Eating Your Way to Wellness
By Luna Moon
Of all the improvements I’ve made towards a healthier lifestyle, nutrition most determines how well I feel day to day. Food is our bodies’ fuel; it provides the building blocks for our constantly renewing cells—all 30 to 40+ trillion of them!
Michael Murray’s book, How to Prevent and Treat Diabetes with Natural Medicine, introduced me to the concept of “diet-induced illness”. Murray points out that many of the top killers in the United States are primarily caused by diet and lifestyle. Having obsessed about food most of my life, I decided to use this “fixation” to get healthier. I embarked on my quest for what I call “diet-induced wellness”.
An important step in me taking off 55 excess pounds was learning to discern genuine physical hunger. I was using food in a variety of ways that had little to do with nutrition. My choices were often emotionally triggered or about immediate gratification—something fast and easy that tasted good, regardless of its nutritional value.
Before changing what I ate, I started changing how I ate. I limited eating to sitting at a table. I put my fork down between bites and focused on chewing. Chewing prepares food for digestion and mixes it with saliva—an important digestive enzyme. Even healthy food, when not chewed well, will compromise the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
By slowing down, I registered being satiated sooner so my portion sizes decreased. I started eliminating food with little nutrition. I added foods that fill multiple nutritional needs and play a medicinal role. For instance, walnuts are a source of healthy fat and protein, are anti-inflammatory and rich in anti-oxidants.
I found that eating small amounts of healthy foods throughout the day maximizes digestibility. A large meal is often complicated for the stomach because foods that don’t digest well together are combined. If the stomach is too full, there is inadequate room for optimal digestion.
My diet is around 90% whole foods. It’s amazing how much energy I have when I eat this way. Eating refined foods (pasta, bread, chips, etc.) left me feeling tired. My body was working hard to digest and eliminate things with little nutritional gain.
The body will crave food if nutritional needs are not being met. I ate less food as my nutrition increased. Investing in fresh, whole foods paid for itself. I save money I used to waste on being ill and on lost productivity. I support a healthier planet by eliminating the packaging and processing of refined foods.
Buying local, organic, whole, raw foods supports sustainability, local farms, humane treatment of animals, farmer’s markets, co-ops, etc. Avoiding foods with pesticides and herbicides supports practices that keep chemicals out of our soil, air, and water.
Look at the food choices you are making. Are you eating for reasons besides physical hunger? Do you feel energized after you eat or ready for a nap? Are your choices leaving your body nutritionally bankrupt?
Slowly make simple improvements to your diet. Enhance digestion by chewing better. Write “chew” on a sticky note near where you eat. Try eating less food at one time. Begin replacing processed foods with fresher ones. Think of it as getting food from the earth to your mouth touching as few hands and machines as possible. Make it a game to eliminate packaging.
Keep healthy foods on hand. A variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and nut butters are staples for me. In addition to water, I keep a bag of nuts in my vehicle and in my backpack. Eating whole foods; my meals are easy to prepare, fresh, delicious and energizing.
I was pleasantly surprised that my diet evolved so healthily. I enjoy eating this way, and I like the way it allows me to feel. Improvements came about with ease because I made simple, gradual changes. The process has been inspiring and self-sustaining.
Pick something with which you are willing to experiment and take small steps towards improved nutrition. Start feeling better as you enjoy more vitality and wholeness in your diet--one bite at a time.