Happy, Healthy Meals! This week is all about examining your food choices. Are you eating to live healthily or living to eat for other reasons? Food can be comfort, food can feel like the enemy, but food is really just our fuel. We eat calories, we burn calories to fuel our bodies. The ratio of “calories in/calories out” is where the simple formula can take a turn for the better or for the worse. And what those calories are made of or lacking thereof can affect the way our body is functioning internally in ways we are not even aware of. Food is our first medicine against disease and disorder. “The very fact that we are having a national conversation about what we should eat, that we are struggling with the question about what the best diet is, is symptomatic of how far we have strayed from the natural conditions that gave rise to our species, from the simple act of eating real, whole, fresh food.” Mark Hyman The #1 New Year’s Resolution in our country is to “lose weight”. And the only way any of us can do that is through our Diet and with Exercise. (Collectively we call that making Lifestyle Changes.) But instead of “dieting”, let’s shift the perspective. What if we simply made changes to the nature of what we are eating every single day until we are fueling our bodies in the best and most nutritious way possible? Not only are we shifting our focus onto eating foods that are good for us, but we are altering our priorities in the meantime. We are altering the way we look at our bodies and the way we perceive our shape. Our shape is now a reflection of how we are treating our bodies, we are not just numbers on a scale. If we make our Diet a reflection of how we believe our bodies deserve to be fueled, we can start to make lasting progress. Here are our top 10 important tips for rethinking your Diet: 1. Whole foods rarely come in pretty packaging. If it’s in a box or a bag in a grocery store, it’s most likely to have been processed. And most processing in the food “industry” today involves artificial everything, from colors, flavors, fillings, to preservatives. (Chips, crackers, cookies, etc. can all appear “healthy” but if they have more than 5 ingredients as a rule of thumb, especially with names you’ve never heard of, they are just part of the process.) You may or may not have access to a local farmer’s market or a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program for produce delivery you can join, but you can always stay on the outer rim of the store where most of the fresh, whole, real foods are. Keep some reusable cloth bags in the car for any grocery shopping trips. 2. Cooking is not the same as processing. The more cooking you do at home, the better. You can see every single whole food you are using to put your meals together. (Never go shopping for groceries on an empty stomach because everything will be tempting, even the foods that aren’t real but appear like it.) We all enjoy to eat out and have someone make our meals for us, but view it as the exception rather than the rule, and be very selective about what kind of food “establishment” it is. Fast food is usually not real food. 3. Organic is not just a buzzword. Neither is non-genetically modified (NON-GMO). Foods that are grown with chemicals like pesticides and herbicides are no longer in their most natural state. It affects their nutrient content and those chemicals affect our bodies negatively. The same may be true when you modify the DNA of a food. More and more and more research is happening everyday on both these issues, but either way, your food is not the same as it should be. 4. Eat the rainbow for a full spectrum of micronutrients in your food. Nature grows foods of all colors, which conveniently helps us identify what nutrients are in them. And we need a lot of variety of micronutrients to fuel a variety of systems inside us. Herbs and spices are often overlooked as just extra “flavoring”, but they should be treated the same and used frequently. Fibrous foods are essential too. 5. Use the percentages about macronutrients as a daily guideline, but don’t get too caught up in numbers. The original discoveries about the human body remain the same, no matter what “fad diet” comes out next. It’s calories from Fat: 20 – 35% of total calories, Protein: 10 – 35%, and Carbohydrates: 45 – 65%. 6. Food journaling works. You can write out what foods go into your mouth everyday or you can do it digitally with apps on your smartphone. Whichever way you do it, it’s the single most helpful way to hold yourself accountable, period. (Having a support system of family and friends is 2nd to that!) 7. We were taught growing-up, reinforced through our own experiences and education, that everybody can benefit from a plant-based protein powder serving plus a multivitamin/mineral supplement everyday. Why? Our food is not as nutrient dense as it once was. We supplement the basics to fill in the nutritional gaps. And since we have busier lives and all tend to seek out convenience, it’s just smart to have 1 go-to “easy” but nutritious option as a foundation. 8. Fasting and Juicing have different benefits, but building a plant-based protein smoothie or shake is the most rewarding, in our opinion. You get healthy protein and healthy carbohydrates and healthy fats with all kinds of yummy fruit, veggie, nut, and seed combos. And it’s quick, simple, and on the go. Blending is the only cooking “technique” really required. 9. Some calories are worth drinking, but many are just “empty” with little nutritional value. Sodas, juices (not the “juicing” of whole fruits and vegetables or “blending”), and a lot of alcohols are all about the sugar. And sugar feeds cancer cells, fills fat cells, and undermines our immunity at a cellular level. Water, tea, and coffee (in moderation) on the other hand all have well established positive health benefits. (The same signal from the body that makes you feel “hungry” is so similar to the signal for “thirsty” it confuses us often. Try drinking water first before you eat to see how you then feel.) 10. Buy your pantry staples in bulk to save money. Your grains, your beans and other pulses, your nuts, and your seeds. With reusable containers if possible to eliminate extra waste with each shopping trip. One way to summarize all of this information is to Choose Your Calories Wisely: maximize nutrients and minimize excess that must either be used up by the body or burned off with extra Exercise. Once again, this easier said than done! Eating (and drinking) has to be looked at holistically. We all have deep connections to food mentally, emotionally, and physically. And we may need assistance to get back in alignment, break patterns, and reinforce better behaviors. There are holistic, nutritious, and complete programs that offer parameters, coaching, and guidance. Shaklee 180 provides delicious, nutritious products and support as you Take Your Shape in a Whole New Direction. It is a program designed to help you lose or maintain weight the healthy way – using scientifically backed, whole food based meal plans. Shaklee 180 includes products, recipes, and even Fitness training. Next week will be Week 3 of our new Team RLEI Reset Program to Live Amazing. If you are going to use the Shaklee 180 program to lose weight and inches, now is the time to order your Turnaround Kit. If you want to maintain your current weight and reinforce your healthy habits while living longer and younger, there are additional options like the Shaklee Life Plan and more. Let’s shift our priorities together safely, effectively, and naturally. And let’s begin with redefining our Diet.