By Dr. Diana Bitner
One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to shop at the farmers market every week. I love running into friends that I haven’t seen in a while and chatting with some of my favorite vendors that I have come to know over the years. Of course, the best part of the farmers market is the abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices available throughout the summer. I even plan my menus around the vegetables that are in season each week. Why do I do this? Because there’s nothing healthier than a farm-to-table diet. Read on to learn how the nutrients in these foods can improve your overall health and wellbeing.
When I think of the word “health” I think of “deliberate wellbeing.” In other words, it’s choosing to be well. Our choices—including our food choices—impact how we feel today and how we age over time. Incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into our meals helps support our overall health in all areas of wellness.
I’ve talked about the W*A*I Pointes™ program quite a bit in my blogs lately. W*A*I* stands for Who Am I and it focuses on nine specific areas of wellness. Here’s the scoop on how good nutrition affects each of these nine areas:
- (A) Ability to be Active—Smart food choices like fresh fruits and vegetables give us more energy in order to exercise and be more active throughout the day. And, even though it’s not strenuous exercise, walking through the market helps us get our steps in for the day.
- (B) Obesity—There’s no question that a diet rich in fresh veggies helps us avoid weight gain and obesity.
- (C) Cancer—What we eat CAN affect our chances of getting certain types of cancer. Load up on broccoli, Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes!
- (D) Diabetes—That dreaded belly fat can increase our risk for diabetes. A diet rich in fresh vegetables can help keep the belly fat to a minimum.
- (E) Ease of Coping—We cope better with life’s problems when we have a good support system. Visiting the farmers market every week (or several times a week) gives us a chance to be around happy people and visit with friends while we’re shopping.
- (F) Phase of Ovarian Function—A healthy lifestyle is the basis for feeling better during the midlife and menopause phase. It’s so important to practice our SEEDS™ during this time, and loading up on fresh foods from the market helps us get our daily servings of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. You can get almost everything you need for good health at the market—meat, eggs, sweet potatoes, beans, lentils, nuts, etc.
- (G) Good Bones—Calcium is so important to good bone health, and veggies like broccoli and kale are high in calcium. You can typically find both of these fresh veggies at most farmers markets.
- (H) Heart Disease—This is a big one! Did you know that one in three women will die from heart disease? A plant-based diet is better than any medication to help keep cholesterol low. It’s fresh veggies for the win!
- (I) Income Security—If you’re constantly worried about money, it’s not good for your health! Buying fresh foods at the farmers market doesn’t have to be expensive. A little bit can go a long way, so only buy what you need to make sure there isn’t any waste.
What you eat really does affect your menopause symptoms
If you eat a lot of starches/sugars during the day, you will probably suffer from night sweats when you go to bed. And, what happens when you don’t sleep well? You feel tired and lethargic the next day. It’s a vicious cycle, but you can avoid it simply by making smart choices—especially when it comes to what you eat. Plan ahead to make things easier on yourself. Set a menu for the week (including lunches) and make a list of what you need before going to the farmers market.
I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite recipes that includes ingredients you can find at the farmers market. You can adjust some of the amounts to your specific taste, and I think you will like it as much as I do!
- 6 cloves fresh garlic (sliced into several pieces)
- 6 T. nuts (pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, or Brazil)
- 6 T. fresh parmesan (broken into small chunks)
- 3 handfuls fresh basil
- Olive oil
Directions: If you prefer, roast the nuts before you start making the pesto; otherwise, proceed to the next step. Place the garlic pieces in a food processor and pulse until well chopped. Add the nuts, fresh parmesan, and basil, and process until well combined. With the food processor still on, drizzle olive oil over the mixture and process until desired thickness. Enjoy!