Everyday diet influences current health and the potential for later illness. The health effects of overeating and undereating can take their toll in numerous ways, resulting in nutritional disorders that cause digestive issues and chronic disease. The human body desires a state of equilibrium to function optimally. It is often the fall away from this balance that results in chronic inflammation, which, in turn, may cause chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer. Food choices resoundingly do matter, and it is never too late to treat and prevent disease. Get back into balance with dietary and lifestyle practices which can be implemented today.
1Consume whole foods
Eat foods that are as close to nature as possible versus highly processed foods, which are high in calories but void in nutrients. High concentrations of unhealthy fat, salt and sugar result in bodily systems having to work overtime to maintain balance. Blood sugar and blood pressure may rise, while body fat increases. Although these foods are calorically dense, the body may starve for micronutrients, which ironically results in a state of malnourishment. Whole foods are plant foods in which nothing is added or taken away (or as little as possible). Thus, eat an apple versus a slice of apple pie.
2Choose the right foods
Build your meals from plant-based foods and counting calories is no longer a stressor. Design your plate with four healthful food groups: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes (beans, peas, lentils). These foods naturally satiate, provide energy, and promote good digestion due to their fiber content. Instead of making plant foods a side dish, place them front and center on your plate so that your stomach sensors will correctly message the brain when full.
3Don’t obsess over super foods
There are definitely shining stars in the world of edible plants due to their high nutrient density and protective ability to combat disease. Broccoli, kale, blueberries, oats, and ground flax seed are beneficial when consumed frequently. However, just as important is to eat a varied diet of all plant foods. Consume the rainbow of choices, since the beautiful colors represent the myriad of wonderful vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that they provide. Plants also aide digestion, so incorporate ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, peppermint, and fennel, along with other spices and herbs for health-soothing benefits.
4Embrace the holistic approach
Remember, foods work synergistically versus in isolation. While vitamins and minerals have specific roles in the body, there is no need to focus on each and every bite to ensure proper nutrition when adequate calories are consumed from varied plant sources. Note: Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D supplementation helps ensure complete nutrition for those who eat entirely plant-based and who experience digestive absorption issues due to age or disease. Be sure to talk to your doctor about annual blood testing and before starting supplements to receive proper dosage.
5How to eat is just as important as what to eat
Digestion is a complicated process, involving many steps. The body requires time to digest food correctly and adequately. Therefore, avoid mindless snacking and unfocused eating (eating while doing other things). Instead, allow the body to correctly metabolize food by chewing food slowly, eating meals with intention, and establishing regularly spaced mealtimes. To also assist with better quality sleep, avoid eating 3 – 4 hours before bedtime.
Start where you are and enjoy a new way of eating. Be mindful of what you eat and how you eat. Mealtime and dietary food choices are to be enjoyed and embraced when they are a part of a healthy, balanced, self-loving lifestyle. So, love the food that will love you back! Chris Kalinich is the owner and culinary instructor of Plant 2 Platter as well as Practitioner with Sedona Self-Love Retreats.