up wastes and toxins (environmental and edible). How often one should cleanse/fast is debatable, so check with a variety of sources and decide what’s best for you.
Patronize Vegan Restaurants.I personally don’t like to eat out very often. But, i do find it important to make sure that fully vegan dining options are available. So, when i go out to eat at these places when the option is available. Some of my favorites are Cousin’s Raw Vitality (Chicago), Yah’s (Chicago), and Chicago Diner (yes, it’s in Chicago), Spiral (Dallas), Green (San Antonio), Go Raw Cafe (Las Vegas), Lovin’ It Live (Atlanta)… The list could go on for days, especially once i get my D.C., Baltimore, NYC, & Detroit spots on the list. The food is great, and my non-vegan friends often prefer these places over the many options!
There’s no getting around it! In order to help your body function at it best, you must exercise. You don’t have to do P90x in order to feel great; you can walk to and from the grocery store and do some yoga, purchase some exercise DVDs that have “beginner,” “intermediate,” and “advanced” level workouts, and/or ride a bike to work. And, there are exercise routines floating around the internet for people of almost ALL levels of ability. I’ve found that the best exercise for me is that which i work into my lifestyle. Get creative and imaginative, and GET MOVING!
Recipes & Health Advice:
Are you creating a healthier lifestyle for yourself? If so, what’s your strategy? What tasty vegan restaurants do you recommend in your city? With whom do you consult for recipes and advice? How do you stay in shape?
– Much Love