Have you ever heard someone say, "I'd rather enjoy my food and die early than eat healthfully and live long"?
People have exclaimed this phrase countless times to me when I explain to them what my diet is like. “Where is the decadence, the fat, the richness?” they proclaim when I tell them I don’t eat animal foods. “I don’t think I could live without a good steak every now and then,” I’ve heard on one too many social encounters. It seems as if a good chunk of the people I meet simply have no idea how much I love eating healthfully more than conventional food, not only because it keeps me feeling well in the present and will protect me from diseases later in life, but because it is one heck of a tasty diet. They just assume I am sacrificing enjoyment of life for a little better health, and it is not worth it.
I think people who have never given the nutritarian diet style a try might be skeptical about the taste of these foods and recipes and that is understandable. We like the foods we get used to eating. We are creatures of habit after all, and the foods we eat the most often become our comfort foods. It’s weird to me that people often believe that healthy foods are not as tasty as a bag of chips, a can of soda or even an oil heavy foie gras at a five star restaurant, for example. But I guess that is because other people get used to eating these types of foods early in their lives and I have never touched them. I’m sure that’s why people assume my diet of roasted butternut squash soups, lentil and mushroom veggie “meatloafs”, organic mesclun greens salads with pine nuts and roasted veggies, steamed edamame, and chocolate cherry smoothies (these are only a few examples of favorite foods I cook for myself) doesn’t taste very good. That’s the shame of it all- if only conventional eaters and the skeptics would give the nutritarian diet a chance to prove its deliciousness!
I’m not one to believe in sacrifice and I don’t think other people should have to either. I’ve met many people who use to eat the standard American diet (SAD) and now eat a nutritarian diet and love the variety of it, the taste of it, and the satisfaction of eating foods that promote wellness. My mom is actually one of these people. When my mom, whom was raised on a “conventional” diet, first met my dad’s sister in college (my mom and my aunt were actually good friends before she met my dad!), my mom said she felt sorry for my aunt, Gale (my dad’s younger sister) whom was raised on a healthy diet much like the one my dad advocates today. After only a few months of dating my dad when she was in her early twenties, she was converted to the nutritarian lifestyle and could no longer imagine eating the foods she previously ate regularly.
Which brings me back to the title of this blog post and all of the implication it makes. Most people with poor eating habits don’t just “die early” but they will probably contend with illness, chronic pain, decreased brain function and reliance on expensive medications for many years before they say sayonara to this life. Taking care of oneself by making the right foods choices leads to feeling our most optimal in the present as well as protecting ourselves from future health problems. I don’t have to battle a constant cough, runny nose, colds that last for weeks, asthma, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or any other chronic health malady that results from wanting to “enjoy my food and die early”. Some people might get away with eating poorly for decades and then succumb to ill health for only a few years, or maybe even a few months or weeks, before they die, but that is not the norm. Chronic weight problems face more Americans than ever before, as do cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disorders and other diet-related health conditions.
Healthy foods become much more appealing when we understand the relationship between what we eat and how we feel now and into the future. What we have to work on is finding our favorite healthy foods and recipes, making the decision to commit to this way of life with the resolve that you can have it all- tasty food and great health. The misconception that healthy food is bland and tasteless needs to become a thing of the past and you can do it with education, commitment and experimentation with recipes that you enjoy. You really can have it all if you give this lifestyle a shot.
The Eat To Live cookbook is coming out within the next few months (I’ve seen the recipes and tasted them) and I can testify that there are plenty of nutritious, mouth-watering recipes to come! In the mean time, there is a cornucopia of delicious recipes available on the Dr.Fuhrman.com member center like this one:
Golden Austrian Cauliflower Cream Soup
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
1 head cauliflower, cut into pieces
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
1 cup coarsely chopped celery
2 leeks, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Dr. Fuhrman's VegiZest (or other no-salt seasoning blend such as Mrs. Dash, adjusted to taste)
2 cups carrot juice
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup raw cashews or 1/2 cup raw cashew butter
5 cups chopped kale leaves or baby spinach
1 tablespoon curry powder (optional)
Place all the ingredients except the cashews and kale in a pot. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender. Steam the kale until tender. If you are using spinach there is no need to steam it; it will wilt in the hot soup.
In a food processor or high-powered blender, blend two-thirds of the soup liquid and vegetables with the cashews until smooth and creamy. Return to the pot and stir in the steamed kale (or raw spinach).
Cheers to enjoying food AND living long, disease-free lives!
image credit: flickr by Marc_Smith