Last week I went on a short road trip and stopped to eat in IHOP with my roommate. She ordered some whole-grain “healthy” pancakes. The waiter apologized for not having the usual fake margarine as the healthy alternative to butter. I remember when years ago, President Reagan referred to ketchup as a vegetable implying that it was good for you to eat.
We all have different ideas about what is healthy for us to eat. In medical school I learned that everything is purely based on calories which were broken down into three categories, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. As long as you eat a certain amount of each per day you should be fine. Then in acupuncture school, I learned about the energy of each food, and how each food has a different quality that can be used for healing.
We are a culture obsessed with weight loss. Many say that you can never be too thin or too rich. There are so many different diet books its hard to decide which would be the best for you to follow. Honestly, in most cases, we each have different needs so our diets have to vary according to our own special needs.
I have a few basic suggestions that will make a huge difference in how you feel and possibly help you with food cravings.
The first important step is to make sure that you sustain a balanced blood sugar throughout the day. Beginning with breakfast, if you have just sugar filled cereal for breakfast, you will get lightheaded and low blood sugar early. Start the day with a meal that has at least some protein in it. Eggs are great for those who aren’t allergic to them. Toasted nuts on your cereal will make it more sustainable. Unprocessed peanut butter on toast or apple is also a good breakfast. Its better to eat 5 small meals a day than one large meal a day, to keep your blood sugar stable. It makes a huge amount of difference in how you feel. You may not notice that you get light headed when your blood sugar drops. You may just be cranky, or not think clearly, or you may not even notice because you’re so used to feeling the way you do. Just try this method of eating for a week, and see how you feel.
The second step is to try to get some vegetables into your diet. For those of you who hate vegetables, you can take supplements that have vegetables in them, or you can buy certain green powders or capsules that will give you all the vegetables you need for a day. Vegetables stabilize our bodies and blood sugar in many ways. They provide nutrients, vitamins, fiber, and low calorie nutrition. For my patients who are trying to lose weight, I tell them to fill half their plate at every meal with vegetables. Unless there are other issues blocking weight loss, I guarantee they will lose weight doing that.
The third step is to make sure that you get some essential fatty acids in your diet. Essential fats are fats we can’t manufacture in our bodies. Nuts, avocados, ocean caught fish, omega enhanced eggs, and algaes all have essential fatty acids. Good fats have been bred out of our diets because they go rancid fairly easily causing foods to have a shorter shelf life. If you make an effort to have some in your diet every day, it helps your nervous system, your hormones, and your skin be healthier.
The fourth one is really more of a concept, real food is way better for you than processed food. That includes things like butter versus “healthy low fat margarine” or eggs versus fake eggs, or alternative real sweeteners versus fake sugar. This might be one of the most important things to pay attention to. Don’t buy fake fats, sugars, or starches to make you feel like you’re getting real food.
If you don’t feel well in your body and you don’t know why, try cutting out sugar and gluten for just two weeks. It might make a huge difference to how you feel. Because those two things are in almost every processed food, even when you aren’t allergic to them, you might be affected by them because of their universal presence in your diet. Don’t substitute the sugar for fake sugar. If you must have sweet, try coconut sugar, agave nectar or stevia as a sweetener. They don’t seem to have the same effect on our bodies.
Be willing to experiment with how you feel when you try new ways of eating. Your body is unique. You might feel okay with eating something that your husband or wife or someone else close to you has a huge problem with, and vice versa.