How Do You Best Describe Your Vitality?
In America, we are experiencing longer lifespans than ever before. While the longevity of our life-spans is at an all time high, quality of life cannot keep up with the pace. People are living sicker longer, and diseases of affluence are plaguing the nation. When we choose to eat for life, we are eating to truly live (1). Both psychosocial and physiological components are key ingredients for a well balanced diet.
Some ways you might identify your vitality could include:
- Living free of chronic disease
- Effectively managing a chronic condition
- Having the energy to perform your favorite activities and avidly seek these out.
- A peaceful mind
Eat for Life Intuitively and Mindfully
Nourishment is more than nutrition. From the direction we roll out of bed in the morning to which pillow we lay our head on in the evening, the majority of our habits are ingrained and repetitive. We go through our days thinking about the past and the future, and reflecting very little on the events happening RIGHT NOW!
These behaviors seem like insignificant tasks that flow with the fundamentals of life until we throw a wrench into the routine and a cascade of chaos follows suit. While we must eat for life, its all to often the experience in which we become the most emotionally absent.
Food is magnificent in that everyone has experiences with it. It is much more than the romaine that rests on our dinner plate. How many individuals were involved in the production of that romaine? Hundreds? Thousands? We are connected to so many lives through these small seemingly insignificant morsels of substance.
You Can Stay Mindful Of Your Body In World of Chaos By:
- Staying present. If your companion is a plate of pasta- be there with it. As Zen Proverb would say “When walking walk, when eating eat.”
- Be a player in your surroundings. The streets where you dwell can drive the foods you choose. The plates you pick can dictate how much you pile on them! Notice what triggers your eating behavior. Then choose if the series of leading events leads to a desirable outcome.
- You can be driven by quality or expectation. Don’t be persuaded by the later! Don’t accept less than the best when it comes to food. Refuse to commit to eating something just because it’s 2:00, aunt Sally made it, or because keto diet tells you kale’s okay!
Connect With Your Food
There is absolutely no better way to connect with your food than to grow it and nourish it yourself before it in turn nourishes you! Research indicates that growing your own food can maintain and improve physical, psychological, and social well-being! (2) This is especially true of our golden citizens. For the less tall people, gardening is shown to improve gut microbiome, and increase and improve dietary intake (3).
The coolest part about growing your own is you don’t have to put all that crap on your plants that you might find in commercial products (ahem, pesticides!). Grow for life. Eat for life. The cycle is real and altogether nourishing in so many ways.
Eat for Life Through Plant Based Plates
Plant based plates not only preserve a life, they preserve our planet (4)! Moral of the story is if we’re cool to the planet than homo sapiens (us), get to keep hanging out here for a while longer.
plant based food production is far less taxing on the environment than animal agriculture. A vegan diet averages about a 50% reduction in greenhouse gases in comparison to an omnivorous one.(4). In addition, Plant based diets promote both health and longevity for the humans! Life for Life!
We can reduce our blue water use, land occupied by lifestock as well as total greenhouse gas emissions simply by changing the way we organize our plates! We have a lot of power at the tip of our fork, both in terms of preserving the planet and our health.
Carbs have calories. Protein has calories. Fat has calories. We must eat for life through consuming energy in the form of caloric intake from food. Yet it’s absolutely fascinating to me that so many scrutinize the very source of our vitality by honoring one food group over another. Like our bodies don’t require adequately balanced macro and micro-nutrients day in and day out to sustain every single function that make us uniquely us.
Since eating is a requirement for living, i’m going to go ahead and call the plate like it is. A life plate.
How to Build A Balanced Life Plate
- Put some protein on it. about 1/4 of the plate should come from protein. If you ask me, I prefer it come from plants. Fun fact: Most American diets WAY over kill (no pun intended) the protein. This typically just leads to added total fat, calories and saturated fat intake. Enough is as good as a feast for nutrition.
- STOP CUTTING OUT CARBS! Well. If that’s a thing for you that is. It’s kind of an oxymoron as far as i’m concerned that everyone is ditching carbs for protein when we need at least some carbs for proper protein metabolism, especially following activity. Carbs should also take up about 1/4 of your life plate space.
- Pile on the veggies and fruit. Make the colors pop. Aim for at least 4 different colors of veggies per day. This will give a good variety of micro nutrients.
- Remember to eat for life every day, every 3-5 hours or you’ll quickly find your energy depleted and life feeling drab.
There are no "Bad" Foods, just bad ideas about them!
Wallowing in a pile of self pity because you ate a piece of pie? Stop that! You know what i’m talking about. You’re your own dark cloud in the corner of the room screaming a mantra of regret that would sound absolutely ridiculous if we shared with the world. Do yourself a favor. STOP USING THE WORDS GOOD AND BAD TO LABEL FOOD! Here’s why it sounds so silly:
- All food provides nutritional value. We eat calories for life, and thus can glean a benefit from any food.
- It is the way we behave with food not THE food that dictates whether we eat for life and prosperity.
- Enough is as good as a feast when it comes to nutrition. Those “good” foods in excess will cause just as much damage as any other food choice.
- What fits my needs will not fit your needs! I’m plant based. Which fits my physical and emotional needs. Plant based may not fit your physical or emotional needs. Both of those dietary styles are OKAY!
Life Plates that are Plant Based Promote Longevity and Vitality
It’s no secret that populations consuming the most plants tend to live longer, healthier life spans (5). Mediterranean style diets put an emphasis on increasing plants and reducing meats portions, especially red meats. Mediterranean diets are typically associated with reduced risks of chronic disease and obesity. Take that A step further and you’ve got your vegetarian vegan diets. All of these plant based dietary styles can improve longevity and vitality. We need not harbor all or nothing thinking when it comes to the “type” of eating pattern we choose.
Vegetarian and Vegan Diets Health Benefits
- Optimize GI health with a general increase in high fiber foods.
- Focus on fruits and veggies micro-nutrients for cell growth and repair, reducing inflammation, and intermediates in metabolism.
- Reduces risks for many chronic disease including heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, certain cancers, and depression.
- Can preserve renal functions for those with chronic kidney disease
A Little More Plant Based
I encourage you to purge your mind and your plate of all the derogatory things you’ve heard about food. Create a peaceful mind and body with life plates that meet both our mental and physiological needs. Experience food in a way that involves being fully present.
While choosing more plant based can certainly yield lasting health benefits, choose vegetarian or vegan only if you feel it fits comfortably on your life plate. Remember if choosing meat products a little can go a long way. And switching to a little more plant based protein can go a long way to preserving the planet and eating or life!
- Castañé, S., & Antón, A. (2017). Assessment of the nutritional quality and environmental impact of two food diets: A Mediterranean and a vegan diet. Journal of Cleaner Production, 167, 929–937. https://doi-org.ezp.lib.cwu.edu/10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.04.121
- Goldstein, B., Moses, R., Sammons, N., & Birkved, M. (2017). Potential to curb the environmental burdens of American beef consumption using a novel plant-based beef substitute. PLoS ONE, 12(12), 1–17. https://doi-org.ezp.lib.cwu.edu/10.1371/journal.pone.0189029
- Henning, B. (2011). Standing in Livestock’s “’Long Shadow”’: The Ethics of Eating Meat on a Small Planet. Ethics & the Environment, 16(2), 63–93. https://doi-org.ezp.lib.cwu.edu/10.2979/ethicsenviro.16.2.63