By Kim Oxarart

Most of us have difficulties with cravings. I know I do. One thing I have found to be most helpful is not to take away my favorite foods, but to crowd them out. Many dieticians and nutritionists give their clients a list of foods to avoid and foods to eat; this turns many people off to nutrition. People think they’ll have to give up what they usually eat in favor of a diet they know is “good” for them but that they don’t enjoy. The food is giving them something they need.

One of the most effective methods to overcome habitual consumption of unhealthy foods is to simply crowd these foods out. It’s hard to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day and binge on cookies at the end of the day. The body can only take so much food. By filling your body with healthy nutrient-dense foods, it’s only natural that cravings for unhealthy foods will lessen.

By eating and drinking foods that are a healthier choice earlier in the day, you will naturally leave less room and desire for unhealthier choices. This becomes much more evident when you increase your consumption of water. Just grab a container, fill it with water and begin sipping it steadily throughout your morning. As the day continues, you’ll have less room for coffee and soft drinks. Really, it’s that simple.  Just drinking water crowds out unhealthy beverages, eating healthy foods can crowd out junk foods.  When the intake of nutritious foods increases, such as dark leafy greens and whole grains, your body will have less room for processed, sugary, nutrient-deficient foods.  And the great thing is that once you start adding these foods into your diet, your body will naturally begin to crave them.  The trick is to make sure you have access to healthy meals and snacks at all times, especially when you are at work or traveling.  It takes a little practice to make all this happen, but it’s definitely possible…and worth it.

Kim’s TOP 10 Favorite Nutrient Dense Foods

  1. Chia seeds – Chia seeds were a staple of the Aztecs. Their warriors and messengers would carry pouches of these nutrient-rich seeds that allowed them to run long distances with little other food. Chia seeds are an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber, protein, essential fatty acids, and more. Chia seeds lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, boost energy, aid in healthy weight loss, reduce inflammation, and help the body remove toxins.
  2. Kale – Dark leafy greens, in general, are some of the best foods to eat. They come stocked with chlorophyll, iron, calcium, vitamin A, fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, copper, vitamin K, and plenty of antioxidants. Kale also boasts sulfur-rich phytonutrients that have been linked to fighting inflammation, cancer, heart disease, and microbial infections. Kale is also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, compounds that promote eye health. Kale has been linked to lowering cholesterol too.
  3. Pomegranate – One of the oldest known fruits, found in writings and artifacts of many cultures and religions, the pomegranate is an original native of Persia. This nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich fruit has been revered as a symbol of health, fertility and eternal life. Pomegranates contain high levels of flavonoids and polyphenols, potent antioxidants offering protection against heart disease and cancer.
  4. Almonds – Nuts are very good for you in a moderate amount. They are pretty caloric dense, but the fats in nuts are the healthy monounsaturated kind that lower cholesterol, protect against inflammation, help the body use fats to slim down, and aid in the absorption of many beneficial nutrients. These healthy fats are also vital to brain function, boost energy, and keep the skin young, hydrated, and blemish-free.
  5. Ginger – Historically, ginger has a long tradition of being very effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. In herbal medicine, ginger is regarded as an excellent carminative (a substance which promotes the elimination of intestinal gas) and intestinal spasmolytic (a substance which relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract). Modern scientific research has revealed that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects.
  6. Turmeric – Turmeric (Curcuma longa), the bright yellow of the spice rainbow, is a powerful medicine that has long been used in the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions, including flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, hemorrhage, toothache, bruises, chest pain, and colic.
  7. Mung beans – This food is low in Saturated Fat and Sodium, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Protein, Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Folate, Copper and Manganese. Mung beans help ease high cholesterol, slow replication of certain cancer cells (e.g. breast cancer), regulates hormonal activity (post-menopausal), and promotes healthy blood sugar levels with diabetes.
  8. Maca – Maca helps your overall health in a number of ways. It supplies iron and helps restore red blood cells, which aids anemia and cardiovascular diseases. Maca keeps your bones and teeth healthy and allows you to heal from wounds more quickly. When used in conjunction with a good workout regime you will notice an increase in muscle mass. Maca is rich in vitamin B vitamins, C, and E. It provides plenty of calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and amino acids. Maca promotes sexual function, women’s health and mood, increases energy, promotes healthy skin regeneration, increase mental energy and focus, and may alleviate anxiety, stress, depression or mood swings.
  9. Brown rice – For people worried about colon cancer risk, brown rice packs a double punch by being a concentrated source of the fiber needed to minimize the amount of time cancer-causing substances spend in contact with colon cells, and being a good source of selenium, a trace mineral that has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of colon cancer. Selenium is an essential component of several major metabolic pathways, including thyroid hormone metabolism, antioxidant defense systems, and immune function.
  10. Quinoa – Quinoa is a grain-like seed that has a nutty flavor. It can be used in place of rice or pasta in many dishes and there are plenty of good reasons to do so. Quinoa is rich in protein, essential fatty acids, iron, magnesium, and manganese. Quinoa contains the amino acid lysine which is often lacking in other grains. It is also gluten-free. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients in quinoa also make it a likely candidate for cancer risk reduction in humans and decreased risk of allergy. The low-allergy potential of quinoa—coupled with its relatively high digestibility—has also made it a food of special interest in the diet of children and toddlers.

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