Over on my main blog, I’m doing some posts about how our healthy or not healthy bodies affect the health of Earth. This exploration includes taking a look at various aspects of eating, exercising, and sleeping for maximum health. My belief is that every body has its own best diet, exercise and sleep plan and that part of your job is to know your own body well enough to figure out that plan.
I’m going to be putting related posts here, tying various aspects of healthy habits to the spiritual/emotional exploration over on the other blog. Today’s exploration is about green foods in the diet.
I’ve periodically expressed my unhappiness with fashions and fads in diet and the regular assumption that a certain dietary plan is the one right plan for everyone. (See here and here for a couple of those posts). Since there are many, many sources these days touting lots of greens and lots of (or exclusively) raw foods, I thought I’d start by addressing why that’s NOT good for everyone based on my experience.
In the 90’s, at the same time some friends were avidly pursuing a raw foods/wheat grass diet plan, my acupuncturists were telling me I should avoid raw food. My “chi” or vital force energy was extremely low and they told me raw food takes so much more energy to digest than cooked food, that anyone with such low chi should avoid raw foods.
I didn’t really believe it, so I didn’t pay much attention and my raw foods buddies kept feeding me salads, etc. Then, during a spell when acupuncture treatments and a new selection of herbs had lifted my energy, I embarked on a course of eating a big salad of mostly greens and raw veggies for dinner every night for a week… At the end of which the bottom dropped out of my energy. I started paying attention and soon realized that I could have a salad or something raw occasionally and it didn’t have much effect but daily ingestion of raw food depleted me.
Now that I feel a little better I can have raw foods a little more often. I’ve also found that smoothies work well for me since the blender does a lot of the breaking down that takes so much energy. Smoothies loaded with multiple colors of the rainbow (see the eat a rainbow theory) are my main source of fresh, uncooked fruits and veggies, with the occasional salad or raw food dessert (often also well blended) thrown in.
I started off making green smoothies but began hearing about thyroid issues related to green foods. I’ve struggled with low thyroid for quite a while (for me, caused by muscles constricting the gland) so I started doing some research. It turned out ALL green foods, when raw, contain goitrogens, which some scientists say can lead to suppressing thyroid (there are debates about (a) whether it’s true or (b) how much you have to eat to be affected). When greens are cooked, the goitrogens are cooked out so any potential problem disappears.
There’s widespread disagreement about this issue but to me it seemed like a no-brainer, since I’m supposed to limit raw food intake anyway. I took the raw greens out of my smoothies and started tucking leafy greens in every cooked dish I could think of.
I use the slicer or grater on the food processor and put spinach, kale, chard, etc. into frittatas, soups, casseroles, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes (or rather my mashed cauliflower substitute), etc. More and more restaurants around here offer several fresh but cooked vegetable side dishes, so I often order green beans and broccoli or snap peas and spinach, etc.
In general I feel better these days than I did in my no chi era, and figuring out how my body best copes with fresh fruits and vegetables has been a big piece. You might be surprised how many times I’ve had to stand my ground against both practitioners and strong-minded friends with convictions about everybody needing to eat vegan or everybody needing to eat raw food. They clearly don’t believe me when I say it doesn’t work for me and I’ve learned to just shrug and let them stick to their opinions while I eat the way that serves me best…
Which includes eating red meat and I’ll be updating an old post about that soon.