November 25, 2013

Veggie Actualization

Maslow was onto something when he offered up his "Hierarchy of Needs" model. He suggested that if your basic needs are taken care of (food, water, shelter, safety), you are good to pursue other needs like social connection and the ultimate self actualization (of course I'm watering this model down to save time).  This model is important to keep in mind when offering courses in exercises and nutrition in communities that are struggling with the basics. No one is interested in elevated heart rates and balanced diets when they are struggling to survive.

This is so true and probably one of the reasons why so
many people have a hard time wtih veggies. It's an
important consideration to factor in when moving
toward veggie actualization!
Not too long ago, I received a call from one of my favorite people saying she was diagnosed with breast cancer and would like to come in to talk about eating more veggies. Now, I haven't undergone treatments for cancer, but I can only assume if I did, I wouldn't be thinking about veggies....but maybe that's me. At any rate, after a few tears, we set up a time to meet and chat. It was at this moment a thought hit me in the head (not unlike a poop bullet from a passing seabird). Maybe the process of integrating vegetables is similar to Maslow's hierarchy? I mean, I have talked to many people who have chosen to see me AFTER seeing a nutritionist because of my focus on behaviour change.  Nutritionists know nutrition and aren't afraid to tell you what you should and should not eat, but I find they don't attend to nor understand just how difficult it is to DO it (especially with environmental and social cues around us telling us to eat deep fried this and cheese covered that).

So today, I would like to present my (copyrighted) model of Veggie Actualization. Although it may appear a little "tongue in cheek" it is based upon my years of coaching people to eat more of the green and less of the brown. I stand behind it and use it in all of my healthy eating courses. Like Maslow's suggestion, the top of this model is "veggie actualization" but it begins with something I like to call "Veggie Integration"...

Veggie Actualization (top of the model)
You now crave and choose
veggies over other options. 
You keep to your veggie
dedication during stressful
times, vacations (including
all you can eat buffets), and
worktrips. You truly love and
appreciate your vegetables.

Veggie Continuation
After you have stuck with the first
three tiers of veggie appreciation,
the objective is to maintain the
veggie lifestyle for over one year!
Once you are able you now
move to Veggie Actualization!

Veggie Diversification
This tier is all about expanding your vegetable
awareness and building on your cooking skills.
The objective is to search out new and strange
veggies, to learn new and exciting recipes, and
to strengthening your cooking and preparation
skills.   Once this is achieved, you can move up!

Veggie Organization
Once you have introduced veggies into your diet
you are ready to apply the food guide.  The objective
of this tier is to integrate the appropriate servings of
veggies per day and pay attention to serving size for
each meal.  It is time to apply the Canadian Food Guide.

Veggie Integration (the first stage)
The objective of this tier is to eat anything resembling a veggie and in
any way possible.  This stage disregards the traditional nutritional
guidelines including the food guide and has no rules of engagement.
You may use butter, sauce, deep fry, or coat them with cheese.
Use whatever you need to to just get them in!

If this is you, perhaps you should
consideration the first stage of
veggie actualization.
I do have a very pretty model already made up, but had a hard time integrating it into my blog post so you have a pathetic attempt at a pyramid or triangle above.  I hope you get the gist of my theory.  For those who hate veggies I say eat them however you want until you feel ready to move up to the next stage or tier. Let the food guide serve as a template but if you learn to love veggies, do not limit them based upon this guide.  In addition, it is important not to get rattled with a nutritional professional tells you what you must eat, just nod your head and back away slowly. You will get there, you just need to do what you need to do to get there. Everyone is different and changes differently. Health templates are easy for the practitioner but never seem to fit the client.

I hope you have enjoyed my take on veggie actualization and may pass along this suggestion to anyone you know having challenges eating them. If you have any comments or challenges to add, please feel free.


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