HEY FAM! I’VE BEEN BLESSED TO BE ON THIS EARTH FOR 25 YEARS, BUT IT WASN’T UNTIL THE LAST COUPLE WHERE I STARTED TO CHASE MY CURIOSITY. I STARTED TO SEEK QUESTIONS IN MY HEALTH, EGO, PURPOSE, LIFESTYLE, SUSTAINABILITY, SPIRITUALITY AND SO MUCH MORE. MY CURIOSITY HAS PUSHED ME TO DISCOMFORT AND OVER THESE LAST COUPLE YEARS I’VE COME TO NEW AMAZING REVELATIONS AND UNDERSTANDINGS ABOUT THIS BEAUTIFUL GAME OF LIFE. THE SOUL SEARCHING HAS RAISED MY AWARENESS AND I BECAME MUCH MORE INTENTIONAL. AND IT IS MY INTENTION TO SHARE WITH YOU ALL MY NEW AND EVER EVOLVING PERSPECTIVES. SO STRAP UP, AND LET’S GO FOR A RIDE.
Nutrition is a world inside the world of Health. And it’s going to take a whole lot more than a single blog post to share all the goods and importance of nutrition.
The tricky, and almost comical thing about nutrition, is how contradictory it has been. We grew up with the food pyramid, and “GOT MILK” campaigns. We’re told about cholesterol leading to heart disease, we have food restricted diets, and, please tell me, is there more protein in the egg white or egg yolk?? Before I went plant based, I was as uncertain with this question as I was about black holes.
Information has been thrown around leaving us scratching our heads time and time again wondering what the actual truth is. Now, with more studies conducted day and night, driven by experts who want to fight this health epidemic, we are gaining more clarity on just how important food is, and what good and bad food choices look like and do to the body.
Now, I want to bring our attention to a few things.
When it comes to nutrition, one of the most important things is the “What”. Talking about quality and what is right or wrong, good or bad, etc. But I also want to touch on the “How, When and Who/Whom” of nutrition as well.
For years and years, personally, food was simply a means to quench my hunger. It was a game to see who could eat the most, or who finished first. It was a bit of a chore. To have something, anything, to do with my hands at family gatherings.
But I never understood the true importance, impact and consequences the food I was putting into my mouth had on my body, mind and overall well being.
My favorite nutrition expert, who’s poured wisdom into my soul, is Shawn Stevenson. I’ve been following his #1 health podcast, The Model Health Show, for months now, and I will be quoting quite a bit from his book “Eat Smarter” because the man is dropping absolute BOMBS of knowledge, and his health journey inspires me.
Firstly, Shawn woke me up in his book, Eat Smarter, when he said “What we eat doesn’t just affect our weight, it also affects our ability to focus, our ability to communicate with others, and even our ability to make more or less income. Our food choices influence our sleep quality, our body’s ability to defend itself from disease, and the quality of our skin and outward appearance; and it can even control how long we’re going to live”(5). BOOM!
If I heard this 5 years ago, I would have said this dude is far the freak out! But after learning and implementing new food choices into my daily regimen, and feeling the impact, I realized he is spot on.
I heard him and colleague Mark Hyman (another amazing resource for nutrition) talk about somethig I was never taught in school, the MICROBIOME. I didn’t really understand it at first, but this is EVERYTHING, and explains why our food choices are so important.
Dr. Nichole Lepera, author of “How To Do The Work”, also talks about the importance of the microbiome. The microbiome is “the diverse array of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes that live inside our gut”(92). We have 500 million neurons in our gut alone! 90 percent of the neurotransmitter “serotonin” (our “feel good” hormone) is made in our gut. If our gut regulates our ability to feel good, then damn straight I wanna love and nourish it.
The microbiome is the foundation of our metabolism. It is the first place that decides what our body will do with the calories we consume. There is this incredible communication that goes on between the gut and the brain and when we feed our microbiome foods that don’t nourish or strengthen or diversify it, then not only does our body pay the price, but our hormones, moods, emotions, and mind do as well.
The importance of our food cannot go unnoticed. Shawn says that our hearts and organs are actually made from the foods that we eat. So you know that saying, “you are what you eat”, well, it really does apply. And don’t even get me started on the phrase, “you are what you eat, ate”. We’ll talk about that soon enough.
So, the bajillion dollar question is, “How the hell do I best support this microbiome thingy?”
“What the bleeperz am I supposed to eat?”
Let’s start with real, whole foods.
With the rise in technology and marketing, you can’t go on live TV nowadays without seeing some fast food or restaurant commercial. The color schemes are beautiful, the cheese is mouth wateringly stringy, and that SIZZLE is just…well…GET IN ME BELLY, right??.
But, we don’t see a lot of advertising for real, whole foods, do we? If you want to know what I mean by “real, whole food”, then look at the label of every food item in your pantry or fridge, and if it has more than 5 ingredients, or it has words you don’t even know how to pronounce…chances are it’s not real food.
The food industry has been played around with. Constructing food in labs that are not natural, yet they smell delicious and bring us back for more and more. It’s incredible marketing if we’re being honest. But it’s unethical and our health is NOT their number one priority.
So, the first step to getting our power back, is to become a CONSCIOUS CONSUMER.
Read those tiny labels.
Find out where your food is coming from.
Follow the money trail.
Do the research.
I know it’s an inconvenient pain in the ass, but your body, mind and soul will thank you for it down the road.
Now I want to talk about diets. I truly despise this word because so many are “restrictive diets”. And by this we energetically tell our bodies that we are depleting and depriving you versus supplying and filling you up. How do you like being told you can’t have what you like? Yeah, our body doesn’t like it either.
Stripping calories is NOT the way to lose weight. That is the way to become nutrient deficient, which will jumpstart a shittery of other health complications.
Instead, focus on the ratio of your Macronutrients. Your Proteins, fats, and carbs.
(SIDE NOTE: “Fats” are not the same as “Body Fat”. We must break this myth because our body NEEDS good, quality, healthy fats. We should call fat, “Energy”).
Shawn has so many incredible recommendations for losing fat in a healthy fashion, but what stuck out to me was to break our fast (breakfast) with a high fat and protein/low Carb breakfast. It’s kind of funny looking at modern breakfast choices (cereal, waffles, pancakes, muffins, etc). It’s seems more like dessert with a lil less sugar (I’m not shitting on it because I will pound a fat stack of banana pancakes from time to time), but if this is how we start our day every day…then we might have to get back to the drawing board..
Great sources of Fats are Extra Virgin Olive Oil (cold pressed/first harvest), avocado oil, coconut oil, mct oil, avocados, and nuts to name a few. This next fact is mind boggling but please STAY AWAY from “vegetable oils” such as industrial seed oils from corn, cottonseed, safflower seeds, rapeseeds, soybean oil, grapeseed oil and canola oil. These are HIGHLY PROCESSED at extremely high temperatures and are refined, bleached and deodorized before they put it in that pretty little bottle. This will oxidize, corrupt and damage our DNA. The journal BMJ: Open Heart found that “these vegetable oils can be a major culprit behind organ failure, cardiac arrest, and sudden death”. So yeah…I know it looks the same as the more expensive oils, but stay away please and thank you.
We also want to make sure we are getting enough of our micronutrients. That good magnesium, potassium, calcium, selenium, vitamin B, D, C, E, Omegas, and so many more. Micronutrients are extremely important for our hormonal function. We can supplement pretty much every micronutrient with capsules, but it really doesn’t compare to getting it from good, high quality food sources.
I highly recommend Shawn Stevenson’s book “Eat Smarter” if you want to learn more because there is just so so much information it’ll knock your funky socks off.
Now, let’s talk about the importance of the “How”.
How are you eating your food?
Have you ever stopped to pay attention?
What does your food taste like? Are you slurping it down, or savoring every bite?
What is your tongue doing when your munchin down?
Are you enjoying each bite, or just trying to get it over with so you can get on with your day?
This comes down to being present.
Start to pay attention. This has been something I’ve struggled with immensely. I grew up eating so fast and I still catch myself eating, then I blink, and it’s gone and my stomach hurts and I feel all shitty afterwards, even if I ate a really healthy meal.
The practice of presence is key here. Make food into a ceremony or a ritual.
Bless your food with gratitude that you have access to this incredible food source.
Visualize your food streaking through your body, giving you energy and growing you stronger.
Next we have the “When”.
When are you eating your food? Before we had grocery stores and buildings and could work 24/7, or buy and eat food any time of the day, we lived and ate in alignment with the cycle of the sun. We ate when the sun rose to when the sun set.
Nowadays, it’s so easy to eat 18 hours of the day. Or running all nighterz babyy!! And snacking throughout our waking hours
How often do we give our bodies time to fully rest and digest our food?
Sleep is prime time for our bodies to break down our foods. But if we’re getting shitty sleep (which we’ll talk about soon), then does our body actually fully break down the food and regenerate like it should?
When we pile food on top of each other throughout the day, we make it hard on our beautiful vessel to do what it does best. This is where I love and recommend intermittent fasting.
This is going without food for a window between 12 to 16 hours. For me, I like to stop eating food completely after 7 or sometimes 8pm, and I’ll drink water in the morning, usually a protein shake and start eating around 9 to 12 o’clock.
It took time to adjust to this. But when we stick with something long enough, our bodies are incredible at adapting. I noticed my stomach felt so much lighter, my poops were cleaner, I had less cravings, and I felt more energized.
In Stevenson’s book, Eat Smarter, he says “intermittent fasting is able to quickly reduce insulin resistance…and support fat loss without increasing appetite…It stimulates the creation of new brain cells, and it also makes the neurons you already have work better”(301).
I encourage you to play around with this for a little while and see how you feel. Breaking any habit is a David versus Goliath occasion, but stick with it and your body will adapt.
Finally, we have the “who/whom”.
One level of this is “who”. And that is “You”.
We are all so very, beautifully different. Certain techniques or food works well for some, yet not for others. This is why it is so important to experiment and play around. Find what works best for you. Listen to your body. Pay attention to your energy.
If you feel off, that is your body telling you to pivot and adjust. Try new foods. Build a diverse microbiome. Practice intermittent fasting. Play around with the ratios of your Macronutrients. There is no “one right answer”. So play around and listen to your beautiful body.
Who we are enjoying this beautiful food with is almost as important as the food itself.
I’m going to talk deeper about community and connection later on, but for now, really ask who you spend time with when eating.
Food has become this incredible social occasion. Meeting up with a friend we haven’t seen in awhile “Yo, let’s grab a bite to eat and catch up!”. Dinner parties, work dinner parties, sporting events, birthday parties, graduation ceremonies, etc. So many events, when involved with people, are cultivated around food.
Did you grow up having family dinners?
As kids sometimes we hated it, right?
We wanted to be moving, or playing or watching TV or just about anything else than sitting and actually talking with the ones we are biologically programmed to love. .
But research shows in Stevenson’s, Eat Smarter, that “increased frequency of family dinner was associated with higher intakes of several nutrients that support health and defend the body against diseases…this increased consumption of fiber, calcium, folate, iron, B-vitamins..lowered glycemic load; and lowered the intake of trans fat”. When frequently eating as a family, we also “consume more fruits and vegetables and less soda and processed foods”(242).
There is a correlation that our eating conditions actually affect what we eat. Who woulda thought?
This is truly just touching the very top of the iceberg when it comes to food and nutrition. I’m also fascinated by Will Bulsiewicz’s book, Fiber Fueled, talking about the importance that good, quality fiber has on our microbiome and overall health. So, if you’ve struggled with issues with your gut, I definitely recommend checking that out.
Again, the biggest takeaway is being a CONSCIOUS CONSUMER. Now you’ve got a brief understanding about the impact food has on the gut/brain connection and our overall health and well being.
My hope is that this lit a tiny fire inside of you to ask those high quality questions and receive high quality answers. We live in a world with so much information. Find good sources, ask good questions, play around to find what works best for you, enjoy the process, and take your health back.