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A Zen Approach to Healthy & Mindful Eating

Knowing when and what to eat can be confusing, so here is my zen approach to healthy and mindful eating in an attempt to simplify the art of keeping the digestive fire burning bright and feel energized all day long. 

 

Don't eat too little. Don't eat too much. 

Don't eat too early. Don't eat too late.

Don't eat in a hurry. Don't eat when filled with worry. 

Don't follow diets that are trendy. Don't eat foods that may be deadly. 

Don't eat around the clock. Don't eat just to fit in with the flock. 

Love the food you eat, yourself, and one another, too. 

Your body is a temple, take great care of it, and tune into YOU. 

 

Now I will break each line down: 

Don't eat too little. Don't eat too much. 

An adult stomach is about 10-12 inches long and about 6 inches wide. When we eat the stomach fills and the nerves send messages to the brain that it is getting full. The hunger hormone, ghrelin, decreases and you begin to feel satiated.

Overeating distends the stomach, causes discomfort, leads to weight gain, and can disrupt natural breathing patterns since a distended stomach can press upon the diaphragm. Not eating enough or not eating a balanced diet causes brain fog, fatigue, and can decrease immune function. Consistently eating a very low calorie diet can impede metabolism and lead to a decrease in calorie burning lean muscle mass. 

Tip: Find out how many calories you should be eating per day here. 

Don't eat too early. Don't eat too late.

Avoid heavy meals late at night or very early in the morning.  According to Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, digestive power is strongest when the sun's energy is the strongest. Therefore, your biggest meal should be at lunch time between 11-2PM. 

Tip: Have a set eating schedule. The body loves routines as runs on circadian rhythms. Eating at approximately the same times each day helps to speed up metabolism and helps you avoid cravings.  

Don't eat in a hurry. Don't eat when filled with worry. 

We don't just digest food, we also must digest emotions and thoughts. If you are stressed out or feeling worrisome it is best to take some soothing tea or something very light and easy to digest such as fruit or boiled rice and try to relax before eating a meal. When in fight or flight mode your body shifts blood flow to the muscles and away from the digestive system so you would not digest the food properly.

Tip: Digest the emotions first. Take at least 10 minutes to sit, breathe, and come back to neutral. 

Don't eat food or follow diets that are trendy. Don't eat foods that may be deadly. 

Many fad diets out there are highly restrictive full of rules like- only raw food, nothing cooked over 120 degrees or only animal proteins and lots of fat. Any diet that goes towards the extremes and away from balance is pulling your body and mind out of harmony. Diets may work in the short-term, but they can do more harm than good in the long run. Some diets recommend bars and supplements loaded with ingredients you can't pronounce. Always do your research and check in with your physician and your internal guidance system before ingesting something that may be toxic for your system and individual constitution. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that certain food combinations can be toxic for the body. There's many digestive aids on the market today for good reason- poor food combining and low digestive fire! 

Food is a science. The body is not a garbage disposal it's a chemistry lab.

Foods have their own unique qualities in terms of taste, strength aka ability to heat or cool the body, and post-digestive effect as well as a unique effect on one's individual constitution. Not all foods, even healthy food is right for everyone all the time. 

According to Ayurveda, a 5,000 year old health system, some foods that do not play well in the stomach together are eggs with fruit, meat, or cheese. Melons mixed with ANY other food, beans with cheese and yogurt/cream (skip the chili with shredded cheese and sour cream on top!) Fruit should ideally be eaten solo. Avoid drinking cold drinks or drinking too much fluid with meals. 

Herbs and spices are like mediators that help make foods more compatible and brings out the nourishing qualities. An example is cooling cilantro with a spicy dish or cooking anti-inflammatory turmeric with black pepper and oil or ghee to bring out the healing benefits. 

Tip: Always seek balance in your diet and pay attention to the properties of foods and food combinations you eat as well as the post-digestive effect. If you feel fatigued, get a runny nose, begin sneezing, have gas or bloating, mucus and phlegm in the throat, it's an indication that the science experiment going on in your stomach may not be a successful one. 

Don't eat around the clock. Don't eat just to fit in with the flock. 

It takes approximately 2 hours for food to leave the stomach and 4-6 hours for food to be fully digested. Give your digestive system a break by spreading out your meals throughout the day. If you are at a social gathering and YOU KNOW a food or food combination does not agree with you or if you're simply not hungry it's okay to refuse food. 

Tip: Eat small meals every 3-4 hours to keep blood sugar levels steady and fully digest the previous meal. If you prefer three larger meals per day or intermittent fasting aim to stick to an eating schedule that works for you and allow 4-6 hours between meals for adequate digestion. 

Love the food you eat, yourself, and one another, too. Your body is a temple, follow the basics, and listen to YOU. 

Everything is energy. The food you eat is energy and the energy you put into every step of the process from shopping or growing your food, preparing a meal, eating, the company you eat with, and digesting the meal plays a role in how you feel. Your body is always giving you feedback. Tune in and listen to the signs. To reiterate a tip from above...if you get a runny nose immediately after a meal, feel bloated, extremely tired, or begin sneezing it's your body saying that something is off and your digestive fire isn't burning brightly. Be aware of sensations and signs of compatability and disharmony. 

Tip: Write your meals down and track how you feel in the Daily Tracker to observe patterns and reactions. 

BOTTOM LINE: MODERATION IS THE KEY TO HEALTH & LONGEVITY

10 Real Food Rules for Health & Longevity

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10 Real Food Rules for Health & Longevity

 

  1. Quality Over Quantity: Grass-fed, hormone free, antibiotic free meats, organic/cage-free eggs, seasonal/local produce organic when possible. Remember, you eat what your food eats!

  2. Care for your Gut: It's not just about what you eat; it's about what you can absorb and utilize. Eat fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchee, and kombucha, or take a probiotic supplement to support your gut microbiome. 

  3. Eat More Plants Please: Greens like spinach, kale, chard, and collard greens help the body detox (something the body does naturally). Plus, vegetables provide lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber for nourishment and satiety. On the plan, non-starchy vegetables are unlimited. 

  4. Skip Sugar and Grains: Get your body in a fat-burning state, slow down the aging process, and recover faster by cutting back on sugars and grains. 

  5. Eat More Healthy Fat: Healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, hemp/chia/flax seeds, avocado, and grass-fed butter promotes healthy hormones, brain function, and helps promote satiety.

  6. Eat Mindfully: It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register fullness. Eat slowly, be mindful, and cultivate the willpower and determination to put the fork down when you’re 80% full. 

  7. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS Read the Labels: Simple is sexy. If you can't pronounce it, don't eat it. 

  8. Plan and Prep: Plan out healthy meals for the week, make a grocery shopping list, and only keep real food in the house to avoid temptation. 

  9. Drink more water: Sometimes we may feel hungry when we are actually thirsty. Aim to drink 12-16 oz. of water first thing in the morning and continue to drink water all throughout the day. Steer clear of sodas and sugar-loaded juices. 

  10. Be Grateful: Never focus on what you can’t have on your nutrition plan, only think about all the benefits you’re receiving by eating healthy food like more energy, a leaner body, better performance, and increased sex drive. 

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Real Food Basics

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Real Food Basics

Top Questions to ask when pondering if it's really REAL

Must Answer YES to the questions below: 

Is it made by mother nature? 

Real food comes from the earth not from a factory. Vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, hormone free/antibiotic free meats are all considered real food.

Does it love you back? 

Real food is packed with nutrients that support your body  and build you up while processed foods take a toll on your body and break you down accelerating the aging process. 

Does it have a limited shelf life? 

Canned and boxed items usually contain additives and preservatives; stick to the real stuff even if that means more frequent trips to the grocery store. 

Real food doesn’t HAVE ingredients. Real food IS ingredients.
— Jamie Oliver

Is it readily digestible? 

Our intestines house over 100 trillion microbiome which aid in metabolism, produce various vitamins, aid in digestion, and support immunity and mood. Processed foods disrupt the abundant ecosystem that lives within while real food nourishes it. 

Was it grown or raised without pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones? 

It may look like real food now, but early on in the process it was tampered with in a lab. Know your farmer. Know your butcher. Shop local farmer's markets and always read the labels. 

Does it look a bit imperfect? 

Fruits and vegetables are unique just like people. They come in different sizes and shapes; may be a little bruised and funky looking. 

 

 

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