Submerged For 70 Days

Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food.

I watched as the last crate of fresh vegetables went down the hatch into my submarine. We were preparing to leave on our ten-week patrol—submerged for 70 days with no new supplies. We would run out of fresh salads, milk and eggs after about a week, and from then on, everything would be frozen, dried or canned.

I had a terrible diet growing up. Despite my mother's best intentions, I was a "meat and potatoes" person, who rarely ate salad and vegetables, and had only a few favored fruits. I loved thick slices of roast beef, fried chicken, fried shrimp, whole milk, ice cream, soda and candy. Fortunately, I was active, or I might have suffered from childhood obesity.

When I became a submarine officer, I suddenly valued fresh fruits and vegetables much more, as "absence makes the heart grow fonder." I couldn't wait to get back to port and have real eggs, milk and, yes, even salad for me.

I later discovered the idea of eating colorful foods. My doctor told me a simple test to determine if you are eating correctly is to look at the amount of color on your plate. Healthy foods have color, like green and red peppers. Less healthy foods are white, like white bread, mashed potatoes, and sugar. It's easy, but effective. I've also weaned myself off fried foods. I discovered that I couldn't taste the food through the batter and grease. Try the experiment of tasting two different fried foods, like chicken and shrimp, with your eyes closed. I'll bet you find it's hard to tell which food is which. Grilling, broiling, pan sautéing, or baking is much healthier and allows the true food taste to shine through.

What you drink has a huge impact on nutrition. Soda is one of the worst things you can put in your mouth. A sixteen ounce soda has sixteen teaspoons of sugar. Imagine getting a big cup of coffee, and putting sixteen sugar packets in it! Diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners with unknown effects. All sodas contain phosphoric acid that reduces calcium absorption, and people (especially teenagers) replace milk consumption with soda. Calcium depletion results in bone weakness and stress fractures. My decision point on soda came when I led Epcot. During engineering reviews, I would see thick, cast-iron drain pipes that had eroded away because of soda. I thought, "That can't be good for your body." After that, water, coffee, tea, skim milk and fruit juices (including wine!) became my drinks of choice.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet less than half of Americans eat breakfast. Countless studies have shown the benefits of having a protein-filled, low carbohydrate breakfast, including greater morning energy, fewer food cravings, and higher mental agility. High performance organizations like the military teach recruits to get up and have breakfast. There are various excuses about skipping breakfast, but they are flimsy. It's an easy meal, with foods like Greek yogurt, hard boiled eggs, smoothies, whole wheat cereal or toast, and bananas. The small amount of time it takes to prepare and eat breakfast is more than recovered by higher productivity in the morning. If you don't currently eat breakfast, start now and see how much better you feel and perform.

While entire books have been written about nutrition, just applying these three easy ideas—eat colorful foods, don't drink soda and eat breakfast—will improve your health, help you manage your weight and improve your productivity. Put them into practice today and start living the surpassing life.

Action Points
• Replace "white" foods with colorful foods.
• Grill or broil instead of frying.
• Stop drinking soda and start drinking water.
• Eat breakfast every day.

Easier weight management, more energy and a healthier, longer life!

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