One of the many things I sadly take for granted is the amazing gift that is my body. It is easy to forget what our body does for us on a daily basis – carries us to where we wish to go, provides adrenaline and protection in times of stress and danger, fuels our physical endeavors and keeps our mind sane and tranquil. These are just a few of the basic functions that make up a very complex machine.
“To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” -Buddha
To be able to go about our business each day and not worry that our body won’t be able to function is priceless. To see clearly, sleep calmly, speak eloquently, laugh exuberantly without worry or fear of breaking down is mind-boggiling. However, we are the chemist of a very dynamic and fascinating chemistry experiment. Our body works extremely hard to function, but there are so many ignorant choices we make that actually hinder optimal performance. And over time, if we choose to remain ignorant our body can no longer perform in the manner we have become accustomed because we haven’t upheld our end of the bargain.
Today, I’d like to share a list of ways to feed your body the fuel it craves so it may perform at its highest potential, as well as which foods to avoid. And along with each of the items on list, with the help of three books that have been my go-to resource for eating well (links can be found at the bottom of the post), I’ll explain why or why not to keep them on your menu. Let’s get started!
Put on Your Grocery List:
- Vegetables – provides carbohydrates which is turned into glucose for energy (dark, leafy greens – reduce acne, carrots – wrinkle fighters, tomatoes – improves skin elasticity and prevents bruising)
- Water – hydrates, cools the body, transports nutrients to your cells, flushes out toxins and waste
- Poultry – pasture-raised
- Legumes (beans) – soybeans – enhance new cell growth that keeps skin hydrated and reduces pimples
- Fish – brain food, increases cell rejuvenation (salmon – reduces inflammation)
- Nuts – reduces inflammation (almonds contain the most fiber per gram, cashews rich in iron, magnesium and zinc to boost your memory, macadamia nuts contain the most monounsaturated fats – lowers bad cholesterol and blood pressures)
- Fruit (berries – wrinkle fighters)
- Whole wheat flour – carbohydrates for energy
- Lean red meat – grass-fed
- Rice (brown), whole grains – provide carbohydrates which your body turns into glucose for energy
- Steel-cut oatmeal – provides fiber for prolonged energy – choose any slow-cooked oatmeal, not instant (helps filter toxins and helps clear skin)
- Herbs & spices – to add flavor
- Eggs – full of protein, folic acid
- Unsaturated fats (monounsaturated & polyunsaturated) – monounsaturated fats – aid good cholesterol, insulin and blood-sugar regulation, polyunsaturated protect your muscles and help blood to clot
- Olive oil, grape seed oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, canola oil
- Honey – endless health benefits – helps with sore throats, allergies, asthma, stomach ulcers, ear infections, pneumonia, and more
- Butter – cream and salt (no preservatives – real food)
- Food grown/raised in nature – pulled from the ground, off a tree, from a ranch
Reduce or Eliminate Entirely:
- sucrose (white sugar) – fine white sugar found in brown sugar, honey, maple syrup and molasses – sucrose bypasses the hormones that tell you that you’re full
- processed foods – contain preservatives that can slowly deflate your immune system as it eats away at the good bacteria in your body
- added sugar – ketchup, cereal, store-bought spaghetti sauce, granola, pretzels, etc – often you wouldn’t think these items would contain added sugar, but they often do
- saturated fats
- trans fat (man-made fats) – margarine and vegetable shortening
- alcohol (including wine and beer) – dehydrates – when choosing to enjoy – always pair with food
- refined grains – good grains gone bad (to coin Carol Cottrill’s definition)
- high fructose corn syrup – enhances flavors but includes extra calories with excessive added sugars
As Carol Cottrill reminds readers in The French Twist, we are all on a diet no matter what we eat, however, sadly, the word has been taken and turned into something that conjures up ideas of deprivation and restriction. Food is to be enjoyed and there is so much amazingly wonderful, delicious and nourishing foods out there than the so-called “food” from boxes which can’t even hold a candle to what mother nature can offer.
Find more time to step into your kitchen, create a core go-to meal list during the work week (I love grilled salmon with roasted broccoli) and enjoy each meal knowing you’re feeding your body exactly what it craves. The term to always keep in mind is nourishment. How are you feeding your body and brain? It craves real food, so make sure that is what you are giving it. Amazing changes will happen, and it won’t just be your weight. You’ll be less likely to come down with a cold or flu, you’ll have increased energy to finish your daily to-do list, sleep will become more sound and your thoughts will be clearer. I can’t think of a better reason to eat well. While I, and perhaps you too, may have initially wanted to eat better to slip into a smaller size, it is the health benefits and knowing a long and enjoyable life is ahead that are far more motivating.
So with a glass of water in my hand and salmon in the oven, cheers to eating well and living an even more simply luxurious life!
Books of reference:
- The French Twist: Twelve Secrets of Decadent Dining and Natural Weight Management by Carol Cottrill
- The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body by Cameron Diaz
- French Women Don’t Get Facelifts: The Secret of Aging with Style & Attitude by Mireille Guiliano
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