Recently, I was interviewed by a Novi News and HomeTownLife reporter, Susan Bromley and here is the article.
You can also view the article on this website. This is an excerpt from the article.
Food as Medicine
As a registered dietician and founder of Nutrition and Wellness Consulting, LLC, in Novi, Aarti Batavia uses food as medicine to develop individualized plans for patients struggling with allergies, diabetes, weight management and cardiovascular, gastric, hormonal and neurological disorders.
“I believe in food as medicine,” Batavia said. “We are what we eat, drink, think and touch. Eating whole foods and consuming more plant-based foods provides vitality and exuberance that we need to enjoy life. Food is not just calories. Food is information for your genes. It sends messages to your DNA, regulates hormones, your immune system, bacteria in the gut, neurotransmitters and even influences mood and behavior. … Consuming clean, less processed and unadulterated food and water, relaxation, movement, clean air and light are crucial for optimal living.”
Earlier this month, Batavia stood next to Novi Mayor Bob Gatt at a city council meeting as he read a proclamation declaring March as National Nutrition Month. The proclamation, she said, emphasizes the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.
“Savor the Flavor of Eating Right,” is this year’s National Nutrition Month theme and Batavia is taking it as an opportunity to educate and encourage everyone to experiment with herbs and spices, which provide not only flavor, but also nutrients, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, to enjoy food traditions and experiences and reduce sodium, sugar and saturated/trans fats.
Batavia believes the three biggest steps people can take to improve their nutrition are to eat mindfully, consuming whole foods, more vegetables and less processed foods while enjoying food flavors; knowing that food affects inflammation; and being aware that food speaks to genes.
The biggest mistakes people make in regards to food are thinking of it only in terms of calories; assuming that foods promoted as “low-fat” or as “diet” are healthy; eating quickly on the go without savoring food; and assuming that food is not related to mood.
Batavia is a vegetarian, but notes there is no one correct diet for everyone, as we all have individual preferences based on traditions, food availability and emotions.
“Eskimos have survived on raw fish/seafood in harsh winters, while the indigenous people of Africa have survived on root vegetables and little meat,” she said. “You can be a vegan/vegetarian and still be eating French fries and ketchup, while some Paleo folks don’t even consume two to three servings of vegetables.”
Decrease the meat, fish and eggs
Studies show that Americans tend to consume more animal proteins, Batavia noted, with recent dietary guidelines the suggest decreasing the amount of meat, fish and eggs consumed. She suggests turning to beans and whole grains as protein sources rather than animal foods, which do have vitamins and minerals, but lack antioxidants, crucial in preventing free radical damage, which corrupts DNA and is often cited as causing cancer. Antioxidants are present in fruits and vegetables.
“If you are consuming animal-based proteins, be sure that it is antibiotic and hormone-free,” she said. “The antibiotics used in animal farming do have an impact on our gut bacteria and the hormones can play as endocrine disruptors in our bodies.”
Krause notes that there are products available now that are plant-based substitutes for meat that taste very similar, but without all the hormones, saturated fat, cholesterol, and antibiotics found in chicken, beef, and pork.
When people ask Krause what he eats, he finds it to be the easiest question — he eats the same as he did before he became a vegan, but substitutes plant-based products where necessary. There is no chicken in his stir-fry, but there might be a plant-based chicken substitute.
There are even various plant-based milks now, he adds.
While he doesn’t dispute veganism is a big change for anyone who has eaten animal products all their life, he notes the human species “is very adaptable” and the switch will also save the cost of purchasing expensive meat, as well as cut the astronomical costs of health care in the long run.
Challenges are more to be found in family members who aren’t on board and restaurants where you may need to be more specific about your wants.
Helping smallest, pickiest eaters
Children’s growth is not affected by being raised as vegans, Krause said, and, in fact, they have a “head start” on healthy habits over those who begin life with a traditional diet.
To help children, both omnivores and vegans, like vegetables, Batavia suggests taking them grocery shopping and allowing them to choose new fruits or vegetables; make their plate colorful and pattern it with foods; do not force them to eat, but create positive experiences around food; and be a good role model yourself.
“You can’t ask your kids to eat fruits and veggies while you’re sitting with a bag of chips watching the television,” she said.
Krause admits although he is a vegan, he still eats “bad” when it comes to cookies, cake and even vegan ice cream. He finds himself wanting to lose about 10 pounds.
Batavia said there is no one best way to lose weight, as weight gain has multiple causes, including poor nutrition, hormones, toxins, inflammation, food addictions/sensitivities, gut health, lack of good bacteria, decreased physical activity, stress and more.
Both Batavia and Krause agree everyone can benefit from consuming more fruits and vegetables and choosing foods that help you not just survive, but thrive.
Sprouted Moong bean Salad
Recipe developed by Aarti Batavia MS, RDN, CLT, CFSP, IFMCP.
PREP TIME: 15 MINUTES TOTAL TIME: 25 minutes SERVINGS: 2
Mung beans (green gram seeds) are commonly used in Southeast Asian cooking- India, Thailand, China, Burma, Japan and Korea. It is an excellent source of protein and is almost free from flatulence-causing factors. Because of this, mung beans are preferred for feeding babies and those convalescing. The seeds contain a higher proportion of lysine than any other legume seeds. The seeds are processed and consumed as cooked whole beans or splits (dals), sprouts, immature seeds, and flour and are used in various recipes.
You could sprout moong beans and use it in salads, stir fry them with vegetables or cook them as a vegetable or daal adding mustard seeds, tomatoes, turmeric and other spices with a dash of lemon. You can serve it with rice, chapattis or any millet tortilla. Mung bean vegetable soup can be consumed as a meal by itself.
1 cup sprouted moong beans
1 small diced carrot
1 small diced cucumber
½ cup diced apple
½ cup halved grapes
½ cup blueberries
1 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds
¼ tsp black pepper powder
¼ tsp cumin powder
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro (optional)
1. In a bowl add sprouted moong beans, diced carrots, cucumbers, apples and blueberries.
2. Add pumpkin seeds, black pepper powder, cumin powder, salt and add freshly squeezed lime juice.
3. Mix all the ingredients and garnish with cilantro.
4. Serve in a bowl and savor the flavor!
a. Add tomatoes and avocado.
b. Instead of fruits, add onions, tomatoes, olives
c. Add a variety of beans either sprouted or cooked or from a can ( rinse canned beans )
d. Add ¼ tsp chili powder if you enjoy spicy foods