Whether you’re cutting out food, television, or something else entirely, breaking old habits is easier than you might think. Veganism always sounded too rigid for my tastes, so to speak, and not particularly fun. While I believe that eating is meant to sustain us, I also associate eating with great pleasure. Living by the ocean […]
So you put on a pound or five over the holidays… Do you feel a like a sausage squeezed into your clothes? Most of us indulge in the delectable offerings of the season, usually laden with saturated fats, dairy, sugar, and white flour. In excess, these foods create congestion or metabolic waste that leaves us feeling sluggish, heavy, bloated, tired, achy, irritable, and/or depressed. Just as our automobile perks up after a tune-up, we can revitalize with a detox.
Whether you call it cleansing, detox, purification, or fasting, eliminating metabolic waste from the body is an ancient practice. All of the major religions include some form of fasting as a vehicle for well-being and spiritual awakening.
Fasting has a profound effect on all levels: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Increased vitality, mental clarity, and weight loss are typical detox results. Fasters often experience lasting relief from allergies, arthritis, fibromyalgia, headaches, and addictions to sugar, caffeine, and nicotine as well as gaining deeper insight and a sense of joy. Fasting is considered by many to be the single most effective method of healing chronic disease.
Seems obvious: Who doesn’t get at least a little bit excited by a heaping bowl of fresh-cut fruit (especially if someone else has done the cutting for us)? But now science confirms that happiness and mental health rise with the number of servings of fruits and vegetables we eat each day.
Researchers at the University of Warwick and Dartmouth College studied 80,000 people living in the United Kingdom, and compared their fruit and veggie intake with their life satisfaction, mental well-being, presence of mental disorders, self-reported health, happiness, nervousness, and how often they “feel low,” factoring in such variables as the rest of their diets, alcohol, and many demographic, social, and economic factors. In an overwhelming number of cases, people who ate the World Health Organization-recommended five servings per day were happier than those who didn’t, and those who ate seven per day were happiest.
Here, at Kripalu, there are nutritional tenets that substantiate our approach to food. By applying these principles, you can enjoy your food in healthful ways that promote well-being.
- Eat whole, fresh, unprocessed foods—seasonal, organic, and local, whenever possible.
- Eat a diet that is founded on proven nutritional science.
- Eat foods that promote good digestion and support your gut flora.
- Avoid foods you are allergic to or intolerant of.
- Eat foods that taste good, and allow your taste buds time to get used to new foods.
- Eat in rhythm—three meals or five to six mini-meals scheduled at regular intervals throughout the day.
- Eat until you are no more than two-thirds full.
- Eat in a relaxed state.
- Stay happily hydrated.
- Eat foods you cook!
Although most of the fruits and vegetables we associate with autumn are not related botanically, they offer our bodies a consistent nutritional theme. Apples, pears, grapes, beets, and squash are all excellent sources of soluble fiber and all but the squash are great sources of one particular type of soluble fiber: pectin. Pectin has a long list of research-substantiated health effects that range from lowering cholesterol levels to removing heavy metals and other contaminants from the body. This is truly nature’s soft detox agent and a great way to prepare for the short days of winter.
In addition to this great source of soluble fiber, these fruits and vegetables are very alkalizing as they are all great sources of potassium. They have unique phytonutrients that are protective against carcinogens. The ellagic acid in grapes and the betacyanin in beets stand out in this area, but winter squash varieties that cook to a dark orange are loaded with a wide variety of carotenoids that offer similar protection. Autumn makes it easy to eat the amount of fruits and vegetables that we need to feel our best.
What are your favorite autumn fruits or vegetables to eat? Share your recipes!
It’s an exciting season for foodies: Fresh local produce is at its peak! We know that gathering produce at the farmer’s market connects us to the earth and to our community, but is there a nutritional advantage to eating locally grown food as well? Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment (HCHGE) reviewed the literature and came to similar conclusions. Those adept at using their senses to guide their health choices already know the answer—just notice the colors and aromas of produce from your garden compared to the supermarket.
To maximize the nutrient density (a measure of food quality that compares foods by nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants per calorie) of your produce, consider the farm-to-table path it takes. Generally, the longer and more complex this path is, the less nutrient-dense the food on your plate. According to HCHGE, the nutritional quality of produce depends on the variety chosen, growing methods, ripeness when picked, post-harvest handling, storage, extent and type of processing, and distance transported.
How to plant for a beautiful spring harvest
Just because summer’s coming to a close doesn’t mean that you need to close up your backyard garden. Many homegrown vegetables can survive—and even thrive—over the cold winter months. Kripalu Healthy Living nutritionist John Bagnulo, PhD,MPH,who farms organically at his home in Maine, offers his tips for ensuring a bountiful spring.
Start simple. Beets and carrots are by far the most low-maintenance vegetables you can plant now and enjoy in the spring. My favorite varieties are Chioggia for beets and Mokum for carrots. Simply work a good amount of compost or aged cow manure into the ground (a container works well for small spaces). Manure is my personal favorite fertilizer, as compost means different things today than it did 20 years ago when I started gardening. Now, the demand is so great that producers are cutting corners and many composts are not well developed.You could also try planting some berries. Strawberries planted in the fall can be ready the following spring. So can blueberries, though it generally takes blueberries much longer to truly become productive.
Plant wisely. Plant seeds about 1/2″ deep and water them well. After the weather turns really cold, cover them with a thick layer of straw or chopped straw—not leaves, as those can suffocate the growth below when they get packed down with the first couple of rains or snowfalls. This cover will keep the frost from pushing the ground up and out, which exposes young plants or seeds.