Friday, April 8, 2011

How to Eat Like Me!





















5 Great Ways to Improve Your Diet This Spring
So the title is a little cocky, but to be honest I get so many questions about my dietary habits that I thought a bit of insight might guide a few people in the right direction. I am definitely not perfect, nor am I as hardcore as some of the health foodies I know. My personal motto is “everything in moderation, even moderation” though I do my best to stick to what I’ve outlined below:
1 - I Always Try to Eat Organic Food.
Organic, opposed to conventional food, is grown without the use of sewage-based fertilizers, questionable genetic modification practices (GMOs), or manmade chemical pesticides/herbicides/fungicides. Morally, I tend towards organic or at least naturally raised, free range meats and animal products, such as dairy and eggs. This is to avoid growth hormones, antibiotics as well as questionable feedlot and slaughterhouse practices.
I also choose to eat organic because we vote with our dollars. Organic foods are more expensive because conventional big agri-businesses are exceptionally subsidized in comparison. Organic farming takes more TLC to assure that food is grown in highly mineralized soils, strict regulations are in place and the record-keeping is far more extensive to assure the best practices are maintained. I vote for healthier, more sustainable foods.
When underprepared and away from home, I try to stick to fruit that have inedible protective skins you peel away such as pineapple, mango, banana, kiwi and so on. This is to lower pesticide exposure.
2 – I’ve increased Local, Raw and Whole Foods in my diet.
Local foods- picked when fully ripe means having more nutrients than foods which ripen en route and through fumigation practices. I prefer to look for what’s in season in my home province of Ontario, but I also search out some American states in the vicinity. A simple Google search will typically let you know what’s in season in your area.
Raw foods - high in vitamins and minerals, immune-building antioxidants, phytonutrients and digestive enzymes, often lost in cooking (or worse yet, over-cooking) your food.  Digestive enzymes are like self-destructing proteins that aid in digestion by helping to breakdown food and release all the wonderful nutrients for us to absorb.
Whole foods – are unprocessed foods. Processed packaged foods are super saturated with unhealthy ingredients from cancer-causing fats and unrecognizable lab ingredients, to off the charts sodium levels which can send your blood pressure through the roof. I prepare meals with whole foods, which are much more nutritious and I always know what is in them.
3 – I Use Natural Ingredients to Enhance the Look and Flavour of Dishes.
Many of the packaged and fast food items are prepared with lab-made flavours, scents and colour enhancers which turn disgusting, tasteless “food” into something that smells, looks and tastes delicious and irresistible. This is how packaged and fast food companies convince and hook us to eat their unhealthy garbage.
It can be challenging for those who grew up in this fast food nation to acquire a taste for healthier foods, but there are many ways to naturally add yum to your dishes. Vegetables come in varieties of colours. Try some new ones to add colours to your plate. Natural ways to increase flavours include using garlic, ginger, lemon, chilli peppers and apple cider vinegar. Even keeping it basic with some sea salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil can go a long way and tastes amazing. Slowly you’ll be able to wean yourself away from the fake stuff and learn to love the taste of real healthy food.
4 – I Do a Food Plan and Prep Work in Advance.
This one is so key to eating well. I make a meal plan a week or two in advance. This way the foods we buy don’t go to waste, and it also helps to know what to do when you go to the kitchen instead of standing in front of the open fridge door thinking “there’s like no food and I’m starving!” Put down the phone and hang up on the delivery you are about to order. Yes, I’ve been there too often in the past and this has truly been a saviour.
When we do groceries, we put time aside to wash up and prep as many vegetables as we can for the week and for those nights when you are short for time, motivation, energy or all three. It’s just so great to go to make a meal and see all the needed vegetables are ready to go. In good quality containers, they can often last for up to a week (sometimes longer!!).
5 – I Drink Water, Herbal teas, Fresh Vegetable Juices and Smoothies.
Water really is the stuff of life! You can go for ages without food, but you will die within a few days if you don’t get access to water. We often dehydrate ourselves with sugary caffeinated drinks like coffees, black teas, pops and flavoured juices. These things are brutal for our blood/sugar levels and cellular health. Drinking water and organic caffeine-free (not decaf – that’s a whole other can of worms) teas as well as nutrient dense fresh vegetable juices and smoothies is sure to make your cells and body love you once again.
These are some of my dietary habits that I have acquired over time. I encourage you to slowly start to incorporate these practices into your routines this spring and watch how much your health will improve! What are some of your healthy habits? Drop me a line in the comments below.
With love,
Hayley Shwaizer, CNP

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