You may be surprised to find out what you’ve really been eating.
The first step in the process of moving to the “4-Leaf” level of eating is taking a look at what you are eating now. Since most of us are creatures of habit, we tend to repeat what we eat month after month, year after year. Each of us has a typical breakfast, lunch and dinner and we tend to snack on the same things.
So let’s begin by looking at your typical breakfast…which I will define here as all of the calories that you consume prior to your lunch meal. If you usually have coffee, a bagel with cream cheese and one sausage biscuit, it won’t take long to ascertain that your first meal (with no whole plants in sight) will score at the bottom of the “No-Leaf” range on our scale.
But, maybe you’re already trying to watch what you eat and are having granola, a bagel and coffee. So, with that information in mind, let’s go to nutritiondata.com where you can find the nutritional content of zillions of fresh and packaged products — everything from a Cheese Whopper to turnip greens. You’ll want to join this site for free and begin building your own “foods.”
Taking a look first at the granola; here’s what I found at nutritiondata.com for a home-made version. How could granola not be good for you? Two clues: added sugar and too much fat content. Remember, you’re looking for an average of less than 20% of your calories from fat and you’re looking for near zero added sugar. One serving of a home-made granola cereal on nutritiondata.com contains 24 grams of sugar and a whopping 264 calories from fat—accounting for 44% of the total of 597 calories per serving.
Use the “recipe function” on nutritiondata.com to add up all of your breakfast calories, including the cream and sugar in your coffee. It will also enable you to easily add up all the calories from fat. Divide the latter by the total calories to find out the percent fat content of your typical first meal of the day.
You’re probably going to find that unless you’re eating a lot of fruit with whole grains, you’re going to have a hard time coming anywhere close to the “4-Leaf” level — with over 80% of your calories from whole plants. Click here for a delicious example of a very healthy “4-Leaf” breakfast…shown here.
What about Bill Clinton with that protein shake that he’s having in the morning? Well, he may be eating at the “4-Leaf” level for his typical day, but if starts with a protein shake, he’s not eating at 4-Leaf for breakfast. That’s because the protein shake is not a whole plant, has lots of added sugar and oil, and derives way too many of its calories from sugar and fat (from the oil — all oil, including olive oil is 100% fat). Click here for an earlier post featuring an analysis of a protein shake.
As for lunch and dinner, if you’re eating a HUGE salad with nothing but veggies and a little dressing, you’re probably thinking that surely that’s going to be a “4-Leaf” meal. That depends on what’s in that one ounce of dressing. I recently analyzed such a salad and found that only 34% of the calories came from the veggies; the remaining 66% came from the one ounce of French dressing, which was 98% fat. So the meal only scores at the “1-Leaf” level.
Please don’t despair. Just take your time, and plan some healthy and delicious “4-Leaf” meals that you can be comfortable eating regularly. Then, the calorie counting is over.
Here’s another rule of thumb for you; if you add up your daily calories from JUST the whole plants, the following table is an approximation of your “4-Leaf” level:
- > 400 calories = 1-Leaf
- > 800 calories = 2-Leaf
- > 1200 calories = 3-Leaf
- > 1600 calories = 4-Leaf
Once you get into the groove and are regularly eating great meals, the analysis and calorie counting is over. Just eat all you want and look forward to all of the benefits of vibrant health and effortless weight-loss. For more information on 4-Leaf, you might want to visit our 4-LEAF Program page or to proceed directly to Part 3 of this five-part series, click here.
If you like what you see here, you may wish to join our periodic mailing list. Also, for help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4-Leaf page. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.
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—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at HealthyEatingHealthyWorld.com
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