Listening to Your Body

Have you ever gotten sick or had a headache or some other malady and had no idea why it was happening?  I know it’s happened to me many times in my life, but I’ve recently begun to work on paying better attention to cause and effect with respect to my health.  I think this is a very worthwhile endeavor because our bodies, when they get sick, are really telling us a lot.  They are saying, “Hey, I don’t like this thing that you did to me or put inside me and now I have to work really hard to fix the problem!”.  Of course, while your body is healing itself, you won’t feel so great.

Oftentimes, there are so many variables in what I’ve eaten or done (or not done) in a day, that it’s difficult to determine the causes of specific symptoms unless I’m really paying close attention.  A few weeks ago, though, I noticed a very specific cause and effect.  It was difficult to ignore.  I was visiting a good friend and we decided to go to the fair one night.  It was close to my birthday, I’d been eating well lately, and thought that I deserved a “reward”.  It was my birthday, after all.  Anyway, I ate a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream.  A small bowl even.  It was so-so going down (a little melty), but about 15 minutes later I got the WORST stomachache and heartburn I’d had in a long time!  Stomachaches are not common for me and I hadn’t eaten anything else for a few hours previous, so it was pretty apparent that the ice cream was the cause.  I remained in pain for hours until I finally took a Tums.  My so-called reward definitely wasn’t worth the resulting punishment and I felt quite motivated to stay away from dairy ice cream after that.

Since then I’ve been thinking more about the connection between my diet and health.  What other relationships could I notice to help strengthen my resolve to eat healthfully?  I think for me the best way to practice this is just to think, every time I have a headache or stomachache or tired feeling or whatever, of what was different about that day.  Thinking about more than just food, here are some factors that I have found can really affect how my body feels:

  • Foods I eat
  • Foods I don’t eat
  • How much sleep I get
  • How much water I drink
  • Whether or not I stay on my regular sleep/wake schedule
  • Whether or not I take time to rest during the day (get off my feet)
  • Stress levels
  • Posture while sitting
  • Whether or not I get exercise
  • Sitting for long periods of time vs. stretching every once in awhile
  • Using the bathroom when I need to as opposed to “holding it”

Recently, I decided that most of my headaches occur when I don’t drink enough water.  To test that out, yesterday as soon as I felt a slight headache I rushed to drink a bunch of water and, viola!  No headache after all!  Not very scientific, I know.  I’d have to try that a few more times to make sure, but I’m pretty excited that it worked yesterday.

Once you’ve begun to notice changes in your health caused by things you do to your body, you’ll not only be more motivated to treat your body well, but your new diet will become more meaningful and more personal.  You’ll appreciate whole foods on a much deeper level.  When your diet becomes an intrinsic part of you, it is now a lifestyle and you can continue to enjoy the benefits for many years to come.

Documentary Review: Food Inc.

*Recently, my husband and I watched two documentaries: Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, and Food Inc. We were so inspired and informed by them and I’d highly recommend them to anyone (both are available on Netflix instant play!).*

Food Inc. is a documentary about the food industry.  Most Americans really don’t know where their food comes from, and that’s just how the industry wants it.  This documentary pulls back the curtain and gives us some important insight into where our food comes from, what GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) mean for the future of our food, and why our individual choices really do matter if we ever want to see change.

This documentary may shock you, amaze you, and make you angry.  At the very least, it will probably make you want to change some of your eating choices and habits for both health and ethical reasons.  Food Inc. may change your life!  We were so glad that we have already made the choice to eliminate animal foods from our diet, but after watching Food Inc. we also made a strong commitment to quit purchasing genetically modified foods.

Documentary Review: Fat Sick and Nearly Dead

*Recently, my husband and I watched two documentaries: Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, and Food Inc. We were so inspired and informed by them and I’d highly recommend them to anyone (both are available on Netflix instant play!).*

Fat Sick and Nearly Dead chronicles the journey of a man from Australia, very overweight and stricken with a chronic disease.  He decides to go on a fresh fruit and vegetable juice fast for 30 days while he tours the United States talking to people about their diets.  He has a great accent, by the way!  The first half of the documentary shows his dramatic and amazing transformation.  He actually drives around with a juicer in the back of his car and juices as he goes!  The second half focuses on the even more amazing changes that occur in a man he inspires to follow in his footsteps.  I absolutely LOVED seeing these men take charge of their lives and transform from sick, hopeless, lifeless creatures into energetic, happy, and healthy individuals right before my eyes!  Very inspiring!  My husband and I bought a better juicer after seeing this and are now juicing almost every evening.  When you see what wonderful changes occur when these men simply begin to fill their bodies with naturally-occurring nutrients and stop eating animal products, empty calories, and processed junk, the relationship between nutrition and health will take on a whole new meaning for you.

Roasted Potatoes with Lemon and Dill

Prebaking: Everything except the dill

I’m sitting here feeling very guilty that I haven’t posted anything in awhile.  I’ve actually tried several RAVE recipes that I haven’t written about yet.  And it’s NOT because I haven’t been sticking with whole foods, I’m happy to say!  Well, I’ve had a few slip-ups and exceptions, of course, but the couple of times where I just threw everything out and decided to, I don’t know, eat a bunch of cheese or something, I found that after just a bit of it I was completely sick of it and wanted to eat some whole foods again!  So I’m still eating whole foods and still loving it.  I’ve relaxed my standards a bit from what I was doing during the months of January and February, but I’ve really never been this consistently healthy in my dietary habits for so long, and I’m beginning to think it may last.  I’ve found that once I’ve switched to a healthy diet, my body really gets a lot better at recognizing the bad stuff and reacting to it.  A little dairy and, wow, I really see it in my skin!

I need to really get cracking on all my RAVE recipes if I’m going to make my August 13 deadline, but it’s tough when there are so many great whole food recipes elsewhere that I’m dying to try!  Last Friday I made a recipe I found in the latest issue of Real Simple.  It was truly simple, but delicious as well.  My husband didn’t like the lemon so much, but I thought it was nice and different.  The potatoes I used were a liiiittle bigger than they should have been, so I probably should have increased the baking time a bit, but they were just barely done. It might be good to try this recipe with just the olive oil, dill, and rosemary if you’re not into roasted lemon.

Ingredients (you can also find the recipe from it’s original source here, as well as the delicious-looking picture the lured me in 🙂 ):

  • 2 pounds new potatoes, halves
  • 1 thinly sliced lemon
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 T chopped fresh dill

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Toss all ingredients (except the dill) on a baking sheet (or a large baking dish, like I used).
  2. Roast for 30-35 minutes until tender, tossing once.  Toss with the dill before serving.  Enjoy!

After baking: chopped fresh dill mixed in

RAVE Diet Whole Foods Recipe #13- Mangorugula Smoothie

We renamed RAVE Smoothie #5 “Mangorugula” Smoothie in honor of it’s two main ingredients: mango and arugula.  This smoothie, unfortunately, was very bitter and earned only a 4 from me and a 3 from my husband.  I made this one late at night and forgot to snap a picture, but it was very very bright green, much like  the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Kiwi” Smoothie.  I would drink this smoothie again if I had to, but some of the other ones I’ve made were much tastier, even Baby Poop Smoothie 🙂

RAVE Diet Whole Foods Recipe #12- Sweet Potato Fries

I couldn’t stop eating these deliciously sweet fries!  My husband and I both rated Sweet Potato Fries an 8.  This was actually the first sweet potato fry recipe I have tried in which the fries have actually turned out a little bit crispy, so that was exciting.  Here’s the recipe:

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, cut like fries (this is time intensive, but worth it)
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Toss cut vegetables, broth, & cinnamon in a bowl.  Transfer to baking sheet.  Bake in a 450 degree oven for about 50 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.  During the last 30 minutes of baking, toss occasionally.  At the end of baking, toss with maple syrup.

This recipe is GUARANTEED to smell delicious while cooking and taste the same!  It’s sweet enough to almost be a dessert without being overpoweringly so.  I can’t wait to have this again (not looking forward  to chopping the potatoes, though, haha!)

RAVE Diet Whole Foods Recipe #11- Braised Collards or Kale

This recipe works for both kale and collard greens.  I chose to make kale this time.  Kale is supposed to be extremely good for a person- packed with vitamins and nutrients that can protect you against oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, and cancer.

My husband rated Braised Kale an 8 and I rated it a 7.  Here’s how to make it for yourself:

  • 1 bunch collard greens or kale (6-8 cups chopped)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp low-sodium Tamari (soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Wash greens, remove stems, then chop leaves into 1/2-inch wide strips (this helps ensure even cooking).  Combine broth, Tamari, vinegar, garlic, and water in a large pot or skillet.  Cook over high heat about 30 sec.  Reduce heat to medium-high, add chopped greens, and toss to mix.  Cover and cook, stirring often, until greens are tender, about 5 minutes (steaming kale actually increases its ability to perform functions such as lowering cholesterol).

This recipe was tasty and very easy!  We combined it with Sweet Potato Fries and the Aristotle Was Wrong Smoothie for a tasty and nutritious dinner.  🙂

Braised Kale, Sweet Potatoe Fries, and Aristotle Was Wrong Smoothie made a tasty meal!

RAVE Diet Whole Foods Recipe #10- Black Bean & Corn Salad

Black Bean & Corn Salad

Let me introduce you to what is probably my favorite RAVE dish yet!  This tasty salad was not only wonderful on it’s own, but when my husband mixed the leftovers with baby spinach and his own special dressing  the next day, it had a second life!  I rated Black Bean & Corn Salad a whopping 9 and my husband rated it an 8!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 3 cups dry black beans (you have to cook them first, of course)
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1-2 T juice from 1 lime
  • 1 T vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp minced garlic

Combine first seven ingredients in a large bowl.  Make dressing with lime juice, cilantro, garlic, pepper, and vegetable broth.  Combine well (I put all the ingredients in a small Tupperware container with a very tight seal and then shake the heck out of it!).  Pour over salad ingredients and toss lightly to combine.  Chill several hours before serving (I served it pretty much right away because I’m an impatient sort of eater, but it was really good the next day as well!)

RAVE Diet Recipe #9- Buckwheat Pasta

I made this very tasty dish for dinner.  Called “Pasta- Buckwheat Pasta” in the RAVE book, it was very simple and quick to make.  I rated Buckwheat Pasta a 7 and my husband gave it an 8, so here’s the recipe!

  • 12 oz whole wheat soba noodles (I found these in the Japanese section of my grocery store)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1-1/2 cups cold water
  • 4 T vegetable broth (I used Pacific Foods brand)
  • 2 T whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp low-sodium Tamari (soy sauce) (I used Bragg’s Liquid Aminos because I was out of soy sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

Saute the onion and broth in a large skillet until onion is transparent, then add mushrooms.  Cover and continue cooking until mushrooms are brown.  Whisk flour and water together until smooth, then add to skillet along with the Tamari, garlic powder, and pepper.  Cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat until thickened.  Bring water to boil in a large kettle.  Add the noodles and boil until al dente, about 8 minutes.

I used my ceramic frying pan with great success with this recipe.  The dish has enough moisture throughout the cooking process to keep anything from sticking as long as you stir it every once in awhile.  This was a great way to eat soba and was delicious even without any added oil or salt!  I’m not sure why I only gave it a 7.  Maybe because it’s not very colorful?  Presentation is so important, in my opinion.


RAVE Diet Whole Foods Recipe #8- The “Aristotle Was Wrong” Smoothie

Sadly, the whole is not more than the sum of it’s parts…

Aristotle said that “The whole is more than the sum of it’s parts”.  If that were true in this case, our smoothie should have rated a ten.  With ingredients like grapefruit, lime, cucumber, cilantro, and pineapple, we expected it to excel but….  it didn’t.  Both my husband and I rated the Aristotle Was Wrong Smoothie an 8.  Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 pink grapefruit
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 lime
  • 1 slice pinapple
  • 1 tsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • pinch of cinnamon

Directions: Put all ingredients in the blender and turn it on.  Please please please just juice the lime and don’t chuck the whole thing into the blender!  🙂

Don’t let the name of this delicious drink throw you off too much- it’s quite delicious!  Not a ten in our opinion, but something we’d love to have again.