After my son, Dylan, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, I had to rethink the way we ate. Witnessing the profound emotional and physical effects nutrition had on Dylan on a daily basis required an adjustment on how I perceive his progress and well-being, as well as my own. I call it More Alive Now: it’s a new way of thinking that focuses on nutrition and health as a living spiral. We are on this spiral at all times, moving one way or the other. Life occurrences and daily nutrition choices dictate our position on this undulating mind/body/spirit continuum. It’s not a model of right or wrong—it’s a more forgiving and gentle approach, based on simply becoming aware and learning to make better choices in our given day. This is designed to help us make choices that nourish our bodies and give us the necessary elements for health regeneration and movement up the living spiral of wellness.
Shopping by the More Alive Now Food Pyramid
To help you select more alive foods, I have adjusted the FDA food pyramid into five categories. These will expand your choices and help you create healthy, delicious meals that are simple to prepare.
When I talk about more alive foods, I mean choosing foods that are unrefined, unprocessed, and as close to their natural state as possible. While eating off the vine would be best, let’s just start with nonpackaged foodstuffs.
>>1. Oils, Essential Fats, Omegas
Remember this. Good fats do not make you fat. Be mindful of the portion size suggested in all areas of the pyramid.
The fat category is highly misunderstood. I prefer to call them essential oils, or omegas, to change our way of thinking. Fats are essential to many processes in your body: hair, skin and nails, hormone production, body reserves, and more. Fat is not something to avoid. We need fats for metabolism to be efficient, and for the body to function optimally. Of course, it’s the fat you choose that is the key.
Some saturated fats are good for you and contain nutrition exclusive to the source. You need nutrients from all types of fat, so rotate your fats to maintain a balance just like everything else.
Shop for cold-pressed, unrefined nut and seed oils like olive, sacha inchi (Inca peanut), red palm, coconut, pumpkin, sunflower, flax, hemp, borage, and fish oils like cod. Cook with ghee, coconut, red palm, some olive. Eliminate hydrogenated oils.
Choose two servings per day. Your best bet is organic products, wild-caught fish, and free-range chicken. If you are concerned about the financial aspect of eating organic, remember that, although it does cost more money to eat conscientiously, this is your life insurance. What you do for your body today—how you eat, think, and cleanse—is your interlude to your next decade.
Shop for organic eggs, meat, wild-caught fish, and organic dried legumes, beans, peas, soaked nuts and seeds (almond, sunflower, and pumpkin). Legumes, beans, nuts, and seeds store well, are cost-effective, and easy to prepare.
>>3. Minerals, Enzymes, and Probiotics
Choose six servings daily, one from milk. (I don’t count kefir as milk.) Use salt wisely.
Vital for overall health regeneration, I created a mineral, enzyme, and probiotic foods category in the More Alive Now Food Pyramid, replacing the milk and cheese of the FDA Pyramid. I moved milk and cheese to the protein section. We need a full spectrum of minerals for our body processes to function properly.
Enzymes are another fascinating category essential to our well-being. Chewing your food allows for the release of enzymes in the food you are eating, and also stimulates your body to release its own innate enzyme storage. You use a certain amount of enzymes to digest your food and if you don’t chew well, you need a little more. If you eat overcooked meals, you need a little more. If you eat packaged foods, you need even more. If you eat junk food…you get the picture.
Probiotic foods are also called cultured foods, or fermented foods, and are my personal passion.
The probiotic power in foods is dictated by the beneficial microflora, the live bacteria and yeasts essential for maintaining health. You can create these superfoods at home with ease.
Recurring ingredients needed for probiotic dishes include organic milk, raw milk, organic raw cheese, seaweed (dulse, arame, wakame, nori), Himalayan or celtic sea salt for minerals, kimchi, cultured vegetables, kombucha, water kefir, milk kefirs, and natto for probiotics and enzymes.
For food sources rich in calcium, purchase poppy seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, tofu, fortified soy milk, almonds, soybeans, figs, green beans, spinach, brazil nuts, chickpeas, kale, broccoli, spring greens, white cabbage, plus rice or oat drinks fortified with calcium.
>>4. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Four or more servings per day. Two fruits (citrus is best) and lots of vegetables.
Along with vitamins and phytonutrients, most vegetables and some fruits have the ability to neutralize your pH since they are alkaline forming. Lemon and lime are great alkalizers. Choose Fuji or Granny Smith apples, and other fruits that are not as sugary. Add more vegetables, especially dark and colorful ones, which are alkalizing. Shop organic, as raw as possible, and try to only purchase fresh-pressed juice.
>>5. Breads, Cereals, Grains, and Fibers
Four servings per day. Get out of your wheat comfort zone and try other whole grains such as quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, and millet.
Many people become sensitized to wheat because we have been eating it for so long. Eat anything day in and day out long-term, and eventually you will get a reaction. Rotate your foods to avoid this allergenic response. Mix it up a bit for fun and health. Quinoa and millet have higher protein content than wheat, and also have less potential for genetic manipulation than their abundant big brother wheat.
When you choose wheat, make sure it is a whole grain without a lot of additional ingredients. Don’t forget to try grains like spelt, Kamut, or triticale when selecting a new grain to try that has less gluten than wheat. You might see them marketed as wheat-free instead of gluten-free.
Shop for whole-grain breads, cereals, and pastas if you buy packaged. Add new whole grains quinoa, millet, buckwheat, spelt, barley, oats, brown rice, and potatoes.
You have the power to change your health and your future starting today. If you want to correct what you did yesterday or over the last decade(s), you can do so through nutrition, conscious eating, and cleansing. Start now with food choices and smart shopping.
And remember to begin incrementally. Choose where you want to spend your money, and it will all balance out. Start with 50 percent (or some percentage) organic, or start with fresh vegetables and organic meats. Find the combination that works for you and gradually add more.
Add these simple shopping tips to your lifestyle today, and become more alive now.
By Susan Frailey