Writer: James Combs
When it comes to looking and feeling your best from the inside out, nutrition is a key ingredient.
You may have glowing skin, healthy hair, strong nails, and an all-around beautiful radiance. But it hardly matters if your poor diet leaves you with little energy and keeps you feeling fatigued.
To feel good from the inside out, you’ll need to be armed with more than makeup and mascara. Many health experts agree the true secret behind looking and feeling your best comes from wholesome, nutritious food.
One of those experts is Lori Esarey, founder of Lady Lake-based Total Nutrition and Therapeutics. Lori, who specializes in nutritional and metabolic medicine, has successfully transformed the lives of many clients by teaching them how to make nutrition and lifestyle choices.
Healthy Living recently sat down with Lori and learned how nutrition plays a vital role in helping people achieve optimal health.
Q: Why is food so critically important when it comes to looking and feeling good from the inside out? If we want to look good, can’t we just go to the gym or beauty parlor or have plastic surgery?
A: Because looking good does not equate to feeling good unless you approach it from the inside out. You can have liposuction and look better, but does that really make you feel better? Most people will not have a healthy, thriving life unless they have the energy to do the things they really want to do. What’s the purpose of looking good if you’re spending much of the day in bed?
Q: So would you say nutrition is the most important component to health?
A: I like to tell people there are four major pillars to health. Nutrition is the base. It’s just like building a house. You cannot build a house on a base that is not solid. Fundamentally, the most important aspect to health is what we put in our mouth—our food. Our bodies are made up of trillions of cells. That’s what makes you a living human being. In order for those cells to function optimally, they have requirements. Those requirements are the food, energy, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients we provide those cells. Without that, our cells begin to die. It’s a slow, insidious process. The other three pillars are detox, exercise, and hormone balance.
Q: What are some suggestions for somebody who is starting a journey toward better health and nutrition?
A: When we’re coaching people to make initial steps, one of the first things we teach them is to become mindful. Sugar is one of the leading contributors to all disease states, particularly inflammation. Ninety percent of diseases we deal with in conventional medicine have a root in inflammation. The key trigger to inflammation is blood-sugar control. Therefore, one of the key initial steps is to determine how much sugar you’re taking in. Sometimes that starts with journaling without initially changing their diet. Clients will log their food for the first week and not realize how many grams of sugar they consume. That mindfulness is a good first step and is key to everything we coach and teach here.
Q: What are some small steps I can take to substitute food and beverages I enjoy with healthier options?
A: You could replace sodas with water that has natural flavoring. Move away from the pork, bacon, salami, and sausage and replace them with lean cuts of chicken, fish, turkey, and white meat. Don’t forget to pull the skin off. If you must have red meat, choose a filet or something without so much fat. Small differences make large impacts on the body.
Q: If I make the decision to live a healthier lifestyle and improve my eating habits, should I go hardcore from the beginning?
A: Diving all in at once is a recipe for failure. Those people quit because they do not have realistic expectations. We as a society look at weight as a marker for health. People think, “If I lose weight, I’m going to continue eating like this.” But if they don’t lose weight right out of the gate, they’re going to be disappointed and quit. A healthier weight is a byproduct of and secondary to a healthier lifestyle. Weight loss will come naturally if you start to take steps in the right direction. Do better today than you did yesterday. And do better tomorrow than you’re doing today.
Q: Some people feel that healthy food is too expensive. What do you say to those people?
A: It’s going to cost you one way or the other. It’s all about what you want to spend it on. Look up how much open-heart surgery costs. I may be spending more on healthy food, but I’m spending less on medical co-payments and doctor visits. I choose to make the investment of putting high-quality fuel in my body. I see this as an investment rather than a cost. An investment yields a return, while a cost does not. Eating at a restaurant is a cost; buying healthy food is an investment.
Q: I like to drink beer when I’m watching sports or socializing with friends. Will alcohol derail my quest for a healthier lifestyle?
A: One of the key sabotages to anyone’s successful healthy living program is truly alcohol. It’s not only the sugar content found in alcohol, but you also become more impulsive and tend to eat whatever is in the refrigerator. You’re not thinking as clearly. The worst kind of alcohol has a large amount of sugar, particularly wine coolers, margaritas, and daiquiris.
Q: What is one of the biggest pitfalls you see when it comes to healthy eating?
A: People assume that, much like the fat-free craze, that gluten-free is good for you. We cannot assume gluten-free is healthier for us. They are pulling gluten out of the food but putting something else in there to give it flavor. Oftentimes, it can be tapioca food flour or modified food starch. Calorically speaking, it can sometimes contain more calories and more sugar.
Q: If we cannot get caught in the fat-free, sugar-free, and gluten-free craze, what should we do?
A: We have to get back to the basics, and that means eating whole foods. It may seem oversimplified, but the secret is moving back to meats, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and healthy oils.
Q: Is it OK to eat bad as long as I exercise regularly?
A: No. Because when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle, 80 percent of the equation is food and 20 percent is exercise. You cannot out-exercise a bad diet. There comes a point in time where exercise is counterproductive if you’re not giving your body the right fuel to turn over energy. In fact, you may feel worse. You cannot expect your car to drive down the road on zero fuel. You have to put the right fuel in. The same analogy applies to fueling our bodies with proper nutrition.