Healthy Food Bites To-Go: The New Healthy Is Not the Boogeyman
Sometimes, I get the distinct feeling that my excitement and advocacy for whole food plant-based eating with its naturally healing ingredients is met with mixed reactions. Health seekers, committed to change, or who have already experienced transformation through an enlightened approach to nutrition – eating real food, see me as a kindred spirit. Together, we instinctively bask in our mood-elevating, all-day energy producing, deprivation-free, no calorie counting and no measuring food world. We are easily excited thinking about our next mouth-watering meal or a new plant milk coming to market. Conversely, there are those who act like I’ve drunk the sugar-free Kool-Aid.
However, my passion for living well, keeping it real and plant-powered is received by this transparent population, reminiscent of a scene from the Dr. Seuss holiday classic “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” In the scene, nearly two-year old Cindy Lou Who, from the fictional town of Whoville, is awakened on Christmas Eve. She saunters into the living room where minutes prior, her Christmas presents and festive holiday tree stood. She questions the Grinch, catching him red-handed stealing and stuffing her gifts and tree up the chimney. The Grinch, dressed as Santa wiggles his way out of her accusation, and pats the two year old on the head, before sending her back to her bed.
I have an unyielding suspicion that my assumed life, devoid of deliciousness, fun and reward is on the judgment block. In truth, I have gained a higher quality of life eating an exclusively real food, plant-centered diet, as compared to the path of sugar addiction, yo-yo dieting, binge exercising and stress eating that kept me from optimized health for years. My days now are not bereft of daily decadent indulgences. The notion of deprivation is a common misconception of health eaters. It’s a false threat, much like the Boogeyman.
LIVING ON THE VEG
Living on the edge of an eating movement that promises and delivers, I nourish my body daily now, in order to achieve all day energy and an ideal weight without perpetual hunger or cravings. For many, the notion of switching gears to an exclusively whole food plant-based diet can sound like a deprived existence. It’s far from it. The new healthy is simply not the Boogeyman.
There’s nothing to be scared of in pursuit of achieving health goals and sustaining them. To the contrary, once you build momentum, which can occur in a few short weeks, you can have your health and eat cake too. In fact, I’m sipping on tea as I write, just after wiping the brownie crumbs from my mouth.
My mission is really to get people excited and to feel empowered by their food choices. It’s widely accepted now that you can’t outrun a diet consisting of processed junk food – foods made with white flour and sugar, as well as fast food held together with chemicals and additives. Every bite of food is so much more important than calories and labels – protein, fat and carbs. It is vital information that influences mood, gut health, addiction, weight and lifelong health – free from disease. Food tells our cells and our DNA what to do every time we eat.
What matters most is eating food that is packed with nutrients – vitamins, mineral, antioxidants and phytochemicals. The more whole, recognizable, and plant-centered we eat, the more easily nutritional needs can be met. Hyper-processed foods, to the contrary, are nutrient sparse and while they taste favorable going down, they send the body into a literal tailspin, robbing it of energy, increasing cravings, dulling mood and manipulating metabolism rather immediately. Longer term, unhealthy food choices feed disease – Type ll Diabetes, Hypertension, Insulin Resistance, Depression, some Cancers and Heart Disease.
We live in a culture where immediate gratification in the short term usually wins over the idea of preventing illness in the long-term. The shoe, too often has to drop, in order to get our attention. Then, if we must, we make significant changes in what we eat in an attempt to reverse the damage.
What minor adjustments can be made today? It doesn’t have to be a huge lifestyle change or extreme reinvention to shift the direction of one’s health destiny. Where is yours headed today?
“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” —John C. Maxwell
Perhaps your environment can be tweaked in order to nudge you into behaviors that will support health. I put that to the test this morning, I woke up early and prepared a pot of oatmeal. Instead of using just water to cook the oatmeal, I used 50% water and 50% walnut milk (unsweetened) which is available now in select grocers or online. I added a teaspoon of coconut oil, a generous shake of cinnamon and a frozen banana, plus a handful of frozen strawberries to the pot and let it come to a boil, before simmering. To boost my breakfast bowl l added protein-rich chia and hemp seeds as well as a spoonful of nut butter. The Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter in the pantry called out to me. It’s a healthier option than Nutella which might be best referred to as ‘spreadable candy’. My healthier upgrade is every bit as delicious. I made enough for three days.
Have a water drinking strategy today?
Wake up and drink fresh water on an empty stomach. It purifies the colon, making it easier to absorb nutrients.
Coffee can have a diuretic effect and cause water loss in the body. Drink water ahead of your Morning Joe to purify the body, jumpstart metabolism, and to release tension in the brain from lack of sleep, stress and fatigue.
If you haven’t hit your hydrating quota today, consider hydrating with these fruits and vegetables which are mostly water:
Radishes – 95.3% water
Strawberries – 91% water
Grapefruit 90.5% water
Celery 95.4% water
Spinach 91.4% water
Simply adding in and crowding out meal and snacks with more nutrient dense plant foods is a great start. Try nuts, seeds, berries, dark leafy greens and avocados for starters. If you eat meat, use it as a flavoring or condiment in a vegetable-based stir-fry or wrap. Push processed food off your plate in order to get the right nutrients into your body. This can happen as soon as your next meal.
Visit my Instagram http://instagram. com/wholefoodieronna (@wholefoodieronna) for healthy hacks and my comfort food remakes – mac ‘n cheese, pizza, cheeseburgers, cookies and more.
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.” -Oscar Wilde
Skip the potions, pills and prescriptions. Skip the excuses. Eat whole food (mostly nutrient dense plants), and let the best kept secret in medicine play out. That the body is self-healing under the right conditions is way beyond anything we have been led to believe. It would be a shame to ignore the ultimate healer – ourselves.