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A R T I C L E S* &* S P E E C H E S

Excerpt from "Crazy Sexy Diet: Eat Your Veggies, Ignite Your Spark, and Live Like You Mean It!"
by Kris Carr


From the book Crazy Sexy Diet: Eat Your Veggies, Ignite Your Spark, and Live Like You Mean It! by Kris Carr. Copyright ©2011. Excerpted with permission by Globe Pequot Press.


WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?

Science and technology are totally groovy. Unfortunately, their misuse tends to complicate just about everything. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, we ate real food! Getting a good meal on the table wasn’t a multibillion-dollar industry driven by focus groups, slick advertisers, and government subsidies. Today chemical companies dominate the food business while their inbred cousins, the pharmaceuticals, are standing by ready to mop up the damage—and they’re laughing all the way to the bank.

As my nerd crush, Michael Pollan, says in his must-read book In Defense of Food, “The chronic diseases that now kill most of us can be traced directly to the industrialization of our food; the rise in highly processed foods and refined grains; the use of chemicals to raise plants and animals in huge monocultures; the superabundance of cheap calories of sugar and fat produced by modern agriculture; and the narrowing of the biological diversity of the human diet to a tiny handful of staple crops, notably wheat, corn, and soy. These changes have given us the western diet that we take for granted: lots of processed foods and meat, lots of added fat and sugar, lots of everything—except vegetables, fruits and whole grains.”

OMG, he’s red hot! And guess what? He’s right. We no longer discuss actual food; instead we talk nutrients. Through the miracle of chemistry, we’ve lost sight of the forest for the trees, the kale for the vitamins. Tunnel-vision scientists assume it’s the isolated elements in the kale that matter. But what if it’s the glorious green leaf itself, in all its wondrous natural complexity, that rocks our world? What if we applied this dissection to people? If I cut myself into pieces and sold you my foot, would that help you navigate your journey better? We’re greater than the sum of our parts, you, me, and the broccoli.

The truth is that real foods and fake foods will always be different—even if they have things in common on paper. Your body knows that a fresh tomato is better than corn syrup and red dye #40 ketchup; it also knows the difference between a sprouted whole grain and a partially hydrogenated hubcap with a hundred-year shelf life. But the food science game is about outdoing nature, and the rules say more is always better. If we find a good thing in the tomato, then we’ll double it in the fake version. This hubcap has 11 grams of lycopene because our competitor has 10.

But how do we really know if these abstract ingredients actually work once they’re isolated or created in a lab, then jammed into a noodle? They can glue some fiber to a jumbo sausage, but that doesn’t make it good for you.

We’ve been brainwashed to believe that we no longer understand our bodies, that our innate wisdom is faulty or dangerous. And because it’s all so confusing and scientific, we think we need a master’s in nutrition just to get through dinner. But who has time for that? Enter the “experts.” Don’t ask where their research money comes from; just accept that they’ll clear it all up with a trusty shopping list full of manufactured foods. Well, here we are with all this expert help and where has it gotten us? Broke, unhappy, dying early, and screwing up the planet on our way out the door.

Sadly, our government is a big part of the problem. Agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the USDA, which are meant to inform and protect us, often just increase our confusion. How? Because government food guidelines rarely mention food anymore! Instead we get gibberish about—you guessed it—nutrients. This is no accident. As family farms gave way to corporate consolidation over the past half century, our food system has been increasingly politicized.

A watershed moment that fueled the Age of Nutritionism came in the late 1970s when Congress, responding to growing awareness of the links between diet and disease, set out to rewrite the nation’s health guidelines. Known as the McGovern Report, the new standards were clear in the first draft: Eat less meat and dairy. Sounds pretty straightforward to me, but the meat and dairy industries went bananas. Snap! Heads rolled and revisions were made. In the final draft this clear message had mutated into “reduce the amount of foods high in saturated fat.” A generation later we’re as lost and confused as ever. It shouldn’t be so Zen koan complicated.

If products on the grocery shelves could speak, this is what you’d hear . . .

“Buy me, I have omega-3s!”

“Pick me! I’m doped up on antioxidants and have fewer calories than the fiberless bee-atch next to me. I mean, who does she think she is?”

“Oh yeah, well, I’m fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Plus, I reduce cholesterol and toe fungus!”

“Big whoop. I’m the new white meat, raised on a ‘Happy Farm.’ Sacrificing myself for your thighs was really fun!”

“Purchase me and you’ll have more sex because you’ll be skinnier and happier, and then you’ll make more money and go to Paris and buy Gucci and meet Johnny Depp . . . and . . . and . . . [the package is thinking] . . . you’ll solve global warming because I’m in a green box!”

The nonsense on packaging and advertising gets sillier all the time. The marketing behind a common breakfast drink claims that antioxidants found in this sugary, processed dairy mixture will strengthen the immune system. Well, a little understanding of that sexy science reveals that sugar and dairy actually suppress our immune system. Not to mention that any antioxidants in this pasteurized product are dead. No thanks!

Smart labels are another ridiculous campaign. Since when are Froot Loops healthy? Since never! Yet they have a smart label seal of approval. These mean absolutely nothing because there are no regulations or guidelines. The companies themselves determine whether or not a product is smart. And a lot of us dumbed-down consumers buy it hook, line, and sinker.

INNER AND OUTER GLOBAL WARMING

Wellness is not just about nutrition. It’s also about ecology, spirit, passion, and culture. The Crazy Sexy Diet takes in all these interconnected issues. Illness made me look at myself in a new and honest way. It also woke me up to so many of the bigger issues facing us today. The choices we make really matter. What’s happening in our bodies is a mirror of what’s happening to the planet. It’s our feeling of disconnectedness that keeps us from realizing we’re all one organism.

Like the planet, our bodies have rivers, streams, lakes, oceans, soil, and air. These ecosystems make up our personal and planetary terrain. Both depend on a clean environment and a delicate balance. Chemicals poison our rivers and veins; pollution chokes our air and lungs; overacidity plunders minerals from our gardens and our tissues. pH affects everything from our forests to ocean life, bone strength, even cancer cells.

As we continue to expand our definition of wellness, we realize that the best place to find solutions to our personal and global challenges is on our dinner plates. Imagine the changes we could make if we simply started voting with our forks. One person can truly make a difference. You can start a revolution right at your kitchen table. In order to do that, let’s touch upon some of the more immediate obstacles we face.

Imagine the changes we
could make if we simply
started voting with our forks.

MONEY, TIME, AND FAMILY VIBES

Two common speed bumps to a healthier lifestyle are: “I can’t afford it” and “I don’t have time.” Drive around them: In chapter 8, I’ll give you lots of tips for cutting corners and stretching the dollar.

Yes, healthy food can seem more expensive, but if you choose wisely and buy in bulk, in season, and on sale, it’s very affordable. In terms of dollars per nutrient, it’s downright cheap compared with packaged food and animal products. It will certainly save you money in the long run. I’d much rather put my paycheck into my crisper than the medicine cabinet. My medicine cabinet is for emergency use only. In fact, there are only four things in it: Advil (for New Year’s Day), Band-Aids, chemical-free tampons, and healthy cosmetics. Sadly, most Americans load those shelves with expensive “magic bullets.” Your crisper holds the real medicine.

Check out yet another interesting fact from the sizzling Michael Pollan. He reports that in 1960, 18 percent of our national income was spent on food while 5 percent was spent on health care. Today 9 percent of our income is spent on food and 17 percent on health care. Clearly, the less we spend on food, the more we spend on health care. Take a look at your overall spending. I’ll bet you can find places in your life where you can reallocate the do-re-mi. Do you really need more techno-crap? Shoes? Bags? Fashionable jeans? Even if you’re not trying to find bliss with Blumarine, a realistic peek at your spending habits is in order. Your health deserves it.

As for time, I know you’re very busy and the world demands a lot from you. But at the end of your life will you be bummed that you didn’t plow through your master to-do list? Will you wish that you had worked longer hours and spent more time on Twitter? No way! You’ll wish you climbed that mountain and took your kids to the moon. Astronauts like you need to be in good shape. If you don’t make time to tune your instrument, then your music will always end on a flat note. And just like with money, I’ll bet there are wasted minutes that could be better spent.

Weekends are a great time to catch up on meal planning. How about zone-out time? Exchange an hour of TV for washing, cutting, and bagging your veggies for the week and you’ll save valuable time in the morning. Each day you commit to nourishing yourself will bring you one step closer to health. String the days together like pearls on a necklace.

Warning: A new you might freak some folks out. Family, friends, and food go together. If upgrading your diet stirs up a hornets’ nest around the dinner table, step softly and use common sense. The best approach to a resistant loved one is blunt but polite honesty and leading by example. When your peeps see a happier, healthier you, they may follow in your footsteps. They should at least stop looking at you cross-eyed.

Others will want you to stay the same so they don’t have to look at their own mess. Sorry! Change is frightening to those who find safety in routine. Plus, when you’re living like you mean it, you’re a force of nature. Now is the time to work on those boundaries and do what’s best for you. It’s not selfish; it’s self-nurturing.

PERFECTION AND BAR STOOLS

These changes may seem overwhelming at first. But this is not an all-or-nothing program. Most diets don’t work because they don’t take into account all the emotional work needed to stay on track. I’ve helped thousands of people transition to health, and what I’ve learned is that success has more to do with being kind to yourself and dealing with your emotional shit than it does the food itself. If you stumble, cut yourself some slack!

Consistency is important, but you don’t have to be perfect. Health is about keeping in an overall “right” direction. Will you travel the same straight highway every day for the rest of your life? Snoozeville! You’ll take scenic byways and even stop at honky-tonk bars. You may have a beer and chips in the afternoon followed by a shot of tequila for dessert. This is life—it’s sweet, fun, and unpredictable. I am not perfect and I never will be. Perfect is beige. I am red hot! So are you. Red and Wild. You don’t politely sit at tables—you dance on them. And after last call, you get back out on the health highway.

Why is it that so many of us make food so complicated and loaded? Food is nourishment; it’s not the enemy. Food is romantic, creative, and divine. No diet that makes you feel deprived or socially isolated is worth it. I recognize that everyone is dealing with different circumstances, including our health, location, free time, income, family dynamic, and yes, our own psychology, to name a few. Do what you can and know that any change is better than nothing.

***

From the book Crazy Sexy Diet: Eat Your Veggies, Ignite Your Spark, and Live Like You Mean It! by Kris Carr. Copyright ©2011. Excerpted with permission by Globe Pequot Press.

book cover

Kris Carr is a best-selling author, a top motivational speaker, and kick-ass wellness coach. She is the subject of the inspirational documentary, Crazy Sexy Cancer, which she wrote and directed for TLC, and the author of the award-winning Crazy Sexy Cancer book series. Kris’ third book, Crazy Sexy Diet redefines healthy living as we know it. Crazy Sexy Diet is the ultimate diet and lifestyle game plan for wellness warriors seeking peak health, spiritual wealth and happiness. Carr regularly lectures at medical schools, hospitals, wellness centers, and universities such as Harvard. Television appearances include: The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, The Early Show, Today Show, Access Hollywood, Good Morning America and The Oprah Winfrey Show. Check out her website, crazysexylife.com for daily tips, articles and inspiration. Make juice not war!

krisscarr


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