"Healthy Choices for a Healthy Life"
By Heidi Golightly www.healthychoicesfora healthylife.com, $14.95
Publishing a book has gotten a whole lot easier than it used to be. Still, it takes hard work and dedication to organize one's thoughts into a coherent bunch of words. I'm very proud of my friend and green guru, Heidi Golightly, for having done it with "Healthy Choices for a Healthy Life."
"Healthy Choices" comprises 180 pages of personal story, philosophy and very useful tips on how to live in a way that nourishes the body, nurtures the soul and is kind to the earth. Golightly clearly acknowledges that her authority to write such a book is not based on studies, degrees or medical credentials but simply from her life experience as a fit and healthy 50-something.
Everyone has something to learn or re-learn from this book. Without being dogmatic, "Healthy Choices" reflects Golightly's enthusiasm for health with generous exclamation points and words of encouragement for anyone to get started, making simple lifestyle adjustments that add up to big rewards in health and wellbeing. Fourteen chapters walk the reader through these adjustments that include dietary changes, mind-body connection, natural remedies, personal hygiene and natural cleaning alternatives. Within each chapter are golden nuggets of goodness that can literally change a life.
The majority of the book focuses on food selection, preparation and eating, with good reason. With the proliferation of processed foods, diet fads and genetically altered everything, the question of what to eat has become a mind-numbing task. The beauty of "Healthy Choices" lies in its simple and straightforward approach to this question.
One of my favorite tips is the six "Ps," or "Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance." This is true of just about everything in life but it is especially true when it comes to setting ourselves up for success in the kitchen. Taking time on Sunday to prepare the week's healthy staples like quinoa, homemade granola, almond milk, beans and veggies means that meals can be a matter of quick assembly rather than a laborious chore for the ravenous. Making food from scratch is cheaper and healthier and when you make several things at once, it saves time in the long run.
If losing weight is a goal, Golightly suggests the elimination method. Rather than making several big changes at once, choose one vice and give it up for three weeks and see how you feel. Maybe it's soda, or fast food. Every three weeks, choose another item to eliminate or a new healthy habit to begin, such as a 20-minute walk after dinner. One healthy choice begets another.
Speaking of elimination, there is a section on poop (yep!). Long a taboo, it's nice to see the end result of what we put in our mouths getting proper attention. Liberating poop talk from the confines of the second grade would do us all some good. "Not only should it look good, it should feel good!" says Golightly.
Eco tips are peppered throughout the book, since it just so happens that what's healthy for the body is also healthy for the planet. Getting plastic out of the kitchen prevents endocrine-disrupting Bisphenol-A (BPA) from entering your food and body. Homemade personal-care products like toothpaste, deodorant and moisturizing masks eliminate packaging as well as harmful chemicals.
"Healthy Choices" tips range from traditional folk medicine remedies such as warm castor oil packs for muscle pains to more new-agey advice on breathing, creating boundaries and morning rituals. Some, like trying natural remedies for 10 days before seeing a doctor or the sweet-potato pizza recipe, are pure Heidi.
The grand finale of "Healthy Choices" offers up seven days' worth of healthy meals at Chez Golightly; mix-and-match menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus appetizers, snacks and even dessert, followed by recipes for each.
Though Golightly describes her eating philosophy as "flexitarian," almost all the recipes in this book are vegetarian and most are gluten free. Having tasted many of them myself -- and, full disclosure, even contributed a few -- I can vouch for their easy preparation and deliciousness. I defy anyone not to love Donnie's special popcorn.
For those who want some extra help transitioning into a healthier life, Golightly also offers personal coaching services for stocking the kitchen, healthy shopping and cooking sessions.
Just in time for the holidays and the inevitable New Year's remorse, "Healthy Choices for a Healthy Life" will be on sale at White Street Healing Arts, 1217 White St., during the Dec. 15 Walk on White. The eBook version will be available at Amazon.com and other online book sellers.
For a sneak preview and more information, visit www.healthychoicesfora healthylife.com.