I designed Nature’s Meal Plan to help you dive into eating healthy foods and jumpstart healthy habits. It’s ready to purchase right now! Even though this meal plan is based on a four-week program, it can be used as a daily eating guide. It’s also designed so you can use it indefinitely after the four weeks. The foods on Nature’s Meal Plan can be arranged in countless different delicious combinations that will enliven your taste buds so they don’t get bored of nature’s flavors.
Why the 4-Week Model Works
Over the four weeks of using Nature’s Meal Plan, you will nourish your digestive tract with healthy foods. In turn, your own unique microbiome will help shift your palate to wanting MORE healthy foods. What’s more, the combination of essential nutrients in the foods will help your body and mind function at peak performance.
WEEK 1: Positive Shift in Your Digestive Tract
The first week allows you to get familiar with the foods laid out in the Food Selection Guide on pages 3–5 of the meal plan. During week one you will try new flavors and explore different combinations of foods. During this time pay attention to portion sizes. Some portions sizes (especially for fats) may seem ridiculously small, but I encourage you to work them in anyway. It’s the combination of the foods that help you recruit the right microbes in your digestive tract that will assist you in craving nature’s foods.
Within 24 hours of eating the foods on Nature’s Selection Guide in Nature’s Meal Plan, your microbiome will receive nutrients and beneficial microbes will begin to create a positive shift in your digestive tract.
WEEK 2–4: Reprogram Your Brain, Immune System and Taste
As you continue the eating regimen through weeks 2–4, and practice, practice, practice eating the foods on Nature’s Food Selection guide, other physiological changes will occur:
- You will reprogram the neurons in your brain, enabling you to learn that this way of eating is the new normal.
- The antioxidants in the foods will increase the healthy microbes boosting your immune system to fight off bad microbes. The increase in healthy microbes will then talk to your brain and encourage it (you!) to find and eat more of nature’s foods.
- You will begin to renew your sense of taste through the regeneration of your olfactory nerve cells (nerves for smell) which account for 80% of your taste. This makes it possible for your palate to enjoy the taste of nature’s foods.
Once You Start to Eat Healthy, The Benefits Make It Easier to Continue
Once you have established healthy rituals of eating, it’s easier to continue them.
Everyone I know wants to be healthy, but I’ve seen many people start to eat well for a period of time, and then slowly fall back into old patterns of unhealthy habits. What makes Nature’s 4 Week Meal Plan uniquely different is after 4 weeks, you will most likely feel some or all of these benefits:
#1 When You Eat Healthy, You Grow Your Muscles
You have more than 600 muscles in your body, which make up 1/3 to 1/2 of your body weight. When you stress your muscles through weightlifting or power movements, you can increase your muscle mass, especially when you eat foods from nature.
Here are the 6 nutrients you need to help build muscle mass (all are included in the foods in Nature’s Meal Plan):
- Beta-alanine — An amino acid that synthesizes carnosine. Beta-alanine helps your stave off muscle cramps and delays muscle fatigue during high-intensity workouts. Found in asparagus, edamame, chicken, fish, seaweed, turnip greens and watercress
- Calcium — A mineral that triggers muscle contraction. Found in almonds, black beans, broccoli, leafy green vegetables, oranges, tempeh, tofu and seeds
- Glutamine — An amino acid that repairs muscle tissue especially after high-intensity exercise like weightlifting and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Found in beans, beets, brussels sprouts, cabbage, lentils, parsley, peas and spinach
- Iron — A mineral that brings oxygen to muscle tissue and helps regulate your metabolism. Found in beans, clams, chicken, eggs, mussels, oysters, pumpkin seeds, sardines, and tofu
- Magnesium — A mineral that is essential for preventing muscle cramps. Magnesium also aids in muscle relaxation. Found in beans, leafy green vegetables, lentils, nuts, peas, seeds, spinach, squash, and whole grains
- Potassium — A key electrolyte in muscle contraction. Potassium brings water and nutrients into your muscle cells. Found in bananas, broccoli, chicken, salmon, squash, and sweet potatoes
#2 When You Eat Healthy, You Lose Fat
Nature’s Meal Plan is full of healthy foods that help you lose and keep off excess fat. Eating healthy foods helps you lose fat in 3 ways:
A. Eating Healthy Prevents the Build Up of Adipose Tissue
Calories that pile up in your body when you eat more than your cells require get stored in your adipose tissue for long-term use. Your body gets good at converting calories into fatty acids to be stored in your adipose tissue if you eat excess calories. On the other hand, if you continually move your muscles plus give your body nature’s foods, your body gets good at building muscle mass.
B. Eating Healthy Prevents Your Body from Making Obesity-Promoting Substances
Nature’s foods are full of fiber and water that lower your overall calorie intake. Also, nature’s foods prevent you from making obesity promoting substances, like trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO). This substance is formed in both your digestive tract and liver after eating a lot of meat and/or processed foods. The role of TMAO is to deposit fats into your bloodstream and fat cells.
C. Eating Healthy Helps You Release Heat Energy
One word: polyphenols. These are bioactive compounds that help your chemical factories (mitochondria) release heat energy, which burns calories. Polyphenols are present in a variety of plant foods like apples, berries, cacao, grapes, green tea, onions, soy and whole grains. When you eat a variety of foods from nature, you are likely to get a good dose of polyphenols and other bioactive compounds that assist with fat loss.
#3 When You Eat Healthy, You Strengthen Your Bones
Optimal bone mass is critical to maintain, especially as you age. The nutrients in healthy foods can help you have overall higher bone mineral density and less bone loss over time. Nature’s Meal Plan includes recipes with foods that will help strengthen your bones.
Healthy foods also give your bones the ingredients they need to stay strong like:
- Calcium — The main storage site of calcium is in your bones. Your bones need to absorb enough calcium or they can get weak. Calcium is found in almonds, black beans, broccoli, leafy green vegetables, oranges, tempeh, tofu and seeds
- Vitamin D — Vitamin D helps your body absorb the minerals calcium and phosphorus, which build up your bones and teeth and keep them strong. Vitamin D is found in cheese, egg yolks, fatty fish (mackerel, salmon, and tuna), fortified soy products (soymilk, tofu), mushrooms. Also, 5 to 30 minutes of sunlight between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. twice a week to your face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen gives you vitamin D.
- There are also critical nutrients like vitamin K, folate, magnesium, potassium as well as antioxidants such as vitamin C and carotenoids that assist with developing bone mass. Nature’s foods contain all these nutrients.
#4 When You Eat Healthy, Your Digestive Tract Works Better
Your gastrointestinal (GI) tract is your body’s largest interface between your internal and external world. What you feed your digestive tract makes all the difference in how it’s going to function. If you feed your digestive tract the RIGHT ingredients it can function at its best.
Eat these prebiotics for the health of you GI tract:
- Complex Carbohydrates — Important macronutrients that feed your microbiome. Your microbiome is an extremely large population of unimaginably small bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi that live inside your digestive tract. Complex carbs are considered to be prebiotics, a fertilizer that nourishes your microbiome. Beneficial microbes in your digestive tract fight off harmful microbes.
- Fiber — Critical for your digestive tract to move your food along and help with elimination. Fiber also satiates your body and prevents you from overeating. It helps your colon get rid of unwanted microbes, additives, toxins and other chemicals that need to be removed. When you eat nature’s foods full of fiber, you’re better protected from chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer like colorectal and breast cancer.
- Complex carbs and fiber are found in beans, brown rice, fruits, legumes, lentils, oats, peas, quinoa, whole grains, and vegetables
#5 When You Eat Healthy, You Strengthen Your Immune System
When you are confronted with disease-causing microbes, your brain activates a defense system against the invasion. At this point you may experience some signals that you have inflammation including swelling, heat or pain or you may get a fever, diarrhea, fatigue, muscle aches, a stuffy nose or a cough. Before these signs are present, your brain has been at work doing its executive job of activating an army of workers (your immune system) to help prevent the spread of the invaders into your bloodstream where they can travel to other locations in your body and do more harm.
Nature’s foods support and enhance the beneficial microbes in your system that support your immune system. Ingredients in nature’s food-especially copper, folate, iron, selenium, vitamins A, B6, C, E and zinc, strengthen your immune system. A strong immune system defends your body against the invasion of harmful microbes.
#6 When You Eat Healthy, You Can Balance Your Hormones
Hormones Regulate Your Blood Sugar
Your hormones send messages to manage your hunger and eating. For example, after you eat, your body makes blood sugar (glucose) which triggers your pancreas to make and secrete the hormone insulin into your blood stream. It’s the job of insulin to take the glucose into your body cells for energy. Nature’s food helps regulate insulin by slowing down food digestion. Because nature’s foods are full of water, nutrients and fiber, they leave your stomach gradually giving insulin a chance to do its job.
Hormones Regulate Your Appetite
Just like your blood stream has hormones that balance out how much glucose is needed, you have hormones that regulate your appetite. There are other hormones that are secreted directly from your GI tract after you eat. These gut hormones with names difficult to pronounce like cholecystokinin and oxyntomodulin drive your appetite. The complex carbohydrates and fibers in nature’s foods (listed above) develop the right substances to regulate your appetite.
After you eat a meal— and if your gut hormones are in good balance — your gut tells your brain to stop eating. At times when you need to eat more, your body uses the gut hormone ghrelin to stimulate your appetite. It’s amazing how your hormones keep you regulated and provide your body with homeostasis by not letting you have too much or too little.
#7 When You Eat Healthy, You Have More Mental Clarity
Your GI tract communicates directly to your brain via a nerve called your vagus nerve. Your vagus nerve communicates with your brain letting it know when inflammation is present, when you’re hungry or full, and how to manage your calories and metabolism. Roughly 90 percent of your vagus nerve fibers are committed to relating to your brain what’s going on in your gut. Only 10 percent of your vagus nerve fibers send signals the opposite direction, from your brain to your GI tract. What is in your GI tract acts as a major player in how your brain functions. By eating nature’s foods, you will nourish your gut first and then send health promoting signals to your brain. Beneficial microbes travel to your brain and give your brain cells nourishment, which lifts brain fog and stimulates mental clarity.
#8 When You Eat Healthy, You Have Better Moods
Your body secretes hormones and neurotransmitters that affect your cognitive processes and mood. One key hormone is called serotonin. The majority of your serotonins are produced in your GI tract and then travel to your brain, helping your brain function at its peak. The more good microbes you have in your intestinal tract, the better ability you have to secrete the right neurotransmitters and hormones for improved mood.
#9 When You Eat Healthy, You Get Better Quality Sleep
Nature’s foods help your body produce the hormone melatonin, which regulates your sleep. Melatonin is found in eggs, fish, nuts, sprouted legumes and seeds, dark cherries and grapes.
Another way to enhance your melatonin production is to eat foods like beans, dark green leafy vegetables, fish, lentils, nuts, seafood, seeds, salmon, turkey and soybeans to receive tryptophan, an amino acid. Tryptophan is a precursor to making melatonin. With adequate melatonin on board, you can greatly enhance your quality of sleep.
Nature’s Meal Plan Is for You
All of these 9 benefits are for you! Your body will feel so much better if you eat healthy. After four weeks of eating from Nature’s Meal Plan and using the worksheets and other materials to help shift your cravings to healthy foods, you will want to continue. By shifting the foods around in the meal plan, you can develop an infinite number of flavors that will help keep your eating stimulating and interesting. Also, after trying the recipes and finding your favorites you will be able to quickly put together delicious healthy foods.
Have fun using Nature’s Meal Plan! Thank you for your purchase and support!
(For some, there are emotional blockers that stand in the way of maintaining healthy habits. These blockers can be identified and worked through. Please reach out to Kari at [email protected]m if you run into stumbling blocks while trying to maintain Nature’s Meal Plan after week 4.)