September 2015 –
Much is said and debated about diet these days. The adage of “you are what you eat” does ring true, since food is our body’s nutritional resource.
As I have been exploring food and my own well-being, I began to notice how I felt following eating any meal. Some meals seemed to make me feel more fatigued, and within an hour I was ready for a nap. Other meals provided me with the energy I wanted. Could I prepare or plan what I ate with this as the basis for my choices?
Where to begin? Paying attention. Eat, notice. This led to further observations and choices.
An example. With my work I travel frequently and present at conferences, schools, organizations, and to governments and businesses. Initially I only let my hosts know I did not eat meat or dairy (my personal eating choice is as eating plant-based + seafood). This regularly led to me being fed a lunch that included pasta or bread. And this regularly led to me wanting to take a nap about 1:30 rather than do my work. And no one wants a sleepy consultant. Now I add “no wheat” during the day. I find that in the evening a modest amount of wheat occasionally is acceptable and even relaxing.
Has this added guideline made a difference for me? 100%. This observation provided a lens on what worked, made sense and gave me a structure with the outcome I was seeking: more reliable energy.
Other foods I know I must avoid during the day for peak energy and performance are sugar and excessive salt. These days avoiding sugar is easier that I initially expected. Saying no to any sugary drink is easy—I opt for water. And I pass on desserts with sugar with rare exceptions.
Salt is trickier. Processed foods often have more salt. With eating less salt, I have found the salt added to cooked foods is typically over my personal tolerance level.
When I was 21 years old, I saw myself pick up a salt shaker and begin to salt my food at breakfast. I had done this as a child, observing the others around me. However something stopped my hand. My mother was having health concerns and was extremely overweight for her size as recommended by her physicians. She had been on a completely salt-free diet. Was I headed down this path by over-salting? I put that salt shaker down and have never picked up a table salt shaker since.
With my studies of food now I know the importance of high quality salt and it is to be added while cooking not as a condiment. Poor quality over-processed salt added at the table creates a craving for more and more salt while masking the true natural flavors of the food. And this overabundance of salt in processed foods is a part of what sets us on this path.
Chiropractic neurologist Dr. Barry L. Kaye advises the following: “We do need sodium to be healthy. The amount and quality impacts our energy. Sodium, and potassium, pump nutrients in and out of cells and this is as you can imagine, quite important. Our modern diets of processed foods interferes with how we ingest healthy potassium and sodium, in particularly with the use of manufactured table salt. Eating sea vegetables along with high quality sea salt used in cooking, not added at the table, has value for our well-being. Individuals with renal concerns, hypertension or congestive heart failure must confer with their physician before consuming any sodium.”
- Find a high quality sea salt that you can use with cooking. My preferred brand is Si Salt easily found on line [http://sisalt.com/home]. They tell you in detail how this salt is harvested and the benefits. Because it is so fresh I until need a little, however I find adding it about ten minutes before the item I am cooking is done allows the salt to do its job: add nutrients while bringing out the flavors of the ingredients.
- Try different sea vegetables. My go-to favorites are sheets of toasted nori, used in making sushi. However they are also great for snacking and always disappeared in my daughters lunch boxes—all their friends loved it! Also dulse can be eaten with and without cooking. Using a stamp-size square of kombu when cooking beans helps them become softer and more digestible.
- Participate in what is called “perimeter shopping.” The Mayo Clinic describes how the fresh foods located around the perimeter of the store are “where you should concentrate most of your shopping time. Why? Fresh foods are generally healthier than are the ready-to-eat foods found in the middle aisles. This helps you better control the fat and sodium in your diet.”
- More and more Farmer’s Markets as appearing in communities, as are Community Supported Agriculture programs. Support what grows nearby and eat fresh!
Eat well! Be healthy!
Cathryn Berger Kaye, M.A., is an educator/author who loves to cook and to eat.
Barry L. Kaye, D.C., D.A.C.A.N. is a chiropractic neurologist based in Los Angeles
The information in this blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult a health professional before undertaking any new health regime.