Wellness is achieving one’s maximal potential. It’s hard to do this, when you don’t eat right. What we eat determines a lot about how we will live. A huge study funded by Bill Gates from 2017 looked at the impact of 79 factors on death and disability for people from over 188 countries. Poor diet was associated with 11.3 million deaths, more than high blood pressure, pollution, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol, smoking, being overweight, alcohol abuse, and low physical activity.
The youngest patient I ever saw with a heart attack was thin, physically active, and full of life. We often think to ourselves that if we are thin and if we eat a “balanced diet” we will be healthy. A “balanced diet” is just not good enough. Our bodies don’t even need to look sick to be sick on the inside. Our vessels are often filled with plaques or atheromas long before we have outward signs of illness. This is a HUGE part of the problem, we look in the mirror and see health, whereas, when we look around us, ½ of us are sick with chronic disease.
Poor diets were responsible for 10.9 million deaths or 22% of all deaths among adults in 2017.
255 million disability adjusted life years (DALYs), which is the sum of years lost and years lived with disability.
Here are some statistics in the US about Eating Habits from Health.gov:
- > 80% of Americans eat below the recommended amount of vegetables.
- > About 75% of Americans eat below the recommended amount of fruits.
- 70% of Americans eat above the recommended amount of added sugar.
- 70% of Americans eat above the recommended amount of saturated fats.
- 90% of Americans eat above the recommended amount of salt.
So, it seems there is A LOT of work to do as it relates to fruits, vegetables, sugar, saturated fats and salt. This makes up the crux of the majority of problems, as it relates to diet.
According to the American Heart Association, about 5-6% of your calories should come from saturated fat. So, if you eat 2,000 calories daily, no more than 120 should come from saturated fat, which comes to no more than 13 grams daily. Depending on your source, an average woman should eat between 1500-2000 calories daily. The “daily value” allotted to you by looking at the FDA’s food labels is for less than 10% of calories or about 20g per day.
So, how much is that exactly…
According to Nutrition Data:
One 3 oz retail cut of beef with separable fat, which is cooked has 24.2 grams of saturated fat, which is 121% of your daily value, using the FDA calculator and if you are using the AHA’s guidelines of no more than 13 grams daily for 2,000 calorie daily person then you are at 186% of your daily recommended saturated fats.
But NO ONE eats just 3 oz…At 6 oz, you double your saturated fat intake to 48 grams of saturated fat or 240% of your daily value recommended saturated fat intake and 369% of your daily saturated fat intake.
Chicken is better. At 6 oz of chicken breast, you are looking at 3.4 grams of saturated fat. That’s 16% of your FDA daily value and 26% of your AHA daily value.
We don’t eat 6 oz of meat though. In 2018, the Average American ate 10 oz of meat (beef and poultry) daily according to one article, citing the Department of Agriculture.
If we ate 50:50 chicken to beef, that would mean that we would consume 42 grams of saturated fat from meat and poultry daily or 210% of your FDA daily value of saturated fat and 323% of your AHA recommended saturated fat.
“Houston, we have a problem.”…with fat! Wow. The next time anyone tells you that they eat healthy, ask them how many ounces of meat chicken and beef do they consume a year? Month? Week? Day? If they can’t tell you, you can make a guess, based on the research I just cited.
All we need is moderation, right? This isn’t moderation, but I’m sure that everyone listening employs moderation. Let’s ask a rat, how moderation turned out for him….
A study from Nature Neuroscience from March of 2010 looked at rats that ate fatty foods. Fatty foods release dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter in the brain. In this study, rats were given access to normal rat food vs high-fat foods. “The rats that were given access to high fat foods consumed about twice as many calories as the rats who were given access to just rat food.” The article looked at overeating and brain changes and stated, “Overeating may alter the brain as much as hard drugs.”
You might ask who you calling a rat though? I’m not calling anyone a rat, but the bottom line is that our dopamine receptors are responsible for our addiction to fat and over time, it takes more and more fat to meet our needs for happiness from the food we are consuming. This leads to increased consumption of foods high in fat…MEAT.
Certainly, I can remember the days before I became plant based and my desire to eat meat. I craved it. Just like smoking cigarettes, there is a whole culture associated with it. Some smoke it. Some grill it. There is a routine associated with it and this leads to even more addiction.
I believe that we don’t eat meat just because we like it, but we eat meat, because we are addicted to the fat within it. Add some high fructose corn syrup meat sauce and you are well on your way to diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and colon cancer. There’s absolutely no question.
You can’t do something in moderation when you are addicted to it, it’s doesn’t work. You have to cut it out 100%. You could consider reintroducing a very small occasional, less than once a week serving of lean meat and be within your recommended saturated fat recommendations, but what about the cancer risk, feminization from the hormones from poultry and beef, added salt and the chemicals and antibiotics within meat. It’s probably best to avoid it completely.
So, here’s the amazing news. There are SOOOO many wonderful plant-based options out there that aren’t JUST salads. I remember thinking that plant-based sounded like becoming a rabbit. It isn’t just salad. There are numerous examples of amazing plant-based options.
Here are my recommendations for the first 2 weeks of a plant-based diet:
- Plan every single meal. Don’t just plan dinner. Plan breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plan all 7 days at the beginning of the week.
- Grocery shop once per week for all 7 days. Make sure to have enough for each day. You don’t want to get hungry during this transition.
- Build in a snack in the morning and snack in the afternoon.
- Eat plenty of legumes. I found that just fruits and vegetables for me, as a guy, wasn’t enough. I needed that filling sensation of legumes.
- Role out the peanut butter and almond butter. I have to have nuts. I like whole nuts without salt best, but I needed the fat from nuts to substitute for the fat lost with meat.
- Consider a very small amount oil on your food.
- Make sure you load up on whole grains.
- Don’t cheat. Don’t eat meat. Your addiction will creep right back into your life.
- Eat at home, as much as possible. You can’t afford major missteps during the first couple of weeks of a plant-based diet. Avoid eating out.
- Get some awesome cookbooks. I have a list of my favorite cookbooks. If you can’t find them, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Plantrician-Project showed amazing results for cholesterol changes on the first 2 weeks of a plant-based diet. Some participants in their program lost 50 points or more on the cholesterol reading within just 2 weeks. You are likely to feel improved energy, reduction in fatigue and sluggish behavior.
You can do this! We can help. Our upcoming Well90 Program has meal planning included as part of the program for a very reasonable price. You are going to love it. Remember that eating is potentially addictive. That means we have to get our minds and souls right about what we are eating. If we look at it from the perspective of an addiction, then what do you have to do to break your addiction. Is it the people you surround yourself with? Is it your love of the taste? Is it your shopping habits? Is it your self-image? Is it your self-love? When you love yourself, you have to treat yourself as you would your child.
Knowing now what we learned about saturated fat, meat addiction, could you honestly expose your kids to meat regularly? Can you make a change for them and help yourself too. After all, they need you to stick around. Remember 11 million die from diet worldwide, but 255 million life years or lost years plus disability years are lost each year to diet. Make fruits, vegetables, whole grains a priority. Cut out salt, sugar, saturated fat and MEAT!
That’s it. Hope this carries you into a meat-free 2 weeks. I WANT to hear from you. Please, please, please, send me a message, leave me a review, spread the news to someone you love, let me know what’s working and what’s not. I love hearing from each and every one of you. Check us out on IG @doctorofliving and fb.com/doctorofliving.
Bless you all and have an amazing week. I want you to know that we really, really care about each and every one of you. You matter to us! Thanks for letting us join you on your wellness journey.
 GBD 2013 Risk Factors Collaborators. Global, regional, and national comparative risk assessment of 79 behavioural, environmental and occupational, and metabolic risks or clusters of risks in 188 countries, 1990-2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. Lancet. 2015 Dec 5;386(10010):2287-323.
 “New Study finds poor diet kills more people globally than tobacco and high blood pressure.” Publication date: April 3, 2019. http://www.healthdata.org/news-release/new-study-finds-poor-diet-kills-more-people-globally-tobacco-and-high-blood-pressure
 “Shifts Needed to Align with Healthy Eating Patterns.” Current Eating Patterns in the United States. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-2/current-eating-patterns-in-the-united-states/. Accessed July 22nd, 2019.
 “Saturated Fat.” AHA Online. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/saturated-fats. Accessed July 22nd, 2019.
 “Saturated Fat.” FDA. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/InteractiveNutritionFactsLabel/factsheets/Saturated_Fat.pdf. Accessed July 22nd, 2019.
 “Veggies May be Healthier, But in 2018, Americans Will Eat a Record Amount of Meat.” Micheline Maynard. Forbes Online. https://www.forbes.com/sites/michelinemaynard/2018/01/02/veggies-may-be-healthier-but-in-2018-americans-will-eat-a-record-amount-of-meat/#5cc744d619b9. Accessed July 22nd, 2019.
 “Addicted to Fat: Overeating May Alter the Brain as Much as Hard Drugs.” https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/addicted-to-fat-eating/