Food Matters

I’ve been thinking a lot about food lately. In fact, I’ve been thinking about, reading about, and watching a lot of documentaries about food quite avidly for the past 5 years.

(A recent picnic at Griffith Park. That’s my hubbie’s hand in the photo.)

I don’t want to get all soap-boxy, but I do want to share my own personal journey and relationship with food.

Over the course of my life so far I’ve gone from being a meat eater to a vegan, and many variations in between. I think my interest in what I’m putting in my body started when I was 14 and first became a vegetarian. While I haven’t eaten red meat since then, I’m now a pescetarian (I eat fish), but for the most part I don’t eat dairy except for in very limited amounts, if at all.

Why have I dabbled in eliminating different types of animal products? To be honest, yes, I have a deep love for animals, but it’s really about what helps my body feel best.

I have found that right now, eating a ton of fresh organic fruits and vegetables, some fish, as few highly processed foods as possible, a ton of water, and almost no dairy, is what fuels my body the best.

(Me at Animal Acres hangin’ with a goat.  If you haven’t seen this SNL sketch, this might seem extremely random…)

Now for the dirty talk…

America is a country where one third of adults are obese. There has also been a significant rise in the rates of childhood diabetes.  To me, it’s astounding that more is not being done for the health of the people in this country. But, not surprisingly, big business has it’s hand on everything, and many are none the wiser.

A show that really got me riled up recently was the Los Angeles based season of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.  If you have a chance to watch this season online, it’s a fantastic eye opener into the state of our mentality in America, and what is holding us back.  And of course, it’s not only America, but we do have an epidemic in this country that needs to be addressed in a very real way.  For example:


I think above all, the only way to go head to head with big business and bureaucracy, is to take responsibility of our own lives and bodies, and make smart choices with what we put in our mouths.  Of course, unfortunately, it is the lower income families in this country that suffer the most, but if we can shift perspective throughout class lines, we can make a difference.

Overall, I think things are slowly getting better, and with increased social awareness there is starting to be a shift. In fact, Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program is absolutely fantastic, but we have a long way to go.

A show called Weight of the Nation was on HBO awhile back (now available to view online), and I kind of feel like it should be mandatory viewing for every person in this country.  It was put together with staggering facts and statistics tackling America’s obesity epidemic, and filled with a very disturbing reality.

There are a ton of other documentaries out there that helped me understand how food gets to our table and how it affects our bodies like “Food Inc,” “Super Size Me,” “Forks Over Knives,” “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead,” and many many more.

There are great books as well that tackle the same issues like “Fast Food Nation,” “Skinny Bitch,” and Alicia Silverstone’s “The Kind Diet.”  But, I think the best resource of all is a very simple, easy to read book called “Food Rules,” by Michael Pollan.  I wish that every person could have this book delivered to their door.  It is such an easy step by step guide to eating food that is good for your body.  For meat eaters, it doesn’t rule out eating meat entirely, but it does say why limiting the amount of animal products in a person’s diet is important.

So, what is it that I eat on a typical day? Well, I did a guest post for one of my favorite blogs The Actor’s Diet awhile back, and my diet has changed a bit more since then.

I’m currently off of caffeine for the first time since I can remember starting to drink sugary sodas, coffee, and tea, and have been on the wagon not drinking alcohol, for a couple of months now due to an onset of acid reflux which also means no spicy or acidic foods for me.  But, that being said, I’ve been really enjoying the clean eating I’m doing lately!

(Our fridge stocked with organic fruits and vegetables. NOTE: I put produce on the top two shelves so that they get eaten ASAP instead of ignored in the crispers)

Here’s an example of a typical day:


-smoothie made with organic peaches, mangos, and blueberries, with a dash of unsweetened almond milk and water

- organic oatmeal (1 1/2 cups when dry) topped with unsweetened almond milk

-ginger tea


- 4 cups of salad (romaine, cabbage, carrots, celery, cucumbers – all organic) and topped with Bragg Liquid Aminos

- A half can (90 calories) of wild salmon (boneless, skinless)

-eggplant hummus (Trader Joes)

- steamed organic cauliflower topped with garlic


- Organic brown rice mixed with carrots, mushrooms, celery, cabbage and topped with organic baked tofu


- one of my favorite treats: organic brown rice cracker topped with organic peanut butter and carob chips.  You can then zap it in the microwave or in your oven and melt the carob chips to make it extra tasty! SOOOO GOOD!!!!

- Luna Bar – Peanut Honey Pretzel flavor

- organic banana 

- celery dipped in “Better’n Peanut Butter” found at Whole Foods 

Throughout the day I drink tons of water, ginger tea, and rooibos non-caffeinated tea as well.

As a part of “Project Helenna” I’m also doing between 30-50 minutes of cardio exercise 5 times a week, and while I’ve been slacking on strength training lately, ideally I would be doing that 2-3 times a week.  (Dang it. I’ve gotta get back on that train!)

So there you have it!

My purpose of sharing all of this with you is not to be all high and mighty or to shake my finger at potato chip fast food lovers, because I definitely enjoy those crispy goodies from time to time.  But I’m hoping that by talking about all of this, other people out there will start looking at their food choices as well, because healthier people are happier people.  Yes, it’s cheesy, but it’s true.

Until next time,

xoxoxo hels (Helenna Santos-Levy) 

tweet me at: @helslevy

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This piece can also be found as my weekly blog post offering at: 

aka) I’m the resident “artsy farsty nerd” ;)

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