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WIAW- Food Over Medicine

 

**The winner of the Stur Giveaway is Liz from the blog, I Heart Vegetables **

So yesterday I decided that blog posts are like coloring books. I will often select a page to color, get half way through the pretty picture, lose interest in the pattern and flip the pages to find a new and exciting image.

My blog writing process is the same…I start out with one idea and slowly lose interest or decide I need to talk about something else entirely which exactly what happened with today’s post…

wiaw fall into good habits button

Your knees hurt for days on end? You survive on Aleve.

Your muscles ache after your runs? You pop Motrin.

Arthritis acting up? You take your winning combination of pills to relieve half of the pain.

Haven’t seen your menstrual cycle in over three months? Your doctor puts you on the birth control pill to give you estrogen and ensure some sort of “regular” cycle.

Do you notice a pattern here? We are masking the issue rather than resolving it.

I can’t even totally fault you for this. The doctors aren’t exactly prescribing sweet potatoes, pineapple and cherries for your ailments.

They should be though. The antioxidants found in nutrient dense real foods are powerhouses for our systems.

Not only do these foods taste really yummy if you would just give them the chance and satisfy the appetite in a healthy way, they provide us with the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that can actually alleviate your most common of ailments.

My father has bad knees. They ache and hurt and the arthritis is terrible and awful making him uncomfortable enough to often consider knee replacement.

What he doesn’t consider is the Diet Coke he is drinking or the lack of fruits and vegetables in his diet.

People tend to shy away from adopting a healthier lifestyle because they associate healthier with restriction, diet plans and being hungry.

I try really hard to explain to him that the focus shouldn’t be on what we are taking away from the diet, it’s about what we need to add in.

IMG_6431

Lunch time salad of the moment which contains roasted butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, plum tomatoes, romaine lettuce with a giant scoop of chick pea and avocado mash.

Eating an abundance of nutrient dense foods frees you from worrying about counting the calories, portion control and restrictions while at the same time, these foods help you to feel good, fuel your muscles, reduce inflammation, balance your hormones and even help with weight management.

Before I became a vegetarian over two and half years ago, I survived on a pretty high protein diet in form of lots of chicken, lean turkey and the occasional steak with a much lower level of complex carbohydrates.

I thought I felt pretty good and I was thin so what could be wrong?

  • My muscles weren’t recovering quickly from my workouts
  • I couldn’t run too fast or for too long
  • My menstrual cycle was regular but extremely heavy with cramps that should have been against the law
  • I experienced eczema on my eyelids in the cold, winter weather
  • Horrendous hay fever
  • After having the shingles virus when I was thirty, I developed PHN (lingering nerve pain long after the virus was over)  that left me in pain in my right arm whenever I was tired, stressed or upset. This nerve damage also prevented me from lifting more than a five-pound dumbbell  and even that was an issue for me.

When I randomly changed to a vegetarian diet, when I eliminated animal protein in the form of meat and poultry, cut back on dairy and increased my plant-based proteins as well as complex carbohydrates, within one week my life changed.

Not one time since becoming a vegetarian have I ever experienced the nerve pain in my arm again. Not once!

I never had eczema again and my seasonal allergies were reduced to the bare minimum.

My menstrual cycles came and went without PMS (most of the time) and even saved me some money on the super plus tampon supply.

And my muscles? Oh my goodness. The focus on plant-based foods and complex carbs changed my workouts completely.

My ability to run faster and longer happened immediately. It was almost magical.

Did you even know that inflammation, which is often caused from consuming too many processed foods or an over abundance of animal protein, can heighten the symptoms of PMS, menstrual cramps, eczema, nerve pain, allergies and pain the joints?

I am in no way saying we all need to be vegetarians or vegans nor do I want to even focus on the foods we should eliminate because I am tired of social media and society walking around with the notion of healthy means restrictions.

However, learning what we should add into our diet, learning how and why incorporating more plant-based proteins, fruits and vegetables into our lifestyle can help to reduce inflammation in the body and remedy other health-related issues is what’s really important.

I wanted to give you a list of the best foods to fight inflammation but honestly, there are so many! Basically, just loading your plate with fruits and vegetables is a great place to start.

butternut squash stir fry

Obsessed with adding butternut squash to everything these days including the above stirfry.

Here are my favorite foods to fight inflammation that actually taste yummy too:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Avocado
  • Pineapple
  • Cherries
  • Quinoa
  • Coconut Oil
  • Berries
  • Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are so easy to add to your food that you wouldn’t even notice they are in your bowl of oatmeal.

oatmeal

I currently have this pot of steel-cut oats mixed with old-fashioned rolled oats cooking on the stove. Can you even see the chia seeds?

If you notice from the foods to fight inflammation list, there are foods with fat.

We need fat, especially the healthy fats. Not only do healthy fats make us feel full and fight inflammation, avocados even help to balance our hormones.

When I dealt with amenorrhea, my blood work was showing super high cholesterol and crazy out of whack liver enzymes. The doctors told me to watch my fatty food intake and limit cholesterol.

But the crazy thing was, I was not eating much fat at all.

I was doing the complete opposite of what my blood work was showing. Avoiding fat actually wreaked havoc on my body causing it to produce the bad cholesterol and screw around with my liver.

When you don’t get a regular cycle, something is wrong and that something is typically an energy deficit.

My weight on the scale was on the low-end of a healthy range for my height but I wasn’t healthy.

Taking the pill wasn’t going to change that.

Nowadays we all know I live on avocados and peanut butter.

avocado

And I am super excited to say I stocked up on The Mighty Maple this week.

mighty maple peanut butter

At the end of the day, it’s really about finding the healthy balance which works for you and as we can see, being healthy certainly isn’t about what our weight displays on a scale or which size jeans you can wear.

I will say that my healthy balance will always and forever include dessert, that’s for sure.

oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

If only I could remember the recipe I made up to make these oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

Be sure to check out what everyone else is eating today!

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What positive/negative effects have you noticed from consuming certain foods? Sweet potatoes the night before a race or long run always make my muscles feel good!

Am I the only one to have Shingles at a young age?

Which squash is your favorite?

 

 

 

 

 

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  • LInda @ Fit Fed and Happy September 17, 2014, 6:18 am

    I agree. Food is THE best medicine and I don’t believe in pills of any kind. I don’t think I should be introducing foreign chemicals to my body to relieve myself of a symptom, as it doesn’t do any good long term. The truth is, your body is capable of healing itself, you just need to give it the right things and popping a pill in isn’t one of them!
    LInda @ Fit Fed and Happy recently posted…September Wrap Down & August Wrap UpMy Profile

  • Susie @ SuzLyfe September 17, 2014, 6:29 am

    I’m so glad that you found what works for you. I wish my body was capable of healing itself, but then again, I am a different case all together. My body actually attacks itself when it is trying to heal itself, so, well, there you go. I haven’t had shingles but I have had Chicken Pox twice! Yay immunosuppressants…
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Sweet and Savory Recovery Oatmeal (Gluten + Dairy Free)My Profile

  • Tina Muir September 17, 2014, 7:24 am

    Yes! I love everything abotut his post! We are SO similar in our food thinking….but I already knew that from when we chatted on the phone, and I am putting butternut squash in everything toooo, it is by far the best squash…..actually best vegetable there is! I definitely agree that so many people just treat the symptoms rather than looking for the source. I have become very frustrated with this actually, always taking the easy way out. Just like those stupid weight loss pills they sell, or crash diets.
    Tina Muir recently posted…25 Must Have Items for Race Day- An Elite GuideMy Profile

  • Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine September 17, 2014, 7:33 am

    I really love this. Its so great to hear about people who have improved their quality of life simply by improving their diet. And like you said, theres no 1 perfect diet, but you need to find what works for you. And lots of veggies are so important!
    I recently realized that since I started eating mostly paleo, I no longer experiences seasonal allergies. I’m kind of holding my breath on that one, because they were the worst in the spring and I starting eating differently around June. But I used to have to take Zyrtec a few times a month when they would get bad but I haven’t had to take anything since last May! And I am with you on the painkillers and stuff. A good diet is way more beneficial than that stuff.

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles September 17, 2014, 10:11 am

      I do still take Zyrtec because of certain food allergies that I have but even when I was on the medicine a few years ago, my seasonal allergies in the spring were horrendous. It’s possible that Paleo has helped you because of the lack/limit of dairy? Who knows.

  • lindsay September 17, 2014, 7:43 am

    you know i am on board 100000%. it’s why we have food, to nourish, heal, fuel, etc. Food first, and then if absolutely needed, medicine

  • Amanda @ .running with spoons. September 17, 2014, 8:24 am

    Totally agree 100%. I actually hate the idea of turning to traditional medicine, because most of the time all it does is mask the symptoms instead of treating the cause. I’ve seen food work miracles in peoples lives time and time again, but it takes a little more effort than simply popping a pill, which is why so many people shy away from it and take the easy route instead. Sad because we’d be so much healthier as a society if that weren’t the case.
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…. WIAW… when i’m tired .My Profile

  • Carmy September 17, 2014, 8:42 am

    I 100000% agree. Whenever I clean up my diet, I feel amazing! But whenever life gets busy and I fall back into my old habits, I can always feel my body slowly turning on me – my skin becomes terrible, my body aches more, my recovery from runs are sliwer, etc.
    Carmy recently posted…Pick Me Up: Reasons Why I Run!My Profile

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles September 17, 2014, 10:20 am

      I definitely notice a major difference in my muscles, strength and recovery when I fuel up on sweet potatoes. Good thing I love them because I really need them!

  • Brynn September 17, 2014, 10:55 am

    AWESOME post!! I try to explain this to my health coaching clients and they think I am crazy. But our food is so important to our health. It is time we take accountability and responsibility for our own health and the easiest change is our food. 100% agree, it is about adding in, not restriction.
    Brynn recently posted…WIAW: Girl’s Night MenuMy Profile

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles September 18, 2014, 3:01 pm

      It really takes people so long to grasp the concept because it is not mainstream information. If I were you, I would send them to the internet with search terms so that they can read up on it and see that you aren’t crazy lol

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles September 18, 2014, 3:01 pm

      It really takes people so long to grasp the concept because it is not mainstream information. If I were you, I would send them to the internet with search terms so that they can read up on it and see that you aren’t crazy lol

  • Shannon September 17, 2014, 11:32 am

    America is so over prescribed, it makes me angry thinking about it! I love this post though. So much great info!
    Shannon recently posted…It’s My BirthdayMy Profile

  • Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets September 17, 2014, 7:58 pm

    I’m a huge proponent of food being used as a solution to and not the source of the problem. Part of the reason is because a change in diet had huge and healthy ramifications for both my husband and I. We used food as medicine and I’m actually working on a post about this very same topic.
    Love it. Agree 110%.

  • jill conyers September 18, 2014, 5:08 am

    Hi Meredith, thought you might want to know your Pinterest follow button is a broken link.
    jill conyers recently posted…Spend Time Just BeingMy Profile

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles September 18, 2014, 2:59 pm

      Thank you for telling me. I haven’t figured it out but I am working on it!

  • Libby September 18, 2014, 7:37 pm

    I’m so glad that you’re feeling better now that you’ve made changes to your nutrition!!
    Libby recently posted…21 Day Fix Challenge Group Starts October 6th!My Profile

  • Chelsea @ lil miss fitness freak September 19, 2014, 7:20 am

    Amazing post! I always preach the notion that food is your best medicine. Most people just don’t want to give up the crap (ie processed and fast, convenience foods) that their taste buds have been trained to crave. It’s sad to see food that has been so processed or slathered in sauces of some kind that people don’t know what the actual natural food tastes like. I’m still trying to work out what works best for my body as I have been dealing with a host of digestive issues for some time now and I just want to be normal again. Hopefully I will come to the same peace with my nutrition as you have!

    Favourite squash by far is kabocha. Yes I follow the rest of the blogger world on that one but it’s actually amazing. Always have one on the go.

  • Chelsea @ lil miss fitness freak September 19, 2014, 8:06 am

    Loved this post! I find that most people never consider nutrition to be a problem or that it has anything to do with things like inflammation, energy levels, etc. The bigger issue is the fact that most have lost touch with how natural foods actually taste! It’s sad that someone says they like a given food but when they eat it, its covered in a horrible sauce, fried till the point where the original food is not longer apparent or just plain over processed. Do they actually even like the food itself?

    Kabocha squash is where it’s at. Yes I’m a follower like all the other bloggers but its actually the best one out there! 😀
    Chelsea @ lil miss fitness freak recently posted…Surviving My First Week Is Marvelous…MIMMMy Profile

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles September 19, 2014, 11:31 am

      I like the kabocha but not as much as the butternut! It will always be my fave.

  • Arman @ thebigmansworld September 20, 2014, 5:56 am

    This is such a good point, but sadly, not one I’ve followed this year- I got sick a couple of times pretty badly in the midst of work and needed something stat- damn antibiotics.
    Arman @ thebigmansworld recently posted…Asian Pan Seared SalmonMy Profile

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles September 22, 2014, 9:47 am

      There are times when medication and antibiotics are definitely necessary. A clean nutrient dense diet can do wonders but won’t fix everything especially illnesses which are caused by germs which may require an antibiotic to knock out an infection.