Content by Sara Wahls. Edited by Kim Bimestefer
Who am I? I am Sara T. Wahls, a woman approaching 50, in a happy relationship celebrating 16 years this fall, who likes her job, and enjoys a variety of active hobbies. I am not a scientist, teacher, writer or nutritionist. But I do value helping others better address their health by sharing what I have learned. Here is my story.
Hints to Help With The Change. Change is hard. We all know that. So, here are some secrets to make it easier.
First, try “switching”. It makes it easier to give-up previously common items in your diet. For example, Kim and I both enjoy alcohol in moderation. So cutting out alcohol was a non-starter for us. Following the switching secret, we moved from Cosmo’s and mixed drinks (which included lots of sugar) to red wine, which has some healthy antioxidant properties and less sugar. While I cut out chocolate, Kim switched to high quality dark chocolate, in moderation. Instead of a health food bars or protein bars, which include lots of processed ingredients and sugar, replace those with more natural snacks, like cut-up fruit or vegetables. Here are some other common substitutions or “switches” we’ve made in our household:
- fruit instead of chocolate or processed desserts
- Sweet potatoes and turnips instead of traditional potatoes or rice
- Baked julienned zucchini instead of French fries
- Spaghetti squash and zucchini instead of pasta for spaghetti or lasagna dishes
- Homemade avocado dip instead of salsa
- Vegetables instead of yogurt
- Figs and dates in the cookie jar
- Mushrooms with coconut milk sauce instead of Alfredo or tomato sauce
- Bake kale to make kale chips instead of potato chips
- Coconut flour and almond meal instead of traditional breading
- Coconut milk smoothie instead of ice cream
- Red wine instead of cosmos or mixed drinks
- Anti-oxidant fruit beverage instead of Diet Dr. Pepper (which I was sort of addicted to considering I was dreaming about my anticipated 12pm beverage at 7am!).
- Unsweetened or herbal teas are another alternative to soda.
Second, try to get your household to change with you, so you have support. Kim and I are making this change together, and that makes it easier for us. We support each other, bring only the right foods into our home, fix meals together, etc. For a woman with teenage boys who can eat anything or the working woman who comes home to the husband who wants what he wants, this may be harder. In fact, several women have told me that their husbands sabotage their diets by bringing their favorite unhealthy foods into the house. While it may seem like an “I love you just the way you are” response, it’s also frustrating since it is counterproductive to your goal.
Our advice? Take control! As the VP Operations and General Manager of our household, I do the grocery shopping. That means, if I don’t buy it, it’s not in the house. Use your power if you do the grocery shopping or the cooking.
Third, feel free to make substitutions and food selection changes over a period of time to accomplish a sustainable, lifestyle change versus trying to change all of your traditional food selections at once. When selling the concept to your husband and children, it’s critical to share with them how important this change is to you and that you are focused on the health of the household. After all, this is a lifestyle change, not a temporary diet. Focus on your desire to live longer and healthier, rather than obsess on weight loss strategies.
Fourth, I have learned to tell restaurants that I have food sensitivities and most are willing to bring the oil and vinegar cruets, prepare meats with sauces on the side, steam or grill the vegetables, and replace the potatoes or rice with double vegetables. I even ask for a double portion of chicken on my salad at restaurants that tend to offer small meat portions.
Best Wishes! I wish you luck on your journey. You are important. Your future is important. I hope the ideas and learnings I have shared herein will help you on your own personal path towards better health!
Other excellent resources that influenced my lifestyle change
I definitely recommend the book by Dr. Terry Wahls, “The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine”. It has lots of outstanding information on her recommended paleo-based protocol, the interesting and motivational science behind it, the importance of Vitamin D, as well as recipes to support your success.
Dr. Wahls offers 2 great options for you if you are new: 30 Day Quick Start Programs, which includes 30 days of menus and shopping lists to really jump start you into the Wahls Protocol and you have the 3 levels to choose from or you can go through each of the 3 program levels, and the Wahls Protocol Membership site, which enables you to get additional information about the Wahls Protocol, ask a monthly question to Dr. Wahls, and interact with your peers.