Inspired in part by Bruce Bradley’s excellent blog on “Big Food’s Insane Weight Loss Program,” I recently joined a group of Central Florida residents at the Center for Integrative and Natural Medicine looking to improve their health the old-fashioned way: by eating real food. The four-week Bridge to Wellness program, which also incorporates mindfulness, stress reduction techniques and detailed information about nutrition is led by Dr. Kirti Kalidas and his staff in their newly expanded facility on Vineland Road in Dr. Phillips.
Finding and eating great food is part of my job, and so an approach that looks at diet as just one aspect of wellness is key, especially when work compels me to enjoy the occasional delicious beer float.
According to Bradley, the time between New Year’s Day and the Super Bowl is prime time for the marketers of canned shakes and processed foods that promise weight loss. As soon as I arrived for Week One of Bridge to Wellness, it was clear that no one here would be singing the praises of cereal bars instead of breakfast. Nurse Sarah greeted us with servings of sweet-and-sour edamame salad with spinach, an energizing beginning to the evening.
As we munched and listed to Dr. Kalidas explain precisely how the body’s web of systems work together to support wellness, I took note of things that I could incorporate into my life right away. As usual, this took the form of a grocery list, which happily took me to some favorite places around Central Florida later that same week.
Easy one: green tea. I’m a tea drinker anyway, and switching to antioxidant-rich green tea was a no-brainer, especially when it served as an excuse to stop by The Spice & Tea Exchange on Park Avenue.
After my tea purchase I hopped across the street to Ten Thousand Villages to pick up a bar of the organic Fair Trade chocolate they carry. Dark chocolate is another choice that’s high in antioxidants, and in indulgent choice at that.
Surely chocolate won’t be part of every lesson — life just ain’t like that — but the boost in energy I’m already feeling from eating more veggies (local and seasonal, of course), drinking more water and meeting new people in class is encouraging. Stay tuned for Week Two…