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Robin D. Stone is a New York City based psychotherapist, coach and consultant who works to help you achieve your most optimal self. 

Posts tagged whole foods
Simple Steps to Low-Carb Eating
 
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Pizza. Pasta. Bread. Once upon a time, I couldn’t get enough of them. I began each day with a bowl of cereal. Started almost every dinner with a roll.  Celebrated Fridays with a large cheese pie – and some cheesy bread. These days I steer clear of refined carbohydrates, but I still feel a client’s pain when she says, “Seriously? You want me to give up my bagels?!”

Before we get into the idea of “giving up” foods, my first question usually is, how did it become “your” bagel? Or “your” toast,” or “your” muffin? After highlighting her too-close-for-comfort relationship with said food, we start to explore the nature of refined carbs and their effects on diet, metabolism and overall health.

Pizza, pasta and bread are comfort foods that few of us are reluctant to give up. Most are made with refined wheat flour and pack a glycemic punch that sends blood sugar soaring and encourages insulin resistance, fat storage and chronic health problems like diabetes and heart disease – the nation’s leading cause of death. Refining strips whole grains of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Products labeled “enriched” have only some of those nutrients replaced. White flours have been bleached. So unbleached doesn’t mean “whole.”

A new study confirms what many healthy-living experts have been advocating for years now: a diet low in carbohydrates – even with some added fat – lowers weight and leads to better heart health than a diet that’s low in fat.  The message is not to start ladling lard into your dishes, but to consider that fat is not the dietary demon it was once made out to be. So eat fewer carbs, slightly more good-for-you fats, throw in some exercise (of course you would), and you’ve got a healthier body all around.

Note that low-carb doesn’t mean no-carb. Just as your body needs fat and protein, it needs carbohydrates to thrive. But consider the source of your carbs: your body benefits from whole grains (plus fruits and veggies, beans and nuts) much more than it does from refined-flour pizza, pasta and bread. And note that this isn’t a low-carb diet. It’s not a quick fix, but a conscious way of eating for life.

In time, my client becomes versed in the effects of refined carbs on her body. Then we move on to that notion of “giving up” foods, focusing not on what she “can’t” eat, but all the good stuff she can eat, like whole, unprocessed foods, lean fish and meat.

Before we’re done – and this is very important – my client and I explore what might bring her comfort that has nothing to do with food. Calling a friend. Taking a walk. Working it out with yoga or Zumba. Writing about it. Meditation or prayer.  These satisfy hungers that no food can. And while comfort foods may bring brief relief, they have nothing to do with lasting healing.

Eventually my client moves pizza/pasta/bread from main event to sideshow, and then to an occasional appearance if at all. And all that talk about giving up foods that weren't "hers" in the first place? Gone.


Chart from wholeshift.com 

 
Welcoming Spring with Seasonal Recipes
 

Hey Spring!

Come on in – we’re glad to see you!

It’s been awhile, we know, and with winter hanging around well past her welcome, you’ve had to elbow your way onto the stage. Keep pushing – she’ll drag herself out of here soon enough.

We’ve missed you and your promise of everything new and green, of the earth giving way as stalks and stems yawn and stretch their way to the sky.

We are also unearthing ourselves from layers upon layers of sweaters, coats, scarves, socks and hats. It’s good to feel the warmth of the sun upon our faces.
 

And since we’re trying to eat what’s local and in season, it’s also good to see seasonal veggies other than potatoes, squash and beets. We know that seasonal eating is about harvesting what’s grown nearby instead of what’s trucked (or shipped) in from around the globe, so it allows us to support local agriculture. We know that foods grown locally tend to be more affordable. And we know that we’re giving our body a rich and diverse diet because the food we eat changes through the year.


We know that seasonal eating puts us in sync with the earth’s natural rhythms and calendar. Before progress brought us superstores and any food at any time, we ate according to what was local and fresh (or we canned and froze foods when they were fresh). Many ancient healing traditions are grounded in seasonal eating to build health and strengthen emotional balance. 

So, Dear Spring, for the best in flavor and nutrition, we will look for foods in season right now, like arugula and asparagus and strawberries and cherries. We’ll focus on tender, leafy vegetables that represent all that’s vibrant and young. We will celebrate your arrival with asparagus and spinach dishes, and since winter still can’t take the hint, with a big warm hug. 

Tips: Store rinsed asparagus in a plastic bag in your fridge with the bottom wrapped in damp paper towel. Store spinach unwashed, also in a plastic bag.

 
6 Principles of Clean Eating
 

As millions of us toss gunk and junk from the recesses of our apartments and garages in that annual rite known as spring cleaning, consider doing the same for your body: Take advantage of the warmer weather to try clean eating.

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Clean eating is not washing your veggies five times before you peel. Nor is it eating “twigs and berries,” as my son once described some of my earlier, super ambitious dietary experiments.

Eating clean means eating food that’s as close to natural as it can be: unprocessed and without added flavors or excessive ingredients. Imagine grilled shrimp tossed with shallots, bell peppers, lime juice and chili powder; tender new potatoes roasted with olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper; steamed spinach with garlic, lemon and pepper. Nothing boxed or bagged there. All fresh, all clean, amazingly flavorful and good for you.

Clean eating is not a diet; it’s a way of living. You don’t go “off” this lifestyle; you enjoy experimenting with fresh, whole foods, feeling energized and at your optimum from the premium “fuel” you feed your body.

I learned the concept of eating cleanly when I completed a 21-day nutritional cleanse a few years ago.  When I read the list of foods that were prohibited, I thought, what’s left to eat? But those were the days when I was still preparing boxed rice dishes with seasoning packets (i.e. loads of salt and other stuff you don’t need).

I had to wean myself from those packets, trying new spices and new ingredients. I started reading labels more closely, and came to appreciate simply prepared foods. Clean eating is not as stringent as a “cleanse;” you don’t eliminate foods but you do eliminate ingredients that lead you to feel sluggish, bloated and craving more food.

After only a few weeks of eating cleanly, your taste buds will be “reprogrammed:” Fruits will taste sweeter than before, so you’ll crave fewer sweet treats. A little salt will go much further as your tolerance for sodium drops. Your skin will be clearer, your hair shinier an nails stronger. Oh, and you will definitely lose weight.

To eat cleanly, you can’t just pick something up, or open a package and pour in a pan. With a little forethought, you shop for the week and cook meals to last two to three days. These days my son may say, “what’s this?” when he peers into a pot with a scrunched-up nose.  But then he digs in, with nary a mention of a twig or a berry.

6 Principles of Clean Eating

Eat whole foods – the fewer ingredients, the better. That means fruit and veggies, legumes and nuts are A-OK. For packaged foods, scan the ingredient list. Count the ingredients. Then name them. You’ll probably see many words you don’t recognize. Aim for foods with 5 ingredients or fewer. And if you can’t ID it, don’t eat it.

Cut the sugar and salt. Sugar is toxic. The average American consumes 23 teaspoons of the stuff a day, compared with the recommended daily allowance of just 6 for women, 9 for men. One soda has 8 teaspoons of sugar alone. Americans also eat more than 1,000 milligrams over the recommended allowance of sodium. Get your sugar fix from fruit and sweet vegetables, like carrots and yams. And cook your own meals. When dining out, ask for sauces and dressings on the side so you control how much you eat.

Drink more water and less alcohol. Water hydrates and helps maintain your balance of bodily fluids. Try swapping your soda for a glass of water, and drink a half-glass before a meal to help make you feel full and eat less. Alcohol, on the other hand, can make you dehydrated.

Eat healthy fats. Say yes to heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – from fish, nuts, seeds, olive, canola and coconut oils. Eat less saturated fats, which come from meat and dairy products. Run from trans fats.

Cut refined grains and wheat. Switch from white and wheat flour, bread and pasta to complex carbs from whole grains (grains that haven’t had their germ and endosperm removed by milling), such as corn (and yes, popcorn), brown rice, rye, amaranth, millet, quinoa. But steer clear of wheat: it’s known as an appetite stimulant that’s linked to inflammation, autoimmune and digestive disorders.

Eat mindfully. Eat when you’re hungry – not just because it’s mealtime. Eat slowly, and put your fork down between bites. Make a point to chew a certain number of times – aim for 20 – for each mouthful. Consider the aroma and the flavors and textures at play on your tongue. Stop eating when you’re full – well before you’re stuffed.

Clean eating is also about consuming with a conscience: consider the environment, focus on local products and products raised and produced humanely.

Ready to eat clean? Start with one clean meal a day, increasing the meals so that by day three or four you’re eating clean full time. Follow these principles for seven days, then if you can, go for 14, and once there, go for 21. Let me know how you do and what changes you see!

Happy Eating,

Robin