You Are at the Center of Your Nutrition
It isn’t very often when a gathering touches your soul. But that’s what happened to me this week when I attended the Feel-Good Feast by Indulge. This was what I’d call a three-part event, first a mocktail hour surrounded by some of the most inspirational folks I know of in Kansas City in the health and nutrition field. Second a presentation by Sarah Kuccera, of Sage Center for Yoga, that was an introduction to Ayurveda (which now I know is pronounced Aww-yoorvayduh!). And third a five-course meal from chef Stephanie Mohr that highlighted the digestive properties of food in a way that was designed to make you feel your best.
I mean with a line up like that planned how could you really go wrong, but I’m telling you it was amazing! While this was the first event of this kind for Indulge I know I will be joining them again for their next round and I highly recommend you keep an eye out as well.
Intro to Ayurvedic
Ayurvedic medicine, as practiced in India, is one of the oldest systems of medicine in the world. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the key concepts of Ayurvedic medicine include universal interconnectedness (among people, their health, and the universe), the body’s constitution, and life forces. Using these concepts, Ayurvedic physicians prescribe individualized treatments, including compounds of herbs or proprietary ingredients, and diet, exercise, and lifestyle recommendations.
The simplest way for me to remember all of this is that Ayurveda believes that health exists when there is a balance.
It’s Time to Eat
While taking all of that in, the party moved on to our divine meal (which was all vegan to everyone’s surprise!). While taste testing Ayurvedic herb blends in a sippable soup, the best beets I’ve ever had, and farro and white bean towers, AND a chocolate torte made of avocado and dates, I was able to contemplate the below that has left me fully inspired for a while (or at least a month). I hope you can use some of the below to help you through your nutritional journey this month.
Balance in All Things
Typically when I meet with clients I use the word balance in terms of items that aren’t as nutritionally beneficial as other food selections. However, it’s important to understand that you can also overdo it on items that are classified as healthy. For example, spinach, believe it or not recently I was eating too much spinach. I always thought big salad bowls, all the day, every day. What I found was that even though spinach was filling my belly in the best way, I also was repetitively consuming a high oxalate containing foods, which can prevent the absorption of calcium. I also was potentially missing out on other great nutrient sources day after day.
Gut Health is Top Priority
While many people think that focusing on the health of your gut, or more specifically the healthy bacteria in your gut, is a new fad, it’s actually been around for thousands of years. Ayurveda is said to have been around for 5,000 years. One of the leading principles is that your digestive system is the most important system in terms of overall health. Your gut affects your immune system, your metabolism, and literally has a direct connection to your brain that tells it if your body feels good or bad, among other things. I have been learning this concept in an integrative medicine program at Kansas University, so it’s awesome to know other’s share this view as well.
Having a good understanding of your own digestive system can help you create a baseline for your progress in your nutritional journey. This is a key element I will be pushing my clients to understand.
Eat Seasonally To Fight Small and Large Health Issues
“The earth provides,” was one of the phrases I will not soon forget from the Ayurveda talk. While eating seasonally is always a good idea, this concept takes it a step further. During the talk, we walked through how modern conveniences such as being able to buy a bag full of lettuce at the grocery store in the middle of January in the Midwest can actually cause you to eat something the earth hadn’t intended on you digesting.
This time of year one of the best items you can eat is root vegetables, which include veggies that grow underground like sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beets, garlic, onion, radishes, etc. These items are high in nutrients that fight sicknesses like the common cold or the flu that are both going around Kansas City like crazy. While that fresh bag of lettuce still provides an amazing nutrient, it might not be the absolute best nutrient if you were to compare it directly to the root vegetables listed for fighting these diseases.
This concept makes it so much more important to do a little research before you plan your next meal. I currently use seasonalfoodguide.org to help me see what to shop at the farmer’s market and what is in season. I’m going to do my part to help and in a series of upcoming blog posts, I’ll highlight what is currently in season in the Midwest that I will be putting on my grocery list.
Being Present While Eating Aid in Satisfaction and Digestion
Being present is often referred to as being mindful when it comes to eating. Some studies say that as many as 4 out of 5 people eat at their desk, in front of their computer, or while they are still working. Doing this does not allow you to acknowledge you are eating something, and all of your senses turned on by your brain are part of the digestion process. Not fully processing your meal can cause you to feel hungry sooner, or overeat because you haven’t noticed you are full. It also tells your body that it doesn’t have to digest this meal as well as it could.
Setting aside the time to focus on your eating is worth it. You are more productive when you go back to work, you are more satisfied with your food, and your digestive system gets the max nutritional value from your meal.
This is a lot of information to take in and much longer than I had planned for my blog posts, but I couldn’t help it like I said I was inspired! I hope you can find some inspiration in here as well. If you have questions or comments I’d love to hear them please comment below so we can keep this conversation going!