naturopathic nutrition

Keeping Food Choices Simple

Changing nutritional science, misinformation in the media and outdated beliefs about eating can make food choices confusing. However, good nutrition can be easy if you follow a few simple principles.

Mindful Eating – be mindful as you choose, prepare and eat your food. Create your own meals as often as you can and focus your full attention on what you are doing. This will keep your mind in the present now moment, rather than wasting energy worrying about the past or future. Mindfulness is beneficial not only to your digestion and absorption of nutrients but to your mental state as well. Make sure that you touch, taste and smell your food because this begins the digestive process. Think about how hungry you are before and after you eat and try to avoid eating when you are upset or angry, as this can interfere with your digestion. Remember to give thanks for your food and to appreciate your own creative efforts. Mindfully infuse your food with love, light and positive energy.

Chew your food well – eating quickly increases the size of the food bolus you swallow, as well as the amount of air ingested. This can lead to poor digestion and increased gas production. Try saying a prayer or affirmation (with about 26 words) in your mind as your chew each mouthful.

Eat regularly – at least every 4-5 hours and do not skip meals. This will help to keep your metabolism high and will reduce the temptation to over eat due to excessive hunger.

Avoid over eating – this can happen if you skip meals or if you eat too quickly. Eat your largest meal in the middle of the day. This is the time that your body is most efficient at converting food into energy, rather than storing it as fat. Eat slowly and stop eating when you are almost full. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to recognise that you are full during a meal, so eat mindfully to avoid overeating.

Prepare – keep your cupboards stocked with nutritious staples and shop for fresh food regularly. When you cook, make extra and freeze individual portions for future meals. Avoid microwaving, as this can reduce the nutrients that you receive from your food. Reheat leftovers in the oven or on the stove.

Eat wholefoods
– eat fresh foods that are as close as possible to nature. Unrefined, wholefoods are full of macro-nutrients (carbohydrates, lipids and protein), vitamins, minerals and powerful antioxidant phytonutrients. Eat a variety of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, which are full of antioxidants such as bioflavonoids. Phytonutrients reduce pain and inflammation and can help to prevent chronic disease.

Protein – protein is essential for increasing your metabolism, helping you to feel full, the production of neurotransmitters and for the repair and regeneration of your body. Eat protein with each meal and keep portions the size of your palm. Enjoy lean organic meat 2-3 times a week and increase your consumptions of vegetable proteins such as raw nuts, seeds and legumes.

Eat fish 2-3 times each week
– fish is an excellent source of protein and omega three essential fatty acids, which are important for the health of your brain and heart. Choose small deep sea fish which are lower in pollutants than larger fish. Excellent choices are Atlantic salmon, sardines, tuna, bream, silver warehou, herrings, snapper, trevally, whiting and garfish.

Enjoying grains – always choose whole and unrefined grains and eat them in moderation. Remember – if a grain product is not brown, it is probably not wholegrain.

Health giving oils
– choose cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil for salad dressings and cooking and store your oils in dark glass to prevent oxidation from light. Avoid margarine and poly-unsaturated vegetable oils unless they are cold pressed and stored in glass. During processing they are often heated to high temperatures and this can increase the amounts of trans-fats and other toxins that they contain.

Keep hydrated
– drink at least two litres of filtered water each day between meals. Other healthy alternatives to water are herbals teas, green tea, vegetable juices and diluted freshly squeezed fruit juice. Avoid drinking during a meal as this can reduce digestive enzyme activity.

Choose organic when possible – organic foods are grown without synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers. They are not genetically modified or irradiated and they do not contain added hormones or antibiotics. Organic foods are higher in nutrients, reduce your toxic load and are good for the planet too.

Avoid – added colours and preservatives and reduce take away foods. Avoid sugar, caffeine, refined foods, delicatessen meats, deep fried foods and artificial sweeteners. Make sure you read ingredient labels when you are shopping and to keep your choices simple, avoid products that contain numbers in the ingredient list.

The power of pleasure – make sure that 90% of the food that you eat is nutritious and enjoy the occasional treat to satisfy your soul. If you enjoy chocolate, choose dark organic chocolate and savour it in small quantities.

Mindful eating will help you to make healthier food choices and to improve your digestion and absorption of nutrients. A wholefood diet rich in fruit, vegetables, high quality protein and wholegrains is effective in achieving good health and in preventing chronic disease. A nutritious diet eaten with mindfulness can give you more energy and vitality and can help you to feel great.