“4Leaf” eating, Part 3 — Limiting the fat and sodium

Almost all processed foods are loaded with fat, sugar and salt. You want to learn how to stay within healthy levels of each.

Everyone seems to like the simplicity and flexibility of the 4Leaf way of eating. All you need to to is eat lots of 4Leaf meals that derive over 80% of their calories from whole plants — and your body will get enough fiber, protein, macronutrients, anti-oxidants, phytonutrients, etc. But, in addition to that simple goal of 80% from whole plants, there are two other things to think about.

Fat and sodium. A natural plant-based diet will always provide you with plenty of these two items. For most Americans, they’re getting way too much of both. Here are some simple guidelines to help you make sure you don’t get too much:

Fat. In the 4Leaf Program, we recommend that you try to keep your daily fat percentage of calories below 20%. Mine averages about 12% and Dr. Esselstyn likes to see his heart patients get down to no more than 10%. Most Americans are deriving a whopping 40% of their calories from fat. What to do?

  • Eliminate all OIL from your diet. All oil is 100% fat and simply not necessary in your diet. No, olive oil is not a health food…and it is not a whole plant. As Ann Esselstyn says, “you can cook in almost any liquid, including beer and wine.”
  • Understand that whole plants like avocado, nuts, seeds, and olives are 70 to 80% fat. While these are health-promoting whole plant foods, if you’re trying to lose weight, you don’t want to snack all day on a bag of nuts.
  • When buying packaged foods, look at the “Calories from Fat” number and divide that by the “Total Calories” number to quickly learn the % of the calories from fat. Then simply don’t buy any products with over 25% fat. That way, with all those fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet every day, you will average far less than 20% of your calories from fat.

Brown, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. Whole plants. Lots of color. How simple is that?

Sodium. When you eliminate most processed foods and eat at the 4Leaf level for awhile, you will begin to taste the wonderful flavors in those plants. For example, I can taste the sodium in the raw tomato. Most people get way too much sodium from added salts, canned goods and other highly processed foods. Here are our guidelines for sodium.

  • Throw your table salt in the garbage and don’t ever buy it again. While you’re at it, do the same for any added sugar that is still in your house… and yes, that means brown sugar too. Added sugar is not a whole plant and you will get way too much of it from your occasional treat.
  • For any packaged goods, look at the milligrams of sodium on the Nutrition Facts label. You want this number to be less than the total calories in that product. This simple guideline will help you control the added salt that is ubiquitous in refined foods.
  • Your body needs about 1000 to 1500 milligrams of sodium per day and it will get all it needs naturally from all those wonderful plants. Like protein, you will never have to worry about not getting enough salt. The average American is getting close to 4,000 milligrams and, along with the excess calories, too much fat and way too much animal protein — it’s a recipe for disaster.

Start eating at the 4Leaf level EVERY day, take charge of your health and think Celebrationnot Deprivation. For more information on 4-Leaf, you might want to visit our 4LEAF Program page or go directly to Part 4 of this five-part series.

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 4Leaf page. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

If you’d like to order our book on Amazon,  visit our BookStore now.

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at HealthyEatingHealthyWorld.com

PS: Occasionally an unauthorized ad may appear beneath a blog post. It is controlled by WordPress (a totally free hosting service). I do not approve or personally benefit whatsoever from any ad that might ever appear on this site. I apologize and urge you to please disregard. 

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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