‘Health’ and ‘nutrition’ are buzzwords at the moment. It seems like you can’t turn around without someone in the media having an opinion on what you should (or shouldn’t) eat.
And, it’s a bit of a minefield. We all have to eat, so everybody has a view.
But here’s the thing, what’s right for you might not be right for me.
We each have individual needs
What is clear from the growing number of food allergies and intolerances, increasing obesity levels and rising digestive issues, is that we each need to take personal responsibility for what we eat. As a matter of urgency.
This whole health and nutrition thing is not such a simple issue, either. If it were, we wouldn’t have these burgeoning health issues across the western world.
I don’t want to over-simplify what is a pretty massive issue but… there are some steps we can take today to improve our health chances in the roulette wheel of life. And, these are universal. They don’t just apply to my AIP paradigm.
1. Learn to Cook
The single most important thing you can do for yourself in terms of health is to start cooking. Today.
I mean it. When you cook your own food – from scratch – you control everything that goes into it. You get to cook real food you like to eat. And, there’s a sense of pride that comes from learning a practical skill that you can take anywhere.
If you’re just starting out, then, keep it simple. Really simple. Pick up some happy brisket from the markets this weekend and make The EASIEST Brisket Recipe in the World. It’s impossible to muck up.
Alternatively, find just one recipe this week that inspires you and set yourself a goal of giving it a go.
If it works well, invite friends over next week to share it with you. They’ll be impressed and you’ll know exactly what you’re eating.
2. Cook Double
And, while we’re on this cooking caper. Cook more. Double the recipe. Cook once to eat twice – or, if your oven is big enough, even thrice.
This is especially true for those who aren’t passionate about mucking about in the kitchen. It saves time. It saves on washing up. And, there’s something satisfying about knowing you have a freezer full of healthy, homemade meals when you can’t face the kitchen.
3. Look For Ways to Add Vegetables
We all know that we should be eating more vegetables for our health. And, adding more veggies to your plate – every meal – is a budget-friendly health option, too. When you buy what’s in season. But, many people don’t realise that a wide variety of different vegetables is important. Broccoli is great and full of nutrients. But a diet of only broccoli isn’t going to give you the diverse range of good stuff your body needs.
One of our favourite ways to ensure we max’ out on our veggie intake is to roast them. It is now part of my weekly routine to cook up a BIG tray of Roasted Vegetables. They’re great as leftovers for lunches and breakfast hash, too.
4. Learn How to Ferment Vegetables
Fermenting is all the rage at the moment. Kombucha, kefir, kvass – Sandor Katz (one of my food idols, just quietly) will tell you it’s possible to ferment almost anything natural in the food world. And, just to be clear, I’m talking about naturally fermented, unpasteurised food here.
But my favourite is fermenting vegetables into my version of sauerkraut. Here at JFC, I refer to it as my Haus Kraut. It has red and green cabbage, carrots, apple and some salt. That’s it.
But, why should you learn how to ferment?
Fermentation Preserves Nutrients – Because it does not involve high heat, fermentation preserves the vitamins and enzymes present in foods. In fact, beyond simply maintaining the vitamin content of raw foods, the process of fermentation can actually create new vitamins – specifically B vitamins and vitamin K2, as well as some types of enzymes.
Fermentation Preserves Beneficial Bacteria – The friendly microbes that carry out the fermentation process are often themselves beneficial to humans. Friendly bacteria in the digestive tract are crucial to a properly functioning immune system.
Fermentation Helps the Body Digest Carbohydrates – Fermentation breaks down certain types of carbohydrates that can be difficult to digest. Raw cabbage, for example, contains polysaccharides that can lead to intestinal gas; these polysaccharides are generally broken down by fermentation.
Of course, in addition to all that, it’s economical and it’s kind of fun! And, it’s another ways to meet your goal of #3!
There are masses of resources out there on fermentation. I did a blog post on my personal favourite. You can read about it here. And, if you’re ready to give fermenting your own kraut a red hot go, my friend Eileen over at Phoenix Helix has the easiest lesson in how to make No-Fail No-Pound Sauerkraut. It has 2 ingredients. Doesn’t get much easier than that.
5. Make Bone Broth Regularly
Bone broth is another trendy term that has reached ‘superfood’ status amongst those in the know.
Well, in a nutshell – bone broths are hugely rich in nutrients – particularly minerals like sodium, chloride, and iodine as well as magnesium, potassium and other important trace minerals. They are also a good source of amino acids – particularly arginine, glycine and proline. Glycine supports our bodies’ detoxification process and is used in the synthesis of haemoglobin (oxygen-carrying within the blood), bile salts and other naturally-occurring chemicals within the body. It also supports digestion and the release of gastric acids. Proline (along with vitamin C) is great for our skin health.
Bone broths are also rich in gelatine which has multiple uses – it aids in digestion, helps in the absorption of cooked foods (particularly the muscle meat cuts that are so popular), and also supports skin health.
So, get your happy bones onto a long slow simmer and add healing bone broth to your diet, if you haven’t already.
6. Reduce Processed Foods and Sugar
Generally, I think it is easier to talk about foods you can add to your diet than those that you should take away. But, in the case of processed, packaged food and the dreaded sugar, there’s a definite exception.
Understanding what goes into your food is critical to becoming more health conscious. And, that means learning to read the labels. You’ll be amazed at the crap that goes into some of your favourite foods once you start doing a little investigating.
And if you do nothing else, please, please ensure you are cooking with healthy, happy fats. I honestly don’t think we have yet heard the end of the damage caused by transfats. and the damage they have caused us over the years.
If you need some help transitioning to a healthier version of you, you might benefit from a little health coaching…
A 90 minute Skype session with me + a report including health recommendations and supporting resources is just $150 until the end of September.
I’d love to hear from you.
Great list! 🙂
Thanks lovely Mary! 🙂
I’m going to start roasting a big tray of veggies on every Monday night- great tip! But I’m going to leave fermenting to the professionals- not my strong suit haha! Thank Joanna!
Marla – next time we catch up, I’ll bring you a jar of the JFC Haus Kraut! 🙂
Wonderful post Jo, thanks!
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