Q: I am obese and have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. My doctor keeps telling me that I am killing myself with my diet and sedentary lifestyle, and I try but I can’t change. I don’t have the willpower to change my diet, or the motivation to exercise. I enjoy watching television, spending hours sitting in front of my computer, and eating sweets, meats, and treats. Aren’t my medications enough to keep me healthy?
A: It is the first week of spring, and it sounds like it’s time for you to do some spring cleaning.
Let’s start with “spring cleaning” of your negative thoughts, like “I can’t” and “I don’t have the will power or motivation”… Eliminate those worn out and disempowering statements from your vocabulary and your thoughts.
Why not try a fresh new way of thinking about yourself and about what you are capable of doing? You’d be surprised at how many people can suddenly change bad habits like smoking or overeating when they suffer a massive heart attack or have some other wake up call.
Don’t wait for a life threatening complication of your health conditions to start changing your attitude and your lifestyle.
You already know a lot about what you could do to improve your health. Knowing these things, or “trying” to make necessary changes is not the same as doing it. So let’s start with spring cleaning your refrigerator and your pantry.
It is a very powerful exercise to take all of the food out of your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry then ask yourself honestly if you should be eating these foods. Are they good for your heart, blood pressure, diabetes, or your weight? Throw out the things that are not and see how powerful you feel. You will not starve!
Hint: soft drinks, processed foods, animal products that are high in saturated fats, or foods that are high in salt or sugar need to go. Check labels, and make sure you know what you are eating. Avoid junk food!
Don’t use the excuse that you have to keep them in your house as treats for the kids… why would you want them to eat these foods if they are unhealthy?
Do you have enough fresh fruits and vegetables to eat five servings per day? These foods are filling, high in nutritional value, fiber, antioxidants and vitamins, and are recommended for all your health conditions. (Fresh frozen is okay, but canned or processed are not the same).
Are you getting enough plant based or lean, low-fat animal proteins? Whole grains are good for you, but eat them in moderation. You may be surprised to find out how many foods labeled multigrain or whole wheat contain processed flour and little or no whole grains. Avoid wheat if you are gluten sensitive. I am generally suspicious of foods with a lot of preservatives and a long shelf life.
Did you know that “super glutens” are used to make breads and baked products last longer and have a more pleasing shape? These super glutens are more likely to cause sensitivities. High quality fermented foods like sauerkraut, kim chee, and Kambucha do have a longer shelf life but are good for you.
Are you drinking enough water? (The type of water and packaging is a whole other column).
Make a new grocery list. You may have to frequent new stores (and restaurants) so you don’t automatically make old, unhealthy food choices. Go to farmer’s markets and stores that stock a lot of fresh healthy foods.
Learn how to identify the freshness of fruits and vegetables, and try to select ones that are recently picked, preferably organic, and include as many colors as you can to provide a wider assortment of nutrients. Make time for exercise.