2010 Copyright Joy Kettler Gurgevich
J   Y of FOOD & YOGA
Joy Kettler Gurgevich - Behavioral Nutrition
  What is Nourishing Food? 
When diet 
is wrong, 
medicine is
of no use.
When diet
 is correct, 
medicine is 
of no need. 

~ancient Ayurvedic proverb
5215 N. Sabino Canyon Road 
Tucson, AZ 85750
The most wholesome foods, the foods that nourish our bodies the best, are closest to nature.  These foods are fresh, alive with vibrant colors and aromas and flavors.  They are minimally processed; they are not canned, not frozen, not preserved, not artificially flavored, not colored with coloring agents, not hydrogenated, not genetically engineered, not sprayed with pesticides, not raised with agrichemicals, not  heat treated, not homogenized.   They are closest to nature.
Take a quick glimpse into the modern “American Pantry”. Perhaps it resembles your own. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently published a study which revealed that one-third of the average American’s diet is comprised of “junk” foods.  These “foods” are high-calorie and nutrient-poor (and most “junk” foods  actually contribute to ill health). They do not fit in any of the major food groups (grains, dairy, fruit/vegetable, beans/legumes/nuts, and protein).  Junk foods are “edible food-like substances” (Michael Pollan, author In Defense of Food) found prolifically on supermarket and convenience store shelves. So, the average American gets  27% of total energy from junk foods (and an additional 4% from alcohol….).  and relies on just two thirds of their diet to get 100% of the nutrients necessary for vibrant health.  That is impossible to do.

So, the average American is not receiving anywhere near the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and other nutrients that his/her body needs for optimum health.  This typical diet is partly responsible for imbalanced eating and over-eating:  the body craves the nutrition it is not receiving from these junk foods.  The body strives to eat more food until these nutrition needs are sated.

Let’s turn our focus away from what we’re doing WRONG and towards what we have stopped doing RIGHT.  We used to eat fresher more wholesome foods.  We used to eat at home.  We used to eat slower.   We used to eat with family/friends.  We used to eat only when we were hungry.   Take a glimpse back in time over 100 years ago, there were feasts and festivity surrounding food, many families had gardens, agriculture was small-scale farming with prolific farmer’s markets.  So, we ate locally back then, and we ate unprocessed foods, close to nature.   Then came the emergence of fast food conglomerates.  Hostess made its debut with Twinkies and CupCakes  (Americans consume 600 million Hostess cupcakes per year) in the early 1900’s, and McDonalds opened in 1940.  So began the pre-made fast foods, eaten away from home, on the run from one place to another, whether we were hungry or not…high salt, high fat, high sugar…  

Here are the basic guidelines:
  • #1  Select healthy oils/fats.  Olive oil and canola are best   and look for those oils on labels of foods you are purchasing.  Avoid margarines and other hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.  Use saturated fats sparingly (this includes butter, meats, dairy, and suet/lard).

  • #2 Decrease the amount of sugar you eat and become mindful of healthier alternatives, such as honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, and brown rice syrup.  The average American eats two pounds of sugar per week.  In addition, we drink on the average 38 gallons of soda pop per person annually.  With a teaspoon of sugar in every ounce, that adds up to a lot of sugar.  But the healthy alternative is NOT “diet-soda” because artificial sweeteners/ chemical sweeteners are very harmful to health.

  • #3  Increase plant protein foods and decrease animal protein in your diet.  The high-fat, high-protein Standard American Diet (SAD) is dangerous to health and weight.  How do you get more plant protein?  Experiment at the grocery store or restaurant with anything in a pod….peas, beans, lentils, soy beans.  In addition, nuts and seeds are high in protein, although they are also high in fat so should be limited to a handful every day.  Grains are also a great source of plant protein.  (see the Nutritional Choice #4)

  • #4  Increase the variety of grains you are eating.  We are a nation of “wheat eaters”.  We have bagels for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and pasta for dinner.  There is a huge variety of grains and grain products on the shelves now.  Many ready-to-eat breakfast cereals contain such “exotics” as kasha, barley, quinoa (a grain very high in protein and 15 minute preparation time), spelt, rye, and kamut.  All these grains are easy, tasty, and nutritious substitutes for white rice in stir-fry’s.  

  • #5  Aim to eat 8-10 servings of fresh vegetables and fruits every day.  A serving is a medium sized piece of fruit or vegetable, or ½ cup.  The more fresh produce you eat each day provides your body with important vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  An extra “plus” to this nutritional choice is the satiety factor:  The bulk of eating extra fruits and vegetables makes the body feel fuller and satisfied, with fewer calories.

“When one has tasted watermelons one knows what angels eat.”  Mark Twain

  • #6  Select fresh or frozen produce instead of canned.   Generally, fresh is more nutritious than frozen, which is more nutritious than canned.  Keep in mind, however, that several weeks sitting on a grocery shelf depletes a “fresh” bunch of broccoli of nearly all nutrients.  

  • #7  Choose pure water, herbal, and green tea to drink.  75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.  Just mild dehydration slows our metabolism down by 3%.  Lack of water is the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue.  Thirst is often confused with hunger.  If you are looking in the cupboards/frig between meals, have a glass of water and notice if the “hunger” disappears.

  • #8  Become mindful of dairy products.  Dairy products signal trouble for many people.  The fat in dairy is saturated, which contributes to heart-health problems as well as to calories and excess weight.  One of the dairy proteins (casein) and carbohydrate (lactose) are both allergy triggers for many people.

  • #9  Reading labels insures healthier food choices.  A good rule of thumb when shopping is to buy most of the food around the periphery of the store because that is generally where the fresher and less processed foods are located.  The Nutrition Facts label and the Ingredients label are present on most packaged/canned/frozen foods. Both labels are important.  The Nutrition Facts label defines quantity and the Ingredients label defines quality.  Use both labels to guide your choices.  The Nutrition Facts label will tell you, for example, that the total fat inside the package is 4% of the daily need.  The Ingredients label will specify which type of fat/oil it contains (such as olive oil…remember, that is a healthy oil…or partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, a no-no). See “Label Reading” under Resouces.

  • #10 Create a nurturing environment around your meals.  We are all victims of the fast food movement.  Create a pleasant space just for meals…even if it is just at the end of a work table.  Place a candle, or a flower…something pretty.  Set beautiful plates, glasses, and flatware on a placemat or tablecloth.  Soothing background music, simple nutritious food placed thoughtfully on the table, extra time to linger and savor your meal, all these aspects contribute to the pleasure of eating, the satiety and nutritional gift you are giving yourself.  
Great websites that address nourishing foods:


Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. 
It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it—
not just stop eating because you think you should. Normal eating is being 
able to give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, 
but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food. 
Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because 
you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good. Normal eating 
is three meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch 
along the way. It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you 
know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because 
they taste so wonderful. Normal eating is overeating at times and wishing 
you had more. Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your 
mistakes in eating. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, 
but keeps its place as only one important area of your life. In short, 
normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your hunger, your 
schedule, your proximity to food and your feelings. 

Copyright ©1999 by Ellyn Satter from Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family, Kelcy Press. All rights reserved. Single copies may be reproduced as is for distribution at no cost to recipients. May not be modified in any way. Credit and further information lines must appear on each copy. For more information see www.EllynSatter.com

  • #11 Eat sustainably. Sustainable eating means eating seasonally, locally, organically, and lower on the food chain, and choosing green restaurants when dining out. Eating sustainably means that you choose and prepare your food mindfully, and not necessarily complex or involved or gourmet.  Eating sustainably means that you have not harmed  the earth, and perhaps contributed to earth health. And, lastly, eating sustainably means eating foods that do no harm to yourself, whether you are aware of it or not.  

Every bite we eat…

…is meant to nourish every cell in our body and there are billions of cells.  All those cells are the basis of every function of our body: eyesight, fertility, breathing, digestion, immunity, movement, bone development, blood circulation, brain function, hormone production, and thousands of other functions.  
The food we choose provides the only building material available to our bodies to nourish  these cells.   The vitality of every one of those cells is dependent upon the quality of food that we eat.   If we eat foods that are wholesome and nourishing, the cells will be strong and vital. If we eat foods that are nutrient poor (junk food, highly processed foods, foods high in salt, sugar, and bad fat) the cells will be weak and struggle to function.  The main message is this:  If you don’t pump a high grade fuel into your vehicle, the engine will start to bump and you won’t get the best mileage. It’s the same with our bodies.   We often take better care of our vehicles than our human bodies.  This doesn’t make sense, we can go out and buy a new car, but we can’t buy a new body.

…affects how we think and how we feel emotionally.  Remember, our brains are just a magnificent collection of cells that are created and nourished by the food we eat.  Our emotions are fueled by the hormones produced in our body’s organs, and again, those organs are just a grand collection of cells that are created and nourished by the food we eat.   

…should contribute to our health, to the health of every single cell in our body.  We should eat about 60% of our daily calories in high quality carbohydrates (grains, fruits and vegetables), about 20-25% of our daily calories in high quality fats/oils (olive oil being the primary oil), and about 15-20% of our daily calories in high quality plant proteins like nuts, seeds, beans and legumes, lean meats and fish.