I started school last week! I’m enrolled in the Academy of Culinary Nutrition’s Culinary Nutrition Expert Program. I contemplated this certificate program for a year or so, finally deciding to take the plunge because the timing felt right. The program offers “practical, everyday, natural cooking skills as well as a deeper exploration into the therapeutic properties of the foods we eat and how we prepare them.”
With my new acquired knowledge, I hope to provide you with more valuable information around nutrition and launch a more organized and well-rounded food preparation and events program. (Stay tuned!)
Our first official assignment was to define our food philosophy. This is something I have given a lot of thought to over the years, but let me start from the beginning.
Some of you know the story. When I was a sophomore in college, I started a blog for my journalism class. Little did I know, that blog (this one) would become a huge part of my identity.
During my freshman year, I discovered a few things about myself (as one does in college). I spent the first semester feeling sluggish and unfocused. Lucky for me, I identified a solution to my fatigue quickly: Move more, eat better. During my sophomore year, the university opened a new recreation center. I took a leap and I auditioned to teach group fitness classes. Before I knew it, I was leading classes of 50+ every day. This is when my health journey really took off.
As I started to experiment with different types of movement, I also experimented more in the kitchen. I discovered that fueling my body with real, whole foods made me feel the best, but it wasn’t all sunshine and roses at first. Before college, I was “diagnosed” with hypoglycemia, without really understanding what that meant. As I ate “better,” I continued to experience blood sugar crashes and scary fainting episodes. The doctor’s solution: Carry raisins/glucose in my purse at all times.
Over the past couple of years, I started to do more research around regulating blood sugar levels. I learned from holistic experts — and chefs like Seamus Mullen — that I didn’t have to live with a “condition.” I paid even more attention to what I ate and where it came from, reaching a point where I no longer experienced regular crashes.
This brings me to my food philosophy: Simple, mindful wellness.
“Simple” because we are busy and preparing healthy food doesn’t need to be too complex or time-consuming. “Mindful” because the food you put in your body can heal and can help you thrive, so it’s important to give it extra attention. “Wellness” because reaching a state of good health starts with what we consume.
Here are some ways to get there:
- Eat real, whole foods and opt for local, seasonal and organic produce when possible. Go to farmer’s markets. Gravitate to the “local” signs in supermarkets. Do what you can to support the hard-working farmers, growers and purveyors around you.
- Know that eating healthy is less time-consuming and expensive than you think. Yes, organic produce oftentimes costs more. And, yes, nuts, berries and high-quality proteins aren’t the cheapest on the shelves. That said, when you spend less money on processed foods and more money on quality produce, things even out.
- When shopping, start with plants. Fill your shopping cart with plants and more plants. Start there and prioritize eating those first (they spoil, after all). You’ll find yourself filling up on fruits and veggies before diving into any snacks.
- Read labels on any canned or packaged foods. Make sure your nut butter contain just the nuts. Make sure your canned legumes contain just the legumes. Opt for real, unprocessed foods.
- Make food prep fun, not a chore. Recognize that what you consume has a powerful effect on your body, mind and well-being. It’s worth your time and effort to prepare ingredients and plan meals.
- Cook and eat mindfully. Start from scratch. Be involved in your meal from start to finish — except maybe the farming part. Make time for ingredient and meal preparation to really set yourself up for success.
It is my belief that when we are healthy, we are happy. Prioritize simple, mindful wellness. Make healthful eating work for you.
I can’t wait to share more as the program progresses.