Here is a little Food 101 to help you understand first the role that processed food plays in your body's daily duties. In some way or another it aids your body in fat storage, creates toxic build-up and dupes you brain into thinking it needs more. Ever noticed how you don't sit down to eat four bananas but you could eat an entire bag of chips? Food manufacturers create their food with that goal in mind - the more you eat the more you buy and it's ENGINEERED. Processed food is all about fast and addictive and chemical reactions. (A fascinating read on this is Salt, Sugar Fat). Feeding our engines fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and earth's superfoods (which quite honestly I find easiest to do through daily shakes and smoothies) is what will contribute to your vitality, energy and overall health. On my Zen Kitchen page, I will give you simple tips menu-planning tips and help you learn how to swap out the bad for the good to makeover your kitchen and your body. Just remember to keep it real and that our bodies are made for moderation - too much or too little of anything is bad.
FAT IS FUEL AND ENERGY - LOVE YOUR FAT
You don't have to love the fat on your body and the good news is that the right fats are necessary and wonderful for your body. No, I'm not crazy - I embrace fat! Fat is fuel for our brains (our brain actually burns the most calories from fat) and protects the cells in our body! I look for grocery store items that are full fat or low-fat depending on the ingredients. I'm not afraid! And you shouldn't be either! In fact, I have seen numerous studies that have shown the healthiest people do not shy away from fats. Extra calories do come from fat so this 'indulgence' calls for moderation and of course, knowledge concerning the right types of fat.
Sources of healthy fats: olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, real butter, (even real cream - a great way to even out the carbs in pasta). Coconut oil is absolutely amazing and if your metabolism needs a little kick start this is it. It is immediately processed in the liver as energy. As with everything, moderation.
REFINED SUGAR AND SIMPLE STARCHES ARE KILLERS
THIS is fat storage and THIS is what our problem is; THIS is what makes us fat - spiking our blood sugar. Ironically, having a fat with a carbohydrate helps keep our blood sugar levels more even because it slows the absorption process which then doesn't overwhelm the body and lead to the storage of excess sugar (almonds with a cookie, real butter on popcorn). We actually need to balance our generally carbohydrate-rich meals with healthy fats and plenty of protein. Protein helps our muscles which are responsible for also helping get our blood through our body. Our heart is a muscle! As you can see, a well-rounded diet with complex carbohydrates, protein and fats are vital to our overall health. This is why you are hearing the term "glycemic index" more often now as food that have a low glycemic index do not spike your blood sugar.
Sugar is also an 'anti-nutrient' which means it robs your body vital minerals, vitamins and nutrients in order compensate for and process the sugar; another reason why so people are vitamin deficient. It lowers your immune system leaving you open to illness. Naughty stuff.
BECOME OIL SAAVY
Eeek. Why do we want to eat foods that mess with messages being sent to the brain? In "Master Your Metabolism" Jillian dives into a lot of the chemicals that go into our foods and cosmetics that mess with your body because it changes the way the body processes everything. Incorrect messages get sent to the brain, toxins are stored in our fat cells and we are the ones wreaking havoc on our bodies by eating junk. I love watching Jillian go through people's kitchens and throw everything out that has nasty stuff in it. I wish she could convince my husband (although it doesn't really matter because I do the grocery shopping and I don't buy anything with naughty ingredients in it anymore).
The really gross part is how long some of these ingredients linger in our bodies for.
The half-life of trans fatty acids or partially hydrogenated fats is 51 days. After 51 days, one-half of the negative effects of this man-made fat have been processed, but the body needs an additional 51 days to complete the process. After these 51 days, there is still a 25% residual.(37)
Good oils include grapeseed, teaseed, coconut oil, palm oil, and olive oil. Canola oil is most often genetically modified.
FORGET MORTON'S AND USE SEA SALTSBleached sodium chloride, which is the salt that we all buy from the grocery store, is actually toxic. Doctors are right to be telling heart disease patients to lay off the salt - but they are referring to common table salt. REAL salt or Celtic Sea Salt has not been bleached and still contains the numerous minerals that help the body function as it is supposed to. The body requires salt to function and is actually critical for electrolyte balance. It is okay to salt your food with the good stuff (in moderation as always!).
INCORPORATE MORE RAW OR DEHYDRATED VEGGIES WITH EACH MEAL
Processed, dead foods require our bodies to find enzymes, minerals and vitamins from other parts of our body to adequately break-down the meal - this is where a great deal of our deficiencies come from. When we cook our veggies at high heats (from what I am hearing lately - anything over 114 degrees) those precious enzymes and minerals are destroyed. I admit, raw veggies aren't my favorite so I've found various ways to enjoy them; go with frozen, lightly steamed, pureed in a strong blender or throw everything into a giant salad with a homemade salad dressing (the latter are my favorite. Homemade dressings are SO easy and flavorful!).
SOME GOOD FOOD RULES AND PRINCIPLES FOR DAILY EATINGWith all of that being said, the number one food principle is portion-size. Portions affect the digestion and absorption of your foods and of course, your waist-line. Really, you can't over-do it when it comes to your veggies but watch your portions in all other realms.
Make sure you have three full meals a day and listen to what your body needs when it comes to snacking. Everybody has a different say on what is best for your body but do give your digestive system at least two hours in between meals and snacks. Jillian Michaels suggests up to four hours to allow your body to tap into its glycogen stores. Some more mornings I can skip the mid-morning snack but others day I can't do it. Eat within an hour of rising and stop your noshing three hours prior to bed-time.
Half your body weight in ounces in water a day. I carry my water bottle with me everywhere I go to the point where even my toddler notices and comments on the offhand chance that I left it behind. Drink twenty minutes prior to and twenty minutes after you meals to allow proper digestion and to avoid the diluting of your nutrients.
After eight it's too late. Or avoid eating three hours prior to bed time.
Make concious eating decisions. This means that if you choose to eat a cookie, be okay with that and enjoy it! On the other hand, do consider what you are putting in your body - do you really want to eat it? Is it a '10?' Do you love it? Is it worth the ingredients and calories (especially if you are looking to lose weight). I LOVE to eat. I LOVE food. And what a blessing to live in a day and age wherefood is in such wonderful abundance. Be grateful for and love your food. Take in the aroma, savor each bite chewing slowly allowing your body's digestive process to work for you. It's an experience!
A QUICK NOTE ON THE REAL FOOD PYRAMIDAs with everything, everybody has a different take on the good, the bad and the ugly. I personally find the real food pyramid base should consist of fruits and vegetables, followed by whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds; lean organic meats and fats and oils. Nature really has provided us with everything we need - the key is moderation. Too much or too little of anything is detrimental. I still struggle with eating carbohydrates because of their bad rap but our body needs complex carbohydrates - those sugars fuel our systems and I can feel how skipping that important building block affects my energy-levels and basic functioning.