My Confession

As a fitness and corporate wellness professional, I pretty much walk the talk. I work out every day, coach other people on their fitness and nutrition habits, go to bed at 9:30 most every night, have family dinners most every night, drink alcohol only on occasion, cook from scratch (though very simple meals), shop the perimeter of the grocery store, etc. You get the point. And I very much enjoy living this way
and don’t feel deprived. I am also a firm believer in the 80%/20% rule. Or even 90%/10%. Enjoy a treat each day or week as you are able.

But recently our wellness team brought in a speaker for a Lunch and Learn at NFP (my company) who is a huge believer in plant-based diets. She also walks the talk. And I was convicted (thank you, Toni Branner). I didn’t feel compelled to eliminate meat or dairy from my diet, per se, but I realized that I was not including enough plant-based foods into my daily routine. In other words, I wasn’t eating “bad”, but also wasn’t eating enough “good”.

And because my family is naturally very lean (that’s us!), I had become somewhat of a slacker when it comes to my teenagers at home. It is not easy to shop for a 17-year-old, 6’5” boy whose goal is to consume 4,000 calories each day. Or a 13- year-old girl who is constantly hungry as she seemingly grows inches each night. Besides dinner, and some lunch over-sight, they basically eat what they want that is in the house. I am no longer cutting up little pieces of fruit to put on their highchair trays (sadly). So here is how I addressed the issue with my kids so that their eyes did not roll back in their heads over Mom becoming militaristic about their dietary intake:

1. “Can you look back at your day and recall several fruits and veggies that you ate?” Notice I didn’t tell them that they couldn’t have pizza? They just needed to include something that grew.

2. “Did you include any nuts, nut butter, or seeds?” They have been enjoying sliced apple with peanut butter for schmearing or dipping.

3. “Before you grab that bag of chips, have vegetable or fruit first.” A handful of carrots, grapes, or a mini-cucumber.

I began going through this same line of thought for myself. I found that if I eat the fruit, veggie, nuts, or seeds first, I often lose the craving for the junky stuff. Ultimately, by concentrating on adding the good, vs. eliminating the not-as-good, I consumed more of the plants that my body needs. Try it yourself by buying the fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds that you are most likely to eat. Especially this time of year, there are ample choices for you to enjoy!

To learn more about Toni Branner and her methods, visit

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