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In Response to reinventing yourself by isabel24
I agree that proper nutrition, exercise and a generous intake of water instead of sugary, caffeinated sodas or other beverages is crucial to good health. Your advice to exercise according to one's ability and to watch dietary portions is also a good general health practice.
The pain, suffering and despair is caused by a variety of reasons...obesity, long-standing inactivity and poor diet may be factors, but they are not the only reasons people suffer and we cannot assume nutrition and excercise will be the cure-all. Anxiety, depression and other psychological factors may play a very real part in people's problems and despair. The possibility of physical infirmities and disease conditions must also be addressed by a licensed medical professional.
Fresh vegetables are best, but lettuce, tomatoes and beans do not even begin to supply the nutritional needs of the human body. There are other vegetables necessary to supply vitamins, minerals, trace elements, certain protein components, essential fatty acids and fiber as well as the "good carbohydrates" necessary for energy production.
If one wants to eat a vegetarian diet, it is necessary to combine legumes/vegetables, grain and dairy products in order to create "complete" proteins the human body requires. If one wishes to remain a vegan, rather than use dairy, eggs or fish to supplement the complete protein in the diet, it is necessary to study the nutritional aspects of the vegan diet and combine foods and supplements properly in order to avoid malnutrition.
Many cultures combine legumes/vegetables, grain & dairy to produce their native dishes. A good example is found in Mexican cooking. Beans + corn (as in tortillas) or rice + cheese are found in many Mexican dishes. Asian cultures supplement meat or fish protein with soybean curd (tofu.)
Rice and other grains are good foods, but they should be eaten in the "whole grain" state. Pasta can be found in a whole grain version and quinoa pasta is available to increase the protein value contained in pasta. Quinoa is a protein-packed grain that has been grown and eaten in South America for several thousand years. Many call it a "miracle grain." You can Google the information on this grain or consult Wikipedia. It is no longer just a "health food" staple. It is stocked in many grocery stores.
A good book on combining foods is Diet For A Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe` which was first published in 1971. A subsequent book by Moore and her daughter is Hope's Edge: The Next Diet For A Small Planet.
Both books are available at Amazon.
I applaud your efforts to give folks a roadmap to a healthier lifestyle, but let's not forget dark green, leafy vegetables and deep yellow vegetables for their obvious vitamin content and fiber and also concentrate on all the other fruits and vegetables available from our own gardens, farmer's markets and grocery store produce departments. Let's also make the effort to be aware of the nutrition content of various foods and combine them efficiently to give our bodies what they need.
A little fat is necessary as well, but only in small amounts and nothing should be prepared by frying (except for the most special occasions!) A good oil to use for salads and food preparation is olive oil if one has no allergy issues.
Speaking of allergies, taking a tablespoon of "local" honey per day is anecdotal advice given by many professionals. Because the honey is produced locally, it contains the pollen components of the local plants and it works similar to an "allergy shot" for those with pollen allergies. It can be used to sweeten cereal or fruit, spread on toast or muffins or mixed in a glass of warm water.
No refined sugar nor artificial sweeteners in your diet...local honey should be your only sweetener. Some like agave or maple syrup, which should be used sparingly, if at all. For diabetics, stevia may be used. All sweeteners should be used sparingly.
Just my own thoughts and opinions...no medical advice intended...see your physician and check with a nutritionist for specific questions.