Hey friends, happy Monday! Hope you’re having a great start to your week. Any exciting plans? Today I wanted to talk about eating for longevity and healthy living. For the longest time I was focused on eating for a certain look (skinny, toned) but in my 30s this mentality has been replaced with eating for health. I started wondering what can I eat to FEEL my best? What foods fuel my body and give me natural energy and glowing skin? What ingredients will help me live a longer and healthier life?
After years of research, I knew to stay away from processed foods, refined sugar and soda. But I also wanted to know what foods I should eat more of in order to stay healthy.
One day I picked up a copy of the latest issue of National Geographic at the store (along with a grilled vegetable salad from my fav local cafe Rachel’s Kitchen):
The issue discussed diets of centenarians from the five areas around the world that are designated as the Blue Zones: Ikaria in Greece, Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy, Loma Linda in California, and Nicoya in Costa Rica. Scientists have discovered that people in these regions live much longer than average Americans, often reaching the age of 100, and decided to find out what it is exactly they do to stay healthy.
What they discovered was very simple. These findings only confirmed my belief that there are a few very basic principles at the core of longevity: eat directly from the source, cook your own meals and move your body in natural ways. All these things were taken away from us by all the inventions of modern civilization. We drive our cars instead of walking, we reheat frozen dinners in microwaves and spend hours sitting at our desk jobs or in front of TVs, as we sip on our sugar loaded lattes. We are very spoiled but not very healthy.
Yet, it’s still possible to take charge of your own health. While we can’t completely give up our lifestyle, it’s possible to make small tweaks in our routine that would have a big effect on your overall longevity. You may start with incorporating the foods from my Longevity List along with simple tips below!
What my typical grocery store run looks like (not pictured: ground turkey meat, almond milk, pasture eggs)
Top Longevity Foods List
You’ve probably heard a saying “food is medicine”. Well, there are certain foods that centenarians from around the world eat more of, and I’ve put together the list below:
- leafy greens
- sweet potatoes
- seasonal vegetables
- brown rice
- whole wheat bread
- feta cheese
- olive oil
- herbal teas
As you can see, the foods on this list are easily accessible and you probably already eat some if not many of them on the regular basis. Eating for longevity doesn’t have to be complicated!
Inspired by the reading, I immediately ran to the store to grab wholesome ingredients. I’m working on replacing my snacks and dessert with nuts and dried fruit, but the cravings still come. It’s a work in progress 🙂
Real Tips for Long Life
So where do you start on your road to longevity? It may be easier than you think! Here are a few tips to increase your health and longevity:
- Pick 3-5 foods from the Longevity List that you enjoy and most likely to eat consistently. Write down these foods on a piece of paper and stick on your fridge. This will be a good reminder to eat them daily. For example, my current list includes a handful of nuts, olive oil, honey, lemon, greens. Once you create a habit of eating healthy foods on your list, rotate it to include others on the list. Such slow and consistent change of habits is usually most successful.
- Many families are used to eating meat every night for dinner, but centenarians eat meat only on a special occasion. You can try replacing one of your meat meals with a beans or lentils dish. For example, introduce Meatless Mondays. Black bean and brown rice burritos make a tasty and satisfying dinner. Look for meatless recipes, Pin them, save or print. Try a new meatless recipe at least once a week. Introduce these changes slowly. For example, I know that withholding meat from my husband’s dinner plate would be catastrophic, but I think he’d go along with a one day a week plan.
- Who’s guilty of late night snacking? We all know that after a stressful day at work or handling kids and chores our will power is weakened. There’s a notion of availability and proximity in psychology. If you crave something and it’s available in close proximity, you’re more likely to give in to your craving. Clean up your pantry and get rid of all over-processed foods that don’t have nutritional value such a chips, cookies, cereal.
- Most of us are used to eating a meal in a hurry, always rushing to the next thing like taking kids to school or finishing that work project. That releases stress hormones like cortisol which interferes with proper digestion. “Your body doesn’t absorb nutrients and antioxidants as well; the calories you consume are more likely to end up as fat on your waistline than energy for your cells” (source). Instead, make your meal an event! Sit down with your family and bond over dinner, eating slowly and enjoying the company.
- Schedule at least 15 minutes of downtime/me time every day. As a nation, we are used to being rewarded for high performance. Resting and doing nothing usually doesn’t come easy for us, but it’s so important to recharge your batteries. Taking deep breaths and re-balancing your emotions will help you realize that you may not be actually hungry when you reach for that snack.
Hope this was helpful. As always, consult with your physician before making any changes to your diet. Happy healthy living to you!
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