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• June 15, 2011   |   0 Comments   |  

Vegetabletarianism 101:

The First Essential Step to Lower Your Body Fat Healthfully

We all know the statistics: 2/3 of American adults are severely obese or moderately obese; the rate of obesity among our children is increasing; more than 10% of adults worldwide are obese. Clearly, this is a war we are losing. Obesity-related diseases are destroying our health, overwhelming the U.S. health insurance system, and weakening the financial stability our nation.

Ironically, many very effective and highly nutritious dietary approaches to reversing obesity have been published during the last 20 years: The Zone of Barry Sears; The South Beach Diet of Arthur Agatston; and Eat for Health of Joel Fuhrman are just a few outstanding examples. Many who started and followed programs such as these succeeded in reducing their body fat to healthy levels. Unfortunately, too few of us were able to stick with such plans. Obesity rates have continued to rise throughout this time period.

Why? What critical factors do these dietary approaches have in common which, on the positive side, help us lose body fat and, on the negative side, prevent most of us from starting and/or following them consistently?

If we consider the common negative factor first, the reason these excellent dietary plans are not succeeding for most of us yet is that they are too complex for the pressurized pace of our contemporary society. The enormous time and energy demands of our overly hectic modern world make it too difficult for us to follow detailed dietary strategies, even though we understand rationally that they are sensible and that we will succeed magnificently if we can follow their prescribed guidelines.

The positive critical factor shared by all of the leading dietary plans is the recommendation to eat large amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits. The authors of these programs explain that most of us eat large quantities of grain-based foods, such as breads, pasta, cereals, crackers and pastries. These processed grain foods are relatively high in calories, low in nutrients, and trigger the secretion of insulin, which ultimately causes us to store body fat. Most vegetables and fruits, on the other hand, are relatively low in calories, very high in nutrients, and help us to decrease our stores of body fat. In one way or another, all of the authors of these plans state that it is difficult, if not impossible, to lose weight healthfully without increasing our consumption of vegetables and fruits. Unfortunately, more and more of us are not following this advice. A recent study released by the Center for Disease Control found that between 1992 and 2007 the average daily per capita consumption of vegetables and fruits in the U.S. actually declined. Even the USDA, which for decades encouraged us to eat high amounts of grain-based foodstuffs and relatively low amounts of vegetables and fruits, has finally reversed its official position. It is now recommended that we eat 7 to 13 servings of vegetables and fruits daily, three times more than we eat currently.

How do we bridge the gap between these two common critical factors? How do we balance our need to drastically increase the amount of vegetables and fruits we eat against our frenzied contemporary lifestyles that seem to prevent most of us from doing so?

In short, we need a system that makes it simple to start eating more vegetables and fruits every day. If we do not succeed in this, experts agree, most of us will never overcome obesity and become as lean and healthy as we should be. Therefore, we need something that encourages us and reminds us to eat healthfully throughout every day.

Presenting Vegetabletarianism 101 (V 101), a “system” consisting of one simple principle that you can easily state and restate to yourself each day:

Every time you eat, eat a raw vegetable or raw fruit first.

That’s it?

That’s it! All you do is state this principle to yourself whenever you think of food. Your eating behavior will follow.

For many of us, this assertion provokes several questions:

How can an approach as simplistic as V 101 replace the intricate, detailed, and highly researched nutritional plans of Sears, Agatston, Atkins, Fuhrman and others?

The answer is, V 101 does not replace any comprehensive dietary program. What it does do, however, is provide an easy-to-follow first step toward increasing significantly the amount of vegetables and fruits we eat each day, a step that is essential if we want to lower our body fat. For the majority of us, V 101 is a step which, heretofore, we have been unable to take.

What is a Vegetabletarian?

A Vegetabletarian is someone who endeavors to eat large amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits every day, regardless of whether or not he or she eats foods of animal origin. All exclusive Vegetarians are Vegetabletarians; not all Vegetabletarians are Vegetarians.

What is Vegetabletarianism 101?

V 101 is an affirmation of the principle that eating fresh vegetables and fruits is a personal act of the highest order in attaining good health. The scantiness of vegetables and fruits is the most serious nutritional deficiency of the Standard American diet (SAD) and a major cause of the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, and many other seriously disabling, but highly preventable, diseases.

How does merely stating this principle to ourselves guarantee that we will follow it?

Repeating the V 101 principle does guarantee we will follow it. However, most weight-loss experts agree that ongoing positive reinforcement is a significant determinant of success. Thinking of V 101 a few times throughout each day provides encouragement without any “Don’t eat this” or “Don’t eat that” negatives. Instead, it is a simple, gentle reminder of how each of us can improve our health every day.

Do we have to eat raw vegetables and fruits every time we eat?

V 101 is the affirmation of an ideal. Very few of us act in an ideal manner in every situation. Success through V 101 does not require perfection. If most of us endeavor to follow this principle most of the time, it will have a profound effect upon our eating habits, our health, and the rate of obesity.

What will be the effects if most of us eat raw vegetables or fruits first almost every time we eat?

First of all, it will at least double (and in many cases triple) the amount of fresh vegetables and fruit we Americans currently. For the following reasons, this will have a significant impact upon our rate of obesity as well as our overall health.

  1. Calorie for calorie, dark green and brightly colored vegetables and fruits are extremely rich in micronutrients—minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, phytonutrients, etc.—which are essential for good health and which our bodies crave. These foods help to satisfy our innate search for nutrient enrichment. On the other hand, when we consume foods that are relatively high in calories but low in nutrients—especially refined carbohydrate foodstuffs such as breads, pastas, cereals, and starches—we tend to overeat in a desperate search for nutritional satisfaction. This is especially problematic if we eat these nutrient-poor foods at the beginning of a meal.
  2. Raw vegetables and fruits are rich in fiber and water, both of which contribute to the feeling of fullness. If eaten at the beginning of a meal, they tend to limit the amount of food we consume in the rest of the meal. Fiber, the indigestible cell walls of plants, binds with fats in our GI tracts and, therefore, aids in the elimination of these fats.
  3. Eating raw vegetables and fruits requires vigorous chewing, the need for which is a significant part of the human search for pleasure and nutrition through food. Soft processed foods do not satisfy this need. Chewing raw foods at the beginning of a meal helps to satisfy our need to chew and to reduce our drive to eat more and more of whatever is in sight, in the cupboard, or in the refrigerator.

Why raw vegetables and fruits?

There are a few reasons why eating raw foods at the beginning of each meal is highly advantageous.

  1. In most, but not all cases, raw foods have more nutrients than processed foods. Cooking, baking, steaming, and other processing methods often destroy some of the nutrients and fiber present in raw foods.
  2. The intensive chewing required in eating raw foods, as opposed to soft foods, not only helps satisfy our drive to chew, it also breaks down the cell walls of raw plants, which increases our ability to absorb their nutrients.
  3. Chewing and digesting raw foods actually requires our bodies to expend more calories than does the consumption of soft processed foods.
  4. In a primal way, eating raw vegetables and fruits brings us back closer to nature. We develop a more acute sense of where foods come from and what a blessing they are than we do when we eat processed foods.

Why eat vegetables and fruits first?

  1. Our first impression in any experience is often the strongest and most long-lasting. Tasting the true flavors and feeling the textures of raw vegetables and fruits at the beginning of a meal influences how we perceive the foods that follow in that meal. In many cases, we will be influenced to eat more raw foods subsequently, such as fresh berries for dessert instead of pie or ice cream.
  2. The feelings of fullness and nutritional satisfaction that come from eating raw foods early in a meal reduce our desire to eat too much of processed, low-nutrient, high calories foodstuffs later in that meal.
  3. Sometimes it will be difficult or impossible to eat raw foods at the beginning of a meal. When this occurs, thinking of V 101 still encourages us to eat a raw fruit or vegetable at some other point in that meal. If not, the next meal is always an opportunity to put matters back in order.

What if you have a gastrointestinal disorder or simply have difficulty eating raw vegetables and fruits?

  1. The first alternative is to use a blender to make a fruit and vegetable smoothie. Start with two cups of water, add one whole fruit and one vegetable, and then ice cubes. Blend at high speed until very smooth. Blend in more fruit if needed for better taste and texture. Drink some before the meal and refrigerate the rest for later.
  2. If you own a juicer, you can make an equally nutritious drink. Be certain to consume all the pulp.
  3. If juicing is not possible, homemade soups or lightly steamed vegetables can be a great beginning to any meal. Although these alternative lack some of the qualities of raw foods, they are still highly nutritious and aid in weight loss.
  4. The final alternative is to purchase a whole food “greens powder” and mix it with water. Drink it before a meal.

Isn’t eating raw vegetable and fruits a lot more expensive than packaged foods?

This is a myth. The more prepared and packaged foodstuffs are, the more middlemen are making a profit. If you desire verification of this statement, go to a supermarket and compare the per-pound price of bread or cereal to the per-pound price of oranges or apples. Processed foodstuffs not only cost more per pound, they have far less nutrients per pound. Nutrient for nutrient, fresh vegetables and fruits are the best value available in our local markets. In addition, there are farmer’s markets, food coops, and farmstands that abound with fresh vegetables and fruits at very fair prices.

It’s still not as easy to prepare a raw fruit or vegetable as it is a sandwich, is it?

What could be easier than peeling an orange at the beginning of breakfast? Or throwing an apple into your bag for a snack? Or, if you are eating out, ordering a salad and eating that first instead of filling up on bread?

In short, eating a raw vegetable or fruit first is delicious, satisfying, nutritious, filling, economical, and very easy to remember. If you follow V 101 to the best of your ability, you will gradually feel healthier and more energetic. Your temptations to eat processed foodstuffs will decline, the waistline of your pants will be looser, and you will be taking the first essential step toward reducing your body fat.

V 101 is not the panacea to all of our obesity and nutritional problems. However, for many of us, practicing this single principle is just enough to reverse the weight-gain process, so that we start reducing our body fat instead of adding to it. That we do not eat sufficient amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits is the most important dietary cause of obesity and the most serious cause of malnutrition in our nation. V 101 is the first essential step toward reducing our body fat healthfully.

Every time you eat, eat a raw vegetable or raw fruit first.

Category: Food Factors, Nutritional Fitness

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