The first weeks of the New Year have come and gone, and with them many of our New Year’s resolutions. I always have the best intentions at the beginning of the New Year. I promise myself that I will lose weight and exercise daily. Sometimes, however, our best plans and sincerest hopes are just too hard to achieve.
We live in a culture where thinness reigns supreme. As a result, many of us set a firm intention at the start of each New Year to lose weight. Finally, several years ago, I came to terms with my body. I accepted the fact that I will not have a model’s figure. Instead, I decided to be healthy and live my life eating a healthy plant-based diet. I started to study macrobiotics. I then began to make smart, healthy choices around food. Initially, I began by incorporating whole grains and beans into my diet. I started this journey slowly, changing one meal at a time. At first, I still ate fish and chicken, thinking that those were healthy proteins. As I studied more about macrobiotics and healthy eating, I eliminated those foods as well—but gradually. At breakfast, I began to eat oatmeal instead of egg whites and at dinner my proteins became tofu or beans. I supplemented my meals with a large variety of vegetables cooked in a myriad of interesting ways.
For me it is important to eat foods that I find satisfying. I don’t like to feel deprived, and eating a plant and grain based diet leaves me feeling full longer than other approaches to eating. There are so many options. I enjoy beginning my meals with soup, which is very warming and settling. Although I don’t count calories, I know that vegetable or miso soup contains few calories but lots of nutrients. Research has shown that when we begin a meal with a soup we tend to eat less overall. I add lots of vegetables to my plate and round them off with whole grains, which are very satisfying.
Over the months, I have learned more about preparing healthy meals. For example, I do not use a microwave because I feel that it strips the nutrients from the food. I use high quality sea salt and shoyu. I experiment with seaweed recipes a couple of times a month and make sure to eat organic seasonal foods. I only eat fruit every other day. I’ve eliminated sugar, chemicals, diet soda and caffeine. Much the same, I just say no to saturated fats, sugar, processed foods, and meats. Dairy is totally eliminated from my diet, but almond and soy milk taste great. I get loads of calcium from vegetables sources.
I feel amazing and my friends and very supportive husband insist that I don’t look my age.
Many people confuse being a vegan with being macrobiotic. This year it has become an “in” thing to be a vegan. There is a plethora of vegan cookbooks. Many articles extol the benefits of a plant-based diet and veganism is in vogue. But being vegan does not necessarily mean being healthy. Many vegans eat sugar, white flour products, and processed foods. I want to treat my body kinder than that. However, becoming a vegan is a great way to start to add plant-based foods and grains to your diet. When I initially eliminated meat and dairy from my diet for health reasons, I lost 20 lbs. Now that was positive feedback!
If I have one New Year’s resolution for 2011 it is to speak openly about living a macrobiotic lifestyle. Embracing macrobiotics means embracing a holistic, healthy and balanced way of living.
It is not easy to change the way you have lived your entire life. We all grow up with bad habits that are tough to break. Changing the way we eat may be the toughest change to make. It is also hard to do it alone. Look for support and spend time with like-minded people. I participate in vegan and macrobiotic cooking classes. I teach healthy cooking classes and enjoy being around people who eat and support my way of eating. Success has a major payoff and it is worth the effort.
If you want to feel healthier and have more energy, give this type of diet a chance. Little changes can make a big difference. Brown rice can alter the way you see the world. Why not try it? You have nothing to lose!