How sneaking in sneaky vegetables can increase your vitality

The reason I am working so much on health at the moment has a lot to do with the interview I had a while back with Delia McCabe.  Delia was a registered psychologist who was working with patients and during her research for her masters degree she uncovered something really amazing.  The biggest link between someone who is motivated and someone who is not, comes down to what they’re eating.  Now I am paraphrasing here but if you want to go back to that episode you can find it at michellecashman.com/podcast and just type in Delia in the search bar and her show notes page pops straight up.  

Anyway, one of the things that Delia talks about is that when she does traditional talk therapy with clients she likes them to change their diets first.  The reason is, that when we are trying to create change of any description, we are trying to create new neurological pathways in our brain.  To do that, it requires more energy.  That energy has to come from somewhere.

For me, I was working with life coaching clients.  Basic life coaching where I was pulling apart their goals and dreams and helping people to prioritise what they really wanted, make the steps small enough to do one at a time and help them to achieve their goals.  But what I was noticing was very similar to what Delia was talking about.  The biggest things that were holding my clients back from achieving their dreams, even more than their mindset was their health.  If you’re going to kick some serious goals, you need the energy to do it.  If you’re already working, and you’re already a Mum or Dad then you’ve got enough on your plate as it is.  In order to do additional stuff, that energy and focus and motivation and clarity needs to come and you need your health to be in a vibrant state.  You don’t just need to not be sick… you need vitality.  

One of the most important things that I have learnt is that our body needs certain vitamin and nutrients and even fats to function well.  If you are just eating whatever you can reach for in the pantry there’s a good chance that you’re not getting them.  But on top of that, even if you are eating well, and you do most of your shopping in the fruit and veggie section, even then you might not be getting enough because a lot of the food found in major supermarkets have been genetically modified to look great and they don’t have the nutrients that they used to (ok, I know that’s getting a bit scary now).  But these are the major reasons we are coming up against so many chronic illnesses these days:  We are eating too much crap, and we are starving of nutrients.  

Add in to that the fact that a lot of us spend so much time and energy in high states of stress (which impairs our ability to digest) and we have a recipe for disaster! 

My biggest tip to take away today is to wash your vegetables.  Because, if you’re trying super hard to be healthy and you’re trying to support your brain and your mental health by eating well but you’re still buying food from the supermarket (and believe me I’m not judging here because that’s still where I get mine), WASH THEM.  When you’re trying to get more nutrients the last thing you want to do is put your body under more strain by having to try and rid itself of toxins found in the pesticides.  Leave them until you’re just about to use them or they’ll go all brown and yucky, but when you wash them, throw them in the sink with some white vinegar roughly one part vinegar to three parts water - the vinegar helps to break down the pesticides. Just give them an extra rinse with fresh water after because vinegar unless you’re after that taste, might not be what you’re wanting to taste!

Now, if you are like most Australians (allegedly 96% of us don’t get their five serves of veggies a day), then you simply won’t be getting what you need.  Think about whether you’re feeling run down.  Are you tired a lot? Are you moody? Depressed? Anxious?  Brain health is directly related to your diet.  No matter how positive your mindset is you’re going to feel tired, and run down and find it hard to keep your spirit up if you’re starving your brain and body of vital nutrients.  

Now I know if that is you you’re probably thinking to yourself FIVE SERVES? How the hell can anyone fit five serves in.  That’s where todays episode helps because I’m going to share with you how you can get some extra sneaky veggies in.  

First up let’s look at breakfast. What are you eating there? Cereal? Toast?  Nothing but a cup of coffee?  One of the best things that you can do (especially if the idea of eating straight away turns your stomach) is get yourself into the routine of having a nutribullet.  I manage to get half a cup of baby spinach in there.  My recipe is at michellecashman.com on the resources page (or click HERE). But don’t panic, you can’t even taste baby spinach when it’s with all the other ingredients. Baby spinach itself has hardly any taste at all.

For morning tea another idea is a home made bruschetta on rice cakes.  Now, because I have Fibromyalgia and I’m gluten intolerant and I have IBS… I have some serious issues when it comes to choosing my foods.  So what I do with this one is (after I have washed the produce of course) is chop up some fresh, cold tomatoes, some fresh basil out of the garden, some fresh shallots and maybe even some continental parsley. I add some finely chopped baby spinach, and some bean sprouts because the bean sprouts give it awesome texture and then I add some virgin olive oil and some balsamic vinegar.  Some salt and pepper, a sprinkle of flax seeds and a quick stir through and I have a bowl of awesomeness that I spoon onto rice crackers. No need for butter or anything else. It’s amazing.  It tastes great and it’s full of fibre, iron, vitamin C and all sorts of other goodies.

Now, if I’ve done that, you can see I’ve had three serves of vegetables before I’ve even had lunch.  No sacrificing taste either by the way (ok, maybe with the nutribullet that does take a little getting used to but there are ways around that).  

It just takes a little forward planning, some know how and understanding of how food works for you and how important it really is and for me, it’s been the biggest factor in dealing with depression and anxiety, managing my chronic pain condition and losing weight and feeling fantastic.  

Other ideas include my home made pho for lunch.  I think I’m addicted to that and that has about three cups of veggies in it on its own, and then dinner we almost always have meat and veggies anyways BUT even if we have a curry or something else I find myself heading to the fridge and putting a sprinkle of bean sprouts and spinach on top of just about anything.  If you’re not eating meat and veggies for dinner and you’re having pasta or something else, try having half a serve with a side of salad.  If you want more, have more, but with another side of salad.  The trick is to add veggies to everything as well. There’s sneaky spinach in my bolognese sauce, there’s stir fries with veggies… slow roast lamb with roast veggies… get creative and start enjoying this as a process of nurturing yourself and just think - when you’re getting what you need, you will start to feel soooo much better. Thinking will be easier, you’ll have more energy and you’ll be able to kick some serious goals!

I haven’t always been like this. You should know it wasn’t that long ago I was eating crap all day. Sugary cereal for breakfast (or even just a coffee), a burger for lunch, packaged snacks throughout the afternoon and then maybe a good meal for dinner.  When I was living in the city almost everything I ate was takeaway.  So I get the ‘convenience’, but I also understand that in order to have vitality, and in order to do what I want to with my life, and also to keep my chronic illness manageable I simply had to change.  

The effort is worth it.  I am pain free and medication free most of the time.  This is from being in a state where I was bedridden.  Doctors couldn’t help me and the prognosis was that it would just get worse.  So if you’re suffering with a chronic condition don’t give up.  It’s possible to get your life back.

I will be sharing links to these recipes and more of them with people who are on my mailing list. That's where I share a lot of content and tips and tools including my audio program 'Stress Less: How to reduce your stress levels and increase your inner peace'. You can sign up for the mailing list and get FREE access to that program (which is available on iTunes for $25.99), get it 100% FREE by clicking HERE.  

I hope you’ve learnt something this episode that you can take away and apply straight away and if the one thing you’ve learnt is to wash your veggies I’m good with that.  If you have extra sneaky ways that you get more veggies please share in the comments below! 

See you next episode!