Fresh and Green

by Anna

Why is it, I wonder, that good, wholesome and nutritious food is refered to as healthy? And why am I being put to stringent enquiries by colleagues every time I have my lunch? Is it really that much out of the ordinary?

Looking into my lunch box I see a mix of red and yellow pulses, red and green lettuce leaves, vibrant red peppers, green courgette, orange sweet potato and some white mozzarella pieces roughly torn scattered somewhere in between. On my tongue lingers the satisfying aftertaste of garlic, mustard, lemon and herbs which I had thrown together to create a dressing.

Well, yes, I sigh. I can understand why the “common people” see this as healthy. But to me it is simply just a quick and easy nutritious meal that will keep me going over the day by providing me with a balanced mix of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and not to forget the immune enhancing properties of garlic (really difficult to forget after consumption ;)).

I suppose what gets me most is the fact that food which is “normal and good” is said to be healthy, whereas any food should be normal and good in the first place. Where did the “bad food” come from? And why are people eating it if they quite obviously know and see the difference?

Ok, I am aware of the unfortunate rift between prices of raw vegetables and ready-made meals. My shopping bill literally doubled when I began to eat more consciously. Sadly you can get two ready-made meals for the price of a bag of peppers. How much can you do with a bag of peppers? It is obvious that a full meal looks much more appealing. Just that it isn’t really a full meal. It has been highly processed and overheated and contains artificial additives as well as salt and strangely enough even sugar and milk to enhance the flavour that has gone lost in the process.

Now, I raised the issue with milk and sugar in a previous post. Please feel free to read up on it. I feel strongly about it! In short: neither do us any favour. Sugar is highly addictive and has a negative impact on our health and in regards to milk: we don’t have the digestive enzyme to break milk down which leads to allergies and again, affects our health.

So maybe you can see why ready-made meals are not such a good idea. Usually, the more ingredients there are listed on the package, the less nutrients are in the package and the higher the likelihood that it will irritate our system somehow somewhere. The nice thing is that you probably won’t even know that you are affected. The symptoms are subtle and can be little irritants like a mildly blocked nose, tiredness, lack of concentration and the good old aches and pains.

All these can be released if we eat good, proper, wholesome food. It is good to have identified the difference between good and bad food, but merely pointing at nutritious food and saying: “Oh that is healthy” is like thinking: “I should really wash my feet, they stink!”, but not do it anyway. Start making small changes to your own food. Add a few leaves of rocket or spinach to a meal. It doesn’t only look much nicer, but also supplies our body with essential minerals and vitamins, as do any green vegetables. Of course, it is just as important to cook with all colours of the rainbow, but whatever colours you use, just don’t forget the green. A small salad as a starter gets all your digestive enzymes going and also makes you feel fuller quicker. Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach has had enough?

Our early ancestors ate mainly green leaves, picking and eating as they went along. A bit like horses, I suppose. But it makes sense to me to eat as much greens as possible. And the offers are endless. I actually only just this very summer discovered my love for asparagus. Namely the green version. The white one I have been detesting ever since I was a child. I was really pleased that I got over my apathy and at least gave the green ones a chance. What a revelation! 🙂

To make a change, any change, in our life, we need to stick with a decision for at least 21 days in order to break existing habits. So, add as many coloured freshly prepared vegetables to your daily meals as you can. They don’t have to be raw, but the less they have been cooked, the more nutrients they retain.

Small changes, one step after another. Once your body has got the message of what you want it will adapt. Resist sugar cravings and try to substitute with natural, low GI, sweeteners. There are by far too many different approaches to food and diets out to even consider counting them. And everyone is different and has their very own likes and dislikes. In the end I say I will eat what my body wants because to me, a hunger, not a craving, indicates that this particular type of food contains some nutrients which my body is in need of. The reason why I say “hunger, not craving” is that our body gets used to certain food and will want more of it. Just like with excessive alcohol consumption, sugar will do the same. So if you crave sugar, have a date instead! The sweet taste and soft texture of medjool dates for example are my perfect sugar craving substitute. Try them with peanut butter. Seriously! 🙂

You have done the first step to identify healthy food, now get going and make it yourself! The simpler, the better.