Wellness Pathway #278 Quality and Quantity

This past week, former USA President Bill Clinton was interviewed as to the things he had changed about his diet and exercise routine since having a heart bypass operation in September of 2004. He made the observation that for most of his adult life he maintained his weight and fitness through controlling how much he ate and through exercising regularly. “I thought that was good enough to be healthy,” he commented. “But I now know you have to pay attention not only to the quantity of the food you eat, also to the quality. I never did that before.”

So what are the changes he has made? “For one thing,” he told the reporter, “I have pretty much given up fast food and French Fries. Three French Fries every other month is about my limit. And I used to eat French Fries all the time!”

That’s one good decision Bill Clinton has made. If he was able to maintain a normal weight while eating fast food and French Fries, at the same time as holding one of the most stressful jobs in the world, then he was doing far more than most people can do. Those foods are typically a disaster when it comes to weight management, made even worse by the stressful demands of modern life. But, as Bill Clinton learned the hard way, even when people do successfully manage their weight on such a diet they can end up with significant health problems.

That’s because junk food forces the body to deal with a lot of junk. The more junk the body has to clean up, the harder it is to avoid cardiovascular disease, cancer, liver disease, kidney disease, dementia, and other chronic conditions. By paying attention to quality as well as quantity, however, we make it easier on our bodies to stay healthy and well.

A study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association pitted three healthy diets against each other. The 2001 DASH program (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was modified to include more lean vegetable protein or more healthy monounsaturated fat. This generated three diets that were low in saturated fat, trans fatty acids, cholesterol, and sodium at the same time as they were rich in fruit, vegetables, fiber, potassium, and other minerals.

The results favored the modified DASH programs. Trading about 10% of the carbohydrates in the DASH program for protein from beans and fat from nuts or olive oil generated a more significant lowering of blood pressure and blood cholesterol. And that’s good news not only for the heart but for the health of the whole body as well. So pay attention to both the quality and the quantity of the foods you eat. This focus will serve you well in the holiday season and throughout the year.

Coaching Inquiries: What foods do you make a point of eating or avoiding? Are there ways for you to get excited about eating foods that will promote health and wellness? How could you add some lean protein and healthy fat to your diet without adding calories? Can you do this even through the holidays? Who could become your partner in staying fit for life?

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May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

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