After two classes, and a private consultation with the teacher of the class and years of research ever since, I am here to tell you about my dedication to a healthy diet. My physical struggle has often come from feeling like I was always starving, even though I have struggled with keeping excess weight off. The truth was that I was starving... starving for nutrients that I was depriving my body. I was eating way too much sugar and processed foods; my body was saying "yeah, where is what I really need?" So it kept sending signals that I was hungry. Don't get me started on the sugar highs and lows I was experiencing either as it was a roller coaster My favorite way to describe myself when I would walk into an acupuncture session to get 'fixed up' was to say "I am wired and tired."
In this cooking class I learned how to eat well, while making delicious food. Rich grains such as millet, quinoa, spelt, brown rice, vegetables, soy, legumes and fruits have replaced my daily ritual of sugar, bleached flour, meat, and dairy. However, the most amazing part of the class for me was when the instructor showed us a huge glass beaker and he said that inside of it was the same acid levels as the human stomach. He then held a small tube with 39g of sugar (that is the equivalent of a 12oz soda such as Coke). He poured it into the beaker and it overflowed with foam. He explained that sugar causes serious acid reflux (as does dairy) and it is why so many Americans are taking drugs for it when in reality they just need to eat healthier.
I sat there with my mouth wide open thinking back to years before when I went to my doctor complaining of acid reflux. After two upper gastrointestinal (UGI) series where they looked at the upper and middle sections of my gastrointestinal tract using liquid barium, fluoroscopy and an X-ray, they recommended a prescription antacid and told me that while they could find nothing wrong and to take the pills. Not once did they ask me about my diet, sugar or dairy intake.
Having worked in psychiatric hospitals as a therapist, I knew how the medical industry worked. I knew how drug reps came into the hospital and wooed doctors with huge vacations and financial incentives and then the next day every patient that could be put on the medication they were promoting was on it. I knew how insurance companies worked as I worked for two that specialized in mental health and suddenly I realized that it was all about the money. Telling someone to eat healthier does not make the doctor, the hospital, or the drug companies any money. They are failing us in the most basic ways by ignoring the most fundamental factor there is when it comes to influencing our health... food.
This does not even tackle the issues of soil depletion, GMO and pesticide poisoning to our bodies. I now understand that to be educated is more than just being an empowered consumer, it can literally save your life. Let me say, that I have read many an article, book and heard the testimonials of the physically healthy who have preached these eating practices for years, but it never really motivated me. I tasted a few vegetarian meals and thought them horrible. I have to have food that tastes good and it has to be quick too as I live such a busy life.
During one of the classes, when I put the first bite of the vegetarian chili into my mouth, my taste buds applauded. That was one of many incredible dishes that were prepared for me in this class. These dishes took very little time to make, they were very healthy, low in calories, and tasted wonderful.
At the end of my first class, I sped home to tell my hubby that I had found enlightenment in a bowl of chili of all places. I have replaced my milk with rice milk, I no longer eat refined flour products, sugary foods, dairy and many other terrible foods. I lost over 50 pounds after having my son and I found myself again.
I also found something remarkable. The more I ate healthy, the more I craved healthy food and I actually enjoyed things that I used to dislike such a vegetables in general. One thing that I learned was that the processed foods we have in our diet are all very high in flavors like salt, sugar and artificial tastes that make healthy food taste bland to us. However, once you stop eating those foods, your taste buds begin to appreciate the natural, non-chemical tastes of healthy foods the more you eat them.
There are some great books that may help you get started by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and my favorite is Eat to Live, although I have to admit I add salt to his recipes as I have not conquered that need yet. Another one I really like is a funny and saucy cookbook called the Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck. For those that do not mind some strong language and a funny approach, it actually has some great recipes.
Here are some additional things that I have integrated into my life which have drastically improved my health-