Let Food Be Thy Medicine
What if we actually believed that? Would we eat differently? God gave us “every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it.” He said, “They will be yours for food.” (Genesis 1:29, NIV)
There are dozens, if not hundreds of occasions in the Bible where food is a part of a celebration, a means of pleasure and enjoyment. Food can taste amazing and rightfully so – God created it! But, He also gave it as a means to nourish and care for our bodies – the dwelling place of the Spirit of God.
We know that almost 69% of adults are either overweight or obese in the United States. While obesity is a complex issue that is not independently connected to food, it certainly plays a significant role! Sadly, the very thing that has the potential to nourish, heal, and energize our bodies has been manipulated and abused by manufacturing companies. The result?
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Some types of cancer
- Chronic inflammation
We know that food is not moral – it is not good or bad – it is just food. But, our behaviors, relationship, and choices within the context of food hugely affect our overall health.
Previous Good Health articles have addressed our relationship and behaviors with food. Today, we are going to discuss identifying the best food choices to promote health, wellness, vitality, and longevity. This doesn’t require a gigantic food budget or shopping at a specialty organic market. It’s actually pretty simple…
Eat More Real Living Food
Dr. Don Colbert describes it this way: There are living foods and dead foods – choose more living foods.
Living foods promote health by:
- Supplying the body with an abundance of vitamins and minerals for healthy metabolism, muscle and nerve function, blood pressure control, glucose regulation.
- Reducing inflammation deep in the body that contributes to cancers, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, some skin conditions, and even some GI conditions like Crohn’s disease.
- Stockpiling the body with an abundance of antioxidants that keep your skin, hair, and nails healthy.
What Are “Living Foods”?
Living foods are grown or cultivated foods that can spoil or rot. Essentially, they have enzymes that eventually cause decomposition. Dead foods have substances like preservatives that keep them from spoiling for an extended period of time. They are processed, packaged, and sold on shelves with “sell by” dates that allow for months of storage.
This is not about a guilt trip. This is about nourishing your body in a way that allows you to energetically fulfill your calling. Let’s face it, dead foods give us cravings. They make us lethargic and contribute to diseases that take up mental and physical energy – energy we could be devoting to our purpose.
Here are 4 easy-to-follow strategies that will help you implement a living food approach within your daily eating pattern.
1. Eat ½ Plate of Veggies
At lunch and dinner, make it a goal to cover half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables. These include greens, summer squash, green beans, carrots, eggplant, salad and so much more! For a full list, read here.
For many meals, this means rethinking the recipe or how the meal is served. But often, it doesn’t mean you need to toss out a meal altogether. For example,
- Spaghetti – ½ plate of salad OR ½ plate of sauteed veggies along with ¼ plate of whole grain pasta and ¼ plate of tomato and meat sauce.
- Tacos – make a taco salad with greens, sauteed onions and peppers, and tomatoes; top with a mixture of lean ground meat and black beans with a dollop of light sour cream and salsa.
- Stir Fry – include more veggies and cut back on the rice to ¼ of the plate.
- Lasagna – replace some of the pasta layered with sliced zucchini or eggplant and add a side salad.
Meals can easily be modified to add in veggies and remove some of the processed foods without a lot of effort.
TAKE ACTION: Begin by thinking about your top 5 family favorite meals and how you can make a few tweaks to add in more veggies.
2. Add Variety to Either Your Vegetable Choices or Vegetable Preparation Each Week
Growing up, my family ate about 10 different types of veggies. We liked all of them, but when you look at this list, there are dozens of veggies just waiting to be tasted! Sometimes, veggies are boring because we make them the same way every week. So, try something new!
You can choose an entirely new vegetable recipe or create a simple change to your current preparation methods. Maybe this week you add a squeeze of lemon and some slivered almonds to your steamed green beans. Or, maybe you try making some guacamole dip for fresh veggies instead of the traditional ranch dressing. Could you try adding some fresh herbs on top of the grilled veggies before serving? Maybe you have always wanted to try roasting veggies but just haven’t given it a shot yet?
TAKE ACTION: Choose 1 new vegetable you haven’t tried or tweak your traditional vegetable preparation to add some new spice and flavor. Which one of your favorite vegetable dishes needs a make-over?
3. Visit the Farmer’s Market
When feeling uninspired, just take a spin around the local Farmer’s Market! There are dozens of farmers just waiting to talk with you about their beautiful produce and they have a wealth of creative ideas on how to prepare these tasty vegetables. It is not like a grocery store that is simply selling a product. These are individuals who have chosen to grow these foods and eat them as well!
Don’t be afraid to ask about a fruit or vegetable and how to prepare it. They aren’t there to judge your knowledge. No, they want to inspire the shoppers with mouth-watering ideas so that they want to buy the produce!
TAKE ACTION: Plan 1 family trip to the local market within the next 2 weeks. Give each person the job of choosing 1 different food to learn about and try. Allow that person to take the lead (or assist) in making a dish with that type of produce. Go discover together!
4. Add 1 Plant-Based Meal Per Week
Meatless Monday is not just a fad. It’s a way of living that encourages the consumption of more plant-based meals. The goal isn’t about removing the meat or poultry so people feel deprived. On the contrary, it’s about making the veggies, beans, legumes and living foods the star!
When considering recipes for a meatless meal, you must change your way of thinking so that it is not one of elimination but of addition. For example, add in veggies and lentils to the tomato sauce for spaghetti night. Add in edamame and chickpeas to the stir fry. Otherwise, your family will feel deprived and the meal won’t satisfy.
If the family members are opposed to meatless meals, try reducing the amount of meat you prepare by half and adding another bean or vegetable side dish to the meal to make up for the reduction. For example, make tacos with ½ pound of ground beef instead of 1 pound and add in 1 or 2 cans of black or pinto beans into the mixture.
TAKE ACTION: Plan 1 meatless OR mostly meatless meal to make this week. If unable to take action for a family meal, then choose a lunch you can make meatless like my Quinoa Edamame Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette.
So, what’s the play call?
Learning to steward and care for our bodies the way God intended takes practice and intentionality, especially in a culture where we are bombarded with clever messages from brands that don’t have our wellness in mind. While there isn’t any guilt about eating a french fry every now and then, there also isn’t a ton of benefits to eating it, either.
“See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction…Now choose life, so that you and your children may live (Deuteronomy 30:15,19 NIV).”
You always have a choice.
NEED HELP WITH YOUR ‘SLIM DOWN?’
Don’t miss the final article in the Summer Slim Down series on August 11th!