Thursday, April 28, 2011

HEART YOUR FOOD



At the beginning of the year, my dear 83 year old grandfather (the person I love most in the world) ALMOST suffered a heart attack. He had angina, his arteries were clogged. Fortunately he was able to recover with diet and exercise. He's still a bit weak but in much better health.

Yesterday my uncle, his 54 year old son, HAD a heart attack. He has been stabilized and looks like things will be ok. His arteries are a bit more damaged, it seems that surgery might be an option.

It is common knowledge that when this type of health issue arises (coronary disease, diabetes, liver problems) the first thing a doctor would recommend is "you have to go on a diet".  But rather than thinking about this after the fact, how about doing something to prevent it?

The relationship we (humans) have with food these days is VERY distorted. Most women I know are on some kind of strict and often cheated on diet. Most guys I know have no clue how to eat. We either deprive ourselves or overindulge, there doesn't seem to be a middle ground.

But how DO we learn, WHO is really telling us what is right or wrong? There is a sea of information out there which may seem daunting and overwhelming when first encountered. Luckily there are some basic guidelines to be used as a point of departure:

1- EAT WHOLE FOODS:
Eat natural, nutrient dense foods, prepared as close as they were in their natural state.
- Leafy greens, vegetables and fresh fruit, all preferably organic. Raw, steamed or lightly sauteed.
- Lean protein such as fish, chicken, lamb, (even cow in small amounts), grilled, steamed or roasted.
- Good fats from olives, nuts, seeds and avocados.
- Whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa, and legumes like as beans and lentils, but use sparingly.

2-  PORTION CONTROL
This is very important both at home and when eating out. The palm size method is the best, where you use your hand a a reference for the size or volume for the type of food you are about to eat. These amounts are for women:
- Leafy greens: what you could fit on your two hands side-to-side as if they were a bowl. That's about 2 cups.
- Cooked veggies: what you could fit into one of your hands if it were a bowl. That's about a cup.
** with leafy greens and veggies you can eat more if you want, there really is no limit.
- Fruit: 1 pice if it's an apple or pear or orange, etc. A handfull or 1 cup for pineapple, melons, strawberries, etc...
- Protein: the size and thickness of the palm of you hand, that's the equivalent of 4-6oz.
- Oils: 1tsp or the size of the upper part of your thumb.
- Whole grains and legumes: what you can fit in the pam of your cupped hand, that would be 1/2 cup.

3-  BUILDING YOUR PLATE
Just choose one each of the above categories and you're set!

4- DO NOT BE AFRAID OF (GOOD) FATS
Fat is not the enemy! well, the one on the back of your thighs may be, but the good stuff is crucial for metabolizing nutrients and vitamins, keeping your skin and hair nice and making you feel satiated.

5- DO NOT MIX YOUR STARCHY CARBS
If you're going to go for the brown rice, don't go for the potatoes as well. That counts for all starchy carbs like grains, root vegetable, beans, corn, etc...

6- LOVE YOUR FOOD
Respect what you eat, make it with love, and enjoy it.

7- THERE ARE NO RULES
"Rules" in eating are bad. Who likes to be told what they can or cannot eat? it's all about making choices. It is YOUR choice. Since we are not about deprivation, of course you can eat your pasta, bread, baked goods, fried goodies, even have your liquor and enjoy it too! Just make sure they are made with love and no artificial junk. Have them occasionally, when you really feel like you want to have them. These should not be part of your day-to-day meals, but denying yourself of something is as bad as binging on it.

Be conscious of what you put in your body and it will be grateful to you.

Cheers!

p.s: please think good thoughts for my Papa and Tio :-)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

SPRRRRING!


Spring is finally peeking it's little head over here in NYC. The air feels fresh (if not a bit muggy), and the sun is shining (through some rainy clouds, but hey, can't complain),.

This extra long winter was a killer for me, but I have a renewed sense of wanting to be fitter and healthier once again.

Rather than doing something  hard-core like a full on cleanse, I am doing the Elimination Diet this week, just to reset my system and get myself back on track. In essence it isn't really a diet, as so much a list of foods you should exclude, and a list of foods to include in your daily meals.

The foods that are excluded are one's that are highly allergic to a large amount of people (like peanuts and wheat), highly processed foods, alcohol, and other fun stuff we tend to ingest here and there and generally know they are no good to us. The one's to include are veggies, especially leafy greens, fresh fruits and lean protein.

Simple, right? Following these guidelines will help you give your digestive system a break, therefore helping you feel better, lighter and happier.

The guidelines of the Elimination Diet can be found on Dr. Alejandro Junger's site here. Dr. Junger is the creator of the Clean program, an amazing cleanse that resets your body from the inside out. I've tried many things in my life, but this was definitely a life changer and I've recommended it to all my friends. Hey, I believe in it so much I did a testimonial! (kind of embarrassing, but I LOVE to spread the word), and even GP is a fan.

If like me, you are not ready to go full on with the cleanse, start by doing the elimination diet and see how you feel, I promise it will definitely make a change and you WILL feel better.

Cheers!