Avoid these foods if you want to reduce stress in your body.

I’m delighted to be bringing you someone whose knowledge of all things about nutrition is encyclopedic and she presents it in easy-to-understand and put-into-practice steps for the best health ever. I used to say we’re body mind and spirit, but now I say something different. I say we’re spirit with a body and a mind. That is why we must take care of those three aspects of our being to lead the most fulfilling, happy, and healthy life that we possibly can. Today we are going to talk about how you can nourish your way to stress-free living.

nourish your way to stress-free living

Let me begin by introducing our esteemed guest today, Terry Thompson. She is the owner and founder of Blue Jeans and Berries and specializes in helping individuals and families make simple and sustainable changes in their diet and lifestyle so that they may experience more energy, better immune function, healthier weight, better mental clarity, faster workout recovery, and reduce the need for medications. She’s been studying nutrition and the effect food has on our health for over 12 years. Terry offers personal nutrition coaching as well as monthly group detox programs. Together with her team, she also offers monthly challenges to help promote and reinforce healthy habits. And today she will share with us how you can nourish your way to stress-free living.

Terry was born and raised in Southern California, and now resides in Central Arkansas where she enjoys a slower pace of life. In her spare time, you may find her out in her garden, in her sewing room or exploring the local flea markets.  I love all those things. I’m a flea market person too.

Which foods stress the body?

Terry – Your body is going to react to what you’re feeding it, so you really must look at what you’re eating. We’re eating a lot of foods that have a lot more sugar than they need to have. Simple carbohydrates like cakes and pastries. Soda is not good for your stress level or your immune function. Foods that are high in trans fats. And excessive saturated fats like fried foods, and red meat. Butter, baked goods, things like that. And highly processed foods like chips, and cookies. Frozen foods, which a lot of people are relying on. Ready-made meals. These things have a lot of additives in them.

MarciaGrace -That’s why I was just going to ask you, can you elaborate on why these things are no good? What’s bad about them?

T – What’s in them is chemicals, the things that make them last longer on the shelf. We’re talking about preservatives; we’re talking about things that will enhance the color or the texture of that food to make it more appetizing when you look at them.

Your body is going to react to what you're feeding it

I’m a big label reader and I help other people read labels and understand what’s on those labels when you pick up a readymade meal and you look at the ingredients on the label- the actual ingredients in the product. First off, if there are more than five ingredients, I usually put it back. The rest of it, you don’t even know what it is, and then I’m looking for words that I don’t recognize or can’t pronounce. Or if they have these chemical-sounding or scientific-sounding names, they’re not real. Your body doesn’t know how to metabolize them. The more that you eat, the higher levels of stress you’re going to have in your body. They affect your mind. They affect how your brain functions. They affect your moods. They affect your energy levels. All of those are going to play a part in your overall stress level.

How do our bodies react when we eat these foods?

MarciaGrace – Can you give us a little bit, (don’t want to get too scientific), but what is it exactly that’s happening? The food goes in your mouth. You’re eating these chemicals. It goes down into your belly, your belly starts digesting. Then what happens? What’s next? What’s going on there?

Terry – Say you’re eating an apple. When you eat an apple, there are over 10,000 different vitamin nutrients in that apple. We can’t replicate that in a lab. We can’t replicate that in a vitamin capsule. We can’t replicate what’s in that apple because it’s coming from nature. Our bodies are designed to be fueled by nature.

Our bodies are designed to be fueled by nature

So, when we’re eating that apple, our body knows what to do with every phytochemical in that apple. It knows where to send it into the body to help repairs. Or, you’re eating a carrot. Most people know carrots are good for your eyes, which is true. It’s good for a lot of other things too, though. It’s got lutein in it. It’s got all kinds of good stuff in it. And your body goes, oh, I’m gonna send that to my eyes. You eat salmon. Your body knows it’s got this essential Omega 3 oil in it that’s good for your brain. It’s good for your cardiovascular system. When you’re eating these foods, your body knows what to do with each of these nutrients.

When you’re eating something that comes out of a package, it’s what I consider fake food. It’s got ingredients in it that did not come from nature, that are not whole. They’re not. They might be a fraction of a vitamin. They’re taking little pieces out and putting it in the food. Your body doesn’t know what to do with it. And that’s where you start to build toxic levels in your body. Your body is struggling to process it. High-sugar foods are going to affect you with highs and lows and blood sugar spikes. There are different ways that different chemicals are going to impact your cells and how your body reacts. You don’t have control over that. Once you’ve eaten it, you have no control how your body is going to utilize it. You eat cookies, you eat that sugar. You’re going to get this rush of energy and then you’re going to crash because your glycemic index is going up and down, you drink alcohol. Your body is going to be affected by that alcohol for a certain duration of time until that alcohol is flushed out of your system.

Me-are you saying I shouldn’t have my glass of wine with dinner. Is that what you’re telling me?

T – Not necessarily because there are some things that are healthy in moderation or on occasion. It’s the daily habits that we really have to look at. It’s what we are doing every day. If every day we are relying on boxed cereal for breakfast, drive-through for lunch, a frozen dinner or a pickup meal for dinner, where are we getting our nutrition from and what kind of chemicals are we taking in with that food? We’re getting calories. But we’re not getting the nutrition that we actually need, that our body needs to repair itself. So it’s kind of a double edged sword. The more processed food you eat, the more chemicals you’re taking in, the higher your toxic load is going to be, the worse your body is going to function in all levels, including managing stress.

Me – Ah, OK, so now I see. I see the connection. OK. So. In other words, when you’re eating an apple, or something natural, your body knows exactly how to digest it, it knows where everything in that apple belongs and puts it in the right place, and it’s smooth sailing. But when you eat something that’s artificial, that’s nonfood, which is most of what people eat today, unfortunately, what you’re telling me, if I heard you right, is that the body struggles and that’s where the stress comes in the body.

High-sugar foods are going to affect you with highs and lows and blood sugar spikes

It’s physiological stress. The body is having difficulty processing or maybe it’s getting too much sugar because you’re drinking soda, eating a cookie. and having a candy bar.  And all that sugar makes the body confused, like “what do I do with all this sugar?”  And that puts tremendous stress, chemically speaking, on the body, which over time, has drastic effects, right? Absolutely terrible effects… That is so good. Thank you.

How to shop for foods that are healthy and avoid those that stress the body?

Terry – You could shorten your lifespan by what you eat. It’s sad. It’s sad because here’s what we’re seeing today- when you go into your local supermarket, over 80% of what you see on the shelves was not available 100 years ago. If you went into a grocery store in 1923, you would not see most of what we have on our shelves today.

MarciaGrace – I heard a nutritionist speak years ago. And she said something very funny. She said if you must shop in the supermarket rather than at a farmer’s market or health food store, just go around the outside. You don’t want to go down any of the aisles on the inside. You’ll stay a lot healthier if you consume just what you can find along the perimeter of the store. I thought that was quite thought-provoking.

T – That is a good rule of thumb and that’s what I teach people as well- shop the perimeter. There are only a couple of aisles that you might want to dash down because there are some processed foods that can help you maintain a healthy diet: like canned tomatoes, and tomato sauce. They’re very healthy for you. Canned beans. I always keep canned beans on hand. Black beans, navy beans, chickpeas. Keep those on hand for quick easy meals. You drain them and rinse them. That is a healthier processed food.

Rolled oats: I go down the cereal aisle for one thing and one thing only, and that’s rolled oats. That’s healthy food. It’s close to its natural state. If you look at the ingredient label on a big canister, you will see there’s only one ingredient. If there’s one ingredient, it’s alright.

nourish your way to stress-free living

And I’ll go down the aisle where there’s peanut butter because I do love peanut butter. But I’m buying peanut butter that has two ingredients. It has peanuts and sea salt. It doesn’t have sugar or added oil. If you look at a jar of Skippy or Jiff, the stuff that we’re feeding kids all the time, there is hydrogenated oil and sugar added to it. We don’t need those. Our body doesn’t process them. They’re there only to enhance the texture.

They don’t do anything for the flavor. The sugar will make it sweeter. The added oil makes it spreadable, so you don’t have to stir it every time you open the jar. I mean, if it’s nuts and salt, you’re going to have to stir it before you spread it. Why are we adding this stuff to it? It’s making it more pleasurable for people to buy and scoop because it doesn’t separate in the jar.

Me – So why is it that people don’t read the labels and look for the stuff that’s good?

T- Well, I think a lot of times people will look at the outside of the package. Our manufacturers are good at getting our

attention and they’re not always telling the whole story. In big letters, it says, “The best”, “low fat,” and “low sugar.” But they’re substituting other items. So, people are grabbing items off the shelf saying, “Oh, this is a keto diet food” or “Low carb”. It says low carb on it, so it must be healthy. It says low sugar, so it must be healthy. Or low fat, same thing. It must be healthy. I’m buying those. And we’re not reading the labels because we’re in a hurry. We’re bombarded with advertisements. We’ve got the kids begging for this funny-colored cereal. We’re looking at it and it says,” fortified with vitamin D” or whatever. “OK, it’s going to be good for my kids, so I’m going to buy it.”

We’re looking at the overall appearance and not the ingredient panel. “This looks like it’s something healthy. I’m going to throw it in my cart.”

Me- I hear you. So let me see if I got this right. The reason that people are not eating the right things is the ads that we see in commercials. We’re in a hurry so we don’t stop and really pay attention and the packaging is very enticing, right? It draws us in. It says low fat or keto or whatever it says. And so we say, yeah that must be good, right? That’s helpful. I really appreciate that.

How to live on a healthy diet to reduce stress?

MarciaGrace – So now we talked about all the bad things that we shouldn’t be eating.  Alright, now that we’ve avoided all the supermarket except for the perimeter and a couple of quickie trips down a couple of the aisles, what CAN we eat to reduce our stress?? I mean, we really need to know this.

Terry – First off, I would say if you can clean up your overall diet and follow more of a Mediterranean-style diet, you’re going to do better all the way around. Mediterranean style is heavy on fruits and vegetables and then it’s complemented with lean meat. It’s based on natural whole foods.

But if you’re feeling a lot of stress and you want to reduce your stress, the first thing I would recommend are foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. So, think avocados, anchovies, salmon, mackerel, tuna, walnuts, chia seeds, olive oil, and oysters. Those things can help you quickly in a stressful situation.

Me – Because I knew we were going to talk today, it got me curious. And so, I was looking. Then I found this article in JAMA, (the Journal of the American Medical Association). And they have even done studies that showed how important things like fatty fish like salmon, or everything you just said, all those things are in reducing stress. “You’re going to feel better.” Amazing!

T – The other nutrients you should be looking for in your food to help bring the stress level down would be foods that are high in magnesium. So, think avocado. A powerhouse. I eat avocado every day. Avocado not only has omega-3 in it, but it also has magnesium in it. So that’s like a double whammy. Split an avocado in half with some tuna or salmon in the middle of it.

nourish your way to stress-free living

One of the processed foods I will buy is canned tuna and salmon. I buy those because again, look at the ingredients. There are only one or two ingredients. It’s salmon and water, or tuna and water.  And it’s convenient. It’s fast. I also love putting ‘Everything But the Bagel’ seasoning on it. And then just eat it with a spoon.

The other foods that you can look for that are high in magnesium, (and magnesium is going to calm you quickly), are bananas, broccoli dark chocolate, but in moderation. Don’t go wild. If you’re having this stressful moment, instead of grabbing a donut or a piece of cake, I keep bars of dark chocolate in my freezer so that I can just break a little piece off. Look for something that’s 70+% cacao. A good bitter chocolate doesn’t need to be sweet. I can’t even eat milk chocolate anymore. It’s too sweet.

Put pumpkin seeds on your salad. Or spinach in your smoothie In the morning. Start your day off with some spinach for some extra magnesium. Put it in your salad with pumpkin seeds, some salmon or tuna as your protein. Avocados, these are going to bring your stress (your cortisol level) down and help you manage stress from the inside out. They won’t get rid of the stressors around you –won’t stop the kids from screaming or the dog from barking and all that. But they help you manage that stress better. It’s going to make you calmer. 

Me – So they say at Thanksgiving we eat the turkey and we all go to sleep because of the tryptophan. Is that in chicken and other poultry or is that only in turkey?

T – well it’s in other poultry but turkey has it at a higher level. And it’s in other meats as well. Tryptophan can be found in other things besides turkey. And because we’re eating a lot, (we’re also eating a lot of carbohydrates with that turkey), we’re going to have that glycemic crash afterwards.

Let me mention that they’ve done a study where they found that there’s a huge increase in heart attacks after a holiday like Thanksgiving because people are eating so much. And it’s not just putting a load on their stress, it’s putting a load on their arteries as well, and it constricts their brachial artery. Blood doesn’t flow. So food is very powerful.

huge increase in heart attacks after a holiday like Thanksgiving because people are eating so much.

Me – I was listening to a show on NPR and they were talking about how some doctors, the younger ones probably, are starting to use food as a prescription. Can you believe it? They’re prescribing organic food! They’ll tell a patient, “Go to the farmers market or to your health food store and buy good food and eat that. And I guarantee you’re going to feel better.” That is music to my ears. When I heard that, I was thrilled!

T – We need all medical professionals to promote diet first, not pills first. A person comes in with high blood pressure. The first thing they do is give him a pill. They don’t say, “Eat a grapefruit every day” Typically they’ll say, “Don’t eat grapefruit while you’re taking this medication because it contradicts it.” Why is it contradicting it? Because grapefruit will naturally lower your blood pressure. So why aren’t they prescribing grapefruit instead of pills?

I mean, there are so many benefits to cleaning up your diet. I realize it’s not easy. It really isn’t. And it doesn’t have to be done overnight. I’ve cleaned my diet up step by step, one little change at a time. You know, swap things out, start adding in better things, and it starts to compound. It’s a lifetime habit that you’re creating. It’s not something that you’re focusing on just for a short period of time. You don’t have to make changes all at once. You can start small, start swapping out the fruit loops for oatmeal or eggs.

I like to help people add more good food to their diet because when you add better food, it leaves less room for the bad. So, if you’re adding in that nice, beautiful salad for lunch, it’s not leaving room for the hamburger and fries. You can’t eat both, right? You must choose one. I mean, you can have that occasional hamburger. It’s the daily habit of eating those burgers more than a couple of times a week that is to be avoided. You’re harming your health. It’s that simple.

Is there such a thing as ‘healthy fast food?’

MarciaGrace – You’re right. Everybody knows this. But we need to hear you say it again. But time is running so fast when you’re talking about something you love. But there are two things that really want to ask you before we go. You mentioned something about your favorite fast foods. And as you said, everybody’s in a big hurry. So, what can you recommend as a healthy fast-food meal that we can grab and gobble?

Terry – Instead of going through the McDonald’s drive-through, go into your supermarket and get a ready-made roasted chicken. And I’ll bet that they even have mashed potatoes. Then go to the produce department, grab some broccoli, or green beans, whatever you like. It takes literally less than 5 minutes to steam the vegetables and potatoes while you cut up the chicken. I don’t eat potatoes, but how about quinoa? Quinoa is cooked in 5 minutes. It’s fast. I make quinoa all the time. I put it in my rice cooker and just push a button and it cooks itself. So, tools in the kitchen always help too. So, if you’re in a hurry and you’re trying to feed your family, it will take you less time to run into the grocery store and buy a roasted chicken and some veggies that you can take home and steam than sitting in that drive-through lane. It’s going to be a lot less expensive. You’re going to pay about $10 for a chicken and a couple of bucks for some veggies. You could even buy frozen veggies. They are good fast food because they’re already washed, cut, and ready to go.

I have another one – in my supermarket, they also have a sushi counter and I’ll grab a poke bowl as a fast-food meal because it’s a fresh salad. They make them daily. It’s got a little bit of rice, some salmon, and veggies in it. So that’s a really good, healthy fast-food meal.

Me – I like Trader Joe’s if you have one near you because they have better food. And they also have frozen medleys of vegetables that have nothing in them but the vegetables. Things like that are very helpful because you want variety sometimes. I eat a lot of broccolis, but sometimes I want something different.

Is there such a thing as ‘healthy fast food?’

T – And generally, your frozen veggies are more nutrient-dense than what you’re buying in the produce department, which may surprise you. But frozen veggies are flash frozen shortly after harvest, which locks in the nutrients. The veggies in the produce department start losing their nutrients as soon as they’re harvested, so by the time you buy it, 80% of the nutrition is gone so you’re getting the benefits of the fiber, but you’re not getting all of the phytonutrients.

My favorite fast-food snack has got to be popcorn.

My favorite fast-food snack has got to be popcorn. If I’m craving something salty and buttery, instead of a bag of potato chips I will pop some popcorn. That’s the one time I will use the microwave if I’m in a hurry. I use my air popper if I’m not. You can put it in a bowl in the microwave and in 3 or 4 minutes you have popcorn. You can add a little natural butter to it, which is healthier than the hydrogenated oils that they use in the packaged popcorn bags. What you get in the store is loaded with stuff that you don’t need, it’s over-salted and it’s got oils in there that you really don’t need.

Me – I just take a pot with a cover, and I put it on the stove with oil in the bottom and then add the kernels and wait till the popping slows down and you’re done. I use grapeseed oil, it’s a healthier oil.

T – Great! You’re staying away from those hydrogenated oils.

Learn to make simple and sustainable changes in your diet and lifestyle.

MarciaGrace – We could go on forever! But time is short, and I know you have a gift to offer our audience.

Terry – Go to my website which is www.bluejeansandberries.com. You can book an appointment there. I’ll give you a free 30-minute consultation. I’ll answer any questions that you have. Is anything specific to you?  I’m happy to either answer those questions or get the answers if I don’t have them. I also have a whole library of digital cookbooks available that focus on ways to feed your family more fruits and vegetables. They’re simple recipes without a lot of unfamiliar ingredients. They’re made, created, and tested by families in my healthy living community. Kids like them, people like them. I’ve tried different ones that have been brought to me from the community that I’ve just absolutely fallen in love with, and they’ve become part of my regular routine.

Me – So how do we get them?

T – You can go to my website, www.bluejeansandberries.com. OK, there you can book a consultation with me and you can scroll to the bottom of the page. There are ’Resources’ there and I have a whole library of downloadable cookbooks. Absolutely free. So, whether you’re looking for slow cookers, air fryers, things for kids, or holidays. There are all different types of recipe books there.

Me- Fantastic. OMG! I’m going to check out those resources because I love to read cookbooks. Believe it or not, I’ll get into bed with a cookbook and read before I go to sleep.

T – I love that!

Me – Who would believe such a thing? But it’s true. I love to read recipes. I love cooking. For me, chopping and peeling veggies is meditative. And I’m into meditation. So, it works for me because I must pay attention, right? When you’re chopping and peeling with a sharp knife, you must watch what you’re doing, which means you must be focused on only what’s in front of you, which means you’re not thinking about the past or the future. You’re right now. And that’s where peace is. It’s a stress-free zone!

So, everybody chops and peels if you have time. I know we’re all busy, but it’s a funny thing. If you can plan your day and do things in a certain way, I’m sure you could plan your day so that you can get in some good quality cooking time. That’s important. It really is. So, we need to find ways to try to make time to do that. I know one of the things that I do is when I’m sitting for the one hour that I watch TV at night after I eat, I’ll take a bag of broccoli and chop it up so it’s all ready to cook or freeze.

T – There are a lot of ways, including meal prepping on the weekends. I have a lot of families that do that. They’ll make a week’s worth of salad in a jar so that they can take it to work with them. And then they’ll create the prep veggies ahead of time so that when it comes to dinner time, these are already washed, ready to go, they just throw it in, steam it up, whatever. I do that myself.

Another fast-food meal I forgot to mention is the salad in a jar. And that’s something that you can prepare at a weekend and have it all week long and they last up to 10 days. I used to do workshops for this with the salad in the jar when I was on Long Island. You put the salad in a Mason jar. You don’t shake the dressing into it until you’re ready to consume it, but it’ll stay fresh for about 10 days because it’s air-sealed because glass doesn’t breathe like plastic, so it gives you the ability to have this grab-and-go fast-food meal.

nourish your way to stress-free living

That alone is worth calling Terry and talking to her, just so you can find out how to make the salad in a jar. OK, well we could go on forever and ever because I absolutely love everything you taught us today, which has been fantastic. So thank you so, so much and please folks, do take advantage of that half an hour. It might save your life!

And remember, everything begins with a thought, so watch your thoughts and release the ones that are causing you pain.

Love and Peace Always,


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