“I feel like I’m being pulled every which way but loose!”
– Zac Galifianakis, The Campaign
Let’s get one thing straight (or loose). You do not have to take extreme measures to improve your health. Making small adjustments in your every day life is an easier and more effective way to follow through with “I feel so fantastic” lifestyle changes. Personally, I’m a wee fearful that our culture has transitioned into a “the only way I will be healthy and fit is if I workout heaps or play a sport” way of thinking. Or “I have to go on the latest diet trend to feel and look the way I want to.” Bummer. There’s so much more to health, don’t you think?
You know what I’m going to say – balance is key. Speaking of balance…
Let’s look at your ENTIRE day. Does it matter what we do during work, school, meal times, shopping, down time, sleeping? Abso-awesomely-lutely, my friend! It all matters. Your body becomes what you do most often. It also seems to lose what it doesn’t use. So if you stop moving in a variety of ways, you’ll feel the consequences through injury, illness, inflammation, aches, and the “totally normal” wear and tear of getting older. Ps: wear and tear is totally not normal. At least not as normal as we may assume.
This also goes for food – it’s not just the food we eat that matters, it’s where it comes from and how it’s prepared that can greatly influence whether there are any nutrients and health benefits within the food (besides calories – meaning – energy to burn).
So why is this article dedicated to the KITCHEN? Because what you do EVERYDAY matters. This includes what you do in the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, outdoors, exercising, at school or work, and so on. Don’t worry, we’ll get to the others!
Let’s explore a few proactive approaches, shall we? Without further adieu, here are 5 wee and free lifestyle adjustments you can make in the kitchen:
This last year, residents of Costa Mesa received new compost bins from the city – one little pale for inside the kitchen and one big boy trash bin for outside. Well done, Costa Mesa! We use compostable bags inside our small pale, and once the baggy is full of kale stems, avocado and egg shells, and any other random compostable debris, we tie up the bag and plop it into the big boy bin for it’s weekly pick up.
Now where the heck do I put a small bin inside our already packed kitchen?? Ahhh, in a most “inconvenient” location of course! What first seemed to me as annoying, quickly turned into a “wooha! I can get heaps more natural squatting in during the day now!” That’s right folks, your body needs to move throughout the day in a variety of ways. Having everything at arms reach may be convenient, but it is NOT ideal for your body’s health.
Beware: HOW you move your body matters. When it comes to picking something off the ground (or throwing some radish stems in a small pale on the ground), it matters HOW you reach down to do this. We are working to get a video up on our YouTube channel to share tips on how to move through a seemingly simple (yet thoroughly overlooked) movement like squatting to the floor. Stay tuned…until then, I encourage you to hinge at your hips as you bend (and at your knees), as opposed to curling your spine and tucking your pelvis. Here is a helpful video teaching how to hip hinge, by our friends at Maximum Performance Chiropractic.
Let’s be honest, you (or somebody in the house) will probably eat something that dropped onto the countertop. I’m guilty, I do it all the time (I also drop a lot of stuff). Yet I feel okay doing this because I don’t use toxic cleaners on the counter’s surface. Heck, I’d also waste so much food if I didn’t eat it, ha! Funny not funny, who wants to knowingly put chemicals in their body that can disrupt hormone functions and such? Word.
Here is a list by EWG, grading kitchen and household cleaners according to their toxicity. This is a fantastic resource! They even have a guide to healthy household cleaning.
We’ve all heard the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Alas, we might have to make some adjustments to this wise adage. These days, the quality of your apple is dependent on the nutrients it receives during its growth, from soil to water to sprays. And if applicable, transportation from farm to grocery store. Let’s look at this from a different angle…
Imagine a pregnant woman who consumes only processed foods void of nutrients during her entire pregnancy. How does this influence the growth of the unborn baby? Hmm, good question. I have no clue. Yet it does bring to mind the notion that you are what you eat. A baby is made from what the mother (and to some extent, the father) provide. The genetic makeup is already there, but the energy and nutrients required to “grow” a baby comes from food and liquid that the mother consumes.
Going back to an apple, maybe these days our food isn’t as nutrient dense as it once was. Is the soil as rich and fertile as it has been in the past? Are there pesticides sprayed on the skin of the apple? Has our apple been genetically modified to not even brown when bruised? Perhaps we have to take a closer look at how our food is raised. I’m afraid I don’t have the answers to the questions above. But I do encourage you to start asking them yourself. Let’s be curious about where our food comes from.
A good start is knowing what produce gets really dirty with pesticides and which ones aren’t as grimy. Going organic is a good step towards increasing nutrients in your food and decreasing unwanted toxins.
Little did I know that an oil will change its chemical structure when it reaches a specific heat. Ya, crazy balls. So all that time when I was cooking with extra virgin olive oil, I wasn’t even absorbing its nutrient dense goodness. Instead, I was consuming nutrient poor poop. Okay, maybe not poop. But you get the picture…it wasn’t as good as I thought it was.
When used for cooking, oils change / breakdown when they reach their “smoke point”. Yet it also appears that some oils, like olive oil can lose some benefits even when being heated at all. This is why some oils are better for higher temperature cooking vs. low temperature cooking. Here are a few things on cooking oils I’ve absorbed so far…
- Coconut oil is great for mid-temperature cooking.
- Avocado oil can withstand high heat, so this works well for high-temp.
- Here’s a helpful article on busting up myths on cooking with oils by Jonny Bowden, which I originally found in the December issue of Better Nutrition, shared by Mother’s Market to its shoppers (love the wee magazines they give out!).
- If you’re still curious, here is a reference list of “smoke points” for cooking various oils.
Busta Rhymes was clearly talking about the benefits of eating more raw foods, right?
In our kitchen, we’ve opted to let go of the idea that you have to “cook” each meal. What about making a ginormously awesome salad? How about blending up some beans for fresh hummus to dip with sliced cucumbers and carrots? How about pairing cooked quinoa with fresh parsley, onion, tomatoes and avocado?
If you’re freakin’ out with the idea of anything raw, don’t fret. Check out the following link to get a good intro 101 on why this might be a healthy option to expand upon, by Thrive Forward.
I feel like certain cooked foods is also a seasonal experience. Local, in-season produce like squash, sweet potatoes are simply better to consume when cooked. Even broccoli. Yet depending on where you live, you can still get heaps of local produce that are most beneficial in its natural and raw form (and still easy to digest).
Bonus: did you see our wee (and free) Recipe eGuide available to download? Look for the pop up window or sign up for our Proactive Global Goods to access nutritious (and mostly raw) recipes. Yay!