Susan Guyette and George Mandel
Interested in vibrant health, lots of energy, less pain and a slim figure? Now that we have your attention, here’s the simple solution: you can eat as much as you want, if your choices are nutrient dense. A nutritarian eats lots of the maximum nutrient-rich foods.
The Bottom Line—Nutrition
While many diets are touted as the solution to losing weight and keeping it off, most are not healthy—truly—and can even be damaging. Avoid radical diets that do not follow a balance of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, meat or fish. Eating whole, unprocessed foods, drinking lots of water and exercising are the keys to a healthy body.
What are whole, unprocessed foods? Whole foods look exactly like they do in nature, when picked. Processed food is any food that is altered from how it appears in nature; that includes highly refined flour—yes, that includes bread and pasta—and sugars and highly refined oils. Not all processed foods are bad for us. Healthy processing methods include smoking, drying, freezing, refrigeration and dehydration. But we should always be on the lookout for hidden sugar, sodium and fat. Look at the overall picture. It’s important to read the nutritional facts label. Food is a complex subject.
Avoiding sugars, alcohol and trans-fats—predominant in processed foods—is essential for maintaining intestinal health, absorbing nutrients and gaining the most from the food you eat. You have heard the expression, “You are what you eat.” It’s really a matter of “You are what you absorb.” In other words, a person can eat good foods, but if the intestines are wrecked from eating sugars or consuming alcohol, then the nutritious foods aren’t absorbed. So this is an overall program for eating well, absorbing well and feeling well.
In his new book, The End of Dieting, Joel Fuhrman, M.D., explains the basis of being a nutritarian—that it’s not the quantity of what we eat but rather the quality. Diet plans with an emphasis on processed foods and animal products are usually unhealthy. Fuhrman’s new food pyramid suggests a diet of 90 percent daily calories from nutrient-dense whole, unprocessed plant foods, including leafy greens and nonstarchy vegetables. Leafy greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, chía, hemp seeds and flax seeds are the eight foods richest in anti-inflammatory and healing micronutrients.
A Local Superfood Example
Blue corn might well be considered a local superfood. Agribiz has developed modern varieties of yellow or white corn that contain up to 40 percent sugar and are lower in phytonutrients than the corn of several decades ago. We are fortunate in northern New Mexico to have ready access to local blue corn, a sacred plant that is high in anthocyanins—with 30 times more antioxidant value than modern white corn.
In her book Eating on the Wild Side, Jo Robinson explains the nutritional benefits. One of the anthocyanins in blue corn, a compound known as cyaniding-3-glucoside (CG3), has multiple health benefits. In studies, CG3 slowed the growth of colon cancer, blocked inflammation, lowered cholesterol and blood sugar and even reduced weight gain. White and yellow corn varieties have no anthocyanins and no CG3.
Blue corn foods include tortillas, posole, tamales and atole for breakfast. Look in the bulk bins of local natural food stores to find a wide variety of cornmeal and organic corn products.
Simplify and Carry Along
One of the key ways to avoid the fast food temptation is to carry your food. My recipe made from local indigenous foods is a good food for carrying with you, and it’s nutrient dense.
Blue Corn Cakes
1 cup (C) blue corn meal
¼ C quinoa flour
½ C piñón nuts
½ C currants
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
¼ C oil
½ C water
1. Grease or butter a large muffin pan.
2. Preheat oven to 350o.
3. Mix dry ingredients, and then add in the egg, oil, and water until dough is sticky.
4. Divide dough into 8 cakes, and pat down with fingers.
5. Bake 15 minutes or until solid in the middle.
6. Cool before removing from pan for best results.
The answers to losing weight and feeling good are connected to knowing our place in nature. Wild and local foods are more nutritionally dense, better satisfying your hunger. The broader the range of foods, the greater the range of nutrients gained. Locally grown foods are fresher than imported foods because of the loss of nutrients due to the additional time from farm to table.
A general rule to follow is, if it has a bar code—the sign of commercial processing—avoid the food. Eating organically is crucial. Because pesticides are hormone disruptors—think weight gain—avoiding GMOs (genetically modified organisms) is essential to your health. The added-expense excuse just doesn’t hold water. You can eat an organic, simplified, nutritious, whole-foods diet for the same price as a diet consisting of processed food, eating out, soft drinks and alcohol. Factoring in the hidden costs, processed foods are actually very expensive.
Eat well. Eat locally. And be well.
Susan Guyette, Ph.D., is of Métis heritage (Micmac Indian/Acadian French). She is a community planner specializing in cultural tourism, cultural centers, museums and native foods. She is the author of Sustainable Cultural Tourism: Small-Scale Solutions and Planning for Balanced Development and co-author of Zen Birding: Connect in Nature. www.susanguyette.com
George Mandel is a nationally certified Doctor of Oriental Medicine. He practices a wide range of healing modalities: acupuncture, detoxification, Reiki, Chinese and Japanese diagnostic techniques, pulse assessment, moxibustion, tuina (Chinese medical massage), herbal formulas and Chinese nutritional therapy. www.drgmandel.com