It all goes back to the natural diet for our species...whole plants.
As Dr. T. Colin Campbell has often said, "the closer we get to a diet of whole plant foods, the better off we will be." So, let's assume that you have accepted that premise and are going to strive to greatly increase your consumption of those whole plant foods.
- How will you keep up with your progress?
- How will you know how close you're coming to the optimal diet of eating nothing but whole plants, like our nearest relatives in the wild?
First of all, we're not necessarily talking about a strict vegetarian or vegan diet. Many people who use those labels to describe their diet-style are eating very unhealthy diets. That's because they are not getting the majority of their calories from whole plants; in fact, many vegans don't even get 20% of their calories from whole plants.
- We must remember that it's not just the avoiding of animal foods that makes us healthy, it is the maximization of the percentage of our calories from whole plants -- in nature's package.
- With that thought in mind, we came up with a simple concept that we call the "4-Leaf Program" in our book.
Here's how that program works. The 1-Leaf level begins at over 20% of one's calories from whole plants. With the average American getting far less than 10% of their calories from those nutritious foods, just moving to that first level is a big improvement.
As the percentage of calories from whole plant goes up, so do the "leaves." From 20% to 40% to 60% to 80%...1, 2, 3 and 4 leaves. And what does that do for your health? Unlike those who consume the typical western diet, we have observed that people eating at the 4-Leaf level...
tend to have trim bodies, vibrant health, lots of energy, take no medications, almost never have ANY disease and will very likely live a long & healthy life.
Why not shoot for 100%? That would be great, but for practical reasons, we chose 80% as our threshold of excellence in terms of the percentage of calories from whole plants...and that doesn't mean counting calories for every meal for the rest of your life.
It starts with learning what a single "4-Leaf" meal looks like. We are all creatures of habit and tend to eat the same kinds of things every day. So, all we need to do is analyze what we typically eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
Just take each meal that you eat regularly and look at it carefully. By using nutritiondata.com, you can determine the percentage of calories from the whole plants and the percentage of calories from fat. You may be surprised to discover that those "healthy looking" salads you've been having for lunch every day derive well over half their calories from oil, cheese, egg and bread. After a few adjustments, you will quickly learn how to turn that greasy salad into a "4-Leaf" meal...maybe adding some legumes, rice, squash, and avocado to replace those other non whole plant items.
The key to achieving a consistent 4-Leaf level day in and day out, is gaining a feel for what it's like to eat at that level and enjoying the many healthy benefits that it delivers. A 4-Leaf weekly score is comprised of lots of 4-Leaf meals.
Take a look at the special 4-Leaf Program page on our website, where we continue to add helpful information that will assist you as you move toward taking charge of your health. Coming to you today from from Houston, Texas....have great day and be well,
J. Morris Hicks...blogging daily at hpjmh.com