Show Your Body Some Love
February is the month of love. A month of Valentine’s, cupid, thoughts of who makes us feel special and who we want to spread some love to.
In honor of the combo of Valentine’s Day and Heart Health month, let’s take a few minutes to talk about how we can give some love to ourselves (undoubtedly, the most important person in our lives). After all, if we aren’t well, it’s pretty hard to spread love around to others.
Let’s take a few minutes to review some practices that aid in keeping the heart pumping strong, blood flowing smoothly, and your entire body functioning optimally with the food we eat.
The cool thing I’ve noticed about making healthy changes is: The healthier we eat, the healthier we want to eat. No, this doesn’t necessarily happen overnight. But yes, it is more than possible to create new and lasting food habits.
Focus on Adding in
When it comes to food, one of the easiest ways to do this it to focus more on what we are adding in, not on what we are taking out (which is often common practice). Can you relate? Maybe you cut calories, carbs, soda, or you take out red meat.
In my experience when all we try to do is take out the “bad” stuff, change is hard. Partially because of the following question: What do we replace the “bad” stuff with?
What I’ve found is that instead of cutting out, one of the biggest favors we can do for ourselves in changing our food habits is to add in more of the foods that are healthy, whole and unprocessed. Foods that are high in fiber, water and have a natural bulk to them which helps our body know we are full of less calories and fat.
The Benefits of Unprocessed Whole Foods
Regardless of what you decide to take out, the recommendation here is to add more of the following, especially at the start of meals and snacks before you have anything else.
The foods that follow are great because they:
Are high in fiber, water and natural bulk which the body uses to let you know you are full and ready to stop eating
Are high in unprocessed carbohydrates (the body’s most efficient energy source)
Include all three macronutrients – carbohydrates, fat and protein (yes, even broccoli has protein)
Are packed with vitamins and minerals
Naturally lower in fat (which helps create an environment for smooth and unimpeded blood flow)
These Foods Groups Are Your Best Friends
So, without further delay, here are the food categories you’ll want to add more of:
1. Vegetables: Which ever one’s you like. You don’t have to start eating kale or forcing yourself to eat every vegetable. Find the ones you like and add them to your meals and snacks. For examples, veggies with hummus, or adding some broccoli to your favorite pasta dish, or some fajita veggies to your burritos.
2. Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, and berries. The list goes on! I’ve found fruits to be great and easy snacks to transport. These unprocessed, whole foods, with healthy carbohydrates are such a wonderful way to fill out bellies (especially pre-meal or pre-snack). The only exceptions and those that you’d want to include less frequently are avocado and coconut due to their higher fat content. Get a fruit bowl going on your kitchen counter today.
3. Beans and legumes: Lentils, chick peas, black and pinto beans. Enjoy this food group freely. If you notice you feel gassy or bloated from including them, you can add them in slowly or try different ones to see which ones you enjoy the most and feel the best. These can be added to salads, burritos and burrito bowls, wraps, soups and more.
4. Whole grains. Oats, rice, quinoa, and barley are great ways to give our body unprocessed healthy carbohydrates. This can look like morning oatmeal, a stir-fry over a bed of brown rice, or a fresh quinoa salad.
5. Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, yams, and sweet potatoes. The potato itself is super healthy, and in fact, from a calorie perspective, to give some reference, six small baked potatoes are similar in calories to a cup of nuts! Many of us could eat a cup of nuts on our commute but couldn’t imagine eating two let alone six baked potatoes. Finding ways to enjoy potatoes without the butter and sour cream is the key. Try yams with a sprinkle of cinnamon or in a morning sweet potato hash recipe are a great addition to your meals.
Remember, find the healthy additions you like and have more of those to start. And if you don’t know which ones you like, start an experiment – maybe try a new food every week or month to expand your palate.
Instead of focusing on taking out – add in these food groups, to your meals and snacks before you have anything else. See what happens to your taste buds, your calorie consumption, and your blood work as a result. I’m thinking you might like what you see and just might want to include more and more over time.
Would like some additional support? You are not alone, and change takes time! It’s a practice and often it can greatly benefit to reach out for support of a coach, friend or mentor.
If you are a Whole Health Plan Member, the Medical & Wellness Centers located in Austin, Texas and Glendale, California are available for support. Give us a call.
If you are Whole Health Plan member and have not established care with the Center for your primary care services, call us to make an appointment or learn more about the benefits available to you as a patient of the Center.
You can explore our website to learn more about us as well. https://www.wfmmedical.com/