In today’s episode I interview Mira Dessy about eating right. Mira is known as The Ingredient Guru. She is the author of The Pantry Principle: How to read the label and understand what’s really in your food. She is also a speaker, holistic nutritionist, and real food advocate. She emphasizes the importance of a healthy lifestyle through whole foods.
After experiencing years of debilitating digestive issues and health challenges, Mira realized the healing strength of food after she learned to eat right, slowly but surely regaining her health.
Mira was inspired to share the knowledge she gained on her journey to better health, and now her mission is to help people feel balanced, healthy, and to support them as they work to achieve their health goals.
Eat Well to Be Well: Food as Medicine
Eating right involves more than just paying attention at what you eat, it requires for you to look at the ingredients of the foods you are eating.
One of the things we tend to forget is that many of the health conditions that we experience, including the more serious ones like ulcerative colitis or arthritis or diabetes and the not so serious ones like body aches or bloating, are the result of years of not eating right, exposure to non-food ingredients and not nourishing our bodies the way they need it.
It’s important to know that every body is unique, exceptional and one of a kind. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. And many times we end up having this low-level unidentified disruption in what is really going on. And the truth is that it’s not just what you eat, it’s what you absorb. So, if your gut is not in good shape, you are not going to be able to absorb the nutrients your body needs.
If you eat foods with no nutritional value, your body is going to have to do something with it before it can get to the things that it actually needs. So, there is this whole paradigm of beginning to recognize that the gut is the key to what’s going on with our health and well-being.
Our food can be our medicine if we are eating right, but we have to recognize that we live in human bodies our bodies require us to digest the food, absorb the nutrients and metabolize those nutrients and so, if we are missing those steps and putting whatever in our mouths thinking that our bodies will handle it, we are likely to end up with some serious health issues.
It’s only when we come back and analyze what we are really eating and if our bodies are digesting these foods correctly (and also absorbing the nutrients), when we will see the benefits in our health.
One of the things that is so important to keep in mind is that there are so many different systems and processes going on in our bodies but the best place to start is at the foundation. Regardless of what’s going on with your body, if your gut is better, you’re better. There may be other things like sleeping well or exercising or taking care of your mind but when we start at a foundational level by eating right, this provides the body with all of the basic building blocks it needs. After this is done, we can layer in the other things to find out what works best for your individual self.
How to Start Eating Right
The best place to start eating right is in your own pantry. I encourage people to build the habit of reading the label in their foods and very best place to do this is in your pantry, go look at what’s already in there.
We as humans have our 20 favorite foods and we tend to shop on autopilot. And unfortunately, there are probably things in your pantry right now that you don’t want in your body. When you start reading the labels you realize there are things like artificial colors, or artificial flavors in your foods and you definitely don’t want to be putting these inside your body. If you want your health to be as good as it can be you have to start eating right.
I also encourage something called brand disloyalty. Don’t buy the brand, buy what you need. This is because companies change, they merge or they get bought, and many times in these processes they don’t change the brand, they just change what’s in the package. Be loyal to yourself.
5 Things to Avoid in Your Food
If you want to start eating right, avoid anything that has the word artificial on the label. If it is artificial, it’s not real, it is not food and our bodies do not need it. This includes artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, artificial colors, etc.
Another thing to avoid is high fructose corn syrup. It is not good for our bodies, especially for our liver. There are substitutes that we also need to watch out for that are as bad or worse, like agave nectar with higher fructose by volume than high fructose corn syrup.
You also want to avoid crystalline fructose because it is just dehydrated high fructose corn syrup. These tend to be in desserts and baked goods.
Carrageenan is another thing you want to avoid. This is an emulsifier and thickening agent extracted from red edible seaweeds. The type of process followed to extract it results in a byproduct that is not good for our bodies. It has a negative impact on our gut health, it can cause ulcerative colitis like symptoms in the gut and in laboratory studies it was shown to cause renal bumps.
Another sweetener to avoid is allulose. It is found in nature in very small quantities and now it has been replicated in laboratory settings to produce large quantities of it. It is really bad for the gut and makes you bloat. Unfortunately, it has found its way into many keto and paleo diets and protein bars also.
Lastly, stay away from anything that is not a real word. If it is just letters like BHT, BHA, EDTA, TBHQ, etc. All those are abbreviations for really long chemical names and these chemicals are used to preserve foods so they can sit in shelves for longer. These are not foods for the body. It is better to stick to ingredients you recognize as foods.
So next time you go to the supermarket just pick one category that you want to clean up, like non-dairy milks or canned soups or pickles or condiments. This way you don’t have to spend 10 hours at the supermarket reading every single label. Once you have one category cleaned up you can move to the next one the next time you go grocery shopping.
Eating Right Is Not One-Size-Fits-All
You don’t need to have a disease like IBS or Crohn’s to be impacted by any of the non-food ingredients in many foods out there. It is true that if you have IBS or Crohn’s the symptoms are going to be amplified and you may be in pain and trying to recover for weeks after being exposed to a certain non-food ingredient, but perfectly healthy people can also feel discomfort, bloating, constipation or diarrhea as a result.
There is so much information available online that can be conflicting, overwhelming, or just plain wrong for your particular body.
Part of the challenge we face is that for many of us eating right depends on how quickly our system responds. We could have slow motility and so the symptoms would not show for a while, or it could be also a matter of how much we are consuming of a specific ingredient.
Also, some things affect certain bodies in different ways than others. In the end, it’s a matter of being conscious about what you are eating and how that makes you feel. Each body’s response is different and it’s our responsibility to keep track. As we previously said, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
The important thing to remember is that no matter what your story is, if you are conscious and you nourish your body, that’s always going to be better than not doing it at all.
If you want to learn more about my approach on how you can apply Clean Eating (The C in my SelfC.A.R.E. protocol) so you can get back to feeling your best, you may want to start by reading my book Master Your Stress Reset Your Health. I will also be hosting a FREE Online Masterclass on Detoxification soon. You can sign up here.
In the book, I share the quiz I developed to help you identify how stress has affected you specifically by knowing your Stress Type. You can also take the Stress Type Quiz online.
For the most comprehensive support, even with the most difficult health issues (physical or mental), it is best to meet with me one-on-one, which is available to you no matter where you are in the world (via phone or zoom). You can set up a one-on-one appointment with me here.
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