How’s your relationship with food? We all understand that we need food to survive, but how many of us know that some foods are slowly cutting our lives in half? Also, why is healthy food so gosh-darn expensive?
The world of healthy eating can be a tricky one, but luckily for you, we can help you navigate it. Wellness Wednesday is a weekly Instagram interview at 19h00 SAST hosted by the founder of the World of Longevity, Gisèle Wertheim Aymés. Joined by a different expert each week on @longevity_live. Gisèle and her guests will help you take baby steps with facts and points.
The series will not only encourage you to lead a healthy lifestyle, but it’s also a great tool for your quest for healthier eating.
Chef Amber: Healthy Food Is Not The Enemy
Nine years ago, Amber made the decision to open up her restaurant, The Source Café. However, the journey wasn’t an easy one. After 15+ years working as a chef and dealing with long hours, coupled with high stress, and limited sleep, Amber hit a health crash.
“I felt really, really tired and awful. I was in level 10 pain at all times in both of my hips” she says, “I was addicted to sugar drinking too much caffeine and too much alcohol. The fact was that I hit a rock bottom.”
Eventually, Amber took a step back, and she had a spiritual awakening, and she found meditation, faith, and breathwork. However, she soon realized that one of the best ways to get her health back on track would be through the power of food,
“However, I knew there had to be another way, and I was desperate to heal my body with food. I started to realize, oh my gosh, heal. Food can heal my body”
The healing power of food
With the knowledge that food can help promote health and longevity, Amber turned to ingredients that would serve to help, rather than hurt, her body, and one of these is the blockbuster ingredient that is turmeric,
“I started experimenting out in my kitchen with tumeric and making tonics. I started to notice that my inflammation was going down and that I was feeling better in my body… It wasn’t long before I was getting my customers and staff who were getting off anti-inflammatory medicine, losing weight, feeling better”
Amber adds that the Source Café was born out of her desire to heal herself, as well as how she also wanted to help heal other people through the healing properties of food.
“It was because of my desperation to feel better and I knew it was time for me to take control of my health by fueling my body with the right foods and I also knew that I wanted to start to create a healthy relationship with food because I had never had that.”
Eat better, live healthier
So if Amber can reevaluate her relationship with food and even create a business from it, why can’t the rest of the world? Well, the reality is that transitioning to healthy eating can be a daunting experience for many, and that’s why some would rather give up than make the effort.
However, switching to healthier eating is easy, and it doesn’t need to be an overwhelming experience. So, how do I start?
“What I tell people first is that they have to go through their cupboards and get rid of all the stuff that’s making them feel like crap.” explains Amber, “Get rid of all that junk.”
Once you’ve cleaned out your cupboard, Amber wants you to put your chef hat on,
“Start finding the willingness to meal prep a couple of days a week, and start to cook and create your own food and find chefs like myself or someone else that you can follow easy recipes.”
Amber suggests that you maybe start off with cooking dinner twice a week and that you also start with making snacks for your family. It’s also best that you don’t eat out five nights a week, and cut it down to twice a week.
“ I think that there’s a stigma around healthy food, how it’s boring and bland, and you’re going to feel deprived… First, food is my life. I love food, I never want to feel deprived.”
“Healthy food can be beautiful, delicious, and sexy. when we’re nourishing and fueling our bodies with the right food we can feel so alive and confident and amazing in our body.”
Amber says that first, you have to find the willingness to make that change If you’re worried about the cost of eating healthily, Amber suggests that you support local farmer markets.
Keto, vegan or gluten-free?
“I don’t label myself with any particular diet and I always like to remind my followers like don’t just follow the new fad because it might not work for you.” says Amber, “It’s nice to play around with what works for your body. I do eat some keto stuff and some paleo stuff, but I’m loading my plate with 80% veggies and then a company with meat is how I love to eat.”
That said, Amber does admit that she regularly does intermittent fasting,
“I naturally like to eat dinner early, around four or five o’clock, and then I’ll eat breakfast around nine after I work out and do my morning routine, and so with that gives me 15 to 16 hours,” she says,
“I used to be really crazy about it and manic about it, but that led to some disordered eating behavior. So I do it naturally without pressure. Sometimes it’s a 12-hour fast, but usually, it’s 15 or 16. And it feels good, and it gives my body time to digest and reset in the morning. It’s amazing.”
Eat for your gut
If there’s one dietary rule to follow, it’s definitely the “eat for your gut” rule.
The gut can have a tremendous influence on your overall health, so Amber agrees that you need to feed your body foods that’ll enhance your gut health,
“If we’re continuing to feed our bodies with the same foods that might be disrupting our gut, then it’s hard to add in the good stuff.”
If you notice that your gut health is struggling, Amber suggests that you try letting go of gluten and dairy for a week and monitor your health. She also suggests bone broth,
“Try to drink eight ounces a day…The bone broth is going to have the glycine, the glutamine, it’s going to have all the unit amino acids.”
Yes, sugar is the enemy
“I struggled with sugar addiction for like 30 years – my first drug of choice was sugar. But when I finally gave up sugar, I realized there are so many other things that we can use to sweeten food, coconut sugar, monk fruit, dates, yacon syrup.”
The fact of the matter is that processed sugar is incredibly addictive. It can have disastrous consequences for your health. Fortunately, for those with a sweet tooth, alternatives do exist,
“My whole restaurant is made with sugar alternatives, and you would not even know it,” says Amber, “You can come in to have cakes and ice creams and tarts and brownies and feel completely satisfied and satiated.”
Amber suggests that you try to substitute white sugar with healthier alternatives. She also asks that you get into the habit of regularly reading labels,
“Cane sugar is very addictive, and they put it in stuff on purpose so that we crave it and want to buy it…I feel like sugar is a sneaky little substance and if I get a little taste of it, I will crave it, and I won’t be able to stop thinking about it.”
“I love collagen for hair, skin, and nails. It’s got a ton of amino acids in it…I love the benefits of it helps heal our gut.” shares Amber, “I’m also a really big fan of bone broth. So another way to get our collagen into our bodies is by bone broth. And that is something that’s pretty readily available on all supermarkets in the frozen section.”
That said, Amber urges that when buying collagen power, make sure you’re sourcing it from grass-fed cows.
Listen to your body
We all love food, but it’s important to be conscious of the effect that food can have on our bodies. It’s important that we learn to understand the effect that a meal can have on us,
“We’re all different, but our bodies never lie. Stop shoving the food in your face and be more aware. Ask yourself, how do I feel after I just ate that meal?”
“Food is such a form of self love… I get people have families and crazy work schedules. But people aren’t too busy to go to the bars and drink… There is a time when it just has to be what your priorities are. Cut out that extra Netflix movie and then maybe spend two hours prepping some food… Nobody realizes how great they can feel because they’ve never felt that great. It’s because most of us are used to walking around feeling bloated or gassy or brain fog or tired. And then we’re over – we’re over caffeinated, or we’re self numbing with sugar and alcohol.”
WATCH THE INTERVIEW
The video interview with Chef Amber contains the entire dialogue of this interview, and you can watch it below.
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