What if?

A Deeper LookWhat if our bodies are designed really well and are supposed to be healthy?

What if we have built in trouble-shooting features that find problems and solve them automatically? What if these features work best when we eat the foods we were designed to eat?  We may answer these questions one way with our heads, but our behaviors often say the opposite.

How many of us really trust that our bodies are designed for health?

medicationsWe seem to have the expectation that our systems are going to fail and that we’ll require drugs and surgeries to keep them operating properly. But does this make sense? Should we require medical intervention on a regular basis?  All the other animals on this planet seem to have bodies that stay in pretty good health when they’re able to live in a healthy environment and have enough food. 

And yet, it’s true that humans routinely develop chronic diseases and end up taking drugs for the rest of their lives to manage symptoms.

 It’s the norm to see unhealthy people wherever we go. In fact, it’s so common we don’t even notice it. But it is notable when we see a sick animal. So maybe humans really are just very poorly designed — or maybe we’re doing something that seriously interferes with our bodies’ health-regulating systems.

horses grazing

Evgeni Dinev/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If we saw a group of sick horses in a paddock eating donuts, coffee, soda, chips, cheeseburgers, and french fries, what would we do?  Would we take them to the vet to get medication for them?  Or would we turn them loose in a green pasture so they could eat their fill of the food they are designed to eat?  What would work better?  Would we be surprised when the sickly horses got better in their green pasture?


Why are we surprised that what we eat really matters?

Why are we likely to think that we can get what we need better from supplements than from food?  Why do we think we need to add protein powder to our smoothies?

I think it can be hard for us modern Americans to accept simple answers. We’re impressed by complex, scientific, technological, specialized solutions to problems. If we consult a specialist about our health, we would probably be disappointed to hear something as simple as, “Eat plants.  Lots of them. Different colors. Raw and cooked. As much as you want.”  

Can we accept that there might really be such a simple solution to our problems?

It’s true that our bodies are complex. We have all sorts of self-balancing, self-regulating systems that technology can’t begin to match. But fortunately, it doesn’t need to. All we need to do is provide the basic fuel and materials our bodies need and our amazing and complex systems will work like magic. Good food, exercise, and fresh air and sunshine will allow our bodies to return to health, just like with the sick horses.  A simple solution allows our complex bodies to attain and maintain health and vitality.

So . . . what if we ate plants? Lots of them. Different colors. Raw and cooked. As much as we want.

I’d like to hear what kinds of simple things you’ve done that have helped you get healthier.  Or maybe reading this triggered some thoughts about what you might implement to improve your health.  Please share your thoughts below!

16 Responses to What if?

  1. Enid Weatherby January 23, 2013 at 5:04 PM #

    I am just about to “invest” in a healthy life style by purchasing COQ10 and B12 as I have cut down tremendously on eating meat. I just can not see that by using a tablet, not knowing what is inside of it as a suplement.
    I need some guidens here, please

    • Delisa Renideo January 23, 2013 at 5:47 PM #

      Congratulations on investing in a healthy lifestyle! It’s great that you’ve cut down tremendously on meat. And you are absolutely right in deciding to take Vitamin B12. That is one of just 2 vitamins that plants do not provide: Vitamin D (which comes from the sun) and Vitamin B12, which is made by bacteria. Living in a world where we wash our food, rather than foraging in the woods and eating plants without washing them, means we need to take supplemental B12.

      There are various recommendations for the amount to take. I choose to take 1000 micrograms per day of Vit. B12. We don’t need to worry about taking too much B12 as it doesn’t build up in our bodies with the potential of being toxic. We do store a little in our bodies, so you don’t have to take it every day. You could take 2500 micrograms per week instead.

      Vit. D, on the other hand, is possible to take in toxic doses as it is a fat soluble vitamin. They used to recommend only 400 units per day, but now the more common recommendation is 2000 units as many people are still testing low on Vitamin D with a blood test.

      I don’t see any reason to take COQ10, however. What is your reasoning behind wanting to take it?

      For the most part, unless you have absorption issues, you can get an abundance of all the vitamins and minerals with a whole-foods, plant-based diet except for Vitamins D and B12.

      Hope this helps!

  2. LovesToEat January 23, 2013 at 5:53 PM #

    Shouldn’t “[…] cooked. As much as we want.” be “As much as we *can*”?

    I was just thinking that with all the junk around I *want* to have two cupcakes after dinner, so there’s a part of me that *wants* to not eat so much good food so that I have room for two cupcakes. But I know I need to eat as much fresh whole food as I can first–which doesn’t leave room for two cupcakes. Just a thought–you asked!

    • Delisa Renideo January 23, 2013 at 6:09 PM #

      Great point! Guess you need to have the commitment to health in order to want to eat as much healthy food as you’re hungry for, rather than wanting to eat small amounts of healthy food to save room for the unhealthy stuff. Thanks for sharing that point of view. I’ll admit, I hadn’t thought of that :-)

      By the way, I love to eat too!

  3. Angela January 23, 2013 at 7:09 PM #

    Great start to a blog, Delisa, I can foresee that many interesting ideas will be coming our way.
    It continually amazes me how “normal” it is to be unhealthy and how people stoically submit to the most horrible treatments. I know few people my age (57) who have not undergone major surgery or chemotherapy or angiography and stents. And as you know, Delisa, my husband is one of the many people for whom a routine invasive procedure went terribly wrong. As a result I have spent many months sitting in hospitals and nursing homes, and the suffering I have seen is appalling. If a lifestyle change can reduce our chances of ending up like that, it is worth every bit of the effort.
    My trick to eating healthy is to have a small number of easy meals that I make regularly. That way, there they are, quick, easy and familiar so I don’t get lazy and just eat whatever comes to hand. Of course I enjoy variety and experimenting and I play with new recipes often but it is optional.
    It’s also a really good idea, when you are in a cooking mood, to chop extra onions and freeze them in small containers. When you are NOT in a cooking mood it helps a lot to have that one step already done. You can just toss them in the pot still frozen.

    • Delisa Renideo January 23, 2013 at 7:54 PM #

      Thanks for sharing your experience. You, of all people, have seen how important it is to do our best to stay healthy rather than thinking we can slide by and let the medical industry take care of us. Even when things don’t go “horribly wrong,” as they do fairly often, medical treatment cannot give us the vibrant good health that we can achieve with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

      Thanks for sharing your tip about chopping and freezing the onions! Hints like that can save us all lots of time. You can do the same with bell peppers. I tend to buy a bunch of them when they’re on sale, as they can be pretty expensive in Alaska, and I chop them up and freeze them in amounts equal to about 1 bell pepper, and then throw them into my recipe.

      For those who may not know, you can freeze the onions and peppers without first blanching them.

  4. Jo January 23, 2013 at 8:22 PM #

    Thanks for doing this, I hope to pick up some pointers. I have added exercise to my routine, it has helped me in toning my body and has significantly increased by awareness of making healthy choices. I weigh in and measure only once a month, and workout an hour a day near to 5 days a week – I sincerely encourage everyone to “get movin!”. Since I’m out of the house much earlier now I prepackage my breakfast and lunch in grab and go containers. This keeps me out of the grocery store and snack shops and keeps me eating healthy. My favories are bags of veggies chopped small to add to a pita sandwich or eat raw. An apple or several stalks of celery. Granola/oatmeal (old fashioned type). Hummas and mock egg salad. I cook onions, chopped kale and bok choy with a little veggie bouillon. That chopped Romaine, apple, craisins and one of your homemade dressings is so easy to enjoy too! Just be prepared at night so the mornings are easy. Enjoy the sunshine and the good life! J

    • Delisa Renideo January 23, 2013 at 9:07 PM #

      Wonderful! Adding exercise is wonderful in terms of having great health. Putting that together with eating well, which it sounds like you’re doing very well, is a great foundation for achieving a healthy life. Way to go!

  5. B&B Poon January 24, 2013 at 11:58 AM #

    I find that if I stay regimented and surround myself with a great support net work I stay on task. During winter months I inquire with produce employees to see when they get new shipments in.

    • Delisa Renideo January 24, 2013 at 12:54 PM #

      I totally agree — having a plan and sticking to it is really helpful. AND having a great support network is super important. I’m actually working on a program that I’ll be able to offer soon that will provide that kind of support for anyone who needs it. Stay tuned!

  6. Marianne Wieland January 26, 2013 at 2:16 PM #

    Last week a friend suggested taking Vit D in liquid form for better absorption. Is that a better way..is the liquid a stable form of the vitamin? Loved your class. I make bean/vegetable soup in very large quantities and freeze it in one serving paper cups and store in freezer. When taking out I transfer to glass bowl and heat. I always have a great lunch handy.

    • Delisa Renideo January 26, 2013 at 7:10 PM #

      I don’t know about Vit. D being better in liquid form. All I’ve read just talks about it being important to take, so I think that’s the most important rather than the form. On the other hand, Vit. D is a fat soluble vitamin, so taking it with a meal that has some natural, whole-food fat, could be helpful. For example, if you’re eating salad with some nuts, seeds, or avocado, or a salad dressing with some of those ingredients, the fat in those foods would help you absorb the Vit. D. Be sure, however, that you’re not using oil in your foods to get that fat, because oil is a highly processed, refined product which is 100% fat rather than a whole food which contains a full complement of nutrients, like nuts, seeds, and avocados.

      Thanks for sharing your tip about freezing your soup in individual serving sizes! Makes food prep and lunches so much easier!

  7. Ann January 27, 2013 at 7:35 AM #

    Always helpful to have your encouragement. I have recently had a blood test for cholesterol, etc and was disappointed to see that after over 6 months of eating a plant based diet, my blood works till isn’t that great.(cholesterol around 200 and the good one was low and the bad one was high) :( . I have to admit that I have been lazy since the plant based diet and I have virtually quit exercising (Previously, I had to use the exercise to control my weight, and anxiety – once I cut the animal based foods out my anxiety went away and so did the extra weight. ) Another VERY strange thing that has been happening is that I hurt all over the place, (onset in past 2 months – so 8 months post plant based diet) as in like a person would if they had worked out WAY TOO hard one day and they were stiff and sore for several days afterward as a result. My joints also feel creaky and weak. I do also admit that I have not been that good about taking the vitamins recommended. I seem to be feeling better since I re-introduced exercise , and I am always working on myself about the vitamins. I don’t understand why its such a challenge to take two little pills a day, but it is. I have also considered the possibility that the all over pain is either a stress manifestation or possibly a virus that is hanging on…it really does feel like I am “coming down with the flu and ache all over”. Again thanks for the encouragement!

    • Delisa Renideo January 27, 2013 at 9:53 PM #

      Hi Ann,
      First of all, congratulations on being on your plant-based diet for close to a year now! So glad it has helped with your weight and anxiety!
      But I’m sorry you’re having so much pain. I don’t know what might be causing it. Like you said, it could be a virus. If it doesn’t get better soon you might want to see your health care provider. Two months is a long time to have something like that.

      What was your cholesterol before? Did it come down some — just not enough? Or didn’t it come down at all?

      In addition to getting the healthy exercise that you need, and taking the vitamins, it makes sense to look into your stress level, your sleep (are you getting enough?) and also be sure you’re eating mostly whole foods that are high in nutrients, rather than processed foods.

      You might also pay attention to whether it gets worse when you eat certain foods. If you suspect a particular food, you could try eliminating it for a couple of weeks to see if it helps. Sometimes people have weird symptoms when they have a food sensitivity.

      Hope this helps some. Let me know how you’re doing!

  8. Sue March 28, 2013 at 6:26 PM #

    Both the cardiologist and dentist recommend CoQ10 for healthy heart and gum tissues. I’ve been enjoying the vegan lifestyle for 18 months now and feel strong and healthy at 70. Tried the gluten free thing but it didn’t make any difference and I like my oatmeal with wheat and barley berries and didn’t like the corn grits I substituted for them so I’m back to my basic recipe. I make enough for a week at a time. Refrigerate and each day put whatever additives you like into the bowl, scoop in some oatmeal add the almond milk and heat in the microwave. Add blueberries after heating unless you’re using frozen. It’s so fast and easy and delicious

    • Delisa Renideo March 30, 2013 at 9:58 PM #

      Your cereal sounds delicious! And when you have it all planned out like that, it only takes minutes to prepare.
      And congratulations on 18 months vegan! Yay for you! Your body is thanking you, I’m sure, and you’ll enjoy many more healthy years of life than if you weren’t taking such good care of yourself.
      Thanks very much for sharing!

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