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18 Nutrition Habits You Are Probably Neglecting

18 Nutrition Habits You Are Probably Neglecting

Purple Artichokes

Going to a restaurant with me is not a normal phenomenon. I’m not impressed by comfort foods that most people love like mashed potatoes and mac’n cheese, and I almost always order the “weirdest” thing on the menu––think crudo (aka raw) platters, seaweed tastings and organ meats.

Just last week, for instance, I took my brother Shay to lunch at Mozza in Southern California, and without even asking him ordered the bone marrow appetizer. He looked at me incredulously. “Bone marrow?”

Me: “Yep, don’t worry about it. I always get it. You don’t have to have any if you don’t want.”

To Shay’s credit he tried it and––like 75% of the “weird” stuff I’ve encouraged him to try––he loved it.

So why am I such a freakshow?

Beyond my general disdain for social norms and conformity, my desire to eat at the fringes of the menu and grocery store stems from my desire to get as broad a spectrum of nutrients from my food as possible.

Healthy eating is about more than avoiding flour, sugar and trans fats. It also requires optimizing your nutrient intake of basic vitamins and minerals, as well as essential fats, amino acids, and trace micronutrients science may still be unaware of.

Nutrition research increasingly supports the “triage theory” presented by the award winning scientist Dr. Bruce Ames in 2006. Triage theory postulates that our bodies divert scarce nutrients to essential functions for short-term survival, such as heart function, at the expense of processes necessary for long-term health, such as DNA repair.

In other words, triage theory suggests that subtle micronutrient deficiencies can selectively take a toll on your long-term health and promote age-related diseases.

It is not hard to imagine that many (if not most) people living in Western culture, who typically eat nutrient-poor foods are experiencing trace micronutrient deficiencies that could affect immediate but more subtle health measures like energy levels, mood and focus, and also long-term health concerns like dementia, arthritis and cancer.

What’s interesting is that some of these negative health effects wouldn’t be limited to people who eat a lot of fast food and soda. “Healthy eaters” who limit themselves to a small range of foods each week would also be lacking some less common, but essential nutrients.

If you’re typical menu only consists of chicken and steak, and basic veggies like broccoli, spinach and zucchini, it might be time to up your nutrition game and become more adventurous*.

Here are the categories of food that I try to incorporate into my weekly healthstyle for optimal nutrition. This isn’t to say you need to eat something from one these categories every day or even every week, but if you’re only touching on a few of them (or only one from certain categories) you may want to work on expanding your regular menu.

Salad greens

Photo by frangrit

Photo by frangrit

Once I discovered that salads could be more than romaine lettuce, cucumbers and unripe tomatoes my entire world changed. I now eat several salads weekly (all year round), and am sure to choose a diverse range of greens including arugula, radicchio, endive, mizuna, treviso, spinach, tatsoi, red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, bib lettuce, and anything else I can find. Even romaine and iceberg lettuces can be refreshing and delicious if you source them from good farms.


Photo by Muffet

Photo by Muffet

Brassicas or cruciferous vegetables also play a huge roll in my weekly healthstyle. Both raw and cooked I love cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and brussels sprouts. Don’t forget that both the roots and leaves are often edible, including turnips, radishes, and kohlrabi. Different brassicas are in season at different times of year, so I try to enjoy them all.

Root vegetables

Photo by Plutor

Photo by Plutor

In addition to brassicas, the other roots I try to enjoy often include carrots, parsnips, fennel, beets, yuca, as well as all the varietals of potatoes and yams. These all offer different benefits, so don’t forget about them.


Photo by krossbow

Photo by krossbow

Alliums are a special type of strong smelling and tasting (thanks to sulfur compounds in the plant that make them especially nutritious) roots including onions, garlic, shallots, chives and leeks. The leaves and flowers are typically edible as well.


Photo by timlewisnm

Photo by timlewisnm

Although a small number of people are sensitive to nightshades (these people typically follow macrobiotic diets), nightshade plants can be incredibly healthy and provide unique nutrient profiles. Nightshades include tomatoes, chilies, tomatillos, eggplants, ground cherries, and goji berries. The breadth of chilies alone is enough to keep me captivated.

All the fruits

Assorted Grapes

Apples and bananas are fine, but don’t forget about all the berries, melons, pears, persimmons, pomegranates, and the like. Stone fruits like peaches, apricots, cherries and plums are common in the spring and summer, while heartier fruits like apples and citrus take over in fall and winter. Stick with the seasons and you can’t go wrong.


Photo by Michael Hodge

Photo by Michael Hodge

It always trips me out when I remember that mushrooms aren’t plants. Fungi have a completely different cellular structure than creatures belonging to the plant and animal kingdoms. As you might expect they also have completely different (and powerful) micronutrients. I love finding unique mushroom varietals such as shitake, maitake, oyster, chantarelle, morel, hen of the woods, pioppino, trumpet, lobster, lion’s mane, porcini, and straw. Yeasts such as nutritional yeast also belong to the fungus kingdom.

Sea veggies

Cucumber Wakame Salad

Cucumber Wakame Salad

A few weeks ago I was at a sushi restaurant in New York that offered a seaweed tasting as an appetizer. There must have been at least 10 different varietals. I was in heaven. My pantry is also chock full of different seaweeds, and I eat some at least 4-5 days a week.

Nori (the crispy seaweed in sushi rolls), wakame (the soft kind in miso soup and real seaweed salads), and kombu (used to make dashi broth) are the easiest to find in Western grocery stores. I also love snacking on the crispy Seasnax that have become incredibly popular. I like to wrap the wasabi flavored ones around pieces of avocado.

Oily fish

Photo by Andrea_Nguyen

Photo by Andrea_Nguyen

This one is tough for almost everybody at first, but once you break through it is easy to get hooked on the deep, satisfying flavor of oily fish. Oily fish are especially good for your heart and brain, thanks to the friendly fatty acid profile, but there are likely additional benefits as well. Sardines, mackerel, anchovies, cod liver, salmon, I love them all.

Shell fish

Photo by planetc1

Photo by planetc1

Don’t stop at shrimp, crab and lobster. Mollusks like clams, mussels, scallops, oysters, octopuses and squid are all rich in vitamins, minerals and other ocean goodness.

Organ meats

Photo by Photographing Travis

Photo by Photographing Travis

If you’re an omnivore you probably eat more than your fair share of muscle meat from animals. But although muscle meat is very nutritious, you’re only getting a fraction of the benefit when you ignore the bones and organs. It’s also more environmentally and ethically responsible to use all the parts of the animal.

Each organ contributes unique nutritional benefits. Bone marrow, for instance, is rich in glycine, which helps balance out the excess methionine most of us get from eating primarily muscle meat. If roasted bone marrow is too hardcore for you at this point, making bone broth (aka soup broth) at home is a fantastic alternative.

Liver is also insanely rich in nutrients, and can be absolutely delicious when prepared correctly (think chicken liver patê). My husband and I try to eat some kind of organ meat twice a week, and are very thankful that the nose-to-tail movement has made this easier in big cities.

Gourds and squash

Photo by Badly Drawn Dad

Photo by Badly Drawn Dad

Both summer and winter squash (with hard shells) come in so many varietals you’ll never get bored. Branch out from zucchini and yellow squash to try zephyr, pattypan, opo, bitter melon, kabocha, delicata (my famous recipe), and acorn.


Photo by

Photo by

Cooked properly, beans and lentils are some of the most nutrient dense foods available. While I recommend everyone explore the many varietals of lentils (e.g. green, red, brown, black) and beans (check out Rancho Gordo, Llano Seco and Zürsun Farms for several heirloom varietals), these delicious foods are particularly beneficial if you don’t eat meat.

Nuts and seeds

Photo by futurestreet

Photo by futurestreet

Also under-appreciated, nuts and seeds are incredibly healthy both for their vitamin and mineral content, as well as their fatty acid profiles. They’re also insanely delicious and a little goes a long way. Don’t stop at almonds and walnuts: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, brazil nuts, cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts all have unique benefits, so don’t forget to mix it up.

Herbs and spices


Herbs and spices tend to be thought of more in terms of flavor than nutrition, but they are in fact some of the most nutritionally dense foods in the world. That is why their flavor is so strong. Use fresh herbs often and get creative with those like mint, cilantro, parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary, basil, oregano and marjoram.

Dried spices have also been shown to have myriad benefits, such as protection against dementiacancer, and other common diseases.

Intact grains

Photo by mealmakeovermoms

Photo by mealmakeovermoms

Grains get a lot of flack these days, and in the cases of hyper-processed flours I completely agree. However intact grains remain incredibly nutritious and are a fantastic source of both soluble and insoluble fibers, which are essential feeding material (prebiotics) for the friendly bacteria in your gut.

Brown rice is great, but don’t stop there. Experiment with farro, barley, freekeh, quinoa, gaba rice, buckwheat, and oats.

Fermented foods


Photo by adactio

Fermented foods are finally getting some positive press due to the role they play as probiotics. But yogurt isn’t the whole story. There are several strains of probiotic bacteria, and we all respond differently to different types. Probiotic foods can be strong tasting, but don’t let that deter you. Saurkraut, kimchi, ripe cheeses, and even natto can be quite delicious when you develop a taste for them.

Coffee, tea and chocolate

Photo by sapheron

Photo by sapheron

While coffee, tea and chocolate are typically thought of more as treats to be avoided than health foods, they are in fact Real Foods that are incredibly nutritious––so long as you get the real thing. Coffee is a powerful antioxidant and is well-documented to protect the liver. Different teas have been shown to have a multitude of benefits. And real dark chocolate has been demonstrated time and again to impart lasting benefits on humans. Enjoy these all on occasion without remorse.

*It is worth noting that because many of these foods are less common in Western cultures, your natural tendency may be to turn your nose up at their weirdness. This is totally normal, few people are born with a love of chicken livers. The more you try them, however, the more familiar these foods will become and you’ll find their flavors and textures more pleasant. If you need some encouragement, here’s my personal story of learning to like new foods.

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Just how important is a mattress to a good night’s sleep?

Just how important is a mattress to a good night’s sleep?

Tomorrow Sleep hybrid Mattress

It's that time of year again, the weather is getting cooler, the days are growing shorter, the leaves are falling and the fireplace is going strong. That means it's time to stay in and get cozy. I love nothing more than sleep and cuddle time, but I have a confession to make, I'm not great at relaxing and not a good sleeper. I've never been someone whose head just hits the pillow and bam, I'm out.

tomorrow sleep hybrid mattress and memory foam pillowNo, that would be my husband (so jealous). I lay there for awhile thinking. Sometimes I'm planning, thinking about what needs to get done, sometimes I'm replaying a conversation, sometimes I'm thinking about work, or stressing about a problem. You name it. And sometimes, I'm just uncomfortable, tossing and turning, trying to find just the right position.

I'm also a particular sleeper, I have to have a box fan on high and I wear an eyemask from Brookstone that I can't sleep without. I know this makes me sound high maintenance (not going to deny it!) but nobody likes me when I'm tired and cranky. And don't even get me started on snoring. Thank god my husband isn't a snorer, we would have never worked out ;-)

I know how important sleep is, I stress it all the time. Sleep is your time to rejuvenate and repair. Chronically not sleeping enough will lead to weight gain, and many health issues including a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Sleep isn't something to skimp on.

To help me sleep better and wake up more refreshed, instead of hitting my alarm 3 times, (so not a morning person, see above) my husband and I have been thinking about getting a new mattress for awhile. We've looked around and the cost always seemed so prohibitive. We also weren't sure which to get, there are so many options. I've had the same mattress since before college, and it was my parents before that, so fancy mattresses were not something we knew anything about.

That is, until Tomorrow Sleep contacted me. WOW. They sent me a king size hybrid mattress, medium firm, with organic cotton sheets and memory foam pillows. I'm obsessed. I get into bed every night and just sigh, "OMG this is so comfortable". I don't know how I've gone so long without a mattress like this.

And, it inspired us to redo our room. We not only got a new (king size vs queen) mattress but a new bed and headboard, a new rug and new comforter set (organic cotton and fair trade from West Elm). Our room is seriously nice now. I call this our cloud bed, the mattress, comforter, and pillows are like falling into a cloud. Tomorrow Sleep hybrid Mattress

Tomorrow Sleep Mattress: What You Should Know

What is a hybrid mattress?

According to "hybrid mattresses combine two or more support systems, usually memory foam layers along with an innerspring system. Hybrid mattresses are a great way to experience the pressure relieving benefits of memory foam while retaining the classic feel of an innerspring mattress. Hybrid mattresses combine an innerspring system with memory foam (or latex) to deliver the benefits of both technologies. Hybrids allow sleepers to enjoy the perfect blend of sturdy support and contouring comfort."

Tomorrow Sleep's mattresses are American made (love that) and constructed by craftsman right in Charlotte, NC.

Tomorrow Sleep Holistic Sleep System

What I love so much about what Tomorrow Sleep offers, is that it's not just about their Tomorrow Sleep Mattress, it's about so much more. As you read above, sleeping is not easy for everyone, so they've taken into account many things that contribute to a better night's sleep. They offer:

  1. A Hybrid Mattress (got it, love it!)
  2. Memory Foam Pillows (got them, so comfy!)
  3. Plush (hypoallergenic) Pillows
  4. A Sleep Tracker Monitor (high-tech sleep support!)
  5. 500 Thread Count Sheet Set (got them, soooo soft!)
  6. Comforter
  7. Mattress Protector
  8. Drapes (want these!)

10 Tips to Help you Sleep Better

In addition to the wonderful things Tomorrow Sleep offers to help you sleep, I've found a few behaviors that really help me personally:

  • Turn off all your devices and TV at least a half hour before you go to sleep.
  • Do not, I repeat, do not check your email before sleep.
  • Journal your thoughts from the day, get it out so your mind doesn't keep you awake.
  • Focus on gratitude, either write down, or say 3 things you are grateful for right now - it puts things into perspective and lowers your stress levels so you can fall asleep easier.
  • Don't drink anything 1.5 hours before bed to avoid waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
  • Practice legs up the wall for 10 minutes (it's so relaxing and probably the single best yoga pose for you).
  • Pick a mantra to focus on, inhaling one thing, exhaling another - for example, inhale "I am relaxed", exhale "everything is as it should be".
  • Have an orgasm (or several), nothing else leaves you feeling quite so satisfied and relaxed.
  • If you're in a relationship, avoid waiting until you get into bed to start problem solving major life events, save that conversation for when you are rested.
  • Don't consume caffeinated beverages after 1pm (depending on how sensitive you are, you may want to cut out the caffeine or stop after your morning cup).
  • Bonus Tip: I've learned a mattress makes a BIG difference, so invest in a good one.

My Overall Review of Tomorrow Sleep's Hybrid MattressTomorrow Sleep Hybrid Mattress

Pros: This bed is heavenly. It's so comfortable and just the right balance of soft and firm. It's comfortable and supportive. I love the memory foam pillows and the sheets are so soft, they are the nicest I've ever owned, and keep me nice and cool. I've been waking up aches and pains free, and actually feeling rested. When one of us moves, the other doesn't get woken up because we don't feel it. It's awesome. Falling asleep has also gotten easier, and my husband loves the bed too. The first time he got in, he had the biggest smile on his face. We feel spoiled.

Cons: I've found myself kicking off the covers in the middle of the night. It could just be the duvet itself, we have had a heat wave in New York the last few weeks. I think we are going to purchase Tomorrow Sleep's mattress protector to keep our mattress nice and also because of its cooling technology. The memory foam pillow is awesome (see pic of Przemek above), but maybe a little bit high if you are a stomach sleeper (like me). I adjusted in about a week though. I have no cons for the sheets, they are perfect, 500 thread-count doesn't stink.

Special Offer to my Readers from Tomorrow Sleep

If you are looking for a mattress, I have $100 savings to offer my readers on any Tomorrow Sleep purchase over $500. The best part? The mattresses ship for free and there's a 100 day trial so you can make sure you choose the best mattress for you.

To take advantage of this offer, use the code: FOODIE100.

Offer expires 12.31.17.

The post Just how important is a mattress to a good night’s sleep? appeared first on Whole Foodie Booty.

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