A Good Place to Start

March 1, 2011

If you follow my updates and news articles I post (or are one of my patients), you will notice that although I am not a vegetarian, I promote vegetables.  A lot.  I really do think that if we eat the full spectrum of  variety from mother nature, we will have little desire – and little appetite – to overeat other foods.   Not to mention our body tissues will be exposed to all of the different colors, textures, and flavors that exist naturally, and which many studies suggest ward off disease, promote immunity, and make us look healthy.

I have learned several ways to get more vegetables into my diet.  Although they seem obvious and simple to me now, there was a time when vegetable meant the lettuce and tomato on top of a (fried) chicken sandwich.  With fries.  And a Diet Coke.  Multiple times a week.  My entire diet was beige.  I didn’t even eat ketchup

Maybe you don’t like vegetables.  Maybe you don’t know how to prepare them in a way that is appetizing.  Or maybe you don’t cook at all.  Remember it’s all a process.  The important thing is that you are constantly moving in the right direction.

One of the first tools that I bought when shifting my lifestyle was a vegetable steamer.  I still use it often.  You can steam ANY vegetable.  Simply fill a wide pot with one to two inches of water, place your steamer on the bottom, and fill the pot to the brim with:

  • One or several of: broccoli, zucchini, eggplant, onion, peppers, carrot, mushroom, anything, cut anyway you choose.

-or-

  • Mixed greens:  kale, collard greens, swish chard, spinach (add spinach at the very end – it wilts quickly)

Cover with lid and steam over medium heat.  The vegetables are cooked from the steam off of the heated water.  Mixed greens will be faster (a few minutes), tough vegetables/bigger pieces will take longer (5-12 minutes).  It’s pretty hard to “mess up,” and after some practice you will find your personal preferences.

Certain vegetables, like broccoli, taste quite good to me steamed and plain.  The mixed green medley tastes best to me with a little bit of balsamic vinegar or a low calorie salad dressing (1-2 TBS).  You can also toss with a little bit (1/2 TBS) olive oil, soy sauce, or tomato/pasta sauce.  Just remember to keep your added calories low (less than 50) if weight loss is also a goal.

If you add 1 cup of steamed vegetables to any meal you will be doing several things:  1) increasing your intake of vitamins and nutrients, 2) filling your stomach with food low in calories, 3) elongating the amount of time you will feel satiated post-meal.  You can make a big batch at once, and eat it over several days.

Additionally, Chinese Medicine promotes cooked vegetables as part of healthy living.  The nutrients in cooked foods are more readily accessible to the body than raw because the body doesn’t have to work hard to utilize them.   Too many raw, uncooked foods can be taxing on the digestive system as they require more energy to break down and digest.  Over time the digestive organs can become sluggish leading to symptoms of gas and bloating, diarrhea/constipation, acid reflux, stomach pain, fatigue, etc.

Certain people have inherently, genetically weaker digestive constitutions than others.   Other irritants like fried, greasy foods, those high in saturated fats, and sticky processed snacks can impede even the strongest constitutions from functioning optimally.  In my clinical experience, many Americans have weakened digestive systems.  An overabundance of poor food choices, eating too many raw/uncooked foods, eating at irregular intervals, and eating while emotional are all etiologies.

If  learning to cook seems overwhelming to you, start by buying a vegetable steamer.  It’s an inexpensive way to start the process.  Share your stories and help to spread the inspiration.

Remember, you are what you eat.

In good health,

Molly

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One Response to “A Good Place to Start”


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