A sourdough artisan baker shares a note with us about the lifelong healthy eating practices he learned from kung fu
“Count chemicals, not calories!”
These words are a lesson from my kung fu instructor who has helped guide me and many others to a healthier lifestyle. In today’s marketplace where highly processed foods, preservatives, and additives are the norm, his practical words of wisdom are more relative than ever. My goal is to share a few of the techniques that I use to select foods for living a lifestyle where outcomes for high energy, mental clarity, and long-term health are desired.
After all, if martial art monks could build temples along the mountain tops, surely we can use their principles to build a happier healthier future.
I’m known as the Kung Fu Baker and owner of Sourdough Delight Artisan Bakery. I’ve studied martial arts for over 16 years at White Tiger Kung Fu where I hold a master's rank. There, I’ve learned ancient Chinese folklore regarding nutrition, dieting, fasting, and proper food combinations that the White Tiger Kung Fu system has used to maintain the health and longevity of Emperors since the Tang dynasty. These lessons have come to me firsthand from the grandmaster of the system Jung Shee Joel Rizzo Jr. who currently oversees classes in San Diego. I urge you to check them out: It’s changed my life in so many ways and it can work miracles for you too.
First, let’s get some basics out of the way. The body needs energy—not in the form of canned chemical cocktails from energy drinks—but as in true life force. Ancients called it Chi or Qi. Next, let’s look at cravings: the body’s way of communicating its needs. In my experience, if I’m craving sugar then the body needs a quick pick-me-up. This tiredness can be from physical exhaustion, mental fatigue, being emotionally drained, or all of the above. At this point, practicing mindfulness in the form of asking ourselves questions to determine what the craving is and why. With enough practice, this becomes second nature, but the action must be done, so stop for a moment and truly check in. It’s not enough to read this and intellectually understand the logic behind the words. Action is the key ingredient that makes the magic work. Stop and have a chat with your favorite person—YOU.
Some simple food choices to curb this immediate need for energy would be nature’s sugar. Yes, we are talking about easily digestible, live foods. Want to feel livelier and have more pep in your step? Eat more live foods as snacks such as fruits. If glycemic control is a concern, check out the latest articles that explain how fruit sugars digest and process much differently than processed sugars do. However, eating in moderation is important. Usually, a portion the size of a handful is really all that is needed—seriously. Western society tends to overeat but bigger isn’t always better (unless we’re talking about bank accounts).
Now, let us take a look at carbs. We touched on simple carbs, a category that fruit falls into, but how about complex carbs? If we are planning ahead and know we have a big day tomorrow or need to replenish what has been spent, it would be helpful to have long-lasting energy from foods like potatoes, yams, carrots—or any of your favorite root veggies. Next, there are complex carbs that come from grains like wheat. Being a baker, I know firsthand common concerns with wheat products, such as, many are just empty carbs, hard to digest due to the natural structure of grains and from added preservatives. This is why fermenting grains by properly making sourdough or soaking them to make kvass, and even in beer brewing practiced by Trappist monks is so important. These traditional and natural processes make grains easier to digest, better tasting, and convert them into a source of natural probiotics and more available nutrition. The fermentation process breaks down the grains making it easier for the body to absorb vitamins and minerals while requiring less of our body’s energy and time to do so. This is why doctors recommend sourdough bread as a healthier alternative. However, quality ingredients and the artisan's hands are huge factors to seek out as not all food is made equally.
I imagine you’ve heard the saying “you are what you eat.” Let’s take this a step further to reveal the next layer by stating “you are what you eat eats!” If the farmer sprayed chemicals on the plant and soil or fed the chickens and cows junk just to fatten them up for the kill (reference any Netflix food documentaries) then that also becomes part of what we are consuming. It’s a simple formula of “Garbage in, garbage out.” This is why I seek out and often special order ingredients to bake with because I eat the bread I make and sell—and so do my kids!
In summary, we all need energy. Take the time to ask your inner self for guidance, time invested in knowing YOU pays long-term dividends. Choose live foods or minimally processed ones for power snacks. Rediscover what quality carbs are because if our body doesn’t get enough of them, energy takes a dip and the body loses balance, which leads to cravings and the potential for poor food choices out of convenience.
And as for wheat and gluten…don’t fight it, ferment it!
Wishing you health and prosperity,
Noris the Kung Fu Baker
Follow @sourdoughdelight on Instagram.