Nutrition IS Simple

It really is. Stop following fad diets, stop trying to count calories and macros, and stop obsessing over food. Sit back and relax. I’ve got you covered.

I’m going to tell you what actually matters.

Micronutrients

Those little things are your life force. When it comes down to it, they are what determines true health. You could be hitting your macronutrients but be deficient in several micronutrients. They are required for normal growth and development. And when you lack micronutrients, your immune system weakens. This can cause serious problems.

According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) there is abundant evidence that suggests eliminating animal products, which are mostly devoid of micronutrients, and including large amounts of fruits and vegetable, are the most healthful diets and a powerful step in disease prevention.

But there are so many more benefits to this way of living than just disease prevention. We all want to live as long as we can without diseases hindering our quality of life but we also want to be full of energy, and be at our ideal weight, all without having to starve ourselves or count endless calories. Well, this is the answer!

Calorie restriction is not the answer. Fad diets that are difficult to maintain are not the answer. Portion control is not the answer. And it’s not weak will power, it’s addiction. It’s depravation that results in food cravings. BUT with the right foods, your body can heal itself.

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. –Hippocrates, father of medicine, 431 B.C.

Optimize Your Health

I love this simple equation from Dr. Fuhrman, a well known plant-based doctor.

Health = Nutrients / Calories (H = N / C)

Let me break it down for you. You want to have the most nutrients per calories. This means items that are nutrient dense but not calorie dense.

First off, what is nutrient density? Nutrient density refers to the proportion of nutrients in food compared to their calories. Consuming the most nutrients without excessive calories is the key to optimal health. This means adequate consumption of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

See? It’s THAT simple.

Okay, so which foods are nutrient dense? Check out this sweet diagram I made below to help explain. You can also check out this page from Dr. Fuhrman’s site explaining how he scores nutrient density.

Sample Nutrient Density Chart

Focusing on these foods that are high in nutrient density and low in calories are the key to optimum health. These should be the center of our diet. The more nutrient dense foods you eat, the less low-nutrient food you desire. You can eat in abundance and reach your ideal weight. You can break the food addiction and reclaim your health and wellbeing. No more traps and vicious cycles of yo-yo dieting.

I used to be in that cycle, I used to feel owned by the food I ate and couldn’t push a craving out of my mind until I had it. I was addicted. I had no self control. If it was in the house I HAD to eat it.

But with this newfound knowledge I’ve opened up a whole new world of opportunity. I finally feel IN CONTROL of my diet and life, and I’m healthier and happier than I’ve been in a LONG time.

And you can too! I am working on a FREE easy to follow, delicious meal plan that shows you exactly what I eat to stay fit and get all of my micronutrients in without breaking the bank.

If you want to be the first to know when it’s available, sign up for my mailing list below!


xoxo Rachel

My Thoughts on National Nutrition Month

Happy National Nutrition Month!

What? You didn’t know?

In case it is new to you, National Nutrition Month is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to provide education and information on nutrition, making informed food choices, and developing healthy eating habits. I am ALL about people being informed. There is so much confusing and conflicting information out there and most people don’t actually know what good nutrition is.

fork with food

The theme this year is “Put Your Best Fork Forward.” It is to serve as a reminder that with each bite, we wield the tool to make these healthier changes. I love this because it is advocating nutrition for improved health. We all hold the key to being the best, healthiest version of ourselves. We don’t have to live in fear of our genes and family history, we can rewrite it for ourselves. 14 out of the 15 leading causes of death are linked to diet!

The “beef” I have with this is that they are still promoting OUTDATED information. I downloaded their free powerpoint presentation (it is geared towards nutritionists for sharing the campaign with an audience) and it still recommends chicken and fish as good protein sources. Sure, they have protein, but I wouldn’t call them GOOD. Both are linked to increases in risk of cancer. They are also promoting the MyPlate diagram which is disappointing as it lumps a nutrient (protein) all into one category. To me, this is misleading because it doesn’t show what types of food fall into those categories anymore and many people simply associate it with it meat and overlook the many plant-based sources of protein.

During the protein portion of the presentation they state “Vegetarian and vegan diets can provide adequate amounts of protein if they are well planned and include a variety of foods.” Although true, this can also be misleading. I think the term “well planned” has a negative connotation and turns people away from the idea of a vegan diet. The fact is that not much planning is required, if at all. As long as you’re eating a variety of mostly whole plant foods, you should be fine. And by fine, I mean THRIVING. Plants = life

They go on to state that “Many Americans get enough protein on a regular basis.” The fact is MOST Americans get way more protein than they actually need. This as we know can be equally as harmful as not having enough (hello cancer, increased weight, osteoporosis, kidney disease etc). Protein deficiency is EXTREMELY rare. If you are eating enough calories, you are consuming enough protein. I will give them credit that they talked about varying your protein routine by substituting plant-based proteins in recipes and recommended trying meatless dishes.

And lastly, they are still promoting dairy and recommend milk, yogurt, and cheese as good sources of calcium. This is scary that they are completely ignoring the science that dairy is linked to breast, prostate cancer, and osteoporosis (not to mention it is an extremely cruel industry). They also recommended low-fat and fat-free dairy which is linked to an increase in osteoporosis. This is because dairy is acidic so the body has to leach calcium from the bones to balance out the acidity. However, with full fat dairy, the fat acts as a buffer thereby reducing the amount of calcium that leaches from the bones. Either way, this makes it hard for the body to absorb the calcium in dairy. Overall, dairy is completely unnecessary and is a poor source of calcium. Better sources are dark leafy greens, kale, watercress, broccoli, kidney beans, almonds, chickpeas, and oranges.

I will say their sections on fruits and vegetables and whole grains were excellent. They discussed experimenting with different fruits and vegetables, eating what’s in season if possible, and how to vary your whole grains.

But back to the whole premise of this campaign, it really is for a worthy cause and I do whole heartedly agree that people should be making more conscious decisions towards eating better and taking health back into their own hands. You being here and reading this means that you know how important it is and that you’re are wanting and/or are making those changes in your life. Good for you!

Every little step counts. Every little change makes a difference. I know how hard it can be to even take the first step towards change so if you need some ideas on how you can start improving your diet, I have a previous post on how to slowly remove meat from it here.

I am also currently developing an easy to follow FREE meal plan for anyone who wants some inspiration on how easy a plant-based diet can be. If you’d like to be the first to know when it’s available, sign up for my mailing list below!


xoxo Rachel

A Year of Being Plant-Based!

I cannot believe it has been a year already! I can’t remember the exact day we switched to being plant-based, but it was right around the time or shortly after we moved into our house which was late February 2016. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired so I decided to watch the documentary Forks Over Knives again (yes, I had seen it before and became mostly vegetarian but still ate dairy). This time it really sunk in and I decided to become plant-based that night.

We cleared out our fridge of all animal products. This was an easy task since we were mostly vegetarian (except for the occasional fish/sushi) so all we had to throw out was some cheese. Luckily (or not?), I had just finished off some yogurts so we didn’t have to waste too much food. But in reality, we didn’t really consider it food anymore. It is linked to so many diseases and isn’t food supposed to be nourishing? It felt good to just get rid of it rather than try to finish it or give it away. If it’s not good enough for us to consume, why would we give it to someone else?

I’ll admit that this year hasn’t been perfect. There was definitely a transition period where we had to figure out what foods were actually vegan. By the way, I use vegan and plant-based interchangeably but in case you’re not aware, plant-based is the diet aspect, and vegan is actually a lifestyle. However, vegan is the term used by society more often when it comes to the diet and is how companies market their products to let consumers know there are no animal products in them. Just so you know.

At home it was easy to be vegan since we knew exactly what was going in to our food. It was a great discovery of new and delicious foods. Who knew that vegan food was actually the tastiest?! Not even kidding. And it’s not restrictive in the sense that you can still have all of your favorite foods–just without the animal products. Do you love pizza? There’s vegan cheese for that! Do you love hamburgers? There’s vegan meats for that! And they are surprisingly realistic but without the saturated fat or cholesterol (and yes, you should still be concerned about dietary cholesterol regardless of what the dietary guidelines) Anyways, my point is I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.

But back to the tastiest part. The flavors are so so good! You’d be pleasantly surprised. We make delicious curries, soups, stews, stir fries, burritos, pastas, sandwiches (like BBQ jackfruit “pulled pork”) and so much more (pics below)! It’s all about the sauce and spice you add. And your same favorite sauces/condiments are most likely vegan except for the obvious ones like ranch and mayo–but we have replacements for that too! I’m going to put together a page of my favorite vegan replacements in case anybody wants to try them out. So stay tuned!

Vegan Food Collage

As I said though, it hasn’t been perfect. When going out to eat there have been mishaps, but I try my best to stay vegan as much as possible. I didn’t realize how much cheese is on EVERYTHING. And how little knowledge of dairy people have. You can’t just say “no cheese,” you must say “no cheese, cream, butter, or anything with dairy in it” when ordering. There have been times when I was not specific enough and had something at a restaurant still have some sort of cheese or butter on it. If that happened, I tried not to beat myself up over it. I just knew better for next time. It’s always best to call ahead and ask if the restaurant can accommodate. Most of the time they are happy to make something special just for you! I usually tell them any egg-free pasta with a red sauce and veggies will work so they don’t have to go out of their way (most restaurants have some sort of pasta dish). On the plus side, Daniel and I usually go to asian restaurants which typically already have vegan options on their menu.  Score!

Overall, we cut down on going out to eat because most of the time our food at home tastes WAY better. Why go out to a restaurant when you love the food you make at home? It’s cheaper, and so delicious! And it’s actually pretty quick to throw together a vegan meal. No more waiting for meat to thaw and having to ensure that it is fully cooked. With veggies, you just cooked them to your preferred crunch-level. I prefer mine to still have a little crunch to them. You actually don’t want to overcook your veggies because it will break down the nutrients in them. Nutrients = Life

I FEEL so much better on this diet. Meat and dairy are hard on the body–they’re linked to 14 out of the 15 leading causes of death. They lack important nutrients that the body needs. And they’re full of death and disease. Why not eat an abundance of bright and colorful fruits and vegetables that provide the energy you need? I really do feel a difference in energy on a vegan diet. I don’t feel sluggish anymore. I also lost 5 pounds without trying! I will admit that I was a bit of a junk food vegan in the beginning too. I ate french fries almost every night. And even still, I felt better.

Now I’m working on being WHOLE FOOD, PLANT-BASED. This means cutting out the processed foods and oils. We don’t really cook with oil so that has been easy, but I am tempted by processed foods from time to time although my cravings are much more in control now than they were back then. My work provides lots of free snacks so veering away from them has been a bit of a struggle. I am working on being better prepared with snacks so that I am never tempted by hunger. I try to bring a banana, a Larabar (the only ingredients are dates and nuts!), or veggies with hummus.

I am also a part of the Nutritarian Women’s Health Study so as a part of that, I need to be better about not consuming processed foods. The Nutritarian diet focuses on nutrient-dense foods and eating lots of vegetables daily. The doctor behind the study recommends eating a pound of raw and a pound of cooked vegetables daily! If I’m properly doing that I shouldn’t have any room left for processed food! Additionally, the study recommends taking certain supplements to ensure no one is deficient in any nutrient since the purpose of the study is observing long-term health through a nutrient sufficient lifestyle. However, some people are unable to absorb enough nutrients through the diet so to ensure no one is deficient they require supplementing Vitamin D, B-12, DHA (omega-3 fatty acid). I have yet to supplement but am looking in to options now. They don’t recommend a multivitamin though as most contain folic acid and Vitamin A which have risks linked to them. Those should be, and can be, easily obtained through the Nutritarian diet.

Anyway, that is how my year has been! I am really satisfied with the changes I’ve made. I hope you’ll consider making similar changes. If ever you have a question, feel free to email me at healthmylifestyle@gmail.com.

And don’t forget to sign up to my mailing list so you don’t miss a single post! It’s delivered right to your inbox! 

xoxo Rachel


 

 

Exploring Denver Metro & What I Ate Out and About

This weekend was a busy one! My parents came all the way from Kansas to celebrate my mom’s birthday (March 2nd) as well as mine (Feb 23rd). As always, it was great to spend some quality time with them and explore a bit more of our city. Although we’ve been in the Denver area for over a year and a half now, everything is still pretty new and there’s so much yet to see! This time around we finally visited some nearby places like the Butterfly Pavilion–soo cool! We may have been the only visitors without kids but it was still a lot of fun. It’s a mini zoo of sorts with 1600+ butterflies, insects, arachnids, and some marine life!

butterflies

butterfly

Daniel was brave enough to hold Rosie, the tarantula. He got a sticker for doing it.

Daniel holds a tarantula

I shared my wisdom on a notecard of what I do to save marine life.

save marine life

Scientists actually predict 2048 but I couldn’t remember the exact year at the time.

We also explored Olde Town in Arvada and ventured to Casa Bonita for a dive show.

With all of this exploring, it made sense to mostly eat out since we weren’t home much. And I’m here to show you how easy it is to eat vegan at virtually any restaurant. There’s NO excuse. There’s always a way to alter a meal to make it suite your needs.

(Bloggerfail–>I didn’t take any photos of my food. You’ll just have to trust me.)

First, we went to Zoe’s Kitchen for a quick dinner Thursday night. We lucked out because they had a TON of vegan options! I chose a cup of the Mediterranean lentil soup with the hummus and salad plate. Their red pepper hummus is so good! It’s easy to vegan-ize when you just have to ask for no cheese!

Friday night we went to Casa Bonita in Lakewood, CO. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s a Mexican restaurant with live entertainment including cliff divers, musicians, and various acts. Definitely more for kids but still cool to see (once haha). They also have an arcade and a cave to explore. We’ve heard from various sources that the food isn’t that great, it’s the atmosphere you go for. That is definitely true. The interior was awesome and looked like a little village; the food was meh. I had burritos and was able to replace the meat with pinto beans and removed any cheese from my dish. Instead, I flavored it with salsa (which was the best part in my opinion). They did have refried beans but they put lard in it (animal fat=gross). Why ruin a good thing with lard?! But it all worked out and I didn’t starve. Plus, I can finally say I’ve been there (check that off the ol’ bucket list!).

Saturday meals were much more delightful. We took my parents to one of our favorite restaurants–Yak and Yeti. They are an Indian restaurant with a wide variety of vegan friendly options. We went for the lunch buffet and were able to eat plenty of dishes such as vegetable korma and sweet potato masala. Mmmmm.

Saturday night we ordered in some pizza. Super easy. Just ask for a vegetarian pizza and hold the cheese.

In the end I still had several delicious meals and I didn’t have to risk my health for it! (Or an animal’s life, or the destruction of the planet. You’re welcome.)

xoxo Rachel

P.S. If Daniel and I were jellyfish, this would be us. Holding “hands” and me stealing his food.

Jellyfish love