Monday, January 20, 2014

5 easy tips for eating healthier now

Hi all! How'z it? (As South Africans would say.)

While January is in full swing, I still tend to think of January/February (hey, we can even push it into March) as "the new year". So, in keeping with bettering ourselves in 2014, I have tapped into the editorial and nutritional brilliance of my dear friend, Monica. I think most people want to either lose weight or "eat healthier" at the start of every year, but what does that look like? Monica and I have been close friends since high school and I think she is just the best. She blogs over at The Dietitian and the Dog, and although she is knew to the blogging world, her writing is superb - humorous, honest, and healthy! 

Monica and Madeline

Here are Monica's five tips for being healthy this year, plus her response to a few items I heard were questionable. 

1. Drink more water. There's nothing more hydrating and sustaining than good old fashioned tap water. No need to spend money on bottled water, in fact, it may be missing the fluorine that tap water has and then you're setting yourself up for risk of cavities. If you're a professed 'water hater' (you know who you are, dehydrated souls) try slicing cucumbers/oranges/apples/melon and letting them marinate in a water pitcher for a day. Your water will be magically flavored. You can also try carbonated water, but I'm not trying to sit next to Burps McGee afterward.

2. Taste the rainbow. No, not you, Skittle fiends. I mean FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. They are nature's candy! Nothing in our food supply is more potently anti-cancer due to their concentrated anti-oxidant levels. Fruits and veggies are also mostly water, so again here I go on my hydration tirade. They've got fiber, flavor, can be cooked/roasted/poached/grilled/eaten raw/frozen/smoothi-ed and harbor lots of magical little things called phytochemicals that work in mysterious ways to combat cell damage and that cannot be isolated into pills. Aim for 2-3 fruits a day, and 4-6 servings of vegetables. Try sneaking cauliflower into rice and macaroni and cheese, and snack on fruits between meals.

3. Go Fish. Sorry Nemo, but fish are indeed food, and not friends. (See quote "Fish are Friends, Not Food.") No other source of protein is as anti-inflammatory and not to mention delicious and versatile. All fish have omega-3 fatty acids, which are a happy kind of fat that protect against heart disease and combat inflammation. To avoid mercury buildup, stick to SMASH - Salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardine, herring. Canned tuna is always a good choice as well. Beware of farmed fish, which usually contain higher levels of mercury and are pent up and fed unnatural and pretty nasty feed.

4. Yo!, Gurt. Introduce yogurt into your diet, ideally, daily. Yogurt, especially the Greek strains, are packed with protein, calcium, and most importantly, probiotics - which are happy friendly bacteria that displace more virulent strains and promote bowel regularity and health. Probiotics have been shown to reduce the incidence of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and gas. Try plain, nonfat Greek Yogurt, and add fruit or honey to taste.

5. To be Whole is Holy. Rid yourself of refined grains, and aim to make most of your grains whole. It doesn't have to be just whole wheat bread, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta. There's an arsenal of whole grains commercially available now - quinoa, barley, spelt, kamut, amaranth, buckwheat, the list goes on!  Try quinoa hot in the morning like oatmeal, or buckwheat pancakes. The fiber, B vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that are stripped away in processing refined grains will be so happy you saved them.

I asked Monica about the following: orange juice, tofu, and whole wheat bread. From a source that will not be named, I heard that these were actually bad for you. Here's what she said to that:

1. Orange Juice - not the devil, but it's easy to overdo. I use it as more of a treat and when I do, it's fresh squeezed and full of pulp and no extra additives! Literally.. orange in a juicer. And just 1 cup of it. Or in a mimosa. The other crap they market as orange juice is a waste. Pure sugar. Lots of Vitamin C but it's much better to just... eat a REAL orange. Imagine that!

2) Tofu - Complete source of soy protein, rich in calcium, low in fat. What is the issue?!?!? There is some evidence that soy products and their phytoestrogens which act like weak hormones can mess with the hormone system and are linked to breast cancer but nothing terribly compelling and I definitely would not avoid it. It takes on any flavor and is easy to prepare and cheap.

3) Whole wheat bread (they said you should only eat whole GRAIN). What looney tune are you getting these things from?? The gold standard of whole wheat bread is anything that on the label reads "100% whole wheat" is legit only whole wheat flour. Anything that says "whole grain" ismisleading, it can still have white flour in it!! However, I am all about different types of whole grains like oats, quinoa, spelt, kamut, rye, etc. Just make sure when you read the ingredients there's no 'enriched' flour or white flour!
now I want a sandwich :(

Thanks so much for the tips, Monica!

Are you trying to eat better this year? What changes are you making?

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