Articles with 'whole foods'
Starting January first I gave it my all. I joined the gym and got on that blasted stair-master every day, for forty-five minutes. Surely this was the way to lose those dreaded ten pounds.
I increased the amount of fruits and salads I was eating – lunch and dinner for sure, and sometimes at breakfast, too. This was certainly the way to lose that weight – it’s what all the dieting experts recommended.
And, it worked! My pants felt looser; I was lighter in both mind and body. Woo hoo! Three to five pounds gone in the blink of an eye. My new trimmer butt did the happy dance!
Unfortunately, two or three weeks into my weight loss resolution, I began failing miserably. I started having wild cravings! Sometimes eating a half a jar of peanut butter or an entire box of crackers in one sitting. I couldn’t understand why.
And, within a couple of months after my New Year’s resolution, I was a little bit chubbier than when I had first started.
Blasted big butts, Batman! What kind of evil spell had been cast upon me that I couldn’t take it off and keep it off? Every, single, year!
I had good intentions, just like everyone else that commits to losing weight at the onset of the New Year does. But, what happened?
Well for starters, I didn’t have what many folks don’t have when they begin a weight loss regimen in the middle of winter, nature and the environment on our side.
The human body, and the external environment it lives in, are intimately connected. Even though we may not consciously realize it. Our pineal gland, the small gland the size of a pea that sits in the middle of our brain, receives information from the outside environment (sun, light, atmospheric changes), and sends messages to our endocrine system.
In the middle of winter (for those of you that live in a cold climate like I do), our beautiful body is designed to store fat, slow metabolism and sleep longer, as a protective measure to keep us alive.
When we begin exercising more, restricting calories and fats, and eating “cooling” warm-weather foods like salads and fruits in the middle of winter, we send the body mixed messages and the wrong type of nutrition.
So what does the body do? Well, it simply does what it is designed too … it thinks it’s going to starve so it stores more fat.
Combining cold weather plus cold foods (salads and fruits) makes the body feel overall colder, slowing metabolism even more.
As fate would have it, when our internal environment of the body gets too cold we may wind up with a cold, flu, other respiratory ailment, or kidney trouble and/or Adrenal Fatigue.
Instead of resolving to “lose weight” during the winter months, when it is counter intuitive to our health, here are some other diet and lifestyle behaviors to ensure you can thrive throughout the long, cold days.
Choose seasonal food: this includes hearty soups and stews prepared with organic root veggies (carrots, parsnips, potatoes, rutabaga, turnips, onions and garlic), hearty greens (kale, cabbage, collards), and naturally raised pastured meat, bones and fats. Depending on where you live, a Hearty Beef Stew or Lamb Stew may be much better suited for your body than a watermelon and cucumber salad.
Chew your food: chewing food helps us digest more of it. That means we would get more nutritional value from eating less quantity of food if we actually take the time to chew. This simple behavioral modification could help you start losing any excess weight you may have accumulated over the years, and still keep your body balanced and healthy throughout every season.
Do something you love: there are more areas to fill up inside of us besides the belly. Fill up your heart and fill up your mind, and you’ll soon discover the desire for overeating is greatly reduced or eliminated entirely.
As soon as the weather begins warming up again in the Spring, the body should easily begin shedding the winter pounds (as long as you haven’t stored extra fat over the winter by dieting). When the time comes in March start a Spring Cleanse to help support the body’s natural cleansing and weight loss process.
Until then… Have a happy, healthy and delicious New Year!
At 12 years old, I wasn’t a fat kid. As a matter of fact, I was pretty skinny (that’s me on the right). But, all the girls at school were on diets, and the women’s magazines were recommending diets, and my mom was on a diet, too. I remember thinking, “I should really go on a diet.”
It began by eating “diet” food and drinking diet soda. I also ate low-fat or, better yet, non-fat, yogurt.
And, an interesting thing happened – I began gaining weight and didn’t understand why.
By the time I was 15 years old I had a warped idea about food.
I remember going to my best friend’s house every day after school. Omi, her grandmother, would prepare us the most delicious meal – Braised pork or chicken with gravy, creamy mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables. Twenty minutes after we ate, we would lock ourselves in the bathroom and forcibly get that homemade food out of our bodies. I remember Omi knocking on the bathroom door asking, “Are you girls okay?”
We’d say, “yeah we’re fine,” and turn the radio louder so she wouldn’t hear us throwing up.
At 17 years old I attended Weight Watchers “fat camp” in Pennsylvania. It was sensible dieting. We ate meals that were very low in fat, drank diet soda, used artificial sweeteners instead of sugar, and slathered fake butter on our bread.
I remember one night at camp, I got stoned (hey… I was a teenager), broke into the food shack, and stole, and ate, an entire jar of peanut butter. Apparently, my body was craving fat.
After fat camp, I joined weight watchers and bought a food scale. I weighed and counted every fat gram and calorie that went into my mouth. Unfortunately, this made eating a laborious task.
Eventually, I grew tired of weighing and measuring and counting, and joined Jenny Craig. They sold boxed food that was already weighed and measured. It certainly wasn’t delicious, but it did the job and I lost a few pounds.
With every diet, I initially lost weight but always gained it back…PLUS some! I was not obese, but I was chunky. And, it seemed the more I dieted, the chunkier I grew. At my chubbiest I was 149 pounds, which is not FAT. But, I’m a shorty! At 5’ 3” (and a 1/2), I was 25 pounds heavier than I am right now, and I felt bloated and uncomfortable.
My mom was diagnosed with cancer for the second time when I was in my early 20′s. After chemo and radiation we tried something called a Macrobiotic Diet. It wasn’t about counting fat grams or calories; it was about the quality of food and how it affected the body energetically, physically and spiritually. It was an entirely new concept for me.
The diet consisted of whole grains, beans, vegetables, sea vegetables, fish, nuts and seeds, and fruits. And, it was very low in fat, so it fit perfectly with my “dieting” mentality. Eating that food made my body feel good and helped me go to the bathroom – which, as a chronic dieter, was a rare occurrence. As a result, I dropped a few pounds… literally, right into the toilet.
After mom died, I kept some of the Macrobiotic principles and my weight leveled off at 139 pounds. But, mostly I went back to my unhealthy “dieting” ways.
Finally, a gift from the gods came. At 28, I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and a goiter. After watching mom suffer, and eventually die from chemo and radiation, I decided radioactive iodine was NOT an option for me (Radiate My Thyroid? No Freakin’ Way!).
I stopped the nonsense and stopped dieting. Instead, I focused on eating the best quality food to help my body heal.
Within the first 4 months I dropped 18 pounds. It’s been 16 years and I’ve never gained back that weight. I don’t ever think about dieting anymore. I just eat food, real food, with all of its nutrients intact, including the fat.
Below are some steps to help you break free from a dieting mentality and lose weight.
- Dieting deprives us of physical and emotional nutrition
- Dieting creates dysfunctional behaviors
- Dieting contributes to weight gain
Eat Real Food: see pictures below. This is what food looks like.
Drink Water: there is no better beverage for your body.
Ditch Chemical Sweeteners: These chemicals disrupt endocrine function, lead to weight gain, contribute to depression, and destroy brain cells. Not only that, artificial sweeteners are so unnaturally sweet that they compromise the delicate palate in your mouth. No longer will a fresh berry taste as sweet as it naturally is if you eat chemical sweeteners.
Sit Down to Meals: Do NOT walk or stand and eat. Digestion needs relaxation to function properly. If you are stressed out, or walking and eating, stress hormone rises and digestion shuts down.
Move Your Body: A simple 35-40 minute daily walk can help. You don’t need to pump iron, you just need to move your butt EVERY SINGLE DAY.
If you find you are stuck, here are some common dieting mistakes:
- Eating cold foods and/or too many salads – dampens digestive fire and slows metabolism
- Forbidding foods – the dieter becomes obsessed with forbidden food
- Eliminating fat – creates wild cravings and the dieter is never fully satisfied
- Emotional eating – what are you really craving? Love? Companionship? Inspiration? Creativity?
- Impatience – it took time to gain the weight, it’ll take time to take it off.
- Lack of self love – if we don’t love ourselves exactly as we are right now, we won’t take care of our body.
Stop the nonsense and stop dieting!
If you need more guidance, sign up for health-coaching and I’ll support you through the delicious process of achieving your ideal weight.
Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” When I was diagnosed in 1997 with incurable thyroid disease, I began my healing journey by changing my perception of food. I got off the crap, began cooking for myself, and incorporating wholesome “healing foods” as my medicine.
The first diet I tried was Macrobiotics – its origins were steeped in Traditional Chinese Medicine and the principles of yin and yang. It’s a food philosophy that teaches about eating food that is naturally raised, pesticide free, and lovingly prepared. I ate that diet for many years, and it was a HUGE catalyst to helping me understand food. But, it was not complete for me.
The next healing diet I tried was “veganism.” With macrobiotics I was still eating small quantities of fish once per week. So, I removed fish entirely. I read in few books that I could enhance my spirituality and connection to the universe by NOT eating animals.
Veganism worked great for me for about a year. But, soon I began feeling weak and exhausted, and my immune system kept crashing. My blood pressure was scarily low (80 over 50!), and my muscles ached all the time. I was suffering from Adrenal Fatigue.
Plus, when I was vegan I was highly judgmental of myself and others. I believed if I ate animal products I was harming my soul and would probably go to hell. And, if you were eating a hamburger in front of me … well you were surely going to hell because I was witness and judge to the crime!
It wasn’t until I sat quietly one day listening to another vegan friend that I understood my error. We were in Louisiana on a swamp tour in the bayou. As we were floating down the waterway a dragonfly with blue and green iridescent wings landed on the boat.
I said, “Wow, look at that beautiful dragonfly.”
My friend said, “ugh! I HATE dragonflies!”
“Why?” I said.
“Because they eat other flies. They’re disgusting cannibalistic creatures. And, I’m glad we haven’t seen any alligators yet, because they are horrible. They eat innocent little animals!”
I thought to myself, “Isn’t that just part of nature?” And, my idea of veganism began shifting.
Besides, I had to listen to my body. I was feeling weak and exhausted, and needed to honor my body with the food it was craving; which was animal meat and fat. A similar way the crocodile eats the water rat, the bear catches salmon from the stream, the bird eats a worm, and the snake eats a frog.
Those animals are not going to hell – they are just living a natural life, eating what nature provides for them… without judgment.
And, besides the meat-eating alligator is no less important to this world than the grass-eating deer.
I also dabbled in raw foods when I was vegan. I went to Hippocrates Institute in Florida. Upon arrival, I was given a “live” blood test.
The gal administering the test said, “Your blood is very good, how long have you been raw?”
I said, “I’m not really raw. I eat cooked food.” At that time I was macrobiotic/vegan.
She said, “Well if you are going to take on a raw foods diet you will need these supplements and digestive enzymes.”
She pulled out a sheet of paper and checked off 15 different enzyme supplements that would enhance my raw foods experience.
Once again I looked into nature and saw there are NO herbivores or ruminants taking supplementation to digest their food. I lasted one week on a completely raw foods diet. All raw, all the time, didn’t feel good inside me.
These various ways of eating helped me gain insight into my human body and how it can be affected physically, emotionally and spiritually by daily food and lifestyle choices.
I’ve learned so much and I’m still learning as I continue to live well and eat healthfully while here in this body, on this planet. Understanding food seems like a never ending and delicious process. And, sometimes it’s a not so delicious process. Like noni juice for example. For me it tasted like fermented dirty sock water packaged in an expensive bottle. I had the same reaction to noni juice (and mangosteen) as I had the first time I tried scotch whiskey: a gag reflex.
Once again I looked into nature. That same gag reflex happens when a snake eats a poisonous tree frog.
I know that noni juice and whiskey are not the right drinks for me, personally. Now beer, on the other hand, is smooth and creamy with a nice silky finish on my tongue. I have to honor that!
After experimenting with various healing foods and “isms,” I found something that works best for me. It’s essentially what the ancient sages and philosophers taught thousands of years ago to help us attain health, vitality and a connection to the universe.
Ancient healing arts advise that human beings are a part of the whole universe and are not separate from nature, but are part of nature.
We human creatures need to figure out what nature provides for us (animal, vegetable and mineral) in the climate and environment that we live in, just like all other creatures on the planet.
An easy way to understand what type of food is available in your area starts by shopping at a traditional farmer’s market. You’ll discover with each season the produce and products change. I believe we need to trust the wisdom of the universe and let nature provide for us. With the help of the farmers that are naturally and ethically raising these foods, of course.
As famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright said, “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”
Want a deeper understanding about food and healing? Listen to this audio recording from my talk at the NOFA conference. You’ll discover, without any judgement, how and why connecting with the cycles of nature can enhance health on many levels; physical, emotional & spiritual.
Clients and students often ask me what type of vitamin and mineral supplements I take. It’s simple… I don’t take any. But, I used to take a lot! Before taking charge of my health, I spent thousands of dollars buying vitamin and mineral supplements to help make up for my dietary deficiencies and lack of knowledge about good nutrition.
The supplement industry is a BIG industry and is making millions (probably more like billions) of dollars annually, catering to folks like you and me who are concerned about health. I used to believe supplementation could help heal my ailments and make up for my lack of proper nourishment and/or understanding of food. Boy, was I mistaken! I wasted a lot of money chasing wild claims and may have harmed my body in the process, too.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, antioxidant vitamins increased a person’s risk of dying by up to 16 percent. The University of Washington found that vitamin E elevates lung cancer risk, and researchers at the National Cancer Institute found that men who took more than one multivitamin daily had higher rates of prostate cancer. According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, below is a list of popular supplements and their toxic effects:
|SUPPLEMENT||POTENTIAL TOXIC EFFECTS|
|Vitamin A||Hepatoxicity (liver damage), increased risk of hip fracture|
|Beta carotene||Increased risk of lung cancer, yellowing of skin, diarrhea, arthralgias (arthritis)|
|Vitamin C||Diarrhea, gastric upset|
|Vitamin D||Calcification of the soft tissue|
|Vitamin E||Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, blurred vision|
|Vitamin B6||Sensory neuropathy, ataxia (lack of coordination and muscle movements)|
|Vitamin B3||Vasodilation, gastrointestinal upset, hyperglycemia|
These are just a select few of the more common supplements and their toxic effects. All supplements, when taken in excess, can have negative effects on the body.One important thing to keep in mind is that animals in the wild do not need supplements to thrive — and neither do humans. We are a part of nature, and the wholesome food naturally provided by our environment contains all the elements we need in perfect balance (fiber, water, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates). Our body uses what it needs and discards the waste. Overdoses of isolated supplements accumulate and can wreak havoc in our system. In the short term, supplements may do some good; but in the long term, they can cause serious harm.
There are better and more delicious ways to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs without the toxic side effects. For example Mussels contain Vitamin B12, Zinc, Selenium, Omega 3’s, and they are delicious. And, sweet potatoes are rich in Beta Carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin E. So, the question you need to ask yourself is, “Would I rather eat a handful of hard coated supplements, or enjoy something delicious?”
Can’t seem to make it through the day or regain your energy no matter what you do? You could be suffering from adrenal fatigue. I’ve seen this condition in both the “unhealthiest” people, and in the “healthiest” people.
Anyone can experience adrenal fatigue at some point in his or her life. Nutrient deficiencies, inadequate rest, a life crisis or too many pressures, can all drain the adrenals of even the healthiest person. I too, suffered from adrenal fatigue in my early thirties. It was exhausting!
Adrenal glands are part of the endocrine system. They produce estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, cortisone, adrenalin, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Our adrenals help us cope with everyday stress and survival and are involved in the recovery of chronic diseases, energy levels, and endurance. The quality of our health depends on the optimum functioning of our adrenals.
Symptoms indicating your adrenals may need some TLC:
- Chronic fatigue (lack of energy even after a full nights sleep)
- Lightheaded and dizzy
- Both low and high blood pressure
- Brain fog and forgetfulness (why the heck am I reading this blog?)
- Poor immunity; allergies, colds, slow recovery from infections
- Craving salty and sugary foods for stimulation and energy
- Unexplained hair loss
- Morning nausea (and you’re not pregnant!)
- Decreased sex drive
- Insomnia and/or restless sleep
“When your body is under stress – physical stress from infection, illness, or disease and/or emotional stress – the adrenal glands respond by stepping up cortisol production. Cortisol helps your body deal with stress and curbs inflammation. Without enough cortisol, you may experience increased infections, nausea, and changes in blood pressure and blood sugar. Adrenal gland syndrome results when your adrenal glands can no longer meet your body’s demands for cortisol.” And, if too much cortisol is circulating in your system, the opposite can happen – you can experience anxiety, restlessness and an inability to sleep.
Many foods, substances, and other factors can exacerbate adrenal stress:
- Refined sugars and simple carbohydrates, soda and sweet drinks
- Pesticides, additives, and artificial sweeteners (these are all endocrine disruptors)
- Excessive amounts of caffeine
- Drug abuse – both prescription drugs and street drugs
- High glycemic dried fruits that can spike blood sugar levels
- Carbohydrate meals without adequate protein and fat to slow sugar absorption
- Candida overgrowth, digestive disorders, cancer and chronic illnesses
- Constantly on “go” without rest
- Pregnancy and breast feeding – adrenal fatigue results if the mother does not eat enough nutrient dense foods and/or iodine rich foods
- Thyroid disease*
*Compromised adrenals puts the body in a state of catabolism (break down). When this happens, the thyroid naturally slows metabolism, leading to hypothyroidism and/or Hashimoto’s. If the adrenals are properly supported, the thyroid naturally balances itself. For more info on Thyroid see Thyroid DVD.
To reclaim our energy and alleviate Adrenal Fatigue it’s imperative to reduce stress, get adequate sleep, and support your body with wholesome foods.
When I was in my early thirties, I suffered with Adrenal Fatigue. My blood pressure was 80 over 50 (yikes!), I was exhausted, and my immune system kept crashing. At that time I was vegan; abstaining from animal protein, animal fat, and any product made from animals. My meals were ALL carbohydrate, all the time: whole grains, beans, vegetables, sea vegetables, nuts and seeds, and fruits. Eating that way for a long period of time led to a deficiency and imbalanced condition in my body. Once the imbalance was adjusted my body began rebuilding it’s energy reserves. It was a good lesson for me.
Adrenal recovery can take anywhere from three months to three years depending on the severity of the condition. Relax… as long as you are alive and breathing you can improve any condition. We need to learn how to be patient with our beautiful body. It heals at a pace that is not accepted in modern society; slowly.
Some tips to begin your healing process:
- Eat breakfast that includes some protein and fat. Examples: oatmeal with full fat yogurt, or eggs with butter and whole grain bread, or grits with greens and sausage.
- Snack on protein & carbohydrates (trail mix, egg salad on sliced daikon radish, turkey roll ups) rather than just carbohydrates (crackers, pretzels, dried fruits, chocolate).
- Eat vegetables and fruits (both cooked and raw) with sea salt to balance sodium/potassium levels.
- Eat protein and fat from naturally raised animals to help support hormone and glucagon production.
Lifestyle behaviors can support or drain us as well. Stress-relieving activities like meditation, yoga, and deep breathing can help greatly. And, avoiding stress producers like unhealthy relationships, or learning how to deal with those relationships more effectively would be a good idea.
Adrenal Fatigue indicates a “deficiency.” Just like your daily diet, your body, mind and/or emotions may be running on empty, too.
Begin asking these questions:
- Is my diet working for me? Am I deficient in any nutrients?
- Where do I need to fill up physically, emotionally & spiritually?
- Does my daily work fill me with energy or does it deplete me?
- Is my relationship(s) working?
- Am I enjoying life and refueling myself with things I love?
Join me LIVE in NYC at the Natural Gourmet and learn how to deliciously Reclaim Your Energy with Adrenal Support this Wednesday, July 17th. You’ll have fun learning how to energize your body in the most health-supportive and delicious ways. PLUS enjoy a fully balanced meal.
If you can’t make to New York, you can also find much of this information, plus a cooking demo, on my Nourishing Adrenal Health DVD.
Do you want to know how to beat the heat and keep cool this summer? Watch Andrea make this simple and delicious Marinated Chickpea Salad.
Taking on a whole foods diet can have its benefits. But, have you ever come home and discovered bugs in your kitchen? It’s traumatizing! Watch this video and learn how to store your stuff, and keep it safe from hungry little (or big) creatures.