By Amber Zuckswert
In my personal health journey, tireless research,, and client experience it’s alarmingly obvious that mindful eating and peak performance nutrition are absolutely crucial components to every day vitality and superb longevity. I’m convinced that 90% of our physical appearance, moods and energy stem from what we sip and munch.
Movement and spiritual happiness are essential as well, but you can kill your body in the gym or meditate for hours and see no results if you continue to feed your cells junk. Our cells are made up of what we put in. If you put garbage in your one and only temple, you’ll feel and look like garbage.
Cutting edge research is now showing that our tummies are directly linked to our emotional centers in the brain. If the pipes aren’t flowing smoothly and absorption of nutrients is halted, prepare for mood swings and cravings. And we wonder why millions of people are depressed on the SAD diet!
Choose to be vibrant, happy, clean, green and lean! Below are some of my standard guidelines for clients. They serve as a jumping off point on your road to epic living. I promote a plant based whole food vegan diet based on over a decade of study and interviews with the worlds leading experts.
I specialize in designing action plans that seamlessly fit into my clients busy lives. I aim to educate, while immediately implementing daily action steps that transform you quickly. Epic eating is quick, easy and inexpensive. You just have to take the time to learn and practice like any other life skill. I am here to inspire, keep you focused and teach you how!
If not now, when? You deserve to feel epic. Let’s get started!
Cut Highly Refined Foods: Processed sugar and flour are the big bad guys. Read all labels for ingredients. Highly processed foods,including oil, flour, sugar and added salt, artificially stimulate the pleasure chemicals of the brain, including dopamine, resulting in an addictive-like pleasure trap analogous to drug addiction. One result is the over- consumption of calories which is a major contributing cause of the obesity epidemic in industrialized nations.
Avoid: Keep your eyes peeled for processed white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, enriched white flour, and any hydrogenated oils or trans fat. Cut back on starches like potatoes, white bread and grains. Organic sprouted grains are best. Don’t know if you’re gluten intolerant? Eliminate wheat gluten for two weeks and then slowly add back in.
What to Eat: Quinoa, millet, and amaranth are the highest nutrient dense ancient “grains,” they are actually seeds. If you want to eat grains these are the winners! High in protein and healthy fats. Stick to low glycemic fruits, like berries, stone fruits, apples, grapes, grapefruits, and citrus, while saving the tropical fruits and other high glycemic fruits, like dates, for high intensity workouts or special occasion desserts.
Add Probiotics For Optimum Digestion: 750 trillion single cell bacteria sit in your gut. While it might sound like a nightmare, the little guys help your immune system ward off more-dangerous bugs, break down nutrients, and even manipulate how the body stores fat. Maintaining a healthy balance of gut flora is key to stellar digestion, hormone regulation and nutrient absorption. Say no to bloating and PMS, while welcoming radiant skin and unstoppable energy!
Keep the peace in your belly with these bacteria packed eats: Kombucha tea (available at the center), sauerkraut, fermented soy (tempeh), coconut kefir, rejuvelac (wheat based kefir) or probiotic supplements. Dairy products like yogurt are not necessary and completely devoid of friendly bacteria due to pasteurization and nitrogen injected packaging method.
Reduce and Clean Up Your Toxin Load: Do you know what toxins lurk in your food, body products and environment? Antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, herbicides and heavy metals create a chemical slew that wreak havoc on our healthy buzzing cells and DNA. This can not only lead to acute and chronic disease, but also fog your everyday happiness and vitality. The body has to process and detox these inorganic substances and that takes excessive energy that you could be utilizing for other wonderful things like swimming in the ocean or playing with your kids.
I recommend eliminating all animal products from your diet specifically for this reason. But, if you do decide to include meats and dairy, buy local organic farm fresh brands. Know what the farmers are feeding and injecting into the animals because all of it will be transferred to your cells.
Reducing or completely eliminating your dependency on animal products is the number one way to prevent personal illness, save the planet and reduce world hunger. The meat and dairy industry impact our environment and climate more than all other factors combined.
Dr. Colin T Campbell describes in his book, The China Study, and furthermore in the feature film Forks Over Knives, how casein, the protein in cow’s milk, literally turns cancer cells on and off. Scary stuff!
Buy organic and farm fresh seasonal produce whenever possible. The Environmental Working Group has an awesome downloadable list of the dirty (pesticide covered) dozen and clean fifteen fruits and veggies. Go to www.ewg.com to download it today. I also suggest you carry a non GMO buying guide to remember which foods to avoid.
A fabulous Non-GMO Shopping Pocket Guide is available at www.nongmoshoppingguide.com. Remember, we live in the most toxic environment of all time. Doing your best to reduce the amount of toxin in the things you ingest is critical to preventing disease and further environmental degradation.
Balance Your Hormones: Do you drink caffeine and have a stressful busy life? Like the vast majority of people, your stress hormones are buzzing on a low level continuously. This taxes the adrenal glands leading to hormone imbalances across the board. Aim to minimize stress by taking movement and breath breaks from work and cut back on stimulants. Add foods called adaptogens into your meal planning that naturally balance hormone levels by helping you cope with stressors.
My most trusted potent adaptogens: Maca root (Health Force Nutritionals (healthforce.com) has two varieties I love), holy basil and ginseng. Hormone levels are thrown off when you consume too much soy. Soy bean in all forms acts like an estrogen mimic in the body. Taking birth control, and consuming animal products that have been treated with hormones also drastically effect hormone balance. Note: The vast majority of all animals meant for consumption are given hormones to force rapid growth and continuous pregnancy.
Read the rest of my peak performance nutrition guidelines in my free 25 page ebook available on my website Epicself.com. Or better yet, learn about the power of a whole food plant based diet in person during the center’s Epic Nutrition donation based class every Monday night at 7:30pm. I break down all 12 of my guidelines and open up the floor for Q&A. We also offer local organic superfood smoothies and produce boxes at the center and the Quepos feria at conventional prices.
You’ll never know how good you can feel until you try. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”- Hippocrates
Amber Zuckswert is the founder of The Center for Epic Living in Manuel Antonio. She’s an internationally recognized pilates and yoga instructor, professional contemporary dancer, and holistic nutritionist from San Francisco, CA. Amber love nothing more than empowering others to create their most epic self and lifestyle through mindful movement and peak performance nutrition. Check out her daily schedule of classes, online programs, upcoming workshops, and wellness retreats with experts from all over the world here: www.epiclivingcenter.com and www.epicself.com.