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.

Advertisements

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.

RAVE Diet Whole Foods Recipe #7- “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Kiwi” Smoothie

Tastes Like Kiwi, but isn't!

Wednesday before last, I made Smoothie #10 from the RAVE book.  We really liked it and renamed it “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Kiwi” because it really did taste like it.

My husband rated this smoothie an 8 and I rated it a 7.  Thanks to his rating, I’m going to include the recipe:

  • 5 kale leaves
  • 3 apples (I used Granny Smiths because we like it tart!)
  • 1 tsp ground flaxseed
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 cups water

The directions are simple here: just stuff it all into the blender and turn it on! As you can see in the picture, the kale in this smoothie gives it an astonishing green color.  Those are vitamins, baby!

RAVE Diet Whole Foods Recipe #6- Cornbread

On Monday evening I made Cornbread from The RAVE Diet and Lifestyle.  It was a pretty simple recipe.  I guess there were a few differences, though, from the cornbread I’ve made in the past.  It called for half cornmeal, half whole wheat pastry flour, for example.  It also used a few tablespoons of vegetable broth and a teaspoon and a half of vinegar.  I’m really not sure what the vinegar was for.  Anyway, it looked beautiful in the oven…

Cornbread- RAVE Diet & Lifestyle

It looked even better when it began to get that crispy cracked looked and it smelled heavenly!  I could barely wait to try it.  …When I took it out of the oven, however, I realized that the recipe hadn’t mentioned greasing the pan in any way (and I hadn’t) and the whole thing was hopelessly stuck to the bottom.  My husband and I tried some and it was pretty much not done yet in the middle.  The recipe said to bake it for 25 to 30 minutes and I had done 25.  The thing is, it was so dry and cracked on the outside that I could see the bottom on the pan from the top and thought leaving it in longer wouldn’t make it much better.  It tasted pretty good, but the structure was crap.

Cornbread- RAVE Diet

Ok, so truthfully the outcome might have been my fault because I made a couple of mistakes with this recipe.  First of all, I put it in before the oven was quite at the correct temperature.  This may be why it turned out so dry but still not done.  I know better than to do this, but I was in a hurry.  Also, I probably should have oiled the pan in some way.  Not sure how you do that with an oil-less recipe, but I’m sure there is a way (applesauce??).

Anyway, my husband really liked the way this Cornbread tasted and has been scraping it out to eat for breakfast (with milk over it, ugh!).  He gave it a score of 6 and I gave it a 5.  Perhaps I should try it again with the above changes and see how it goes.  I have so many other recipes to try, though!  I will have to be more careful in the future to give each recipe a fair chance and not submit it to my own errors, yikes!

RAVE Diet Whole Foods Recipe #5- Polenta-Stuffed Peppers, Plus: How to Make Your Own Polenta

On Sunday I made Polenta-Stuffed Peppers.  This was a pretty tasty recipe.  I opted to make polenta instead of buying it.  In hindsight, I should have made the polenta ahead of time since it was to be measured in weight.  To do that, I would have needed to cook it, let it cool, and then weight it out, I guess.  Instead, I attempted to hastily make it and use it.  I hadn’t made polenta in awhile, and I did a sloppy job, so it ended up a lot thinner than it should have been, and lumpy.  This wasn’t all bad, but it probably contributed to the kind of yucky look my finished product took on….

Polenta-Stuffed Pepper

I really should focus on taking more appealing pictures of my recipes in the future.  I actually took this exact pepper to work, where I cut it open and let all the lumpy polenta spill out and ate it!  I got a few “What is that??” questions.  Anyway, my husband gave this recipe a 7 and I gave it a 6.  I might have rated it higher if I’d done a better job with the polenta.  I might actually attempt this one again because I looooove roasted peppers!

For those of you who would like to make your own polenta, here’s a good basic recipe to start from:

Basic Polenta

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water

Boil the 3 cups of water in a saucepan.  Whisk together the cornmeal, 1 cup water, and salt in a bowl and pour into the boiling water.  If you don’t mix the cornmeal with the water first, it will end up lumpy.  Lower the temperature to a simmer and cover, stirring every few minutes.  Cook for 15 minutes.

You can use the cornmeal as a breakfast cereal or side dish, or you can pour it into a cake or loaf pan and refrigerate it overnight.  The resulting thickened cornmeal (called polenta) can be sliced and fried, cut into shapes, or chopped up and used in recipes (like the pepper recipe I made).  Polenta is good as a savory dish or a sweet one.  I like to cut it into large slices, fry it, and eat it for breakfast with maple syrup on top.  🙂 You can add just about anything  to the polenta while cooking it (sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, herbs and spices, etc.) to give it different flavors.

RAVE Diet Whole Foods Recipe #4- Curried Sweet Potato Soup

Curried Sweet Potato Soup- RAVE Diet book

Friday I made “Curried Sweet Potato Soup”.  This recipe was simple to make, but very   delicious and got the highest ratings so far: a 7 from my husband and an 8 from me! My husband said it was  his favorite of the recipes I’ve made from the RAVE book.  It was also the first recipe in which I really didn’t miss the salt at all.  It tasted sweet but savory at  the same time- totally delicious!  We had some of the leftovers last night and it was good the  second   time around as well. Here’s the recipe:

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

serves 6

  • 5 cups cubed, peeled sweet potato
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/8 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • minced cilantro (optional)

Heat broth in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and curry powder and saute for 2 minutes.  Add water, broth, and sweet potatoes.  Cook for 30 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender.  Place one-third of the sweet potato mixture in a blender and process until smooth.  Repeat the procedure with the remaining sweet potato mixture in batches.  Return the pureed mixture to the saucepan.  Bring the soup to a boil and remove from heat.  Garnish with cilantro, if desired.

Note: I did not blend the soup, but merely mashed it with a potato masher.  I suppose I did this because I was lazy.  Also, my blender was being washed.  Also, I don’t mind having my soup a little texturized and it did still taste delicious!

RAVE Diet Recipes and Whole Foods Eating

So, just a little report on my progress.  So far I’ve made four recipes from the RAVE Diet book: Lentil-Bulgur Pilaf, Smoothie #1 aka Baby Poop Smoothie, Spinach Barley Cakes, and Curried Sweet Potato Soup.  I posted the recipe for the Sweet Potato Soup, if anyone is interested- it was yummy!

I think doing this is working pretty well so far to keep me on track with the whole foods diet, if only because I have to constantly think about being healthy when I’m always buying healthy ingredients, making healthy recipes, and then writing blogs about them.

I was disappointed in myself yesterday at someone else’s house when I knowingly took some food that had cheese in it.  Granted, I took minuscule portions, but I still could have easily passed those foods by, especially since the person serving them completely understood my eating habits and purposefully told me of the contents of the foods.  Ack.  Fail.  But really I’ve held up so much better than in the past that I’m greatly encouraged, and I really do feel good about the way I’ve been eating.  Maybe I can really make this a permanent lifestyle change!