Jump-Start Your Nutrition This Spring & Dust Off the Quarantine Cobwebs!
It took me a while to write this blog due to several things - my denial of my COVID 15, an out-of-control sugar addiction and the time to research just how to get back on track. For years I fell back on advice from a dear friend, who was a food scientist, who always preached "eat what's close to what nature has provided and eat all things in moderation." He passed away last month and I was reminded of his thoughts on food by his son's eulogy of his beloved father. I don't know about you, but I was far from following his advice and knew I had to do something after stuffing myself with comfort food, gaining weight and not really feeling that great.
There is lot out there on food and dieting--gluten-free, vegan, paleo, keto, low-fat, low carb, fruit cleanse, raw food, fasting and much more. As most of you know, I have been spending part of each week with my daughter's family and after complaining about my weight gain and aching joints, she gave me a book to read, The Pegan Diet, by Mark Hyman, MD. At first I thought oh no, another fad, but in the first chapter I found that it is not really a diet at all but more of an un-diet. It was much closer to my food scientist friend's philosophy on food than anything else I've ever read. The name Pegan actually came out of a joke, combining Paleo with Vegan. Dr. Hyman found that both had a lot in common and the only difference was where to get your protein. His philosophy for me makes a lot of sense and not difficult at all to follow with the exception of cracking (pun intended) my sugar issue. He refers to food as your "Farmacy" vs "Pharmacy" and highlights all the good things food can do for you and what physically your body needs to keep all its systems at top efficiency.
I think we all know deep down inside what we should be eating and why, but this long year did not help our situation... at least not mine.
The main takeaways I got from the book and my daughter are:
Every level of your health is impacted by what you eat. You eat to build muscle, bones, gain energy, balance your hormones, maintain your gut, boost your immunity and improve heart health. You can't do one thing for one part of your body and forget the others.
Eat the rainbow of non-starchy fruits and veges - this was not new to me, but something I seem to forget. The darker the color the better! Think red cabbage, blueberries, beets, peaches, Brussel sprouts or broccoli.
Eat the right beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds - i.e., brown rice is better than white and some beans are more starchy than others - stick with lentils, black beans or chick peas.
You can eat meat, poultry, eggs and fish, but stick to grass fed varieties of meat and poultry which are much easier to get these days in the supermarket and buy wild caught fish.
Avoid dairy if it bothers you, but if you do eat dairy, eat full fat varieties with no added sugars, sugar substitutes or additives.
This is the hard one - Treat sugar like a recreational drug. Several years ago I did one month of no-sugar and no complex carbs and I dropped 10 pounds. I should have learned, but I slowly succumbed.
Shop the periphery of the supermarket, avoid long food labels and limit gluten. I love sprouted grain breads from Ezekiel--they are not gluten free but the sprouted grains are much better tolerated and metabolized. They are found in the frozen food aisle.
With this beautiful spring day, I am motivated to get back to some common sense eating habits and as soon as I get home, the jelly beans are headed for the trash. Have you put on a few or are you feeling sluggish? If you are interested in what I have been reading - see below:
The Pegan Diet, Food Fix, and The Blood Sugar Solution
Mark Hyman, MD
Against All Grain
and I really like the recipes in the magazine Clean Eating the photography is a great motivator.