How Your Tastebuds Will Betray You & Why It’s Not Your Fault

Your tastebuds will betray you
Photo by Andrew Hill

Look from side to side to make sure no one’s reading over your shoulder. Is the coast clear? Good.

As I write this I’m leaning in, because what I’m about to say might shock some people.

“You know how you automatically react when you see someone attractive?”

“Um.. yeah, I guess?” you shrug, shifting uncomfortably.

“Sometimes it’s the flush of your cheeks, or a less obvious rush of blood in more obvious places.”

You nod quickly, “Get to the point Nathalie, what’s this got to do with healthy eating?”

“Well the way your body’s reaction betrays you when you’ve got the hots for someone is exactly how your body will sabotage your healthy eating efforts.”

Stick with me for a second while I explain.

Your Tastebuds React Whether You Like it or Not

Just like our basic human biological reactions to an attractive person, our body reacts to certain types of “attractive” food.

Why do our tastebuds and bodies seem to crave foods that we know with our minds aren’t good for us?

Just like we know that bad boy with the motorcycle isn’t going to stick around after he gets what he wants… we know that donut isn’t going to make us feel good in an hour after we’ve had our fun.

It comes down to a little evolutionary device that was actually put in place to help us survive.

Back in the day we wanted the tough alpha male so our babies would have strong genes. (Reverse this for men and having many beautiful offsprings.)

Similarly, back in the day it was hard to find foods high in fat, salt, and sugar. These were scarce resources that we weren’t able to get our fill of, so we evolved to seek them out for survival.

Fortunately (or unfortunately) today we’ve got more than enough sources of fat, salt, and sugar. In fact we’re practically drowning in them.

So that evolutionary pull that our tastebuds create for foods that contain lots of fat, salt, and sugar is an antiquated tool.

Taking This Analogy Further

If we just listened to our bodies all the time we’d end up in a sex-crazed, overpopulated society.

(Okay, you might say that we’re there already, but I’m an eternal optimist.)

Add to that the fact that the foods we crave so much are now highly available. Vending machines, street vendors, and refrigerators mean you’ve always got unhealthy foods at your fingertips.

I often hear that we “should just eat what tastes good to our bodies, in moderation.” And although I believe in the concept in general, I think that it doesn’t apply in our world of caffeinated beverages, salty crackers, and sweetened dried fruit.

Alas, our body’s natural “balance” mechanism has gone completely out of whack. Some studies were done on young kids, where the kids could choose what they could eat at will. At first all of them went for the “bad” foods that were sugary, salty, or fatty.

Confused?
Photo by Dan Foy

But eventually the kids balanced this out by eating vegetables and fruits. By choice. It was natural for them to want to eat something different.

The problem began when they started testing older children, who didn’t feel the need to balance out their consumption of salt, fat, and sugar.

Sound familiar? It’s not your fault, it’s all in the body’s mechanisms.

Our Bodies Are Just As Confused As We Are

We are constantly being bombarded with information regarding nutrition: you should avoid these foods they are bad for you, and you should eat more of these foods they’re good for you.

We get so gosh darn confused with all this conflicting information!

If you think our minds are confused, what about our bodies?

After eating a diet of standard American fare, our bodies lose their ability to recognize foods that it can digest.

As a child, our bodies know that fruits and vegetables are easy to digest. They also know that pop tarts and diet coke are not normal: we experience different side effects when they’re ingested.

The more processed food you eat growing up, the more confused your body gets. As you grow up, you loose your ability to trust your body’s original balanced instincts about food.

Everything Has Salt, Sugar, Corn, or Soy

All of the different packaged and processed foods contain certain ingredients: salt, sugar, oils, corn, or soy.

Manufacturers used these ingredients because they are addictive, make things taste good, and are cheap fillers.

Of course what makes good business sense for manufacturers, doesn’t necessarily make good health sense.

What about when moderation means that manufacturers put sugar, salt, and other “additives” in just about every since store bought product?

It’s much harder to eat these substances in moderation when they’re in pretty much everything you find at the store. Except produce, of course.

Trust Your Eyesight

It would be a bit cynical for me to say “trust no one”. But, there is someone you can trust, and that’s you and your eyesight.

Read the labels.

If there’s something you can’t pronounce, or where the first ingredient is one of the main culprits (salt, sugar, hydrogenated oils) then step away. You don’t have to buy these products, you can buy fresh produce or an organic alternative that doesn’t include all of these tricky ingredients.

Good luck, we’re all in this together.

Stay Tuned…

Next week I’ll be back with something that people have been asking me for a lot. I’ll be sharing my big epiphany, which goes hand in hand with this article.

Love, Nathalie

7 Little Known Reasons NOT to Avoid Bacteria

Healthy Bacteria?
Photo by Gerolf Nikolay

“Anti-bacterial. Kills bacteria in one spray. Removes unseen bacteria, protecting you and your family.”

That’s what all those sterilizing cleaning products promise. But what if bacteria wasn’t something to be feared and squashed at every opportunity? What if your body’s relationship to bacteria was a symbiotic one instead.

Let’s explore this relationship we have with bacteria, and uncover the 7 misunderstood reasons why bacteria are actually good for you.

1. Bacteria and Fungi Lead to Fermentation

Microscopic bacteria and fungi are responsible for the fermentation of foods and drinks. They produce alcohol, lactic acid, and acetic acid that act as preservatives so that foods retain nutrients.

Our ancestors used fermentation, and thus bacteria, to preserve excess bounty for the long winter months. Fermented foods were also very useful during long voyages at sea because they retained nutrition for a long time.

2. Bacteria Make Foods Digestible

I talk a lot about eating foods that are easy to digest, and fermented foods are certainly more digestible.

Essentially, bacteria are acting as little helpers that work to pre-digest foods for us. This is incredible, since we often expend a lot of energy on digestion. So eating more fermented foods will lead to increased energy.

3. Fermentation Creates New Nutrients

Wild Fermentation

How could it be possible that a little fermentation could increase the amount of nutrients in food? Well the interesting phenomenon of microbial cultures proliferating actually creates B vitamins and even antioxidants.

4. Toxic Foods Become Edible

Another surprising benefit to bacteria and fungi fermentation is the removal of certain toxic elements.

Grains contain a compound that blocks the absorption of minerals into the body. However, with a little bit of fermentation these grains are now neutralized and edible.

5. Eating Live Bacteria Is Good For Your Stomach

The term “live” in live foods refers to eating foods that have not been destroyed, and in this case the bacteria is still alive.

Eating fermented living foods gives your stomach the intestinal flora that is necessary for digesting foods and absorbing nutrients.

Watch out for pasteurized foods, since these do not contain any live microorganisms.

6. Healthy Bacteria Compete with Harmful Strains

By eating fermented foods, healthy bacteria like Lactobacillus compete with diarrhea-related bacteria such as Salmonella and E. Coli.

That’s like having your own army to fend off competing invaders, instead of leaving your body to fend for itself.

7. Fermented Foods Help Protect Us from Disease

There are tons of ideas on how to prevent disease, but how many of them use probiotic organisms to do the work for you?

The body is not an isolated test tube, it is an ecosystem with many different factors at play. That’s why supplying it with health-supporting bacteria is a sure way to give your immune system a hand.

Here’s to Fermenting!

Wild Fermentation

In the book Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Ellix Katz, there are literally 100 recipes on how to leverage healthy bacteria to make yummy fermented foods.

I highly suggest you pick it up to get an even deeper understanding on how simple and delicious fermented foods can be.

What’s your take on fermentation and bacteria?

Let me know in the comments, and share your favorite fermented foods with me!

Love, Nathalie

How to Pick a Good Watermelon

Summer is here, and that means hot days and refreshing watermelon slices.

How to Pick a Good Watermelon
Photo by Luke Robinson

Unfortunately, one of the reasons people don’t enjoy fruit as much as they could is they haven’t learned how to pick the freshest, ripest fruit.

With most fruit you can smell it, touch it and check for firmness… but with watermelon there’s another trick – tapping it like a drum. Basically what you’re doing is checking to see the water content of the melon: the higher the better.

So if the sound you get from lightly tapping a watermelon is deep, then you know it’s a good one. If you don’t hear much then move on to the next one.

Another good thing to check is how heavy the watermelon is. A heavier melon will have more water and that’s what you’re looking for!

My Watermelon Gum Story

A few months after I went raw, I remember having a conversation with a colleague about watermelon.

His stance was that watermelon had “no substance” and that you could just as easily chew a piece of watermelon gum and drink a glass of water, and get the same benefits as eating watermelon.

I didn’t say anything because it wasn’t the time or place, but my mind was screaming at the fallacy of this proposition.

There’s no way that chewing gum and drinking a glass of water has the same affect as eating watermelon.

I just know that intuitively, but let’s look at some hard data.

eating-watermelon
Photo by Sydney Marie

Watermelon has fiber and tons of nutrients that we just don’t appreciate at first glance.

Watermelon Nutritional Information

Here are just a few of the things that watermelon has going for it…

  • Good source of Vitamins C and A
  • Helps reduce inflammation
  • High in antioxidants that fight free radicals
  • Contains more lycopene than most fruits and veggies, including tomatoes
  • Provides the body with potassium and magnesium
  • Very cleansing, alkalinizing, and mineralizing food

Many fruits have a lot of nutrition in the skin or rind, and it’s no different for watermelon… so don’t feel weird eating the white stuff, or juicing the rinds in your morning juice.

Enjoy the seasonal fruit!

Here’s to fresh, tasty, and juicy watermelon! Enjoy the seasonal fruit when it’s here, yum yum!

Love, Nathalie

Why Food Allergies for Nuts, Gluten, and Milk are on the Rise and What to do About It

Have you noticed that there are more and more people and kids with food allergies? Watch as I explain why there are more people developing allergies to common foods like peanuts, tree nuts, seeds, gluten, wheat, dairy, and eggs.

I remember having a conversation with my boyfriend Robin and him mentioning that he didn’t know anyone who was allergic to food growing up. Now I have tons of clients and friends who are either allergic themselves, or who have kids who are allergic.

What’s going on here? Watch this video to find out.

Food Allergies Explained in Video

(Click here to view the video if you’re reading this in your email or feed reader.)

P.S. Notice I’ve got a new smaller / portable witch’s hat! ;)

Please Share This Information

I really want to get this information about food allergies out to as many people as possible. If you can, please email this to your friends and family, and post it on Twitter or Facebook…

Let’s get the word out, and really prevent or reduce the amount of allergens that are found in common foods, so we can all be immune (pun intended!) to allergies.

Love, Nathalie

Holistic Healing Approach: Heal Yourself With Raw Food

Last night I attended a group healing session here in Toronto. The session was called “A night with intention”, and was facilitated by a man with over 10 years experience with energetic healing.

The topics we discussed really got me thinking. First of all, I truly believe that each of us has the ability to heal ourselves.

How else can the body know what to send to heal a paper cut? Why should it be different for cancer, or heart disease?

If you came to raw foods for healing or weight loss, then trust in your body’s ability to return to a whole balanced place.

Raw Food is Only Part of the Healing Puzzle

One thing I’ve really been pondering on a lot lately is the realization that raw food is just a tool. For some cases using raw food to heal yourself is the best choice. In others, maybe a different approach might work better.

I’m not a fan of conventional Western medicine and the emphasis on the quick-fix pill-popping “solutions” it provides. But if I get hit by a bus, send me to the emergency room – don’t try to heal me with raw food or an energetic healing technique.

There’s a time and a place for each of the healing tools we have available to us.

Similarly, there’s something to be said about the placebo effect. If the placebo effect operates in 1/3 of all healing cases, then why don’t we learn more about this miraculous possibility? If I can heal someone just by placing my hands on them, or by jumping on one leg and waving a magick gourd… then why wouldn’t I do it?

Health Promoting Environments

Disease and illness happens over time, it rarely just appears out of nowhere. That’s why I believe that the environment in which we live is just as important as the food we eat.

For example, if you live in a very toxic and mentally damaging environment you’re not likely to feel your best.

Create a safe healing sanctuary for yourself with your favorite plants, relaxing music, comforting smells, and maybe a cushy blanket or pillow.

If there are unsupportive people who bring you down, find a way to let them know their treatment is not welcome or distance yourself from them. This is tough, but sometimes necessary.

Healing Thoughts

This is something that Jonathan Mead and I talked about in our Raw Food Q&A Call. Jonathan said something that really zeros in on one of the biggest pieces of the healthy living puzzle.

“It’s better to be eating something that’s not raw and feeling good about it, than to be begrudgingly eating something raw but feeling horrible.”

This works both ways, if you beat yourself up when you “fall off the wagon” of eating raw foods, you’re inflicting more pain and stress on yourself than the non-raw foods themselves might be.

The thoughts you think and the feelings you feel play such a huge part in the healing process.

If your thoughts and feelings aren’t supporting your healing efforts, it might be time to change your habits or find a practice that takes you out of your head space.

Healing with Raw Foods

I don’t think there’s one right way to go about healing yourself. For me, eating more raw food has been the first step on a journey of whole body and mind healing.

For you, raw food might be step one or step three, it doesn’t really matter. Find what works for you, and go from there.

All I know is that raw food has been instrumental in healing myself and those around me.

What has been instrumental in your personal healing journey?

Love, Nathalie