When we think of healthy foods, we don't exactly conjure up images of sensuous, delicious and comforting meals. Rather, we think of sacrificing the pleasures of dining for the sake of our health, or looking good. The good news is that this absolutely need not be the case. When I start cooking for a new client, I spend time discussing their favorite foods and looking at areas of their lives and health they would like to improve. I then set about designing a diet that will support them in achieving their goals, with the main focus always being on the pleasure and enjoyment of the food.
When starting out, I always focus on adding new and healthier foods, rather than cutting them out. You will find that as you become accustomed to new healthier habits, the old ones automatically fall away. Nobody likes to feel deprived, so it's good to start with some simple dietary changes. And once you start to experience the health benefits, you will be more motivated to continue. You will be amazed at how quickly some simple dietary adjustments can result in improved health, beauty and vitality.
Here are some guidelines for healthy eating and living which you may find useful:
I recommend starting slowly and gradually introducing new healthier options. Instead of that morning cup of coffee to get your engine started, try a nice tea like jasmine, green tea or yerba mate that still has a little caffeine but also has other health benefits. (More on one of my favorite topics, tea, in a future blog post.)
Even though I always encourage creativity and experimentation in the kitchen, it's often a good idea to begin with a recipe that inspires you. Start out following the recipe, then see if you can add your own twist or create a healthier version of one of your favorite recipes.
Most areas these days have a farmers' market where you can find a lovely range of fruits and vegetables, often organically grown. They're usually less expensive than they would be at a grocery store because the overhead costs are lower. Stock up with a nice variety of fruits and vegetables so you have range of ingredients available when you're ready to let your culinary artist out to play. For optimum health, make fruits and veggies the core foods in your diet.
Take a deep breath. Deep breathing helps alleviate stress and anxiety by bringing in oxygen, which alkalizes the body and nourishes the cells, and detoxifies the body by stimulating the lymphatic system. And doesn't it feel great to let out a big sigh once in a while?
Read labels on packaged foods. If there are words you can't pronounce, be suspicious.
Sugar comes in many disguises. Glucose, sucrose, lactose, maltose and fructose are all sugars. If you're trying to cut down on sugars, watch out for these words. Experiment with lower glycemic natural sugars like rice syrup, agave syrup and fruit extracts.
If you're living in an area where you don't have easy access to healthy foods, try to find some kindred spirits—people of like mind—with whom you can form a co-op and order foods in bulk. This makes them a lot more affordable. I have seen this system work very well in remote areas. Alternatively, you can direct your local grocer to a source for ordering these foods.
Of course, organically grown products are always the best choice. However, if you can't find all organic foods, you can rinse your fruits and veggies in a mixture of 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar in a basin of water. Soak for about 10 minutes and rinse. Alternatively, a few drops of citracidal (grapefruit seed extract) in a basin of water will work to remove pesticides and other residue from your produce.
Take another deep breath, and smile. A smile can brighten up a dull day, exercise those facial muscles and make you look younger, and a lot more attractive. Much better to encourage those body parts to move north rather than south as the years go by!
A teacher of mine once said, "You should drink your food and eat your drinks." Digestion begins in the mouth—the enzymes in the saliva start to break down the food and prepare it for the next stage of digestion. To get the most nutritional benefits from your food, it's very important to chew it thoroughly before swallowing. If your weight is an issue, this is also very beneficial as you tend to eat less if you're taking time to chew.
Eat consciously. I have seen people slouched in front of the TV, with a newspaper in one hand and eating with the other. Take time to give thanks for your food and savor the flavor in each mouthful. Your digestive system will be grateful!
A good quality kitchen knife is a very worthwhile investment. It makes cooking a lot easier. I travel with mine (but make sure to check it in with your luggage!). My preference is an NHS, which is a Japanese-style, square blade knife that is made from durable carbon steel, sandwiched between two pieces of stainless steel, so that only the cutting edge of the carbon steel is visible. Carbon steel is very strong and will hold its sharp edge for a long time, but it will rust easily, so the stainless steel protects it. Check around and find one that feels good to hold, and make it your best friend.
Make at least one meal a day a family ritual. I'm aware that many busy parents struggle with finding the time and energy to prepare nutritious meals for the family every day, but the benefits of sitting down and sharing this time with family members are manifold. In my family, with 11 hungry mouths to feed, if you didn't make it to the table in time, chances were you missed out.
Prepare your foods with love and gratitude. Fuel your body with the best nutrition and you'll be assured a life of health and vitality. I'd much rather spend a little extra money buying nutritious organic foods than spending it on medical bills.