Balancing Metabolic Syndrome in the Kitchen
Balancing Metabolic Syndrome in the Kitchen
Select Foods Eliminate Inflammation, Strengthen Immunity
by Jeanne Tennis
Mindful eating, plant-centered, plant-based, seasonal, holistic eating, whole food, vegan, clean, down-to-earth, back-to-nature, local, fresh focused, unprocessed—no matter how we care to label it, making dietary adjustments that bring more plants into our daily life is a profoundly powerful step in the right direction toward addressing and curbing the effects that lead to metabolic dysfunction.
Nearly one out of every six people in this country are suffering from one or more health conditions that doctors are classifying under the term “metabolic syndrome”, according to the American Heart Association.
Defined as a grouping of risk factors which includes obesity (notably abdominal fat centered at the high waist), high blood pressure, insulin resistance and high blood sugar and high cholesterol levels, metabolic syndrome is not a disease in itself, but a combination of disorders that may increase an individual’s risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke.
While some risk factors, such as genetics, can’t be changed, simple and effective adjustments in your daily living habits may help you avoid and reverse the majority of factors which can contribute to this all too common health condition.
Simple strategies beginning in the kitchen can yield enormously effective and efficient results. Here are some places to start: clean out cupboards, pantry and refrigerator of all highly processed foods, including all foods containing excessive oil, salt, sugar and chemicals; ditch the soda and coffee creamers; use the internet and local library to search for plant-based meals that appeal to you and your family. Soups, stews, entrees, sauces, dressings and even desserts can all be created using unprocessed foods. While it may seem intimidating at first to make these changes, our culture is filled with chefs, cooks, coaches, bloggers and teachers who are sharing their recipes, recommendations and passion for whole-food, plant-centered meals.
By working with medical professionals, following your intuition, connecting with a support system that is comfortable for you, while focusing on foods you enjoy, transitioning deeper into plant centered meal planning can be easy and obtainable.
Optimal health begins at the cellular level. As Dr. Terry Shintani notes in his The Peaceful Diet book, “…the best approach to health is a holistic approach to health including body, mind and spirit, and that the best diet for health and spiritual development is based on whole, unprocessed plant-based food.” Shintani’s Peace Diet has improved the health of followers all over the world—including those in the high health-risk group of native Hawaiians. Any anti-inflammatory, plant-based, whole food diet will improve our health on multiple levels. The key is making the changes and sticking with them.
Viewing lifestyle changes, especially those involving the types of foods we eat, as a positive shift can be difficult for some people. Change is not always easy. Family members, social circles and personal habits can make dietary adjustments challenging. A positive outlook is critical and easy to embrace when you realize how much control you really have in your own healing journey.
Accepting the journey as a fun challenge will make any changes easier. When we have learned how to ride a bike or drive a car, studied a foreign language, learned a new card game or joined a club or sports team, we’ve met the challenge with an open mind that allows for growth. Once you learn the basic rules, techniques and tactics, the process becomes familiar and comfortable. Then practice makes perfect. The same holds true for transforming our health in the kitchen.
Jeanne Tennis is a five-season, vegan chef, macrobiotic health coach and a certified herbalist. Tennis offers classes, personal and group cooking sessions and plant-based health coaching. She can be reached at [email protected] and TheKeyToBalance.com.
Whole-food, Plant-based Ideas
• Meals, snacks and desserts made with beans, seeds, grains, land and sea vegetables, nuts and fruits will dramatically reduce the inflammation in your body, eliminate your cravings for processed foods and strengthen your immune system.
• Grains can be made into breakfast porridges, pilafs, formed into patties with beans and vegetables or added into stews and soups
• Land and sea vegetables are delicious in dishes served with homemade sauces and dressings, tossed into soups and added into stir-fries. Challenge yourself to water sauté as much as possible, using oil only sparingly as a condiment rather than as a cooking method.
• Beans, nuts, seeds and traditionally processed foods, such as organic tempeh and tofu, can be eaten at every meal in various forms and used to make dishes and desserts that will leave you satisfied, energized and vibrant.