This Free Chapter from Missing Peace Will Change the Way You Eat
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My dear friend, I have been looking forward to this moment for some time now—sharing a chapter of Missing Peace with you.
If you’ve been following me for awhile, this chapter will sound very familiar. I chose it because it triggers more a-ha moments than any other as it relates to the power that each one of us possesses to take control of our eating habits. I’m certain you will find it rings true for you on some level.
There are three Make Peace Exercises at the end to help you put the concepts into practice for real results.
Missing Peace #4: What You Feed Your Body Most, It Will Crave
Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs one step at a time.
This is one of the most empowering Missing Peaces I can share with you.
Do you realize how amazing your body is? It has the ability to adapt to any number of dietary combinations forced upon it. It has to; after all, your survival depends on it.
I want you to take a moment to think about all the foods you crave on a daily basis. These are the must-have foods in your life. When I ask this question of audience members, I usually get answers like chocolate, potato chips, French fries, and pizza. But there’s always that one person who shouts out, “Salad.”
So what gives? Are these salad-cravers freaks of nature? Not at all.
No matter what your food cravings, I want you to know that you orchestrated every last one of them. You are responsible for the foods your body is demanding at this moment. In reality, the individual who craves chocolate and the one who craves salad have both trained their bodies to prefer these foods. It’s not about willpower; it’s a matter of how frequently you put the food into your body and the physical cravings that emerge over time.
Your taste buds become trained, by you, to crave the very foods you are placing upon them. They know no better. Understand, however, that we have one strike against us from day one: We were born with a preference for sweet. It’s hardwired in our brain. We didn’t come out of the womb craving Brussels sprouts and broccoli; it’s something we have to train ourselves to crave.
This is wonderful news because it means no matter how horrible your diet is right now, you can totally transform it (and your body) by doing one simple thing: start feeding it wholesome food. That’s it.
I’m not telling you to take anything out; I’m asking you to add, and add consistently. This means that if you choose to add a serving of vegetables to your diet, you must do it every single day in order to strengthen your craving for vegetables.
Cementing a craving in place can take anywhere from two weeks to two months, so whatever you do, don’t give up on it. I promise, your body will respond favorably, for it is the law.
My breakfast for the past ten years has been a wholesome Peace of Health shake. The recipe changes from time to time; however, my current addiction is one chock-full of fresh avocado, kale, lemon (peel and all), ginger, turmeric root, frozen blueberries, and cauliflower (yes, cauliflower), and a homemade protein powder made of ground hemp, flax, and pumpkin seeds and naturally sweetened with cinnamon and raw cacao powder. When I don’t have my smoothie due to travelling or when I replace it with an omelet on Sunday morning, I really miss it. My body literally craves it.
Earthfoods: Nutrient-Rich Foods from the Earth
What exactly are these Earthfoods I’ve been building up? They are the foods your body was designed to eat and truly longs for. They are powerful beyond measure and can heal your body at a cellular level.
Earthfoods include whole, plant-based, nutrient-rich foods from the earth such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, avocados, legumes, herbs, spices, cacao, and green tea. A complete list of Earthfoods can be found in the appendix for your reference.
The payoff of eating an Earthfood-rich diet is a body that is satiated to the core. These foods won’t cause you to raid the refrigerator looking for more food an hour after you’ve eaten them (think potato chips and chocolate chip cookies). Moreover, you aren’t likely to feel the need to overeat them because they are so nourishing. They give you energy, help your brain function at optimal levels, and provide a sense of clarity.
You feel so good on a steady diet of these foods that after a while, you begin to notice two things: First, you can’t believe how crappy you were feeling before. Think about it; if you’ve always felt a certain way, you have no way of knowing how bad you really feel because you have nothing to compare it to. Or maybe it was such a gradual shift toward feeling crummy that you didn’t even notice the subtle differences over the years. Maybe you just blamed it on getting old.
The second thing you’ll notice after eating more Earthfoods is, when you stray off course, and processed foods begin to sneak back into your life, your body doesn’t like it. It responds by manifesting little aches and pains, stomach discomfort, skin problems, digestive issues, and even brain fog.
I’m always delighted when someone tells me that they ate a few chicken wings or pizza at a party and suffered a stomachache or some other minor side effect. It’s not because I’m happy they are in pain; rather, I am elated because I know these are signs that they’ve made a shift in their body. They’ve trained their body to crave the good stuff and reject the rest.
Since this isn’t a diet book, I’m not going to offer you meal plans or strict rules to follow. Instead, I’ll share guidelines and suggestions to help you easily implement more Earthfoods into your dietary routine to help your body crave these foods.
Consistency is critical to your success, so please be diligent about adding more Earthfoods to your daily diet. If you begin by eating a serving of two of Earthfoods at breakfast, continue doing so. They don’t have to be the same ones; in fact, I encourage you to mix it up and incorporate new foods at every opportunity. Just make sure to stick to that pattern of consistency.
A serving of Earthfood is any one of the following:
- 1 cup of fresh or frozen vegetables
- 2 cups of leafy greens: kale, collard greens, spinach, Romaine lettuce, arugula, mustard greens, Swiss chard, microgreens, and so on
- ½ cup of fruit
- ½ cup cooked legumes: beans, peas, lentils
- ¼ cup nuts and seeds: walnuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and so on
- 1 tbsp. of chia seeds, flaxseed, hemp seeds, sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp. of nut or seed butter: almond, cashew, peanut, macadamia nut, sunflower, and so on
- ½ of a small avocado
- 1 tbsp. of unrefined coconut oil
- 1 tbsp. fresh or 1 tsp. dried herbs and spices
To illustrate what this looks like in an actual meal, let’s take a look at Melanie’s Go-To Power Shake. This shake contains eight servings of Earthfoods. Unless noted, each of the following shake ingredients represent one Earthfood serving:
- 1 tsp. maca powder
- 2 tbsp. Earthfood Powder (two Earthfood servings)
- 1 tbsp. fresh ginger
- 1 tbsp. fresh turmeric
- ½ of a small avocado
- 2 cups fresh organic kale
- ½ cup frozen wild blueberries
To make the shake, add these ingredients to 12 ounces of unsweetened almond or coconut milk in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
I have full confidence that you will love the way you look and feel so much that adding more Earthfoods will become a natural progression. The more you eat them, the more you’ll crave them.
Why No Food Rules?
There are two reasons why I refuse to lay down a bunch of rules about avoiding certain foods. First, I understand human nature. Humans thrive on the ability to choose, and if I take that away from you, it will only fuel your fire of desire to eat the not-so-healthy stuff. Remember the example I shared in an earlier Missing Peace, about the persistent child in the grocery store checkout line who desires a candy bar that his mom refuses to purchase? Instead, I will share the foods that will rock your health and those that rob you of it, and then let you decide.
Remember that what you eat, you crave. So if you want to begin craving healing foods, all you have to do is eat them, and do so consistently. I trust you will do what is best for you.
The second reason I am against rigid rules is because I am a realist. We live in the real world, and there will be times when the not-so-healthy foods wind up on our plate. The last thing I want you to do is beat yourself up over eating these foods. Instead, if and when you eat them, do so consciously and intentionally. Be fully aware that you are feeding your body foods that can potentially rob you of good health, if you eat too much. Just the act of being conscious of what you are eating can be enough to help you shift back toward your Earthfood-rich diet. No harm done.
Do you see how much more peaceful this approach is? For example, one of the foods I adore is cheese. I love how it tastes with a glass of dry red wine, accompanied by olives, marcona almonds, and some fresh berries. Is cheese an Earthfood? I wish. I know that eating cheese isn’t particularly good for my health, but I enjoy it in moderation: an ounce or so about five days a week. Even though it’s not a health-rocking Earthfood, I find a way to include it because it feeds my soul. I eat it without guilt, savoring every last bite, and then make sure the rest of my food is clean and nutrient-rich the remainder of the day.
See how this works? So if I’m planning on eating cheese in the evening, I fill my breakfast, lunch, and any snacks with Earthfoods, not cheese. This is how I’ve been able to stay on track and binge-free all these years. It’s also how I am able to stand proud and pronounce my craving for Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and blueberries.
How to Make a PeaceMeal
Planning healthy meals is key to creating healthy food cravings. I only have one rule when it comes to meal planning, and I think you’re really going to like it: Simply build your meals to include a minimum of three servings of Earthfoods. Three is the magic number to turn any meal into what I call a PeaceMeal.
I find that when too many rules are applied to meal planning, it just complicates what should otherwise be a fun, nurturing experience. Surely anyone can choose three Earthfoods to make a meal.
Take a look at these sample meal plans, and see how easy it is. The number beside each food indicates the number of servings of Earthfoods it provides.
Three-egg omelet made with:
- 1 cup of sautéed vegetables: 1
- 1 tbsp. fresh basil: 1
- Served with ½ cup fresh blackberries: 1
Coconut flour pancakes made with:
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts: 1
- 1 tsp. cinnamon: 1
- ½ cup diced apple: 1
Peace of Health Tropical Turmeric Shake made with:
- 1 tbsp. fresh turmeric: 1
- 1 tbsp. fresh ginger: 1
- 2 cups fresh kale: 1
Oversized salad made with:
- 4 cups of fresh spinach and arugula: 2
- ¼ cup unsalted pumpkin seeds: 1
Chicken salad with:
- 1 cup of chopped celery and red onion: 1
- ½ cup cooked lentils: 1
- 1 tbsp. fresh parsley: 1
Egg salad on a bed of greens with:
- ½ of a small avocado, mashed (used instead of mayonnaise): 1
- 1 cup red pepper strips and baby carrots: 1
- 1 small organic apple: 1
Salmon fillet with:
- Wild rice pilaf made with ¼ cup walnuts: 1
- 2 cups roasted Brussels sprouts: 2
Zucchini noodle spaghetti made with:
- 2 cups of spiralized zucchini: 2
- Topped with 1 cup of broccoli: 1
Oven-roasted organic chicken and vegetables made with:
- 2 cups of veggies (bell peppers, onion, mushrooms, eggplant, cauliflower): 2
- 1 tbsp. fresh spices: 1
What about Protein and Fat?
To help balance your blood sugar and keep you satisfied, this is my recommendation:
- Fill half of your plate with mostly nonstarchy vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, greens, and cauliflower.
- Reserve a quarter for some high-quality protein, like free-range eggs, sustainably caught wild salmon, organic free-range chicken or turkey, or organic grass-fed beef. Meatless sources of protein include legumes, nuts, seeds, tempeh, and quinoa.
- Add some healthy fats, such as extra virgin olive oil, to dress your salad or the raw pumpkin seeds you sprinkle over your roasted Brussels sprouts.
Drink Water, Crave Water
Water makes up over 50 percent of your body and about 80 percent of your brain. So whether you like the taste or not, the fact is, you can’t live without it.
Many calculations exist for determining how much water you should be drinking on a daily basis. I have found, however, that the most reliable way to test hydration status is to simply look at the color of your urine. If it’s pale yellow and almost clear, you are pretty well hydrated. On the other hand, if your urine is the color of apple juice or beer, this is a sure sign that you are dehydrated and need to drink more water.
Understand that your water requirements fluctuate based on several conditions. Hot weather, illness, and exercise all demand that you drink more water. Just take a quick peek at your urine color and let that be your guide.
If you aren’t crazy about the taste of water, you can most certainly change this. Just like with food, when you drink water as your main beverage, your body will crave water, and no other beverage will do the trick—not juice, soda, artificially flavored water, iced tea, or sports drinks.
I used to drink very little water; instead, diet soda was my go-to thirst quencher. It’s been almost twenty years since I’ve kicked these artificially sweetened drinks to the curb, and if I happened to take a sip of one today by accident, my taste buds get an immediate shock, and I have to drink a cup of water to cleanse my palate. Today, these drinks are downright offensive to my body. In Missing Peace #6: Awaken to the Source of Your Unsupportive Cravings, you’ll learn why it’s so important to eliminate artificial sweeteners from your life.
To help your body get to this water-craving state, start by squeezing a slice of lemon, lime, or orange into your water. To change things up a bit, I like to make my own fruit-infused water.
To try this for yourself, simply toss your choice of thoroughly washed and sliced fruit into a tall glass pitcher. Watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, pineapple, oranges, kiwi, grapefruit, apples, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are all wonderful. Next, fill the pitcher with water and allow to sit in the refrigerator for at least two hours. When you’re ready for a drink, simply pour from the strainer side of the lid so that the fruit remains in the pitcher. For some really unique flavor combinations, try adding fresh herbs like lavender, basil, sage, lemongrass, mint, cilantro, or rosemary. If you want to get the most flavor from your fruit-infused water, consider using a muddler (or the handle of a wooden spoon) to mash the fruit and herbs a bit before you add the water.
The bottom line is this: Water is the best way to hydrate that beautiful body of yours. But to crave it, you must drink it, and drink it often.
A Note of Caution about Fruit
I’m a big fan of it, but in small amounts. It is totally healthy to include a bit a fruit in your daily diet, but I would recommend capping it at one to two servings. A serving is about a half-cup, or half of a medium to large piece of fruit (a smaller portion compared to what you may be used to).
Yes, fruit is healthy and filled with fiber and valuable vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but your body still breaks them down into sugar. Of course, the extra fiber that is found in fruit is a blessing because it serves to lessen the rise in blood sugar as compared to table sugar, but at the end of the day, your body treats them the same.
Chronic Inflammation: The Driver behind Diabetes, Cancer, and Heart Disease
A regular diet of low-quality food not only stimulates cravings for these very foods but also results in chronic inflammation, which underlies most major diseases, like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Typically, when we think of something in our body being inflamed, images of a cut finger or skinned knee appear in our mind. When we experience an injury like this, there’s no doubt that the affected area is inflamed. It shows telltale signs of bleeding, redness, and pain. Our body then does exactly what it was designed to do: White blood cells rush to the injury site, where they perform the role of cleaning up the wound. Our blood clots, and eventually, a scab forms to seal the abrasion to keep harmful microorganisms at bay. The injury and resulting inflammation just described is called acute inflammation, a necessary process that our body must get right; otherwise, we would die.
I sometimes just sit in amazement at the wonder of the human body. It knows exactly what to do to heal and protect itself. Its only role is to keep us alive, at any cost. In January of 2015, I personally experienced the miraculous healing abilities of the human body when I set out to take a walk on an icy morning. About five minutes into my walk, I hit a patch of black ice, slipped backward, and landed directly on my butt. Hoping to break my fall and protect my head, I instinctively shot my left arm out behind me, resulting in a fractured wrist. This is an example of acute inflammation.
Let’s now talk about chronic inflammation. This type of inflammation is much more worrisome because, unlike acute inflammation, where you can see and feel it, the chronic type lies silent in the body, so you really have no idea it’s even happening.
Similar to acute inflammation, chronic inflammation is triggered when something is off-balance in the body, which then activates inflammatory markers to heal the perceived injury. A notable difference between the two, however, is that acute inflammation responds because of a physical injury, while chronic is attempting to heal something that isn’t physically broken. It’s like a warning signal that flares up in response to your lifestyle habits, only the warning signal is silent. And because, unlike a broken wrist, we can’t see or feel the early stages of these diseases, chances are you will carry on as if nothing is off-balance. Then one afternoon, you walk into your doctor’s office for your annual checkup, and she breaks the news that you have prediabetes. Inflammation is fueled when you skimp on sleep and eat a diet rich in heavily processed foods, like fast food, frozen meals, and sweets, and deficient in Earthfoods. It thrives in the bodies of people who use tobacco or avoid physical exercise.
Let me be very clear on this: most chronic inflammation is caused by our choices and habits, those we repeat on a daily basis.
The very fact that your body thrives on Earthfoods, and you begin to crave them when eaten consistently, is proof positive enough that your body prefers them. When you make choices over time that do not serve you, your body knows something is wrong and, just like a cut on your finger, goes into repair mode. Its natural state is ease and wellness. It wants to be well and will do everything in its power to maintain it. When you ignore the eventual signs of disease (high blood sugar, high cholesterol), it has no choice but to be in dis-ease. This is good news because it means you have so much more control over your health than you think.
Peace for Diabetes
You’ve probably noticed what seems to be an epidemic of diabetes in the United States. What used to be referred to as adult-onset diabetes is now called type 2 diabetes, since it doesn’t only affect adults. Young children and teens are now being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at alarming rates, and it isn’t due to genetic factors, either. The rise in processed foods and simple sugars, coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, creates the perfect storm for a diabetes diagnosis.
Intentionally building your meals around fibrous Earthfoods, with just a touch of fruit, allows your body to manage the amount of sugar it must process. And because all carbohydrate-containing foods break down into sugar, we want to be mindful that we don’t feed it an overabundance of high-carbohydrate foods in one sitting. For me, this works out to be around six to seven cups of mostly nonstarchy vegetables per day and one cup of fruit. I especially like berries because they are low glycemic and house an abundance of antioxidants.
The glycemic index is a measure given to a carbohydrate-based food that reflects its effect on your blood sugar. The higher the glycemic index, the more sharply it raises your blood sugar. The glycemic index is affected by several factors, including how ripe a fruit or vegetable is when you eat it (more ripe = higher glycemic index), how processed the food is (more processed/refined/added sugars = higher glycemic index), and how long it is cooked (longer cooking time = higher glycemic index).
Low glycemic carbohydrate-based Earthfoods include:
- nonstarchy vegetables
- leafy greens
The amount of fiber in food also helps to slow the release of sugar in the blood. This is why I suggest you load up on Earthfoods—they are naturally high in fiber.
In addition, as noted above, when eaten with protein and fat-rich foods, carbohydrate foods will digest more slowly, therefore reducing the impact on your blood sugar. For example, eating a bowl of pasta with marinara sauce will spike your blood sugar within an hour after it’s eaten. If you reduce the amount of pasta in that bowl and top it off with 3–4 oz. of organic, free-range chicken, or a couple of grass-fed beef meatballs, and serve it alongside a generous leafy green salad drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled with raw walnuts, you will have much better control over your blood sugar.
If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, my recommendation is to follow the guidelines I offered earlier: a minimum of three Earthfood servings per meal, including lots of nonstarchy vegetables (two servings of fruit per day or less), and then adding a few ounces of healthy protein and a moderate amount of fat. Don’t forget to cook with plenty of fresh herbs and spices too.
Although those with type 1 diabetes can benefit greatly from the meal-planning guidelines outlined above, it is best to check with your health care provider first, as insulin and other medications may need to be adjusted.
The simplicity of this meal-planning method makes it easy to follow long-term. Gone are the days of counting calories and carbohydrates.
Also, I must mention that whatever you do, be sure to enjoy your food. Really taste and savor every bite. Food is meant to be enjoyed, so let’s not forget that.
Peace for Heart Disease and Cancer
Now that we covered diabetes, what about heart disease and cancer? How should you be eating to prevent these two major diseases that claim the lives of thousands upon thousands of people each year?
The answer is simple: You needn’t change a thing. At the end of the day, a diet rich in Earthfoods will help create health in your body, which means it lessens the risk for not only diabetes, but also heart disease and cancer.
The Earthfood-rich environment you create in that beautiful body of yours is a threatening atmosphere for disease. What I’m saying is this: Eat more Earthfoods, crave more Earthfoods. Crave more Earthfoods, create more health, and discourage inflammatory diseases from taking up residence in your body.
Rather than wait for a diagnosis, why not get in the driver’s seat of your health and take small steps to create health in your body?
“I Want to, but It’s Just Too Difficult”
One of the most common beliefs about improving our health is that it’s too difficult. Too difficult to eat healthy; after all, we are so busy nowadays, most people barely have enough time to brush their teeth, let alone prepare healthy meals. Or do they?
Consider this: What if every excuse you’ve been feeding yourself about how difficult life is, is just a big fat lie? What if it’s easy, and we’ve just convinced ourselves it’s tough? It really is a matter of perspective. What were you raised to believe? What do your friends say and believe about living a healthy life? “No pain, no gain”? Or how about “It takes too much effort to eat healthy,” or “I don’t have time to exercise”?
If you tell yourself something long enough, you really do start to believe it. It becomes your reality. But why not choose a different reality?
Wayne Dyer offered this thought in his book Excuses Begone!:
You have absolutely no incontrovertible evidence that what you’d like to change is actually going to be challenging. It’s just as likely to be easy for you to change your thinking as it is to be hard.
He goes on to say:
The belief that [your habits are] going to be hard to change is only a belief! Making something difficult in your mind before you even undertake the effort is an excuse. As an ancient Taoist master once concluded: Nothing in the world is difficult for those who set their mind to it.
Still, you may not believe it’s easy to eat more vegetables when they taste bland or even offensive. But this is where you must trust and have faith in this Missing Peace; what you feed your body most, it will crave.
You only have to move the needle just a little bit in the direction of self-care, and your body will demand more. I’m not talking about moving mountains here; just little piles of dirt.
I challenge you to consider the idea that to stay the same is more difficult than making a single change that can create health and harmony in your body.
Make Peace Exercise: Eat Earthfoods, Crave Earthfoods
- Write down all of the foods you crave on a daily basis.
- Rather than forbid yourself of any food you currently crave, name at least ten Earthfoods you would like to crave, and begin adding them to your meals (see appendix for a complete list of Earthfoods). This works out to a minimum of three Earthfoods per meal. For example, ginger, carrots, and pears could easily be incorporated into your morning Peace of Health shake.
- Make a promise to yourself right now that you will begin feeding that beautiful body of yours at least three Earthfoods at each meal, and repeat until you begin to crave it or miss it when you don’t have it.
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