Food for Fuel

Unknown

photo source: Internet

Why do you eat? Why do you eat what you eat? Do you have a thought process before eating certain foods? Do you feel like your relationship with food could improve?

Food is essential for life. Without food or some form of it, we would not be able to live. Yet in these modern times, food is the cause of so much illness, poor health, sometimes even death. Why is that? Why is it that something that is designed to keep us alive, kills so many?

I think the reason why is because too many have lost contact with food’s primary purpose: FUEL. Then, nutrition.

Food is fuel for our bodies. Just like we need to put gas in our cars regularly, we need to put food in our bodies regularly. The highest quality gas will allow your car to run optimally. The right amount of radiator fluid and good oil, have the same purpose: to help your car to function properly. Too much or too little of these things will make it that your car will either overflow and not know what to do with all the extra liquid, or won’t be able to get you to where you want to go because of insufficient energy. While our bodies are much more amazing and intricate and complicated than a car, the basics are very similar. We need the proper kind of fuel to move optimally. The wrong kind of gas will break your car just like the wrong foods can create illness and poor health. Treat your body as you would your car, fill the tank with the right kind of fuel when it is empty, stop filling when it is full, give it the right kind of oil and at the right time.

Isn’t that great news? I think it is, because it really is THAT simple.

Too many people have lost touch with the simplicity of feeding one’s body and that is where eating disorders, obesity, poor health, etc…. arises. I don’t believe many foods to be truly evil. As a matter of fact, other than being a strict vegetarian, there is nothing I absolutely won’t eat. (Don’t quote me on this I might change my mind later). What I do believe in though, is eating the right foods at the right time. How do you do that? Well just think about what you are trying to accomplish. If all you are interested in is the pleasure of awakening your senses with delicious foods, then by all means, go for it, because, let’s not be hypocrites here, eating food for pleasure can be quite delightful. (Have you seen some of the recipes on my blog??) Even then though, I would suggest to be mindful about this. Do you eat for pleasure every time you eat? If that’s the case, I would suggest you make sure that what you find pleasurable also has a double purpose of properly fueling your body with nutritious ingredients. If it doesn’t, then maybe it’s time to revisit your relationship with food. If you are interested in being healthy and having your body work properly, then I suggest you start thinking about your meals and what you are going to be eating according to what your activities following that meal are. Are you going to be exercising? Are you going to be sitting at your desk for several hours? Are you going out dancing? Are you going to the park to play with your kids? Are you sitting on the couch watching a movie? Depending on what you will be doing, your body will require different forms of fuel. The foods I choose before an afternoon at the park running around, often are different than the foods I choose once the kids are in bed and I am reading a book or watching a movie. With this mindset I rarely feel deprived. If I MUST have a cupcake or ice cream or pizza or croissant, or which ever other foods that are not optimal for my body’s wellbeing, then at least I can make sure to eat those things at a time where my body can use those foods as energy instead of storing them as fat.

Subsequently, choosing the proper nutrition for your fuel will have an even greater positive impact on your health. I mentioned pizza, cupcake and such, and while I believe it is fine to let myself eat those things at times, it is rarely what I will choose to FUEL or FEED my body with when I have health in mind. Using the proper fuel will ensure optimal body function. While eating pizza at lunch when I will be going for a run later is much better than pizza at dinner when I will just be sitting and watching a movie, no pizza is best. So do not let yourself get trapped in the “FUEL” mindset, meaning you are using the fact that you will be using what you just ate as fuel for exercise as a reason to feed your body junk regularly. Combining proper fuel with proper nutrition is where it’s at if you are looking for optimal health. While a cookie might be lower in calories than some dried fruit and nuts, the benefits you will get from the latter outweigh the benefits you would be getting from a cookie. Wether you are burning off the calories or not.

I believe that the quality of your calories are far more important than the quantity of those calories, I will also argue that at which time you choose to consume those calories are almost equally as important than the calories you are choosing to consume.

It might take some practice at first but eventually this will be second nature. Reaching for a cookie at bedtime, or going to the gym on an empty stomach won’t make any sense to you. Having a big carb loaded lunch will sound awful if you know you are returning to the office to sit at your desk for several hours. By thinking of food this way you are bringing back your intuition to what feels best. Because in the end, isn’t that what we all want? To feel good? And I can guarantee you that the momentary “good” feeling you get from eating a “treat” is nothing compared the long lasting bliss that comes with eating a clean, nutrient rich diet.

So next time you reach for something to eat, ask yourself, “What am I trying to accomplish for my body with this food?”

Carrot Citrus Juice

This juice hits the spot once again. I didn’t have much time this morning before school drop off so I wanted to make a quick juice. By quick I mean, it needed to be quick to make and quick for the kids to drink so I wouldn’t have to prompt them non stop until it was time to eat breakfast. I somewhat succeeded 😉 But this juice was tasty, slightly tart, sweet and refreshing. It went down pretty easily for the kids. And most importantly, it was packed with amazing vitamins as usual.

photo-165

Ingredients:

  • 5 carrots
  • 1 large pink grapefruit, peeled
  • 1 lemon with rind
  • 1 orange, peeled
  • 1 large chunk on ginger (about 2 inches)
  • 1 cucumber (optional)

Steps:

  • wash and cut everything to fit in your feeder tube
  • juice and drink immediately if can!

Try to use all organic ingredients if you can. Juicing is about feeding our bodies high doses of amazing vitamins and minerals, using conventional, pesticide ridden produce highly diminishes the quality of those ingredients as well as put harmful chemicals in your body.

Bitter Sweet Belly Love

This  juice is just that: bitter, sweet, tangy and definitely full of love for my body. I have been loving playing with all the deep crimson colors and coming up with different tasty combinations.

The combination of the pomegranate (super high in antioxidants), grapefruit (high in vitamin C), beets (great blood purifier) and ginger (immunity boosting) makes for another winner of health for this winter season, when people seem to get more sick than other seasons.

Starting my day with another belly full of love.

photo-161

Ingredients:

  • 1 large pomegranate, seeds only
  • 1 large beet
  • 1 large pink grapefruit
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 1 packed cup of greens (I used fenugreek)
  • 1 large chunk of ginger (2 inches)

Steps:

  • wash everything
  • juice in juicer
  • serve and drink up!

This made enough for 1 adult and 2 kids.

Grapefruit Smoothie

This is such a refreshing, cleansing, lovely way to start the day. With everyone around me getting sick, I am taking no chances and I make sure every thing I eat supports my health positively. I am much better at preventing illness as I am healing it. This is why I decided to start my day with this delicious smoothie.

Grapefruits are high in Vitamin A (good for skin and mucus membranes), a great source of vitamin C (powerful anti-oxidant which helps fight disease) as well as lycopene(good for vision as well as UV protection). I find it to be a good colon cleanser as well, and drinking it fresh like this makes me feel like I am moving any unwanted bacteria out of my body.

I normally make this drink with flax seed oil but I don’t have any on hand at the moment and the coconut substitutions adds a really nice flavor. The coconut oil, amongst it’s endless list of benefits, helps digestion as well as speed recovery of a cold. I believe coconut oil to be a food from the gods as it can be used in such a variety of ways, internally and externally.

photo-157

Ingredients:

  • 1 large pink grapefruit, peeled
  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 celery stick
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (the real kind, not regular “table” salt)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 TBS coconut oil
  • 2 cups water

Steps:

  • put everything in bonder and blend until smooth
  • serve and enjoy!

Purple Hug

Because that’s what it feels like to drink this juice: a hug to my insides. The color of this juice itself makes me want to drink it. The beets have amazing blood purifying qualities as well as help fight off diseases. Combine that with the amazing immunity boosting benefits of pomegranate as well as the high vitamin C content of the grapefruit and you got yourself a recipe for health!

Of course, the little extras such as lemon, ginger and kale, definitely help in making this juice extra concentrated in high quality immunity support vitamins.

This juice is perfect for this holiday season. If you are feeling run down, or if you’ve been over indulging in not so healthy meals, this will help cleanse you as well as balance you.

This juice simply makes me want to dance.

photo-154

Ingredients:

  • I large pomegranate, seeds only
  • 1/2 peeled grapefruit
  • 1 large beet
  • 8-10 large leaves of kale
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 lemon with rind
  • 1 2inch chunk of ginger

Steps:

  • wash everything
  • juice and enjoy!!

This made 32 oz. I shared it with my husband and two older kids, but this could easily be a nice serving for just 2 people.

Intenseness Does not Equal Healthness

borealis_exercise_2014_028

(Healthness should be in the dictionary)

I used to be that person, the one who wouldn’t do a workout if I couldn’t give it my all. If I didn’t have at least an hour to workout, then why bother? If I can’t get a good sweat going, what’s the point? For years that attitude more or less worked for me. I was living a single life and worked as a trainer at a gym. I had the time and convenience of taking classes and working out during breaks or after work. And I made sure I sweat every single time. It didn’t count as a workout if I didn’t have to change my shirt and sports bra afterwards. It was a great feeling really. To have to peel the soaking clothes off my body, proving that I had given my all, that I had an intense workout worthy of a fitness trainer and an all out workout beast.

That was me in my twenties. Pre-babies. I was on fire and unstoppable. What size clothes I fit into mattered more than the long lasting health benefits of my lifestyle.

Although it took some getting used to and some ego-checking, I am so grateful for the shift in my perspective and my approach to health.

Today, every little bit of physical activity counts towards my goal of lifelong health.

I didn’t really “choose” to change my outlook on fitness, I kinda had to make changes according to my mommy lifestyle. I didn’t have the time or energy to spend so many hours at the gym. I had to find other ways to stay fit and active. At first I was still striving to get that “perfect” body (whatever that is), still trying to look the way I did before I had children. My workouts were solely driven by a desire to improve my appearance. It worked some, but not fully. It was way too easy for me to skip a workout, or reach for an unhealthy snack, as I felt I looked “good enough”.

After my second baby arrived I started viewing physical health quite differently. And it wasn’t until my 3rd baby arrived, that I really got a good handle on what true health means for me.

Today being fit and healthy looks so different than it did in my early twenties. And funny enough, I feel like I look better than I did before I had my first child. Even if under my own scrutiny I notice the cellulite and stretch marks that weren’t there before, somehow, I find myself more beautiful than I did back then. My skin was tighter then, my belly wasn’t marked, my breasts were fuller, and yet I didn’t have the appreciation for how I looked the way I do today. Not only that, but I am much healthier today than I was at any point in my twenties.

What changed is I shifted my intense workout attitude for a more healthy one. My intense workouts were driven by a superficial desire to look a certain way. This kind of mentality is neither healthy nor is it sustainable. One day I was bound to burn out on spending hours at the gym. Today, I don’t have time to spend hours at the gym, but I do have time to spend hours at the playground! Working out at the playground while hanging out with my kids is a very healthy way to move my body. I don’t put many expectations on myself when I am at the playground, other than do a minimum of two exercises. Sometimes that turns into 10 exercises, sometimes it’s just two. But at least I moved my body. The next day, I might be on a walk and I decide to do a few jump squats on a bench and some pushups. That takes less than 2 minutes. Or I will run some of my favorite stairs with my boys after I drop off my daughter at school.

Moving my body a little bit every day guarantees I remain consistent. And if that is my only goal: moving my body a little bit every day, I rarely let myself down. Some days I get a full on workout and it feels amazing. Some days, I focus on my cardio and run stairs intentionally to get a good sweat going, and I love it. Sweating and working out feels great to me. But those things are not my priority anymore. Feeling good is. And sweating every single day, getting an intense workout every single day, doesn’t feel good to me anymore. Mainly because I don’t have the energy given the amount of sleep I get. But moving my body a little bit every single day, is a MUST for me to feel good and have a Good Life.

My point here is that to be healthy, I needed to make choices that are sustainable and convenient. Doing a quick 15 minute workout in my living room, is very convenient. Working out at the playground is definitely sustainable as I will be going to playgrounds for years.

I still love intense workouts. I love kickboxing. I love sweating. Yet I don’t believe those things to be essential on a daily basis to be healthy. I do believe in connecting with my inner beast every now and then to push boundaries and see what I am made of. But that’s not my every day approach to fitness anymore.

Once my kids are all in school, I wouldn’t be surprised if my priorities change again. Once I have more time to myself I will probably find a different way to act out on my desire to remain healthy. But for now, intenseness doesn’t equal healthness.

Loose weight the healthy way

What if I told you there was a better way to loose weight than by counting calories? Hang on for a minute. Let me explain my point of view here. I believe calorie counting to be very effective for weight loss. And if that is all you care about, weight management, than you might not think that there is a reason to do it differently. But here is where I get frustrated with calorie counting: it is solely based on numbers. Now, if you really care about your health, you might be one of the few who does calorie counting well and only eats very wholesome, nutritious foods. But again, why count calories if what you are eating is so nutritious? I mean, I would rather eat 200 calories of a delicious, nutritious piece of raw pie, than 100 calories coming from an energy bar or a candy bar. For many reasons, one of them being that the energy bar doesn’t necessarily feed your body quality ingredients, nor will it leave you feeling as full as long as nuts and seeds and dates, possibly vegetables, healthy fats and sugars would.

Here is the deal, instead of limiting yourself to say, a 1500 calorie a day diet, why not allow yourself to eat abundantly on a 0 chemical a day diet? If your food contains wholesome nutritionally dense ingredients, you will not need to eat as much of them, you will not feel hungry as often, your body will be able to break it down much more easily making it less likely that you are storing unwanted nutrients in unwanted places.

Start looking at the foods you buy, read the labels. Chemicals come in all kinds of sneaky ways. They are all over non organic produce, in conventional dairy, in store bought breads disguised as “dough conditioners”. Food additives and dyes. Most store bought sugar free sweets and low fat dairy. All those things have chemicals in them.

With that said, I am not saying go out and eat plates full of homemade pastas, or litters of apple juice because they are chemical free. My point here is being, if you are someone who spends a lot of time counting calories, I suggest you start looking at the quality of those calories, and if what you are eating doesn’t follow my 0 chemical a day rule, why not replace what you are about to eat with something equal in calories, and wholesome? Eventually, you will realize where the pitfalls are, and you will be able to make more conscientious decisions with your food, eating only things that feed you not fill you. Eventually, the foods you are consuming will make you feel so much better than the Jenny Craig frozen dinners, and all you will want to be eating will be real food.

I’ve struggled with weight in my life, and more than once (3 times actually) have I wanted to find a figure that I am happy with after having a child, and never have I counted calories. I’ve always relied on real food. Cutting the crap out of my diet and being honest with what goes into my body is the only way I have been able to loose weight and keep it off. Instead of looking at how many calories I am eating, I look at the quality of those calories. While I am still loosely aware of calories, they do not dictate what goes into my body.

I would rather live a life filled with delicious, nutritious calories, than one filled with empty chemically ridden foods.

Kids are Health!

It has been said many times before that involving your kids in food prep is the way to get them to appreciate health. I want to say it again: involving your kids in food prep a great way to get them to appreciate health 🙂 

My oldest is 6 now and she loves to be in the kitchen and do everything I do. While there are days where I chase her out because I am just trying to get through a meal and put food on the table, other days I take that opportunity to teach her about my beliefs around food and why I think some foods are better than others, as well as get her to taste all kinds of different flavors. She loves it and I get to instill in her health beliefs that I find truly essential to living a Good Life. 

School started this week and last year my daughter had a yucky goopy runny nose for weeks because of all the germs going around school. I want to do my best to avoid that and I know that boosting her immune system right off the bat will help. So everyday this week we have started off our day with a freshly made juice. I don’t have a specific recipe, but the ingredients that have been going in consistently are lemons (with rind), fresh ginger, parsley and celery. I will write a post soon about the properties of these foods. I add other things such as carrots or beets so sweeten it up a bit. When apple season comes around, I will be adding some of those to the mix as well. There are days where both kids drink the juice happily, and days where I have to fight a bit, but asking them to help me make the juice has proven to be the best way for them to get excited to drink it. It does add about 10-15 minutes to our morning routine, but it is so worth it. 

photo-83

Do you have any tricks you use to get your kids to eat healthy? And do you have any natural recipes to boost the immune system?