My Food Philosphy
1. Eat from scratch, and I mean, eat from scratch. No pre-packed, processed crap, which is what our supermarkets foods most consist off. Chopping, mixing, cooking…. that is what you need to do. You will be surprise how much more food you can eat by doing this and how much more nutrition you can obtain from food by cooking it yourself.
Don’t get me wrong, this can take longer than opening a box with a box cutter and sticking it in the oven but by no means I spend hours in the kitchen. In as low as 20-30 minutes you can have awesome dinners cooked from scratch.
In a recent study pre-diabetic people where studied to learn how food could affect their genes. The group was divided in two groups and given exactly the same amount of calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein and fiber for 12 weeks. The difference was only in the quality of carbohydrates they consumed.
They found that the group eating the high quality carbohydrates had smaller fat cells and where more sensitive to insulin, a good thing!!
In this case, this experiment shows how important eating food of highest quality is so crucial. You need to treat your body right, and not like a trash can!! You need to eat real food.
2. Eat plenty of greens, fruits, and whole grains. In my house we eat a lot of vegetables, fruits and whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat pasta and whole wheat bread. When ever possible eat whole grains, they make a lot of difference. They keep you full longer, because they are digested different than white carbohydrates, they are more difficult to process by the body because they are not simple carbohydrates but complex, they contain much more fiber and more importantly more nutrients.
As far as fruit is concern, I will give you one of my tricks. Sometimes we do not get to eat all of the fruit that we would need or want, so what I do often, almost every day, are smoothies. I buy organic frozen berries like strawberries, raspberries etc and make smoothies. It is a very fast, easy way to get your fruits, and kids love them. I called them ICIES sometimes. I even put flax seed meal or even fresh spinach in them and kids can’t even tell :-). If you want you can also freeze these on ice pop molds for the summer, they are delicious.
3. Buy organic as much as you can. Hormones and antibiotics in food affect kids even more. I know it can get expensive but do what you can. Dairy, certain veggies and fruits, poultry and meat are most important to get organic.
4. Exercise. In my family we love to eat, we don’t deprive ourselves of nothing. Like I said, we keep it fresh and we moderate our servings. If we didn’t exercise we would have to cut our intake drastically, and that we could not tolerate, we love food way too much.
Exercising comes easy for me. I have been exercising since I was little so I consider exercising as essential as eating. If I didn’t exercise I would go nuts. I have had a couple of instances when I could not exercise because of having surgery and that was unbearable.
Even while in college I joined the swimming and tennis teams so that I could keep an active lifestyle. For me exercising is as important as eating!
5. DO NOT DIET, and I mean, DO NOT DIET, IT DOES NOT WORK, AND IT WILL NEVER WORK. Are you going to be able to be on a diet for the rest of your life? I don’t think so, therefore it will not work. What works is a change in life style. Changing one’s quality of food intake and perhaps exercising in moderation if possible, that works. I can not stress this enough, depriving oneself of food will never work.
I have never experimented with any diets out there. I actually don’t even like the word diet. I have been lucky enough to realize that what really works is eating from scratch (cooking everything yourself), moderate servings, eat real quality food and exercise if possible. All food groups should be eaten and none should be avoided, which is normally what some of the diets out there wants you to do.
When I mention you need to eat real quality food, I mean, EAT REAL QUALITY FOOD. When you read a product ingredient list and see names that you wouldn’t know or have in your house, DO NOT buy it, as simple as that.
I know people are different and what may work for someone may not work for another but following these simple rules will almost work for anyone. This is not a diet it is pretty much just following a healthy eating life style…..that is what works….that is the key…..it is simply the secret!!
A gradual change on one’s lifestyle that could be carried on for the rest of one’s life is what works. You, and you only, should arrive to that healthy lifestyle and define what changes work for you, what ever makes you comfortable. It is normally not about the pounds, although that helps, but about how much better you feel physically and mentally.
6. Get enough sleep. This is crucial and of most importance. If you need more information on this see the Eat Well Live Well e-book.
7. There are only a few things we do not eat that I tell friends, and family to stay away from which are TRANS FATS (AKA partially hydrogenated fats) HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) and MSG (monosodium glutamate) and artificial sweeteners to name a few. Also artificial colors and flavors.
For your information, I want you to know, that HFCS it is not good in moderation, like they make it to be on TV commercials. This is what the food industry wants you to believe because it is a very lucrative business. HFCS is cheaper than sugar. The fact is that HFCS can not be digested by the small intestine. Because there is no chemical bond between glucose and fructose is goes straight to the liver triggering lipogenesis (production of fat and cholesterol) causing liver damage, like fatty liver so stay away from HFCS, it is not the same as sugar. In addition, HFCS has traces of mercury!!
So this is pretty much what I follow. I try to keep food as natural as possible, eat at least 3 meals p/d, cook from scratch and since I have a huge sweet tooth, bake all of my goodies….. I think I could never give up sweets!!
I also exercise 3 times per week for 1 hour minimum doing cardio (like running and swimming), strength training exercises and yoga.
My food philosophy in a nutshell:
- Eat without depriving yourself of anything. (Processed and junk food does not count though). When eating things such as rice, pasta and bread try to eat the whole grain counterparts.
- Eat food of highest quality. EAT REAL FOOD. If you want ice cream, eat real ice cream. If you want a cookie, eat a real cookie, and if you want cake, eat real cake. A cake made with 30 ingredients and fake frosting from the supermarket does not count.
- Eat from scratch. Cooking meals yourself helps you control what it is in your food allowing you to increase its quality to include less sodium, bad fats and tons of sugar.
- Don’t skip any meals, especially breakfast. You need to get your metabolism going and start burning calories!! (If you have any questions about this go to the FAQ section for more info)
- Moderate your servings. This doesn’t mean you have to eat bird portion sizes or gigantic ones either. Use your common sense :-)
- Exercise when ever possible, walk, run, swim, bike etc If you can get a routine even better, what ever works for you.
- Try to avoid fake foods and try to buy organic and natural foods when ever possible. Do what you can.
- Try to avoid soda, even diet versions, and when drinking juices make sure they are 100% juice. Just don’t over drink juice though, 1/2 cup to 1 cup per day is plenty. You don’t want to drink your calories now do you?
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate with H2O and nothing else!!
- This is not food related but it is very important. You need to make sure you get enough sleep. This is crucial to have your body in balance and allow your immune system to do its job well.
Switching to a healthier life style takes time and effort. Planning is key but once you start, trust me, it gets much easier!!
Don’t go crazy and don’t try to switch everything all at once. Take your time and take gradual steps. If you can, reward yourself in the process.
If you need more help my Eat Well, Live Well will give you more detail on how to switch to a healthier lifestyle.
Just a little bit of information for you to have on why it is that I try to buy as many organic products as possible.
Hormones and antibiotics in food:
The European Union banned the use of synthetic hormones in meat and meat products in 1988 and it is presently carrying out an additional risk assessment of the safety hormones in meat and its effect on humans.
The FDA in the U.S continues to reassure consumers that hormones are safe in meats because of the tiny amount that is used in animals and only a small fraction is transmitted to the humans who consume meat. These hormones, anabolic steroids, are used in the United States!!
Also, dairy cattle in the US is also injected with a genetically engineered growth hormone, called bovine somatotropin (BST) or recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), to increase the production of milk by the cow, NICE!!
The use of antibiotics in our meats is a concern. Some 60 to 80 percent of all cattle, sheep, and poultry in the U.S will receive antibiotics at some point. Researchers are trying to determine if and how much of a role this widespread antibiotic use may have in creating antibiotic resistance of bacteria in humans.
Organic meat helps you avoid hormones and antibiotics.
Also, for your information, the FDA currently permits SIX KINDS OF STEROID HORMONES to be used in producing cattle and sheep. Eighty percent of U.S feedlot cattle are feed or injected with steroid hormones. Each of these cows gains up to 3 pounds per day!!
What could you do
Always buy organic meat, dairy, eggs, coffee, potatoes, spinach, berries, lettuce, grapes, celery, apples, bell peppers, peaches, pears, carrots and nectarines. Don’t waste your money buying organic seafood, water or food you don’t eat too often.
Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans. Stroke, which is a type or cardiovascular disease affecting the blood vessels in the brain, is the third leading cause of death. Coronary heart disease is characterized by an abnormal thickening of the inner walls of arteries within the heart which reduces blood flow.
Elevated homocystine levels, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, directly damages cells forming blood vessel walls setting in motion a series of events leading to the deposition of cholesterol. When homocystine is inefficiently metabolized in the body it can build up to dangerously high levels increasing the risk of heart disease, blood clots and stroke.
What could you do
A safe and simple strategy for lowering the risk of heart disease is to consume adequate levels of B vitamins, and folate, since they help to convert homocystine to the next step in the metabolic chain of event thereby preventing it from reaching high levels.
Also antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and coenzyme Q10 have been shown to reduce LDL oxidation.
There is also a detailed relationship between inflammation and heart disease thus consuming omega-3 oils may pose a great benefit since they have an anti inflammatory effect.
Plant sterols, a class of phytonutrients are also beneficial in lowering cholesterol. There are some market products that are fortified with plant sterols but sources that are natural in nature are best. This is a basic list where you can learn which food products contain sterols. Alternatively you can purchase mixed sterol supplements and take them with food.
Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes
Glucose is delivered to the body cells with the help of insulin- a hormone produced in the pancreas. When the body does not make enough insulin, or when the cells do not respond properly to the insulin that is present, sugar and insulin levels rise to abnormally high levels. This in a nutshell is diabetes.
Obesity also interferes with insulin sensitivity. It seems that excessive adipose tissue impairs insulin to do its job thus increasing the chances of developing diabetes. That is why obesity and type 2 diabetes are almost always linked. Moderate weight loss-about 5% percent of body weight- can improve insulin sensitivity and result in other health benefits.
What could you do
In a nutritionally base treatment you could adopt a nutrient dense diet to include protein and fiber rich vegetables since they both help stabilize and lower both blood glucose and insulin levels.
Also chromium supplements may be beneficial since it is needed for the proper functioning of insulin.
Alpha lipoic acid also improves insulin function and lowers blood sugar levels.
Magnesium deficiency has been associated with insulin resistance and increased risk for type 2 diabetes in adults. Magnesium is necessary for both the action of insulin and the manufacture of insulin.
CoQ10 may have a small beneficial effect on glycemic control. It may make the body slightly more sensitive to insulin
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) which improves insulin sensitivity.
Cinnamon, through some clinical trials, has also been proven to benefit glucose levels. Taking about 1/4 teaspoon per day can benefit from lowering fasting glucose levels, as well as decrease cholesterol and triglycerides.
According to the journal of science only about 5% of cancers are thought to be explained by genes alone, while 95% are believed to be due to an interaction between genes and environment, diet and lifestyle variables. What happens with cancer is that when cells malfunction or get old their life cycle ends, with cancer these cells don’t have a self destruction biological program as regular cells do so they keep dividing uncontrollably, destroying organs and draining the body’s nutritional resources for energy, normal growth and healing.
What could you do
Some beneficial foods that can be consumed that can offer protection against cancer and heart disease are cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, bok choy, cabbage, kale, and broccoli since they contain substances called glucosinolates which can boost the body’s detoxification mechanisms and render cancer promoting chemicals.
Other vegetables that can provide protection against cancer are the allium vegetables such as onions, garlic, shallots and leeks. These foods work in the detoxification system plus they contain antioxidants, which promote health by neutralizing free radicals and minimizing their damage to their body.
Some other supplements that can be beneficial are selenium, vitamin A, C and E, folic acid, coenzyme Q10 and lycopene.