As a Mom it always seems there aren’t enough hours in the day. When I had my first child I was juggling a high-pressure start-up, a husband who was traveling weekly for work on the opposite coast and a baby I was determined to nurse as long as possible. (And I thought when I had my second things would get easier because I would know what I was doing. Well, that was before I knew I was having twins!)
No matter what your situation, no matter how much you’re juggling, the most important thing you can do for yourself is give yourself the very best. I’m talking about seriously healthy, nutritionally dense, power-packed foods.
As a health coach I’ve learned that good food serves your body well. Good food floods your blood, cells and organs with what it needs to thrive. Good food supports your ability to fight disease and fills you with long-lasting energy in contrast to foods that rob you of energy, attention span, impulse control — even drive. Food gives the body information, according to best-selling author Dr. Alejandro Junger. I want to make sure you’re giving yourself the best information.
Make every bite a reason to push nutrient dense whole foods and super foods at every opportunity. Dr. Martha Herbert, Harvard Professor, Neurologist, author and more, urges people to make every bite count. Good food bolsters your performance and enhances your strength. Even your immune system is more effective at fending off disease and sickness, ranging from the common cold to cancer, when fed well.
I push nutrient dense whole foods and super foods at every opportunity.
In recent decades foods have been manufactured for taste, not nutrition, and many of the actual nutrients we need, has been bred right out of what we eat. It’s a frightening thought — but much of what we eat has no nutritive value. It’s just empty, chemical calories.
What you buy in the grocery store, unless you shop very carefully, is not nutrient dense food.
I used to live in Silicon Valley where there is a lot of talk among C-suite execs about how to fuel employee performance through food. In fact, Google charged their first chef with just that. Charlie Ayers now owns a successful Palo Alto restaurant and has two cookbooks sporting many of his Google recipes.
As a Mom, I apply this performance principle to what I feed myself (and my family). When we’re getting good tasting, whole foods, I don’t have to worry about the occasional celebration or night out. This isn’t a diet as much as it’s an approach to living a life that supports my body to be at it’s very best.
Below are five tips for feeding yourself (and your family) performance foods; foods that serve. I’ve culled this list over time with a lot of research, practice and real-life trial and error. This is how I eat to prime myself to live my very best life.
- CROWD OUT. The theory is to start your day with densely packed nutrition, snacks and lunch. By the time you hit the back half of the day, when your appetite is on the wane, you’ve already fueled up on actual nutrients and so your body is nutritionally satisfied and you tend to have fewer cravings. I suggest starting your day out with a protein packed vegetarian/vegan shake, eggs or bowl of oatmeal loaded with nuts and seeds.
TIP: Use nuts, seeds, hemp and chia throughout the day to boost your meals and snacks.
- EAT A RAW RAINBOW every day. This is a fun way to institute good eating habits. You can learn more and get the chart on Today I Ate A Rainbow. The basic concept is that if you can eat all the colors of the rainbow daily you’ll get all the phytonutrients your body needs to fuel, feed, grow and heal. Our bodies know what to do with food when we give it the right nutrients.
TIP: Include your kids in this one and make it a game to see who has eaten the most colors in a day/week/month.
- REMOVE GMOs. Although there is a lot of talk about GMOs, people don’t often know the truth because there hasn’t yet been enough long-term studies on GMOs. However, when you look at unbiased studies by independent third parties, research gives reason for caution. GMOs may be linked to gut problems, cancer and infertility and more. According to AuthorJeffrey Smith who runs the Institute for Responsible Technology, getting GMOs out of your food supply can clear up allergies, skin irritations, headaches, gastro-intestinal issues and more.
TIP: Avoid the most commonly GMO foods by avoiding conventionally grown: Soy, Corn, Canola, Sugar Beets, Hawaiian Papaya, Alfalfa and Squash. And watch this Bill Nye video with your family for the basics on GMOs.
- REMOVE PROCESSED FOODS & ARTIFICIAL DYES. I know, everything that seems to make life simple is processed. But it’s really hard to get good quality, nutritious foods in when you’re eating something prepared in bulk, loaded with preservatives to give it an eternal shelf-life, or made exclusively to look and taste a certain way. For example, just take the artificial dyes used in this country (but often not permitted elsewhere in the world) that have been linked to a number of ailments including ADD & ADHD. Hyperactivity often occurs from the ill effects of the artificial colorants in foods, not because of the sugar content.
TIP: The more you learn about the food industry the less appetizing processed foods will seem. Get started by watching FOOD, INC. and FORKS OVER KNIVES.
- PLAN YOUR MEALS, MAKE IN ADVANCE AND SHOP TRUSTED BRANDS. One of my mentors likes to say thatHow you eat IS how you live. So if you want a mindful, nourished, healthy, happy life that brings out the best in you then you’re going to have to start paying a little more attention to how you eat. But don’t worry, you don’t have to start everything all at once. To get started, make a weekly menu plan. I do this on Saturday morning and then I shop later that day (when the hubby has the kids) and I set aside a little time to cook a few meals on Sunday that will help us get through the week. Another idea is to make something you love but swap out the conventional ingredients for more nutritious ones. Need ideas? Consult Julia Morris’ SUPERFOODS Kitchen cookbook.
TIP: For a list of my go-to 20-minute or less meals try my recipes here.
Good fuel is our best defense against all the junk food, processed foods, and nutrition-less foods we’re offered that deplete our bodies and minds. Start fighting back with these 5 techniques.
Watch and see how you feel. Most people start to notice changes immediately. Many say their brain fog lifts, energy levels improve, moodiness dissipates, and greater “happiness” is described.
For more strategies on healthy living sign up for Amy’s emails at amyziff.com.
Photo credit: Abd allah Foteih