“Are you thriving, or just surviving “?
That was the question I asked my nutrition class one day in lecture.
I started a new lecture this semester about the importance of eating plants. More specially, fruits and veggies (and also nuts, seeds, roots, flowers..etc). I really wanted to do this lecture for a while. Usually, I just end the semester with just going over vitamins and minerals. For some reason, its my hardest lecture to do. I think if I am being honest, its the one I am the least passionate about doing. I love teaching about carbs and fats because the chemistry is so interesting and also because once I learned the truth about carbs and fats, that’s when I actually lost weight and felt my best.
But vitamins and minerals… Sure we all know that we have to eat them. There are lots of them. I used to just go over each one…”What are they? Where they come from?” Etc…..that was super boring. Then I tried to categorize them…”These ones are good for your heart. These ones are for your metabolism”…. but it still wasn’t the right approach. Then, I watched a lecture by David Wolfe about super foods and how important eating raw plants is. How the focus should be on eating as much nutrition as possible. How eating plants will give your crazy energy, keep you from getting sick, and overall just feeling GOOD.
I will focus on eating plants and how vital that is. I will also discuss superfoods (things that are just super nutrient dense). There is so much more to nutrition that just vitamins and minerals. I felt it was important to get that across.
Carbs and fats serve one purpose: provide energy. That’s it. Proteins serve one purpose: provide amino acids so your body can make its own proteins. Both very important things,but what about everything else that your body needs to remain healthy and thriving?
Vitamins and minerals are required to basically ensure that all the chemical reactions in your body actually proceed and also to help your body make important substances. Your metabolism doesn’t work without vitamins and minerals. You can’t make new things without vitamins and minerals. Yes, they are important. Yes, you can technically get a good portion of them from meat and supplements, but by not eating enough plants, you are missing out on the thousands of other micro-nutrients that are just as important, but don’t seem to get the same emphasis. You will only get those other things from plants. Things that
- Combat and prevent diseases
- Prevent and treat cancer
- Protect your cells from damage
- Help your cells fight off toxins
- Boost your immune system
- Lower inflammation
- Fight off microbes and fungi
And the list goes on…
The reality is you can technically live and not eat these things on a daily basis (but instead eating a lot of processed food, poor quality meat and excess sugary foods). Then you can pop a multivitamin, or eat something manufactured and fortified and still technically get your vitamins and minerals. This will basically ensure your body doesn’t shut down, but keep the main things running.
But if you are honest with yourself, are you actually feeling your best with this approach?
Thriving (to me), means you feel alive! You are awake and have the energy to actually get stuff done everyday! You have the motivation to fulfill your passions everyday. You feel content and happy. You don’t (or at least rarely) get sick!
Yes! What you eat affects your state of your mind. If you are constantly filling up with junk, your mind will be full of junk too! It only makes sense, right?
I haven’t gotten sick (in years) *knocks on wood.* I basically make sure I eat plants every single day. I eats almonds and walnuts regularly. I make sure that I eat something green everyday (like spinach or kale). I also make sure my family and my 1 yr son does too. I try just to include more into my diet everyday. That way when I do eat “other” foods (like chocolate cake and hot dogs for my husband’s birthday), it doesn’t matter. My body is already pre-equipped with all the good stuff to compensate. Then I go back to eating better (normal for me) and I still continue to feel my best and maintain a healthy weight.
It took years for me to get to this point though. Its not an overnight thing to suddenly start eating more plant-based food in your diet (especially when you really haven’t been). I started slow with something easy, like a morning smoothie everyday. Smoothies are a great introduction because they are very forgiving in terms of what you throw in them (Within reason. I once put in mustard greens and I still shudder at how disgusting that was, eww). But other greens, like spinach and kale are fairly neutral in flavor and work well. All berries and nuts are really good things to add (and give it lots of flavor).
My general smoothie recipe usually consists of:
- Handful of nuts (almonds or walnuts are my go tos, but anything would work).
- Handful of berries (usually frozen)
- Handful of greens (can be frozen too)
- 1 scoop pea protein powder (this is one I use).
- 1/2 avocado
- Optional: 1-2 tab flax, chia or hemp seed
Other ideas to help incorporate more plant-based foods:
- I make my own hot chocolate with raw cacao and raw honey for a snack.
- I cook at least one veggie at dinner. I buy frozen spinach and broccoli as good back up veggies to have when I don’t have something fresh.
- I throw in chia seeds into my oatmeal. (Put in before you add the hot water, so they soften with the oatmeal).
- I add ground flax seeds to my pancakes or waffle batter (1/4 c works really well).
- I throw greens into soups. Spinach and escarole are good ones for soup.
- I add nori sheets into raman or noodle soups. (The stuff they role sushi with! You can get at most grocery stores).
- I will roast any vegetable because I believe that all vegetables taste better covered in olive oil and roasted (seriously, try it with one you think you don’t like).
- Put almond butter into smoothies or into my oatmeal. Or dip an apple into it.
- Add avocados to eggs or sandwiches (or really anything, because they are so good).
- Saute up some sliced mushrooms with some butter (or olive oil) and serve on top of a chicken breast or steak.
- I buy frozen a lot (so much cheaper and lasts longer than fresh).
- I use Misfitmarket (to get organic produce for way cheaper).
- I buy produce that’s on sale or in season (which tends to be fresher/cheaper).
The takeaway is that plant-based foods contain 1000’s of micro-nutrients needed to keep your body moving at its optimal levels (and then some!). You only get these micro-nutrients from plants.
The goal is to add more in. Then the rest of the junk will just magically decrease (you won’t have the room for it!).
Yes, its hard. But if you slowly add more things into your diet, overtime it will become easier. I promise. Also, you can google any recipe for any veggie or food your don’t know what to do with (I do this constantly).
OR contact me. I want you to feel good. I want to help. I can help you figure out what works best for you. Its a constant work in progress for me too. So, I get it. Little improvements overtime do make results. I can help you with your unique situation.
Do you have any tips for adding more plants into your diet?