By Li’l Dan Celdran, ACSM Health Fitness Specialist
After years of having a love/hate relationship with food, I decided to treat myself to a nutrition consultation a few years ago with Kim Rush Lynch of Cultivating Health, which “provides coaching, education and support for individuals and organizations to learn and practice healthy eating, playing and loving life.
At that time, I wasn’t completely committed to making any long-lasting lifestyle changes. I was a new parent, my body was changing, and I was still in denial (“I don’t have issues with food!”). Since then, my blood sugar and cholesterol levels have been on the rise – so much that I’ve developed nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a term used to describe the accumulation of fat in the liver of people who drink little or no alcohol.
The liver’s main job is to filter the blood coming from the digestive tract before passing it to the rest of the body. The liver also detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs. As it does so, the liver secretes bile that ends up back in the intestines. The liver also makes proteins important for blood clotting and other functions. (Source.) Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease occurs when your liver has trouble breaking down fats, causing fat to build up in your liver tissue. A wide range of diseases and conditions can increase one’s risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, including:
- Gastric bypass surgery
- High cholesterol
- High levels of triglycerides in the blood
- Metabolic syndrome
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Sleep apnea
- Type 2 diabetes
- Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
- Underactive pituitary gland (hypopituitarism)
So as to be a better role model to my son and positively affect my glucose and cholesterol numbers, I invested again, this time in a natural food tour with Kim, where I learned about better choices for my sweet tooth and dietary needs (I’m mostly vegetarian), such as using raw coconut crystals (instead of sugar) and coconut aminos (instead of soy sauce). I have found coconut milk surprisingly delicious, as well as ice cream made with coconut milk. Coconut milk has “good fats,” Kim reminds me. So, bring it on!
I’ve been attending the free nutrition workshops offered by Greenbelt Co-Op supermarket. Along with whole foods chef, Ellen Seigel, Kim has introduced new ways of eating: how to detox one’s liver and how to use whole grains. I learned: that cilantro binds to heavy metals in the body; that magnesium is a great relaxer and pulls out toxins while calcium is a great contractor (they work together); milk thistle is great for the liver; and eating a diet free from refined sugar and flour are beneficial to the body (the sugars and flours contribute to yeast overgrowth in the body).
“Sugar compromises everyone’s health; it’s just a matter of to what degree. Some of us can tolerate a little now and again while others of us have to stay away from it entirely to avoid unpleasant symptoms. The refined ‘white stuff’ affects blood sugar levels, brain health, moods, energy and the hormonal system. It also contributes to an imbalance in your gut flora by feeding opportunistic yeast and bacteria that can adversely affect digestion and your immune system”, says Kim.
- contributes to obesity
- can increase cholesterol
- can contribute to diabetes
- can cause cardiovascular disease
- can produce a signiﬁcant rise in triglycerides
- can increase the body’s ﬂuid retention
- can cause headaches, including migraines
- contributes to adrenal fatigue
- can cause hormonal imbalance
I’ve become more aware of what happens in my body when I eat certain foods. For instance, when I eat wheat, I get sluggish; dairy gives me gas; and soy just makes me crazy (interferes with my sex hormones). I am now more willing to abstain from foods that give me ill effects. What I appreciate most about Kim’s approach is that she reminds me to make time for play, to have time for fun and relaxation. And she’s nonjudgmental. Most importantly, I’m learning to take small steps in changing the way I think and feel about food and to make better food choices. I am learning to eat to live, not live to eat.
My favorite summer recipe (from Ellen Siegel) is easy to make:
Herb Vinaigrette (serves 2)
- 1 TBSP Braggs apple cider vinegar
- 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 shallot, finely minced
- 1/4c each finely chopped mint, basil, cilantro or parsley
- Sea salt to taste (I use Seat Salt with Sea Veg)
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Mix ingredients well and serve. May be used on salads (greens and grains), steamed, grilled or roasted veggies and as a marinade for meat and fish. (I soak quinoa and wheat berries or millet overnight and in the morning cook according to package. Once cool, I add the vinaigrette dressing. Plus, IT IS DELICIOUS!)
“Li’l” Dan Celdran has been working in the fitness industry for over 17 years. She holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from the the University of MD and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine as a Health Fitness Specialist. She currently works as a fitness (personal trainer) at GAFC.