Sunday, August 8, 2010

I'M BACK! Mind Blowing Nutrition Info!

Blogworld, I'm back!!
I'm sorry to have been gone so long but I'm back now with lots of exciting updates. I missed blogging and I haven't stopped taking pictures of my food; I haven't forgotten about you! I've been home from Israel for about two weeks now and I've been readjusting to my usual swing of things, starting my first week of summer school back in Santa Barbara, and living in my new apartment! I have so much information that I want to share with you but it's impossible to try to do it all at once. Hopefully things will come up organically as I begin to post regularly again and I will also try to put up highlights from my trip every week.

Before I get to my first Breakfast post since being back, (woohoo!) I want to share one valuable set of lessons that I learned while in Israel that has changed some of my eating habits. While I was in Tzfat with a group of friends for a Shabbat weekend, I stayed in a hostel called Ascent which hosts themed Shabbat retreats for guests of all ages and backgrounds. With no pre-planning we happened to be there during a Shabbat themed around nutrition for the body and soul. Obviously I was very interested in what exactly this was going to be and so we all attended the series of lectures over the course of the weekend.

Suffice to say, I was soaking everything up like a sponge and buzzing with validation as the Dr. began spelling out nutritional information that was not only very similar to what I had been doing before but was connected to the teachings of the Torah. One of the key things I learned that I have really made an effort to change is the concept of timing out and ordering the various foods as I eat them.

What I mean by this is that there is a different approach to diet than what most people take. (And by diet I don't mean a structured, goal-oriented eating regimen but rather the foods that compose one's sustenance.) Rather than focusing on the properties and attributes of the foods that are eaten, the main concern is instead the function of those foods within the body and the mechanism of the digestive process. It seems like such a subtle difference and yet, it makes so much more sense, I can't believe it isn't the standard! Surely most 'diets' or lifestyle plans are designed after this principle but I've never seen it spelled out directly in this way and I think having the knowledge behind the plan makes it easier to carry out and stick with.

So what are these guiding principles and how do they apply? I am in no way an authority on this nor am I deserving in any credit for the originality of the information. I will relate what I learned and give you my word that the facts are, as far as I know, accurate. But don't just take my word for it! Alright, here it goes.

1. The Stomach-- Listening To Your Gut
Imagine an empty ballon. It's pretty small in size but has the ability to stretch to an impressive volume, hopefully while avoiding popping. Now imagine filling that balloon with grains of rice until the ballon is 3/4 full and tying it off. If you were to mush that balloon around in your hand you could theoretically come into contact with every grain of rice through the rubber. Now imagine that instead of 3/4 full you filled that sucker till it was jam packed and tied it off. If you were to mush that balloon around in your hand it would be stiff and some grains of rice may be trapped in the middle, never coming into contact with the walls of the balloon.

This balloon is your stomach. It stretches and it mushes just like the balloon, but the kicker is that the lining of the stomach secrets acids which saturate and digest stomach contents while nutrients are absorbed through the stomach walls. If your stomach is 3/4 full it will have the ability to be the super efficient digestive organ that it is and properly digest food and absorb nutrients. Conversely, when the stomach is filled to the brim, proper digestion and absorption are compromised--at your expense!

How to avoid this:
  • Only eat until you are 3/4 full. Stop eating while there is still desire.
  • Allow your body time between meals to digest so that you take each meal with a blank slate, empty stomach-- ready for action!
  • Do not drink water while eating-- this dilutes the acid in your stomach and prevents foods from being fully digested. Drink before meals and wait at least an hour after to start drinking water again.
  • Remember: it is better to have a little bit of 'bad' or unhealthy food than it is to over eat even with 'good' or healthy food.
  • Only eat when hungry. Never eat when sad or angry. "The conditions favorable to proper digestion are wholly abolished when unpleasant feelings such as vexation and worry and anxiety, or great emotions such as anger and fear, are allowed to prevail" (Walter Bradford Cannon, Bodily Changes in Pain, Hunger, Fear, and Rage, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1915, Chapter 1 "The Effect of The Emotions on Digestion",Click here to access on Goggle Books, 9). And on the flip side, digestion is better when you're happy!
2. Fruit-- Everything You Thought You Knew Is Wrong!
Well, not everything, don't worry. But I was shocked to learn that the way I was thinking about fruit was counterintuitive to its properties and functioning, and how it should be best utilized. Fruit is amazing. It is was one of the most perfect foods in existence for a few reasons: it is easily digestible, all are chocked full of various 'life-extending' nutrients, they are high fiber and high water content, and everyone can agree they taste amazing! The problem with fruit is that most people assume that because fruits are "healthy" foods, it's a good idea to substitute them for desserts and to eat them at the end of a meal. Don't get me wrong, it is way better to have a bowl of fruit salad than a bowl of ice cream after a meal but is not the way to get the most out of your fruit.

Like I mentioned before, fruit is very easily digested. Most will only take 30-45 minutes to digest, absorb, and leave the stomach. According the the Puristat--Digestive Wellness Center website, proteins take 3 or more hours to digest, fats depend on the amount but can take up to 3 hours or more to digest, starches take 2 hours or more to digest, and vegetables take about 45 minutes to digest. The best way to eat a piece of fruit is alone, without anything else, and on an empty stomach followed by refraining from eating for at least 30 minutes to allow full digestion. The best time to eat fruit is 30 minutes before each meal. Think about this: when you eat something that takes 3 hours to digest, like meat, and then have a piece of fruit, that fruit is just sitting on top of the protein waiting to be digested. If too much time goes by the fruit will rot in the body before getting digested and nutrients will not be properly absorbed, but you will still get the calories! All for nuthin'!

Just remember this simple guideline:
  • What goes out first should go in first. Fruit is digested the quickest followed by vegetables, starches, and then proteins. If you follow this rule correctly, within days you will begin to notice more regularity and frequency of bowel movements due to the high fiber and proper digestion. And that's a good thing!
I think this is enough for now to get your wheels turning about how you eat, when you eat, and what your body actually has to say about it. Again, I am no expert on this and I am still working on getting it right myself when I eat, but perfect practice makes perfect. One last thing I will say about my experience at this seminar was that after the first lecture I approached the doctor and asked, "As a vegan what would you suggest as a healthy protein source?" After explaining that we don't need as much protein as we think we do and that beans, sprouts, legumes, nuts, and limited processed soy products are good sources, he told me that he is a vegan too! He is vegan during the week and enjoys a small piece of meat and fish on Shabbat. I was glowing! I felt so affirmed that after going vegan based on my personal belief that it is the best way to give my body what it needs, here I was, being told by the expert himself that he has the same diet! Talk about validation. Also, his exact words were "Milk is not good for any body at any time." Golden! Please feel free to ask questions about these concepts and if I don't have the answers I will do my best to find a credible source and seek them out.

Now, On to the present! I've spent so much time writing about my new nutrition info that I have to fly through this so I make it to work on time! Following with my fruit first rule, I had a grape fruit after drinking some water upon waking.
30 minutes later I enjoyed a bowel of golden flax cereal with almond milk and a cup of Starbucks VIA with stevia and almond milk. I haven't been going crazy with the coffee lately (thankfully) but it was one of those nights and hence, one of those mornings!

After working hard on organizing my new kitchen I took a lunch break which started with this beautiful bowl of cherries.
Next I had a small bowl of red leaf lettuce with a homemade oil and vinegar dressing.

I waited 30 minutes before having this toasty almond butter and boysenberry jam sandwich.
Now I have to rush to get ready for my first shift back at the Music Library since I've been home! Don't wanna miss it. It's so good to be back guys, I just want you to know. There's a lot of good stuff in store and I hope you'll be nice if I'm not super consistent at first. I'm still getting grounded in my routine here.

love love love!


fehlease said...

Milk is not good for any body at any time? Dietitians encourage breast feeding, so I find that hard to believe. I also question why God made us the way he did if that's an unhealthy way of feeding a baby. If you just said cow's milk is bad for humans I might understand, but when you just mention milk without specifying... what does it mean? All milk? Any milk? Does it matter where it comes from or how it's processed? Should I be leery of all dairy products? So many questions!

Claire said...

You are so right! I am sorry for the lack of specification and I will change it immediately. What I meant was chiefly cows milk but should include the milk of all animals. I also personally believe in breast feeding especially given that breast milk is manufactured by a mother's body specifically to nourish her baby.
Humans are the only creatures on the planet that continue to drink milk long after we have reached maturation. Cows are docile enough, their milk is versatile in use, easily commercialized, and tastes good. We've been told for decades that drinking cows milk is good for the body when really, I can't believe that it is! Why are more and more people becoming lactose intolerant? How did we start believing that it is good for us to drink the milk intended to nourish baby calves?
Now, don't get me wrong, I have such complete faith in the human body as a sophisticated processing machine that I believe we could put any number of wild things in our bodies and still be ok. But why waste the body's time by continuously ingesting cow's milk--milk that humans really have no daily need for?
Your questions have inspired me to do some further research and I would like to post something that has all my information soon.

Thank you for your question and bringing this error to my attention. I hope if you have anything further to add you won't hesitate!