I found this cartoon while surfing the web and it made me start thinking about food choices and the impact on our health. While I enjoy eating a mostly plant-based lifestyle, I don't restrict myself if I want something indulgent. My philosophy about health and illness prevention is all about balance. After all, life happens!
It would be so disappointing if I followed a strict eating plan that did not allow for a night out with the hubby or a family gathering. I always know that if something unexpected comes up, I can modify how I eat another day of the week to accommodate for the changed schedule. Having flexibility allows me to avoid feelings of guilt about what I am eating and drinking when I know I can modify what I eat any day of the week.
When I eat plant-based, I find that it is easier for me to stay on track Monday thru Friday. Since my schedule is pretty hectic during the week, knowing what I am going to eat during the week really helps me achieve my health goals. Meal-planning and prepping is key! I can easily make three to four breakfasts ahead of time as well as lunches. Plus, I will have a weekly dinner plan and either prep on the weekend or have core healthy staples in the pantry and freezer that turn into quick healthy meals.
What I didn't realize is that the old saying of "You are what you eat" is just plain wrong. Good health and preventing disease is all about "You are what you can absorb". If you are eating foods that are full of fiber, vitamins, antioxidants and key nutrients but still aren't achieving your health goals, there is an underlying digestive issue preventing proper absorption by the body.
Most of us have digestive health issues. Diagnosed or not. Some are diagnose with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Colitis, Chron's disease or GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), just to name a few. Others of us are not diagnosed with a specific illness but just know that our gut health is not what it should be.
Do you suffer from any of the following embarrassing symptoms?
Were you taught that everyone's bowel movements are unique to the individual?
Were you told that it is OK if you only have a bowel movement once a week?
This information is just plain wrong! Think about what makes up a bowel movement. It is a collection of waste that needs to be removed from the body. Having only one bowel movement per week, means toxins and substances that want to be eliminated are building up in your body. This can cause serious health issues. HealthLine.com reports that chronic constipation, which can be defined as having two or fewer bowel movements per week, can result in:
Fecal Impaction: Hard pieces of stool that have to be removed surgically
Bowel perforation: If stool backs up into the intestines, it can cause the intestines to tear and allow fecal matter into the stomach.
Cardiovascular risks: Chronic constipation increases stress and inflammation in the body which affects the heart.
Pretty scary, huh? Ideally every time we eat a major meal, we should have a bowel movement several hours later. At the very least, if not after every major meal, once a day. This keeps our gut in good health. It also keeps the colon healthy because when we eat foods high in fiber, the daily waste we excrete is passing along beneficial food to the good bacteria in our colon. this helps the good bacteria keep the colon free of pathogens.
If you are not having a daily bowel movement or you suffer from bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain, you are not absorbing key nutrients from the food you are eating. These symptoms indicate something is wrong with your health. When you are suffering like this, your body can't absorb the nutrients it needs and illness and disease sets in. Real food helps the body stay healthy when it is absorbed.
What can you do to achieve a daily bowel movement? You've heard the advice before and there isn't a trick to it!
Eat real food, mostly plants, organic if you can and drink plenty of water. Eliminate processed foods from your daily routine, where ever you can.
Why I point out eliminating processed foods from your daily routine is because I believe in balance. Eating processed food once a month because that is what is available to you or maybe you really want to eat frozen pizza, is OK. As long as it is once a month. If you follow this formula, eventually, you won't even want to eat the processed food. Your taste buds change and you start to enjoy real food over processed. I know this is hard to believe, but once you try it, you'll see.
Luckily, it is becoming easier and easier to find real food at the grocery store. There are more options for frozen, organic foods than ever before. Frozen organic foods are usually plant-based, high in fiber and are fast to cook. I rely heavily on organic burritos, pastas, grain bowls and veggies for fast week night dinners. Simply make a salad and dinner can be on the table in 20 minutes. Also, there are fast options for whole grains and rices that can be heated as side dishes, such as the ones from Seeds of Change, that are ready in 2 minutes. It will take you longer to cook some chicken to make a quick stir-fry with their products.
While I have a solid plant-based routine, it wasn't always like that. It can be difficult to know how to create and stick to a weekly plan. It can be confusing on what to eat and why. I did a lot of research to ensure I was eating and using products that help me get and stay healthy. And it is always evolving so I have to continue to reeducate myself.
Working with a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, like myself, can help. Holistic Nutritionists work within your lifestyle to help you achieve a specific health goal. Are you trying to prevent an illness? Or manage an existing health condition? A Holistic Nutritionist can help you understand food choices, supplementation, physical activity and mindfulness that will help you achieve your health goal.
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