Here are 10 handy nutritional tips to ensure your body gets the proper nutrients it needs to function effectively on a daily basis. From the new book Hungry for Change:
1. Eat as Nature Intended
Nature didn’t create you to eat ready-made frozen meals with artificial preservatives and chemicals. Our ancestors and forefathers have always lived in symbiosis with nature. It’s simple: eat more “living food” and eat less “dead food.” This means plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits and if you eat meat and animal products this would also include free range eggs, wild fish, game and naturally reared animals.
2. Choose Organic
Organic fruits and vegetables contain more vitamins and minerals than their non-organic or conventional counterparts, particularly if they have been picked ripe and are locally grown. They are also safer to eat because they are grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and genetically modified organisms (GMO), all of which have been shown to have harmful effects on our reproductive health and hormones, and overload the liver. It is especially important with animal products to ensure they are free from antibiotics, hormones, and GMO feed, as animal fats tend to have concentrated levels of toxins.
3. Dust Off Your Blender or Juicer
A juicer and or blender can be your best friend. Let’s say you come home from work and you’re hungry and lethargic. Instead of reaching for a bag of chips or bar of chocolate, whip up a quick juice or smoothie, both of which are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. It’s an instant meal that delivers nutrients directly to the cells of your body.
4. Limit Gluten-Containing Grains
Gluten is a protein found in most grains, namely wheat, rye, barley, spelt, and kamut. An allergy to gluten—known as Coeliac Disease—and intolerance to gluten is becoming more prevalent. Even if you’re not sensitive to gluten, you can do your body a world of good by cutting back on your gluten intake. Gluten can irritate and damage the intestinal lining and cause inflammation, immune reactions. Traditional preparation of these grains—soaking them for at least 12 hours and fermenting or sourdough leavening removes some of the gluten, making them less harmful.
5. Stay Away from Processed Sugary Foods
Too much sugar or other refined carbohydrates can lead to blood sugar highs and lows, causing mood swings and food cravings, if not balanced by fats and proteins. Opt for foods that naturally have a lower glycemic load or glycemic index (GI). Choose vegetables and low sugar fruits, like grapefruit, lemon, lime, pears, berries, and avocados, over starchy grains. If you’re going to eat high GI foods it’s best to combine them with healthy fats to steady the uptake of glucose into the bloodstream. Avoid sweetened packaged foods, particularly those sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, glucose syrup, and artificial sweeteners.
6. Eat Good Fats
Good fats and cholesterol are essential for the absorption of most nutrients and for hormone production. Enjoy the healthy saturated fats found in coconut oil, wild fish, organic dairy, and grass-fed meats, and monosaturated fats like extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil, macadamia nuts, and avocados. Avoid oxidized, free-radical producing fats like margarine spreads, commercial baked cookies, potato chips, and vegetable oils.
7. Prepare Your Meals with Care
Ditch the microwave. Eat more raw foods that have been undamaged by heat. When cooking, sauté, steam, or grill foods over low or medium heat with stable fats, such as coconut oil, ghee, or butter in an old-fashioned cast iron pot. These fats are less volatile and ideal for cooking, especially compared to most vegetables oils, which become toxic to the body when oxidized at high temperatures.
8. Know Where Your Food Comes From
Knowing where your food comes from is an important step in improving your nutrition. Speaking with farmer’s at your local market and checking the origin of your foods in the produce section of your supermarket will let you know if the food is local or shipped in from far away. Generally speaking, the more local and in-season your foods the better it is for your health, the environment, and your local food economy.
9. Read Labels
Chemical food additives can wreak havoc on our hormones and lead to weight gain and addiction. Watch out for MSG, the flavor enhancer that tricks our brain into thinking we need to overeat. MSG is often disguised by the following names: E621, monosodium glutamate, glutamic acid, hydrolyzed vegetable oil, yeast extract, and mono-calcium glutamate. It is also commonly found in ready-made soups, potato chips, sauces, and cookies. When in doubt, remember one simple tip: If you can’t pronounce it, or if it includes numbers or codes, don’t eat it!
10. Eat in a Relaxed State
Our stomach and digestivesystems are very sensitive. Rushing through your meal or eating on the run will put your body in a state of fight or flight, which compromises or shuts down your digestive processes, cutting off the assimilation of nutrients into your system. What we don’t digest often turns into bacterial fermentation, bloating, or fat. Make sure you are seated and take the time to enjoy your meal in a relaxed state and with good intention.