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"Let Food Be Thy Medicine"
January 2018 
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Jean Varney
Jeannie Varney
 Nutrition Consultant


I am ringing in the New Year with equal portions of gratitude and excitement! There are no words to express the sincere appreciation I feel for the kind words, thoughts and prayers I have received over these last several months as my parents and I navigate the difficult world of chronic illness. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! It is your continued support and my parents unwavering desire to live their lives to the fullest that allows me to awake each morning with hope, a positive attitude and a steadfast commitment to helping them and you. I'm happy to report that my father's heart condition remains stable and my mom has successfully undergone surgery. And while we're gearing up for 6 more months of chemo, I'm hopeful that I will be able to return to work in a limited capacity in early 2018.

As grateful as I am to have this time with my parents, I desperately miss working. I love helping people understand just how important their diet and lifestyle choices are to their health - how food can be their medicine or their poison. Heather Morgan said it best, "Every time you eat or drink, you are either feeding disease or fighting it." Do you realize that poor diets are the leading cause of death and disability in this country, causing roughly 700,000 deaths annually? How empowering is it to know that ...

By making simple changes to our diet, we can reduce and maintain a healthy weight, prevent and even reverse heart disease and type II diabetes, lower blood pressure, maintain cognitive health, improve energy, mood, joint discomfort and gut health, protect ourselves against certain cancers, and eliminate the need for many medications?

Simply put, if you want to reduce your risk of premature death and chronic disease and you'd prefer to age well, then follow these two simple principles: eat well and keep moving. By taking charge of your diet and staying active, you can take charge of your health and your destiny. I implore you to start now; it's never too late.

Below I discuss the foods that benefit our health and should make up the majority of our diet. I also detail the foods that we should avoid or at least significantly limit. I think you'll find my suggestions surprisingly easy to implement and delicious ... they focus on whole foods not individual nutrients and the inclusion of all food groups. Research continues to show we need good quality protein, fat AND CARBS to thrive.

Yours in Health,

Improve Your Diet by Implementing the Following:
Despite what we hear on the news or read on the Internet, eating healthfully is pretty straightforward (it may not be rocket science - but it is science!). Unfortunately, the contradictory advice and continual stream of fad diets and purportedly miraculous supplements unnecessarily complicates things. Let me save you time, money and frustration, there are no silver bullets, short cuts or pills that will melt away the pounds, allow you to avoid chronic disease or extend your life. Instead you need to change your diet once and for all and stop over consuming the very foods that are contributing to heart disease, high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, cancers and weight gain. Replacing these foods with those that benefit your health will give you the best chance at not only living a long life but also, living a long life well.

Foods that benefit us: Fruits, veggies, legumes (beans, lentils, edamame), whole intact grains, nuts/seeds, fish, unsweetened yogurt and unprocessed vegetable oils.

Foods that, depending on the type, quality and quantity, can either benefit or harm us: Milk, poultry, cheese, unprocessed red meat, butter, and eggs.

Foods that harm us: Refined grains, starches, and added sugar, processed meats, high-sodium foods and industrialized trans-fats.

Research continues to show most of our diet related health issues stem from the following.

We don't eat enough:
Non-starchy veggies
Omega-3 rich seafood
Nuts and seeds

We eat too much:
Sugar sweetened beverages and other added sugars.
Processed meats

Improve your diet by implementing the following suggestions now:

Eat a whole foods, plant-based diet. This is by far the single most important change you can make to your diet. The majority of your food should consist of veggies, fruit, whole intact grains, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds. Emphasis is on veggies.

Increase your consumption of non-starchy veggies. Here's how:
*  Add spinach, onions, peppers, broccoli, asparagus, and/or tomatoes to eggs.
*  Replace sandwiches with dark leafy green salads topped with protein.
*  Swap pasta with veggie noodles.
*  Choose crudité and hummus for snack instead of chips or crackers.
*  Eat two sides of veggies with your choice of protein at dinner instead of a starch.
*  Limit English peas, corn, parsnips and white potatoes. Avoid French fries altogether!

Enjoy fruit for dessert or as a sweetener instead of sugar/artificial sweeteners. Fruit is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants that protect us against chronic disease. It also is associated with less weight gain. Berries, pears, apples and citrus give you the biggest bang for your buck. If you're on a statin avoid grapefruit and if you're trying to lose weight, limiting tropical fruit (bananas, mango, papaya, and grapes) may be helpful. Use fresh fruit to sweeten your salads, plain yogurt, cottage cheese and oatmeal, or blend frozen berries with dark chocolate to make your own sorbet. Eat unsweetened, dried fruit sparingly and avoid fruit juices of all kinds. "Juicing" is NOT good for you.

Consume 15-18oz of omega-3 rich fish per week. These fatty acids fight inflammation and benefit your heart, arteries and brain. The best sources are salmon, tuna, black cod/sablefish, trout, artic char, and sardines/herrings. If you don't eat seafood, consider, taking a fish oil supplement however, be careful of which one you choose. Many do not contain the right amount of DHA and EPA necessary to benefit your health. Avoid supplements that contain omega-6s and omega-9s. Click here,  to order the one I recommend: OMEGAGENICS DHA-EPA 720. While walnuts, flax and chia seeds are rich in plant-based omega-3s, these types of omega-3s (ALAs) are not as beneficial as their animal based counterparts. Consequently, if you follow a vegan diet, I encourage you to take an algae-based omega-3 supplement.

Substitute beans and/or lentils for animal protein several times a week. This will improve your cholesterol, your digestive tract and protect our planet. Experiment with tofu in your stir-fry instead of beef or black beans and edamame in your salad instead of chicken.

Avoid all processed meat - hot dogs, bacon, sausage, pepperoni, ham, cured cold cuts, pastrami, etc. (more people die of hot dogs and cold cuts each year than car crashes - kid you not.) Processed meats are linked to an increased risk of cancer and type II diabetes.

Limit red meat (beef, pork and lamb): If you enjoy red meat, limit your consumption to 4-6oz a week, if that, and purchase grass-fed, lean cuts exclusively. Consuming red meat increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, weight gain and type II diabetes as well as some cancers.

Eat a handful of nuts and/or seeds a day. These healthy fats benefit the heart and arteries and curb hunger. Unsweetened nut butters are equally as beneficial as roasted or raw nuts. Avoid nut butters with added sugar and/or palm oils. Try celery and peanut butter for snack, almond butter in your smoothie or oatmeal, and sunflower seeds in your salad. Avoid candied, yogurt or chocolate covered varieties.

Rediscover your kitchen. Eating out will ensure you're consuming too many calories and far too much sodium. It's almost impossible to control either if relying on meals made outside of the home. Most of us need to limit our sodium intake to 1500mg/day. A single restaurant meal often contains more than this. High blood pressure is directly linked to sodium consumption.

Avoid refined starches and added sugars NOT carbohydrates. Fruits, veggies, whole intact grains (brown rice, whole wheat pasta, wheat berries, quinoa, oatmeal, faro, freekah, and buckwheat), beans and lentils are all carbohydrates. They also are the foods that will most benefit your health. Eat them daily. ½ cup of a cooked whole grain or 1 slice of whole wheat bread is a serving. Enjoy 2-4 servings a day depending on your age, level of activity and insulin resistance. Eat ½-1 cup of beans/lentils/edamame a day as well. Avoid however, the refined carbs that are so damaging to our heart, arteries and brain. They also are the foods that most contribute to weight gain. Included in the list of foods you should avoid - most cereals, pasta, pizza, breads, bagels, baked goods, crackers, and chips/pretzels, as well as sweetened oatmeal and yogurt, candy, sweetened beverages, dried fruit, ice creams, frozen yogurts, and energy/breakfast bars.

Do not drink your calories, especially sugar-sweetened beverages. These include sweetened coffees, teas and milk alternatives, lemonade, sodas, sport drinks and juices. They negatively affect your blood sugar, hunger, and energy and are more often stored as fat.

Eat the majority of your calories for breakfast and lunch NOT dinner. You need calories during the day when you're expending energy, not in the evening when you're watching TV, reading or surfing the net. Breakfast should be your biggest meal.

If trying to lose weight, keep your dinner to protein and veggies. Eat your whole grains at breakfast and lunch. If happy with your weight, enjoy ½ cup of whole intact grains or a starchy veggie with your protein and non-starchy veggies.

Putting it all together. Here's a sample of what a whole foods, plant-based day of eating might look like: Amounts will vary depending on weight, gender, age and level of activity.

Breakfast: Steel cut oatmeal made with organic, low-fat milk or unsweetened soy milk, topped with berries (I use frozen blueberries - they're affordable and more nutritious than fresh ones this time of year), nuts/seeds and ground or toasted flaxseed.

Lunch: Large dark leafy green salad topped with unlimited veggies (try roasted asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and acorn squash for flavor), avocado, ½ cup of quinoa or other whole grain, ½ - 1 cup of edamame/beans or tofu, sunflower seeds, olive oil and vinegar of choice.

Afternoon snack: Apple and low-fat organic cheese stick or unlimited crudité and hummus.

Dinner: Filet of wild salmon topped with black bean salsa, unlimited steamed broccoli and sautéed spinach, onions, and mushroom mixture.

Doable, delicious and devoid of the very foods that are ruining our health and robbing us of our quality of life! Bon Appetite.

A must read for someone looking to improve their health: Click here!

About Jean Varney 
Jean Varney is the founder and president of Eat Right, Be Fit, Live Well LLC, a health and nutrition consulting firm committed to empowering men and women to improve their health through sustainable changes to their diet and lifestyle.  Based in the Washington DC metropolitan area, Jean coaches clients nationwide by phone and in person.  She focuses on helping individuals make smart choices about the foods they eat in order to maintain high energy levels, avoid unwanted weight gain and decrease their risk of heart disease, cancer, type II diabetes and other chronic illnesses.  Jean received her training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City.  To learn more about her practice, please visit her website at: