Fitness for Body, Mind and Spirit

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Fitness for the body, mind & spirit

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Thoughtful Thursday…6 tips to eat nutritiously and thrive...


Welcome to Thoughtful Thursday. This GreenNote Fitness newsletter mindfully gathers and distills useful information that is supportive to our journey. It is my mission to educate, inspire, and propel you into action that moves you towards your goals and life of purpose. Take control of your journey today.

In this country today we have foods that are included in the Standard American Diet (SAD). These foods are extremely inflammatory. The SAD diet relies heavily on refined sugars and starches, processed foods, and toxic fats. This inflammatory diet is linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and many other health conditions.

As Dr. Jockers explains, the SAD diet lacks antioxidants and fiber from fruits and vegetables. It doesn’t supply our body with necessary vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Over time, this approach to diet causes inflammation and leads to chronic disease.

If the SAD diet is harmful then where do we begin? You are in luck because today you will discover 6 tips to eat nutritiously.

Let’s unlock these tips to get you away from “sad” and closer to actually thrive!

Before we jump in to today’s tips, let us define what it means to eat nutritiously. Although there can be many variations to the best diet from one person to the next, we do know that generally speaking, eating nutritiously would more closely resemble what our ancestors or grandma and grandpa used to eat i.e. real, unpackaged and unprocessed foods.

Additionally, there are two questions to ask yourself when it comes to eating nutritiously:

1.) Am I eating something nutrient-dense?

2.) Is it digestible? For example, quinoa is nutrient-dense but hard to digest due to a digestive irritant that makes quinoa far more likely to resist digestion. Note by soaking quinoa overnight in a water and salt mixture and rinsing the water-soluble saponins off in the morning, you would be good to go to eat this nutrient-dense food. Conversely, sugar is very easy to digest but is not nutrient-dense.

Now, on to tips for eating nutritiously!

Tip #1 - Mindset & Mindfulness

Why would we want to eat nutritiously? It’s for feeling and looking good as well as decreasing our chances for inflammation, arthritis, insulin resistance, weight-gain, hormonal imbalances, fatigue, brain-fog, depression, cancer, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease. Pretty compelling, wouldn’t you say?

So we begin with our “why" which brings us into our mindset and being mindful. I want to look good, feel good, and reduce my chances of chronic disease. In that case, I know I need to nourish my body, mind, and spirit with what I ingest. We are talking whole foods, real food, things that will support us. What those foods are in a minute. In this stage we are in-tune with our “why" and what outcome we want. It’s resisting multi-million dollar ad campaigns for the fake-food of the week and it’s staying strong in alignment with what will serve us.

Tip #2 - Eat in a Relaxed State

Avoid rushed meals and eating on the go. Do not eat while reading emails, driving, or in a hurry to get on to the next task. Eating in a parasympathetically driven state or in the rest and digest mode of the nervous system, conserves energy as it slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes sphincter muscles in the gastrointestinal tract. This aids in digestion and being able to absorb the nutrients in food. Additionally, eating in a social setting and taking the time to chew your food and not inhaling it goes a long ways in digestion and absorbing nutrients.

Tip #3 - Shop for, Grow, and Have Real Food On-Hand (always)

You may be familiar with the grocery shopping tip to only shop the perimeter of the store and not in the middle as that area is riddled with packaged/preserved fake food. First area to go to in a grocery store is to the vegetable section. Yes vegetables!! We need more colorful and delicious foods that will fuel us!

You can get great fresh food from farmer’s markets or from growing your own food.

Even if you don’t have space for a garden, growing things like tomatoes, peppers, and herbs like basil, cilantro, mint, etc. can easily be grown in pots or in a small space.

Often there are community gardens where people from the neighborhood share and take turns working in the garden. Check in your local area for these opportunities.

Pro tips - Meal Prep

Once you have your basket full of real food and you get home, you will set aside time to wash and chop anything that needs it. So for example, I will wash all of my spinach, kale, cilantro, red cabbage, celery, radishes, carrots and place it in a giant bowl. This serves as my “food-bowl” for the week. Yes, it stays nice and fresh. I use this food-bowl for my lunch every day and for dinner.

While you are preparing dinner, set your “food-bowl” of goodness out on the counter. If anyone needs a little “snack”, they can snack on that. Much better than having pantry full of chips, pretzels, Doritos, Cheese-Its and the like. It’s 100-fold easier to not consume chemical-laden “foods” if they are not in the house.

One of the biggest challenges people have with eating nutritiously is having time to prepare their meals. Often, the last thing one wants to do when they get home is make dinner or even think about what they will have for lunch the next day. For the working folks use a crockpot for your dinner. Set it in the AM and it’s ready when you get home from the office or gym.

Tip #4 - Eat Vegetables and (some) Fruits

These are often the forgotten foods that I see glaringly absent in today’s meals. These types of food are packed full of vitamins and nutrients that so many of us are deficient in. When you eat nutrient-dense foods, you become less likely to crave foods. When you do crave certain things like sweets or salt, your body may be telling you that it’s deficient in minerals. Here is a good article to read on food cravings and what they mean.

Fruits and vegetables are so helpful for detoxification. Vegetables are a rich source of antioxidants and phytochemicals (plant-based healing substances). Fruits are loaded with enzymes, minerals (such as potassium and magnesium), vitamin C and fiber—potent disease-fighters and natural cleansers.

Pro tip - Be Mindful of How Much Fruit You are Consuming

There are lots of sugar in fruit so smaller amounts are better. As is eating your fruit versus drinking them (think eating an orange over using a bag full to make a glass of juice).

Tip #5 - Get to Know Your Bitters

I began to understand and to incorporate bitters into my diet from the author, Ann Louise Gittleman. I wrote about her wonderfully written and resourceful book here. I strongly encourage everyone to get a copy. She says:

The slim-stimulating effects of bitters may be the world’s best kept secret—but I’m about to let you in on it. Bitter foods like watercress, arugula, cabbage, orange peel, ginger, and even coffee, boost bile flow which is critical for detox and thyroid health.

Here are five additional reasons to consume more bitters:

1. Bitter foods boost your thyroid and inhibit fat storage. Because bitters boost bile flow, they help your body process fat—which means storing less of it. Bile supports thyroid function by helping your body convert T4 into T3 (the active form of thyroid hormone). Studies also show that healthy bile reduces insulin resistance. In one study, individuals who improved their bile increased their metabolism by 53%! Hypothyroidism is often a sign of bile insufficiency. When your thyroid is low, your risk for gallstones increases.

2. Bitters suppress sugar cravings. In Ayurvedic medicine, bitter foods are known for nipping sugar cravings in the bud.

3. Bitters feed skinny bugs. Bitters increase the number of “skinny bacteria” in your gut and decrease the population of “fat bacteria.”

4. Bitters improve digestion and absorption: Bitter foods stimulate digestive juices, priming the pump. They tell your body to secrete gastrin, the hormone that controls how much hydrochloric acid (HCl) your stomach produces. HCl breaks down carbohydrates, fats and proteins so that their nutritional components can be easily absorbed into your bloodstream. If you’re not absorbing fats, you can’t make thyroid hormone—and if you can’t make thyroid hormone, your metabolism comes to a screeching halt!

5. Bitters reduce acid reflux and constipation: The most common cause of acid reflux is too little stomach acid, as opposed to too much. Bitters relieve reflux by increasing natural acid production. The bile-stimulating effects of bitters also prevent constipation, because bile is an intestinal lubricant.

Tip #6 - Engage the Whole Family in Meal Preparation

Start them young! Even the smallest of tots can set and clear the table. Have your kids wash the leafy-greens and vegetables. Older children can cut and chop. Make this all a part of the family-dining experience. This is part of being a family; everyone pitches in. Be an example for your children and make this part of your daily life. This goes for you too grandparents. Show them how your grandmother prepared her special dish; grew fabulous vegetables and instead of having grandma wait hand-and-foot on everyone, get the whole family to engage in the experience. They will be less likely to complain and turn up their nose in disgust if they put time and effort into preparing a meal.

Pro tip - Express gratitude

Increase the benefit of eating together by sharing something you are grateful for. For example, after everyone has gathered at the table (and everyone has helped...) take a moment to offer a prayer or have each family member say one thing they are grateful for that day. This is a nice way to be mindful, thankful, and to slow-down and breathe. It’s not only good for digestion but it is good for our well-being.

The SAD diet may be your go-to for food consumption but it doesn’t have to be. It certainly is not your destiny. You have options and choices, healthy ones. It may take a little time and effort to get on the right eating path but it can be done. Start small and give changes to your lifestyle a chance. Acknowledge even the smallest of accomplishments. It’s a process that takes time but I believe in and support you.

You can do this!

Enjoy your journey,

Lisa Schaffer

GreenNote Fitness

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