We interrupt the final installment on flower essences to bring you this awesome insight on the d-word….
Diet is a four-letter word to me—especially at the beginning of the new solar year, when about all I can do is roll my eyes over the many posts touting the latest fad. But when I heard this piece of advice, I knew that it was brilliant—and a total reversal of my stereotypical association with dieting. In fact, I wish that I had discovered it years ago, when I was obsessing over weight loss.
Now that I’ve calmed down considerably and am making friends with my cushioned curves, I still recognize the importance of eating healthfully and practicing a body-nurturing attitude about food and fitness. Unfortunately, for years, that was not the case.
You see, every time that I went to see a holistic health care practitioner or even skin care specialist, I got the same prescription—and that was to stop eating a ginormous list of food, from sugar-laden nasties to carb-oozing empty calories and then some. You name it, it was off limits—even some healthier options that were considered high in sugar, like bananas and dried fruit. Granted, this does make sense given that excessive amounts of carbohydrates break down into sugar then fat in the body, and that too much refined sugar can be detrimental to health and cause premature aging (great post on sugar here by the Wellness Mama).
Nonetheless, I’ll tell you where that advice usually got me. It got me to binge like crazy because I entered into a brain freeze of scarcity. It unintentionally made me feel like I had NOTHING to eat. In order to prove that was not the case, I would eat whatever was in sight, including foods I usually avoided.
So when I heard this very simple piece of advice, I knew that I had to share it. (Please let me know who was the one to share it with me because I can’t remember! I will happily credit you.) So here it is…
Instead of taking away food, simply start adding nutrient-dense food into your daily menu.*
Why does that make so much sense to my diet-repellent brain? Because the more we fill ourselves up with highly nutritious food, the less our bodies crave empty calories like sugary or salty snacks. It is really that simple. Plus it eliminates the feeling that there’s nothing to eat because we’re actually increasing the food intake, not eliminating it—yet. Over time, the healthier food will naturally crowd out the foods devoid of nutritional value.
Don’t ya just love this twist on the four-letter diet word? If only I had been given this list of foods to eat, not foods to avoid, maybe those lapses into poor eating would not have happened.
Some easy ways to do it
In colder months, adding in nutrient-rich foods may look like beginning the day with a hearty bone broth which is essentially chicken stock that’s full of vegetables. You’ll be seeing a lot more of this tip everywhere. Actually, highly lauded skin specialist Kristina Holey gave me this idea during a recent facial. Many of us mamas know bone broth already as healing chicken soup. If you like to work off a recipe, here’s one with a short how to video made by nutritional therapist and author of Eat, Nourish, Glow, Amelia Freer. She shares more glow-worthy tips on the Content Beauty blog.
But when it comes to this no-fail broth, no recipe is needed. I like to throw in most of these ingredients for a highly savory broth:
- onions – as many as will fit into the pot
- celery root (though I can’t find it at all lately!)
- sweet potato (one)
- zucchini (one-two)
- lots of garlic cloves
- fennel (half or broth will taste like licorice)
- pink himalayan salt or sea salt (to taste)
- and of course organic, non-hormone fed chicken
- Lately I’ve added marrow bones too which give extra calcium to the mix
- To make a vegan version, you can easily leave out the last two ingredients for a flavorful veggie broth
When I say throw in, I mean that literally. I place any of the veggies that we want to eat—like carrots and the chicken that my kids love—at the bottom of the pot and then put the rest of the herbs and veggies into a large spaghetti strainer that fits inside my stock pot. It looks like this:
After bringing the soup to a boil and then simmering for several hours (or an entire day), I remove the strainer, drain the vitamin and mineral-rich liquid out and keep the parts that my family likes to eat. Super simple! The clear broth looks like this. Nom nom.
Another great idea is using that broth as the base of other dishes like a thicker, blended broccoli soup or a rich stew. My body craves warmth in winter, so I prefer the add-ons to be hot but easy to make. In warmer months, smoothies are a great treat that can fill me up for hours. For now, I love whipping out my crock pot and throwing in onions, beef, marrow bones, or whatever else the recipe may call for (there are loads of crock pot recipes to choose from). The great part about a crock pot is that you can put the recipe together the night before or in the morning and not think about it all day.
If you let me know in the comments, I’d be happy to share my overnight crock pot pea soup recipe in a future post. It’s so easy, tasty, and vegan.
Make simple swaps that boost nutrition, like switching out regular table salt for highly beneficial pink Himalayan salt.
Swap out white rice and white flour pasta for quinoa, buckwheat groats, a.k.a. kasha, or brown rice pasta, each replete with protein, fiber, and vitamins.
Don’t avoid the good fats and oils! They do a body good (here’s why). So seek out non-hydrogenated, cold-pressed, and organic add-ons as though your life depends on it. It may! Avoid all hydrogenated and most refined oils—even the ones that say “no cholesterol,” because they’re detrimental to your health. These are no longer oils in their natural state but rather resemble a material like plastic.
From left to right: organic cold-pressed avocado oil (also ideal for high-heat cooking), raw organic coconut oil, preservative-free hummus (Trader Joe’s makes delicious ones with garlic and horseradish, or you can make it yourself), vegan and cold-pressed organic Earth Balance Buttery Spread, avocado, cold-pressed, and organic olive oil. (Costco actually carries organic avocado oil and organic olive oil.)
Of course, highly nutritious fats can come from nuts and seeds too, which make great grab-and-go snacks or you can make raw bars. Peanuts are actually a legume and best avoided because of their inflammatory properties. But raw nut butters like almond butter make delicious treats spread over apples or sprouted whole grain bread too.
When time or energy is in short supply, you can order food from health-conscious companies or restaurants. I’ve heard fantastic feedback about the Clean Program, but have not tried it personally.
I am a big fan of Joulebody,** a company that delivers fresh food to your door. The vegan meals are surprisingly satisfying and kick cravings to the curb. You’ll be amazed at how satisfying edamame hummus can be and how much the high protein content fills you up. Joulebody also offers recipes, so that you can duplicate the delicious meals yourself. Kasey Lum of Plein Vanity covered her experience in a detailed writeup about Joulebody here.
As for restaurants, it seems that more and more healthy options are cropping up in big cities everywhere. The new Thoughtfully Magazine has a fantastic section about the latest crop of eateries, plus wholesome recipes to add to your repertoire. It’s worth checking out!
This list is by no means exhaustive but rather gives a launching point and hopefully a few helpful ideas. I have not even covered white flour alternatives (almond flour and coconut flour are two faves of mine), food combining (as listed in the classic Fit for Life), soaking, sprouting, greens (my trusty vegan pesto recipe, brussels sprouts chips—yes, please!), and more yummy suggestions (roasted cauliflower sprinkled with nutritional yeast flakes, mmm!).
The other two points that I’d like to mention is that everyone has a dieting style and foods that support them and foods that don’t.
That means that there’s no one right way to go about eating nutritiously.
Some of my friends need a highly regimented plan, while others like a more flexible diet. Some friends who thought that they were eating healthy for years found out that all the raw vegetables or legumes that they were consuming were actually hurting their digestive system, causing a slew of issues. It is helpful to know that the body’s needs change and so too dietary needs change. There are a number of ways to test what foods would best support your specific needs, such as blood tests, applied kinesiology (muscle testing), by blood type, through the pulse, etc.
What I’m discussing here really has nothing to do with actual dieting but rather with embarking on a way of life that supports good health and evolves naturally from educated food choices. That’s my kind of no-diet whole health advice.
*If for medical reasons you need to abstain from eating certain foods, then please do so immediately and do not only add on healthy substitutes, but also eliminate the ones that are aggravating the medical condition. This advice is not meant to replace that given by a medical practitioner.
**This is a referral link because I love Joulebody so much and know how nutritious and delicious the meals are.