18 March 2008

Chef Aja T. Marsh News - March Newsletter

Happy (Nearly) Spring Greetings!
As someone who only wants people to be healthy and eat nourishing and delicious food, I think one of my biggest frustrations at the moment is the general public's state of confusion over what is good or bad to eat. It is certain that it is more important now than ever before that we pay attention to our health, lifestyle habits, our environment, our food, and how each of those affect each of the others. But it is also, unfortunately, the greatest irony that in our society today we have the greatest opportunity to be healthy, yet are at our utmost unhealthiest. Blame it on mass confusion-- I understand, it is a contradictory buzz word world out there, filled with new fad diets, supplements, pills, and essential nutrients and going into the store with good intentions can cause you to walk out frustrated and overwhelmed. I am not a nutritionist or dietitian, and do not claim to have ‘the answers’, but I’ll tell you what I know to be the most basic truths of good health.

It's either food. Or it's not.
First off, I think we should stop thinking in terms of ‘good’ food and ‘bad’ food. Really, we should think in terms of ‘food’ and ‘not food’. What’s ‘not food’? Well aside from the things we generally regard as inedible, ‘not food’ refers to synthetically created products masquerading as food. Sure, it tastes good-- science made it tasty. In theory, that’s pretty incredible, but in the reality of our everyday, it just makes what should be simple, instinctual decisions even harder. Real food doesn’t have long ingredient lists-- ideally, it only has one-- and those ingredients should be ones you recognize and can pronounce. Real food isn’t confusing-- it’s not trying to be something that it isn’t. A tomato is a tomato*.
*Although, that being said, sometimes a tomato isn’t just a tomato. Thanks again to the progress of science and technology, some produce is now more than meets the eye. In the U.S. products with genetically modified ingredients do not have to be labeled as such. Yet, 60-70% of processed food on the shelves contains some. Most likely contenders? Soy, corn, canola. Produce that has been genetically modified does not have to be labeled either, but you’ll know it if it’s SKU number begins with an “8”.

The Earth provides you with everything you need.
Break it down to the most basic level. Sun shines and rain falls, plants grow, and we and other animals can eat those plants, and some of those animals, we in turn consume. That’s all we need. So, sure, Oreos taste amazing, but what the heck are they? There’s hardly anything remotely recognizable in their ingredients. Your body is made to digest real food, not the ‘not food’ that many of us eat on a regular basis. ‘Not food’ makes us sick because our body doesn’t understand it very well. It handles it the best it can, but not always very well or completely.

Your body know what’s good for it. And what isn’t.
Learning to listen to your body is perhaps one of the more challenging things to do, if you are not already tuned in, but it is one of the single most important things you can do for your physical and emotional self. Your body is constantly telling you how it feels about what it’s put through on a daily basis. The extremes of those bodily emotions are migraines and other physical illnesses. But if you learn to pay attention, you’ll notice other clues-- breakouts after eating certain foods, subtle stomachaches, inability to sleep, etc. You’ll also be able to tell when you’re truly hungry, when what you’re doing is right. So before blindly eating just anything, ask your body what it needs. If you quiet down your brain, your body will respond.

And perhaps you think you are genetically predisposed for heart disease, diabetes, and obesity? That might be part of the story, but if you do right by your body, it will do right by you. Most major illnesses and disease are entirely preventable through diet and lifestyle. Listen to your body. It knows what’s up.

A‘diet’ will not save you.
The fad diets we see come in and out of fashion all have positive elements to them, and many of them have foundations in healthy ideas, but the idea that what works for your sister or friend or neighbor is also going to work for you is a bit silly. Everyone and every body is different. Not to mention that regimented diets are generally not the answer. You need a variety of real, natural food. But beyond that, you especially need to move. It’s easy to wake up, get in the car, sit at a desk, drive home, go to bed, and find that you’ve probably not broken a sweat once. It is essential to move, really move, every single day. It’s what our bodies were constructed to do.

Want to learn more? Please contact me if you are interested in personalized, individual Healthy Lifestyle Coaching.
(We don't have to be in the same town or even the same state! My program is conducted primarily via telephone and email)


NEWS FROM AJA
Working the movie shoot in New Hampshire was delightful, full of really nice and warm people, and I received the nicest compliments on the food I prepared for the cast and crew. Ranging from "that veggie chili is one of the top ten best foods I've ever had in my life" to "best food I've had on a movie set ever." Read some of my accounts from my time there.

I'm also working to post more frequently on Stem+Leaf and would love to hear more from you! Leave comments, let me know if you tried any of the recipes, etc.! I want to provide content that you will enjoy.

If you know of anyone who would benefit from this newsletter, please feel free to pass it far and wide. Friends and family can also sign up here to be on this monthly mailing list.


ANNOUNCEMENTS, etc.
Read my article in E-Print!: I was recently published in the March Wellness Issues of the Ladies Who Launch Online Magazine. My article, entitled 'Staying Healthy While Launching' focuses on keeping on track health-wise while starting a business. It also touches on some of the 'food' and 'not food' issues discussed above and features two recipes!
*If this link doesn't take you directly to the article, click on 'Hot Topics' under in the Magazine box and it should be the first article to open up.

Recycle Your Plastic Caps: Aveda stores are encouraging you to bring in hard plastic caps from water, detergent, hair product bottles, etc. (which are not generally recyclable curbside) to their stores for recycling. Bring in 25 or more, get a free sample. I will gladly take in your caps if you cannot. Read more about it here.

Current Guest Blog: Janet Watkins is presenting a 5-part guest blog series on how to purchase and consume fish sustainably and healthily. Read the first part here, with the second part up later this week!

Guest Blogger Opportunities: I am always on the lookout for interested individuals to write guest blogs for Stem+Leaf about green and healthy-lifestyle related subjects, from your own perspective. No need to be an experienced writer-- just enthusiastic with something to say! Please contact me for more information.

Be well and Enjoy the day!

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