Kassia Emily Fiedor is a Nashville-based holistic chef and author of Cocina Holistica: Plant-Powered Recipes Inspired by Guatemalan Superfoods. Kassia will be leading a cookery demonstration at the Nashville Winter Wellness Fest on January 18.
A new year, a new you! January is always a great time to set those intentions, allowing new healthy habits to take shape. If we take a look at the status of our health in the US, it’s apparent just how important it is to make some positive changes, for ourselves and the planet. More than half of Americans are overweight, and one third are clinically obese. Diabesity (obesity + diabetes) affects more than one billion people worldwide, including 100 million Americans! The health care system is set up to treat these chronic diseases with pharmaceutical drugs, often ignoring the underlying causes – and the stats just aren’t reflecting our society as healing. It’s time for a more holistic view of health, and to empower ourselves to prevent and treat disease without unnecessary drugs or surgery. We have to be own health advocates if we truly want to function at our optimal levels of vitality.
Diabetes, heart disease, depression, autoimmune disease…what is the common cause of all of these life-threatening illnesses? Our modern lifestyle – stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, nutrient deficiencies, lack of exercise, toxins, and medications all contribute to the imbalance that eventually creates dis-ease in the body. We can create optimal wellness for ourselves with a little effort, a bit of guidance, and the trust that our bodies are built to heal themselves when we nourish our mind, body, and spirit.
Eat real food.
“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” – Dr. Anne Wigmore, ND.
Every time we put something into our bodies, we have a choice – to choose foods that will nourish us, give us energy, promote balance, and prevent disease or foods that will feed disease, promote inflammation, and create internal stress on our systems. “You are what you eat!” Food is our “health insurance – by keeping all systems in balance and working to maintain health, we give our body what it needs to fight aging and feel our best!
What is the definition of ‘real food’?
– Whole, unprocessed and unrefined
– Foods that are made of just one ingredient (apple, eggs, beans) or combined only with whole ingredients we recognize (bread made with whole wheat, water, salt, yeast)
– Foods that can be found in nature
– Pasture-raised (a.k.a. grass-fed) and wild
– Local, seasonal and organic vegetables
– Food that does not contain toxins – sugar, refined grains/flour, industrial seed oils (corn, soybean, cottonseed, safflower), gluten
– If it comes in a bag or a box, it most likely is over-processed, high in additives/preservatives, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones
Nourish your body – feed your “vital force”
Feed your body with organic, local food grown with love. Form relationships with your farmer – this fosters a sense of community and connection. Eating the rainbow is a good rule of thumb!
What foods feed our vital force?
– More vegetables like greens, which support the liver, and are full of minerals
– Healthy fats like chia, flax, fish, avocado, nuts, coconut oil, hemp, & ghee
– Pasture-raised eggs are nature’s perfect food – the yolk provides pantothenic acid, choline, sulfur, biotin, and lecithin, key nutrients for boosting collagen, 10x more omega-3, higher Vit A/E than factory hens
– Foods with phytonutrients and antioxidants help prevent disease – colorful vegetables and fruits, dark greens, berries, dark chocolate, and spirulina
Food fuels us, but it is also our medicine. Start to think about boosting the nutrient value of each meal – spices and culinary herbs contain lots of antioxidants and also help with digestion of the meal. Double the amount of spices in each recipe to start maximizing the value of your spice rack!
Superfoods to eat regularly
– Seaweed – dulse, arame, kelp, nori – sprinkle on salads, add to soups for trace minerals that we don’t get elsewhere in our diets
– Shellfish, which contains a lot of zinc.
– Fermented foods – to maintain digestive health
– Sardines – As they contain more omega’s than salmon, and less mercury
– Mushrooms – adaptogenic and immune boosting spices / herb
– Add turmeric to all your food to support health inflammation
Heal your gut
Hippocrates said “All disease begins in the gut” and he was right – gut microbes regulate 70-80 percent of the immune system, influence blood sugar control, modulate function of the brain, bones, heart, skin, eyes, and muscles. A healthy digestion is also necessary for absorbing and utilizing nutrients from our food. Foods with probiotics like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha encourage healthy gut bacteria, which fight pathogens.
We are not built for chronic stress! No matter how healthy you eat, how many supplements you take, how much you exercise – if you don’t manage stress, you’ll be at risk for heart disease, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and autoimmunity.
Move like your ancestors
Our ancestors weren’t running for long periods or focused on cardio – their lifestyles simply incorporated short bursts of activity naturally. It’s important to stay active, as a sedentary lifestyle can be very damaging, but don’t overdo it – move frequently at a slow pace for 3-5 hours/week – walk, cycle, garden, or hike. Lift heavy things and sprint occasionally, and add a few sessions of HIIT (high intensity interval training) for short periods a few times a week. The point is to move in ways that are fun and beneficial for your particular body.
Sleep more deeply
Insomnia is estimated to be the #1 health problem in America. Lack of sleep is associated with low-grade chronic inflammation, increased risk for obesity, impaired immune function, and cognitive decline. Sleep at least 6 hours a night, preferably eight, to allow your body to regenerate and recoup. If you have sleep issues, there are many alternative treatments, herbs, and practices you can try to address it outside the conventional medicine route.
Don’t be a fanatic / neurotic
Move away from all-or-nothing thinking and aim for the grey area. Eat the best you can as much as you can. Exercise when it feels good, and forget about perfection. Practice intuitive eating – tune into what your body needs, and let go of the idea of deprivation. Trust that your body has the tools to heal and regenerate! Use your intuition to guide you, and your body will thank you.
To find out more about Kassia and to book tickets to see her coookery demonstration, click here.