Today we dig into the one food that really loves to be eaten: fruit. There’s no way to eat too much fruit that is fresh, colorful, and organic (ideally from in-season, local sources). That’s because such fruit is so good for you. It is nutrient-rich with many health benefits, not to mention the sense of satiation that it brings. If you want to control your weight without getting rid of the carbohydrates, then fruit is your friend. Read on to find out the details.
The more involved LifeTrek gets with Appreciative Inquiry, the more reason we have to travel. That’s because Appreciative Inquiry involves a lot of face time, as people in organizations learn to talk with each other about their best experiences, values, and wishes for the future. It is a dynamic process, well supported by telephone coaching both before and after the on-site events. We are blessed to have these opportunities, particularly since so many of them involve one of our primary passions and commitments: making schools and school systems work better.
As wonderful as these opportunities are proving to be, and we have two more coming up next week, travel presents its own challenges when it comes to health and wellness. By getting out of one’s environment and routine, it becomes more challenging to maintain regular commitments of sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Given the importance of those three factors to health and wellness, it’s easy to see why people who travel a lot or otherwise live with disrupted and chaotic conditions find themselves exhausted, out of shape, and malnourished.
To avoid this eventuality, the first thing I pack when I get ready for a trip is my exercise gear. I look at how long I will be gone, where I am going, as well as what the weather and my schedule will be in order to determine how much and what kinds of gear I will need to bring with me. By packing my exercise gear first, I increase not only my commitment but also my anticipation of what will be possible while I am on the road. As someone who enjoys exploring new territory, I may look at maps to determine where to run while I am away. In many instances, such pre-planning has led to delightful discoveries and chance encounters with local people, places, and parks. It helps to make sure that exercise happens.
I also use pre-planning as well as permission-giving and just-in-time napping in order to get enough rest. Pre-planning enables me to look at my schedule in order to end early or start late, when necessary, in order to get a minimum of six hours per sleep per night. Knocking off early or coming in late is where permission-giving enters the picture. It’s not always possible to take control of your schedule, but it’s important to give yourself the permission to do so whenever possible. Opportunities for just-in-time napping may present themselves without warning; take them! Today I took a 10-minute nap in the car, for example, and I felt 100% better for having done so. If kindergartners can put their heads down for a nap, so can we.
Eating right is another real challenge occasioned by travel or other disrupted conditions. Restaurants and fast-food outlets often have limited healthy options. The free “Continental breakfasts” in many hotels capitalize on the convenience of cereal grains, sugar, coffee, and saturated or hydrogenated fats. Snack stations at meetings can have the same limited options: they often feature the all-American combo of sugar and preservatives.
So what’s a person to do? Give yourself permission to be different and take charge of what you can control • starting with fruit. I make a point of taking dried or fresh fruit with me as traveling snacks and then of buying fresh fruit to keep in my hotel room or to carry with me upon arriving at my destination. That’s a great way to avoid snacking on junk food or finding yourself stuck without good food options.
Such actions are more than just travel accommodations; they are the foundation of a healthy diet. Fresh, colorful, organic fruits from in-season, local sources are the most nutrient-rich foods on the planet, and they are to be eaten as often as possible.
Maybe that’s why fruits and humans have evolved together, with the most symbiotic of relationships. Fruits dress themselves up with bright colors, attractive aromas, and delicious natural sugars because they want to be eaten; that’s how they spread their seeds around and reproduce. In this respect they are just like flowers: their lifecycles depend upon animal partners who, in turn, depend upon them for their lifecycles. Eating edible fruits and flowers is a win-win proposition for both the eater and the eaten.
Since early humans started out in Africa, near the equator, tropical fruits would have been available year-round. Such fruits are rich in the vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, potassium, enzymes, flavonoids, and other phytonutrients that are essential to health and wellness. The human body needed them to evolve in the stone age, and we need them just as much in the space age.
The only difference between then and now is that now we know more about why fresh fruit is so beneficial from the standpoint of medical nutrition. Consider the following indications:
• The vitamins in fruit, especially vitamin C and folic acid, are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. They protect against scurvy, bruising, and high homocysteine, an amino-acid with a known link to cardiovascular disease. They also support the structure and functioning of the cardiovascular system in other ways. A test-tube analysis done at Tufts University of the antioxidant value of fruits revealed the following relative values: Prunes (5570), Raisins (2830), Blueberries (2400), Blackberries (2036), Strawberries (1540), Raspberries (1220), Plums (949), Oranges (750), Red grapes (739), Cherries (670), Kiwi fruit (602), Grapefruit, pink (483).
The carbohydrates in fruit are the most efficient fuel for energy production, which the body stores in the muscles and liver as glycogen. Low energy, interest, or enthusiasm for exercise may reflect more on the quality of one’s diet than on the quality of one’s character. It’s not laziness but chemistry that determines our readiness for aerobic exertion.
• The fiber in fruit, especially soluble fiber such as pectin, has been linked with reduced cholesterol levels, another known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The fiber also mitigates against the glycemic load of the carbohydrates in fruit. The grams of fiber in a normal serving of fruit reveals the following relative values: Apple with skin (3.5), Pear with skin (3.1), Raisins (3.1), Raspberries (3.1), Prunes (3), Strawberries, (3), Orange (2.6), Banana (2.4), Blueberries (2), Peach (1.9), Apricot (1.8), Grapefruit (1.6) Cherries (1.2), Pineapple (1.1), Cantaloupe (1).
The glycemic index of some of the same fruits (lower is better) reveals a similar but at points different pattern: Cherries (32), Grapefruit (36), Pear (53), Apple (54), Plum (55), Peach (60), Orange (63), Grapes (66), Kiwifruit (75), Banana (77), Mango (80), Golden Raisins (80), Apricots (82), Brown Raisins (91), Pineapple (94).
• The potassium in fruits is well known to lower both blood pressure and the risk of strokes. The milligrams of potassium in a normal serving of fruit reveals the following relative values: Dates (581), Raisins (545), Banana (467), Prunes, dried (415), Passion fruit, purple (410), Pomegranate (399), Nectarines (288), Figs, dry, (271), Kiwi (252), Cantaloupe (247), Orange (237), Honeydew (230), Pear (208), Apple, raw (159), Grapefruit (159), Cherries, (152), Plum (114), Pineapple (88).
• The enzymes in fruits assist the body with digestion, not only of fruits but of other foods as well including proteins and fats.
• The consumption of fruits also lowers the risk of many common cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer.
• The pH of fruits generates an alkaline load in the body, which is protective for both the bones and the kidneys.
Other health benefits of eating plenty of colorful, fresh organic fruit have also been studied and documented, but you get the idea. Fruits are nutrient-rich foods that are unique in their abilities to support human health. If protection against cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, osteoporosis, and fatigue are not enough reason to eat at least 3 cups of whole fruit per day, then other, less-well-established benefits will not add any fuel to the fire.
Fruits are such nutritional powerhouses that people taking medication for any of the above conditions should not add significantly more fruit to their diets without medical consultation. Be sure to check back with your doctor over time, because fruits have a cumulative effect. The more regular you become in your fruit consumption, as well as in your exercise and sleep habits, the more you may find that you can reduce or even eliminate some of the medications that you are now taking.
It’s also true that fruits are far more complicated than we know. In study after study, the isolated factors found in fruits (vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, potassium, enzymes, flavonoids, and other phytonutrients) when taken as supplements do not produce the same health benefits as the whole fruit. Sometimes, and for some populations, they even do harm (such as smokers or ex-smokers taking supplemental beta-carotene). That’s not to say supplements have no value; it is to say that nothing beats whole, fresh fruit when it comes to nutritional value.
In some low-carbohydrate diets, the type of carbohydrate is overlooked. All carbohydrates are condemned as the cause of overeating and weight gain. But that is not how colorful, fresh organic fruits work. Such foods offer a nutrient-rich carbohydrate that satisfies the body and assists with diet and weight control. Grains and starchy vegetables, on the other hand, offer carbohydrate calories without much nutrition. When that happens, the body keeps sending signals to eat and eat and eat • because it is craving those nutrients.
That is part of the reason so many people are today overweight and obese: they are eating the wrong foods, making it harder rather than easier to control their appetites. Well, don’t let that happen to you! Load up on fresh, colorful, organic fruits (ideally from in-season, local sources).
Be sure to wash all fruit thoroughly with clean, cold water (using a brush when appropriate) before eating. The fruit and vegetable washes on the market do not add significant cleaning value (unless they get you to wash the fruit more thoroughly with clean, cold water). Do not use soap and water; the soap can seep into the pores of the fruit and can be both more difficult to remove and more harmful than the pesticide residue.
Eat organic fruits whenever possible. Why? Because pesticide residue can cause health problems, including some cancers, respiratory illnesses, and behavioral disorders. The artificial fertilizers, many of them derived from petrochemicals, can also negatively impact the nutritional profile.
The conventional fruits most contaminated with pesticides (in declining order) reveals the follow relative values Peaches (100), Strawberries (89), Apples (88), Nectarines (85), Pears (80), Cherries (76), Raspberries (66), Grapes – Imported (64), Oranges (53), Apricots (51). The least contaminated conventional fruits include Papaya (23), Kiwi (23), Bananas (19), Mango (12), Pineapples (6), and Avocado (4). As they were in the stone age, tropical fruits continue to shine in the space age. Eat them to your health!
Coaching Inquiries: How many pieces of fresh, colorful, and organic fruit do you eat on a daily basis? How could you eat more? What are some sources in your area for local fruit? Have you checked out the farmer’s markets or Community Supported Agriculture farmers?
To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.
Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.
I’m really curious about your Powerful Plant Provision. What’s the deal with the grains? I’ve always heard that whole wheat was much better than any other grain, and that corn had next to no nutritional value and that soy protein is the ultimate. I’m so confused!!! (Ed. Note: I will write an entire Provision on grains (wheat, corn) and another on legumes (soy) before this series is over. Hang in there with me!)
I would love to know more about what you eat on a daily basis. I know you said your pattern is a smoothie for breakfast, a salad for lunch, then lean meat and veggies for dinner with lots of water in between, but what do you do when you’re on the go and the pattern breaks down? And what do I do with my kids, who are clamoring for snacks every hour? Especially kids (like mine) who burn 10x more calories than I do, given their activity schedule? And how do you keep the dietary choices healthy and tasty and varied, all at the same time? Inquiring minds want to know? (Ed. Note: Those are great questions for future Provisions. Thanks! They deserve and will receive thoughtful answers. As for the snacks, stay with fruits.)
Just wanted to say that I am enjoying learning from Provisions. I have been recommending it to others.
Thanks for another inspiring Provision. Special thanks for beginning with the reflection on the world’s shortage of good water.
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
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Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
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