Self-care is an ongoing process throughout life that clears a path to assist us with the
various challenges and excitements of life. As we continue to define and clarify our
purpose it is essential that we care for ourselves, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
The practice of self-care is not selfish but rather it further enhances our ability to care for
As we continue our discussion of the nine lessons learned from the Blue Zone
centenarians, the next lesson, lesson number 5, has been identified as “Plant Slant”.
What does that mean? Never eating meat again?
No, that is not what it means. Drawing from the research, inhabitants of the Blue Zones
don’t eat a lot of processed foods but do eat small amounts of meat. What they do eat
is plenty of beans, whole grains, and veggies, which are usually grown in their own
gardens. According to the research, the Sardinian shepherds eat flatbread made from
wheat, while Nicoyans in Costa Rica serve corn tortillas with each meal. Beans, whole
grains, and garden vegetables are at the heart of longevity diets.
Being conscious of the quality of what we eat helps us feel better and prevents costly
health conditions and illnesses. Enjoyment of what we eat is also important to our self-
care. In fact, taste is the most important factor in long term diet change. If the changes
you make don’t taste good to you, you won’t stay with the change. But eating a
healthier diet can also add time to the preparation of foods and it is important to address
this. Drawing further from the work of the Blue Zones, here are some suggestions to
help lean more towards a “Plant Slant” diet and save some time. These suggestions
Skipping the French fries (made from white or sweet potatoes) and go for a baked potato or side salad. Forget the butter and sour cream and top your potato with salsa or broccoli instead.
Boost nutrition by adding tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, and other veggies to your sandwich. Choose whole grain bread and protein-packed options like peanut butter or hummus.
At the salad bar, pile on the dark leafy greens, carrots, peppers, and other fresh vegetables. Avoid high-fat dressings and nutritionally questionable add-ons like croutons, bacon bits, and processed meats.
Pass up on the all-you-can-eat specials, buffets, and unlimited salad bars. If you do choose the buffet, fill up on salads, soups, and veggies first. Use a small plate.
Like wraps? Choose fillings like brown rice mix with grilled veggies and hummus.
For a quick lunch at your desk, have single-serve packages of crackers, fruit, peanut butter, soup, or tuna handy. Plan ahead to avoid the vending machine, which often offers unhealthy temptations when the snack attack hits.
For those of us thinking we would like to grow some of our own foods, here are a few
ideas to get us started. Think about starting with easier vegetables such as leafy
greens, beans and zucchini. If room permits, potatoes and carrots are hardy crops.
Herbs like cilantro and basil grow well in containers. If the lack of sun is an issue, try
growing mint, it loves the shade. Parsley and dill can be grown in many types of soil.
We can also start our herb gardens in our kitchen. Then, we can continue to grow them
there or transplant them outside when weather permits.
Beginning to make changes in our diet, to include more plant based foods, is exciting. It
will move us towards better health and keep us moving towards our purpose.
A plant slant diet does not equal a vegetarian diet.
We may need to allow for more time in food preparation when moving towards a plant slant diet.
Always remember, taste is the single most important factor in how we choose our food.
If we don’t like what the grocery store is selling, we don’t have to shop there. We can shop the Farmer’s Markets and grow some of our own foods.
Discover if you have a green thumb.
Try making one day of the week a meatless day.
Things to Limit
Thinking that eating vegetables is not fun.
Only eating fruits and vegetables when you are on a diet.
Thinking that carrots are only for horses.
Quote of the Week
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
~ Anne Lamott
Self-care involves the entire self; mind, body and spirit. It is important that each area is well cared for and in balance with the other. Eating a plant slant diet will help to integrate the mind, body and spirit by providing nutrients to each.
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The paraDocs are Dr. Francis L. Battisti, PhD, Psychotherapist, Distinguished Psychology Professor and former Executive V.P and Chief Academic Officer and Dr. Helen E. Battisti PhD, RDN, CDN, Chief Nutrition Officer, at SpNOD, Health Promotion Specialist, Research and Clinical Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and former Assistant Professor.
We have developed "The ZONE", because that is exactly where you want to be during this pandemic. A place of focused attention to doing exactly what needs to be done to get you to where you need to be. The purpose of The Zone is to provide a nationally distributed weekly mental-health and nutrition tip-sheet during times of change.
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