Permission to Stuff Your Face

If there is anyone out there who actually reads my posts regularly, I apologize for this long hiatus. I am getting over a rough case of mono, and just haven’t had the wherewithal to write for the last few weeks on top of my schoolwork and other obligations. I have to say, too, that as someone who makes my health such a priority, it has taken a toll on me to feel so out of control of my body as this virus has saddled me with one debilitating symptom after another. Fortunately, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now, and I might even get back in the gym tomorrow!

Now, it sucks to get mono and other acute illnesses, even for just a few weeks! But a lot of my audience knows that I want to change the way people eat because it will prevent crippling and fatal chronic diseases that afflict more and more people every day.  Actually, to some extent changing the way we eat will prevent infectious disease too.

Throughout my adolescence, I have often thought of healthful eating as limiting the bad stuff. I think this is an attitude that is very common among the health-conscious. Overeating, for many of us, is associated with guilt and shame. Of course, I do feel that highly processed foods and animal products must be limited in order to promote health. As of late, though, I’m coming around to the idea that our diets would actually be more nutritious if we stopped emphasizing what to limit, and told people to eat as much as they can—of the good stuff, that is.

Over my spring break, while I was home sick, I read this great book called How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger. It is the most comprehensive review of the scientific evidence about food and health that I’ve come across. Greger addresses the top causes of death in the country, and the foods and behaviors that have been shown to prevent and reverse them. Wonderfully, his conclusions for most of the conditions he covers are very similar: the evidence directs us to eat as many whole plant foods as possible. There is also indication to limit animal products, added sugar, salt, and smoking, but it seems that eating plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables might be more powerful at promoting health than the junk is at detracting from it.

I don’t know about you, but I find that quite liberating. And especially since I’ve become vegan, I do feel free to pile my plate so high with salad that people in the cafeteria gawk at me. I eat as much of those whole foods as I want, I maintain my weight, and I feel great (minus the mono, of course). That’s not to say that I never treat myself to something more indulgent; I definitely do! But I get my fill of fruit and veggies first. As far as I’m concerned, the best thing you can do for your long-term health (not to mention the planet) is to make your default minimally processed plant foods. So EAT UP. DIG IN.

 

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