During last week’s “Wellness Wednesday” I came down pretty hard on you.
I didn’t mean to. I was just trying to help you get ready for summer clothes without feeling self-conscious about your body. I know how people get (especially in a beach town like Naples) when the weather gets warm.
Still, I told you that you would have to give up some of your favorite foods and the only hope I gave you that could still enjoy your life was a mention that people learn to enjoy raw vegetables.
While I’m glad I said the hard things about the foods that are so toxic in our bodies, I admit I didn’t make a very good case for how enjoyable life can be without those foods. This week, I want to right that wrong. I want to show you an exciting way to eat and enjoy vibrant health.
Let’s Go See The World
Do you love to travel? Some of my most-cherished life memories are set in far-away places. Costa Rica is a personal favorite of mine. I have some great memories there with my son, Tristan.
One of the best things about Costa Rica (and honestly, most other countries I have visited) is the food. Because I’m a wellness coach, people think I live on celery and protein powder. Not a chance; I love to eat.
My secret is that I have learned how to eat in a way that satisfies my body and my soul. I can activate my palette and keep my body operating at optimal performance. When I visit other countries, I enjoy the additional benefit of knowing that the local food is usually fresh from the earth. It’s not true everywhere, but in Central and South America, and around the Mediterranean, the food is amazing (except in places where they have embraced the Standard American Diet).
Here in the United States, we have conditioned ourselves to love eating garbage. If you stop and look objectively at the things we call “food” in this country, compared to the rest of the world, you have to scratch your head. We talked a little about this last week, so I won’t harp on it. I just want to make the case that we have adapted to eating “food” products made in a test tube. You can make chemicals taste good, but you can’t make them nourishing. Your body knows the difference between nourishing food and processed food-like substances, even if your tongue can’t tell them apart.
The Side Effects Of Our Side Dishes
Many of those ingredients listed on the back of the packages are not food at all, but preservatives meant to keep the food from rotting while it sits on the shelf. They are not food, so the cells of your body don’t know what to do with them. Most of the time, your body treats these chemicals like viruses, sending neutrophils and other warrior cells to attack them, and painful inflammation is the result.
Do you remember the times we’ve talked about the various forms of inflammation (arthritis, asthma, Chron’s disease, Irritable Bowel Disease, psoriasis, etc.)? Our bodies are fighting for their lives against the “foods” that are supposed to be fueling them. And that’s just one side effect. Consider the other health issues that are plaguing America right now:
- rampant obesity
- a spike in cases of diabetes and heart disease
- increases in dementia and behavioral disorders
- the explosion of food allergies
- loss of energy and libido
- spikes in prescriptions for anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds
- increases in cancer
These are all happening in America, which is supposed to be the world leader in healthcare. We rank at the bottom among industrialized nations in healthcare outcomes. Do you know where else these problems are starting to emerge? In nations where American food is becoming popular.
We need to be learning from them, not the other way around.
The 5,000-Year-Old Secret Revealed
One of the guiding principles of my practice is that we need to get back to living the way God designed our bodies to operate:
- We weren’t designed to live in closed boxes, breathing recycled air.
- We weren’t designed to eat and drink chemicals.
- We weren’t designed to stay awake 20 hours a day, flooding our brains with lights.
The more we can get back in touch with our original design, the healthier we will be.
Consider this: when Alexander the Great ruled the world from Macedonia to India, he didn’t eat cookies. He enjoyed sweet snacks like the rest of us, but he got them from the earth: honey, berries, and coconuts. When Aristotle was teaching us how to ask questions and think about the answers, he was cooking with olive oil. He ate a lot of beans and vegetables. His meat was mostly fish and a little lamb. He drank wine with his dinner.
How do we know this? Because their descendants are still eating that way, and still enjoying good health well into their nineties (and, in places like Ikaria, Greece, over 100). They don’t experience dementia or debilitating arthritis.
Researchers and chefs have been calling it the Mediterranean Diet, and by and large, it works. It’s not perfect, but it’s much healthier than the Standard American Diet. And as I pointed out last week, it is ideal for warm climates like ours here in Florida.
How The Mediterranean Diet Can Get You Back In Summer Clothes
The Mediterranean Diet has been nourishing people for thousands of years because it aligns closely with the way our bodies were designed to work:
- Healthy fats that satisfy and energize the body.
- An emphasis on plant-based foods.
- Very low carbs, and almost no sugars.
- Lean meats treated as condiments, not entrees.
- Plenty of clean water and a little wine.
- Lots of spices and ingenuity (have you ever had bland Greek or Israeli food?)
- Low-stress quality of life in a community.
This way of eating is a recipe (pardon the pun) for a healthy life. When you remove the sugars and starches from your diet, your body metabolizes fat for energy and it only stores what it needs. Our nation is facing an obesity epidemic because our bodies are supposed to burn fat for fuel, not sugar. We store sugar in the most unsightly places and then we feel self-conscious in warm-weather clothing. Don’t do this to yourself anymore. All of the power is in your hands.
Why Do We Do This To Ourselves?
Because we are conditioned to crave sugar like a drug (which it is). If we can retrain our bodies to love fresh, life-giving foods — like the foods we see in the Mediterranean Diet — the sugar stores around our bodies will melt away (and inflammation will subside, too). We will burn fat instead of stockpiling it, and we will enjoy that radiant glow we all want. It doesn’t come from lotions we pour on our skin; it comes from eating according to our original design.
It’s worth pointing out that the Mediterranean Diet is more than food choices, and it’s not something you do for six weeks to lose weight before returning to your pizza and beer. It’s a lifestyle. There’s a slower pace of life and a sense of community that many of us in the United States are lacking. If you’ve ever read about the Blue Zones project, you know that of the nine lifestyle attributes strongly correlated with longevity, only three are related to diet.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a rice-cake nightmare. As we get into our discussion of the Mediterranean Diet over the next few weeks, you will see that real food can be really exciting while at the same time, be really healthy and make you feel great!
Join Me For (An Amazing) Dinner
I have something special coming up for you that I think will seal the deal for you. Join me for our next Fundamental Foods and Friends Dinner with my good friend, Juliana Sagitta of Mediterranean Meals in April. If you’ve been to our Fundamental Foods and Friends Dinners before and thought we enjoyed some great dining, wait until this dinner! Ms. Saitta will change the way you think about food! I can’t wait to share it with you.
In the meantime, take a few seconds to share this article on your favorite social media channel. Right now, someone you know might be looking for a delicious and enjoyable way to improve their health. You hold the key for them.
“At the end of your FEELINGS is NOTHING. At the end of your PRINCIPLES is a PROMISE.” — Eric Thomas