Friday, August 17, 2018

Foodie Fridays ~ Let's Talk About Protein

Welcome to our Foodie Friday!

As you know, we usually try to share wonderful recipes on our Foodie day. Today, however, in light of my own health struggles of late, I thought we'd focus on one aspect of health eating: protein.

Now, I have brushed on this in a few pasts posts but today's focus is not only going to be explaining the importance of ensuring your feeding your body enough protein, but you are feeding it the right kinds. We'll include some top general and non-meat choices here.

I don't usually publicly discuss my personal issues, but I felt that in order to understand the importance of eating well and making sure protein is a part of every meal, I should briefly share.

I found out that I have been living with a very serious liver condition, apparently and unbeknownst to me, since childhood. It wasn't until I was given full body scans that I found out some of my organs weren't functioning properly, finally explaining why I've always never felt completely healthy.

Now, your liver is a very powerful organ that has the ability to repair itself, if you treat it properly. I did some pretty stupid things when I was younger, and even after I found out about my condition, which did not help the situation. But after doing research, and finally listening to my specialists, I am doing all that is necessary to fight this. My liver is fighting, from what my liver specialist told me this week, so I have to participate in that fight by doing my part.

Protein is one of the top things to help in situations such as this. I didn't realize until my hair started falling out, my nails were brittle and split, I couldn't gain weight, I lost a lot of muscle mass, my thinking process was slow, and my skin was dry and discolored. Because my condition had gotten to the point where my liver basically shut down and could no longer process protein, I had to teach my body how to take it in and accept it. The alternative wasn't acceptable to me.

Essentially, adding protein to your diet is easy as long as you are consistent and are consuming the
'right' kinds of protein. It can be a challenge at first knowing what foods to turn to especially if you have allergies or a special diet, such as vegetarian. Contrary to popular belief, you don't just mow down on a big, thick, juicy steak and you're fine. It's a combination of foods that get the process going.

I was a vegetarian for many years and in light of everything I've gone through and learned, I have started sneaking a bit of other lean meats into my diet (eg: chicken, pork). Granted, I still can't eat a lot in one sitting, but I have made a rule that no matter how little I can eat at once, it has to count. That doesn't mean I don't indulge in some french fries once in awhile. It's all about balance.

A few top foods to try keeping on hand are:

Seafood - tuna and salmon seem to be top choices.
White meat poultry - chicken
Dairy products - milk, cheese, Greek yogurt
Tofu - yes, not everyone's first choice but it is an excellent alternative
Beans - all kinds. Lentils and chickpeas seem to be the highest in protein.
Pork - believe it or not, this meat is one of the leanest and is a high source in protein.
Eggs - there are so many different findings on eggs but, depending on how you cook them or add them to, they are another excellent source of protein.
Lean beef - nothing wrong with a big juicy steak but watch for the saturated fats.

To name a few. Also, check out the top non-meat sources of protein above. As well, if you don't have time to sit and have a meal, there are great meal replacement bars, shakes and cereals out there. I heard that if you do have to turn to these, make sure that it contains at least six grams of protein and is low in sugar and fat.

Well, there you go...the importance of protein. I have come a long way just making sure to try to eat as healthy as I can, getting enough sleep and doing things that I enjoy the most.

In future posts, I'll share some of my favorite recipes.

Eat well and live well.

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