Upgrade along the Continuum
When it comes to helpful strategies regarding healthier eating and living, I cannot think of a more useful and globally applicable guideline than to offer Upgrade along the Continuum. This principle reveals a common sense philosophy that is both mobilizing and gracious, and let’s face it, we need these qualities in a guiding principle if we’re going to walk the life long journey of eating and living healthier.
Upgrade along the Continuum states:
To whatever degree possible, and as often as possible, make wiser choices along the continuum of health and wellness. In this way, progress along the continuum becomes a process to be lived, with endless opportunities for growth and positive change. The idea to upgrade along the continuum is applicable to all facets that create a lifestyle for wellness.
Everything that relates to your lifestyle and food exists on a continuum from unhealthy to healthy: exercise, work, sleep, food (what you eat, where it comes from, the way you eat it), how you spend your leisure time, interact with others, and even your outlook on life.
What’s essential to begin with is the recognition that all healthful change, no matter how small, is worthy of applause and should not be underestimated or thought of as insignificant.
We don’t have to live perfectly, and it’s not an “all or nothing” proposition. A prescription of perfection is simply too rigid, and influences us to abandon our goals. Following the sensible wisdom of Upgrade along the Continuum, our opportunities are endless. Furthermore, our singular, sharp focus on “health” and “food” can soften as it becomes integrated within the flow of our lives over a lifetime.
There are 3 broad ways in which we can upgrade along the continuum: quality, quantity, and frequency. We have endless opportunities to upgrade the quality of our food choices, whether or not we pick the best choice. Chances are a bran muffin is a better choice for breakfast than a chocolate chip muffin, a piece of coffee cake, or a doughnut.
We can also improve the quality of our lifestyle choices. Our experience of eating improves if we slow down and chew our food, and if we take time to sit down while we eat. The quality of our energy improves if we get enough sleep – we concentrate better and feel more vital throughout the day.
The second broad way to upgrade along the continuum is with quantity. With regard to food, quantity is very important! Overeating anything is not a good idea, even if it’s salad (though salad would qualitatively be a better choice than pizza).
To upgrade with an awareness of quantity offers us latitude. It is sensible, in that we don’t have to totally abandon every unhealthy food we eat. We can, with awareness, choose to simply eat less of that item. If you’re watching your weight, pizza for dinner is not such an egregious offense when you have a slice, a bowl of salad, some broccoli, and then, after three full breaths, if you’re still truly hungry – a second slice or ½ slice of pizza. This way pizza becomes part of the meal rather than its entirety, another side dish rather than the main course.
Closely related to quantity is frequency: how often we eat healthy or unhealthy foods, as well as how often we engage in physical activity is important. Obviously we are looking to increase the frequency toward the healthier end of the continuum. By applying the principal to Upgrade Along the Continuum, through quantity, quality and frequency, we can create a supportive pattern, an easy-to-follow path, that will keep us on track for the rest of our lives.
In future articles, I’ll apply this principle specifically to carbohydrates, proteins and fats with quantity and quality. Until next time, I invite you to experiment with the simple wisdom of Upgrade along the Continuum. (Let me know how it’s going!) May its power and grace support you with endless possibility as you walk your path of eating and living in healthier ways.