Here, I share what I know about the connection between diet (what you eat) and health (how you feel, and what your body can do). While at the time of this post, I am studying to become a certified fitness trainer, keep in mind that I am not, nor do I claim to be, a medical doctor. I am not encouraging anyone to self-medicate, self-diagnose, or ignore the advice of doctors.
What do I mean by Good, Bad, and Ugly when considering the food that we eat? Well, this is not about judging a chef's presentation in a reality TV food competition. Instead, this is about a food line continuum. The line begins with food that does the the best job of providing the nourishment needed for balance and health, moves midway to food that is not as nourishing and is slowing your body down, and ends with food that does the worst job of nourishing, and may be even harming your body.
Good is the point where what you eat does not interfere with your body's ability to maintain health. Your body is well nourished and relatively balanced. Bad is the point where what you eat affects your health in a negative way. Your body is somewhat nourished, but very much out of balance. Ugly is the point where what you eat interferes with the way your body's systems function. Your body is out of balance and slowly being poisoned.
My continuum begins with a combination of mainly vegetables (steamed), fruits (fresh), nuts, raw oats, eggs, fish, and unrefined sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. NOTE: Over the past month or so I have been experimenting with a vegan diet which eliminates eggs, fish, and honey. To date I have found that I need to spend more time tweaking what I eat to replace the protein that I get from eggs and fish if I want to move into a vegan diet permanently.
If you go back to mid range on my continuum you will learn that I was eating meat. At this point, I could function, but my health suffered. Animal protein was very difficult for my body to digest and utilize. When I ate the flesh of animals such as cows, pigs, chickens, lambs, goats, or oxen I was obese, had very high, uncontrolled blood pressure, craved salty, sugary food, craved refined carbohydrates, slept in fits, had little energy, and my overall outlook on life was negative. I was somewhat nourished but out of balance.
Go back even further and you will see that my continuum included dairy. When I ate dairy I had severe reactions that could be described as poisoning. If I ingested dairy--milk, butter, cheese, whey, casein or any type of milk protein--my body first responded as though I had food poisoning. A more severe reaction came if I ignored the first and continued to eat dairy. Second reaction, I could not breathe. My allergy includes milk from goats, cows, and sheep. I know because during my allergy denial phase, I tried eating them all and had the same reactions.
As a child and for most of my adult life I drank milk instead of water. When I felt thirsty, the first thing I reached for was a glass of milk. Seldom did a day go by that I did not have butter, cheese, and milk. Looking back, I craved dairy, and not paying attention to this over years resulted in the severe allergy that I now have. The video, 101 Reasons to Go Vegan, which you can find on this blog to the left has useful information about milk allergies. NOTE: to be transparent, the video promotes a vegan lifestyle, and does contain some information about animal abuse that might be disturbing.
To claim and live the Power that is only yours, I strongly encourage you to think about how you feel before and after you eat. In the Your Living PowerLife Springboard--Physical post, I asked you to keep track of everything that you ate over a period of time, and write down any reactions that you noticed. Now is the time for you to go back and use what you noticed then to identify any allergic type reactions that you may be living with now. See if there are any foods that you crave (feel you just cannot live without). This is where you start to build your personalized Good, Bad, Ugly food line. To help you recognize the foods that may be harming your body or at best, slowing your body down I offer a few things to consider.
Before you read further, though, I want to let you know a few things: first, the following information covers body functions that we do not usually discuss. Second, this information is based on general good health. Third, the list below is not extensive. Fourth, some of the conditions described could indicate illnesses that can only be diagnosed and treated by a medical doctor.
These are some indications that you are more on the ugly side of your food line.
- If you regularly do not have a bowel movement within 2 hours of eating, add more fiber to your diet.
- If you regularly have watery bowel movements, you may be allergic to a food in your diet.
- If you regularly have difficult bowel movements, add more fiber.
- If you regularly do not urinate at least 3 to 4 times in a 24 hour period, drink more water.
- If you do not urinate at least 800 milliliters per day, drink more water.
- If you have stiff joints, drink more water.
- If you your joints make clicking noises drink more water.
- If you have a persistent cough, watery eyes, or sneeze excessively, you may be allergic to a food in your diet.
Good FoodHydration/drinks: water, unsweetened juice, tea, coffee, coconut milk, rice milk, unsweetened coconut water, smoothies, soy milk, hemp milk.
You might notice that there are no alcoholic beverages on my list. This was a conscious decision. Wine, beer, and whiskey are fine in moderation. I drink alcohol on occasion. There was a time when I drank too much. I did this because I substituted alcohol for things that were missing in my life.
You will need to define your relationship to alcohol first, then decide whether these items belong on the good, bad, or ugly side of your continuum. You may decide that alcohol is ugly. When determining your relationship to alcohol, do not hesitate to use the skills of those who have been trained to help people in this area.
Water: this is what I drink everyday more than any other liquid. I encourage you to begin and end your day with water, and drink freely throughout your day. Our bodies are made up primarily of water (infants about 75%, adults between 55 and 60%). Some researchers claim that most humans do not drink enough water daily. Also, researchers have found that obese people are likely to have very low water ratio. The graph below that I found on the Internet through a quick search, shows how water is distributed throughout the body according to systems.
Juice, tea, coffee, unsweetened coconut water: The benefits of juice, tea, and coffee in moderation have been well document. You should be able to find out information on these quite quickly during a search on the Internet. I encourage people to invest in a good juicer. With a good juicer, you can create healthy and tasteful juice from vegetables, as well as fruit. Having a juicer at home also cuts the expense of purchasing juice in stores. Unsweetened coconut water, may be something that you may not think of right away for a thirst quencher. I like to drink this for a change from plain water.
Coconut milk/cream, rice milk, smoothies, soy milk/cream, hemp milk: I learned about the milk and cream alternatives as I accepted that animal based dairy was firmly on the ugly side of my food line. When I drink coffee, and with some types of tea, I prefer cream. My favorite cream is coconut. Second choice is soy. Smoothies are great for low exercise days, or when you just want a boost between meals. My PowerLife Recipes page has a few suggestions to get you started.
Fiber/vegetables: celery, carrots, salads, greens, cauliflower, cabbage, turnips, sprouts
Vegetables are well documented for their health benefits. A quick search should answer any questions that you may have. One thing that I have found to be important is to eat a variety of colors and types of vegetables. Also, steamed rather than boiled helps to keep the nutrients.
Protein/meat: tofu, fish, poultry, beef, pork, mushrooms, beans, soy protein, eggs
These are pretty much easy to research if needed. I would only add that those who would like to eliminate animal protein from your diet can substitute. For instance, tofu can be substituted for eggs in some recipes. Mushrooms, beans, or soy protein can be the substitute in a main course where meat would be used. I have learned that the more you explore, the more you can tweak your meals for your own taste and health needs. Have fun with it. Healthy does not have to be tasteless and boring.
Carbohydrates/potatoes: sweet potatoes, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, polenta, quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, yams
I have found that my body works better when I eat white potatoes sparingly. Instead, I prefer sweet potatoes or yams. My favorite on this list is wild rice. If you want to eliminate dairy from your diet, be vigilant about reading the ingredients on the back of bread. Many breads from manufactures add milk to their ingredients.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Instead, this is a foundation from which you can build a better life by making the best food choices for your health. As always, you can email me with questions, concerns, accomplishments, challenges, or if you just want some good old companionship on your journey. I really do appreciate hearing from you. And remember, miracles do happen!
From my PowerLife to yours,