Healthy Snack Tips from Dr. Weil

Dr. Weil has some great suggestions for some easy, healthy snacks here. I personally try to snack on as much dark chocolate as I can!”

Dark chocolate. An ounce of dark chocolate now and then will satisfy a sweet tooth while providing antioxidant polyphenols. Choose high quality dark chocolate with at least 70 percent pure cocoa, and enjoy the rich flavor.

Read more snack suggestions at DrWeil.com.

Some like it hot

We love spicy foods in our household. Not the so-absurdly-spicy-that-it-causes-pain type of spicy, but spicy enough to give you a little kick. As a Southerner living in New England, I find it challenging to find spicy food, and often a request for Tabasco results in a server searching the restaurant for the one bottle the restaurant has on hand. Shocking!
So, I get my fix at home. Sriracha is one of our favorite hot sauces. Itís pretty spicy, but also contains garlic, so it has a bigger flavor than just heat. I put it on everything (like pizza and eggs dishes), and in lots of things (various sauces, including peanut sauce and puttanesca). It is inexpensive, and comes in 2 forms: conveniently pureed and in a squirt bottle, or chunky in a jar.
The New York Times recently did a story on it, and it turns out that itís made in America, and was originally intended for Asian-Americans (who, like a Southerner in New England, have a hard time getting spicy enough food in America). Apparently it has a growing, cult-like following. I guess you can count me as a member!

Anti-inflammatory Foods

You hear a lot these days about inflammation.  In the past, inflammation was viewed as an unfortunate byproduct of disease.  It made a lot of trouble for the patient, but the thing to do was to bring it down with things like steroids and non-steroidal anti inflammatories (NSAIDS–like Advil).

These days, inflammation is seen as a cause of illness, an integral part of the disease process. It’s something to be avoided as best you can, but how?

One of the best things you can do to protect your health in both the short and long term is to eat a healthy, balanced diet. You hear that all the time,  but what does it mean in practical terms?

The very best diet for minimizing inflammation in the body is primarily vegetarian + fish/seafood, with a little bit of lean meat on occasion.  Whole grains, lots of veggies, extra-virgin olive oil–these foods deeply nourish the body and help it make qi (or vital energy). My husband and I have been lacto-ovo vegetarians (meaning we eat eggs and milk) for over 15 years.  We also recently decided to add some seafood to our diets.  We feel great on this diet, and are the thinnest members of our families.

In Chinese medicine, we believe that food is a type of medicine.  You must be mindful of what you are eating at all times, and do your best to eat foods that give your body something to work with.  Refined, packaged and fast foods are convenient, and in a pinch, are fine to consume occasionally, but they should the the exception and not the norm.  Take the time to prepare healthy meals for yourself and the dividends will be tremendous.

Dr. Andrew Weil has redone the food pyramid to reflect our understanding of what to eat to minimize inflammation in the whole body.  Following this type of diet should pay off in more energy now, and some protection from bigger health problems in the long run.

Dr. Weils Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid

One thing about this pyramid that I disagree with is the notion that you need to eat chocolate “sparingly.”  I think that so long as you eat dark chocolate, you can (and should) eat a little every day.  I see dark chocolate as a special “vitamin” that we need regularly.  So indulge, but don’t over do it.