When I became a nutritionist ten years ago, I had a big goal: Improve the health of America one plate at a time! I work toward this goal everyday through the classes I teach, my corporate wellness program, and the many clients that I work with on a day-to-day basis. I love to explain how stress affects health, what happens when you don’t sleep well, and how vitamins, minerals, and other phytochemicals improve resilience to chronic disease.
The problem is, sometimes I get a little over zealous and my clients or students can get a little glassy-eyed. That is when I remember Barbara (name changed to protect the innocent).
Barbara is one of my typical clients; older than she wants to be, a little overweight, dragging around instead of conquering the world, and in general just feeling yucky. Toward the end of our first appointment (which is an hour and a half and can be a little like drinking from a fire hydrant) she looked at me and said, “I know you know your stuff…I wouldn’t have come to you if I didn’t think that. But I am tired and my brain is tired. Can you just tell me one simple thing that will change how I feel and give me back a little of my old self? Once I can get there, I will be able to listen better to your pearls of wisdom.”
Wow, that made me stop and think about the tidal wave of information that I give to people every day…all with the intent of convincing them to change their lifestyle, and now she wants me to boil it down to one thing! I looked at her and I said, “Yes, I can…Eat Real Food!” Once I said that, I realized that this idea is actually the most important component of diet and lifestyle improvement.
If nature made it, eat it…if she didn’t, don’t!
Real food; food which is unprocessed, unadulterated by chemicals and additives, and well grown, is the basis of health. Here are a few ways in which eating real food can change everything from the quality of your sleep to how well you fend off chronic disease:
The fiber in fresh vegetables keeps your digestive track running like clockwork. Having efficient elimination reduces toxicity in your bloodstream, lymph system, and liver. Modern life exposes us daily to a myriad of chemicals and toxins that need to be taken out with the trash on a daily basis.
Fresh fruits and vegetables provide a plethora of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that tune up the immune system, provide the “spark” that runs our biochemistry, and create the electrical signaling that allows our cells to carry out their important functions. These are the “additives” that we want in our food, not dyes, preservatives, and pesticides that come in processed/packaged foods.
Well-grown, pasture-raised, wild-caught animal products provide the body with all of the amino acids that are the main building blocks for all of the 100,000 biochemicals that we make in the body. Eating healthy animal-based proteins improve our mood and sleep as they contribute to the production of hormones and neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin.
Healthy fats from unprocessed oils, well-grown animal products, and whole-food fats such as olives, coconut, avocados and nuts and seeds improve brain function, provide a clean long-lasting fuel, and create healthy cellular membranes. Human health has steadily gone down hill since we began the low-fat recommendations. The trend toward healthy fat can turn that around.
Real food, in all of its forms, is the main component of healthy weight maintenance. Our reliance on convenient, nutrient poor and energy dense foods is a major contributor to the obesity epidemic in this country. Eating nutrient dense foods that come from nature will improve metabolic efficiency and decrease body fat storage signals such as high insulin and nutrient deficiencies.
Lately I have been starting off all of my presentations and client consultations with this statement:
“If I were to give you one fool-proof suggestion to improve all aspects of your health, energy and well-being it would be…Eat Real Food, just as nature intended”.
Kathy Westover September 24th, 2017
Orininally posted on July 22, 2013 by To Your Health! Nutrition
I confess…I am addicted to chocolate. Everyday, around 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon, I have a cup of tea (my favorite is white peach tea) and two squares of Endangered Species Extreme Dark Chocolate (88% cocoa). It takes me at least two hours to have a couple of cups of tea and the two squares of chocolate…I savor each sip and each tiny bite (which I never chew…I just let it melt slowly in my mouth). This is such a ritual that I am often tempted to not schedule clients in during that time so that I can quietly enjoy my chocolate, although I have never done that. Some of my long-time clients know of my chocolate passion and I can indulge in their presence without guilt. Now the rest of you know, too.
This may seem like a contradiction, since I am a nutrition therapist and so I should be eating a completely healthy and clean diet, but actually my chocolate passion is not so bad for me. Here are some reasons why:
Like everything, chocolate is good in moderation. Okay, maybe not all chocolate, but dark chocolate, when eaten responsibly, provides a number health benefits. The dark chocolate I choose to eat has only 4 grams of natural sugar per ounce. Compare that to the 24 grams of refined sugar in your average 1.5 ounce milk chocolate bar.
But sugar is sugar, right? Not at all.
There are similarities between natural sugar and refined sugar. Both come from the sugar cane plant. Both are initially made by drying the juices of this plant into sugar crystals. This, however, is where the similarities end. Once the crystals have dried, phosphoric acid, calcium hydroxide, sulfur dioxide, and a host of other chemicals are added to refined sugar. Your body metabolizes chemicals much differently than natural foods. The end result is a shockingly higher caloric content, increasing your risk for diabetes and obesity.
While all sugar can cause health problems, limited amounts of natural sugar balanced with a healthy diet and exercise can provide the sweet flavor you desire without the dangers of its Frankenstein cousin.
There are numerous studies that have found two ounces of dark chocolate per day has several health benefits. Included in these are:
These benefits are particular to dark chocolate. In fact, a recent study by the National Institute for Food and Nutrition found that milk interferes with the absorption of antioxidants, therefor rendering milk chocolate incapable of providing these health benefits.
Buddhists and Hindus place offerings on alters. Catholics and Protestants recite liturgies. Me? I take two hours every day to practice my own ritual. This is my meditation, my space, my peace. This is where I cultivate both love and attention – beginning with careful preparation of my tea and ending as the last piece of dark chocolate melts completely away. Like a Japanese Tea Ceremony, I pay attention to every detail, savoring the entire experience, and centering myself for the rest of the day.
Being a nutrition therapist does not mean that I can’t enjoy foods. Quite to the contrary – being a nutrition therapist allows me to better enjoy foods; appreciating both their health benefits and their unique and expressive tastes. Eating should be a pleasure. It is my distinct honor to teach people how to enjoy it more.
Kathy Westover July 12th, 2013
Nutrition Counseling is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, prescription, or cure for any disease, mental or physical, and is not intended as a substitute for regular medical care.
Nutrition Counseling does provide nutritional evaluation, balanced diet planning, nutritional supplement suggestions, and lifestyle recommendations for the purpose of enhancing health.
Fort Collins Web design by iPoint
© 2014 www.toyourhealthllc.com All Rights Reserved