Sunday, March 4, 2012

I Ate at Outback Steakhouse Last Night!

...I know. Not what you would expect from a plant-based eater. But just listen to this story and read on to find out what I ordered...

I had a great opportunity to visit a fabulous conference put on by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition on Saturday. I took my mom, a Nurse Practitioner, and we sat in awe for 4 hours listening to some amazing speakers talking about things such as why sugar is so bad for you, and why the old concept of energy in/energy out doesn't work for weight loss. Then there was David Wolfe-the raw food/superfood/superherb/living water guru. He is fantastic! His talk was titled, "Add-ing In" which I loved.

Wolfe's whole premise is that the more healthy foods (and he really likes the superfoods. I will do a post on those soon) you eat, or "add-in", the more it pushes out the unhealthy food. This is fabulous! Listen: you don't have to completely eliminate anything from your diet (unless you have a medical condition and your doctor advises it) as long as most of your diet includes wonderfully nourishing, nutritious foods. Add in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Add in a piece of fruit, a salad, a handful of nuts, steamed veggies, a smoothie, fresh juice. Add in fresh soups before a meal. Add in a multivitamin to your daily regime. Add in exercise! When you shift your focus away from what you need to cut-out of your life and focus on what you can add-in, you realize that this isn't about deprivation. It is about abundance!

After hearing these amazing talks we left feeling energized...but hungry. Driving around Long Beach for 30 minutes just trying to find the freeway, only to get off near a shopping mall where the only restaurant nearby was an Outback Steakhouse. I said, "Mom, we can't. On principle alone, we can't."

I mean, we had just left a health conference and here we were at Outback Steakhouse. Steaks are not healthy! Animal protein is not healthy. Now, I am not going to tell you never to eat steak again. After all, there are lots of things we eat that are not healthy, such as Birthday Cake. But a birthday celebration with it's rare treat of cake and ice cream are one thing. Eating a steak dinner occasionally *should* be fine. We get into trouble when we make eating steak or other animal protein a large portion of our diet (read The China Study for further, extensively researched, information). However, using Wolfe's "add-in" principle, perhaps you could add in a salad, steamed broccoli, some wheat bread (hold the butter), and a plain baked potato TO your steak dinner and actually come out ahead. Here's how: limit the amount of steak and increase the amount of healthy foods (salad, veggies, baked potato, even bread).

So, what did we end up ordering? I was STARVING and we did eat 2 of the wheat bread loaves. I had no butter but it was good bread and I enjoyed it. We ordered a flatbread with veggies (asked for extra veggies and they were more than happy to do that for us) and cheese and kept the chicken on mom's side. We both ordered a spinach salad-mine without chicken. And you know what? It was good. Success! We reached the end of the meal full and happy. I didn't feel deprived one bit and completely enjoyed my Outback Steakhouse dinner! It's not my first choice for a restaurant but when you know a few tricks (add-ins!), it's easy.

Remember the concept of add-ins is an everyday thing. Add in the good stuff and the bad stuff naturally becomes less and less a part of your diet. The best part is that you can add in LOTS of beautiful healthy food! Plant-based eating makes it possible for you to eat a diet that is abundant, fresh, nutritious, varied, and healthy. You don't have to worry about obsessive and addictive behaviors around this food. You will feel energized, happier, and excited about life!

Some ideas for Add-Ins:
Have a piece of fruit (or 2!) before you have breakfast
Add a handful of spinach to your morning potato, tofu, or even egg scramble.
Add a small handful of nuts (walnuts are great for Omega-3) or seeds to your oatmeal or soy yogurt
Add a snack to your day (fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds)
Have a vegetable based soup before lunch or dinner
Add a salad to your lunch and dinner
Add steamed vegetables to your lunch or dinner
Add a vegggie wrap as a snack (whole wheat tortilla, hummus, spinach, sprouts, etc.)
Munch on carrot sticks, apple slices, etc. in the evening if you have the "snackies"

Please let me know if you have any other ideas of great things to "Add-In" to your diet or life! I love this concept because it keeps the focus on positive changes you can make, not what you need to take away.

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