We all need to eat to stay alive. But what are our objectives with eating? This is where Project Management can change your life forever. As how you eat, is directly impacted by your objectives with eating. If you are simply eating to stave off hunger, and you just grab whatever is most convenient you may be unknowingly poisoning yourself. This is where paying attention to your objectives and creating a plan to meet those objectives can create a much better life.
Lets look at my friend Jean’s objectives with eating: convenience, getting healthy, and creating easy to follow life long habits that will keep her healthy. She also has four children and a husband at home so she needs to include them in any eating lifestyle plans. Jean is a very busy professional so she didn’t always take the time to eat right. She would go without eating all day and then just snack on crackers before some type of convenience food dinner. She found her blood pressure going up, her energy level low, and her stress too magnified on life’s little annoyances. She decided to try a diet program where they sent all her food for 28 days - prepackaged meals that were convenient and apparently healthy. She did start feeling a lot better. She was afterall getting proper nutrients. (Jean does know what it takes to maintain a healthy weight - she created and teaches the Cheetah Project Management of Weight Loss course).
But lets look at her initial objectives. Yes, she was getting convenience. But was this the right way for creating life long habits for health? She came out to visit me for a week. She brought some of this pre-packaged food to make for us to share. I appreciated the sentiment.
Sources of Salt in a Standard Diet
I looked at the label on this split pea soup - one serving had 470 mg of sodium. WOW - your daily limit should be around 1500 mg to 2400 mg per day. Look at the figure to the left. Most salt in the average diet comes from processed food. I looked further at the label. The pre-packaged split pea soup had 33g of carbohydrates. Even though legumes are known for their low glycemic content, thereby making them a fairly healthy choice, split peas have the highest amount of carbohydrates of any legume. Lentils have half the carbohydrate load and the soup is fairly similar. Then you look at the list of ingredients in Jean’s pre-packaged soup, 3/4 were chemicals we could not identify.
I used to not be so particular about the ingredient label. Until I got high blood pressure from a tumor discovered on my adrenal gland the size of an egg. It isn’t cancerous, yet. But I certainly don’t want it to get cancerous so I figured I’d get smart on how to prevent that from happening. I learned this tumor grows from uncontrolled stress in my life and the larger the tumor gets, the more chance it has for becoming cancerous. I actually consider myself lucky about this discovery since it is tremendous inspiration to adopt a much healthier lifestyle.
I found this great book called “Anti-Cancer, A New Way of Life, by David Servan-Schreiber.” It is written by a clinical psychiatrist who has kept his brain cancer in remission by following some very basic, and very easy to follow dietary & lifestyle guidelines. From his extensive research, he has found that our diets of highly processed foods, combined with our high stress lifestyles, AND the toxins in our environment are leading to almost an epidemic in cancer. So YES, we are poisoning ourself.
So this lead to a very interesting discussion with Jean. She really liked this pre-planned meal program because it helped her eat more healthy. But it wasn’t going to help her develop life long healthy habits. My tumor was the wake up call I needed to adopt healthier lifestyle habits and I have similar objectives as Jean - I want convenience and healthy foods, but I also have the added objective - keep my tumor benign. So, instead of doing the pre-packaged foods - I learned how to make my own healthy, fast meals. That split pea soup - takes less than 15 minutes to put together. And I can save it in small single serving containers and freeze so I don’t have to spend a lot of time making lunches. But I won’t even waste the carbohydrates in the split pea soup. Lentil soup is actually healthier - and takes the same amount of time. I know the ingredients that go into my soup too - there is no need to use excessive chemicals to preserve my food that may end up poisoning me and my family.
According to Servan-Schreiber’s research while some cancers have gone up due to our current practices, stomach cancers have gone way down because of refrigeration’s impact on reducing food poisoning - NOT because of the excessive chemicals put in pre-packaged foods that give them a long shelf life. The closer you can eat foods in their natural state, the better off you will be. This goes for products from animals eating natural diets (grasses and grains they would normally eat - not corn), from fields that haven’t been polluted with pesticides and herbicides. If you want an in depth look at the source of most of our modern day foods, and why Servan-Schreiber’s research is so relevant, check out Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.
I found when I take the time to eat the foods that keep me healthy, everything else just falls into place in my life. My brain works better, I am less stressed, I take the time to exercise, and it seems I am more organized so I can take a little more time creating healthy meals. If I fall prey to highly processed convenience foods, my stress levels go up, I don’t feel like I have the time to create healthy meals, I don’t have the energy to exercise, and it becomes a negative reinforcing feedback loop. But I’m lucky - when I fall back to unhealthy habits, my blood pressure goes up, and I am reminded just why it’s so important to pay attention to what I’m eating.
What are your objectives with eating? Are you unknowingly poisoning yourself? Eating is an every day project. And like any successful project, there are steps you have to follow to reach your objectives. The more you know about what is required to meet your objectives, the more success you will have.