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Food For Thought

*We're upcycling an old blog post I had originally made circa February 2020, but it's worth touching on and updating once more!

Our food chain is a literal hot mess. We're slowly being forced to take matters into our own hands by becoming (or continuing to be) more vigilant and efficient in our homes & kitchens - here's some tips to survive in this economy while educating yourself on what's in your food.


Before we get started, here's a link to a podcast where I spoke about some of the nuances when it comes to our food supply...what is deemed acceptable for food standards. Hit the button below to listen to a short 16 min thought on that:


 

Food for thought: Groceries are climbing with inflation and, I personally, am finding access to low quality levels of fresh produce in our regular commercial grocery chains compared to the healthy looking, local produce we once did. I prefer shopping our local grocers and farmer's markets as much as possible.


Cutting out as much of the large corporations and middle men as I can. I like to know where my food comes from - farm to table style. Making as much at home as I can, but that's not always doable time-wise or feasible.


Growing a garden has and always been a way to combat some of that inflation (time immemorial it almost seems), but I'm getting too ahead of myself.


Reversing slightly, let's touch on what is ready and accessible to the average person purchasing groceries. Highly processed foods. YEAR ROUND availability & SHELF STABLE. They don't make our food like they used to; biodegradable.


While the convenience of these products has become a necessity for a lot of people due to time constraints or feasibility they just don't cut it for our bodies nutritionally.



Food for thought: Food should rot. Food should not be brightly, circus coloured or neon. The fact that some of the food we consume has gone to market for purchase by the public astounds me. Eating some of these products can easily disrupt our hormones, cognitive function, mood and digestion.


Not all foods are created equal and highly processed foods are high in energy and low in nutrients. With added sugars, salt, industrial produced fats, colours & preservatives...they make it hard for us to know when we’re physically hungry or full - making it very easy to overeat and still want more! It’s, sadly, how they’re designed. While processed foods are indeed convenient and more bioavailable to a degree; raw and whole foods are more nutrient dense.


'If there is a food in your home or possession either you, someone you love, or someone you marginally tolerate will eventually eat it.'- Dr. John Berardi.


This same principle goes for HEALTHY FOODS.

 

An exercise:


First, let’s tackle the subject of GOOD & EVIL. There are truly no good or bad foods – just the relationship we create with them. So I would invite you to reflect on what you deem good and bad.


Take a few moments…


I will wait…


Jot them down if you need and revisit the stories you might tell yourself regarding certain relationships with food.

 

Now that you have done so, what is it that you know to be truly good or bad about that food?


Is it something that has been generalized in society?


Or is it something that you factually understand to be true?


This is important to decipher between the two because a lot - and I mean A LOT - of foods have been demonized over the years. Carbs for one, tallow/lard/butter, and sugar for another, but I’ll get to that at a later date.


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What truly matters at the end of day is: energy balance.


Too much energy going in and not enough energy expended means we’ll usually end up gaining weight. Less energy going in than being used usually results in weight loss.


The goal is to have a deficit in energy consumed in order to lose weight, but not so much that you’re restricting and your body doesn’t have enough to support its regular functions.


The tricky part is everyone absorbs and digests differently. Hormone levels and stressors can affect how you utilize energy. And our environments and genetics all play a factor.


So the biggest take away here is: the amount of energy expended > the amount of energy consumed = weight loss. And if you’re trying to put on mass the exact opposite is true.


It’s not about cutting out everything completely, but keeping things in moderation! In clear terms: that we do not develop disordered eating habits and binge on everything in sight...IE Cookie Monster and his love, scratch that, uncontrolled obsession with cookies.


Now let's get into what our food actually consists of: macronutrients & micronutrients. We'll go over macros today.

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Carbohydrates: Let’s start with the most demonized of all the macronutrients as of late.


What are they? Well we can immediately look at the word and see that it contains hydrate. So, we can deduce that carbs hydrate!


Think about it this way, if you’ve ever been on a low-carb diet you probably noticed how you ‘leaned’ out – it was because you actually lost a few pounds of water.


But when re-introducing carbs you may have gone right back to how you were before. It was because you weren’t overly retaining as many fluids and then you suddenly were – try and notice this on days you may have more carbs than usual or on days when you have less.


Moreover, our brain needs carbohydrates to function. They are our main source of energy and there’s a huge difference in the types we ingest.


Complex carbohydrates are whole-foods like vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes. They also tend to keep us feeling satiated for longer - providing us with fibre, water, and nutrients – releasing energy gradually.


Simple carbohydrates are your highly processed and easily digestible carbohydrates – they usually leave us unsatisfied and wanting more. Because they are so processed, they have usually been left with next to nothing for nutrients and are re-fortified with vitamins, fats, and preservatives. These guys can cause our blood sugar levels to spike because they are so easily digested.


General guideline here: Try to get mostly complex carbohydrates from whole foods!


Some examples: brown rice, potatoes, squash, peas, beans, bananas, berries, apples, etc.


When we are being active, we need and use carbs most effectively. It’s important to ingest these before workouts so you have the stamina to get through it. Ingest post-workout too, so you can replenish stores you used up during your workout.

 

Fats:

They help keep us satiated AND they are best consumed in the morning for metabolic function (your brain loves fats too). But I am going to break down its specific roles…


  •  It gives us energy – it’s the most energy dense of the macros

  •  It helps us maintain and produce our hormones

  •  It helps form cell membranes, our brain, and our nervous system

  •  It transports the fat soluble vitamins

  •  It provides us with two fatty-acids we cannot make on our own – the omegas: 3 & 6


To also briefly touch on Omegas – we need both 3s & 6s.


3s are considered anti-inflammatory while 6s are actually pro-inflammatory. 


If these become unbalanced we could potentially be too inflamed throughout our body and healing from injuries or recovering from training may be more difficult.


The same thing applies here as it did to complex carbs – try to get your fats from whole & less processed foods like:


  • Nuts and seeds

  • Avocados

  • Dairy

  • Eggs

  • Fatty fish

  • Beef, pork, lamb, poultry

  • Wild game

  • Olives and EVOO

**it’s important to note here that nuts and seeds are more of a fat than a protein.

 

Proteins:

Help repair and rebuild your muscles/tissue, hormones, and immune system.


Our needs for protein can increase any time we train intensely, work a heavy labour job, or we are injured or get sick (surgery & bone breaks apply here). We can lose out on nutrients due to stress or poor digestion and that fits in here as well.


When we are trying to lose weight we also need more protein – it also helps to keep us fuller for longer.


Approach this the same as you would with your other macros; eating whole and less-processed options.


Struggling to get enough protein in your diet?


Start will smaller portions of protein throughout the day: hard boiled eggs, jerky, etc. But you can also approach supplementation with a protein powder and/or a mix of other amino acids.


Most foods contain some amount of protein [ie] broccoli, peanut butter, potatoes, and quinoa, but not enough to provide your daily intake in small quantities. A lot these raw foods contain some proteins, but unless combined with a rice and/or bean the protein is incomplete.


A complete protein is one that contains all 9 essential amino acids...something our bodies cannot produce alone. An incomplete may have some of those 9 amino acids, but not all. Generally animal proteins are considered complete while plant proteins are incomplete; thus the need to combine to make a complete.


Your average go-to's for protein could look like:


  • Beef, pork, and wild game

  • Poultry: chicken/turkey & eggs

  • Fish & seafood

  • Eggs

  • Dairy: Yogurt, cottage cheese

  • Protein powders: Whey, Vegan blends

  • Beans, legumes, quinoa

  • Tofu

 

Food for thought: Try 1 new food, flavour, or recipe every week. Find some variety and if you can't find it, MAKE IT. Get yourself comfortable making food in the kitchen. Take a field trip to the grocery store - stick to the outside aisles (typically the fresh produce and meat or frozen veggies). Go to your local farmers market - ask them for ideas on how to prepare their foods and products. It doesn’t have to be difficult, but it’ll give you an 💡 to start!


Read your ingredients lists as you tour the grocery store. Rule of thumb - if it has more than 5-10 ingredients it may be something you want to steer clear from.


Too many long and scientific sounding ingredients? Might want to do some research and figure out what they really mean.


Diet drinks with aspartame and the like haven't been studied long-term - we're just starting to see some longer-term effects of aspartame now like: degenerative disease, ADHD, and cancer. You're better off with the REAL sugar or plant derived sweeteners over the manmade sweeteners.


Do not get me started on all the artificial colours and flavours marketed to children that are essentially neurotoxins, friends.





At the end of the day pre-washed and ready to eat vegetables will be a better alternative to a canned vegetable; with most of its nutrients already leached into the packing liquid.


Butter or tallow over one-ingredient-away-from-plastic: margarine.


Olive & coconut oil over inflammatory seed oils.


A real, raw fruit with all of its sugars will be better than a juice box, fruit snack, or candy.


A pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store is always going to trump a frozen bag of chicken nuggets if you're short on time. Heck, half the pre-made nuggies and burgers sold out there have soy protein in their ingredients lists for $$$.


Grab your slow cooker and make a whole dinner overnight or even cook some grains or beans. Meal prep & freeze soups, stews, meats, etc. Not only is this more time effective for those of you constantly on the go, but you'll have an entire meal ready to go while you were out running the rest of those errands all day!


Go a step further, get yourself a few flower pots and/or planter boxes. Find your local greenhouse and purchase a few fruit-bearing plants & vegetable seeds. If you're in the Alberta Parkland/Edmonton area look for seeds that are good to be grown in zone 4a.


While most local greenhouses will only stock seeds specific to your growing area, it's always good information to know! Direct sow those babies and/or start them indoors and get growing your own food sources. $5o in seeds can turn into hundreds of dollars of fresh homegrown produce.


Possibilities are endless for your own homemade pasta sauces, jams, summer salads, fruits & more! Progress to canning and freezing your own foods.

 

Gardening:

Unless you've had a hand in planting a garden and caring for it, gardening can seem like a daunting task at first.


Breathe. Inhale. Exhale. It's not too bad if you're willing to trade some free time for an abundance of fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables! I promise, it's worth it. Your taste buds and your wallet will thank you.


You do not need a large garden. In fact you don't even need a backyard; just some access to dirt, pots, seeds, and some patience.


Starting seeds indoors is a must for those of us living in winter cities. I start my seeds indoors as early as February some years; allowing them to get a start on their size before heading outdoors in May after the last frost. This usually works out to be shortly after Mother's Day.


Plants I start indoors are:

  • Peppers

  • Tomatoes

  • Squash & pumpkin

  • Cantaloupe & melons

  • Cucumber

  • Herbs & flowers


For zone 4 growing, acquaint yourself with cold hardy plants too, such as:

  • Carrots

  • Potatoes

  • Spinach & Kale

  • Leeks

  • Swiss Chard

  • Lettuce

  • Cabbage

  • Beets

  • Turnips

  • Broccoli


You can also grow corn. I recommend attempting to plant your corn in a three sisters method: corn, squash, and beans.


"The plants support each other in unique ways. The corn stalks provide support to the beans, and the plants exchange nitrogen with the soil to facilitate growth. The squash, planted between the beans and corn, and their leaves, cover and protect the soil, to stop weeds from propagating. It is reported that the Three Sisters thrive better together than if each of the corn, beans, and squash were planted on their own. Together, they also deter pests." - THE THREE SISTERS AS INDIGENOUS SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL PRACTICE

Even if you missed your indoor growing season, a lot of seeds are direct sow to garden. Purchase some already started vegetable & fruit plants from the local greenhouse and cut out having to grow some plants from seed. Do what works best for you!

 

Give it a go - get uncomfortable - try something new.


The worst that happens is it doesn't work out the first time. So you try again! Grow you own food, you won't be disappointed.


Alternatively or in addition to gardening, support your local butcher and/or farmer. Source meat, tallow, butter, eggs, and milk locally. Find your local Farmer's Market - fresh produce, meat, local honey, eggs, bread, etc. Buy or make your own bread and exchange some time for money.


Purchase Natural Health Products from your local health food store. Keep yourself and your family healthy without the extra toxins the corporate made products sneak in.


If you get adventurous enough, start making your own products from home like: bar soap, laundry soap, deodorant, toothpaste, lotion, lip balm, and sun screen. I may share some of my recipes here in the future.


If you don't quite get to that level of adventurous, you will be able to purchase my handmade Natural Products online in the future here


You have options - choose wisely. Not only for your budget, but your health.


Say no to fluoride. Say no to aluminum. Say no to heavy metals & toxins.


The power is in your hands.


As nature intended. A'ho.




In support of your success,


waterfalldancer

Man thinking of food
Food for Thought

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