What You’ll Do: This week, you'll focus on doubling your vegetables while drastically cutting back on dairy products like cheese, milk and (of course) ice cream. Here's why:
We know that vegetables are good for us – they provide us with vitamins and antioxidants that protect our bodies from damage and the effects of aging. You might think you can get the same benefits simply by taking a vitamin supplement, but research has shown that supplements cannot be substituted for food in its whole form for the same benefits. A carrot contains over 1000 chemical components. A supplement contains only a couple of these components. What about the other 990 or so that you are missing? Vegetables are also great at filling you up with nutritious food that is low in calories. Unless, of course, you smother them with cheese or a cream sauce!
Dairy products, we may have been told, are good for us. That’s not entirely true. They are good for babies and children who need high-calorie, fatty foods. For the rest of us, the only potentially useful thing in dairy products is calcium. If you are eating your vegetables (and you will be), you can get your calcium from them. Dairy products add calories, raise your cholesterol and even increase your risk for some types of cancer. Many people cannot digest the proteins in dairy, causing low-grade food allergies and stomach problems. Removing dairy from your diet will eliminate many high-calorie temptations while increasing your overall health. Eventually, you can switch to low-fat or no-fat milk products, but for this first week we encourage you to go dairy-free. That way you’ll be in total control of your dairy eating habits and can fill up on vegetables instead.
How It Works: Each week of the Longevity Diet will focus on giving you something to increase in your diet and something to decrease. That way you shouldn’t be hungry. So focus your attention and thinking on the things that are being added – vegetables, and try not to think about what is being taken away – dairy. Spend this week cooking, buying and eating your favorite vegetables and you won’t miss the dairy.
Get Motivated: This week is the first step in turning your diet around. Just try it for one week. See what happens. After the first four days or so, it won’t be so bad. All you have to do is double your veggies and eliminate all types of dairy.
- You should not be hungry on the Longevity Diet. You can eat all the vegetables, fruits and nuts that you want (we’ll talk about the last two later). Keep yourself satisfied while you are making the changes in your diet. Don’t worry about weight loss yet, just start eating healthy. You may lose weight without even trying.
- Remove all temptation. Get a big garbage bag and throw away all the foods not allowed on the Longevity Diet. That means get rid of the ice cream, half and half, milk, cheese and yogurt. These foods can make you unhealthy. Throw them away. If you hesitate because it feels like you are “wasting” foods, remember that these foods are breaking your body. You must get rid of them.
- We hear you out there. We hear you protesting about having to give up your skim milk and low-fat yogurt. We’ll make a deal with you – when you feel 100% confident that you will not eat cheese, ice cream or anything else full-fat, you can bring skim milk and low-fat products back. Not a second before.
- Go on a shopping spree. Stock your food world with vegetables. Buy every kind of vegetable you can think of. Fill your freezer with peas. Buy prepared salads (they are expensive, but that is okay for a short time while you are building your habits). Buy frozen vegetarian dinners. Buy vegetable soups (read the label and remember that they should not contain dairy). And remember, corn and potatoes are not really vegetables – they are grains and starches.
- Be careful with salads. Use only vinaigrette or oil and vinegar dressings. Avoid salad dressings that are creamy. Some restaurant salads have more calories and fat than cheeseburgers. Remember, no cheese on the salad.
Schedule regular screenings for yourself. Do you know your cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose levels? Be sure that you do. It is important that you monitor your numbers you work on these changes. Get a baseline now and you can watch the numbers improve as you perfect the Longevity diet. Many gyms, wellness centers and even churches offer periodic wellness screenings. Keep your eye out for posters and flyers and take advantage of them next time. Better yet, make an appointment to see your doctor for a check up – do it today.