Much of what ended up being covered was relatively obvious to anyone who takes an active interest in healthful living and if you go beyond the basics that we all know (veggies are good; fatty fries drenched in hydrogenated oils are bad…), a lot of nutrition is personal, making a group lecture somewhat challenging. Gluten isn’t bad for everyone. Dairy isn’t bad for everyone. Eating fruit after having had a heavy steak – contrary to the principles of food combining – isn’t bad for everyone, which is why I always take everything I hear in these sorts of workshops with a grain of salt. All that said, while much of leading a healthy lifestyle is personal trial and error (think about how many studies we have that say coffee is bad or that chocolate is bad because there are just as many that say that each of those are good), Henderson did make some very important points that many people may be unaware of. Jump for what was discussed and some additions I have to what Henderson talked about!
Image: FIT Boot Camp
All calories are not created equal.
A 500 calories brownie is not the same as eating 500 calories worth of fruit (it’s not for nothing that Weight Watchers recently made most fruits and vegetables points-free). Not only will you be more satiated if you eat a brownie-calorie equivalent in fruit, but your body is much for adept at processing fruit. It can quickly take what it can use and then let the rest pass through your system. It takes a lot longer for that brownie to make its way out of your body and as one might imagine our bodies find a lot less in the way of useful components when comparing a brownie with an apple. This is not to say that calories don’t matter – they do – and one can certainly over-eat with healthy foods, but it’s important to keep in mind that food is more than just a number.
Read the ingredients of what you’re eating – the fewer ingredients the better.
Pair your foods well.
Food combining is much like liquid cleansing in that it’s somewhat controversial as to how beneficial it actually is. One side maintains it minimizes digestive energy, while the other side says our body is completely capable of doing this all on its own. The idea is that not all foods are digested in the same way with some taking a lot longer then others meaning that if you eat a steak and immediately after eat an apple, the apple will sit in your stomach while it waits for the steak to be digested resulting in bloating. If however you ate that apple before the steak, it would be digested and out of your body in 20-30 minutes. I try to follow food combining in my own life as much as I can and have found it beneficial so I thought it was worth highlighting some of the “rules.”
See a previous post I wrote for more, but again, it’s all about picking and choosing what works for you.
How to eat.
Eat from light to heavy because there’s typically the most time between your last meal and your first one the next day giving your body the most time to digest your heaviest meal. I know this is contrary to what most people have heard since for a long time we’ve been told that eating a heavy meal close to bedtime causes excess jiggle, but I’ve read many studies that have shown that, that is not in fact the case. The theory is that when we hear about people eating close to bedtime having health issues, it’s because they’re over-snacking after dinner and has nothing to do with it being close to when they go to bed.
Just because it says Gluten-Free, Organic, or Natural on the package doesn’t mean it’s a free pass.
This is one of the biggest mistakes people make. Henderson didn’t go into it too much, but since I always see people stocking up on gluten-free cookies, cupcakes, etc. when food shopping it’s worth expanding on. Most people assume that because something is sold at a health food store and says natural or gluten-free on it, that they can eat as much of it as they want. Many of those foods however have more sugar and saturated fats then gluten, “non-natural” ones and sometimes you may even be better off eating an Oreo than some of what you find labeled natural! “Natural” is in fact a meaningless word that is not regulated. For an idea of how badly labeling in America is regulated, Corn Flakes, which we all assume to be healthy, are made with high fructose corn syrup. It’s very important to read your nutrition facts and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Henderson pointed out a few snacks that she recommends and I was familiar with most of them, so here are some favorites when you’re looking for packaged snack alternatives to Oreos and Ben & Jerry’s: Mary’s Gone Crackers, Organic Nectars, Lara Bars, Ezekiel, and Nature’s Path. Some that I think are great that Henderson did not mention: Arctic Zero, One Lucky Duck, New York Naturals Kale Chips, The Raw Bakery, Amazing Grass Energy Bars, Kashi GoLean Cereal, Flamous Brands Falafel Chips, Beanitos, EVOL Foods, Rawtella, Four Tines, Lulu’s Chocolate, Nutiva, TruRoots, Mrs. Mays, and if you really must eat potato chips opt for Corazonas, which have been shown to help lower cholesterol.
Hunger vs. Craving.
Lastly this wasn’t in the workshop, but something I try to keep in mind when I feel like eating something very specific is asking myself “are you hungry or do you just feel like eating”? Usually if you have a specific craving for one thing (chocolate, pizza…), it tends to just be a craving versus actual hunger. Ask yourself if you’d settle for an apple. If the answer is “no” you’re probably having a craving because when you’re truly hungry you’re more flexible about what you’ll eat. Give yourself 15 minutes and odds are you’ve probably forgotten about it, if not, we can’t say “no” to our desires all the time! If there’s one thing I got from this workshop is that it reminded me to aim for progress, not perfection.
Physique 57 is hosting workshops all month long including ones on staying healthy despite a hectic schedule, one to elucidate the raw food diet, and a variety of special workout workshops including an intensive 90 minute yin yoga session and a amped-up abs workshop. To learn more, check-out Physique 57′s website.