Balanced Living

Celebrate Success + Eat More of These 5 Healthy Foods

Posted by Arja on January 7 in Holistic Health, Nutrition

It’s the start of a new year, and with that comes a sense of renewed energy.  Some people use it to tackle projects around the house, or come up with new ways to bring order where there is chaos.  Others take a look inwards to focus on personal growth and learning.  Regardless of whether you jump on board with goals of your own or not, here is no denying that a lot of this energy and drive is focused on health and wellness.  

Call them resolutions or call them goals, or do what I do and focus on intentions, just keep them simple.

Set intentions with broad strokes and give yourself credit for all the positive steps along the way.  If you set lofty goals for yourself and then fall short of the exact thing that you set out to achieve, you’re likely going to feel as if you’ve failed, rather than feeling proud of all the smaller victories you’ve had along the way.  You didn’t lose 20lbs?  Well, did you trade an unhealthy habit for a healthier one in your weight loss pursuits?  If so, that’s pretty awesome!  Maybe you had a list of 10 books you had to read, but only read 3.  Who cares?  You read 3 books!  

If you’ve got health and wellness on your mind this year, instead of making a list of foods you can’t eat, why not make a list of things you should be eating more of?  Healthy eating doesn’t need to be overly complicated, and as you adjust to eating less of the stuff that isn’t as good for you it won’t feel like deprivation either.

Make your own list, or borrow from my top 5 foods to eat more of this year:

1. Cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, radishes and arugula are members of the nutritional powerhouse Brassica family.  Along with being full of vitamins and minerals (including Vitamin C and calcium) and loaded with fibre, cruciferous vegetables are rich in phytochemicals that contain well-researched anti-cancer compounds.  These compounds increase the body’s antioxidant powers, but more importantly, improve the body’s ability to detoxify and eliminate unwanted toxins and chemicals, as well as normal body chemicals like hormones and inflammatory chemicals.  Include members of this powerful plant family in your diet on a regular basis.  If you suffer from a thyroid condition I would recommend that you eat more of these vegetables lightly cooked, rather than all raw, as they also contain compounds that can negatively impact thyroid function.  Light cooking substantially reduces the effect of these compounds.

2. Magnesium-rich food, like raw cacao, nuts & seeds, seaweed (dulse, kelp, nori, etc.), and whole grains should be included in your “must eat” list because, next to potassium, magnesium is the most predominant mineral in our bodies!  It’s needed to activate many enzymes, and to maintain the electrical charge of cells in our muscles and nerves.  It’s a part of energy and protein production and cellular replication, but it also supports one of the detoxification pathways in the liver.  Deficiency of this important mineral is common, and can result in headaches, muscle cramps, insomnia, predisposition to stress, and loss of appetite.  Magnesium also plays a role in preventing heart disease and kidney stones. 

3. Green veggies get talked about a lot, in particular leafy green veggies.  But it’s not all about spinach and kale!  I’m sure it’s rather predictable that I want you to eat more green things this year, but do you know why?  Leafy green veggies are chock full of nutrients and are generally very alkalinizing for the body, but it’s the naturally occurring, fat-soluble chlorophyll that makes them so special.  Chlorophyll is the life-blood of a plant, and this green pigment is so similar in structure to the hemoglobin of our own blood that it would only take switching one molecule to make them interchangeable.  So cool.  Fat-soluble chlorophyll can help stimulate hemoglobin and red blood cell production, so even if you don’t like kale, then eat something else that’s green.  Swiss chard, spinach, broccoli, parsley, or whatever it is that you and your family like!  Look for ways to get as much green veg into you each day as possible.  One of my favourite things to do is add raw pea shoot greens to many of my meals.  

4. Eggs are an amazing source of high quality protein but are also relatively inexpensive.  Even by choosing free-run, organic eggs (which you should!) you’re still only going to pay $6 per dozen, which is only a few bucks short of what some people are willing to pay for a single coffee.  Eggs got a bad rap a while back and people with cholesterol problems were told to avoid eating them.  Since then, numerous studies have been published suggesting that eggs actually lower the risk of heart disease!  Boiling and poaching is the best way to keep the delicate fats in the yolks safe, but really, at the end of the day just eat them.  And please, eat the yolks too ok?  Almost all of the beneficial nutrients are found in the yolks.  

5. Flax seeds aren’t new on the health food scene, but I sometimes feel like they get lost in the shuffle with so many new and potent super foods that have become available in the last few years.   These little seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids and phytoestrogens known as lignans.  They’re also high in fibre, magnesium, potassium, and manganese, but it’s their omega-3 and lignan content that gets me really excited.  Lignans are fibre compounds that can bind to estrogen receptor sites, interfering with the cancer-promoting effects that estrogen can have on breast tissue.  In addition, lignans also increase production of a compound that helps regulate estrogen levels by helping remove excess estrogen from the body.  Omega-3 fatty acids can help decrease the likelihood of developing inflammatory and chronic diseases, as well as decrease the severity of their symptoms.  I could go on indefinitely about the benefits of omega-3 fats, I really could.  Your cells are made up of what you eat, so consider that your cell membranes are composed of the fats you eat.  Eat too few omega-3 fats and your cells simply won’t function or communicate properly.  Grind them fresh and store them in your freezer for up to 6 months.  Sprinkle them on cooked foods, cereals, oatmeal, salads, yoghurts, smoothies, or anywhere else you can think of.  Use the oil to make salad dressing, or drizzle on cooked food, just don’t actually cook with the oil.

All of these foods are readily available, and really, not terribly exotic either, but they are incredibly healthy and will make a great addition to your own list of foods to eat more of this year!

Did you know that eating more (or less!) of specific foods can have a dramatic and positive effect on certain physical and mental issues?  Every body is different, so if you’d like to know more about foods that could help you consider booking a private consultation!  

Eat to feel good!

arja pennanen lytle c.n.p. n.n.c.p certified nutritional practitioner

Arja is a Holistic Nutritionist with a passion for balanced living. She loves to help people sleep better, think better, feel sexier, and just generally feel better by putting the focus on eating foods that make you feel good. Arja uses whole foods, lifestyle adjustments, herbs, and some supplements to help people feel their best and achieve their health and wellness goals.