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An Interview with Joy Gurgevich

What are the basic tenets of good nutrition?

The basic tenets of good nutrition are:

  • Eating foods which are as close to nature as possible
  • Selecting those foods from a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, healthful oil, and some animal protein, if desired
  • Drinking plenty of pure water daily
  • Preparing and dining in a mindful atmosphere
  • Enjoying every single bite

What should everyone have in their pantry?
A “starter” pantry might include extra-virgin olive oil, a small selection of dried herbs/spices of personal choice (i.e. cinnamon, basil, cumin, curry, dill, thyme, oregano, etc.), fresh onions and garlic, brown rice (or quinoa, oatmeal, kasha), toasted unsalted cashews/almonds/pecans, a selection of canned or dried beans (black, pinto, kidney), canned tomatoes (whole, pureed, or quality pasta sauce), whole wheat or spelt tortillas or pita bread, a variety of pastas (not just wheat, but also experiment with rice, corn, quinoa, or spelt pastas).

What benefits does buying organic confer to farmers and the environment?
The use of agrichemicals has an enormously negative impact on the environment. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides introduce toxic compounds into the air, soil and water sources, and ultimately into our bodies. Buying organic encourages the non-use of these toxic compounds. Buying from independent organic farmers further encourages the trend to grow produce without the use of toxic agrichemicals. Many small farmers have been forced out of the market by the presence of mega commercial “non-farms.” Buying from the independent organic farmers gives them more strength to maintain their presence in food production and supports the production of nourishing and vital food.

How can people convince those they know to improve their diets?
Example is the most effective way to create healthier eating behaviors. Prepare and enjoy your own healthy foods and share them with others!

When you cheat, what do you eat?
We really are cheating ourselves out of good health when we over-eat highly processed foods such as chips, white flour products like donuts, cupcakes, cookies, fast food French fries, etc. These “foods” have no nourishing value.

Let’s rather use the word splurge or treat or indulge! When I treat myself to something I don’t ordinarily eat very often it is dark chocolate (with more than a few cashews or almonds thrown in), popcorn made with olive oil and salt (a huge bowl on Saturday night), or lots of toast (the heavier and grainier the better) with butter. Now, there is nothing inherently unhealthy with any of these splurges – as long as it does not happen too often. And I also make sure to take a long walk at some point to use up the calories and to just get the whole body system exercising and doing its job.

I do find that I have a tendency to splurge/treat/indulge when I am not getting enough sleep (is my body craving energy?) or I am stressed. Good exercise in the form of a walk or a yoga session helps get back on track. If I am splurging/treating/indulging just because the food is great (holidays, vacations, etc.), then I just try to walk more – and know that soon the eating patterns will return to normal!