It’s about one in the afternoon as I sit at my computer, contemplating what I should make for dinner. I take some organic chicken out of my freezer and think some asparagus, Brussels sprouts and salad with grilled chicken should do the trick. While I prep for tonight, bone broth simmers away in my crockpot. This is how I live my life now. I call it the “Lifewatchers way of eating.”
Yes, I’ve had a lot of practice, some 17 years of it: this fall marks the 18th year that I have been teaching Lifewatchers classes! The Lifewatchers concept was designed to help people lose weight and heal metabolic syndromes, Type II Diabetes, and other health conditions through food choices, but in formulating the program, we realized that people were so confused when it came to nutrition. Every time you turn around you hear something contradictory about nutrition, i.e. the news says coffee is healthy, then it says coffee is bad! People eat a "Canada Food Guide" way of life, but their health is still failing them. Most Lifewatchers admit in the beginning to feeling sluggish, intense cravings, and having energy slumps. We quickly realized that when the body was healed at cellular level, healing takes place all over!
Today, people take Lifewatchers for many different reasons. Some take it to learn about nutrition, some take it to heal ailments or diabetes, and some people just want to learn how to feed their family with proper nutrition. Whatever the reason, people are always happy to learn the Lifewatchers way of eating.
I personally think that the way people eat today is “sludging” up their metabolism. We want quick, ready-to-grab foods that, quite often, are lacking in nutrients. Here, I’d like to concentrate on eating whole, real foods. This is the first thing we teach in Lifewatchers. It doesn’t sound too hard, but our food has changed so much. A lot of people don’t even realize they aren’t eating whole foods!
Whenever I think about my diet, I like to consider what my great-grandmother would have eaten a hundred years ago. I remember the stories: she would go to the beef ring once a week to pick up her meat and carry it home, all wrapped up. There was one illustrious story in which a steer got loose and chased her home - she bopped him over the head with her beef! My great-grandmother would have grown as much as was possible in her garden, and the fall months were all about harvesting and getting the larder full. It would take hours or even days of planning to get food ready: the flour from the mill was freshly ground, food would be canned or fermented to preserve it, and homemade bread would mold quickly (unlike today’s bread that is so full of preservatives, it can last a week!).
They had to work so hard back then just to put meals on the table. Today, we run into the supermarket to pick up everything we need. Let’s take a look at some of the differences in food then and now!
Bread: Our wheat has changed, as the authoritative Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis has shown. The bread my great-grandmother ate is not the bread of today; back then, the wheat was grown and milled locally. Today, our wheat has been hybridized, can contain up to 90% gluten, and is loaded with preservatives.
In Lifewatchers, we like to limit or even eventually eliminate our bread and wheat consumption. Goodness Me! carries de la terre sourdough bread which, in moderation, is a good alternative.
Eggs: My great grandmother had her own chickens, whose diet consisted only of grass. Today, chickens from where we get our eggs are mainly fed commercial feed loaded with antibiotics. I love the Vita Omega-3 Eggs at Goodness Me! and their bright orange yolks. The O3 in the feed makes the yolks nice and bright, not a pale lemon colour.
Milk: Back in the day the milk was fresh from the cow. The cream separated and they would skim it off the top, using it on their porridge and in their coffee. Today we have so many milks to choose from – skim, 1%, 2%, etc. - all of which are, of course, pasteurized. My great-grandmother would not have had these options. She just drank milk and cream unpasteurized straight from the cow.
When we think about eating real, whole food, low-fat milks do not count. A lot of times when the fat is removed from dairy, content is replaced with chemical additives and preservatives. If I look at my organic coffee cream right now, it has one ingredient: cream. The cream from the grocery store easily has 6 or 7 ingredients, a lot of which are harder to digest than they are to pronounce!
Butter: Many people today have switched out butter for margarines and other spreads. These foods are playing havoc on our health and are not whole real foods.
Of course my great-grandmother had fresh butter, but unless we own cows, this is usually not an option. However, there are many good butters available to us. Toxins in animals usually settle in the fat so when I purchase butter, I like it to be organic. I also like the colour of the grass-fed butter.
Fruits and Vegetables: Today our fruits and veggies are often loaded with pesticides. In Lifewatchers, we refer to the “Dirty Dozen,” the most pesticide-laden options that we should either avoid or purchase organically: strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, celery, red peppers, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes and hot peppers. I like to make sure that if I’m using any of these, that I get them organic.
Meat: Our ancestors used to eat the whole animal, as they couldn’t afford to waste any nutrients. Today, we have become a society that likes to just eat the muscle meats such as steaks and roasts, and this means we are lacking the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. The organ meats are very important to our health as they contain Vitamin A, and eating clean eggs, dairy and wild-caught cold water fatty fish can help us.
Broths: For our ancestors, soup was a big staple, and they made a lot of broths. Today, many of us have gotten away from home-made soups because cans are convenient and easy to buy. Many of these canned soups are loaded with MSG and other chemicals. Definitely not a real, whole food!
In Lifewatchers we like to go back to the way our ancestors ate, teaching you the importance of bone broths. They are simple to make in your slow-cooker and they are loaded with nutrients and minerals which so many of us are lacking today. The book Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World by Kaayla T. Daniel is an excellent resource for this.
Fat: We have become a fat-phobic society. My great-grandmother did not second guess fat. She ate butter, cream, eggs, lard, red meat, etc., and fat was present at every meal. We encourage this in Lifewatchers as well. We like to concentrate on avocados, fish, eggs, olives, olive oil, coconut and coconut products, nuts, seeds, butter, ghee and meats. Our cells work better when we eliminate processed, damaged, heat-treated oils and replace them with the more natural oils found in nature.
When I fill up my diet with real, whole foods, I feel better. I try to stick to the Lifewatcher Level 4 diet of meats and non-starchy vegetables, include lots of healthy fats, and eat my PFF – protein, fat, and fibre – at every meal. If you find your meals are leaving you feeling tired and sluggish, try opting for a cleaner approach to eating.
Our Fall Lifewatchers classes, found at every location, are approaching, and I encourage you to give it a try and to discover the power of food!
Head Chef, Goodness Me! Natural Food Market
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