Last night Sophia and I attended the Introductory meeting of the Whole Foods/Rip Esselstyn 28-Day Health Challenge. For those of you that are interested in participating, but also because some of this information is really important for everyone reading this blog, I am going to go over the key points of Ellen Darby’s presentation.
The official start date is May 17th. It was suggested that everyone read Rip’s book, The Engine 2 Diet and spend time preparing your kitchen and pantry. Out with the animal and/or processed products, in with the plant based food. “Plant based” includes all vegetables, fruit, WHOLE grains, avocado and raw nuts (not roasted, salted nuts). Only consume avocado and nuts in tiny amounts though, or you will probably find yourself gaining weight. For a complete list of recommended foods, you must get yourself a copy of The Engine 2 Diet. There is no way that I can adequately represent the depth and breath of foods that you can eat on Rip’s plan.
The following are some KEY points to Rip’s plan, that I will carry with me long after this 28-day challenge. They all involve the accurate reading of nutrition labels and were a real eye-opener for my 10 year old. They were also a great reminder for me :
1. FAT. We get all of the fat our bodies need from plants. We do not need to add any processed oils, like olive oil and even coconut oil, to our cooking. When purchasing packaged foods, look at the label. Do not purchase foods that get more than 20% of their calories from fat. This is a lower fat diet than the typical 30% recommendation, and therefore much more heart healthy.
How do you know if a food is low in fat? DO NOT TRUST THE PACKAGING! Lots of “Low Fat!” foods are not low in fat. Do the math yourself: Multiply the total fat grams by 10 (for ease, I know that there are only 9 calories per gram of fat). Divide this number by the number of calories in a serving. If the answer is greater than 20%, don’t buy it.
For example, Trader Joe’s has a “Traditional Marinara Sauce” that has 1 g of fat per 50 calorie serving. So, 1 g x 10 calories = 10 and 10 % 50 = .2 or 20% This food fits the 20% fat or less criteria.
2. SALT. Not good for us in amounts over the RDA. Don’t add salt when you are cooking (easier said than done–hey, I’m working on it!). Look at the label of any packaged food you are buying. If the number of mgs of salt is greater than the number of calories per serving, the food is too high in salt. Don’t buy it.
For example, that same Trader Joe’s “Traditional Marinara Sauce” with 50 calories per serving has 530 mg of salt per serving. Whoa! That’s a lot of sodium. Considering the RDA is 2400 mg of salt for a 2000 calorie/day diet, just 1/2 cup of this marinara sauce has about 25% of a day’s worth of salt, you can see how easy it is to ridiculously over consume salt. And that’s a big problem for anyone who is concerned about their heart health.
3. WHOLE GRAINS. Get to know how supermarket packaging is misleading. How do you really know if a product is whole grain?
Read food labels! They are your best tool for determining whether a product provides ample whole grains, and people should take full advantage. The bottom line: Check the food product’s ingredient list and ensure that one of the first ingredients starts with the word “whole.” A CRACKER, BREAD, OR PASTA IS NOT REALLY WHOLE GRAIN UNLESS THE FIRST INGREDIENT LISTED IS “WHOLE” FOLLOWED BY THE TYPE OF GRAIN. Phrases like “stoned wheat,” “cracked wheat”, “enriched wheat flour”, “wheat flour”, “semolina”, durum”, “durum wheat”, and “enriched durum wheat” do not indicate the presence of whole grain.
I hope this provides some insight for those doing the challenge from afar. Please feel free to ask me questions right here in the comments section of the blog.
For those of you not doing the challenge, and maybe reading other books like Eat to Live/Eat for Health, these principles of good nutrition apply equally as well!