Tag Archives: Nutrient Dense Foods
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Eat your veggies! How many times have you heard that?
As children many of us weren’t naturally drawn to vegetables. Instead we preferred dense calorie sources such as sugars and fats. One of the reasons is because we were genetically programmed to go for caloric rich foods when we could, because dense calorie sources meant energy, and energy sources meant survival. For us modern day eaters, these dense calorie sources are easily come by, too easily!
As adults however we can use our common sense to realize that an array of brightly colored vegetables are important for our health. Vegetables are a low calorie, nutrient dense food source. An array of brightly colored produce provides us with much needed antioxidants, minerals, micro-nutrients and phyto-nutrients. These nutrients are broken down and used in chemical reactions in our bodies to run our bodily functions. Without these nutrients our bodies cannot function optimally. Because of this, nutrients from these foods help protect us from disease and slow the aging process.
Vegetables are also a great source of dietary fiber. Fiber from a variety of produce helps to feed our microbiome and flush waste through our digestive tract. Certain vegetables, being mostly water, are also hydrating.
We should aim to eat six to eight servings of brightly colored produce each day. Growing our own vegetables is a great way to get high quality, inexpensive, nutrient dense vegetables. Vegetables can be added to soups, stews and casseroles to boost their nutrient content. Some of the most nutrient dense ways to consume produce are lacto-fermented vegetables, fresh vegetables juices and sprouts.
I don’t necessarily mean you have to go raw vegan like I was a couple of years ago. Just add a few more raw foods into your diet. Some experts say that at least half of your diet should be eaten raw. Some favorite raw foods you will already be quite familiar with include fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh salads, fresh salsa, guacamole, raw nuts and seeds, fresh juices, smoothies, kale chips and energy bites. By increasing the amount of raw foods in your diet you are increasing the amount of nutrients you get from these foods as many nutrients are destroyed by cooking. Not only nutrients are destroyed by cooking but also vital enzymes that are needed for certain reactions in your body. And finally by eating fresh raw foods you are getting the benefit of their bio-photons or energy units of light which are emitted by all living things. One theory holds that these bio-photons can be assimilated into our cells and the more bio-photons a cell has, the healthier the cell.
If you have a sweet tooth and you want to give raw foods a try, check out the gorgeous recipes by Victoria BC based chef, Heather Pace on her website Sweetly Raw.
Cut out the carbs and make it a salad. You can turn almost any meal into a salad by putting it on a bed of greens. Cut the carbs and add the veggies by using a lettuce leaf for your burger bun. Make your sandwich a wrap by cutting out the bread and wrapping it in a romaine leaf. Have your morning eggs on a bed of greens.
Just as with not counting calories, we don’t need to count the numbers on the scale either to indicate we are on the path to health. At most, the number on the scale shows where we’ve been not where we’re going. And besides that, did you know that muscle weighs more than fat? Did you know you can be ‘skinny’ on the outside but have dangerous fat accumulations around your organs on the inside? As you begin a new healthy living regime, continually looking at the scale can be discouraging and misleading. Instead of asking, how much does the scale say I weigh today, ask, how is my energy level today? Do I have more energy than yesterday? How do I feel today? If you stay focused on your ‘why’ and visualize your goal regularly, and by continually adding in the nutrient dense foods we discussed in the previous post, you can’t help but be heading in the right direction. Just holding the intention that you want to do something positive for your health will be leading you in the right direction. The scale can’t measure that or any of the other positive changes you are making for yourself. The scale cannot measure your change in mindset which is the biggest factor in making positive changes for your health.
Calories in, calories out, right? Wrong. The days of counting calories is a thing of the past. Why? Because not all calories are created equal. As we discussed in health tip #2 you will lose weight initially if you just cut calories, but if your body isn’t nourished from what you’re taking in, your cravings will never stop and you will end up either back where you started or several pounds heavier. What you want to take stalk of instead of calories, is nutrient density. The question we want to ask when selecting a food to eat is, not how many calories are in the food but how nutrient dense is it? If you’re eating a diet of primarily nutrient devoid or low nutrient value, prepared and packaged foods, you won’t be getting the nutrients that your body needs for all of your bodily functions. If you aren’t being well nourished by the calories you take in, you will continue to be hungry as your body continues to seek out those missing nutrients. So what are nutrient dense foods? Foods that are in their whole, unprocessed state will tend to be the most nutritious; foods that came from a farm, not a factory. A wide variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables will provide the body with needed nutrients. These are the foods that will nourish your body and reduce cravings because your body is getting what it needs.