Food seems to have some special power over us, doesn’t it? I, like so many of you, grew up in an environment where food played a central role. Along with my family, I used food to celebrate special and not-so-special occasions. In my case, as a nutritionist, I work with food and counsel women about nutrition at many levels. Food was—and is—an integral part of my life.
So imagine my surprise and, yes, even anger, to discover that some foods were hurting me. My health was suffering from eating a variety of common foods that had long been a part of my tradition and dinner table.
Realizing that food—a trusted friend--could be harmful was a hard thing to swallow!
At the same time, suddenly I could relate completely with the many women who write to me, asking:
Why am I always so tired even when I get 8 hours of sleep?
Why am I always bloated or experiencing digestive problems?
I try to eat healthy, yet I keep getting constipation. What am I doing wrong?
Why can’t I lose weight even though I watch what I eat?
I realized they are asking questions about many of the same symptoms, some which I am going through:
Pain anywhere in the body
Depression and anxiety
But the fabulous part of this hard lesson was that when I removed certain common foods from my diet, I felt better. My digestion improved and I felt immediate relief from most of my symptoms. And I realized I could help other women who have the same health challenges.
So here’s the list of 5 food items. Five doesn’t sound like a lot, but believe me, a few of these foods are found in literally thousands of items on supermarket shelves. If you want to take this challenge with me, be prepared to read ingredient labels on all of the food purchases you make.
Actually, reading food labels is a really good practice to adopt, because you deserve to know what you are putting into your body. Your body is a divine temple that needs the best support you can provide. So are you ready for the five foods?
Let me be clear from the start: I’m not saying you need to stop eating these foods forever, or that these are necessarily bad foods. I’m just going to tell you what I discovered about how my body responded to their removal and how I felt overall once I stopped eating certain items and ingredients.
Here it is: I discovered that these five foods were harming my body and manifesting as many of the symptoms I named. How? Generally, these foods can cause systemic inflammation, which means they create a low-grade inflammation because your body is highly sensitive to them. This is a food intolerance. This is not the same as a true allergy to foods such as peanuts or shellfish, which causes your throat to close and hives to erupt all over your body. These allergic reactions can kill you within minutes.
Eating foods to which you are intolerant is like exposing your body to small, repeated attacks or insults to your intestinal tract, which in turn, over time, allow food particles to enter your blood stream and hurt immune system. Those repeated assaults can show up as problems such as brain fog, depression, headache, acid reflux, arthritis, diabetes, hormonal imbalances, and even weight gain—all caused by this low-grade inflammation.
When I answered “yes” to nearly all of the symptoms of inflammation, needless to say, I was not happy! Yet at the same time, I was finding it virtually impossible to get through the day—take care of my family, staying connected with my friends, attend to my business, run errands, prepare meals, and so on, because these foods were having a negative impact on my health.
I knew I had to do something, and that something meant changing my eating habits.
We cannot live without food, yet the quality of that food needs to be compatible with our individual needs and body chemistry.
I felt that my food choices were contributing to my challenging health issues, so I chose to remove those often associated with inflammation. At some point I may reintroduce some of them, but for now they are off limits. However, there are some great tasty and healthy alternatives for each of them. For example:
Caffeine. Goodbye coffee, hello herbal teas! The availability of delicious herbal teas is so great, it could take you months to try a new one every day. One exception to the totally caffeine-free approach is matcha green tea powder, which is super rich in antioxidants but very low in caffeine. It is an example of where the benefits outweigh the negatives, although this may not be true for everyone. It is for me.
Corn. Since I grew up eating corn “arepas” as they call it back home on a regular basis, bidding farewell to this food was a big adjustment. However, realizing how it was affecting my body softened the blow! It’s important to look for corn in many foods as well, in the form of corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn oil, corn meal, corn starch, maize, popcorn, hominy, margarine, corn chips, breakfast cereals, and corn tortillas.
Because gluten (associated with wheat and some other grains) also is a food ingredient to remove to avoid inflammation, I found I needed to create a list of alternatives that cover both corn and gluten. Fortunately, here are some of my favorite alternatives: coconut flour, almond flour, millet and chia flour. A growing number of products containing these ingredients are being introduced to the market, but you also can create your own meals using these ingredients.
Personally, I find making my own gluten, dairy and sugar free foods from scratch to be very rewarding for myself and my family because I know we’re getting the good and tasty stuff! If you want to try making your own breads and similar foods delicious healthy treats, check out this super fun course from my dear friend Katia : https://bit.ly/2OLbTZT
Dairy: I removed anything that comes from a cow—milk, cheese, ice cream, and yogurt! Within days I experienced some improvement. Some super alternatives to animal dairy foods are plant-based products made from pea protein, cashews, coconut milk, almonds, macadamia nuts, hemp, and oats. Along with plant-based beverages, you can find yogurts, cheeses, and other traditional dairy foods made from plants. Keep reading as I will post my favorite easy to make milk at the end of this post!
Gluten. Sensitivity to gluten is not uncommon, and for some people exposure to this protein can cause significant harm. Alternatives can be found under the title Corn.
Soy: You may be totally surprised by the number of foods that contain some form of soy. In addition to the foods that are obviously made of soy (e.g., tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy sauce), you will find the word “soy” associated with bran, concentrate, flour, grits, lecithin, nuts, powder, protein, protein concentrate, protein, isolate, and more. Other soy-containing foods and ingredients include kinnoko flour, kyodofu, tamari, teriyaki sauce, and texturized vegetable protein.
Removing these 5 foods from my daily menus helped improve my energy levels, reduced bloating, improved digestion, and lightened my mood. I have more confidence in my abilities to get through the day, and I feel like I have regained some control over my health.
Will you experience the same results? I can only speak for myself. Some tweaking of the suggested remedies may work well for some and not for others. Remember, we are all unique individual spirits with our own needs, so feel free to experiment!
At the same time, it’s important for me to mention that I am also making some other lifestyle adjustments, including intermittent fasting. Starting my day with lemon water, establishing regular sleep habits, and practicing meditation, among other rituals. Regaining control of my health does not rest with one action or activity alone; it requires a village, a holistic approach. I am exploring these and other topics in my upcoming blogs, so stay tuned!
I encourage you to try this cashew beverage recipe, which is easy to make, nutritious, delicious, and wonderful in smoothies!
Cashew Beverage Recipe
1 cup of raw cashews
4 cups of filtered water
1 tsp vanilla extract if desired
1 ½ teaspoon of extra virgin coconut oil
2 teaspoons of maple syrup
Soak the cashews overnight (12 hours or longer), drain, and rinse. Place the cashews in a blender with the water and pulse until smooth. You can add vanilla if desired and pulse for about 15 seconds. Pour into an airtight container and refrigerate. It will keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.
Thank you so much for spending a few moments with me! If you have enjoyed this blog, please share it with someone who can benefit from its message. Sign up on the Divine Renewal Facebook page and Instagram to continue participating in this community of divinely feminine women and all the inspirational tips, dreams, wisdom, goals, and blessings we have to give each other. I embrace all of you into my life!
Wishing you much love and wellbeing,