Food as Medicine
By Christine M. Okezie, CHHC, Natural Foods Chef
In my work, I meet people all the time who tell me that they wake up every morning feeling like they can’t go on or have multiple chronic complaints that have totally compromised their capacity to enjoy life. In fact, it has been my observation that most people are walking around just accepting feeling mediocre – feeling fatigued, depressed, living with digestive problems, being overweight, suffering from headaches, joint pain – and while their ailments may not even be a disease (yet), they’ve robbed them of the possibility of feeling great. Unfortunately, many of those struggling have not connected their condition to their everyday habits. Over use and over dependence on medications, quick fixes or fad diets have undermined their right to be in charge of their health. Sadly, many individual’s turn to a pill at the expense of proactive involvement in their own health.
I have to wonder, have we as a species lost the ability to heal ourselves, to care for ourselves, to prevent disease and illness in our bodies? How did we lose the value of listening to our bodies and responding to its needs instead of ignoring or repressing them?
As a Holistic Health Coach, my approach is that our Food and that includes all things that nourish us – body and soul – is the best Medicine.
The scientific research supporting the interplay of digestive health, inflammation and stress on illness is substantial, yet so many health care providers are lacking in recommendations in this area.
In my practice, I support my clients to upgrade their food by cutting out the industrial processed junk food, sugar, flour, chemicals and trans fats that are inflaming their guts, wreaking havoc on their brain chemistry and fueling the total body inflammation that is at the root of their pain, fatigue and weight gain. I guide them towards the anti-inflammatory, detoxifying whole foods that their bodies are literally starving for. Because food is simply what our bodies were designed for it has the power to restore our balance in profound ways.
Most of my clients tell me they didn’t know they were feeling so bad until they started feeling so good. They are amazed how making some simple step-by step changes to their food and lifestyle can work faster and better than many medications to resolve most of their chronic ailments. For the first time, they start to feel empowered in their healthcare – which they learn very quickly is really all about Self-Care.
I say often that Food is the highest form of Self-Care. You Change Your Food
You Change Your Life.
Here are my Top 10 Tips for Reducing Inflammation and Starting You on the Path to Feeling Amazing:
- Cut out the processed junk food and eat real foods that resemble their original animal or plant origin. If it has 5 or more ingredients, most of which are not food ingredients – it’s simply not Food.
- Substantially, reduce and/or eliminate refined sugar including high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.
- Try an elimination diet and cut out dairy and gluten (protein found in wheat) for a minimum of 4 weeks.
- Eliminate vegetable oils and artificial butter spreads and upgrade to olive oil and coconut oil.
- Add Omega 3 Fats to your food by adding 1-2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds, or Chia Seeds to your food.
- Eat more dark leafy green vegetables every day.
- Get between 6-8 hours of sleep a night.
- Try exercise – 20 minutes of walking daily is a great start.
- Take a Probiotic supplement daily – 50 billion CFUs of lactobacillus and bifidobacteria.
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily.
Quinoa & Peas in Coconut Oil
Yield: Approx. 2 cups
1 cup quinoa
1 1/4 cups boiling water
3 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil, divided
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 16 oz. bags of frozen peas, defrosted
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
Sea salt & Pepper
- In a fine mesh strainer, rinse quinoa under cold running water until water is clear.
- Transfer quinoa to large saucepan and toast over medium heat until water is evaporated and you smell a nutty aroma.
- Add boiling water and salt. Bring back to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand with the cover for 5 minutes.
- In a large skillet, over medium heat, 1 tablespoon coconut oil and cook shallot until light brown, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add remaining coconut oil and peas.
- Sauté for 1-2 minutes until peas are well coated.
- Add cooked quinoa, lemon juice and mix well.
- Top with parsley.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.