Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Feed Your Life!

Hey, there is arugula hiding in my eggs!
I am a foodie. There is no hiding it. My step-mother, Suzi, tells me that as a kid, when we were eating breakfast, I would ask what we were having for dinner. I love the nurturing feeling that comes from food that comforts, and the crisp texture of fresh foods. I cannot tell you the number of meals that I have enjoyed at the hands of those who love me, and as such, I absorbed that love through every forkful.

As an adult, I became the food nurturer; loving those around me with food that would express the deep love that I have for them. It was the one, personal gift that I could offer to them. So when I determined that my weight was not going to improve with the way I was eating, I really had to change my motto from “I live to eat” to “I eat to live.”

Changing the mindset of eating is not always easy. Behavioral change is just as difficult. I have found that when the evidence is clear, and reason is identified, making adjustments in habits become a little easier. After spending the better part of 15-18 years fatigued, uncomfortable, irritable, and quite honestly, depressed, all of my personal research pointed to the incredibly nutrient poor diet that I was ingesting. I survived on a large portion of carbohydrates, with a small helping of vegetables and a dollop of protein. What I thought was the thrifty way of eating, cost me more in valuable years than it would have ever saved me in money.
There was an interesting cascade effect that began when I first started incorporating more vegetables and healthy proteins in my diet.
  • First, I made a healthy meal choice.
  • Then, my mind recognized that a good choice was made, and the happy “reward” hormone said “atta girl!” in my head.
  • This sweet little happy hormone encouraged me to make more and more good choices, and even gave me the nudge to get active.
  • The activity, of course, rallied in weight loss, as well as the occasional ravenous hunger spells from the calorie deficit.
  • Remembering that happy feeling when good food choices were made, it kept me from digging into the former food habits.
All of these things help in the course of sustainable weight loss and increased health.

But be aware: If an indulgence creeps in, these things all work in reverse! Unless you quickly jump back on the program and keep trucking forward.  I say this not to be a downer, but to remind us that we will have times that we allow ourselves the occasional splurge, and when that happens, we can take control of the situation and resume the path that we are headed on.
As I transitioned into a healthier eating pattern, my mission was to eat no less than 5 servings of vegetables and fruit (combined) per day.  If I had a day that I was more hungry than normal, I tried to train my brain to think of a veg or fruit that I could eat, rather than the normal filler foods like crackers, chips, etc.
One thing that I am super thankful for during the last 3 years is that I have not been ill, even once. Not a cold, flu or anything (thank you, Lord). There have been a couple of times that it felt like something was trying to set in and I would quickly make a batch of Ginger Tea (hot water, 1 inch hunk of ginger, wedge of lemon & a tsp of honey), and whatever it was would leave.  This is truly evidence that nutrition will assist the body in promoting wellness. When our cells are given the proper macronutrients, vitamins and minerals, the chemical reactions within the body work in proper fashion, building new cells, tissues and fighting off invaders as well as getting rid of dead or bad cells. All of these things take place without any acknowledgement on our part; the nutrients from food simply do their job.
So, no longer is there a huge desire to consume food based simply on taste. Food serves a function, fueling the body, so that life is so much richer. Physical, mental and emotional health improves by eating whole foods.
If your food comes from the Earth or ate from the earth, eat it. If it has undergone any form of processing besides washing, freezing, grinding or drying, you will do yourself a favor by limiting them to only about 1/5 of your total food consumption or less. Each step of processing removes another layer of nutrients, which your body desperately needs to stay in tip-top, disease-fighting state.

The Blue Zones, Second Edition: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest, by Dan Buettner is a fascinating book that details the 9 common factors among the population of individuals who live to see 100 years of age. While that may seem like a lofty goal, these individuals seem to do it effortlessly with simple rules for life. I had the privilege to hear Dan Buettner speak at the 2013 Florida Dietetic Symposium and his research bolstered my insistence on making nutrition a priority.

Eat fresh foods. Often. Don’t get discouraged if you try something for the first time and do not like it. Our palettes need the need the opportunity to acquire a new taste. The first time that I ate arugula I thought it was too pungent. It took about 3 times of trying it with different dishes before I finally decided that I LOVE it. Especially with balsamic vinegar!

Challenge yourself the next time you go to the grocery or the market, to buy something that you have never eaten before and keep an open mind to it. Look up the nutrients of that food, and remind yourself that you are FEEDING YOUR LIFE!



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