If you’re healthy, you want to stay that way. If you’re sick, you may be willing to do just about anything to feel better – and you may have to do less than you think.
“There are so many health issues that can be resolved by shifting one’s diet,” explains Gloria Bakst, a personal chef and cooking teacher. “There aren’t many diseases that don’t have a nutritional aspect to them.” Dietary changes can positively impact cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, candida, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Sometimes a change in diet can even eliminate a disease. While timing depends on the individual and the health issue, Bakst has seen people make major shifts in as little as two weeks.
The Good News: Healthy Food is Delicious and Easy to Identify
You could radically improve the quality of your life by filling at least sixty percent of your plate with vegetables. Anything that grows in the ground or on a bush or in a tree is fair game for scrubbing out health issues. For example, an apple grows on a tree – apple sauce does not. Rice grows from the ground, rice pudding does not. If you really want the apple sauce or the rice pudding, read the ingredient list – or better yet, make it yourself – and be sure you recognize every ingredient and that none of those ingredients are sugar.
The Bad News: Kiss the Cupcakes Goodbye
“If you’re looking to become healthier, cut out processed foods and sugar,” Bakst explains. Learn to stir fry vegetables, prepare rice and quinoa, and pick up strawberries for dessert. Learn all the words for sugar – corn syrup, agave, brown rice syrup, fructose, and approximately ten zillion more – and check ingredient lists to stay away from them. Better yet, stop buying any food in a package. If it’s in a package, it’s probably been processed. Saying sayonara to chocolate chip cookies may sound dreadful, but your taste buds will adjust with alarming speed. After a few weeks, you may not even want that wedge of double chocolate chunk cake.
The Good News: Fat is Good For You
Fat isn’t a bad word – you just have to find the healthy fats. Like olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. Notice how they all grow on trees or in the ground? Keep to this arboreal theme when stocking your fridge and your health and energy levels will skyrocket. Research simple but delicious recipes for fish, chicken, bison, eggs, tofu, tempeh, and white meat turkey and eat a lean protein with every meal. Choosing high quality meat is important, according to Bakst. “I recommend free range if possible,” she advises.
The Bad News: Pasta Doesn’t Grow On Trees
“People want to help others who are suffering,” says Bakst. “My best advice is, don’t send them mac and cheese when they get home from the hospital.”
Such dietary shifts may sound extreme, but learning how food affects your mood, energy levels and prognosis will change your life. Dietary changes may even erase a disease you’ve been living with for years. When faced with another round of chemo or a doctor who wants to pry your chest open, changing what’s in your fridge may feel like the easiest option – and might be the most empowering thing you can do for yourself.