I recently went through a very stressful period in my life. My last semester in grad school coupled with some other unexpected changes sent me for a bit of a tailspin. My body doesn’t respond well to stress. And having an autoimmune condition, stress is a major trigger for my disorder and my body began to exhibit the toll the stress was taking on my body.
I have to admit that I did not react perfectly to this stress. I did not properly manage the stress and areas of my life began to slip off the tracks. I can’t stress enough the importance of having a strong foundation for health. And the longer one fosters that foundation and builds upon it, I believe one can better withstand the storms and challenges that come our way. My foundation was admittedly unstable for this challenge.
Mind you I did not drop all my principles during this time. For example, no matter how difficult things get for me you will never see me eating gluten. I have Celiac Disease and I know what gluten does to my insides. But stress can be just as strong a trigger as a culprit food can be at times. And there are other things we tend to lean on that are really just bad decisions during these periods. Abandoning exercise, drinking alcohol, relying on medications and drugs; these all may seem to relieve us temporarily but they actually end up taxing the body even more.
While I don’t think I’m fully out of the woods yet with respect to my challenging time, I have resorted to returning to my pillars and foundation. I have put my wheels back on the track and the engine is pulling forward now in the right direction. And sharing my story along with my Pillars of Primo Health is part of my healing and growing. I hope they help you find better health and help you manage your stress so that your life may be more fulfilling and joyful.
The first Pillar of Primo Health is to EAT REAL. What does it mean to eat real? Eating real means eating foods that are as close to their origin as possible. I’m often amazed at what people call food sometimes. Real food comes from a tree, a plant or an animal. Real food is alive. Real food can be identified by site, without having to read a label of ingredients.
You may look at the packaging of your cereal or snack and say that most of the ingredients came from a plant or animal. But how far from their original source are they? How refined are those ingredients? Are the nutrients still intact? For the most part packaged foods are highly refined forms of food that have little if any life left in them. And the nutrients listed on the packaging are often added synthetic forms of vitamins because the nutrients in the ingredients have been removed by the refining process.
EAT REAL to me means getting 90 - 100% of your body’s required nutrients from fruits, vegetables and animals that have been minimally processed. Our bodies down to each individual cell require more than just the macronutrients: protein, carbs and fats. Our cells require micronutrients found in plants, their fruit, their seeds as well as in the flesh, bones and milk of healthy animals. One prime example are the highly refined oils used in restaurants for cooking and recommended for home use as well. Canola, soy and corn oil are highly refined oils that are far from being real, yet they are the most widely used. These oils are so highly refined that the manufacturers have to add fragrance to the oils to cover up the rancid smell from the refinement process. Extra virgin organic olive oil and unrefined coconut oil are the opposite of those refined oils. Choose oils that have been cold pressed and organic when possible.
At this point I must also bring up a controversial issue, the issue of genetically modified foods (GMO’s). It is my strong opinion that until GMO’s have been scientifically proven to be completely safe for consumption not only in the short run, but after years of consumption as well, that we should avoid them. I’m not talking about hybridized foods that are crossbred to make different varieties. I’m talking about the scientific tampering of the genetic code in plants and animals to create something completely new. GMO’s are not real food. Find tips for avoiding GMO’s here.
So take a look at your next meal and ask yourself, “Is this REAL FOOD?” Are you eating sliced apples or apple sauce with loads of sugar and chemical ingredients. Does your sandwich have any fresh vegetables? And is the bread a highly refined bread or a whole grain fermented bread? Are you drinking a soda loaded with chemicals and high fructose corn syrup? Or are you drinking a homemade lemonade sweetened with bee’s honey? If it came out of a can or a box it is more than likely an overly refined food, it is not REAL FOOD. I know every meal can’t be perfect. As long as you have the options there, choose to EAT MORE REAL. Your body will love you for it! Your body is REAL!