I can’t…

“I can’t” or “I won’t” are two of the most frequently used terms I have heard since changing my diet. When I say diet, I mean how I eat overall. I am now more conscious when making decisions at the market reading labels and ingredients as well as when I am cooking. But for some it’s hard to look past this “diet” and see an extreme shift in lifestyle since making the decision not to eat meat, dairy and oil. Then I read a story saying, “a study funded by the CDC and released on Monday projected that by 2030, 42 percent of American adults will be obese, compared to 34 percent today and 11 percent will be severely obese, compared to 6 percent today” (source). America is fat and only getting fatter!

While I wasn’t obese, based on charts and numbers I was overweight for my height. At one point on 2011 I weighed in at 221 pounds. Today, I tip the scale at 180 pounds. How did I do it? It was a simple plan, but one which doesn’t include the words, “I can’t” or “I won’t.” For me health I needed to make wholesale changes in what I ate. If I didn’t, I could end up being one of those 42% that will be obese by 2030. It could of happened very easy because of how I ate.

Since they don’t teach you good nutrition in school or television,  you must do the research and make the decision to change. Package labeling can be misleading and if you don’t know how to read labels, you are only contributing to the problem. Phrases like “all natural,” “fat free,” made with real fruit,” and “low sugar” are just a few. It’s not easy, I’ll admit it, there were times I wanted to eat a block a cheese or chow down on a piece of steak, but I would only be letting myself down and taking two steps backwards, based on the progress I had made.

We all hear the word “moderation” thrown around when it comes to food. Olive oil in moderation is okay. Meat in moderation is okay. Cheese in moderation is okay. In other parts of the world it might be, but America doesn’t know how to moderate its intake when it comes to food, especially unhealthy food. Here are a few numbers from registered nutritionist and dietician, Jeff Novick (source):

The items we know that are causing harm to Americans right now are the excess consumption of added sugars, refined grains, sodium, fat, and saturated fat.

So, how much does the average American consume of these?

Added Sugars – 242% over the recommended upper limit.

Refined Grains – 200% over the recommended upper limit.

Sodium – 229% over the recommended upper limit.

Saturated fats – 158% over the recommended upper limit.

Solid fats – 281% over the recommended upper limit.

America then wonders why it’s so fat and the outlook on individuals and the medical establishment are not favorable. I’ll be honest, changing your diet to cut out oil, dairy and meat might not be the answer for you, but to avoid turning into a statistic, you might consider some changes. Yet when I talk to people about my weight loss and improvement in my health, they respond with, “I can’t” or “I won’t” in regards to making changes to their diet.

As Americans consume excess added sugars, refined grains, sodium, fat, and saturated fat, they don’t consume enough good foods. “There are items that we know are very beneficial, that we should be consuming a certain amount of in order to gain their benefit.  These are fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fiber” (source):

 So, how much does the average American consume of these?

Fruits – only 42% of the recommended minimum intake.

Vegetables – only 59% of the recommended minimum intake.

Whole Grains – only 15% of the recommended minimum intake.

Fiber – only 40% of the recommended minimum intake.

Combine not eating in moderation and a lack of exercise and it’s no surprise that Americans continue to pack on the pounds and end up being a burden to the medical establishment that continues to see medical procedures and costs rise. In reality a change of emphasis on diet could have great benefits to an individual and society as a whole. Unfortunately when people don’t have a desire to change, say “I can’t” or “I won’t” change won’t occur.

I don’t push my plant-based lifestyle on anyone. I do enjoy the benefits I have experienced the past 6 months since taking on this lifestyle. In all honesty, I don’t miss the meat, but miss the cheese. I have overcome my dependency on using oil in cooking. I am now enjoying the flavors of new and different foods I now cook. Moderation has taken on a new meaning to me. Vegetables, grains and starches now dominate my daily diet. When it comes to food, words like “I can’t” or “I won’t” are no longer in my food vocabulary. I am open to try many foods I never have eaten before. This healthy change has produced excellent benefits, but it’s up to each individual to make a change to improve their own health.