by Christine Hunt
March is the month of green. On St. Patrick’s Day we celebrate by wearing green clothes, beads, hats and four leaf clovers long coveted as the symbol of the Luck o’ the Irish. Some drinking establishments even offer green beer.
Green is a great color. When I think of green I think of life. In spring our surroundings turn green with the leaves of trees, shrubs, flowers and grass. And going green is touted as a good thing as we recycle our waste and use sources of energy that are easier on our beloved mother earth.
But the sadly the green movement has not been incorporated into our diets. Americans diets have shifted to browns as we consume cereals and bagels for breakfast, pizzas and burgers for lunch, pasta and meats for dinner and beverages like sodas and coffee. These dietary habits are a contributing factor to our nation’s declining health because brown foods don’t provide the valuable nutrients, antioxidants and fiber that our bodies need to be at the top of our game. Adding more greens to our diets can help boost energy levels, reduce inflammation and provide nutrients to our bodies that brown foods just do not contain.
Currently, less than 5% of the average American’s diet is composed of leafy, green vegetables. Studies have shown that one daily serving of green, leafy vegetables can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by 11 percent and is associated with a 9 percent lower risk of diabetes.
Greens are easy on the pocketbook since they are one of the least expensive sources of nutrients like folic acid, Vitamin C, potassium, calcium and magnesium. They are packed with antioxidants and help to alkalize the body’s pH which in turn reduces inflammation, a condition found in almost all autoimmune diseases including diabetes and cancer.
These are some leafy greens that you can add to your diet: Lettuce, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard, turnip, beet or mustard greens, cabbage, parsley, arugula, watercress and sprouts.
The easiest way to incorporate them into your lifestyle is to make large salads a regular part of your meal plans. Make salads a hearty main meal by adding stir fried vegetables, rice, pasta, nuts or egg.
For breakfast try adding spinach, kale or Swiss chard to your scrambled eggs in the morning or sauté some greens and layer them between your toast and a fried egg for a breakfast sandwich. Blending greens into your morning smoothie, shake or juice will help to supercharge your day.
Greens can be added to most any meal. Replace tortilla wraps with large, blanched collard green leaves. If you like one-pot meals like stews, chilies and soups, add your choice of chopped greens. Do you make your own burgers? Add any leafy green to the mixture and pile on the lettuce or sprouts before eating. Partial to pasta? Combine greens with your sauces and add to pesto. You can even substitute potato and corn chips with kale chips.
Grabbing a quick lunch at work or on the road usually consists of visits to a fast food restaurant or convenience store – establishments not known for offering fresh, healthy foods. But with the hand held phone and tablet technologies available to us a quick search can yield a list of restaurants that offer more nutritious fare a short distance off our beaten paths. Include search terms like vegetarian, organic, health food and gluten free which will yield a variety of places from which to choose. Many restaurants that offer vegetarian meals also carry healthy fare with meats or seafood. Grocery stores also offer delicious salads in their deli sections and huge salad/ soup bars and sit down dining areas are commonly found in large stores .
If you are an employee or business owner that would like to provide healthy eating incentives to the staff, you could initiate a weekly green day where healthy lunches are provided at a reasonable cost. Look into installing vending machines that offer healthy meals and snacks. Provide educational workshops with a Wellness Coach or Personal Chef where the employees can learn about nutrition and preparing healthier meals. Form a team of volunteers that can promote awareness of diet’s relationship to better health and spearhead the needed changes.
Increasing greens into your lifestyle is easier than you might think and it primarily begins with thinking differently about the food choices you make. You always have a choice. So, when considering what you’ll have for your next meal think green and make sure you incorporate a healthy portion on your plate.
To your health!
Here are links to other articles that you may find helpful in including more greens into your daily diet.
What percentage of your plate is green or brown?
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Christine Hunt is a Wellness Coach and Certified EFT Practitioner and has found that working with the whole person by combining mind/body work, dietary adjustments and movement provides her clients with the tools they need to lose weight (and keep it off), get relief from chronic illness and positively transform their lives.
Contact her for a free, 15 minute consultation to learn why what she does works when other methods have failed.
Christine works with her clients in person, by Skype or phone. So, if you live away from the Annapolis, Maryland area, she can still work with you.