How many of us (myself included) start the new year with the intention to be healthier? While that is an admirable goal, being healthy cannot be pinpointed to just one specific thing, it’s an all encompassing term including spiritual health, emotional health, fitness, nutrition, self care, and true body, mind, spirit nourishment.
However, I am of the mindset that it all starts with food. It’s extremely difficult to cultivate a deep spiritual practice, think clearly and get the most out of regular workouts when you are living off of processed foods like microwaveable frozen meals, chips, cookies, and restaurant take-out.
So today, I’m sharing a one-stop-shop guide to eating well. Here we’ll cover:
- Why you absolutely, no questions ask, need to make peace with your kitchen
- How to cut out refined sugar, and what to eat instead
- 10 tips for real food success at any grocery store
- A morning ritual for long-lasting energy
…and why it all matters. Here we go!
1. Cooking At Home
I am going to say something a bit controversial, but over the past five years of working with one-on-one clients, I’ve found this to be true, time and time again. If you want to eat well, you MUST learn to cook. This doesn’t mean you to need to learn the skills necessary to enroll in the next Top Chef, but you do need to be empowered enough in the kitchen to feed yourself, to know exactly what is going in your food and create a plan for wellness with your food – with YOU in control.
Because even if you visit the healthiest, all-organic, real food restaurant, you do not know how much sugar they are using. You do not always know what kind of oils they are using. You do not know how much salt they are using. And perhaps, most importantly, you do not know who or how they are preparing the food. Food that is thrown together haphazardly by someone who is making minimum wage and could quite frankly care less about green juice and kale is going to have an entirely different essence and energy than food that is created by your own two hands. Food truly tastes better when it is prepared with love and intention.
In order to make peace with your kitchen, you must make it a space you WANT to be in. Before cooking, I make sure the area is clean, I turn on music, go barefoot, pour myself a glass of wine (in the evening), and dive right in. Just as you would intentionally craft a creative workplace, you want to do the same with your kitchen. Make it your own creative food studio. After all, cooking for the people you love (including yourself!) is one of the greatest ways to share your heart with them.
Here are a few easy and healthy at-home recipes to get started with:
- Breakfast: Veggie Frittata
- Lunch: Stuffed Portobello Mushroom
- Dinner: Apple and Lentil Curry
- Dessert: Gluten-Free Blueberry Almond Cake or Banana Ice Cream
- Snack: Chia Coconut Yogurt Bowl
Start small and build upon your repertoire. As you begin the culinary journey, let us know how else we can support you. What kind of recipes would you like to see on Kale.Life? What kind of cooking tips would be most helpful? We would love to hear from you on Facebook and Instagram.
2. Cut Out Refined Sugar
The USDA recommends we get no more than 10 teaspoons of sugar per day, yet most Americans eat about 30 teaspoons per day— that’s three times the liberal recommended daily value.
Humans love sweet things. Even before we started refining sugar, we sought out foods with sweet tastes. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that occurs naturally in foods such as grains, beans, vegetables and fruit. When unprocessed, sugar contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and proteins. When brown rice or other whole grains are cooked, chewed and digested, the natural carbohydrates break down uniformly into separate glucose molecules. These molecules enter the bloodstream, where they are burned smoothly and evenly, allowing your body to absorb all the good stuff.
But refined table sugar is a very different beast. When it enters the bloodstream it creates havoc on your blood sugar and sets you up for mood swings, cravings and fatigue. The worst part is that it even leaves you longing for more.
Removing sugar from your diet can happen in 2 ways:
1) Slow and steady with a gradual decrease
2) Go cold turkey and cut it all out at once
Let’s say you start your day with cereal and milk (all sugar) or perhaps you grab a pastry on the way into the office (sugar) and a coffee with cream & sugar! For lunch you have a sandwich; you think you’re “being good” because it’s WHOLE WHEAT, well guess what (it breaks down into sugar). For dinner you meet friends at a local hot spot and have a skinny margarita (still has sugar) and chips and salsa (carbs in tortilla chips breakdown into sugar).
As you can see, it’s very easy to consume an enormous amount of sugar in one day without even knowing it.
So, how do you make the shift from sugar reliance to sugar freedom? Start by adding IN foods like dark leafy greens, high-quality protein, and healthy fat. To get started, make sure you are eating breakfast that includes the 3 components of: greens, protein, and fat. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and will set the stage for everything else to come that day.
Ideally, you want all three meals of the day to include greens, protein, and fat but absolutely, no questions asked, your day must begin this way starting with breakfast.
Here are a few breakfast ideas:
- Two scrambled organic eggs (protein), cooked in grass-fed butter or coconut oil (fat), with a side of steamed spinach or broccoli (greens).
- A big smoothie including coconut milk (fat), collagen or whey protein (protein), and loaded with spinach (greens), a banana, and frozen berries.
- Leftovers! A quick and easy on-the-go breakfast is leftovers from the night before. Who said you can’t have lentils and veggies for breakfast? Not me!
Start with breakfast and then build on from there.
3. How To Go Grocery Shopping
It’s something you’ve been doing your entire life, but you may have never developed a method to your madness when it comes grocery shopping. Here’s mine (shared on my other website Kale.Life):
- Tip 1: The power of changing your grocery store.
- Tip 2: Why to avoid the center aisles.
- Tip 3: The truth that lies within food labels.
- Tip 4: How certain words on labels convince you to buy (and why they don’t actually matter!).
- Tip 5: The #1 aisle to locate during any shopping trip.
- Tip 6: An easy swap for peanut butter.
- Tip 7: The best butter to buy and why.
- Tip 8: How to navigate your way through the egg section.
- Tip 9: Ditch this oil from your home kitchen.
- Tip 10: What to buy instead of toxic cleaners.
Watch all ten videos above and you’re ready to rock your next grocery store visit like a pro! Happy shopping.
4. A Morning Tonic
I am a huge fan of rituals, the habits and practices that help keep us grounded, focused and empowered to feel your best.
My favorite rituals of the day happen in the morning and at night. When I wake up, I start a new day with a few words of gratitude.
No matter what your current state upon waking is, there is always something to be grateful for.
It can go something like this:
“Thank you for this day. I’m grateful for my eyes that can look out the window and see the sun shining bright.”
“Thank you for my strong, healthy body. I am grateful for my two legs that take me where I need and want to go.”
“Thank you for the hurdles I am overcoming. I’m grateful for my drive to create positive change in my life.”
It can be anything, truly! A prayer of thanks and gratitude is your way of saying thank you to the Universe/God/Higher Power and attracting more of that into your life.
Try it on yourself. How different does that feel than rolling out of bed and grumbling your way to the bathroom thinking about the meeting you have, the boss who drives you crazy and deadlines you have to hit?
How about: “Thank you for my boss who drives me crazy. Through this experience I understand that I want to work for someone who is kind, considerate and open-minded. Hey, I may even want to be my own boss!”
After your prayer of thanks and fueling your spirit, it’s time to fuel your body.
The magic morning elixir looks like this:
- ½ – 1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
- 16 ounces water (this can be warm or chilled – it’s more of a personal preference)
- Fresh squeezed lemon (or 2 drops Lemon essential oil)
Apple Cider Vinegar is one of the oldest, most powerful, healing home remedies imaginable. I have personally used it for natural morning energy, to help recover from a bad cold, digestive upset, sinus problems and for skin health.
A few more benefits of ACV include:
- An immediate improvement in digestion and reflux
- Relief of pollen, food and pet allergies
- Cures sinus infections.
- Curbs food cravings
- Brings a healthy, vibrant glow to one’s complexion
- Helps break down fat to assist in weight loss
- Lowers blood pressure
- Assists with chronic fatigue
Apple Cider Vinegar’s vitamin content includes Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Provitamin beta-carotene, Vitamin P (bioflavonoids).
It also reacts to some toxins in our bodies, converting them into less toxic substances. Our bodies need a slightly alkaline pH balance to be healthy. The typical Western diet creates an acidic pH in our bodies, and many health problems are attributed to this. Taking a tonic containing apple cider vinegar can help restore alkalinity, and therefore assist the body in getting rid of some of the health problems you may be experiencing.
I ask all of the participants of my 12-Days To Sexy cleanse to start each morning with this tonic and most all of them continue it long after the cleanse is over. Out of all the practices they learn over the 12 days, this is the one that often has the biggest impact on their daily vitality.
Putting It All Together
So, what does a day-in-the-life look like with your new empowered food habits?
Upon waking, after a few moments for gratitude, you head into the kitchen for your morning tonic. Before you head out the door you make breakfast at home including the three components of protein, fat, and greens.
After work, you head to the grocery store (well equipped to make your way around the store) and purchase the food (not food-like-substances) to prepare your meal for the evening. Again, focused on protein, fat and greens. Your sugar cravings have subsided thanks to the shift in your diet so you are satisfied having a cup of tea with some honey to wind down after dinner (instead of the ice cream or cookies you usually reach for).
While that all may sound idealistic, it can and will happen over time with repeated daily habits and actions.
The food you eat can either A). bring you closer to vibrant health or B). closer to disease, and every meal has the power to transform the future of your life.
May you use the guidelines above to live well and live long.