Global Resilience Solutions > 2011 > November

The Missing Key to a Healthier Eating Plan

Some of the most common New Year’s resolutions the world over are solemn promises to eat better. But no matter how great your determination, it can be difficult to go about changing your lifestyle. It is quite an undertaking to re-evaluate something that is an already well-established part of our lives.

Face it, there’s no lack of information out there about what you should and should not eat.  And I’m talking about the excellent information you can find on sites like or  Great stuff and highly recommended.  There’s just one catch…

All that great nutritional information is the “what”, but it doesn’t tell you the critical “how” of making the transition from your current diet to the one that’s going to make you healthier and happier.  In other words, implementation is the biggest obstacle for most people.

Deciding to live a healthier lifestyle in terms of your diet is all well and good, but how to begin? It can seem daunting, but I have put together eight key practices that work for me and that you can start applying today.


1. Think Ahead

If you know you’re likely to snack on something unhealthy after work, set out something healthy and delicious earlier in the morning when you have the energy. After a long day, when you come home, you’ll be inclined to grab the first thing you see, or the thing that is the easiest to prepare. Make sure that you keep healthy snacks available and visible. Studies have shown that having unhealthy foods stocked where you can see them makes you more likely to indulge. You can make this work for you: have your own healthy snacks ready for when you need them.

Some Ideas

– Apple slices and peanut butter

– Pumpkin seeds baked with a tiny sprinkle of sea salt and drizzled with a little honey

– Greek Yogurt topped with granola, or fruit and nuts

– An avocado sliced in half and enhanced with a little lemon juice

– Pre-cut veggies with humus dip


2. Disgust by Association

Do you know that feeling when you eat something really tasty at a fast-food place, but then quickly feel queasy and uncomfortable? Associate what you’ll feel later when you look at unhealthy foods. I’ve been working on this one for quite a while, and I can now honestly say: cupcakes topped with their weight in icing? Store-bought cookies and greasy potato chips? They’re not for me. Continue to eat healthy, and you’ll to look forward to feeling great after eating.  If you practice mentally  associating good food with health and bad food with illness, premature aging and worse, you’ll discover your craving for garbage foods magically disappears within a week or two!


3. Go Natural

This one is quite simple: avoid all processed foods. Wherever you can, eat simply. Vegetables, fruit, nuts, fish – the closer to natural the better. For a long time, a friend of mine fooled herself by thinking that packaged goods that claimed to be “healthy” were good for her. No matter how many times “fruit” “nature” “natural” is printed on the box, nothing inside will be as good as real fruit, real nuts, real vegetables, without all the additives.

Some Ideas to Get You Started

– A delicious trail mix recipe:

– A replacement for deep-fried potato chips:

– A do-it-yourself bar for when you need a quick snack:


4. Water Is Your Friend

Water is often suggested as a good way to cleanse the system, but water has many other jobs in our bodies! Water transports nutrients and oxygen into cells, moisturizes the air in our lungs, regulates body temperature, protects vital organs and helps them absorb nutrients, detoxifies the body and protects and moisturizes the joints. If you’re looking to lose weight, you’ll also be interested to know that water plays a role in your metabolism – energy burning requires water. Make sure you have quality water with you all the time, and drink often.


5. Don’t Completely Cut out Fat, or Cut Out Food Groups

Some friends of mine avoid “fat” like the plague. Nuts, any yogurt that isn’t fat-free, avocadoes, 2% milk – it’s all out. Instead, they drink Coke Zero. But the fat that comes naturally is much healthier than the chemicals and sugar that are added to food to make it taste good without fat. You need some fat in your diet, although you should make sure to avoid trans fats, which can cause heart problems, cancer and other degenerative conditions. Watch for “hydrogenated” in the label – “hydrogenated” or “partially-hydrogenated” oils are all just man-made trans fats waiting to sabotage your health.

Remember, despite decades of propaganda to the contrary, the scientific evidence for the hypothesis that eating fat and cholesterol causes heart disease is slim to none.  Your body needs natural fat.  What it doesn’t need are the artificial sweeteners so common in “low fat” products.

Also, be wary of fad diets that advocate eliminating entire food groups, such as the “no-carb” diet.  Yes, cutting your carbs in order to stabilize your blood sugar and lose weight is an excellent strategy.  Just avoid extremes and use common sense.


6. Don’t Obsess

Don’t deprive yourself of too many things you love. If you have a slice of cake at a birthday party, just let it motivate you to eat well for the rest of the week. Food shouldn’t be something that you stress over.


7. Don’t Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good

A friend and I were going to see a play, and she had missed dinner. She was deliberating between going to Macdonald’s or Subway to pick up a quick meal before we went to the show. Though it was tempting to tell her that neither of those options were healthy, and that she should have planned this a little better, I cheerfully encouraged her to go to Subway. Sure, it’s all fast food, but better to get a little bit of vegetable on a sandwich than trans fat-laden fries and a greasy burger on a bun made of refined flour.


8. Good Nutrition = Good Health

Whenever you can, use good nutrition to feel better instead of medication. When you feel a cold coming on, try this tea, full of the healing properties of raw honey, ginger and citrus:


2 heaping tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
2 cups water
2 cups fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons honey, to taste


Place water and grated ginger in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Steep for at least 5 minutes. Strain tea with a fine mesh strainer, pressing on the ginger with the back of a spoon to squeeze out all the liquid. Return tea to pot. Stir in orange juice, lemon juice, and honey. Reheat to serve warm, or chill to serve over ice.


Cheers to good health!


~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

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