Food for Thought
Advice offered here to accompany my Universal Workout aligns with my interest in holistic nutrition and medicine, with an emphasis on ‘disease prevention’ rather than strict dieting for weight loss. Restrictive dieting for weight loss by eliminating guilty pleasures we so enjoy is doomed to fail because focusing on depravity rather than satiety leads to the vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting and even more weight gain.
Navigating the contradicting mountains of information on food fads and diet dogma is confusing and daunting. It is often suggested that carb and gluten-free choices will make one feel better and or aid in weight loss. However, it is not necessarily the carbs or the gluten that causes gastric problems or makes us fat and unhealthy, but rather it is the pesticides, preservatives, eating too fast and the resultant lack of proper chewing and salvia production. Furthermore, switching to a gluten free diet, without a medical reason such as celiac disease has no benefit and may even be harmful, since cutting gluten from our diet effects essential vitamin and nutrient supply.
It seems, two very different groups staunchly defend their food choices for various personal reasons.
The first group seems to have more discipline and willpower, acknowledging how lousy they feel by consuming refined and processed foods in the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.). They have the patience and critical thinking required to research the dogma whereas the second group does not and are more likely give in and give up because they like what they like and want what they want. If under medical advice they learn their unhealthy habits are causing their poor health, they remain content taking prescribed meds to mitigate their condition. Unfortunately, they may be unaware of just how easy it could be to commit to a disease prevention lifestyle and still enjoy their indulgences.
Having lived both sides of these two camps, I am the last person to suggest dieting by eliminating beloved comfort foods. Rather, by addressing our perception and judgement of guilty pleasures we can ‘have our cake and eat it too’. While gluttonous addictions once ruled my life and I lived the experience of blindly loading up on sweets, donuts, store bought frozen cakes and cookies, fortunately through the study of integrative medicine, little by little most of my bad habits have fallen away.
Soon after Covid-19 hit people were suddenly bent on a new quest to improve their immunity and health. I noticed an immediate influx of what appeared to be newcomers frequenting the health food store seeking immune boosting products. Soon enough, advertisement campaigns began targeting probiotics and digestive enzymes as the means to improving immunity by boosting gut health. It is ironic that the alternative health community has long lived by these practices which only now are being taken seriously and capitalized upon.
Entering a health food store can at first seem like stepping into a foreign world, overwhelming with so many products and their purported functions. The wide range of supplements, digestive enzymes and probiotics can drive one to become a supplement junkie, addicted to finding answers in pill form. However, the full scope of our body’s nutritional and digestive requirements simply cannot be found in a bottle. Ideally, our food should deliver the sustenance we need but finding the good food, sifting through the food dogma and adhering to the discipline, is simply not always possible.
The following 3-pronged nutritional approach is an alternative to bottled probiotics and digestive enzymes.
* thorough chewing makes for slower eating
* thorough chewing makes for more saliva/natural digestive enzymes
* lacto-fermented vegetables are natural probiotics
As a practical failsafe this 3 pronged approach is for both the undisciplined and/or those who struggle to change their dietary habits.
The fact that these proactive measures are so effective in building and boosting immunity provides an immense sense of security because despite being unwitting participants at the mercy of the junk food industry, with this approach we can take a more active role in managing our health.
Introducing crunchy bits of nutrient dense lacto-fermented vegetable helps intervene in unconscious eating habits because it promotes chewing; the food tastes more delicious, we savour the meal longer, and ultimately, are satiated with less food. The simple act of chewing, ‘pulverizing food to the micronutrient level’, furnishes the missing nourishment our body needs. Chewing also increases saliva production and therefore digestive enzymes. Furthermore, the tremendous health benefits of ferment not only re-sets gut microbiome, it eases the transition from old eating habits to new by helping to regulate satiety levels. Afterall, if we are always hungry, we are never satisfied and the cycle of craving never ends.
What is lacto-ferment? Lacto-fermented foods boost heart and brain health, offering anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting, immune-boosting, antidiabetic, and anti-obesity benefits.
Lacto-fermented vegetables, sauerkraut and kimchi are all of the same family. At first taste ferment is not too appetizing eaten straight off the spoon, however, just as wine and food mutually enhance each other, food and ferment dynamically thrive. Enlivening the taste of any dish, any sandwich or any plate of food, a spoonful of chopped nutrient dense ferment can turn your meals into the same mouthwatering and exotic tastes we assume to be found only in the ‘triple No-No’s’; the addictive and tempting processed, take-out and restaurant foods we all crave.
Once introduced to ferment we become inextricably drawn to using more of it on everything as the link below depicts.
More great reads:
“In the 18th century, explorers like Captain Cook used sauerkraut to prevent scurvy during long sea voyages, bringing as much as 25,000 pounds of the Vitamin-C rich ferment along on voyages”.
Covid-19 Video – at 12:43 minutes into video they talk about the high Vitamin C content in sauerkraut.
“Fermented foods are considered functional foods due to their ability to increase the levels of several functional components, such as vitamins, peptides and antioxidant compounds. In addition to that, the living microbes generate new bio-actives by modulating the gut microbiota.”
The health benefits found in bottled versus canned lacto-ferment outweigh the inferior alternative option of pickling, vinegar and oiled based preserves. Introduce small amounts at first in order to acclimatize gut microbiome. Lacto-fermented vegetables are more easily digested than raw. Just a bite of raw food or ferment before eating kick-starts the appropriate enzymatic activity to digest the meal to follow. Additionally, bites of carb or protein interspersed with vegetable/ferment further assists digestion, absorption and assimilation.
Quality lacto-ferment can be expensive and not so easy to find should one live in a ‘food desert.’ In a typical week I buy three $8 jars of organic ferment for myself and dog, who likes it not only with her meals but also straight from my hand. Delving online, into the artisan craft of home-made ferment is not only a rewarding pastime but an excellent way to improve the overall health of one’s family. A current lacto-ferment trend is the sale of ‘gut tonic’ products for $10 per bottle, which is simply the company’s left-over brine. Home-made or store-bought brine serves the same purpose and is free. Set aside a portion for ready-use during the day, squeezing and reserving the brine to sip as your own ‘gut tonic’.
This recipe is ideal for getting started:
* red and/or white hand shredded cabbage
* 28 grams sea salt dissolved in 1 litre water
* 30 grams sea salt dissolved in 1 quart water
Fill jar with cabbage and cover with salted water. Cover with loose lid, place jars on tray, leave on countertop for one week. Tighten lid and refrigerate.
I’M NO SAINT
Growing up I was over exposed to fad dieting and restrictive weight-loss trends and also glued to the TV watching quasi-fitness experts teach a litany of exercises to neophytes. I wondered how a person could expect results from such difficult, painful and boring exercises. I would later spend ten years copying the mistakes of others in the gym.
By the age of forty my Gliding success, in tandem a year later with Glen’s transformational exercises, led to my Universal Workout, affirming it to be a sound base for excelling in exercise. The ease and effectiveness of my two-part method are the reason I continue to critique both traditional exercise theory and contemporary platforms and technologies.
As a young kid I was a victim to cultural eating habits, hooked on the triple batch of home-baked chocolate chip cookies that miraculously appeared weekly. My two little fists were always in the cookie jar that was actually meant to feed five kids but I was the one who devoured them. I could easily consume ten slices of Wonder Bread a day and still be continuously hungry, until I was introduced to a denser whole wheat bread. At first, I found it laborious to chew as I was so used to the addictive characteristics of processed foods. My eureka moment came when I realized that just two slices of whole wheat bread could quench my hunger.
In elementary school I never liked gym and was always the last kid to be picked for teams. In class, during the running warm-up, I held my breath so others wouldn’t hear my panting. When I look back, I believe the teachers assumed that I couldn’t run around the gym because I was a plump kid. Actually, if they had taught me how to breathe while running, I might have even excelled.
Around the time I discovered Gliding, I witnessed a group of school-age kids running up a hill, half of them with tongues hanging out, panting heavily. This image brought me back to my early traumatic gym days. Afterall those who can run, run and those who can’t are often left behind.
As a pre-teen, I was sent to fat camp, where the restricted diet, combined with challenging exercises, robbed me of any possibility to enjoy exercise. Back then carrot and celery sticks were considered the go-to-diet food meant to replace beloved foods and with no mention of the nutrient dense, energy giving properties of these vegetables.
After several failed attempts at dieting, constantly depriving myself while never feeling satiated, I had enough and it’s a good thing I did because later in life I would learn about the weight gain syndrome caused by repeated yo-yo dieting. Interestingly, my passions are rooted in these challenging experiences and in finding an undisciplined, disciplined way of navigating through the maze of diet and exercise. I would eat my way through a decade, when at 22 years old, weighing 220 lbs I would attend my first Iyengar Yoga class. I attribute my original turn-around to a regular practice of ‘ocean breathing,’ introduced in that first yoga class.
As a recap of this page, my intention is simply to address the addictive qualities of both lower to mid-range restaurant food and the processed food industry with its insidious ‘bliss point’ hold over us. These self-intervention tactics are probiotic fermented foods, activated chewing, saliva and its digestive enzymes; and ocean breathing, the Universal Workout, the Gliding tools and companion Magic Floor Exercises offer invaluable, shapeshifting, stress-reducing, immunity building benefits.
To conclude, my plan to document these simple tactics that address and help regulate our appetitive human nature and the resulting acute bodily symptoms, sat on the back burner while I completed my Universal Workout publications. However, the Covid-19 emergency offered the perfect platform for these complex subjects.
Since we have thus far only scratched the surface on Food for Thought, the following Q &A is a taste of what’s to come.
• Do we live to eat or eat to live treating food as fuel? If we live to eat, we struggle with chronic disease and unfortunately die earlier, if we eat to live, we enjoy a healthier longer life.
• Many people say they eat well but what does eating well really mean? What we once perceived as ‘eating well’, is now disputed by science with the arguments that our meal concepts and modern cooking methods are damaging to our health.
• What is true hunger versus false hunger? The insidious effects of the ingredients found in the triple No-No’s are the cause of a ravenous false hunger that is a major contributing factor for over eating behaviours. Plus, feeding our food addictions by partaking in the triple No-No’s leaves our body starving for nutrients. The three-pronged approach acts primarily to satiate and nourish our body, tapping us into the origins of our hunger, releasing us from the grip of our cravings, helping them to fall away.
Make sure always bring along road-food (ferment and leftovers) to avoid grabbing food on the run.