May 2016


In the last few decades, fat has become the villain of the food world, the skulking purveyor of chubbiness, clogged arteries and death. Put a label marked low-fat on anything and it will sell better than its fatty counterparts.

Now a growing number of food scientists are suggesting that a certain amount of fat is needed for your body health. In other words, don’t believe all the bad hype about fat.

Fat is a nutrient, though it is rarely called that. You need it if your body is to function effectively. It plays a key role in absorbing vitamins A, D, E and K, because they are all fat soluble.

Fat is needed to keep your energy high and your hair and skin looking healthy.

Carbohydrates have become the bad boys of the nutrient world in recent years, but it’s worth remembering that there are two sides to every story.

One is the common refrain that carbs are bad. They make us fat.

The flip side is that carbs are good. They provide our bodies with fuel to live and, when taken from whole foods, may be beneficial in protecting us from cardiovascular disease.

No matter how little spare time you have, investing a little portion of it into growing your own vegetables is a delightful exercise. From a pot of fragrant herbs on your patio to a row of beans in your back yard, you and your family will benefit from your labors.

Growing a few of your own vegetables is as much about getting in touch with the source of your food and teaching yourself and your children about whole eating and the good earth, as it is about saving money.

Every single cell in your body needs protein to stay healthy. So do your organs and tissues.

A scientific explanation for that is because protein is comprised of amino acids, which are the building blocks for our body’s ability to regenerate itself.

You cannot flourish without protein and in most western countries in the world, people do include sufficient amounts of protein in their diet. In fact, some people eat more than they need.

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The air that you breathe, the water you drink, the chemicals used to produce our food and our home cleaning products are all potential sources of toxins in our bodies.

Fortunately, our bodies are remarkably effective at dispensing with harmful toxins through our built-in defense systems. For example, our lungs clean the air we take in, our liver and kidneys remove harmful substances and have them excreted from the body, and even our skin helps dispel bad things through its pores in the form of perspiration.

“I find it fascinating that most people plan their vacation with better care than they do their lives. Perhaps that is because escape is easier than change.” – Jim Rohn, motivational speaker

The reason most of us don’t live as healthy a lifestyle as we want isn’t because we don’t know what we need to do to get on the wellness track.

It’s because we hate changing those things that are most comfortable to us.

Those comforts include eating burgers and fries and sweet, sugary foods, sitting down to watch a good show on television, and not pushing ourselves physically past what is easily accomplished.

There is no guilt or shame for that; it is just part of the human condition.

But when our lack of a healthy lifestyle starts to nag at us, either in the form of surfacing health issues, a growing waistline, or general lack of energy, we make big resolutions for dramatic change.

We decide we will jog, we will lose 30 pounds, we will eat only salads. We go a little crazy with our self-declarations. And then we fail. We feel miserable. We get a big bag of rippled potato chips and escape to a marathon of viewing Downton Abbey.

You can get yourself out of this cycle by planning to change your life with a series of small goals, slowly and surely replacing bad habits with healthier ones. It’s fine to set big, long-term goals; in fact, it helps to know what you want to achieve as your ultimate destination. But once you know the big score, break the life-change goals down into little ones.

It will take more time than you might think for one new habit to become such a part of your lifestyle that you do it without thinking. It is a myth that such changes happen in just two or three weeks.

The most comprehensive research into changing habits took place in 2009 at University College London when Dr. Philippa Lally and her colleagues got 96 people interested in making lifestyle changes to participate in a study1. The changes the subjects wanted to make were small. They include eating a piece of fruit with lunch each day or running for 15 minutes a day. The participants were monitored and questioned daily about their behavior with the goal of finding out how long it took them to find they could do the task without thinking and then when they found the behavior hard not to do.

On average, it took 66 days for them to start performing the life change task automatically. There also seemed to be a relation in how long it took based on the difficulty of the task. For example, jogging for 15 minutes was harder to become automatic than drinking a glass of water with breakfast.

What steps can you take to shorten the time and get your life back on the road to wellness?

The United States Department of Health and Human Services, in a publication called Changing Your Habits: Steps to Better Health,2suggests there are four stages we go through when we are changing a health behavior.

They are:

  • Contemplation (“I’m thinking about it”)
  • Preparation (“I have made up my mind”)
  • Action (“I have started to make changes”) and
  • Maintenance (“I have a new routine”).

Staying on track with healthy habits is easier, they suggest, if you track your progress by keeping a journal or writing down your progress. Have a strategy in place when barriers block the changes you want to make in your life. And when you succeed, reward yourself (but not with high calorie treats) and stay positive, happy that you have started down the right road.


  1. Lally, P., van Jaarsveld, C. H. M., Potts, H. W. W. and Wardle, J. (2010), How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 40: 998–1009. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.674
  2. Changing Your Habits: Steps to Better Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services