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Choosing Healthy Foods for a Healthier Life

Tom Ansell is a member of Toronto, ON Local 3888. His testimonial below is about how he changed his lifestyle and improved his health by eating the right foods every day.

As members of the IAFF, we lead a unique lifestyle faced with many challenges, not the least of which is finding a way to manage our diet and health.

I personally have dealt with my own health issues over time, including chronic arthritis pain that could have been debilitating and forced me off the job. Rather than accept declining health and constant pain, I found the road to a much healthier lifestyle and now live pain free and feel great.

Understanding what part of our diet is causing us harm makes it easier to protect ourselves and our loved ones. By using simple rules to modify your diet you can eat healthier with noticeable results, in a long-term and sustainable way.

I did this with a system I call SWOP that identifies foods I should MINIMIZE as much as possible in my diet and is a quick reference when at the grocery store.

S Sweet - Reports indicate that 40 percent of sugar in processed foods comes from high fructose corn syrup, which your body stores in the liver and as fat. Avoid foods that are sweetened by sugar and artificial sweeteners. A good alternative is Stevia, an herb that works great as a coffee sweetener, comes in packets and is extremely potent.

W White - Nutrient and fiber depleted carbohydrates, such as processed flour, rice, pasta and potatoes fill you up, but lack the antioxidants and nutrients your immune system needs to stay healthy. Your body converts the starch to sugar, which puts your body in a state of hyperglycemia, processing sugar with your liver and storing it as fat.

O Oils - Most oils we use to cook with and that are used in processed foods are altered in the manufacturing process. These oils are pro-inflammatory and cause damage to our body at the cellular level. Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, extra virgin organic coconut oil and high quality butter are not altered and provide the body with omega 6 oils and fats the body is looking for.

P Processed - Processed foods, in many cases, contain MSG, artificial color and flavor, preservatives, sweeteners and other ingredients that make food last longer on the shelf and enhance the flavor and aesthetics.

Also Consider: Cooking foods on high heat damages even good oils, making them unhealthy. Use medium to low heat when cooking (too much heat can deplete food of vitamins and nutrients and alter its chemistry, making it unhealthy!).

Keeping a sensible diet has helped give me a fantastic quality of life. I have also had the pleasure of watching others follow this same approach and achieve a better quality of life for themselves, one without unnecessary medications and surgeries.

I recommend keeping even a rough journal of your health issues and improvements. You will be surprised when you look back at the things you thought where normal. Some of the things I noticed include:

  • Food cravings disappeared (I always caved to a Lindor chocolate)
  • Energy levels improved
  • I sleep better and wake up feeling rested
  • Arthritis pain became very manageable.  My knee and toe used to be unbearably painful all day long.  Now the pain only flares up when I do heavy work or sports
  • My large toe - some people said suffered gout or arthritis and was in pain and getting larger every day.  Today it is getting smaller and hurts only once in awhile
  • I think clearer and have a sense of well-being
  • Empowerment - I feel in control of my health again instead of the other way around

The ability your body has to heal itself and fight disease when it has the right tools is quite remarkable. Ive seen people either rid their body of disease or heal their body to the point that they dont suffer symptoms. Members of the IAFF and their families can experience health benefits like these with a few simple dietary changes.

Choosing foods that fall under SWOP puts your body in a state of inflammation, causing cellular damage that promotes disease. Worse, it teaches bad food decisions to our children. Choosing real, whole foods provides your body with vitamins and nutrients it desperately needs to stay healthy and fight disease.

You are what you eat. By putting only good things in your mouth you give your body the best chance it has to stay healthy despite an environmentally hazardous profession.

All the best of health,

Tom Ansell

If you would like to contact Tom Ansell about his experience or ask him questions please email him at tojakani@hotmail.com


This information is for educational purposes only. It does not replace the advice of your physician. If you have any medical concerns or issues, contact your physician.