Love Your Food, Love Your Body in Nutrition Month!

  • Happy Nutrition Month! I must confess, loving healthy food and wellness as I do, this is one of my favorite awareness months. Whether you're looking at the many ways to achieve healthy nutrition, or savoring the results, it's a topic to "bite into," as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics puts it.

    "But what can you possibly say that's new?" you might be wondering. "We've all been taught the Food Pyramid for years."USDA_Food_Pyramid Yes, we have indeed...and the familiar old USDA metaphor is getting some competitors (and high time, too, I'd say!). For example, the Harvard School of Public Health is re-visioning the pyramid as a plate, cutting out sweets and limiting fats, and putting the emphasis on vegetables, with equal amounts of healthy proteins and whole grains, and a smaller proportion of fruit.HEP_HSoPH

    But if you ask me, this version is still missing important elements, and misrepresenting others! For example, where are the healthy fats -- avocados, coconut oil, Omega-3s, nuts, seeds, and so forth? Simply not present. Neither are foods like chia seeds, kimchi and goji berries, or healing spices like garlic and turmeric. And worst of all, there is an assumption that all food is created equal -- there is no recognition of the risks in GMOs, or the extent to which they are present in the U.S. food industry.

    So I cast my vote for the brilliant new Healing Foods Pyramid developed by the University of Michigan school of Integrative Medicine. This new design includes new sectors for seasonings, healthy fats, and legumes, and the foundation of the whole thing is – imagine! – water. The developers specifically emphasize:

    • Healing foods: Consume foods known to contribute to your health.
    • Plant-based choices: Choose minimally processed plant foods that are known for their health benefits.
    • Variety and balance: Fill your plate with whole grains, healthy fats, and a colorful array of fruits and vegetables every day.
    • Support of a healthful environment: Select foods that have been produced without harming our planet.
    • Mindful eating: Truly savor, enjoy, and focus on what you eat.

    These people are speaking more of my language! They're up front about the benefits of organic, non-GMO foods, eating local, and so much more. They offer food -- as I do -- as a source of healing and wellness, and warn against the ways in which it's being misused today.

    So what can I add to this excellent information? Most important, I'd urge you to include more alkaline foods in your diet -- the American diet is very acidic, leading to indigestion, inflammation, and ultimately major diseases such as cancer. You can find information on the acid-alkaline balance, and a food list, here:

    What are the worst culprits in causing inflammation and other health issues? Corn and soy (two of the top GMO crops -- surprised?), as well as sugar, gluten, and peanuts.

    Generally, your best bet is to limit processed sweets and grains and include more plant-based proteins in your diet. A large amount of grains such as wheat, rice, and oats can cause a fluctuation in blood sugar even if you're not diabetic, leading to sleepiness, nervous tension and irritability, and other symptoms. If you've ever had a case of the 2:00 slump after eating a grain-heavy lunch, this is a prime example!

    And while we're talking about plant-based proteins -- ! If you consume a moderate to high quantity of beans, grains, seeds and nuts, it's best to soak and sprout them, or buy them this way. According to Tess Masters in Veg Daily Blog (, These seeds are protected from early germination by natural enzymes that can cause stomach upset, bloating, and flatulence. She says,

    "Soaking and sprouting replicates germination, which activates and multiplies nutrients (particularly Vitamins A, B, and C), neutralizes enzyme inhibitors, and promotes the growth of vital digestive enzymes."

    Your best course is simply to watch your own body's responses: how does a food or food combinations affect your energy level and mood? By paying attention to the impact of different foods, you can determine which are healthiest -- or unhealthiest -- for you, and build a diet that truly supports you in mind, body and spirit.

    Finally, eat mindfully, chew thoroughly, drink plenty of water, and most of all, give thanks before eating! Whether you're thanking Spirit for providing the food, or the farmers who grew the food, the energy of gratitude is a powerful medicine to improve your digestion and health overall.


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