Diets are made to go “on” and “off of,” and if you’re like most people — who want to be fit, lean, alert and healthy — you don’t want to diet. You want to eat naturally and normally, in a way that helps you have the body and lifestyle you deserve to enjoy. In "EAT," Dr. Ian Smith has created a blueprint for you. It’s a flexible and intelligent plan you can follow every day, in every situation — eating out, working late, traveling, cooking for the holidays — and that will urge your body to perform at its peak. You’ll drop any excess pounds you need to lose. You won’t worry about what you “can” and “can’t” eat, but will listen to yourself and eat smart. Cut to the chase with Dr. Ian’s "EAT" Plan at the end of each chapter, or become your own expert by reading from start to finish. Either way, "EAT" is not about denial. It’s about permission ... to live, to fuel your strong body, to eat! Here's an excerpt.
Introduction and beginning of Chapter 1
This is NOT a diet book. If you’re looking for a book that can improve the quality of your life, make you feel better, look better, lengthen your life — and YES, help you drop those stubborn excess pounds and maintain a healthy weight — then this is the book. In EAT, you’ll find scientifically based, easy-to-understand information about eating well and making smart decisions. The idea behind EAT is simple. Rather than instructing you to follow a rigid diet program that dictates every morsel you put into your mouth, I want to educate you on how to make your own decisions so that you feel free and empowered and confident when it comes to making food and lifestyle choices. I decided to write this book for one simple reason: millions of people anxiously want to understand how to eat better — yet the advice that many experts dole out is either complicated or contradictory. I wanted to take the best research on healthful eating and boil it down so that after all of the fancy language and complex ideas have evaporated, what’s left are the essentials of what it takes to eat better and feel better. Anyway, who really has the time or desire to read a 500-page encyclopedia on good eating? This is not a diet book in the traditional sense. Instead, consider this a manual or crib notes on eating that will deliver all kinds of benefits. Yes, you will lose weight if you need to, but more than that, you can lower your blood pressure, reduce your cholesterol levels, increase your energy, feel younger, and fight all kinds of diseases simply by putting the right foods on your plate. Food is our body’s fuel, and the purpose of this book is to teach you how to choose and mix this fuel to make sure you are filling up your body’s tank with the highest octane available.
I’ve included charts that make it ridiculously easy for you to make smart food choices. Charts such as the Seafood Protein Sources or the Top 10 Antioxidant Fruits mean that all you have to do is pick from the list— you don’t have to comb through a bunch of research papers and articles to create your own. At the end of each chapter is an EAT Plan with only a few simple suggestions you should follow to incorporate the message of that chapter into your life. I wanted you to have an actual plan to follow with instructions that are specific enough so that you don’t feel as if there’s a lot of work on your part to follow through with your good intentions in buying this book. I’ve purposely made the plan flexible enough that you can customize it according to your preferences.
Healthy eating will make you happier and can add years to your life. This does not mean, however, that you need to break the bank in order to provide your body with the best nourishment. The belief that “only the rich can eat well” is wrong on so many levels, and I hope this book will succeed in showing you why. “Food experts” tend to make the concept of healthy eating complicated. It’s not. You don’t need an advanced degree or personal chef — or even a lot of time — in order to put delicious and healthy food on the table.
What you need is simple. First, you need to want to eat well and enjoy the food you eat. Second, you need a basic understanding of food fundamentals that will quickly allow you to make decisions on your own — without having to consult a book, a nutritionist, or anyone else. Third, you need to believe that good eating is available to anyone who desires it, and not something accessible only to members of an exclusive club. EAT will give you the information and confidence you need to make eating fun, affordable, and life-enhancing.
Ian K. Smith, M.D.
Follow the rainbow
Nature has made it easy for us to remember which foods provide the greatest nutritional punch. Think of the colors of the rainbow. It’s that simple. Colorful foods are literally packed with all kinds of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that provide us with nutritional reinforcements to not only maintain the body’s healthy status, but to fight off diseases that threaten our health. Fruits and vegetables are our greatest sources of health-promoting nutrients; however, we Americans largely ignore these critical natural health resources. A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shown that only 32.6 percent of American adults eat fruit two or more times a day. When it comes to vegetables, things are even worse. Only 27.2 percent of adults eat vegetables three or more times per day.
Beyond vitamins and minerals, colorful fruits and vegetables are full of phytochemicals and antioxidants, two groups of disease-fighting, health-promoting compounds. Phytochemicals are natural compounds in plant food that work with nutrients and dietary fiber to protect against disease. Antioxidants are food compounds that neutralize or inactivate free radicals. These free radicals attack the body’s cells and contribute to a variety of conditions including cancer, heart disease, and aging. Thankfully, there are lots of great-tasting fruits and vegetables that contain antioxidants and help reduce our risk for certain diseases. Loading up on antioxidant-rich foods is extremely important.
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The benefits of a plant-based diet are abundantly available and clear. Several researchers have studied the eating and lifestyle habits of numerous populations around the world. They looked particularly carefully at the eating behaviors of those who lived the longest and had the best health. They found one critical component all of them shared: their diets were high in fruits, vegetables, and legumes and low in red meat. The CDC buttressed this research with a report that showed Americans who ate a more plant-based diet also had the lowest Body Mass Index (BMI), which meant a reduced risk of the many health problems associated with being overweight.
Let’s be clear. Eating a healthier diet does not mean you have to go to the other extreme and become a vegetarian. There is a very comfortable middle ground that can be achieved by eating more fruits and vegetables and also choosing more poultry and fish, and making red meat an occasional meal. To better understand how to choose the best fruits and vegetables to give you the advantage you’re looking for, you need to understand just a few basics.
You don’t have to become a medical doctor or registered dietician — or even visit one — to know how to make smart food choices. The relatively new concept of “nutrient density,” or “nutrient richness,” is easy to understand and can immediately improve the quality of your life. Nutrient density refers to the amount of nutrients contained within a given volume of food. Foods that are high in nutrients and low in calories are considered “nutrient dense.” Foods that have few nutrients and are high in calories are considered to be “nutrient poor.” By simply making sure that 75 percent of what you eat is nutrient dense, you will see dramatic physical changes as well as an almost immediate energy boost.
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You can also look specifically at the density of one nutrient. Let’s say you feel a cold coming on and you’re interested in boosting your intake of vitamin C. You would look for foods that are nutrient dense in vitamin C. Bell peppers have 174 milligrams of vitamin C per cup and only 25 calories. But fried onion rings contain less than 1 milligram of vitamin C per cup and have 200 calories. The recommended daily value intake of vitamin C is 60 milligrams. That means it would take only a third of a cup of bell peppers to meet that requirement and only a little more than 8 calories to go along with it. However, it would take more than 15,000 calories of fried onion rings to meet the recommended 60 milligrams of vitamin C. The bell peppers are nutrient dense and the onion rings are nutrient poor.
You’re between meals and your stomach is growling for a snack. You have a choice: go to the vending machine and get a shiny red apple, or pluck a glazed doughnut from a box that someone has conveniently brought to your office and left out for everyone. It’s common knowledge that the apple is the healthier choice, but why? Apples are chock-full of vitamins, fiber, and phytonutrients that will keep you healthy. Doughnuts have almost no nutritional value whatsoever. An apple answers a craving not just with lots of healthy nutrients, but on only 80 calories. The doughnut, however, is not only bare of nutrients, but it will also load 200 calories into your system. The apple is nutrient dense and the doughnut is nutrient poor.
To make it easy for you to make the best food choices, here’s a list of the most nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.
From “EAT: The Effortless Weight Loss Solution” by Ian K. Smith. Copyright © 2011. Reprinted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
© 2012 MSNBC Interactive