Dear Readers:

As we all know, true health and fitness require the right balance between food and exercise. And while working out with me, many of you have shared your interest in bettering your dietary habits.

With you in mind, I invite everyone to please join me for a 4 week food challenge starting this Wednesday, August, 24th and nurture your body with healthy food choices!

This week’s food challenge is NOT about giving anything up! Rather, it is about enriching your diet with foods that will give you more energy, decrease your fat intake and help raise your metabolic rate. So, where do we start?

For the the next 7 days let’s consume the following foods as much as possible. Also, chose organic when given the option.

  1. 1.FRUITS & VEGETABLES: Increase your intake – have 5 servings a day. It is best to eat fruits and vegetables that are in season as that is when their nutritional value is highest – the more colorful the better!

ORANGE foods have high levels of beta-carotene (carrots, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, mangoes)

YELLOW are rich in vitamin C (most citrus foods)

PURPLE provide great anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and blood-sugar lowering qualities (grapes, olives, berries…)

RED have a powerful cancer fighting anti-oxidant (red peppers, beets, tomatoes, watermelon…)

Stay away from dried or canned foods and eat moderately fruits that are high in sugars (i.e. mangoes, pineapples, watermelon).

Tip: Chop up a bag of colorful veggies – put them in zip lock bags and take them to work. You can add them to a salad, eat them with hummus, or simply as a side dish.

  1. 2.LEGUMES (red beans are best but any are better than none!) have 1-3 servings a day. Dried are better than canned but if you must have canned, rinse well and buy low sodium and from BPA-free cans.

Tip: If you don’t know what to make with beans, how about adding them to your favorite salad to start?

  1. 3.ALLIUMS (What are these?!) Your diet should be rich in garlic, onions, leeks, chives, shallots, and scallions – all of which are great body detoxifiers. Have at least 1 serving each day – that should not be too hard. 🙂
  2. 4.BERRIES Add some to your breakfast or eat them as a snack – have at least 1 serving a day. With berries GO ORGANIC as they are amongst the most pesticide-laden fruits!

Tip: Frozen berries can last up to two years in the freezer!  

  1. 5.DARK GREEN, LEAFY VEGETABLES Have 3-4 servings per day. Spinach is rich in iron, fiber and many other nutrients, romaine lettuce and turnip greens are excellent sources of vitamin C!

Tip: Start every meal with a salad and help stave off hunger by filling up with nutritious greens. Not only will you be treating your body to some excellent nutrients, but you will have less room for the less healthy choices to follow.

  1. 6.NUTS & SEEDS Consume 1-2 servings a day. Walnuts, almonds and flax seed are best, but keep control of portion sizes as they are also high in calories.

Tip: Sprinkle” them on top of yogurt for a healthy breakfast or for that mid-afternoon, sweet-tooth attack. 

  1. 7.WHOLE GRAINS really help improve our hormone levels and overall heath; they are high in anti-oxidants and promote heart health and help fight cancer. Two of the best choices are oats and barley. Have 3-4 servings a day.

Tip: Eat oatmeal for breakfast (stay away from instant) and opt for steel cut oats. Try eating quinoa, spelt and amaranth. Sprinkle wheat germ or bran over casseroles and baked dishes, yogurt, cereal, etc.

  1. 8.MEAT & EGGS If you eat meat and eggs, definitely eat organic. Also, if you are a carnivore, you will be glad to know that meat is the best source of amino acids which you need to build muscle. A really good choice is wild Alaskan Salmon. Also, protein increases your metabolic rate as it requires more energy to burn than either carbohydrates or fats!

This week is all about nourishing your body with healthy, wholesome, fresh ingredients. Once the body is fed healthy foods, it decreases the craving for “bad” foods. So let’s all take one step in a healthy direction this week by incorporating as many of the suggestions above as possible.

Exploring and expanding your current dietary intake will hopefully inspire changes that could last a lifetime!

These next few weeks, I plan to share more inspiration – and many of you inspire me, so please don’t hesitate to share your best tips and ideas with me to pass along – after all, we’re all daring to be fit!