One of the greatest joys I experience in life is sitting down with a dear friend, having a heart to heart connection, while sharing a wonderful meal. Ah yes, food. Who doesn’t like food? Growing up in a Greek home with a Mother who can cook gourmet fare in army-sized quantities, food has always been a pleasure. With church potlucks, Easter picnics, and birthday parties, food is the universal language of community. If you have a large extended family like I do, then there is always a reason to celebrate and an abundance of food that is guaranteed to be part of the festivities. Even Jesus broke bread with the disciples and fellowshipped before his death on the cross.
Food seems to have a unique way of drawing people together. If you don’t believe me, just look at how many people are always hovering around the sweet ladies wearing hairnets passing out samples at Costco. Please say hello if you see me! 🙂
I will be the first to admit that I love to eat. If you’ve seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding then you understand a bit of how I grew up. My Uncle has three restaurants and I grew up eating the best double bacon avocado cheeseburgers, onion rings, and fries that money could buy. Heavy foods like this, however, caused me to gain weight, feel depressed, and lack motivation to pursue my goals. One thing I had to do was change the way I thought about food. Instead of living to eat, I realized that food was fuel. This shift in my thinking was the hardest step because food was once used as a reward, consolation, or even companion.
After doing extensive research, I read that food had the same effect on our body as medicine. In return, I began to think of food like the premium fuel I put in my roadster. I wanted to pack the most nutrients per calorie and get the highest return in energy. I started to eat more vegetables, salads, and lean chicken breast, and I felt amazing! I dropped the extra weight I was carrying, my energy levels and motivation took off, and my memory improved.
The research revealed that eating a diet of natural foods (dark leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats) can decrease cholesterol, lower blood pressure, prevent and reverse diabetes, reduce inflammation, boost concentration, enhance attention, and fight cancer cells. No wonder I felt so good!
Foods like spinach, kale, broccoli, blueberries, tomatoes, squash, apples and pomegranates all help boost the antioxidant levels in your body. Antioxidants are great because they help protect your body and give you energy. Just think, you can grow your own pharmacy right outside your door in your garden! This is exactly what my mother has done all through my growing years. She currently has a garden that produces pomegranates, lemons, three types of figs, zucchini, red and yellow tomatoes, four different types of grapes, watermelon, olives, four different types of apples, three different types of plums, peaches, oranges, tangerines, parsley, mint, oregano, onions, garlic, rosemary, basil, swiss-chard, cucumbers, pineapple guava, eggplant, blueberries etc… You get the idea.
Some other changes that will help boost your energy and improve your health will be to eliminate sugar. I love sugar – but it doesn’t love me. Sugar does not give us any nutrients, vitamins or minerals, so even though I like sweets, I do my best to keep it at arms length. Drinking lots of water is another thing that can’t be overstated enough. Our body needs water to operate and functions much better when hydrated. Anything that dehydrates you (caffeine or alcohol) will decrease your thinking and impair your judgment.
Lean proteins including fish, skinless turkey or chicken, beans, raw nuts or high protein vegetables help to balance your blood sugar, boost concentration and provide the necessary building blocks for a healthy brain. Healthy fats including avocados, salmon, and walnuts are good for your heart, brain, skin and hair. I will admit that I enjoy a good steak every now and then, but I try to go for the leaner cuts. Nothing is more satisfying than tenderizing and marinating a steak overnight and then barbecuing it the next day along with grilled vegetables. Mmmm…
It is clear that food affects how you feel. In the long run, the internal benefits of making healthy choices are far more rewarding than the temporary high experienced by that krispy kreme sugar rush. Vegetables can be tasty and delicious when prepared properly. Have fun and be creative – experiment with new recipes and don’t be afraid to try new things. I was recently exposed to grilled asparagus and absolutely LOVED it! With Internet access you can find an endless supply of ideas and recipes for salads, soups, vegetables, and seasonings for any food item you want to prepare. God has given us a rainbow of colors within all the vegetables He’s provided for our use. The health benefits are the cherry on top. Bon Appetite!
“No one hates his own body, but lovingly cares for it just as Christ cares for his body, which is the church” (Ephesians 5:29)
Dr. Christy Demetriades has a Ph.D. and M.S. in Clinical Psychology and a B.S. in Exercise/Sports Science from Vanguard University. She loves Jesus, has a heart for people and has dedicated her life to serving Him.