When I started this way of eating I was very sick, life threatening kind of sick. I remember reading my first book on plant-based nutrition, and I remember immediately starting the bargaining process. Well, what if I only ate oil a little bit, here and there? What if I had treats once a week? What if I followed one piece of advice and not the other? What could it really hurt? What if I didn’t really believe EVERYTHING that was being said? What harm could it do?
I realized that the way I ate was my new medicine. I would never tell a Doctor who put me on life saving pills “Well this is great, but I don’t want to really follow ALL of your instructions, I’m going to follow some of them, because I have my own ideas on how this should all work.”
That was the truth of the matter, I found myself bargaining and disagreeing, and it was only because I was an addict in many ways. This was very apparent to me, when a couple of years ago I was sitting in a discussion group with people who were just learning about the plant-strong life. The discussion quickly turned to ways people were going to cheat, how they would cheat, when they would cheat, or parts of the message they did not believe in, and so they would just leave that part out.
The thing is, with the plant-strong lifestyle it is based on several, long term studies based on a certain way of eating. We can’t change the studies to meet our own ideas, and our own interpretations. The bottom line is that people with the least amount of heart disease, T2 diabetes, obesity and other preventable diseases eat a certain way. They eat diets high in starch, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans, and very low in animal products, and little to no processed foods. That’s it. There are no special foods, super foods, special appliances needed. They weren’t trying to get a certain amount of one vegetable in during the day. It was the overall makeup of their entire diet.
When people come to this way of eating, it is usually because they are fighting something, or want to prevent fighting something. So we suggest a way of eating that works, and has been shown to work. We don’t add to it, we don’t take away from it. We keep it the same, because that is what the science has shown.
There are a lot of people out there trying to make money, attempting to convince others that they need something else, that they are missing something or that they can get away with short cutting a few things. However, if you want the best results, for life? It’s best to stick to what works, stick to the long term scientific evidence, and most of all? Keep it simple.
I’m fortunate to get to work with Jeff Novick, MS, RD. If you don’t know his work, you should stop reading this and go over to his website instead Jeff has taught me a lot about nutrition, but more importantly he has helped me to keep grounded. There are so many fly-by-night studies or articles with little to no evidence to support them. I’ve been fooled MANY times into thinking (or wanting to think) something was healthy when it was not (wine/coffee/coconut oil). Jeff has patiently, many times, gone through studies to show me how they were conducted, and why they are not accurate. He also reminds me that the program that Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. McDougall, Dr. Prtikin, TrueNorth Health and others have taught for decades is based on the same, simple and well tested diet. It simply has not changed, no matter what “new and exciting” article comes out. Basic biochemistry has not changed in a very, very long time. We do not need to make additional changes to the basic and simple concept.
I think our human nature is to find loop holes. And sometimes, I think those loop holes are well meaning. We see an article or a short video by someone we want to think of as an expert, and they talk about adding something or getting more of one thing or another, and we want to believe that to be true, because we want to be healthier. But often, that information is misguided and takes away from the big picture. Let’s keep it simple. I think it was Dr. McDougall who once said “JUST EAT THE FOOD”. Pretty simple if you ask me.
One of the lessons that Jeff taught me that has stuck with me from the very first time I heard him say it, is his coined phrase “Cut the C.R.A.P.” (Calorie Rich and Processed Foods). I heard him say it at the very first Engine 2 Immersion I attended (though he had been saying it for years before that). It stuck out to me, and became my go to mantra at the grocery store. And I think it is fitting in a lot of other ways as well. If we were to simply make things a bit more simple, take out some of the complication, ignore the constant barrage of information that comes out, simply to confuse and send us in the wrong direction, we’d be so much better off. The programs have not changed, and the results that everyone gets are still the same, year after year, decade after decade. Keep it simple, cut the C.R.A.P and eat the food.
If you haven’t had a chance, I highly recommend Jeff Novick’s, Shopping School DVD. It is like having Jeff in the grocery store with you!