Showing posts with label healthy diet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label healthy diet. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Witnessed a conversation of two seemingly fancy ladies in an expensive hotel. They're both moms of at least 3 kids per mom, and their conversation surprised me to the core... 
Fancy Mom #1: I could cook, but all those cooking options confuse me: should I use salted butter or unsalted butter? Bleached flour or unbleached flour? The other day I was in a supermarket and saw the two types on the shelf, and got so confused!

Fancy Mom #2 muttered something about salted butter, but wouldn't know the difference between the flours either... I got pretty surprised, so I kept watching them. Their husbands had iPhones, so they were technologically savvy; meanwhile the wives didn't know the difference between bleached and unbleached flour and wouldn't consider googling it.... Probably, some people are so busy raising children and socializing that they don't even get an idea to research...

Since I'm head deep into everything healthy, I probably should not judge people who are not interested in the topic, but raising 3 kids, you MUST know! You're responsible for little lives, and you most probably want to give them the best you can,...
For those interested, here is my dozen of rules o' thumb. Also, if by any string of consequence you know anyone who can't google but SHOULD, or gets a little bit interested and asks you a question, PLEASE print the following and hand it to them. You will be paying it forward, which is good karma ;)

(This is a collection of several years of research and experience, it's not a repost from some health web site. Everything is maximally linked to the original source or further information on the subj.)


1. Food Colors
Bleached vs. Unbleached, Refined vs. Natural
Everything white that doesn't happen to be white in nature is poison.
Take white flour, white pasta, white bread and white sugar out of your vocabulary and your pantry. They just shouldn't be white!!!! Sugar and rice? they should be brown (or here is a list of even better sugar alternatives); salt? straight out of the sea - unwashed and unprocessed; flour?unbleached (or even better, buckwheat) (since buckwheat is a superfood and is gluten- and cholesterol-free). I just recently found buckwheat flour in a regular supermarket and was pleasantly surprised.
What bleaching (refining) does, it strips food off of its natural good stuff (vitamins, minerals, nutritional benefits) and makes them just useless (tasty) pulp. Then, in order to make it back useful, manufacturers "enrich" the products with chemically produced vitamins and minerals (or salt with iodine, which was washed out of sea salt during processing). If it says "enriched" on the package, rest assured it was stripped before. Don't buy it.

Try to stay away from all chemical sweeteners. Stay even farther away from diet drinks: a diet drink tastes sweet because it has zero calorie sweeteners like aspartame (which is, by the way, poison- they dupe your body into not counting actual calories you take in, and do more harm than good... Aspartame is included in the seven non-nutritive sweeteners that are approved for use. It's a billion dollar industry, so nobody wants to ban it from production. But we should ban it from our diets.
Brown sugar, raw organic honey, stevia, maple syrup - there are lots of healthy options to try.

Naturally colorful foods
Try to incorporate as many naturally colorful foods into your diet as possible. Red peppers, green apples, dark green leafy vegetables (especially kale and spinach), orange carrots, scarlet pomegranates - eat them raw or cook (but don't buy preserved, and here is why) - indulge in colors! They are healthy. Not the lollipop or Gatorade colors, of course. "Naturally" means "existing in nature".
If you're not a fan of vegetables, here are several recipes showing how to sneak spinach into your meals.
A tricky bright is salmon: choose the brighter, redder one; read here for details.

2. Ingredients
Force yourself to read the list of ingredients on the foods you're buying. It should be as short as possible and shouldn't contain mysterious chemical names. Do not eat GMO, look for a small sign "GMO free" on the package (and here is why)
Do not eat hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. Do not eat MSG... The scary list is really long. The simpler the ingredients - the better for your body. Period.
Who needs to eat the entire table of elements on a daily basis? Everything necessary comes in natural foods, and if by any chance you're missing on something, make sure it comes in your daily vitamin. You don't need anything else!
I know it's annoying to read those little letters while shopping, you might look like a geek and your shopping time will increase in the beginning, but believe me, it's time worth spending! You will learn amazing things about foods you eat every day that you probably never expected to learn... 
Some other labels: "P" for Pareve means one of the following: either meat and milk do not happen together in the same recipe, or, if there are no obvious animal ingredients on the list, there might be traces of them in the actual can due to production on equipment shared with milk or other animal products, but not a substantial amount and not according to the recipe. The second definition stands for potentially polluted with animal ingredients quasi-Vegan foods.
"V" for Vegan means the product is clear of all and any animal products.

3. Drinks
Every drink other than water is considered FOOD by your body. YOUR BODY NEEDS WATER! Make a habit of drinking lots of  it. No excuses.
Your body needs 30 ml of water (no additives, pure) per kilo of your body weight, about 2 liters of water a day for perfect pH levels. You can add a pinch of raw salt.
Filter it and drink it. Unfiltered water is probably not super healthy either unless you live in the woods and get your water from a well or mountain springs, so buy a good filtering system, and don't forget to change the filter every 3 to 6 months (depending on how many people are using it). 
Say NO to sodas. ANY KIND. To make sodas more desirable, greedy producers put all kinds of poison (like flame retardant) into their sugary drinks. Read #4 here to get more convinced
Drink self-made smoothies, juices and teas instead. If you miss bubbles, add some chia seeds or tapioca to your drink (shake it well - seeds tend to stick to the walls of the bottle). 
The most recent fad is pulverizing your fruits and seeds with NutriBullet, and I love mine: we started to eat so much more "super" kale because in a fruit smoothie you cannot really taste it. Pulverization is said to make ingredients more available for absorption. NutriBullet also has a very good grinder for all your seeds, nuts & coffee, and all in a small bullet-shaped machine that takes almost no counter space.
Even coffee is healthier than a caffeinated drink (especially energy drink), so if you want, drink one coffee a day, black, it won't harm you. There are tons of research both for and against coffee, but all of them state the same: coffee with milk and sugar is poison. So if you cannot live without your caffeine, drink a cup of black aromatic (preferably organic and fair trade) coffee. I tried to give up my daily cup many times, but always went back to it. Remember, BLACK.
Herbal teas are great, but don't overdo: some herbs, if taken without moderation, are so potent that they can cause damage to your liver. One or two cups of herbal tea a day would be perfect.
If you have a silver cup or a vase (only real solid sterling silver, no plating), store your water after it stayed a night in a silver vessel. It dramatically improves the crystal structure of water, and, subsequently, the crystal structure of your body (we're 90% liquid, remember?) Ayurveda even advises to boil silver/gold/copper objects in water to create silverized/goldenized/copperized water that cures lots of ailments. 

Liquor is poison. I'm sure everybody knows that, but even worse than pure liquor are cocktails. Never drink cocktails, especially mad explosives like red-bull-vodka. It will burst your heart one day. "Energy drinks have a lot of stimulants in them like ginseng and taurine, while alcohol is a depressant so by mixing the two you're sending mixed messages to your nervous system which can cause cardiac related problems".
For a meditator, even wine is no good. Drinking wine and getting a buzz interferes with growth in meditation. 

4. Eating out unhealthy, unless you eat in an organic vegan (raw) place. Even good traditional restaurants use inexcusable amounts of oils, frying, processing etc to make their food taste good. A steak house, anyone? Or Texas BBQ? Once I went from the latter directly to emergency room with acute stomach ache that did not recede for days...
Cultivate a habit of making your own lunch; buy a cute lunch box and don't worry what people think - you would save both health and money if you don't eat out, or indulge only occasionally (once a week). The Chinese restaurants are to be completely avoided: most of them use MSG as taste enhancer, and unless you know for sure that your Chinese takeout uses healthy organic ingredients (and no MSG!) - choose some other cuisine. I'm not talking about fast food joints at all - you know yourselves...
Join (my favorite) or similar and try to cook as much and as healthy as possible. There are healthy and unhealthy styles of homecooking, as well. Use only "healthy" fats to cook, avoid deep-frying and overfrying. Don't boil anything longer than 20 minutes; don't microwave your proteins. Try eat more raw foods than cooked food: have you heard of bioelectricity? Encyclopedia Britannica states that "All cells use their bioelectric potentials to assist or control metabolic processes, but some cells make specialized use of bioelectric potentials and currents for distinctive physiological functions".
Live plants have a very strong "electric charge" in comparison with cooked foods - the amount of energy they can give you. Any type of processing decreases both electricity and amount of nutrients. So, again, the "raw'er" the food, the less of it you need for the same levels of satisfaction and well-being.
Healthy cooking is a complete topic in itself, and I will return to it later.

5. Eat organic
You have no idea what difference it makes to you! Pesticides, herbicides and heavy metals are excitotoxins that screw with your brain function and can cause cancer, Alzheimer's and anything in between. Some non-organic veggies still contain traces of poisonous chemicals banned in the 70s! The "dirty dozen" of fruits and vegetables that have the largest amounts of unhealthy chemicals is available anywhere on the Internet, for example here.
The price difference is not that dramatic, and it's absolutely worth it. Check out Trader Joe's organic section: they're around every corner, the most affordable and have a nice selection. If you are not in America, find some local babushka who grows her own vegetables and doesn't know what herbicides are. 
I buy most of my non-perishable organics at - use promo code CHK415 to get extra 20% off your order!
Eat local
There are really weird and often poisonous ways to preserve fruits and vegetables. The closer to you they grow - the fresher they will be, and the smaller the chance that chemicals are used to keep them beautiful. Why do you think local organic berries go bad so fast?
Eat your grains sprouted, and your nuts/seeds raw
When a grain sprouts, it's chemical composition changes and starts containing more nutrients and energy necessary for your body. You need to eat much less to get the same amount of nutrients. And the less you eat, the younger your body stays (it's like car mileage: the more you drive, the more parts wear out; same with your digestive system: the busier it is, the older your "parts" get). You can learn more about sprouting here.
As for seeds and nuts, they lose a lot of healthy beneficial elements after any kind of processing. Just grind raw seeds before you eat, and store leftover nut/seed meal in a glass jar in the fridge. Sprinkle it on top of your salads and meals for an extra crunch! As a rule, to preserve vital fatty acids, keep your seeds and nuts refrigerated.

6. Fat and Fat-Free
There is healthy fat (nuts, avocados, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil) and there is unhealthy fat (partially hydrogenated vegetable/canola oils, margarines, animal fat, heavy cream). Choose your oils cautiously, especially if you aim to lose weight. You can read more about it here.
Cook with oils that remain stable at high temperatures (like coconut oil). Most cooking oils become carcinogenic when burnt, so try to avoid very high frying temperatures and don't reuse cooking oil.

Fat-free milk products are not healthy: to strip milk off fat completely, manufacturers use chemicals (compare the list of ingredients!) If you eat milk products but don't want to consume too much fats with them, choose low-fat instead of no-fat ones.

7. Cookware, Food Containers and Drinking Bottles
Try not to use non-stick or aluminum cookware - they cause cancer! There is a substantial research that proves it and comes to a conclusion that old school cast iron and enamel pots&pans are still the safest option. 18/10 stainless is also not bad, but when I selected cookware for myself, my criterion was: if iron is a vital micro-element in my body, even if a pan emits iron, it will only do me good (especially considering that most vegans are iron-deficient, that would be perfect for me). I have discovered a great company called Lodge - they are "green", have been making their cast iron skillets in Tennessee for more than a century, and don't outsource to China - it's all "Made In USA".
Use nylon and silicone spatulas - they are healthy,  heat resistant and, unlike wood, do not absorb bacteria, food colors and smells. This is my favorite one, it earned a nickname "beautiful spatula" in our home, because it is.
And here is the most amazing set of nylon cooking utensils I have ever had. they have weighted handles, so nothing drips onto the counter.
Drinking bottles
Substitute all your plastic storage containers and bottles with glass. Thank god for glass! It is perfect for both storage and usage - one material that doesn't emit anything into your water and food! It's just melted sand, how much better can it get? Even BPA-free plastic can be toxic, especially when heated. Taste your water after it sat in the sun in a plastic bottle for an hour. Yuk. Though glass adds weight and is more fragile, it's totally worth the inconvenience.
I discovered Pyrex containers and am using and loving every single one of them: largest ones for baking and seed sprouting, big bowls for storing granola and making salad, and the small ones for packing lunches.
I bought all my cookware & containers on a huge online sale at Macy's, which saved me more than 50%...

8. Eating Patterns and Dinner
Eat Slowly and Chew Well! This is the first rule of healthy digestion. You are supposed to chew every bite 33 times (normally people chew 6-7 times). After 20 minutes since the beginning of your meal your stomach and  brain collectively decide that you're full, so whatever you eat in those 20 minutes, will be enough for the body. If you eat fast, you will most definitely overeat (remember: car mileage!) Also, digestion starts in your mouth when food mixes with saliva, and the better it mixes, the better further digestion will be. So CHEW. Do not get distracted, do not talk, do not watch a movie. When you multitask while eating, you chew very poorly and overeat. Make a meditation out of every meal.

Teach your body not to eat anything after a certain hour. Stop eating 4 hours before  bed time.. in the evening metabolism slows down and your body digests slower and uses much less energy than in the morning and afternoon. Make a habit of not allowing yourself anything heavier than baby carrots and herbal night time tea. If you go out at night, try not to eat anything heavy. Remember, alcoholic drinks are also FOOD for your body! If you didn't have time to have dinner at a certain hour, do not catch up later: skip it and save your appetite for breakfast. Eat 10 baby carrots instead, or drink warm tea with a spoon of honey.

9. How much to eat? 
The perfect ratio is described in an ancient proverb: eat your breakfast yourself, share your lunch with a friend and give your dinner to an enemy. That means that your breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day, lunch the second biggest and dinner the smallest. That's what the natural metabolic process is asking for.
The portion of each meal shouldn't be more than a scoop made of your 2 handfuls: that's as much as your stomach can digest stress-free.
I once asked my friend who eats all kinds of foods but never gains weight, what his secret was. His answer was geniously simple: "When i eat out, I always take away half of my lunch and eat it for dinner, or lunch next day".
But don't assume that if you're skinny, you are healthy. There are lots of sick skinny people with all kinds of unhealthy habits around. Skinny people get cancer, skinny people get heart attacks... Skinny or fat, muscular or lean - doesn't matter, try to eat healthier even if you're happy with your body. 
In general, composition of your diet should contain a certain ratio...The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends this distribution for the energy nutrients:
Fat: 20 - 35% of total calories (average 30%)
Protein: 10 – 35% (average 15%)
Carbohydrates: 45 – 65% (average 55%)

10. Superfoods
It's a recently invented term for foods with high nutritious value and low calories: seeds, fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, berries, sprouts etc. that contain no bulk - just the super healthy stuff. Overall, try to eat less bulk and more "charged" foods. You can find the list of Superfoods here, or here .
Magic seeds like flax, chia, hemp can be added to virtually any meal, just sprinkle them on top instead of your fatty sauces, or grind them into powder and add to any meal. Soon you'll get hooked!

11. Go vegan!
I know, I know. And I'm not here to preach. Just imagine how much cleaner your body would be if you don't digest antibiotics, growth hormones, cancer tumors of animals who spend all their lives without movement in a small cage. Research shows that lots of little American girls and boys develop untimely signs of puberty and harsh voice because of growth hormone contained in their milk and meat. And even if you eat organic lean meat, fear emotions (adrenaline spike) of animals taken to slaughterhouse, seeing their peers getting killed, and then suffering an often slow death should make you think... Do you need extra adrenaline in your system?
Here I'm sharing the story of my veganism: it was a pretty long and bumpy road but I feel great that I did it.

This movie helped me a lot to forget about my oh-so-craved fried chicken: Meet your meat 
And if you are at least a little bit environmentally aware and compassionate, you would know how better it is for the planet Earth to eat plants rather than animals. It takes 13 pounds of grain to grow one pound of meat - so you do the calculation!
If you're still not convinced, read this article about nastiest things sold in your general supermarket.
Don't deceive yourselves: milk products are not cruelty free! They kill 3-4 year old milk cows in exactly the same manner as meat cows: "Domestic cows can live to 20 years, however those raised for dairy rarely live that long, as the average cow is removed from the dairy herd around age four and marketed for beef". Source: Wikipedia
And how do you think traditionally made cheese is produced? For cheese to curdle, a special enzyme called rennet is needed. An enzyme found in stomachs of suckling baby cows (the stomachs get cut out and frozen). When I found out about that, I felt sick and deceived...
So if you don't want to think about yourself as a baby killer, stay away from cheese. 
If you cannot live without your cheese, find a producer who uses synthetic enzymes for their cheese curdling. Your typical cheese label doesn't have this information, so you have to research each individual producer and maybe even call them directly.
Also, milk contains casein which is basically glue that sticks to your intestines. Humans do not have that enzyme in their stomachs that baby cows do, so let's leave milk to babies.
If you're as geeky as I am and like to study the subject thoroughly, here is a long presentation called "101 reasons to go vegan".

Scared you won't have enough yummy foods to sub your unhealthy favorites? Don't be, vegan industry is expanding drastically. While you're switching to a more natural diet, you can still enjoy "borderline" foods (processed vegan foods which are not the ultimate healthiest choice but still are way better than similar animal products).
Can't live without your sausage? Try Vegan Smart Dogs 
Turkey Sandwich? Try Tofurky
Chicken? Try Vegan Buffalo Drumsticks at Foodswings in Williamsburg, NY  (genius vegan comfort foods concept) - they are absolutely divine! - or make them yourself!
Cheese and Mayo? - Vegan Mozzarella shreds and Vegannaise - this company also uses only non-GMO ingredients
Eggs? - Scrambled Tofu - or maybe eggs for baking? Sub them with chia seeds.
And how about vitamins B6,12? - Nutritional yeast flakes have more vitamin B than any yoghurt or cheeseburger. It's a great sprinkle for virtually any cooked dish or salad (check with your doctor if you have candidiasis. If yes, this type of yeast is not recommended). 
Here is a great article on major meat-eater myths (B12 deficiency in particular).  Afraid that without fish you're not getting enough fatty acids? Try flax seed oil (keep it refrigerated).
Scared that without meat you're not getting all the necessary amino acids? Eat quinoa: according to, Quinoa is a complete protein, which means that it contains all the amino acids necessary for our nutritional needs. Complete proteins are rare in the plant world, making quinoa an excellent food for vegetarians and vegans, or for anyone looking for a healthy protein source. It's also high in iron and calcium, and is a good source of manganese, magnesium and copper, as well as fiber.

For meditators, vegan diet is a must (if you want to grow in your meditation that is, and not just sit silently with closed eyes for 20 years). Many enlightened masters said that eating animals is one of the biggest barriers on the road to enlightenment. Later I will write more on that.

12. Cleanse your body once in a while. The longer the cleanse - the deeper the effects. But it's a whole new story for another long posting. I'm regularly doing a 7-10 day cleanse with apple juice (much gentler on your tooth enamel than lemonade recommended in the Master Cleanse) which ends in olive oil gallbladder detox. After this detox, fat melts, skin clears and energy bursts. 
Last year I did a 21-day cleanse which helped me switch to vegan food completely and not to crave milk or fish. This year I did a 10-day apple juice/herbal cleanse that I described here in detail.
They say you should do it once a year, but once you start eating healthy, you will start to feel your body much better, and it will tell you when it needs a little rest.

To round it all up, here is the list of World's Best Foods (the criteria for selecting those are also explained). Enjoy!

P.S. I LOVE junk food, and it took me a couple years to switch completely from unhealthy to healthy, from chicken rice stands & cola lunches to veganism & macrobiotic diet. Just wanted to tell you that i do walk the walk, and follow all of the above.

Want encouragement or practical advice on your path to health? Please comment below, and I will be there for you.