Today’s post is by Leslie Martin. She is Certified Nutrition Therapy Practitioner and helps clients heal with food in her practice.
With every meal, we have great power over our health destiny and longevity of life through the foods we choose to eat. The type of food we consume can not only help to prevent chronic disease, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity, but can also stop it in its track. Check out these achievable steps that can help you incorporate a disease fighting arsenal into your daily routine one bite at a time.
Being aware and mindful of the positive effect and nutritional gifts that are received through preparing and eating a healthy meal is the first step to nourishing the body. Using your senses to experience the taste, texture, color, and temperature of different foods allows you to fully connect with the food on your plate. Try finding pleasure in sitting down in a quiet environment without the distractions of today’s world: before taking the first bite, take a moment to be grateful for the food that will be nourishing your body. This small act helps to improve digestion and assimilation of nutrients by supporting the parasympathetic nervous system. Then, following a meal, it is important to be mindful of how certain foods make you feel, such as energetic and clear headed or tired with brain fog. This is such an important aspect of being aware of what sustains or undermines your own personal health. Tune into your body and listen–really listen–to what it is saying to you.
Keep it Simple
Yes, simple! Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a gourmet quality meal as much as the next person, but when it comes to nutrition I go for food that is as close to its natural state as possible. Food is most nutritious when it is fresh, in season, and unaltered. When we eat, we break down and transfer nutrients from the food to our cells. The more we alter our food through cooking, freezing, canning, or processing the more we change the nutrition that our cells receive and are able to put to use. By including plenty of fresh raw fruits and vegetables in our diet we ensure that we are getting vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients in the most natural form. I like to think of it as the most useable form.
Try including a large salad with plenty of organic dark leafy greens daily. Did you know the most nutritious foods we can eat are dark leafy greens? Kale, spinach, chard, and romaine are just a few. Add some cruciferous vegetables to your salad, such as cauliflower or broccoli, for a boost to your detox system. Include some healthy fat and protein with the addition of nuts and seeds or some leftover wild salmon or chicken from the previous dinner. By tossing together a large salad at the beginning of the week you can have it ready to go each day, then add protein, a splash of a healthy olive oil-based dressing and a nutritious lunch is served with little effort. Keep it simple!!
Keep it Real
Some major changes in the nutritional composition of our meals came along with the onset of the industrial food processing revolution. During food processing, raw ingredients are transformed, by physical or chemical means, into a substance that is unrecognizable, and then due to some additives that are difficult to pronounce, it becomes shelf stable for months on end. The only benefits here are for the food manufacturer and not those of us eating the product. Processed foods lack fiber, micronutrients, and healthful plant substances called phytochemicals that support the body and protect us against disease.
On the other hand, real food is what I consider a product of nature, not a product of industry. Some questions to ask when selecting food are: Does it have a food label with an ingredient list? Real food doesn’t need a label because it is usually one ingredient only. An organic apple is an apple, nothing else. If it does have a label, is it no more than 5 wholesome ingredients? Has this item been sweetened by natural or artificial ingredients? Real food has wonderful flavor that needs little to no added flavoring other than what you can find in your own spice rack.
Kick the White Stuff
Sugar and flour is at the source of many chronic health conditions and is everywhere I turn. Excess consumption of either one is responsible for increasing blood sugar which sets off a cascade of harmful actions in the body. It is a major source of inflammation which is the root of most chronic conditions. Without realizing it many Americans that consume the Standard American Diet are consuming over 20 teaspoons of sugar per day, leading to an epidemic of chronic illness.
Reducing the quantity of sugar, flour, and other high carbohydrate foods is difficult. Let’s be honest. But it is possible and starts by changing the first meal of the day. By eliminating the high carbohydrate breakfasts that we have grown accustomed to and replacing them with a breakfast of quality protein and heart healthy fat we will automatically set the tone for the rest of the day. A breakfast of protein and fat keeps us satiated until lunch when we have another opportunity to make healthy choices.
As you move towards a more healthful way of eating remember to strive for “Progress” not “Perfection.” It is a journey that you get the chance to start over and improve upon every day.
About the Author
Leslie Martin CNTP, is a Holistic Nutrition Therapist specializing in nutritional protocols for individuals that want to use nutrition as their first line of defense to prevent or overcome illness. She can be reached at Diaetawellness.com or through Your Wellness Connection.