Identifying opportunities for improvement
in diet and health for you and your family
Now that you have your 4Leaf point score, how do you benefit from it? You can now see where you’re getting most of your non-whole-plant calories and can start making healthier choices in those categories.
Think of each calorie as a fleeting opportunity to do something great for your body. As we noted in our book, the future health of 100 million of your cells is riding on every bite that you put in your mouth. Start trying to make every bite count.
Haven’t taken the survey yet? Click Here
Questions 1 – 4 are about whole, plant-based foods.
Questions 1 – 4 are about whole, plant-based foods. These are the only questions on the survey where you can score “plus” points. Start with your “routine” meals, the ones that you eat several times a week—take steps to make sure that these meals derive well over 80% their calories from whole plants.
Your fruits and vegetables are best if fresh, your legumes are best if purchased dry and your grains should have only one ingredient listed on the package. If you’re trying to lose weight, go easy on the high-fat foods like nuts, avocado, olives & seeds. Finally, begin working with your favorite restaurants to create some healthy “3” or 4Leaf options that you can order on a regular basis; minimizing oil and white flour.
Opportunities to improve where you had the most “negative” points.
Questions 5-7 are all about dairy and eggs. Most vegetarians still eat cheese, eggs, yogurt, & ice cream and regularly use milk or cream in their coffee or cereal. None of these are health foods and have no place in a health-promoting 4Leaf lifestyle. It’s time to start some new habits without these unhealthy, animal-based foods.
- Start by eliminating cow’s milk; it is not fit for human consumption. Replace it in your coffee or cereal with soy, almond, or rice milk. I even use water & grapefruit juice in my oatmeal from time to time.
- Learn to live without cheese. It has become our single biggest source of saturated fat and is just as unhealthy as milk or red meat. Instead, learn to love healthy foods like hummus, quinoa, lentils, etc.
Questions 8-10 are about the “unhealthy” plant-based calories—added sugar, white flour, and the ubiquitous salty snacks and “sweets. Take a look at where you lost points and consider these tips:
- Become a sugar-Nazi, get it out of your house and check every label for added sugar. Learn to get your sweet taste from sweet, natural, plant foods. (Honey is not a whole plant)
- Say goodbye to the “white” stuff. That means white flour, rice and sugar. Say hello to whole grains and products made from them. If you buy packaged bread, insist on whole grain and avoid breads with more than three ingredients. Good luck with that one.
- Become a healthy-snacker. We all need a snack between meals from time to time; so keep some healthy snacks like nuts, fruit, carrots, celery, broccoli, and home-made hummus.
Questions 11 & 12 are very important. One is about the widely perceived “need” for animal protein and the final question deals with vegetable oil, which the entire world seems to think is good for you.
- Don’t “plan” to include animal flesh in your diet. For, if you do, that means you will be putting it in your shopping cart, ordering it in restaurants and having it when served in friends’ homes.
- All oil is unhealthy, including olive. All oil is 100% fat, has no fiber and is associated with heart disease. At least get it out of your cupboard; you can cook and sautee’ in almost any liquid.
Free Advice. If you are serious about healthy eating, we don’t recommend baby steps. Rather, move directly to the 4Leaf level as soon as possible. For changing a habit, it’s actually much easier to go all the way.
Otherwise, you will still be missing your old foods while not getting the full benefit from the new, healthier foods. Not a good formula for success.
Disagree with your 4Leaf Score? Try the Shopping Cart Check. You can definitely tell how healthy a family is eating by looking at their shopping cart. So, before putting those groceries away, take an hour or so, go to nutritiondata.com and add up all of the “calories” of whole plants that you have purchased and divide that by the grand total of calories that you brought home.
If your score is less than 80%, then there is no way you’re going to ever hit 4Leaf on a regular basis. Your best chance of eating healthy is in the home—so you should shoot for over 90% of “whole plant calories” from your shopping cart—giving yourself a little wiggle room for all those meals and snacks outside the home.
Bottom Line. Embrace and nurture your healthy eating adventure. Find great recipes and prepare some of the most delicious meals that you will ever eat. Avoid the temptation to load up on the fake meats, cheeses and eggs; but rather work on learning to LOVE this new way of eating. If you don’t learn to love it—you are not likely to stick with it.
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Also, for help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen. Got a question? Let me hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.
—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at HealthyEatingHealthyWorld.com
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Like you, I never “plan” to have ANY animal products whatsoever—but we’re among the very small minority (far less than 5%) of all Americans. We wrote our book as a vehicle for reaching that mainstream—and if we come off as rigid or extreme, they will probably never hear our message.
Just last week, I began writing a weekly column on The Food Channel and I featured it in my blog today. It further explains what I am trying to say here. Take a look and let me know what you think. https://hpjmh.com/2012/03/25/gently-promoting-healthy-eating-on-the-food-channel/. Thank you, Jim.
I will read your Food Channel column. However, in the meantime, I must say that being a “whole-plants food vegan” means just that to me. I don’t eat anything that comes from an animal, ever, period. To me, a good analogy is the person who quit smoking. If he says he’s an ex-smoker, or says he quit smoking, yet he smokes “occasionally” at social gatherings or on special occasions, isn’t he still a smoker, he just smokes less? And as for worrying about being perceived as extreme, I’ve found that people pay pretty close attention to what we (the professed no-animal eaters) put in our mouths and, in my experience, the rush to judge us as hypocrites, or not-totally-committed to what we espouse, when they think we have “slipped,” is more likely than them considering us extreme for staying 100% committed to our beliefs. People are sub-consciously, if not consciously, hoping for us to fail because it helps reinforce their belief that they could never give up animal products. For example, I just returned from Florida for a 4-day business trip and though normally the only thing I drink (if I drink at all) is red wine, I felt like having an after dinner drink when everybody else was having rich, very-high-in-animal-fat desserts. I discreetly asked the waitress if she had access to soy, almond or hemp milk and she said yes. So I ordered a Kahlua with soy milk. When she brought it to me, all the people in my immediate vicinity assumed it was a Kahlua and Cream or a White Russian. They pointed and laughed, there were a few loud AHAs! and they were pretty quick to gleefully jump to the conclusion that I’m not totally committed. I don’t like the fact that we sometimes have to choose between being viewed as hypocrites or viewed as extremists, but if people must judge I prefer the latter over the former.
I don’t understand why you would even occasionally have a “few bites” of animal flesh in someone’s home. If they know you’re coming, and they know you’ll have a few bites, aren’t they planning and purchasing accordingly to allow for your consumption? Every bit of animal food that is not purchased and every bite of animal food that is not eaten makes a difference! (Not to mention the fact that if you never eat animal flesh, you won’t ever want it.)
Why is olive oil so bad for you?…
Olive oil is 100% fat and is not a whole plant. On page 84 of his book, “Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease,” Dr. Esselstyn states the following about olive and canola oil: “They are not heart healthy. Between 14 and 17 percent of olive oil is saturated, artery clogging fat—every bit as aggressive in promoting heart disease as the saturated fat in roast beef.”
On the next page, Dr. Esselstyn tells about a heart patient from North Carolina who had shifted to a 100% plant-based diet and whose weight had fallen from 210 to 156. The patient contacted Dr. Esselstyn complaining of angina (chest pains) even though he was only eating plants. But apparently, he had forgotten to tell Dr. Esselstyn about the “heart healthy” olive oil that he consumed at every lunch and dinner and in salads. He was advised to give up the olive oil, which he did. Within 7 weeks, his angina had completely disappeared.
Well stated. This blog should be everyone’s food bible.