A foodie understands that eating is an agricultural, artful and sacred act. And joyful— because if it’s not joyful, not pleasurable—then what’s the point?
Growing up on an organic farm, I knew no other way. My Dad’s love for the Earth inspired me from an early age on. For my husband, a classically trained French chef, preparing a wonderful meal is a meditation and he revels in it.
Of course, a true gourmet also understands that food choices can greatly impact well-being.
The Pillars of Nutrition
In the sister sciences of Ayurveda and Yoga, it is known that our food choices make up one of the five layers or “koshas” of our being or true Self, our physical body.
With this in mind, here are the following pillars of nutrition to optimize your well-being, increase your pleasure quotient and nourish mind, body and soul!
Get Your Greens
Greens are packed with more nutrients than any other food. They’re highly detoxifying and alkalizing with high levels of chlorophyll— an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. Eat arugula, chicory greens, collard greens, dandelion, kale, mesclun, microgreens, mustard, parsley, romaine, spinach, Swiss chard.
Eat the Rainbow
The deep pigments in our fruits and vegetables deliver healing compounds or phytochemicals such as anthocyanins, carotenoids, flavonoids, isothiocyanates, and are dense in vitamins, minerals and beneficial phytonutrients.
Phytochemicals promote antioxidant/anti-inflammatory activity that reduces risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Try for two to three daily fruit and four to five veggie servings.
Eat apples, berries, citrus, melon, as well as garlic, leeks, onions, shallots, asparagus, avocado, beets, cabbage, carrots, celery, cruciferous veggies, peppers, radishes, eggplant, jicama, kohlrabi, sprouts, squash, sweet potatoes/yams.
Get Your Healthy Fats
Omega 3s are essential to managing inflammation and for brain, heart and eye health.
Eat almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, and chia-, flax-, hemp-, pumpkin-, sesame- seeds. Also anchovies, cod, grass-fed beef, halibut, mackerel, salmon, trout, tuna. And, grass-fed butter, cow milk, yogurt, and cow cheese, pasture-raised eggs, plant-based nut milk, yogurt, butter and fermented cheese.
Pick Your Protein
The more fruits and vegetables we eat, the lower our risk for chronic disease. Try to minimize the frequency and portions of animal proteins and choose cold-water, wild or sustainably farmed fish wherever possible. Minimize cheese, unless grass-fed, and choose aged and fermented cow, goat, sheep and plant-based cheeses.
Eat plant proteins: hummus, legumes (beans, lentils, peas), plant-based burgers, plant-based protein powder, quinoa, seitan, tempeh, tofu. Also cod, halibut, salmon (wild), trout, tuna, organic chicken and turkey, as well as organic, grass-fed and pastured beef, pork and lamb.
Make it Whole Grains
Look at the first ingredient on the label and make certain it says “whole grain” and preferably sprouted, as we better absorb the vitamins and minerals in sprouted grains. They’re also easier to digest and break down, especially for those with diabetes and/or gastrointestinal issues.
Eat whole grain/sprouted bread, wraps and crackers, as well as wild rice, brown rice and whole grain or brown rice pasta, along with quinoa and steelcut oats.
Include Functional Foods
Functional foods provide a health benefit in addition to macro- and micronutrients. They’re vital in disease prevention and include fortified foods, phytonutrient-containing fresh herbs, mushrooms (along with the previously mentioned fruits/veggies), fermented foods, tea and chocolate.
Eat herbs and spices: cilantro, cinnamon, dill, ginger, oregano, parsley, seaweed (nori, kelp, laminaria), turmeric, along with fermented foods such as apple cider vinegar, cashew cheeses, kimchi/sauerkraut, kombucha, miso, yogurt.
Also consider chocolate with over 75% dark cocoa solids, cacao nibs and raw cacao powder. Include mushrooms wherever possible, especially enokitake, lion’s mane, maitake, oyster, shiitake.
Minimize Sugar and Salt
Salt is essential for your body to function correctly, and it’s essential for good health. However, eating too much or too little can be harmful and unhealthy. As with most other nutrients and foods, eating a balanced diet is key.
Ditto for sugar. Having excess sugar in the diet can cause a range of conditions, including heart disease, weight gain and diabetes.
MARY BETH JANSSEN, CAyur, RYT, CMT, RYT-500, (marybethjanssen.com), is president of the Janssen Source, wellness director for a large Chicagoland Health Care Organization, and certified Ayurvedic and mind-body health specialist for the Chopra Center for Wellbeing.