Nutrition for Happiness

Growing up, I  struggled with food. When I was 16 , I was a drama student at a performing arts school.  I was surrounded by  ballet dancers starving themselves for weigh-ins.  We  shared a collective starvation mindset and equated beauty and popularity with thinness. The diet of choice was cigarettes and diet coke mixed with milk.

In college, my best friend and I  binged on pizza and ice cream during crisis situations through thick and thin- exam week, lost love, new found love, a political crisis, a family crisis, no crisis; too happy… You get the idea.

It wasn’t until I  I moved to Los Angeles in 1998, that  I finally started my proper nutrition and health journey. In Cali, I was a regular at Golds Gym. I trained alongside stars like the Rock (he wasn’t a movie star yet) , the Hulk, and Mr Universe. Seeing those kind of athletes in motion gets your hustle on. I had personal trainers when I could afford it  and took a nutrition course with Mark O’Donnell (now a New York times best selling author with his books on nutrition).

The take-away for me is that food and exercise are tangible daily miracles at our disposal. Exercise, good nutrition, visualization and a positive outlook can shape 95% of your reality. Only 5 % is beyond our control.

As bodies live longer, metabolism slows and  muscle mass decreases. This is why weight training and protein are so important. (I need to start weight training again.)  Nutrition is more than half the battle though!  I discovered that there are high energy foods and low energy foods, foods designed for speed and foods designed for sludge. My grocery list has no meats but occasional chicken and fish.  The chicken is a  protein source since I have problems digesting wheat, milk, beans and tofu.

My favorite meals consist of oatmeal with egg whites, salads made with tomatoes, avocados, nuts, feta cheese, tuna and carrots. I drink yogurt drinks  but limit cow milk and cheese (aside from feta) . I avoid processed carbs like breads, pasta and rice.  I make smoothies with super greens.

IMG_1288.JPG Smoothie Fanatic Me

I am crazy about including flax seed for Omega-Threes.  I graze when my body tells me to. And I am totally imperfect. When I have a sugar craving, I give in. And I forgive myself. Since my diet is mostly healthy, and I graze and keeping my blood sugar even, the cravings are fewer.

IMG_1675.JPG Potassium Recovery Post Workout- a Banana

It works for me.  When I don’t stay true to these higher energy foods, my body goes out of whack. Like my dance journey, my food journey is one of hits and misses. One size does not fit all but I think the overriding guideline is: listen to your body; it will tell you what it needs.

Here are some food examples that work for me to inspire…..

Tomato salad with feta and nuts, avocado and chicken salad with feta, carrots and nuts, banana ice cream made from frozen banana slices with a spoon of peanut butter and a dash of cream….

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Have you struggled with food balance as well? What works for you?




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