Why is Healthy Eating Important?
If I conducted a survey asking hundreds of people their opinion on what constitutes healthy eating, I would get many different answers. Some people think that just because they do not eat out at fast food restaurants, they are on the right track. Others feel that good old home cooking is the way to go regardless of what they are actually cooking.
Although there may not be the “one size fits all” diet, there are certain principles that one cannot argue. All diets should be catered around whole foods – those that come from nature, are minimally processed, and without chemicals. We are an alkaline species, meaning we have been designed by nature to eat foods that our cells require in order to live, regenerate and build healthy bodies. Most of our daily food agenda should come from raw fruits and vegetables, sprouted grains, and lean proteins. I try to encourage everyone to eat 80% of foods that are alkaline forming daily, with the other 20% coming from acid forming (cooked foods) that are easily digested and free of chemicals, hormones, etc. An example of a healthy diet would include at least 8 -10 vegetables and 3-5 fruits, lean cuts of fish or meat, with grains such as wild rice or quinoa or sweet potato. There is no question that a healthy diet will ensure that you perform better as you will have more energy and vitality.
It is so easy to get swayed by fancy packaging and promises of added nutrients when grocery shopping. Packaged goods can only offer you one truth – a fast fix. It is true that it takes less time to open a box than fix a salad, but you will pay for it in the end. All processed foods that are high in refined sugars, added coloring, flavors and preservatives should be avoided. We call these “foodless foods” that are really toxic to your system. Boxed cereals are a perfect example of how the public is fooled by thinking that they are getting enough fiber in their breakfast. Not only are most of these cereals high in sugar, but most of the fiber disappears in the heating and manufacturing process.
Fruit juices are another culprit. They contain too much fructose, no phytonutrients or fiber. Please eat real fruit.
Kale and veggie chips that hit the stores recently are another sway in the wrong direction. Save your money and try spreading a bit of olive oil on your own kale leaves. Place them under the broiler for less than a minute and you have your own chips!
Beware of gluten-free packaged foods. They have become widely available due to consumer demand. Most are nothing more than refined, processed, junk food.
What about eggs? This is a question I am asked a lot due to the myth that they are high in cholesterol. The healthy way to eat an egg (organic and free range) is raw or very gently cooked with the yolk still runny. Raw eggs are better and healthier because cooking them will damage the valuable nutrients like lutein, bioflavoids, and vitamin D . Heating the egg also damages its chemical shape, and the distortion can lead to allergies.
Although some people complain that healthy snacks are difficult to find, I can easily argue that statement. Veggies or raw crackers with hummus is a great easy snack to throw in a bag, and healthy food stores today offer a wide variety of different flavors. Nuts, seeds, plant based energy bars are also a good snack option. With consumers’ demand for healthy food growing every day, prices are coming down as well, even with the organic options!
Research has shown that those who eat a plant based diet have lower risk of heart disease, hypertension and obesity than the average North American. Plant based foods are rich in vitamins and minerals that are easily absorbed to deliver optimum nutrition. Most people that I see in my practice have digestion issues because they eat too much protein and not enough fiber. It is much harder for our bodies to break down protein coming from a steak than a salad.
For people who do not normally eat many vegetables, I think it is important to go slowly. Start with one meal. Changing your breakfast to include 3-4 fruits or a fruit smoothie can be a great start. My favorite smoothie is one that includes frozen berries (instead of ice cubes), a banana, a pear (makes a great texture) and a plant based protein powder. Add some plain water or coconut water and you have a refreshing breakfast drink that is full of fiber, vitamins, enzymes and electrolytes.
I would like to recommend the cookbook called Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon. It is packed with over 100 delicious healthy recipes that are easy to follow and prepare. Many of them are free of soy, nuts, sugar and grains - perfect for those who suffer from allergies.
By Frances Michaelson
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