“Lifestyle” is a very contemporary word. It has unique shades of meaning for different individu­als, but for all of us it says much about the way in which we live and about what is important to us. How we live often dictates how we eat. Diet pat­tern is frequently a product of custom, habit, convenience, economics and social standing. Some families enjoy a certain special meal on Sundays or on holidays. Modern wives often utilize convenience foods to save time. Young people congregate at fast food restaurants. Those who can afford it dine on haute cuisine. And children, often responding to television advertis­ing, beg for certain breakfast cereals.

The body, however, has no concept of life­style. It is a machine which needs to be fueled in order to perform. The food which is eaten pro­vides that fuel. The body does not care about the appeasement of psychological, social and culinary appetites. It is concerned exclusively with the nu­tritional value of what is consumed. It is like an automobile which needs gasoline to run. It cares not whether the pump is in Beverly Hills or Tortilla Flats, just so long as it produces usable fuel.

I had not understood this in the past and consequently the food choices on my diet had been made for other than nutritive reasons. After my surgery, I began to realize that the decisions concerning food choices had to be based upon the result s generated, rather than upon taste, prepare-lion time or the endorsement of a super jock.

Along with this realization came an understanding of the word “diet.” In my pre-surgery 1 ill-style, diet had a singular connotation. It was a weight reduction program, a means of shedding excess pounds rapidly by controlling the intake of calories. Only fat people were concerned with diet. Periodically they went on and off a diet, much like Toynbee’s cyclical theory of history, until either the on, or more likely the off, would eventually dominate. In this context, there was no relationship between diet and health.

After researching diet as a risk factor, I understood that a diet could be a long-term manner of eating and a diet pattern could generate negative or positive results. In analyzing my diet, it was obvious that it was a “negative diet,” that indeed it had produced a negative impact upon my cardiac health. What was needed, I reasoned, was a “positive diet,” a diet which would be a permanent program of healthful eating.
Using the knowledge gained, I determined the important elements of such a “Positive Diet”:

>It must be in tune with the contemporary American lifestyle.

>In order to be achievable, it must be realistic.

>It must meet psychological needs as well as physical needs.

>It must be motivated by an understanding of the importance of healthful eating.

>It must maximize the heart-healthy foods and minimize the harmful foods.

It was easy to understand and to accept the “why” of the Positive Diet. Much information testified to the fact that such a diet could be instrumental in the prevention and perhaps the reversal of coronary heart disease. The difficulty would be in the “how.”

When I left the hospital after surgery I was issued a standard low-cholesterol diet, really nothing more than a listing of good and bad foods. It was based on the premise that some foods were healthful and should be eaten, while others were harmful and should be avoided.

The missing link was that the standard diet did not explain how to apply the premise, how to change the eating habits of a lifetime, or how to make it work. It just said, “You better do it!” Granted, with the surgery fresh in my mind, my motivation to stay on a new diet was great. But how long, I asked myself, could I survive on carrot sticks — approach to cardiac health — before saying, “The hell with it!” and reverting to my tasty, old, comfortable diet? Without the “how,” the new diet was meaningless.

We can only make general dietary recommendations for you,-We can’t design a diet to specifically suit your needs and your tastes, and we can’t make it work for you. Many of my patients have had a strong motivation to modify their diet. Yet, the vast majority have been unable to do so with any degree of success.

A number have returned to their original diet — the same diet which had contributed to their cardiac problem in the first place. Why? Because without a realistic, step-by-step program to follow the patient never understands how a new diet can be accomplished. Generally, after a few months of trying, the cardiac patient gives up in frustration.

As I experimented over the months to develop a new diet, his words became even more meaningful to me. Frustration plagued me. Progress was elusive. Without a tested plan to follow, I was never quite sure whether or not my new diet was working. I had once said that there was no black and white but only shades or gray And that was how the Positive Diet Initially appeared to me: in elusive, chiaroscuro torn).

Gradually however, it emerged from the gray and took on clarity in the light. After more than a year of work, it existed not just in theory, but in reality, and in the process it became an integral, permanent part of my lifestyle. I finally understood not only why I had made the dietary change, but how I made it as well.

Before the Positive Diet can be successful, one needs to understand its basic principles and tools. He also needs to recognize the underlying premise for the practice of the diet:

>That each individual is responsible for his own health.

>That a decision to eat “positively” must include an understanding of diet as a cardiac risk factor.

>That a firm commitment must be made to make the Positive Diet a permanent diet pattern.

The fundamental cardiac risk involved with the contemporary American diet concerns excesses. While dietary deficiencies are still the major problem in many other areas of the world, in the United States the biggest problem is the inordinate amount of fat, cholesterol, sugar, salt and total calories consumed. Recognizing this fact, the basic principles of the Positive Diet are designed to reduce or to eliminate certain harmful foods. The four basic principles are as follows:

1. Reduce the intake of animal fat and cholesterol. As has been illustrated in numerous medical studies and field tests, a direct and causal relationship exists between the intake of animal fat and cholesterol, the elevation of blood cholesterol levels, and the development of coronary heart disease. While a diet high in fat and cholesterol may only be one of a number of factors which ultimately cause the disease, it clearly is a factor.

2. Reduce the intake of butterfat. Butterfat, which is a saturated fat, contributes to cardiac problems in the same way as does animal fat by promoting high blood cholesterol.

3. Reduce the intake of salt. Salt consumption in the United States has risen over 600% since the turn of the century, today averaging about 15 pounds annually per person. Excess salt in the diet contributes to the development of hypertension, hardening of the arteries, and coronary heart disease.

4. Reduce the intake of refined sugar. The annual average per capita consumption of refined sugar by Americans is 128 pounds, or about one-third pound a day. Not only has sugar displaced needed nutritive foods in the diet, but it has contributed to obesity and to high blood fat levels, both of which constitute significant risks for coronary heart disease.

The tour basic principles, concerned with reduction, must be combined with meal planning and creative substitution for permanent change to take place. Meal planning and creative substitution — called the basic tools of the Positive Diet — allow for the creation of new healthful meals. They are dedicated to the belief that if satisfaction can be found in the foods which should be eaten, then there will not be the inclination for the foods which should not be eaten.
Meal Planning

The meal plan is the first step to success and is critical to the practice of the Positive Diet. In a number of ways, the meal plan is like the game plan in football. It provides advance direction for what to do to be successful. In football, the quarterback relies heavily on the game plan. Although he may have a strong arm and sturdy legs, without a game plan his physical talent can be wasted and the team effort can be dissipated.

It is the game plan which defines for the quarterback how he can best move his team against the opposition; it is the game plan which allows him to know in advance what plays he must run. Without such a game plan, even an All-Pro quarterback could find himself approaching the line of scrimmage only to ask, “What do I do now?”

It is the same in establishing the Positive Diet. Instead of a game plan, a meal plan defines in advance how to successfully stay on the diet. The Positive Diet meal plan is the selection of which foods to eat over a designated period of time, usually one to three weeks. By listing the1 foods for each meal ahead of time, the meal plan can insure the inclusion of nutritious foods and the exclusion of harmful foods. The meal plan minimizes the meals which are left to chance. As with the quarterback, it prevents an individual from approaching a mealtime only to ask himself, “What do I do now?”

Meal planning was essential to my success with the Positive Diet. I began the planning process by dividing the week into 21 meals. Using the basic principles as a guide, I began to plan a meal schedule which either reduced or eliminated harmful foods. On my pre-surgery diet, for example, I frequently ate red meat. To insure that the fat and cholesterol content of my meals would be drastically reduced, I charted a meal plan for the Positive Diet that reduced red meat to just four meals per week.

Another advantage to using a meal plan is that it allows for certain favorite, but not-so-healthy foods to be phased out gradually, rather than eliminated abruptly. Abrupt elimination can cause a feeling of being unjustly deprived and result in resentment.

For example, abruptly giving up a daily breakfast of bacon and eggs could be very discouraging. All of the fat and cholesterol arguments in the world might not work. With meal planning, however, one could begin to practice the Positive Diet by reducing the number of times bacon and eggs were eaten for breakfast.

Further reductions and possible elimination could come in future meal plans. The result not only would be an immediate reduction in fat and cholesterol, but also a more ready acceptance of the Positive Diet as a permanent diet pattern.
Additional reason for using a meal plan

An additional reason for using a meal plan is to involve all members of the family in the act of planning. Eating is a family affair, and good earth, u health is the business of the entire family – Everyone in the family understands why the Positive Diet is necessary and provides input as to what should be eaten, there generally is more cooperation.

In our family, we decided together what meals to eat during the coming week. Even our youngest child had his say. Total family participation reduced the number of surprises at meals and led to a firmer commitment by each person to practice the Positive Diet. It resulted in a sharing of responsibility, pride and support which helped to keep everyone eating healthfully. Even the children could understand that we were eating right not just for Daddy’s heart, but for their own hearts as well.

Meal planning does take some work to be successful. In the beginning I found our meal plans to be restrictive and repetitive. This was to be expected — after all, I was attempting to change the dietary habits of a lifetime. After a while we developed a larger selection of tested menus and recipes, which gave me more culinary choices.

Today, with the Positive Diet an integral part of our family lifestyle, meal planning has become more a guideline and less a rigid plan. It has become second nature to the extent that a formal meal plan is no longer necessary. However, had meal planning not been used at the beginning of the diet, I do not believe that success would have been possible.

I will provide the sample recipes here in hub and updated it in this hub.It is not necessary to use my meal plans to practice the Positive Diet successfully; but it is necessary to use a meal plan.

After I understood why adherence to the Positive Diet was critical for me, I began to deal with the real question: how to make it work? Could I produce meals which were tasty and healthful? Would too much time be spent in cooking? Would the meals be expensive?

Was the Positive Diet a practical one?

My decision was to disregard the “woulds” and the “shoulds,” and to direct my attention to just getting started, but to do so in an orderly fashion. I did not believe that even with an understanding of diet and motivation to change, I could totally reverse a 32-year-old behavior pattern instantly
Instead of attempting complete dietary control by
simultaneously adopting all four basic principles, I decided to work with one at a time. Start with the first basic principle,
I reasoned, get it firmly established in my diet pattern, then move on to the second. When that one was in place, go to the third, and so on. By taking the time to concentrate on specific pieces of the program, I could make steady progress. This method would be far preferable to the quick, but potentially short-lived adoption of all the basic principles simultaneously.

Creative Substitution

Creative substitution is the process of substituting healthful foods and ingredients for harmful ones while still preserving the appeal and the taste of the food. It is one thing to remove harmful foods from the diet. It is quite another to fill the void with alternative foods which are nutritive, tasty, easily prepared, and acceptable to the American palate.

The long term challenge is to produce satisfying meals made up of healthful foods, so that harmful foods will not be missed. Creative substitution is a necessary tool to effect permanent dietary change. Fortunately, it is easily done. It is an art, and like any other art it can be perfected over time.

I knew when I began the Positive Diet that creative substitution would be essential to its success. While there was a legitimate place in my diet for raw carrots and unmilled grain, without the creative use of these foods in acceptable recipes such a diet was doomed. For that reason, I spent time during the development period talking with physicians, nutritionists and, most importantly, other cardiac patients about the problem of permanent acceptability of a heart-healthy diet.

Their comments coincided with my own experience and led to this conclusion: in order for a healthy diet to become permanent, it must offer foods which are acceptable to the American palate. This meant that “American-type” meals had to be made more healthy, rather than eliminated. And it meant that creative substitution was of extreme importance in accomplishing such a change.

For example, saturated animal fats, often used in American cooking, are unhealthy. Fish oil is a healthy alternative, but is not familiar to American t.islrs. For that reason, it is an unrealistic substitution despite its healthful qualities. Safflower oil would be a more acceptable substitute. Thus, In creating the menus and the recipes for the Positive Diet we paid as much attention to Ameri-can taste as to healthfulness.

The process of creative substitution took two forms. The first was a simple “one-for-one” exchange of heart-healthy food for less healthful food. Barbecued or broiled salmon, for example, replaced beefsteak. Since salmon is lower in fat and cholesterol, it is a good one-for-one substitution.

Many other harmful foods were easy to replace: skim milk for whole milk; egg substitute for whole eggs; chicken sandwiches for pastrami sandwiches; unsalted peanuts for salted peanuts; and fruit juice for soft drinks. Even for those new to the Positive Diet, this form of creative substitution is an easy one to learn, especially when used in conjunction with a meal plan.

The second form of creative substitution was more difficult to master, but was also fundamental to the success of the diet. This form involves the substitution of healthful ingredients for harmful items in a recipe. It allows a meal normally unacceptable to a heart-healthy diet to become acceptable by removing the harmful ingredients and substituting more healthful ingredients.

For example, in beef stroganoff, fat-rich sour cream and commercially prepared cream of chicken soup were replaced by non-fat yogurt and homemade chicken broth. In effect, the form and the taste of the American diet pattern can be preserved, while the quality can be drastically changed for the better.

Another form of creative substitution is to alter the cooking method. For example, commercially prepared, fat-laden French fries are artery blockers. But heart-healthy French fries can be made by substituting unsaturated liquid vegetable oil for animal fat and by using oven-baking in place of deep fat frying. And chocolate cake can include safflower oil in place of butter and shortening and cocoa powder in place of baking chocolate.

Creative substitution with ingredients takes time and practice to develop, but with proficiency comes an increasing ability to turn negative diet meals into Positive Diet meals. When that happens, the best of both worlds is gained.

Sharmin Begum

The author Sharmin Begum

I have loved spicy food, Mexican in particular, since I was a child as my father was from El Paso where I acquired a taste for it on our many visits. I have cooked Tex-Mex all my adult life, but about 7 years ago I began cooking authentic Mexican food using my own ingredients and making my own tortillas, tamales, etc. On one of my visits to NM I attended the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta and took some excellent cooking classes at the Santa Fe Cooking School and the Old Mexico Grill. I love New Mexican food equally as well as Mexican.

I also grow my own chile peppers, tomatillos, and herbs like cilantro and epazote because they are not available locally.

I got into web publishing because I enjoy “meeting” fellow Chile-heads from all over the world and sharing my passion with them.

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