DIARY OF A CHEF AT HOME
a collection of holistic nutrition tips & tricks, plus many of Food on the Table's favourite recipes
In honour of National Nutrition Month, I wanted to share with you 13 Easy ways to Improve your Health with FOOD. These are all simple practices that can easily be incorporated into your life. You don't need fancy equipment, spend hundreds of dollars on obscure ingredients or go on a diet (they don't work anyways).
All that's required is a desire to improve your habits, the willingness to observe your relationship with food, deciding what you want to change, setting realistic goals for yourself (start with one and add more over time) and be consistent. The quality of life can drastically be improved when we become mindful of the foods we eat and how they make us feel.
The following is a list of 13 food bases practices that you can easily incorporate into your life. Try one or two, then when you feel ready, add another. You'll be amazed at how quickly change can come about with intention and consistency!
Let me know how it goes or if you have any questions. What steps have you taken to take charge of your health and well-being?
1 - ENJOY TRADITIONAL AND NUTRIENT RICH FATS
Ditch the canola oil and margarine. Replace poor quality fats with high quality fats, like unrefined coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, tallow, lard and organic butter. Fat is required in many body functions from cell communication, hormone production, supporting immune and cardiovascular health and satiation between meals. Look for cold or first pressed, virgin, unrefined and/or organic fats and oils.
2 - USE UNREFINED SEA SALT
Table salt is only useful in playdough! It has been stripped of ALL minerals creating a highly refined substance that can deplete your own mineral stores. Replace refined salts with mineral (and flavour!) rich salts like celtic or himalayan...something with texture and colour. You may find it slightly moist or different shades of grey or pink. The cost is only a few extra dollars and so worth it! Really easy way to get more minerals into your diet.
3 - INCLUDE LACTO-FERMENTED FOODS
Nutritious & delicious lacto-fermented foods are a real complement to any meal, simply add a little sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir or plain full fat yogurt. They are loaded with beneficial bacteria, elevated nutrients and lactic acids that promote and support healthy digestion and immunity. Consuming small amounts daily is a sure way to increase overall health and vitality and make for a happy gut ☺️
4 - USE NATURAL, UNREFINED SWEETENERS
Highly processed sugars are depleted of all vitamins and minerals which if consumed regularly over a period of time will have harmful effects on the body and mind leading to sugar addiction. If consuming sugar in the diet, opt for minimally processed, natural sweeteners that contain nutrients, like sucanat, rapadura, raw honey, maple syrup, molasses and stevia leaf. Still practice moderation while using them since they are a concentrated form of food.
5 - BAKE WITH WHOLE, SPROUTED GRAIN FLOURS AND FLOUR ALTERNATIVES
Bleached and enriched flours have been stripped of their natural nutrients. When you bake with sprouted, whole or unbleached grain flours you retain many of the natural properties required for proper digestion and absorption. Alternative flours like coconut and almond flours are a great alternative that are rich in nutrients, easy to digest for many people and free of gluten.
6 - EAT VEGGIES MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY
Veggies are the TRUE comfort food. High in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber...you name it! Including vegetables with every meal will ensure you're getting a variety of phyto-nutrients that each plant has to offer. Eat them raw, steamed, baked, sauteéd, grilled....just eat them! PLANT POWER!!
7 - INCLUDE MINERAL RICH FOODS INTO YOUR DIET
Foods like sea vegetables, green juices, nutritional yeast, nuts and seeds, leafy greens, beans, lentils and whole grains are all high in minerals. We need minerals to keep our bodies in balance and to support bone health.
8 - REDUCE OR ELIMINATE HIGHLY PROCESSED FOODS
Opting for minimally processed or whole foods is your best bet. If you choose to buy processed foods, read labels carefully. Devious marketing will disguise ingredients like sugar and MSG under many other names. The less ingredients, the better...especially when you know what they are and can pronounce them!
9 - DRINK FRESH, CLEAN WATER
Many discomforts in the body (fatigue, headache, congestion) can be solved by simply staying hydrated. Many of us do not drink enough water and are dehydrated most of the time. If you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated so start your day with a glass of water and continue from there. If you're only drinking small amounts, try adding a pinch of unrefined salt, this will help your body retain and absorb some of the liquid.
10 - INCORPORATE WEEKLY MEAL PLANNING
Having a meal plan in place throughout the week will save you time in the kitchen, reduce stress around what your next meal will be and save you money by only buying what you need, so nothing goes to waste. It's a great way to get the family involved, try new dishes and spark creative juices in the kitchen.
11 - MINIMIZE WATER INTAKE BEFORE MEALS
Minimizing water intake 20 minutes before, during and after a meal will help preserve higher levels of digestive enzymes. Too much water before/during/after a meal, dilutes our digestive juices which make it harder for the body to break down the food adequately. Consuming 1-3 teaspoons of Apple Cider Vinegar diluted in a small amount of water before a meal can help "fire up" those digestive enzymes.
12 - TAKE 3 DEEP BREATHS BEFORE A MEAL
3 deep breaths before you eat will help soothe and balance the nervous system which in turn allows the body to digest food more effectively. It also helps us become more present with the food we're eating so we can enjoy and appreciate the experience.
13 - BE CURIOUS ABOUT YOUR FOOD
Find connection with your food. Observe the colours, textures and smells on your plate. Ask questions: "where did this come from", "is this in season", "how does this make me feel?". Practice gratitude for the food on your table.
One of my great joys in life is cooking! As a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) & food lover I continue to explore the balance between healthy, traditional food preparation and tasty dishes.
Check out my new COOKBOOK! Planting Seeds of Nourishment with over 40 whole-foods based recipes and tons of nutrition info!