Nutrition Made Easy
by Rhonda Pessin, NC, LMT
Figuring out what to eat can be really challenging these days. With all the fancy advertising bombarding us from a high tech world, we can feel overwhelmed with trying to unravel fact from fiction. Our foods are over processed and adulterated with chemicals. Add environmental and emotional stress and our immune systems become weakened and we can find ourselves chronically tired with increased allergies, blood and sugar imbalances, aches and pains and illness. We need to reduce our toxic overload where we can. One way is to eat a more natural plant based, whole foods diet that provides adequate nutrition for our busy, stress filled lives.
Here some basic guidelines for healthy eating. We want to eat as close to the source as possible. There is more nutritional content in a whole grain then a more refined bread, pasta or pastry. Each time the whole grain is milled and processed it loses some nutritional content. In its most refined state such as a pastry with added sweeteners and preservatives, it becomes harmful to our health. The more miles a fruit or vegetable travels to get to your plate, the more nutritionally devitalized it is. Shopping at our local farmers' markets provides the freshest food. Fresh frozen is the next best choice. When we buy limp, canned vegetables loaded with salt, they have no fiber, no enzymes, little nutritional value, and can cause dis-ease.
We want to fill our pantries with a wide variety of whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, good fats like olive oil, fresh fruits and vegetables and your favorite herbs and spices. If you eat animal products eat lean unprocessed meats, fresh local fish, easy to digest dairy like yogurt and local eggs. Look for foods that have the least additives and preservatives.
Proportionally, our plate of food should be 25 % protein, and the rest colorful vegetables and grains. Each color represents a different nutritional value--for instance orange vegetables like carrots are high in vitamin A, so the more colorful your plate, the more nutritionally balanced it will be.
When it comes to food preparation, the biggest challenge I hear in my Nutritional Consulting practice is there is not enough time to cook healthy meals. Here are a few tips. You can pre-cook foods that will last for several days. Rice and beans keep well and you can freeze portion-size containers. One-pot soups and stews also keep well, are easy to make and a great way to empty your refrigerator of food that needs to be used before they spoil. To really simplify things, I gave a no-chop salad recipe to a client who didn't like to cut vegetables. It consisted of pre-cut mixed greens or spinach, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, alfalfa sprouts, radish, garbanzo beans, sunflower seeds, olives and optional goat or parmesian cheese. All he needed was a big bowl! You can make a dinner of grilled or baked fresh fish, steamed broccoli and brown rice you precooked and a salad in half an hour.
Another big challenge that comes up is the cost of fresh food. I encourage you to look in your shopping cart. See if you can eliminate some soda, cookies or chips, or some pre-prepared food, and use that money to buy fresh food. A bag of chips can be over $5.00, a head of lettuce is around $3.00. A candy bar is $1.50, an apple is under $1.00. Drink more water and herbal teas and less juice drinks. As you eliminate some of these foods, your grocery bill may actually go down! And think of what you'll save in medical bills.
With all of the online recipes available, it is much easier to cook healthy today. If you have specific goals or health problems, find a professional to help you. It is the best investment you will ever make, because as we all know too well that when we're sick, nothing seems more important then getting well. Don't wait!
Rhonda Pessin has a Masters-level Degree in Nutrition Consultation from Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts, Penngrove, Ca. For more info go to aliveandwellstcroix.com or call 718-5547. Get on mailing list at email@example.com for upcoming talks and workshops.