What I’ve Learned About Food

September 5, 2018

My whole life I’ve never worried about what I ate. I was raised with a healthy diet, ate my fruits and vegetables and so on, but never turned down an indulgence because, well, I was blessed with being “naturally thin.” I celebrated my sweet tooth and never skipped the most important meal of the day (in my opinion)—dessert! To this day I still live for that hot-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookie or a super dense chocolate cake with extra frosting (be still my heart). But lately, in my wise old 30’s, I’ve learned something. Sugar isn’t just in that overflowing chocolate dessert you just ordered, it’s in the bread, fruit, smoothie, cocktail or even energy bar you just gobbled down with coffee.

Last year a friend passed on a book about nutrition called Body Love by Kelly Leveque. For the first time in my life I realized I was not supporting my body and a million red flags went up as I was reading Kelly’s book. All this time I thought I could eat whatever I wanted (to a certain degree) and considered myself “pretty healthy.” But boy was I wrong and to some degree everything I picked up on blood sugar spiking, hormones and inflammation pointed to my migraines along with other poor gut related issues. So since July 2017 I’ve been constantly reading more books (including my favorites below), figuring out how to eat differently, finding recipes and, of course, failing here and there along the way. Here are some of the pillars I’ve adopted since changing my old habits.

Upping Leafy Greens

Don’t laugh, but I literally had to google what exactly was in the “leafy green” family. That’s when it dawned on me that maybe I wasn’t the definition of healthy. And to be totally honest I wasn’t sure how to even cook and prepare things like chard, bok choy and kale. We used Green Chef for a while which was awesome and totally gave me a crash course in healthy cooking and how to incorporate all those greens.

Bone Broth & Ghee

I started working with a nutritionist in the last 8 months and we did food allergy tests and blood tests. Based on my depleted state she told me I should be eating more bone broth and Ghee to nourish my gut and overall health. I make soups with Wunderbones bone broth and add Ghee to my morning oatmeal.

Introducing Salmon

I’m not a huge seafood lover. I eat sushi from time to time but will be picky about where and when (I can’t do sushi for lunch) I have it. I’ve always (always) avoided salmon because bad past experiences when it tasted fishy (which I’m sensitive to) made me steer clear. However, after reading about how good it is for you I decided to be brave and use a trusted recipe a friend swore I would like—Gwyneth Paltrow’s grilled Salmon with Grilled Lemon Vinaigrette. I found the freshest seafood market in Santa Barbara gave the recipe a try and 100% enjoyed it to my surprise. I rarely order it in restaurants but we’ll make this recipe every once in a while.

Buying Organic

To be totally honest, I didn’t pay attention too much when it came to organic produce versus non organic. But the more I’ve learned over the months and read about the food industry, it matters a lot. We have some really amazing farmer’s markets here in Santa Barbara, so I frequent those and shop and local produce markets.

Warm Cooked Food

In my journey to get healthy, I got a bit hooked on the protein smoothie train. It works great for some people but it was wreaking havoc on my digestion. So I backed off of anything raw and cold and focused on warm cooked foods, which made a world of a difference. If you’re a busy body (like me) this is tough because eating on the go is a bit harder. It’s also a sign that maybe you need to stop and slow down for meals. I’m still figuring out how to have that balance of a healthy lifestyle while being productive. 

Supplements can only go so far

Sure it’s always good to take a vitamin, but if you really want to support your health focus on a diet that is rich in vegetables, leafy greens, good protein etc. While I do take supplements, I try to remember not to rely on them alone, which keeps me on track with a healthy diet. 

Lily’s Chocolate

Ok let’s be real, all it takes for me is one look at a plate of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies to fall off the “low sugar” diet wagon. So I try to steer clear as much as possible and avoid being too hungry in sugary situations, however sometimes I just need something sweet. Lily’s chocolate bars do the trick and they are sugar-free. My other solution is making Kelly Leveques Freezer Fudge squares.

The Books I’m Reading…

Curious if anyone else has made changes in their diet or adjusted one thing that made a huge difference. Leave all your tips below, would love to hear what works for you!

xx Sam

Photography by Jacqueline Pilar.

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