Think of it as emigrating. Eating the Standard American Diet is like living in a country where a sly dictator has stolen the people’s birthright — the vibrant health that comes from a plant-based whole foods lifestyle. Call him Snakey and acknowledge that you and the whole world have been “Snakied” — addicted, tricked and brainwashed into believing that processed junk is food, that cow’s “milk does a body good” and that rampaging disease and pharmaceuticals are normal and inevitable. The first step is to learn the truth, free your mind of the lies, and decide to opt-out of Snakey’s SAD World. Start with the documentaries “Fed Up” and “Forks Over Knives,” and the book “The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force that Undermines Health & Happiness.”
Dr. Michael Greger coined the acronym Calorie Rich And Processed, which makes the simplest of guides to exactly what dietary choices stand between the poor Snakied sucker you have been and your Easy Breezy Whole Foodie (EBWF) True Self. Into the CRAP category fall not just processed and fast “foods,” but also all animal products — meat, fish and dairy. This step involves removing all that’s CRAP from your home and your life, vowing to keep it out for at least 30 days, and suffering through a few days or, worst case, a few weeks of detox discomfort. The detox process also will involve some purging or adjustment of old beliefs, habits, behaviors and relational patterns.
In many a Snakied kitchen, clearing the CRAP will leave the cupboard bare. What now? Luckily, easy breezy whole food falls into the four clear categories on the Physicians Committee’s Power Plate: vegetables including potatoes; fruit; beans and other legumes; and whole grains, including brown rice and oatmeal. Keep it simple to start; choose a few of your favorite, most familiar and most easily accessed foods from each category, construct a few simple meals with no sugar, oil or salt, and eat only these for a few weeks. Here’s your starter grocery list: 1. Potatoes 2. Vegetables, fresh and/or frozen, 3. Fruit, fresh and/or frozen, 4. Beans, 5. Brown Rice, 6. Oatmeal. You can build from here once your body and taste buds begin healing.
Once the detox symptoms have mostly passed, or even before, you’ll start experiencing the effects of eating a diet of not CRAP, especially if you go for what Dr. Joel Fuhrman calls nutritional excellence. As the excess fat, salt and sugar is flushed from your system and your body is flooded with nutrient rich whole foods, your body’s inherent ability to heal itself springs into action, and any and everything that might have ailed you starts to disappear. And don’t just take my word for it, reach out to the many groups and authors and online communities of people who know. Hanging out with, talking to and reading about the miraculous healings and life expansions of those treading the path before us adds energy and enthusiasm to keep going. And sharing early and often about how great you’re feeling helps pay it forward.
The crux of the EBWF lifestyle is food that comes from the ground, and the the more local, the more fresh, the better. Even many of the smallest towns have wonderful farmers markets, and if yours doesn’t, there may still be ways to get familiar with who’s growing the produce you buy, from wherever it is you buy it, and to find alternate, more sustainable sources and options. You might also want to become your own farmer, even if you just grow sprouts on your kitchen counter.
Every EBWF has their own way of staying opted out. Since we generally can no longer pull into any drive-through and get what we need from Snakey, we have to plan for ourselves. Some carry pre-baked potatoes and pull-top cans of salt-free beans. Many subscribe to local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes from neighboring farmers. Dining at restaurants with Snakied loved ones, others whip out masterful creations that are the envy of the table. The plants themselves and your new clear thinking will guide you to your own unique way of eating and living.
Just as Snakey has myriad faces, so does Easy Breezy. A Simple EBWF can live happily ever after by eating oatmeal and berries and vegetable bean soup everyday. Others of us are foodies in the more traditional sense, in that we love exploring the pantheons of flavors that God gave us. With varying degrees of time and skill, Fancy EBWFs create fabulous meals that rival anything Snakey ever cooked up. Good times and good connections ensue when Fancy EBWFs invite Simple EBWFs to dinner. And Simple EBWFs can morph into Fancy EBWFs with the help of numerous resources including recipe collections and more. The possibilities are endless.