I am so excited that Brittany and Cynthia have invited me to write for The Sweet Life, and to talk to you all about the healing power of food. As some of you may already know, I have a cookbook called Whole New You (Britt and Cyn recently made my Ginger Lime Roasted Rainbow Carrots from it). What you may not know however, is how I came to write my cookbook.
For years I suffered from a variety of different health issues. From chronic migraines, to eczema to endometriosis, to say that I didn’t feel great was an understatement. Finally, I reached a breaking point with pain, and my doctor told me that I would have to change my diet in order to heal. That was my ah-ha moment, and from there I began a long and amazing journey (full of ups and downs) of discovering just how healing and restorative food is.
In my cookbook, I give a shout-out to Brittany because she was actually one of the first people I reached out to for help! I knew that Britt had beat stage IV non-Hodgkins lymphoma (she’s a rock star), and believed in the power of using food for healing the body. She had some great recommendations for me, and helped to point me in the right direction.
On my journey to health I have learned SO much about nutrition, and how it should be working for our bodies, not against our bodies. Here is the one big concept that I think everyone needs to know: All food is powerful, and has a significant impact on the body! It doesn’t matter if it is kale, or a Cheeto, every single thing we eat effects the body in its own way. It doesn’t mean you can’t cheat every now and then (we all do), but truly healthy eating starts with an understanding of why eating certain foods is so imperative for your health.
Ideally, the foods we want to be filling our bodies up with are:
Whole plant foods (vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts and seeds) — Nature gives us food in whole form, and whole plant foods contain lots of good things like complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Nutrition scientists are also just discovering that these elements work best in conjunction with each other and have nutritional synergy. Nature truly does know best! Whole plant based foods are also amazing for creating good gut bacteria, and are anti-inflammatory (especially vegetables) — Which is VITAL for fighting all kinds of disease. We want to eliminate the foods that cause inflammation in the body at all cost because this is where our health really starts to deteriorate if we aren’t careful.
High-quality protein (grass-fed antibiotic-free food derived from animals and organic beans and bean products) — An important rule when it comes to meat is to increase the quality, and decrease the quantity. If you are going to eat meat, it must be organic, grass-fed beef, pork or lamb. It should contain no antibiotics or added hormones. Chicken should be free-range and antibiotic free, and the same goes for eggs. Fish should be wild, and not farm raised. This is vital because the crappy stuff in factory-farmed meat leads to all kinds of horrible health problems. Also, don’t underestimate beans! They are high in protein and rich in complex carbs and fiber (added bonus: they are also inexpensive!). Now, when I say we need to decrease the quantity of our protein, it is because we don’t need that much! In the United States we are totally addicted to meat, and that causes a lot of problems. You don’t need a ton of meat for it to do its job nutritionally. Its nutrients don’t have to come in big doses to be effective, and too much is actually detrimental — Too much of anything in our diet throws off all of the balance. As a general rule, the amount of meat on your plate should only make up 10-20% of your meal.
Sea vegetables (seaweed) — I’m obsessed with seaweed! These underwater veggies are some of the most powerful foods on the planet. They are packed with minerals, are whole foods, and are naturally alkalizing, making them a powerful anti-inflammatory! Another amazing thing to know about sea vegetables is that they get rid of radioactivity! You heard me. Sea vegetables bind with radioactive isotopes in your body (from x-rays for example), and discharges them from the body! It does the same thing with heavy medals like lead and mercury.
Fermented foods (cultured vegetables, miso and unpasteurized pickles) — Fermented foods are consumed by pretty much every culture, and have been for thousands of years. However, we don’t tend to see a lot of fermented foods on the typical dinner table (which is not right!). Fermentation was used to preserve foods before we had refrigerators because it protects food from harmful pathogens. But here is the best part: The salt used to ferment foods favors a certain type of bacteria, lactobacillus, which feeds on the sugars of the food and creates lactic acid. Lactic acid increases the vitamin content and digestibility of food. Once again, fermented foods have one of my favorite characteristics — They are anti-inflammatory! Miso for example is especially amazing because it has been found to fend off radiation, suppress tumor growth and can help reduce blood pressure. Fermented foods are amazing for gut health, and your gut is directly related to your immune system!
Safer sweets (fruits, squashes, cooked onions, sweet potatoes) — As Brittany and Cynthia know, life is supposed to be sweet! I myself have a major sweet tooth and love to indulge. However, ditching refined sugar is so important for your health because refined sugars are a huge cause of inflammation. I have found that as you get used to eating clean, whole foods, your pallet changes dramatically! Suddenly you will find that certain whole foods will taste very sweet and decadent to you. Your body will recalibrate, and your taste buds will change. Of course, if you are baking or making a dessert, there will be times that you will use sweeteners. Ideally, you want to be using natural sweeteners that have been minimally processed (like stevia or agave syrup), and use them in moderation. If you stick to whole food sweets (like fruits), then you are able to indulge without the worry of consuming foods that cause inflammation!
Finally, I want to give you guys a list of the foods that you generally want to steer away from. Think of these foods as ones that are rough on your health — They make your body work way too hard to achieve balance.
· Sugar and other highly refined carbohydrates
· Dairy foods
· Factory-farmed meats
· Processed and fast foods
· Refined oils and refined salts
I hope this information inspires you to start taking a deeper look at the foods you are eating, and encourages you to start your own journey towards better health! For more information, and to read my personal story with health and clean eating, pick up a copy of my book, Whole New You.
Tia Mowry for The Sweet Life By Brittany + Cynthia Daniel