Okay – so nutrition and diet info is everywhere!

And each expert tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you.  Right?

Well, maybe…

Everyone has heard (and maybe lived through) the intense focus on how much you eat.  This has gotten way too much attention because while this does affect your weight and energy level, it’s certainly not the “holy grail” of health.  

Let’s focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it. 

What you eat and drink.

The “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important.  Don’t get me wrong limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight but that’s simply not the only factor for long-term weight management and maximum energy for everyone.  

When the intense focus on how much we ate didn’t work in the long-run it wasn’t really a surprise. We kinda knew that already, didn’t we?

You can certainly still continue to count your calories, carbs, and fat but don’t forget to also pay attention to what you eat.  

Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods).  This simple concept is paramount for weight management, energy, and overall health and wellness.

Every day this is what you should aim for:

NOTE: Ayurveda would recommend that all fruits are eaten alone, as a snack (at least 2 hours before our after a meal), given it digests at a much quicker rate that most other foods. This will help your digestion, and avoid fermenting the fruit in your belly!

A colourful array of fruits and veggies at almost every meal or snack.  You need the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Enough protein.  Making sure you get all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism). And remember, there are lots of great plant based options for getting protein. From lentils, legumes, seeds and nuts, and even those bright green veggies!

Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones).  There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” – you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your uber-healthy salads.  Use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, ghee; eat organic egg yolks, and get grass-fed meats when possible.  You don’t need to overdo it here.  Just make sure you’re getting some high-quality fats at each meal.

How you eat and drink

From an Ayurvedic perspective, this is the most important thing we can do to help our digestion and support health weight and good energy throughout the day.

Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought.

Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you drink your food?

When it comes to how you eat let’s first look at “mindful eating”.

Mindful eating means to take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savour every bite.  Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture.  Breathe.

This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.

This can also help with weight management because eating slower often means eating less.  Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full?

Thought so!

We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.

And don’t forget about drinking your food.  

Yes, smoothies can be considered healthy and a super easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!) but drinking too much food can contribute to a weight problem and feelings of sluggishness.

In Ayurveda (the ancient life science from India, to support overall well-being and balance), the traditional way of making a smoothie could negatively affect our health and digestion.

In short, Ayurveda would ideally look to warm, cooked foods with to support the digestive fire (known as agni). By using cold, uncooked and many ingredients in our smoothies, this confuses and often dampens our digestive fire, not allowing for the nutrients to be absorbed properly.

Don’t get me wrong a green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is way better than stopping for convenient junk food. However, there are some Ayurvedic recommendations to support the digestion, and help maintain weight and overall good health.

Consider the following tips to make your next smoothie “ayurvedically”!

  1. Warm it up! Use fresh (not frozen) ingredients and warm nut milks as the liquid base (avoid using ice).
  2. Spice it up! Use spices like fresh ginger, cinnamon, cardamon and turmeric which have warming qualities, and will help to heat up the rest of the ingredients and support good digestive fire!
  3. Consider the energetics. Consider the energy of the food (ideally you are using ingredients that are as “local” and fresh, so the energy hasn’t be lost. Also, consider the energy and time of day. Ideally having a cold smoothie in the warm summer months and a warm smoothie in the cold/dry months.

Also, remember not to gulp it down too fast!

If your smoothies don’t fill you up like a full meal does try adding in a spoon of fiber like ground flax or chia seeds.

Summary:

Consider not only how much you eat but also what and how you eat it.

Winter Green Smoothie

Serves 1
  • handful spinach or collar greens
  • 1/2 cup berries or cherries
  • 1 tbsp maca powder OR chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled

Add ingredients to blender in order listed (you want your greens on the bottom by the blade so they blend better and have the chia on the bottom to absorb some liquid before you blend).

Wait a couple of minutes for the chia seeds to start soaking up the almond milk.

Blend, Serve and Enjoy!

Tip: Smoothies are the ultimate recipe for substitutions.  Try swapping different greens, fruit or seeds to match your preference.

Bonus: Chia seeds not only have fiber and essential omega-3 fatty acids but they  contain all of the essential amino acids from protein.

Tagged with: , , , , ,