The Daily Beet

06 Sep Keeping it Simple

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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!

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NatalaE2
Natala Constantine

Natala is the director of communications for Engine 2 Diet, she is also one of our coaches on our support site, Engine 2 Extra. A few years ago, Natala was at the end of her rope. She was on almost 15 medications daily, had out of control Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, issues with nerve damage, and was morbidly obese. She was just over 30 years old. She decided to take her life back by becoming plant-strong. She has lost over 200 pounds, got off of all of her medications and now has great health numbers. Natala plays the violin and studied music therapy. She became passionate about plant-strong nutrition, received her Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University, a certificate in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and is currently pursuing a degree in nutritional sciences. Natala is also a featured speaker at our Engine 2 Retreats she talks about the reality of our nations obesity epidemic as well as providing practical steps to becoming a healthier person.

  • Jane

    YOU MUST BE READING MY MIND!!!! I saw Rip’s post earlier on facebook about not blending fruit and was thinking I didn’t want to listen to that, and had a little tantrum about it, but its because of a lot of reasons, I think because I thought i was doing the best thing for myself. And I’m hooked on them, to be honest they are calorie bombs, and I know I need to cut them, my blood sugar spikes bad when I drink them. Thank you for the honesty check, I’m working on all of it. Also I’m very mad a used most of a paycheck on a blender, I’m broke enough lol.

    • Martha

      Jane, blenders are still useful! Hummus is great made the Plant Strong way, etc. Dressings, too.

      • Jane

        Oh good point Martha!! And soup maybe!

      • Kim Glasson

        I also use mine to make my own flour from oats or quinoa for baking.

    • Bunny

      I use my blender a lot to make salad dressings and sauces – Tahini, lemon juice, water, garlic and herbs, dash of tamari. Yum!
      Or use it to make your own raw marinara sauce. I also blend oats to add to my pancakes and muffins.
      You can do hummus in a blender if you have to, although I think it works better in a food processor (which I had to save for for almost a year! Totally worth it.)

    • Kathryn Polster

      I use mind to blend all my gravy ingredients together, make salad dressings, and banana ice cream. Without smoothies it is still a great kitchen tool.

  • Melissa

    This is spot on and honest. I’m going to buy the Shopping School Dvd, haven’t been sure it would be worth it, but I need all the help I can get.

  • KatieLoss

    Great blog & a terrific reminder today, Natala! Thank you! I’m definitely guilty of falling into the trap you mention, forgetting the big simple picture and sweating the small stuff that I find online from other sources. I would add one more rule to your excellent two, one of Dr. E’s favorites: “Moderation kills!”

  • my2boys8386

    Jeff is brilliant..I have all of his DVD’s and follow him on the McDougall boards and E2..cut the CRAP…well said

  • Barb

    Wonderful message!

  • LBJROCK

    If your health is really in serious trouble, then follow all of this advice to the letter, but some of us still saute our onions in a few drops of oil and are living to tell about it. I drink homemade green juices as well as there is no way I can eat enough food to get the calories and nutrients I need. I started eating plant strong in Jan. 2013, lost 15# ( I only weighed 145 am am 5’9″ tall), now down to 130#. I dropped my total cholesterol by 40% and lipids by 50%! My glucose levels are normal as well. I cycle 50-70 miles per week and have never felt better in my whole life, I’m a 49 yr old female.

    Some of us really can “mix and match” plant strong ways of eating and be healthy and happy. Sometimes I feel like E2 is all about “my way or the highway”.

  • Cheryl

    I fell into the trap you talk about thinking that a little bit of oil can’t hurt. It ended up with me down a path that lead to worse diabetes (even as a vegan). There are a lot of people who try to tell me everything in moderation, but Rip is right when he says diabetes doesn’t know about moderation. Now when someone says something like that, I see them as another addict.

    • Diane

      me too Cheryl.You aren’t alone, I think all of us have fallen into the same thing. Worse yet I have family that has had some good results and they point themselves out as examples. I think Jeff and Dr. McDougall and the like have a clear message because it works for everyone. Maybe some people can “cheat”, but in the same way some people might be able to cheat and smoke a few times a year and not get lung cancer.

  • Bill

    Like Dr. Esselstyn says “Eating in moderation will give you a moderate heart attack”!

  • LBJROCK

    I posted something this morning that didn’t completely agree with the views here…looks like it got deleted. That’s too bad.

  • Susan Petrucci Bakunas

    Excellent – I needed to hear this today :)

  • Kathy G

    Well said, Natala. KISS and cut out the CRAP! It was so wonderful the day the light bulb came on and I realized I was making things way too hard. It really is plain and simple.

  • Mandy Richards

    Personally, I’m glad they kick out trolls here. Some of us need to follow the advice and its life or death, I don’t like being undermined by people who happen to be able to get away with eating more junk food, it’s like someone who is not an alcoholic telling a group of alcoholics “oh what harm can one beer do??”. Thanks Engine 2 for keeping us safe and not allowing people to get the best of a comment section!

    • Toni Metzger Horrace

      I know the person you refer to as “troll” (a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people,[1] by posting inflammatory,[2] extraneous, oroff-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally[3][4] or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotionalresponse[5] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[6]“)

      and trust me, she is ANYTHING but a troll!!! She has been a HUGE supporter of E2, has all their books, shirts, even attended a weekend conference (or whatever they’re called) with her husband in May. She would ignite others with her passion for E2. Regarding this particular article, or parts of it, she had a difference of opinion, and expressed it. And BOOM, she was gone from the conversation. Personally, I learn nothing from one sided conversations, and only come away from them feeling as though I am being brainwashed. I’ve been to AA meetings…and believe me, people HAVE said “oh what harm can one beer do?”. Do you seriously think that person was removed from the room? Removed from the conversation? There is nothing to be learned from monologues, unless you are content with being sheeple. I, for one, have a brain and enjoy using it. I enjoy hearing opinions different than my own. I enjoy researching and learning, not just being ‘told things’. Anyway…this is a sad for me to learn that E2 scrubs their comment posts of anyone who differs of opinion and does not ‘tow the line’ exactly as they do. There are plenty of people…er…sheeple though who will have no problem with it, and cheer you on.

  • Jean Hayes

    Well said!

  • Toni Metzger Horrace

    it’s ironic that in order to leave a comment here, you have to sign in with Facebook and sign up with an ?app called “Disqus” which sort of sounds like “discuss”….which is ironic because no discussion happens here. Different opinions or thoughts are deleted to give the impression to people who come here, that all agree and have no questions.

  • Engine2Team

    Just a note – we are not into the business of getting in arguments here. We have one simple message, we have not changed the message. Many people who come to us are very sick and need our 100% support and encouragement to stick to this way of eating 100%, we take that very seriously.. Thank you so much for respecting that and helping us to help others live the healthiest lives they can.

    As a note in our TOS:

    “Help us make Engine 2 is a positive community! We do not tolerate any negative or argumentative comments. If we see any they will be thrown into the Engine 2 fire pit! We believe that a positive community is the best way for people to make life-saving changes.”

    • Justine

      This is why I love you guys. You are not judgmental, you will work with people where they are, but you have a very clear message. Thank you for keeping the community safe from people who are hateful or who are pushing their own ideas and agenda.

      • Bill

        Agreed. Someone would just have to ask very simply why they think something, I for instance didn’t understand why coffee was bad. They responded, I understood and then made a decision for myself. However, if I decided that I did not believe their advice, and decided I would still continue to drink coffee, I certainly would not go and inform their audience that I drink coffee, what is the big deal. I also feel that this is their page, they can moderate however they like. I’m a moderator of a technology forum, I moderate people for far less, I am not dealing with the health of someone, I am personally thankful that Rip and his team understand this to be serious.

    • Patricia Cohen

      thank you for writing this. I’m one of those people who need this to save my life. When I see other people making comments that they don’t have to do this 100% it upsets me so much, and I always let that lead me down a bad place, because I think I can get away with eating things I shouldn’t if someone else did. It’s like my family who puts chocolate cake in front of me and says I should not be so strict, they don’t understand that it is hard for me and it hurts my feelings.

      • Alissa

        Patricia I’m also someone who needs to do this 100%. I had a health coach once who was going on about how it’s ok to cheat once in a while, and how she lost 50 pounds, but still cheated. I don’t think she intended to offend me, but it really did. I also didn’t want a coach who didn’t do this 100% themselves, how could they understand what I was going through if they were having things that I couldn’t have. I think the plan is very, very simple, we don’t need to complicate it by trying to figure out how much we can cheat!

    • Marty

      It’s your page, I think you can do with it whatever you want :) I have a vegan page, and I don’t allow paleo people to post about how great meat is. If they want a paleo page, find one. That is the best thing about the internet, if you don’t like something, you don’t have to participate, simple. I appreciate what you guys do and that you have one message, it makes it very easy.

    • Tina

      Yes! Amen to that!!!

  • Hayat.

    Congrats on your victory!

  • Kelly

    I think it is Dr. McDougall who says “People love to hear good news about their bad habits.” That’s why people flock to some of the studies that purport to show that red wine, chocolate, etc are good for you!

  • Marie Norton-Arnold

    I needed to read this! I have been WFPB for over two years and I am one of those cheaters. I have health issues, but sometimes fall off the wagon. I convince myself that a little bit of this, or a little bit of that won’t do any harm once a week. Thank you for reminding me that I have to stay with the programme to feel good all the time.