I tend to read a lot of books about nutrition, and one thing that seriously bugs me about all of them is this: They spend the first half of the book talking about what’s wrong with the Standard American Diet–why hormone-treated meat, refined sugar, trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup, etc are bad for you, and how most people are missing out on important nutrients by not eating enough fruits and vegetables.
(Did I miss anything? This is pretty much the summary of the first half of any nutrition book, with a few tweaks depending on if it’s vegan, gluten-free, or omnivore.)
Then, they spend the second half of the book talking about what you should eat. And this is where I always want to throw the book across the room.
Because if your idea of getting me to eat better is to say “well, just eliminate sugar and dairy and gluten and animal products!” …then I don’t believe you have ever struggled with changing your eating habits.
If you give me a 21-day food plan that bears absolutely zero resemblance to what I or my family likes to eat, then oops there goes that book across the room...
Of course, throwing the book across the room doesn’t negate all of the smartness and science in the first half of the book. It just leaves me frustrated and thinking there is something wrong with me that I haven’t been able to make those changes, even though I have tried again and again.
I am here to tell you there is nothing wrong with us–making these changes is hard as shit. Especially if you’re going at it alone and trying to do all the work yourself with no support.
As someone who spent a looooong time eating like total crap, but who now eats an all whole foods vegan diet–I feel uniquely qualified to talk about the transition away from crap. So I am going to write this series of posts about how to make gentle, lasting changes to your diet in a completely realistic way for the average person who is not a health nut.
It will run for several weeks and show both some concrete steps to eating healthier and some more theoretical understandings that have helped me. I hope you read and play along at home!
Are you with me?
Step One: Get Inspired.
Okay, so you know those books we threw across the room? Go pick one up. Honestly, it doesn’t matter much which one. You don’t have to follow anyone’s dogma exactly, we are going to form our own opinions about diet as this series goes along.
If you don’t know where to start, here are my favorite books about vegan nutrition. Or if you’re a dedicated omnivore, go for Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food.
If you don’t feel like reading a book, just watch a movie. Like Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead or Forks Over Knives (YES, I know there are problems with both of those movies…we’re just looking for inspiration here not buying in to every word.)
The point here is to get educated, start thinking about moving outside of the mainstream with your food choices. That is the part that tends to get lost when we read hyper-detailed theories by people who are convinced they are all-knowing about nutrition: just making that first leap, outside of the mainstream, is the hardest part. After that you can tinker with details as much as you like.
(It’s true, I am a vegan and this is a vegan blog, but this series is going to be about making a big step toward eating healthier, not necessarily high-level refinements–that’s why it’s called Quit Eating Like Crap, not Eat The Perfect Vegan Diet!)
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