Nutrition in the New Year
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Imagine being able to add healthy, quality-filled years to your life. Consider all the smiles you could share, the new friends you could make and the many lives you could touch. Added years would mean increased opportunities for your own life. Sound too good to be true? It doesn’t have to be.
Did you know that the surgeon general’s report on nutrition reported that eight out of 10 leading causes of death in the United States have a nutritional or alcohol-related component? And science is constantly confirming this. Research now finds that eating certain foods—fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and plant proteins—can add quality years to your life.
Consider, for example, the Adventist Health Study—a major 30-year investigational study on the life spans of Seventh-day Adventists living in southern California. From it we’ve learned that Adventists, on average, live seven to nine years longer than the general population. Although we do not understand all of the reasons, it is clear that nutritional choices play a major role. Plant-based eating or using smaller amounts of animal protein lead to a longer life span and greater health during those additional years.
Diana Boyce began experiencing maximum fulfillment after she made changes in her diet. “I knew that as I was getting older,” she says, “I was falling into some very unhealthy habits. Having a very large family and a great number of grandchildren, I love to entertain and would cook a lot as well as eat the wrong things. I knew that if I really, really believed in whole-person health, I needed to do something for myself—I had to take action.
“So I began watching the things I ate and had a more balanced diet. I began to pay more attention to what I was eating, when I was eating, and why I was eating. And it began to change me. Soon I felt better. I had energy when I woke up in the morning. When the alarm went off, I didn’t just roll over and beg for more sleep. Many times I was awake before the alarm even sounded. I had the energy to do my very active job all day long. My weight even went down until I had lost about 25 pounds. At the same time my cholesterol level dropped dramatically and my skin tone improved. I just felt better about life.”
Looking back to the Garden of Eden, we find the original foods God gave were fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. Today science has shown us that such foods lower our risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers.
Isn’t it wonderful that what God originally provided us in the Garden of Eden is just what we need now—in the twenty-first century? Take advantage of his great advice today to live a better, healthier life. As you plan your dietary changes you will find plenty of information available on healthy eating. But beware of gimmicks, and remember that there are no quick fixes. The key to a healthy diet, to reduction of disease, and to a longer, fuller life can be found in the garden.
Here are three practical steps to ensure your Nutrition success:
Maximize—Plant foods by choosing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts. Don’t constantly eat the same things. Maximize variety and color. Experiment. And maximize your taste. Enjoy your food—without this, the changes won’t last.
Moderate—The amount of food you eat. Eat until you feel comfortably full and not until you are stuffed. Pay attention to your serving sizes and, if you struggle with portion control, consider smaller, more frequent meals. Most animals in God’s creation use the “grazing” method of food consumption. Could you have five smaller meals a day instead of three larger ones? It might be worth a try until you can manage the more healthy three, or even two meals per day. Using the food pyramid as a guide (you will find it listed on most food products) is helpful. And moderate any stress when eating—eating should be a blessing and a pleasure.
Minimize—Minimize animal protein intake. Minimize refined sugars and even sugar substitutes. Minimize saturated fats. Saturated fats are usually solid or almost solid at room temperature. All animal fats, such as those in meat, poultry, and dairy products, are saturated. Processed and fast foods are also saturated. Also, minimize the amount of salt you use. Taste your food before you shake the salt to see if it really needs any.