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From: Jeff Novick, MS, RD, LD, LN (
Subject:         Re: Overwhelmed
Date: November 3, 2007 at 12:12 pm PST

In Reply to: Overwhelmed posted by Amanda on November 3, 2007 at 5:55 am:

Hi Amanda

Yes, a lot of health info seems overwhelming and contradictory.

However, It is only overwhelming and contradictory when you listen to the media and the mass of misinformation out there, most of which is really just marketing and advertising, or coming from a vested interest, in one form or another. Even if it is just a philosophical one, which sometimes may be the worst.

There are some basic concepts that we all need to follow and most everyone is in agreement with those and those havent changed in decades, let alone centuries.

Going vegetarian in and of itself, may not be the most important, let alone important at all, depending on how you interpret vegetarianism, to you being healthy. As I have pointed out many times, the terms vegan and vegetarian are not "health" criteria nor do they tell you what a person eats. They only tell you what someone doesn't eat. You can be on a really unhealthy vegan or vegetarian diet. So, regardless of whether someone is a vegan/vegetarian or not, they still have to follow the same health guidelines in regard to sat fat, fiber, nutrients, sodium, sugars, trans fat, etc.

And sometimes it is more important to know what you are adding in, more so than what you are taking out. There are many many vegans/vegetarians out there who are overweight, obese and sick. In many studies, their health is not much better than the non vegetarians.

So, what do you do?

You are on the right track with "small steps".

Without knowing what you are doing, it would be hard to tell you what to do next. But, there are some basic health steps that will probably apply..

As a great article in the NY Times a few months back said..

1) eat only real food
2) mostly plants
3) a little less

Here is my version...

1. Add more fresh vegetables and fresh fruits to your diet. Leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, berries, etc. I have met few people in my life who eat enough fresh fruits and veggies. Most have no idea how much enough really is. Especially veggies. Try to include a HUGE salad or A HUGE bowl of a fresh veggie soup (or both) as a part of your daily diet. Same with a large bowl of fresh fruit, or fresh fruit salad.

2. If & when you choose any grains, make sure they are truly whole grain and in their "intact" form. Processed whole grains are not a health food. You can go to my website and read more about this in the newsletter section. In fact, it is required! :)

3. Eliminate or reduce your consumption of all refined processed foods. Not just sugars, and carbs, and flours, but also fats (like oils and spreads). In most cases, the closer your food is to its natural state the better.

4. Dont be fooled by foods marketed as being healthy. If your great grandmother couldn't recognize it as food, it probably isn't good for you. Dont look towards or rely on the "super food" of the day (ie, mona vie, cooconut oil, cocoa nips, super greens, juice plus, red wine, walnuts, green tea, soy, etc etc), but instead get in a variety of fresh natural foods. THEY are your real superfoods.

4. Legumes (beans) are great. Include a serving or two a day, or more if you can. Putting them in your soup and/or salad is a great way to include them.

5. Include about 30-60 minutes of vigorous activity most days. This can be as simple as a brisk walk.

6. Make sure you get enough sleep, rest, relaxation, sunshine, fresh air, fun time & "play"time, and have a social support and/or family group/network.

Also, while you do the above, to be more concise, another great step would be to see where you are in regard to your dietary anlaysis. There is a great way to do that. Download the CRON-O-Meter (search google or see the links below in a post) and enter in everything you eat for around a week. Or go to and set up a free account and do the same there.

Some general guidelines

- sufficient calories to maintain a healthy weight at a BMI of 18-22.5 while being moderately active

- Saturated fat < 7% of calories, < 5% is optimum

- total fat no more than 20%

- o trans fats

- cholesterol no more than 50 mgs/day with 0 being optimal

- fiber, at least 25 grams a day, with over 35 being optimal

- sodium, no more than 2300 mgs a day with less than 1200 being optimal

- added refined concentrated sugars, less than 5% of your calories.

- at least the RDA/DRI for most all vitamins and minerals.

- if you consume alcohol, no more than a 1/2 to 1 drink a day

Then report back and we can go from there.

Wishing you all the best of health,

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