Life changes significantly once you reach your twenties and begin to contemplate how far your dollar will stretch to cover everything you need, which leafy green and delicious carb to add to your plate and most importantly if drinking yet another mixed cocktail is worth the calories *sucks teeth*. After college, I remember asking a nutritionist for her advice on how I could shed undergrad weight and get the proper nutrients my body craved. She provided a plethora of information:
I took her health and wellness advice with a grain of salt and settled on adding a multivitamin to my diet. Perusing the vitamin and supplement aisle for my first multivitamin was quite the experience. I found liquid supplements and gelatin capsules for just about every vitamin known to (Wo)man. A few blank stares and questions later, I purchased the most vibrant package on their well stocked shelves and called it a day. After habitually taking a multivitamin for a few months, eating whatever I wanted; whenever I wanted, and speed walking like any other New Yorker would, I noticed minimal changes to my overall well being. As Wellness Mama once said, “supplements are not a magic-bullet and can’t fix the effects of an unhealthy diet or poor lifestyle.”
After reminding myself that health is wealth, I took matters into my own hands and started to literally eat my vitamins and get active! In doing this, I committed to eating WHOLE foods instead of processed foods that contain artificial color, additives, flavoring, and chemically-altered fats and sweeteners. Rather than finding convenient packaged foods in the grocery store, I started shopping throughout the perimeter of each grocer, while focusing on getting fresh produce and protein each trip. Although, it’s easier to eat prepackaged foods, the reality is that most nutrient dense foods don’t come in a frozen dish or package to be microwaved. Living in a city, it’s so easy to fall into the pattern of eating fast food, that’s already been prepared for us when it’s most convenient. Realistically fast solutions don’t always provide healthy results and leave many of us unmotivated to savor over the slow cooked meals we take time to create. There’s endless reasons we might want to pay attention to what we eat.
The more colors we add to our plate, the more micronutrients you will consume. Each morning, I create a smoothie that incorporates a variety of phytonutrients with a high water content. I add green vegetables that are filled with iron, vitamin K, magnesium, and many other micro-nutrients that up-regulate detox enzymes in your liver. Red fruits that are high in vitamin C, lycopene and many other micro-nutrients that reduce inflammation and promote heart health are also added. As well as purple fruits that include potassium, folate and antioxidants that support the immune system and improve skin health and help prevent skin wrinkles. Additionally I eat organic whole fat yogurt that is derived from 100% grass fed cows for a probiotic boost that “can provide us with an even greater nutritional diversity because their bacteria can continue to metabolize food and transform nutrients after the yogurt has been consumed.” Additionally, there’s about 8 milligrams per liquid ounce of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) inside. Research links CLA intake to decreasing risk of many health problems, such as heart attack, blood sugar imbalance, excessive inflammation and loss of bone mass. I decided to switch from skim-milk yogurts, after my allergy to lactose passed and I gained interest in consuming high-quality fats like the omega-3s found in most whole milk, yogurts, avocado, sardines, and salmon. Creating lively snacks with fruits and vegetables, as well as infusing H2O with ginger, lemon, or peppermint helps to reinvigorate my health and wellness journey. When I compare the plates I used to eat, to the plates I now eat; I’m amazed by my personal evolution. Instead of eating a hefty portion of carbohydrates that usually consisted of rice and peas or potatoes, I swapped portion size with vegetables and enjoy both. By balancing my love for calorie filled foods with my body’s need for nutrient dense vegetables and protein; I feel less sluggish and have much more vibrant skin. With my new found energy, I’m able to bike to work each day and conquer my outdated fear of hiking to new heights.
We all have the power to take charge of our health and well being. Always remember how beneficial it is to consume a variety of vegetables and fruits each day. Healthy hair growth, clear skin and strong nails are all a reflection of your lifestyle. Health is wealth!