Lesson 3 from the Darkness: Healing foods make you feel better. Eat for health. And for life.
Hippocrates, the godfather of modern medicine, said, “let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.” So how can you incorporate food as medicine and medicine as food into your life? The question gets trickier when it sometimes feels as if your bottomless wine glass and fat-laden comfort foods are what make life worth living.
At some point you’ll realize that the damage to your body isn’t worth the gustatory delight of too many greasy, sugary, processed foods. To encourage you to make this transition as soon as possible, I’ll describe an eating pattern that allows you to truly enjoy eating healing foods without feeling the ill effects afterward.
Lesson 3 from the Darkness – Eating Better Will Make You Feel Better.
Eat for Health and for Life
First thing’s first. I despise fad diets. Truth bomb – the real health value in any restrictive diet is what you aren’t eating. For example, you may have heard of the potato diet. Why does it work? Because if all you’re eating is fresh-cooked potatoes, you aren’t eating triglycerides, nitrates, sulfites, buckets of sugar, mounds of salt, preservatives, or additives that are harming you in more ways than you can count. (You’re also not eating a balanced diet. And therein lies the problem.)
Second, an eating plan works only if you stick with it. Restrictive diets fail because you eventually stop. Third, if you’re dealing with a chronic illness, by definition you’re dealing with inflammation. Eating for health means choosing healing foods that help reduce inflammation.
Healing Foods – Do Your Homework
What you want from your food is maximum nutrition for the calories consumed. In simple terms, if you want more healing foods in your diet then focus on the quality of the food you’re eating. Here’s where the work starts.
Read labels – cut out highly processed foods, refined grains, added sugar, pesticides, artificial additives, preservatives, trans-fats, and large amounts of salt. Embrace whole foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, along with healthy proteins and fats.
Literally hundreds of sites can help you determine the nutritional value of food items. Dozens more can help you identify the best local sources. Do your homework.
Eating Right Doesn’t Have to Be Rocket Science
How can you plan healthy meals without obsessing about percentage of nutrients per calorie?
Keep it simple. If you’re not eating vegetarian, about 50% of your food should be high-quality vegetables, about 25% of your plate should be your selected protein, and 25% should be rice, tuber, or quinoa (such as a high-fiber complex carbohydrate). Reserve your added fats for the dressing or a bit of oil to flavor your meal.
The general guide is this: 2 cups vegetables, 1/2 cup cooked grain, 1/2 cup protein, and 1-2 tablespoons of oil or dressing or 2-3 tablespoons of nuts, seeds, or guacamole.
Creative Choices Will Help You Succeed
Superfood your meals, don’t supersize them. It takes some thought at first, but with practice eating healing foods can become second nature.
Start with a meal that you crave – pizza for example. Then reimagine that food made from quality ingredients rich in nutrients (no preservatives, no artificial flavor or coloring, no chemical extenders, no refined sugar). You might use a high-fiber flatbread for a crust, then make a red sauce from organic tomatoes, a bit of avocado oil, and a no-salt blend of fresh spices. Top with fresh mozzarella.
Fine-tune Your Healing Foods to Reduce Inflammation
Following these guidelines will go a long way toward keeping inflammation down. To optimize anti-inflammatory eating, be sure to include alliums (such as garlic, scallions, onions, and leeks) and crucifers (vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, mustard greens, and Brussels sprouts). Spices known for their anti-inflammatory properties include cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, rosemary, ginger, sage, and thyme. You can use our energetics selector to find herbal extracts and teas that have anti-inflammatory properties.
If you swap the processed, low-value junk food you’re likely eating now for high-quality superfoods and other healing foods, you’ll keep your palate happy. In all likelihood, you’ll also sleep better, have more energy, and reduce inflammation.
Eating this way might help you feel substantially better. Just as importantly, you’ll be taking a huge step towards a healthier life.