Eating healthy everyday foods is key to living well and joyful. In all honesty, I stay close to the basics when it comes to food. We are part of the natural kingdom and our bodies are designed for natural food.
What do I mean by natural food? Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables that you enjoy and that agree with your body. But you probably already knew that. Right?
When you fill-up your car at the gas station, do you put water in it? Would you put soda? A mechanic will tell you that gasoline is the right fuel to get your car moving and perform its best.
Our body is also a machine, an amazing and miraculous machine! Like a car, it needs special fuel to perform at its best. Eating nutrient-rich food every day will give our body the right fuel.
But eating healthy everyday foods is not so easy. Right? News, advertising, doctors, the government, and an endless list of super diets are here to confuse us and contradict each other at times. What was true last year may not be true this year. How do you know what to believe?
A True Story
One of my teachers at Dr. Sears Wellness Institute shared a personal story. She and her husband decided to follow the Paleo diet. It was somewhat of a research project for herself as a health and wellness teacher. She also did it out of curiosity.
She shared with us that she loves to cook, and her family eats at home 96% of the time.
Both husband and wife seemed to be doing fine on this diet. The surprise came during their annual exam. My teacher’s husband’s blood work was excellent. The doctor was impressed with what he saw. Unfortunately, hers did not do so well.
The doctor asked her if her diet had changed and what she was doing differently. She was surprised herself and she replied: “Doctor, I am the cook in my house. We all eat what I cook.”
Moral of the Story
A diet fit for one person may not be fit for another. You will hear me repeat again and again that every “body” is different. I may sound like a tape recorder, but I think we really need to be aware of this fact. You need to learn to listen to your body.
Eating Healthy Everyday Foods
I followed a diet for nine months in my early twenties and it changed my life. Besides dieting, I spent lots of hours at the gym exercising. Looking back, it may not have been the healthiest thing because the diet was very calorie restrictive.
Most people go on a strict diet for two or three months and then go back to their old habits. They may not even exercise. It can take up to a year to change brain patterns that will be lasting, in my humble opinion.
Probably many things changed after the year was over. No doubt I had exercised a lot of willpower to follow a diet plan. I also learned a lot about food. Because of the exercise, my metabolism probably improved too. It became a new lifestyle for me that has lasted over 30 years.
I learned to listen to my body. It tells me what it needs, which is usually 90% of the time nutritious food. There is a 10% margin of not so nourishing food I enjoy eating and that is ok too.
Eating nourishing food everyday can be accomplished by following the Traffic Light Eating. This is a concept brought to the USA by Dr. Bill Sears from the Sears Wellness Institute in San Clemente, CA. I like that all his work is backed up by scientific studies.
How does the Traffic Light Eating work? Just like driving a car, the traffic light tells you what to do. Green means Go. Yellow means Slow Down and Red means Stop and Think. Easy to remember, right?
Let us see what foods fit in each category.
Green Light Foods
Fresh fruits and vegetables are nutritious everyday foods we eat at home. These foods are the easiest to understand. If you want to eat well every day you need to incorporate them daily. Green light foods are what you want to eat the most.
Green light foods are grown and not manufactured so our bodies digest them easily. They are low in calories and high in nutrients. Most of the time they can be eaten raw.
People ask me, Margarita: is it healthy to eat avocados every day? I said yes if you are like me who loves avocados and they agree with my system. My husband and I eat them daily and we love them! We may share half a large avocado over dinner.
I make a delicious guacamole with smashed avocados, a touch of salt and my home-made salsa. Another way is over a piece of sourdough toast, add smashed avocados and a few slices of tomatoes, sprinkled with salt. Yum, yum.
Of course, there are other people like my friend Barb. She literally gets sick if she eats avocados. So, she stays away from them. By learning to listen to her body, she found out her system does not tolerate avocados.
You may want to watch one of my videos on the home-made blueberry muffins I baked this year. This girl and blueberries are not best friends. Apparently, I am sensitive to blueberries. Who would have known?
I occasionally use frozen wild blueberries on my protein shake and have never had any problems. This time I did. The blueberries were a gift from a neighbor and not sure where she got them.
So, what to eat every day to have good health?
You still want to eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible that agree with your body. They are low in calories, packed with nutrients and fill you up.
I love organic carrots as a snack. It takes time to chew them. They are usually delicious and by the time you finish chewing one the hunger is gone. They pair great with hummus.
Green light means “Go!”
Yellow Light Foods
So, what are yellow light foods? These are a bit more confusing to understand. They are “whole” grains, dairy, nuts and seeds, eggs, soy foods, oils (preferred olive and avocado) and lean meats like poultry, fish, and red meats.
The yellow light foods have more calories, sugar, and fat than green light foods. You can eat them daily but in moderation. Portion control is key and understanding food labels becomes important as red-light food can easily disguise as yellow light food.
People ask me: “Is eating eggs everyday bad for you? or “Is it good to eat salmon every day?”
My dad ate eggs every day for breakfast for as long as I remember. He did not develop any health issues because he ate eggs daily.
Boiled eggs do not agree with my system. The chemistry of food changes depending on preparation and can affect people in different ways.
Is it good to eat salmon every day?
Dr. Bill Sears and Dr. Andrew Weil, both doctors in Integrative Medicine, are familiar with the vast research of salmon on health. They believe that people will be healthier eating wild caught salmon regularly.
You need to take into consideration the type of salmon you eat. Is it wild from Alaska? Or is it farm-raised in the Atlantic which always has color added? How is it prepared? How large is the portion you eat?
So, how much salmon a week can you eat? I heard that Dr. Bill, as kids call him, eats 12 oz of salmon in a given week. If you can spread out 12 oz of salmon in one week then, you are probably good to go.
If you eat 12 oz in one seating, that is not so good. If it is cooked with ingredients in the Red Light Foods, that is not so good either. Get my point?
Yellow light means “Slow Down!”
Red Light Foods
Children can relate well to the Traffic Light Eating because it is easy to understand. If you decide to try this concept with your kids, they will become familiar with it. It may surprise you someday to hear them tell a relative or friend, “I do not want to eat that because it is a red light food.”
Family and friends tell me they like my tips. So, here are three of my favorite tips that I hope make sense to you and you can implement at least one.
The University of California Riverside published a new research on soybean oil early in 2020. This new research shows soybean oil not only leads to obesity and diabetes, but could also affect neurological conditions like autism, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, and depression.
Soybean oil is a common ingredient in processed food. Try to avoid it if you value your health.
3 Eating Healthy Everyday Tips
#1 – Do you know your stomach is about the size of your fist? Eating small meals when you are hungry is best. Eating small meals increases your metabolism. Your tummy also feels good because it does not have to work so hard to digest large amounts of food.
Use a small plate to serve your meals. If you have children, let them serve themselves. Studies show that they will serve less food than parents give them. Give it a try and let me know if that works for your kids.
#2 – Do you eat only when you are hungry? My husband taught me to eat only when I am hungry. Sometimes, the time of the month, or emotions used to get the best of me, and I would eat just because.
#3 – Do you read food labels? My rule of thumb is to buy processed food with less than five ingredients. I enjoy eating chips, rice crackers, good cheeses, and other yellow light foods. Paying attention to the ingredients is important.
Just in case my first 3 tips do not ring a bell, there are two bonus tips below. Hahaha… I sound like an infomercial.
Two Bonus Eating Healthy Everyday Tips
#1 – Do you know eating healthy is a habit you develop? I believe that it is so much easier to learn good habits when you are young.
If you have kids, you can encourage your children to eat green light foods by calling these foods “grow strong foods,” “soccer foods,” “run fast food,” “beautiful hair foods.” Kids can relate to those terms.
#2 – Eating for lightness is a great way to know you are eating right. If after eating you feel heavy, bloated, or sleepy you may not be eating the right things for your body.
Notice how you feel after eating any type of food. Ask yourself after eating: How do I feel? Maybe keep a journal for a week to start. Honestly, I have a hard time journaling, but I have done it at times for a week and the learning process has been invaluable.
Believe it or not, there are some foods in the Green Light category that do not agree with me. I shared some with you earlier in this post.
Tomatoes, green or red pepper, blueberries and lettuce can trigger digestive issues for me. Eating salads a few days in a row affects my gut too. I am better off eating cooked vegetables. My partner can eat any of these daily with no consequences, but I need to be careful.
Listen to your body. Watch my short blueberry muffin video to learn how I use a pendulum to check for food intolerance.
“Let Food Be Thy Medicine and Medicine Be Thy Food.” Hippocrates
Years ago, My husband and I attended a house party where the food was catered, and it looked good. We also had a beer or two and cake. We normally do not eat cake.
We ate what seemed healthy but at night, when we tried to go to sleep, we could not. We were both awake most of the night. We realized that the food probably had MSG, an ingredient we discovered keeps us awake at night. MSG is an excitotoxin, one of the 3 man-made ingredients mentioned earlier.
Moral of the Story
I wish I knew about a pendulum years ago. I would have used it to test for food intolerance and food quality.
You are the one responsible for your health and well-being. Not the government, or manufacturer, or your parents, or your physician. You need to become aware of what foods make you feel heavy, bloated, or sleepy, and what foods give you a feeling of lightness. Your body is unique and there are no two alike.
I love alternative medicine because they are all about prevention. Many of the modalities teach you about learning to know your body.
Ten years ago, I went to an acupuncturist/Chinese doctor for a cyst on my wrist. During the general exam he performed, he told me that my body has the tendency to have problems with digestion, circulation and kidneys.
“Well, doctor, are you clairvoyant?” No, he said. Why? “Because I have had digestive issues for years. I may also have poor circulation but not sure about that one yet.”
I use my pendulum over new food and drinks to see if they are going to agree with me. It is a life saver.
Next time you eat, ask yourself, How do I feel?
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Thank you for taking the time to read Be Aware Choose Practice (BeACP) post. Hopefully, you learned something that you can put into practice. If you like this post, you may also want to check out Mind Body and Spirit: Grow with 3 Easy Tips.