Making changes in our foods can be daunting. People tell me they want to be healthier, but they don’t know where to start. My suggestion is to make a few easy changes. Don’t try to change everything in your diet in one day. Becoming healthier is a slow transition that for many of us is on-going for the rest of our lives. It can be overwhelming to think of it in these terms. So don’t!
Think of getting healthier as a process. Choose one step each week, or every couple days, or whatever fits within your schedule. You will look back and be amazed at the number of changes you’ve accomplished, how far you’ve come, and how much healthier you feel. Start with any step now, and then add another, and another, and another / soon you will have a solid foundation for healthier living.
Healthier Step 1: Get Hydrated
Many of our aches and pains come from not drinking enough good quality water. For a healthier you, do the math to know how much water you need to drink. Take your weight in pounds, divide in half, and that’s the number of ounces you need to drink each day. Add more for warm climates, caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and exercise. But start slow. If you’re ultimate goal is 80 ounces and you’re only drinking 8 ounces, add an additional 8 ounces each day until you reach your goal. It’s healthier to get your body hydrated than to just rush to the restroom all day long. Try and sip your water throughout the day for best hydration.
Healthier Step 2: Eliminate the White Stuff
Refined flours and sugars are everywhere and most people are addicted to them. Healthier options include local raw honey, pure maple syrup, stevia, coconut, dates, fruits, and carrots. Become a food adventurer. There is a fabulous array of recipes available that use natural sweeteners instead of the refined stuff. Once you get the hang of it, you will be able to substitute healthier sweeteners in all your favorite recipes.
Healthier Step 3: Say NO to Processed and Artificial Foods
Start reading labels. Focus on the list of ingredients. Do you know all the ingredients? If you can’t identify something, don’t eat it. Begin to eliminate cans and boxes from your pantry. Properly soaked beans are much cheaper than canned and much, much healthier. Purge all additives, preservatives, colorings, flavorings, and artificial ingredients. Weston A. Price Foundation produces a yearly shopping guide that can be helpful; purchase it for only $3.00 here Yearly Shopping Guide. If you have a smart phone, the app Fooducate can also help you make healthier choices (although they still recommend some processed foods, it’s a step toward learning about healthier options).
Healthier Step 4: Embrace Fats
The ’80 & â€˜90s try to convince us that low-fat foods were healthier, but time has proven this theory wrong. If you are still using low-fat foods, refined vegetable oils, hydrogenated fats, or canola oil / it’s time to switch to good fats. Start slowly and begin to balance your fats by adding unrefined extra virgin coconut oil, raw pastured butter, unrefined nut oils, unrefined seed oils, or unrefined extra virgin olive oil. Eliminate anything that has the words hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated in the ingredient list. Look for products that have been pressed with low heat, without chemicals, and are stored in dark colored glass. Again, be a food adventurer. Begin investigating the exciting number of recipes available that use good quality fats. Once you get the hang of it, you will be able to substitute healthier fats in all your favorite recipes.
Healthier Step 5: Season with Sea Salt
You get more minerals by eating unrefined salts from the sea or salt flats. Color is good, be daring and bold – try pink, black, or gray. Bright white usually indicates refined and processed, skip it. Avoid iodized salt and enjoy the healthier good stuff.
Healthier Step 6: Snack When You’re Hungry
If you’re not hungry, don’t eat. If you are hungry, eat in proper portion sizes. If you’re trying to lose weight, keep your metabolize going by having a small snack every 2-4 hours. Think ahead about snacks to make healthier choices. Prepare easy foods so you can grab and go: hard-boiled organic eggs, chopped raw vegetables, homemade trail mix, homemade jerky, hummus, yogurt, cheese, and fermented veggies.
Healthier Step 7: Find a Farmer’s Market
Healthier is fresh, local foods whenever possible. Check out the Local Harvest website to find fresh and sustainably grown produce. Talk with the vendors / they know great recipes for new-to-you fruits and vegetables. You can also join a Community Supported Agriculture (same website) which helps a farmer while ensuring you receive the best local foods.
If you don’t have a farmer’s market nearby, look for signs at your local market. Try to choose foods that have traveled the least distance (look for signs stating origin), choose pesticide-free or organic produce if possible, or buy frozen organic fruits and vegetables. If your pocketbook needs to be your guide, use the Environmental Working Group website. They list the “Dirty Dozen” (the top 12 foods with pesticide/herbicide residue) and the “Clean 15” for healthier options.
Healthier Step 8: Find Grass-Fed and Pastured Meats
The healthier your protein source, the healthier you are / so budget to spend a little extra on good quality animal proteins. Look for grass-fed beef and pork, pastured raised poultry and eggs, and wild caught fish. All of these animals raised in native environments without hormones, antibiotics, and unnatural feed will provide healthier building blocks for your body. If you have difficulty finding a local source, US Wellness Meats and Full Circle Bison Ranch are two great sources for delivery.
Explains the benefits of many antioxidants and how they remove free radicals from our system in a non-scientific manner.
Learn the benefits of various seeds and raw, local honey to decrease inflammation in the body.
Includes two sets of directions for a quick breakfast – one super healthy and one super fast.
Part 1 of Anti-Inflammation Class based on Jessica Black’s The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book.
- 1/3 cup warm filtered water
- 1/2 Tbs whey, yogurt, kefir, buttermilk (if nec. can use lemon juice)
- 1 Tbs flaxseeds
- 2 Tbs sesame seeds
- 2 Tbs sunflower seeds
- 1 Tbs chia seeds
- 1/2 Tbs coconut flakes
- 1 tsp local, raw honey
- 1/2 medium banana
- Coconut milk, raw milk, or other milk alternative
- Mix water and diary (or lemon juice). Add sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds. Stir. Cover and leave in a warm place overnight.
- Add chia and flaxseeds and grind seed mixture together in coffee grinder.
- Place seeds in cereal bowl. Drizzle honey on top.
- Add warm milk if desired. Add milk or milk substitute. Stir if desired.
- Top with sliced bananas, additional honey and/or additional coconut flakes to desired taste.
- Can be served hot or cold.
Guest Blog by Emily Joseph
Staying sharp during work meetings is critical to your success. Many choose coffee, tea or energy drinks to stay focused and while these may help some there are better and healthier choices. There are foods that you can munch on before a meeting that will boost your brain and allow you to get through the meeting 100 percent on your game.
Brain Foods – Beets
Beets are known for being a rich source of iron, but they also contain natural nitrates and this is where the brain-boosting power comes from. These helps to improve mental performance by increasing blood flow to your brain. One of the most convenient ways to nosh on some beets before a meeting is to roast them the night before, bring them to work with a little honey, heat them and then drizzle the honey on them.
Brain Foods – Sage
A recent study looked at how sage may benefit the brain. This study gave some people a placebo and others 50 micro liters of sage oil. Those that received the the actual sage all scored better on cognitive testing. Sage contains acetylcholine. This is a neurotransmitter that works with memory and learning. This herb can be added to dozens of snacks and dishes, such as chicken and pastas.
Brain Foods – Sardines
A quick salad before a meeting can be eaten quickly and can give you the boost that you need to get through. Sardines can be used in place of anchovies to make a small Caesar salad. You can also make a sardine sandwich and bring it with you when you know you have a meeting. Sardines contain DHA and EPA. These fatty acids help regulate neurotransmitters and improve communication among brain cells.
Brain Foods – Eggs
The yolks in eggs are often given a bad rap for their high cholesterol content. While they do contain quite a bit of cholesterol, they also contain choline. This substance is a acetylcholine precursor. As was mentioned above this neurotransmitter works with memory and learning. You can boil an egg or two and bring them to work. You can eat them as is or add boiled eggs to a salad.
Brain Foods – Yerba Mate
If you are having to run to a meeting and are unable to grab something to eat, yerba mate tea can work for you. Now, this tea does contain stimulants, so if you are sensitive to stimulants this would not be the best choice. The stimulant powers of this tea can help to improve your short-term brain power.
Brain Foods – Oats
Oats are known for their fiber content and benefits to the cardiovascular system, but they can also fuel the brain through the glucose oats can help to produce. The carbohydrates in oats is responsible for the glucose. Whole grain oats will breakdown slowly, giving you several hours of sharpness and improved brain power. Oats can be made into oatmeal which only takes a few minutes and you can add things like fruit for a little extra boost.
Brain Foods – Lentils
Lentils are rich in folate. This B vitamin can decrease amino acids that have been shown to impair how well your brain functions. It also boosts brain power. Lentils can be added to soups, pastas and salads for a quick brain boost. Some will also roast them and eat them just as they are. If you boil them the night before, they will be a quick snack at work.
About the Author: Emily Joseph has been writing about health topics online for over a decade. When not writing, you can find her working out or covering other freelance stories for the nation’s largest LASIK plan manager, or spending time at the gym working out. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When asked what I do, I usually reply that I am a â€˜Weston A. Price based nutritionist.’ Although this is not my official title, most people that I speak with have some knowledge of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Unfortunately, there seem to be two very distinct reactions to this foundation. Some folks are thrilled to find that there is a trained practitioner who follows the ideals of a foundation that they trust…others back away from me in disgust as they imagine that I recommend a diet of raw liver for those clients unfortunate enough to stumble into my office!
I’ve found that the beliefs of the WAPF, and subsequently the recommendations I make to most clients, are especially difficult for those choosing not to eat meat. While I do recommend that most people eat meat some of the time, I want to clear up the misconception that a properly prepared, whole food, nutrient dense diet must include meat. To be specific, I believe that lacto-vegetarianism is necessary to maintain optimal health; I cannot agree, nutritionally, with a purely vegan diet. However, I do hold the opinion that one can be fully nourished and be vegetarian.
My personal exploration with food began over ten years ago. I was graduating from high school, and was severely overweight, pre-diabetic, and depressed. Although I had tried to find a healthy way of eating, there was not much information or availability of choice in Western Kentucky, where I grew up. I converted to vegetarianism in order to try and take an active role in healing the problems that I was experiencing. For close to seven years I was a vegetarian, the last two years strict vegan. Although I did feel that I was doing something right by not supporting the undoubtably cruel and corrupt mainstream food system, my problems did not reverse. In fact, with little knowledge of how to eat a proper diet, vegetarian or otherwise, they became worse. After two years of university as a double major, I was exhausted. I quit college to hitchhike around Hawai’i.
In hindsight, this decision put me straight on the path to health, and my career and passion for nutritional therapy. I was introduced to a community on the Big Island that practiced some outlandish ideas about food and diet. But, I noticed that the people of the community that I eventually called home were robust and vital. They worked most days with an endurance that was remarkable, and although this place was by no means a utopia, they had a balanced calm that I have now come to recognize as a result of proper nutrition.
After a few months of living on Hawai’i, I converted to the community’s program….the Primal Diet. The basis of this diet is 100% raw vegetable juice, raw dairy, and raw meat. This extreme diet, that I had initially judged negatively, eventually changed my life. My physical body responded incredibly, and soon the years of fatigue and depression that I had experienced were gone. Although I have personally retained some principles of the Primal Diet, I feel that I have reached a better balance through study with the Nutritional Therapy Association, and through following the principles of the Weston A. Price Foundation. And, I have come to see that there are many ways of eating that can be highly beneficial to the human body, one of these being lacto-vegetarianism.
It is documented, but not widely known, that during Dr. Weston Price’s search for cultures not affected by modern processed â€˜foods of commerce,’ his greatest disappointment was that he was not able to find a vegan culture that was truly healthy! He did, however, find a great many peoples, all with extremely low incidence of tooth decay and physical degeneration, that ate with great similarity.
All the diets he studied contained no refined or denatured foods, such as highly processed grains and cereals. They all used some type of animal products, with some raw animal products such as raw milk or cheese. The diets he encountered were four times as high in calcium and other minerals (zinc, phosphorous, potassium), and encompassed 10 times the amount of fat-soluble vitamins as the modern diet (vitamins E, D, A, and K). The diets studied also contained high enzyme foods, with a special focus on cultured and fermented foods such as fermented vegetables and yogurt. Although some cultures did rely primarily on meat to obtain the nutrients above, some used mainly raw dairy, eggs, and occasional bone broths. Others relied on properly prepared oats and fish, sourdough rye breads, and most ate fermented foods in the form of drinks, such as kombucha or kvass, dairy, or vegetables.
Dr. Price observed isolated and modernized Swiss, Gaelic, Inuit, North American Indians, Peruvians, Maoris, and Masai peoples in Africa. He found that there were a great variety of foods eaten, yet all fulfilled the common guidelines. Other commonalities he observed were that seeds, grains, and nuts were soaked, sprouted, fermented, or naturally leavened. The diets of the isolated peoples he studied contained very high percentages of calories from fat; 30 to 80% of total calories with only 4% from polyunsaturated fats, such as the fat found mainly in flax, some nuts and seeds, and fish oils. Dr. Price found that fresh vegetables and some fruits were eaten in season.
So how does the modern vegetarian mimic Dr. Price’s findings? High nutrient foods such as fertile eggs from hens raised on pasture, along with butter from cows fed on high mineral grass are two â€˜super foods’ that are available in our community. Local raw milk, from grass fed cows or goats, along with a seasonal CSA subscription from one of the many area organic farms are two great and economical options. Drinks such as beet kvass and kombucha, and homemade yogurt or kefir are surprisingly easy to make, while some great options are available now in stores. And, if the diet allows, there is a local source for beef and chicken bones that can be made into mineral rich broth.
Victoria LaFont, NTP