Pure And Simple Whole Food, Plant-Based Lifestyle
In our first episode of the podcast series Blue Lotus Cafe Christophe, Director of Education, and Ivor, Plant-Based Instructor, discuss how to implement more colorful, local and seasonal ingredients in your Whole Food Plant-based #wfpb lifestyle. They cover topics on circadian rhythm and time restricted eating, and give you ideas for your power bowls. This first episode introduces big topics that will help you understand the development of the culinary industry, how to apply healthy habits and create a sustainable business in this industry.
Plant-Based Lifestyle, Cuisine, Self-Help and Coaching For Active People
In a plant-based cooking school we tend to think, talk and do a lot of cooking. We see everything in the angle of diet. However, one aspect that is key in a healthy lifestyle is everything except diet. You may have heard that “you are what you eat”, but does a fruitarian diet turn you into a banana? Instead, you are what you do daily. You should not only look at your diet and what you eat, although it is important, but you should also look at other activities: amount of rest, quality of sleep, stress-free environments, drinking enough water on hot climates, etc.
It is very important to create a degree of consistency in your healthy habits. Those aspects in your daily life that are so simple that you could do them without any problems almost every day: go for a walk, control the number of hours of sleep, track the number of steps that you walk per day (general recommendation is around 10,000 daily steps). You don’t have to stick to this every day, but to always have a reminder to move outside, walk, run, exercise, do yoga, or any activity, preferably outside to take in sun light. Sun light helps for the circadian rhythm. Our internal clocks impact the way our hormones are regulated through the day as well as our insulin resistance. Going out in the sun in the morning is a way to reset your clock, treat your body and a great way to synchronize your body with the day that is starting.
Why become active and develop healthy habits?
If, for example, I want to lose some weight to be fit and leaner to help me enjoy my work, enjoy my activities and have fun, then small steps every day can be more beneficial in the long term than a drastic diet or detox. These extreme changes tend to cause a hard time to implement and create frustration. We are more supportive of small steps.
Starting a new exercise practice can bring a lot of pain. The first impact of any exercise is stress and physical fatigue. Your body is not ready or used to that type of exercise. You enter a state of shock about what is happening. Your body’s first reaction is to tell you there is something wrong, some intense movement it is not used to. The best way to deal with that state is simple: rest, sleep and activate recovery. Recovery process is the time of adaptation. Your muscles start to understand the message of when you need to move and when to rest. It is important to be well hydrated to facilitate blood circulation. Food should also be low in inflammation and should bring you all the nutrients for your body to be able to repair itself.
It is a cycle starting with exercise, where you create stress and fatigue. Then, rest and recovery followed by adaptation. After adaptation you will be stronger and adaptable to the new exercise routine, making it easier the next time. It is a continuous cycle. You have to ensure that you continue the cycle, that’s why we talk about healthy habits. The more regular you are in your activity the better you will become at it. Here, the food helps with recovery and prevents any injuries. Lastly, one aspect that can help while you are exercising and specially after exercise is the time-restricted eating.
What is the main idea behind time-restricted eating?
The main concept of restricted eating addresses the question of ‘When?’ instead of ‘What?’. You ask yourself ‘when’ you are eating instead of ‘what’ you are eating. ‘When’ is the time of the day you will drink and eat as well as when you will rest to dedicate a time window to your digestive system. For example, you have a window of 10hrs for eating and another window of 14 hours assigned for resting and recovering (i.e. when you are sleeping).
During the window for eating at daylight, you wake up, you walk outside, you swim, you do some sort of activity. After one hour, you have breakfast. This will start your eating window. Eventually you will have lunch and afternoon dinner, within a 10 or 12 hours timeframe. This window will leave enough time for your body to recover while all the hormones that regulate your sleep enter in action, like melatonin. It is a way not to surcharge your body with digestion at the same time that it wants to rest, recover and repair itself from the day. One aspect that interesting about this is that it is something that has nothing to do with your diet. It does not constrain your diet. It is also something you don’t need to do every day. Going to a party, a friend’s dinner or go out does not majorly impact the benefits. However, you must follow this most of the days, such as 5 days a week, for example.
Where do you get your protein from?
In short, I don’t know and I don’t care. I don’t know how many calories I eat a day. I don’t know the percentage of my macronutrients, how many proteins, lipids or carbs I eat every day. I care more about micronutrients. The idea of evidence-based nutrition is to focus our needs for vitamins and certain nutrients. If you are short of certain vitamins, it could cause severe secondary effects. On a daily basis, there are certain nutrients that we need for the food that are essential, as well as fiber to feed our microbiome. We need to make sure that we have a healthy diversity of microbiome, for example, that we have minerals and phytonutrients.
As a vegan for 15 years, there are some micronutrients that are very important to take seriously. For example, B12 is not in our environment anymore. It used to be in the water and soil but since we purify everything through chloride water to avoid potential virus and bacteria, it removed B12 from our diet. For that, I take on a weekly basis 2500 micro-units of B12, following the indication of NutritionFacts.org by Dr. Michael Greger. Also, vitamin D is key. The most pleasant way to get it is from the sun, but if you live in a northern country or during the winter it is important to get tested and, if needed, get supplements of vitamin D. The last one is iodine, which is now added in the salt. The salt you use for cooking may contain it but also some seaweeds contain it. These are three essential nutrients that may be challenging to get only through diet, but for the rest a plant-based diet bring a high level of nutrient density where you get all that you need. What is a good indication is that I don’t calculate what I eat but I look for colour in ingredients, like sweet potato or black rice. It is quality over quantity.
What does a whole food, plant based diet actually mean?
Putting it simply, what WFPB diet is not is using highly refined or overly processed ingredients. For example, instead of white rice, using colorful or whole rice. It is mostly fresh, seasonal, local, whole ingredients that have not been refined. For example, we would have nuts, seeds instead of too much refined oil. To be clear, it does not mean to completely avoid any processed ingredients, but to limit the processed ingredients and in favor of whole ones. It starts by selecting the right ingredients and avoid overly processed ingredients. However, it is also the way you prepare food. We tend to use cooking methods like steaming, dehydrating or stir fry to try to keep as much as possible the nutritional quality of the ingredients that we are using.
But how to implement all of this into your lifestyle?
When you want to eat healthy the main question is that, if you have to prepare it yourself, how can you be organized and make it simple for yourself. Myself, I am not counting the calories or macronutrients, such as protein, but I would instead be roughly counting the amount of serving in each type of food to control that I get the right nutrients. We use a free app from Dr. Michael Greger from NutritionFacts.org called the Daily Dozen to implement a very simple eating plan with a checklist of some ingredients. You simply check that list. But we went even further in that simplification process by teaching a way to implement that eating guide through bowls, like poke bowl, power bowl, bibimbap or buddha bowls. The idea is that you have a balanced meal in one simple bowl. For example, in a balanced diet you can have some beans, like in hummus, or you can roast them. Also, you can add a good a mount of greens, vegetables, and whole grain instead of refined foods, like red rice or black rice. You may also add cruciferous, such as cabbage, broccoli cauliflower, which are fantastic roasted with some spices, like lemongrass. Herbs are also very important, spices as well, especially healthy spices like turmeric or black pepper. They will bring flavor but are also healthy and help with digestion. A bowl allows you to play, have something colorful and at the end without thinking about it you will have a balanced diet. You’ll enjoy cooking and you will end up with a healthy diet.