I immigrated to the United States in the early 80’s.
Diet in Korea was for the most part healthy, as my mom cooked most foods from home and we really didn’t have many fast food options in the 70’s in Korea.
When we did immigrate, McDonald’s was a major treat for us. The Big Mac with fries was our favorite meal.
I can still remember how amazing the Big Mac was to our Korean palate.
In Korea, our diet included lots of fermented and seasoned vegetables with meats. Stews with rice were a staple in every meal.
Kimchee stew with Spam meat was a treat for us.
That’s what I grew up on, lots of fruits, seasoned vegetables, meats, McDonald’s, rice, and kimchee.
Because my parents were hard working immigrants, they weren’t around much. We called ourselves the latch key kids.
Dietary concerns were the least of our problems. I grew up on public school lunches and fast foods during high school.
Then in college, I became interested in nutrition.
Nutrition is Always Changing
I majored in Nutrition in grad school which took me to Loma Linda University, one of the five blue zones in the world, where people live healthy longer than the rest of the population.
When studying nutrition, we break foods up into carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
We were taught to calculate the foods into numbers of calories which translated into glycemic index. This was important, as diabetes was on the rise.
We learned about the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). RDA is the average daily intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of 97%-98% of healthy people.
But now I understand how outdated and inaccurate this information is, as it is very “general”, claiming to meet the needs of nearly all Americans.
For one, I myself am not an average American so I found that it was not a true reflection of my needs.
Second, it also doesn’t serve the majority of my patients, as we all have different medical diagnosis, symptoms, and needs.
Third, it doesn’t take into account the lifestyles and health status of Americans.
I would say that the majority of Americans today are in some way sick or have suboptimal health.
This is largely due to our food supply, exposure to and the common belief system around what is considered healthy or unhealthy.
To add to this, nutrition information is far too confusing today with the internet advocating various diets with lofty claims to resolve various symptoms.
So what are you to eat?
The Limitation of Certain Diets
As a nutrition fanatic, I used to follow just about any information that the “experts” put out.
They all had different views and spoke with so much authority that I felt compelled to listen and apply what they said in my life.
I assumed they knew better and I didn’t.
But the truth was that as I applied this information into my life, one diet after another, with the hope of recovering from Lupus, I realized each diet had limitations.
Not all diets were sustainable. They had their place but they needed to be something that proved beneficial as well as something I could easily maintain.
But food is so much more than just what you eat.
It’s memories, connection, relationship, celebration, joy, sadness, stages of life, and so much more.
When I eat a Big Mac, I have certain feelings about a certain time of my life.
It reminds me of my childhood. The Spam/kimchee stew is a comfort food for me (although I can’t handle fermented vegetables anymore).
There are other foods that are much more than the food; they’re feelings, memories, and comfort.
Healthy Relationship with Food
So today I have a healthier outlook on the way I eat food.
I believe you should be entitled to a birthday cake every so often. Celebrating with foods that you love is a healthy thing.
Eating food should be all about creating healthy balance.
I think it’s when we become addicted to foods and use food to manage our stress, feelings, or can’t control our urge is when it becomes highly toxic.
Most of us know generally what foods are bad and good. We also have strong attachments to our food.
But once you experience how much better you can feel with simple changes in your food choices, most of our patients are transformed in ways they never imagined.
Also when you experience a wake up call like I did with a medical diagnosis, it prompts you to reevaluate all that you’re doing in your life.
Food is one aspect.
So What is the Alkaline Way of Eating?
You all know Whole30. Eating whole, real foods for 30 days is all the rage.
I love that something so healthy caught on and we are embracing our healthier lives.
Alkaline Diet is similar; it’s all about eating foods that come from mother nature vs concocted in a chemical lab.
Eating mindfully is key to understanding how your body responds to the nourishment that food provides.
For example, although I love Korean food, when I eat kimchee, my stomach bloats and produces painful cramps.
I have too many bad bugs in my small intestine that react with kimchee.
Same is true when I have gluten. I get cramps and end up having the runs. This prevents me from wanting to eat it, as the result is not so pleasant.
I do at times need an emotional fix. So I do have a bit of kimchee when eating with my parents and without fail, it’s caused an unfavorable result.
This makes it so much easier for me to refrain.
Alkaline Diet is all about balance.
It’s about paying attention to your body’s reaction to foods and only eating foods that make you feel good.
Generally, it’s eating a diet rich in vegetables with limited fruits that are in season.
Eating everything in moderation, especially sugar, saturated fat, and processed foods.
Also, you stop eating when partially full to make sure you don’t overeat to cause discomfort.
You provide enough time between your first meal and the last meal of the previous day to promote intermittent fasting, up to 15 hours. This allows time for your body and digestive system to rest.
Alkaline Diet is drinking plenty of water throughout the day, ideally 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water everyday.
Drinking caffeine in moderation, limit to 2 cups per day.
Sitting and eating mindfully without being preoccupied with electronic devices.
Opting for organic produce and meats grown sustainably.
Need Help Making Diet Changes?
There’s also different diets for different symptoms.
There is the elimination diet for acute symptom phases and anti-inflammatory diets for when you are struggling with various symptoms of inflammation.
Keto diets for those who respond favorably, Paleo for those who can’t tolerate grain, and lastly, FODMAP diet for those who are working through food sensitivities.
Sometimes these diets work to get your symptoms under control, based on what you’re struggling with. But most are not sustainable for the long term.
Working with our nutrition therapist will allow you to get to your health goals fast.
Using food as medicine, our nutritionist can help to make sense of your food choices to help shift you into that alkaline, balanced state.
Call us today at 678-335-5566.
As always, thanks for listening.
See you next time.