February 18, 2013

Yabbuts, anyone?

Over the past several weeks, I've been trying to convince my brother to go plant-based. He shall remain unnamed here so he doesn't feel pressured - you know who you are :)!! Each time I talk to him and to others who ask me about my diet, I hear Yabbuts. I first came across this term in Chef AJ's book - Unprocessed. She identifies those mental platitudes ... the ones we give ourselves when asked if we want to be healthy and energetic and go off our prescription medications for lifestyle disease ... there's the little voice we all hear ... “Yeah, but…”!! Yes, a Yabbut!

Chef AJ lists the following Top 5 Yabbuts in her book and addresses each one. I've been guilty of some of those myself. Here are some of my responses to her 5 Yabbuts and several that have come up in my conversations with people who are struggling with their weight and health. 

Chef AJ's Yabbut #1: It’s too expensive to eat this way. My Yabbut #1: I can't afford Organic food. 

My answer almost always is - No, its not expensive!! I know people who are on food stamps and have gone plant based. Yes, as Chef AJ says in her book, and as all of us are aware, fast food is cheap. But really, lets be honest here. How many times do we all eat fast food anyways? When I think of my friends and family, I think of people who care about their health and try to feed their kids a healthy diet. Almost all of us have moved to low-fat products, and canola or olive oil, and buy lean meat in the store and try to limit our kids' candy consumption. So most of us do spend some money on buying healthy foods for ourselves and our kids - the idea is not to spend more, but to spend differently. Think about it - eating plants is a lot less cheaper than the cost of your prescription medications and hospital visits and possibly surgeries. Next time you're in the store, compare the price of a a 3 lb bag of dry red kidney beans (or the kind you like!) with a 3 lb pack of chicken/beef/pork/fish. You'll be surprised!! If you can't buy organic foods, don't. I don't always buy organic foods because they are more expensive than conventional produce. Remember a conventional apple is far better than a serving of double-deep-fried french fries.  Make sure you wash your produce well before consuming the skin, consider investing in a fruit/vegetable scrub brush.

Chef AJ's Yabbut #2: I don’t have the time to prepare healthy food. My Yabbut #2: I'm lazy.

Yes, you do have time!!  Whenever anyone asks me how I manage to cook every night - I say ... a girl's gotta eat!!! You have to eat something - so instead of slapping a steak on the grill, add some tofu or veggies. Grilled veggies with salt and pepper (no oil) and some lime juice are divine. Unless you're eating out every day, and eating 30-second drive through non-foods, you're cooking something i.e. you have time to prepare healthy food. Most of my recipes, and several other bloggers who's recipes I often post about, require 30 minutes or less to prepare. I have a full time high stress job, with a 3-year old son, and a 2 hour 40 min round trip commute everyday. I find the time to cook every night. You don't have to do that - try and cook on the weekend - or 2 nights a week and save leftovers for the remaining meals. Eat minimal prep foods for lunch - salads, sandwiches and save the prepared items for dinner. You can do it!! 

My Yabbut #3: I don't have the first clue how to do this.

Again my response is yes, you do!! Have you ever steamed broccoli with your steak? Have you ever baked a potato? If you've never cooked, yes, this change can be daunting because most of us who are plant-based do eat predominantly home cooked foods. There are a billion websites where you can find simple plant-based recipes to help you out. A lot of these websites also offer resources to get you started on your journey. Here's my list of 6 websites that I use the most. All you need is a device that is connected to the internet.
  1. The Engine 2 Diet (http://engine2diet.com)
  2. Forks Over Knives (http://www.forksoverknives.com)
  3. The Happy Herbivore website (http://happyherbivore.com/)
  4. Susan Voisin's Fat Free Vegan Kitchen (http://blog.fatfreevegan.com)
  5. Dreena Burton's Plant Powered Kitchen (http://plantpoweredkitchen.com/)
  6. The Chef (AJ) and the Dietitian (Julieanna Hever) (http://www.youtube.com/user/therealchefaj).

My Yabbut #4: I travel a lot and am almost always in airports and hotels and restaurants. Or, I like to eat out with friends and family, and entertain. 

I understand that. I've faced this one myself. But again, this isn't an insurmountable problem. More and more airport stores now offer fruits - bananas, apples, oranges are common along with plain or dry roasted nuts. In the last year, I've gone through San Francisco, Columbus, Newark, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Denver, and Chicago and was able to find plant-based options in almost every one. Here's an excellent blog written by a Charter Pilot who happens to be vegan and writes about his travels across the country - Marty's Flying Vegan Review. He even has a post about what you can take through airport security, what/how to have food with you during hotel stays (most motels and hotels now offer at least a mini refrigerator in each room) and he provides lists of restaurants by city. If you like to entertain, introduce your friends and family to plant-based cooking by bringing along a dish for everyone to share. Last year, I had Thanksgiving Dinner at my place and although I made a turkey for the meat-eaters, every side dish that I made was plant-based. I had stuffing/dressing, gravy, green beans, sweet potatoes, carrots, potatoes, and even cranberry sauce).

Chef AJ's Yabbut #3: But I can’t live without my (fill in the blank).

Yes, you can. If you truly believed that your life depended on it - you'd live without your steak, crab, salmon or cheese. Its amazing how many people wait for that defining life-changing moment - a major heart attack, a stroke, a severe hypoglycemic episode, a cancer diagnosis. We should consider ourselves lucky if we've not gotten to that point yet. I thought for the longest time that I couldn't live without my daily Triple Shot Skinny Latte  from a major coffee shop.  Once I gave it up, I realized that the dairy and caffeine combination was causing my severe migraines. It only took a couple of slip-ups/missteps for me to figure that one out!! We should recognize "needs" for what they are - addictions. Try substitutes for your animal-based addictions. I changed from my caffeinated latte, to a Soy Decaf version initially and then gave it up! 

Chef AJ's Yabbut #4: But my friends and family won’t support me in this.

It is true. They may not. They may even try to sabotage your efforts. But they will come around!! And please give people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the ones you might worry about the most will be the most understanding. My mother-in-law cooks Southern & Unhealthy (her words, not mine) - lots of butter and lots of meat. But at each family holiday dinner (Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas) she has made sure there is something I can eat. She needn't have worried, I'm used to fending for myself by now - but she called and asked every time what I would eat. My husband, a self professed meat & potatoes man went plant-based with me after observing me for 9 months and seeing the positive changes I was seeing in my health and general well-being. As Chef AJ says in her book, friends and family may not immediately care about your total cholesterol numbers, but they will notice the outward appearance - the difference in weight and fitness and mood and energy levels. They will want the same for themselves. They will come around. Lead by example - that is all you can do. 

My Yabbut #5: My kids are so picky. They won't eat anything. 

This is a tough one. Believe me - I know!! We have a 17 year old (meat, potatoes and corn only), a 14 year old (mildly adventurous and will occasionally try new things) and a 3 year old (already likes his junk food, and can be picky occasionally). It is hard being a parent. You want the best for your kids and you want them to eat better. But as adults, we find it hard to let go of old habits, so we have to think of how much harder that must be for someone at an age where their entire life ahead of them. Every teenager thinks they're invincible and they'll live forever. Nobody thinks of being sick or tired or reduced life expectancy. All we can do is make a change - for ourselves - by ourselves - and continue to offer plant-based foods to our kids. Lead by example. They will pick up the things you discuss with adults about a healthier diet. After more than a year of being plant-based, we still cook meat in our house. But I am proud to say that the kids eat a lot more fruits and vegetables compared to before. The 3-year old has been the easiest mainly because he doesn't know any better.  So unfortunately, with kids, you may be stuck with making 2 meals for every meal, or a meat topping for every dish. Or you could just lay down the law and say this is what we're having for dinner - eat it or leave it. That didn't work in our mixed-family household ;)

My Yabbut #6: But I love meat (cheese). I don't think I can give it up. 

See Chef AJ's Yabbut #3. Okay ... so you love meat. You don't have to give it up altogether, not immediately anyways. Take your time. Take it slow. Give it up one meal at a time, one day at a time. I was able to give it up Cold Tofu - but you don't have to! Try Meatless Mondays. Then slowly add another meatless day and another and then another. Try Dairy Free Weekends. You'll find that slowly you will lose the taste for meat. For my brother, whom I mentioned at the beginning of this post, his biggest fear is that he might lose his taste for meat. I love him dearly .. !!! He doesn't want to be where I am today (no taste for meat and cheese) ... he's okay with trying this for a while but he's worried he'll lose his taste for meat. Its a good thing bro!!! You know what else you'll loose along with the taste for meat? Your glucose meter and prescription medications.

Chef AJ's Yabbut #5: It’s too hard/I have too much stress. My Yabbut #7: I have no will power. 

It is hard. If you're addicted to junk foods like I was (there was a time where I was so stressed at work that I was eating a Snickers bar every day - in addition to 3 square meals). I would get stressed or mad about another new catastrophe and head for the vending machines. 60 seconds of feel-good chocolate resulted in quite a few gained pounds and no less stress. As you eat less and less junk food it will get easier. I've been plant-based for almost 14 months - I still have to talk myself out of reaching for that cookie in the pantry, or that scone at my favorite coffee shop. Think about the big picture. If you're losing weight, that extra cookie will jeopardize the progress you've made thus far. In the end, if you do slip up, don't beat yourself up and give up entirely. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on. We're only human after all. Perfection is for the gods in heaven :)

My Yabbut #8: The Scarlett O'Hara syndrome - I'll start tomorrow! 

Tomorrow NEVER comes. Remember the ultimate goal - No Meat, No Dairy, No Oil. You don't have to do it all today but you have to start somewhere. So .. Start Today. Make one change today!! 

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