i saw my mom the other day and she wanted me to come up with a menu plan that she could follow all week. she’s basically on the verge of diabetes and i was thrilled she reached out to me at all. then i realized that what she needed was not a menu plan (it’s like giving a fish to a hungry man instead of teaching him to fish), but a small list of rules to help her navigate the menu waters on her own. this way, she’ll be able to recognize trends on her own. it’s way better to have an understanding of something than to just blindly do it because you’re told.
anyway, after brainstorming for a long time and trying to make some rules that would be basic and simple but encompass most rules i believe in, i came up with this:
i know you wanted me to write you a menu to get healthy, but this list of rules to follow will be much more helpful. you have to make big changes to your habits but i’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for you to start. follow these steps and once you become comfortable with them, you can move on to some more i’ll give you.
- CUT OUT ALL WHITE SUGAR. this includes anything that is made with sugar. the easiest thing to do would be to stop getting dessert. start READING INGREDIENT LABELS. if it has sugar in it, put it back! anything that ends in “-ose” (dextrose, fructose, sucrose, glucose…) is a sugar.
you can still have fake sugar (splenda and truvia are best) while you’re getting used to this. and you can still have carbs (whole wheat breads and pastas) and fruits (which have natural sugar).
- CUT OUT “HYDROGENATED” and “PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED” oils. when you read the ingredients, if you see anything that says “hydrogenated” PUT IT BACK.
- GET EXERCISE. keep hiking with dad. and when you go shopping anywhere, park far away and WALK. you don’t have to go to a gym or have fancy equipment. if you can break a sweat at least once a day, then that is a great start. oh, and you can try the ZUMBA dvds i got you 🙂
you’ll find out that you can’t buy a lot of processed foods because they almost always contain sugar and hydrogenated oils as their main ingredients.
here’s something fun: go to the peanut butter aisle. get a jar of JIF and a jar of SMUCKERS peanut butter and look at their ingredients. you’ll find the JIF has sugar, hydrogenated oils, and some other things you can’t pronounce. SMUCKERS has peanuts and salt (that’s REAL peanut butter). when the oil separates and sits on top, that’s GOOD and it means it’s a REAL food. hydrogenated oils keep the oil from separating so JIF looks prettier (but it also poisons us).
THE GOOD NEWS
even though you are going to cut out sugar and hydrogenated oils, this is what you need to replace them with (and eat a lot of it!):
REAL BUTTER (absolutely NO margarine–it’s hydrogenated oil)
FULL FAT milk, cheese, and yogurt
* when you can, make sure to get these dairy products ORGANIC.
obviously, i’ll want her to cut out all artificial sweeteners. getting rid of sweets will reprogram your taste receptors to become more sensitive to naturally occurring sugars. studies (and real life) show our bodies react to sugar like a drug. the more we eat, the more we need to get our “fix” (you slowly increase sugar consumption to maintain the same level of sweetness you taste). for someone like my mom (who hoards splenda packets and adds no less than 2 to her (already) sweet tea) i figured i wouldn’t take away fake sugar and carbs just yet. if i did that, she might decide being diabetic isn’t so bad!