Find the shortest, simplest way between the earth, the hands and the mouth.”-Lanza Del Vasto

Unlike so many products that try to convince us otherwise, there is no magic bullet for healthy living. Total well being requires a holistic approach that takes into account most, if not all, of the elements of our lives. And yet, if you’re going to start somewhere, I recommend starting with what you eat.

There is no more intimate act than eating, and nothing effects us more immediately than the food we take into our bodies. However, if you are not proactively seeking out a natural diet, I can guarantee that you are consuming hormones, antioxidants, residue from synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, and toxins, such as mercury or lead. As sad as it may seem, these contaminants have become the norm and are lurking within the innocent-looking apples at your neighborhood supermarket. These days, we must choose our food wisely in order to ensure its quality and our health.

That said, food is a celebration, a daily opportunity for nourishment, sensuality, community, and environmentalism all rolled into one. There is simply nothing like eating good food, real food, true food, that sustains our bodies while awakening our spirits and helping to preserve the planet. As Alice Waters says in her book “In the Green Kitchen,” the whole process of eating can be pure pleasure. Shopping for locally and sustainably grown ingredients supports your local farmers and ensures that the food you purchase is of the highest quality with the least impact on the environment. Selecting colorful and aromatic fruits, vegetables and herbs from a farmers market dazzles the senses, all before you even sit down to dinner.

Advice for healthy eating abounds, and most of it is rubbish. Forget counting calories, cutting carbs, or popping weight-loss pills, and crash diets are all doomed to fail. Healthy eating is about making positive choices and saying “yes” to the foods that will enhance your health while setting clear boundaries for the stuff you should do without.

Many of us suffer from low-level, chronic symptoms that we have learned to live with, yet none of these are necessary, and many are related to food. All too often, we treat our bodies like garbage cans, dumping in whatever is convenient and letting our system sort it all out. Meanwhile we become accustomed to constipation, headaches, allergies, asthma, skin rashes, rosacea, aches and pains, excessive body odor, and more. These are not coincidences, these are signals.

The body sends us a message when something is out of balance, yet many people are more likely to take medication to mask symptoms than to discern their source. In the long run it’s much cheaper and easier on the body to eat well, than to endure chronic fatigue, bloating, gas or other unpleasant symptoms that may lead to serious medical care or surgery.

Fortunately, there are countless resources to guide you back to healthy eating. You may chose to become vegetarian, vegan, or to define yourself by the new classification of ‘Nutritarian‘ coined by Joel Furhman, which resembles a mostly vegetarian diet plus some fish and chicken. An option exists that will work for you, and you need not think of a healthy diet as “a diet” or as something restrictive, spartan or devoid of flavor. Healthy food can be just as delicious as the unhealthy alternatives, and you’ll feel changes occur almost right away.

Individual bodies have different needs, and so it is difficult to make sweeping generalizations about dietary right and wrong. There are some of us with allergies, and some who need a little more of this and a little less of that, while the opposite might be true even for members of your own family. However there are general rules that I have found through my 30 years of research and personal experience to be highly effective for good health. These are:

  • eat 2 to 3 complete and nutritionally balanced meals every day
  • choose the highest quality organically grown (and locally grown when possible) foods
  • avoid all processed foods: no white flour, no white sugar, no preservatives or chemical additives
  • reduce the use of caffeine
  • Take the time to eat your meals slowly and without distraction. Not in front of a computer or television, and not in the car
  • Whenever possible, share the dining experience with friends and loved ones. It just feels better.
  • Chew each mouthful completely: digestion begins in the mouth.
  • Eat no more than you need
  • eat food in proper combinations to maximize nutrition
  • drink sparingly or not at all during meals so as not to dilute digestive enzymes
  • While it is not necessarily for everyone to become vegetarian or vegan, we do all benefit from a diet that is predominantly plant-based and one that especially emphasizes grains, beans and vegetables.
  • incorporate raw and living foods
  • consider taking a class in nutrition or healthy cooking
  • occasionally, try eating in silence. This experience enhances your ability to fully taste, smell, and appreciate your food while staying in touch with your appetite. When fully focused and present, it is impossible to overeat, and you will feel yourself crave that which you need.

Transitioning to Healthy Eating
If you’re ready to feel healthy again, but feel daunted at the size of the task, or discouraged at the thought of missing your favorite treats, I would be happy to help you set up a Transition Program. Over a 2 month period, we will slowly introduce new food items and healthy substitutions to your pantry (all of them well-tested on children and reluctant spouses) that will open up a whole new world. By changing habits slowly but steadily, you will achieve deep, lasting changes that will benefit you and your family for years to come.