“Light” foods have always been a nemesis of mine, conjuring up images of the cardboard-like “light butter” that my college roommates stocked in the fridge. If I am going to indulge in a bowl of ice cream I am going to eat traditional chocolate-chocolate chip, not the light and tasteless counterpart. Yogurt, my favorite breakfast food, keeps me full and energized for hours because of its healthy fat and protein content. I am not about to switch to the lightened version that tastes far more like artificial flavors and sweeteners than any wholesome breakfast should.
“Light” foods, which you would never find naturally growing out of the earth, are not the healthiest or only way to “lighten up.” Instead of spending time and money on diet foods and lifestyle tricks, you and your waistline may benefit from enjoying moderate amounts of wholesome foods and other sources of natural light in your life. Healthier ways to lighten up, including trying different types and amounts of whole foods, activities and engagements can naturally lighten up your weight, mood, health and energy. Living a bit lighter can be healthy, tasty, fun and easy to do.
Light, in the form of sunshine, is important for the synthesis of vitamin D, something many of us are deficient in this time of year. Adequate amounts of this vitamin are important for your bone health, immune system, heart health, brain function and mood. However, dark winter skies and the limited availability of vitamin D in foods leave many of us feeling lethargic, moody, achy or mildly depressed. Lightening up by including more whole food sources of Vitamin D as well as spending a few more minutes outside between rain/snow storms every day will benefit your whole body and inspire health, happiness and energy. Some of the best food sources of vitamin D include wild salmon, sardines, organic eggs and organic whole milk.
To “lighten up”, for me, means treating my whole body well, not torturing it with artificial processed foods touted for their low calorie or sugar content. Even in the midst of winter eating lighter is easy to do with whole foods that are satiating, comforting and easy to make. Dark leafy greens are in season and will fill you with incredible amounts of powerful antioxidants and nutrients to build immunity and energy. Heartier winter salads with legumes, nuts, seeds, cheeses and meats will satisfy without weighing you down. Ovens roasted root vegetables pack in the nutrients, are filled with fiber and stocked with natural sugars that power your body for work or play in the colder weather. Broth based soups can nurture your health, warm your belly and help hydrate your body.
Lighten up your mood, physical body and mental state by taking a step back from everyday stressors and letting yourself enjoy a more balanced lifestyle. Eating lighter quantities, instead of feasting and fasting will help keep your metabolism and mental state on a more even keel. Bring a bit of light into your lifestyle by taking a walk, practicing yoga or having game night with friends. Engaging in activities and practices that keep your mind and body active is enlightening. Nurture your whole body with light that keeps you steady, strong and smiling and just lighten up!
Here is my “light” for the day: a run with the dog before the rain starts, a warming cup of soup, Caesar salad with a vitamin D boost and an extra hour of sleep.
Vitamin D rich Caesar dressing
3 anchovies (don’t skip -they are one of the best sources of D)
Juice of 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp grated parmesan
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Worchester sauce
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
Put all ingredients in a standing blender or Cuisinart. Process until smooth and toss with romaine, croutons and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.