Posts tagged ‘healthy eating’

October 29, 2012

The End of The Challenge: Why You Should Eat Less Meat and More Plants

This past Saturday marked the last day of the 8 Weeks to a Better You!  challenge and what a journey it has been.  If you’ve been following me throughout the challenge, you know that I shifted things slightly in the beginning to make it a Mindful Living challenge for myself.  I didn’t change the rules, I just changed my focus on them, and I’m so grateful that I did.

I started off with my sights set solely on living mindfully.  My goal was to make sure I was present in every aspect of my life and every aspect of the challenge.  Well, that became a challenge in and of itself.  I started getting messages from the universe to focus on food, but that wasn’t my goal so I kept struggling, brushing it off and trying to guide myself in the direction that I wanted to go, follow the path that I wanted to learn.  I felt like I was already eating a healthy diet and didn’t need to focus on food, didn’t need to listen.  (For your information, this is not how mindful living goes.  You don’t get to choose what you learn, you need to let go of your control, stop the power-struggles and learn what is brought to you.  It took me a while to figure that out.)

A couple of weeks into this last challenge a lot of things came about that changed my focus.  I found out that a dear friend of mine has been diagnosed with rectal Cancer, another friend from our old neighborhood has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and my mother-in-law had to have angiogram and stents put in.  Unfortunately, I’ve lost more family and friends to Cancer than I care to admit, but when your friends, people your age and younger, start getting Cancer, it’s downright scary.  If that isn’t a message from the Universe, a wake-up call to check-in on your own health, I don’t know that is.

Around this same time, I was lucky enough to have a close friend of mine, who lives in Boston, visit not once, but twice.  We started talking about our friend with Cancer.  We started talking about the other people we know with Cancer and heart problems and allergies and ADD and ADHD and more.  And when I asked “Why?”  We started talking about food.  And that’s where my journey shifted gears.

My friend and I talked and talked about food.  And we talked about movies we’ve seen.   Movies… about food.   She recommended I watch The Gerson Miracle, Forks Over Knives and The Engine 2 Diet.  I highly suggest everyone on this planet watch all of them.  They are all available on Netflix and you can even watch The Gerson Miracle for free here.  All three movies talk about what our food does to us and for us.  Some of it is literally killing us (meat and dairy), some can heal us (plants).  There is scientific research that backs up the information in all three movies and if we let go of our fear of change, acknowledge that nutrition that was taught in school in the 1950s and the food pyramid we were taught in grade school might be wrong and trust our intuition, we’ll find that plants just might be the key to our future.

Unfortunately, many of us focus our diets around meat, dairy and other animal products and add in plants like we would add salt and pepper.  Unfortunately most of the health problems we face (Cancer, Diabetes, etc.) can be tied to eating animals and processed food.  One of the films reported Cancer studies done in Norway over a period of a few decades around World War II.  In the 1940s, during World War II, Hitler invaded Norway during that time the Nazi’s took all of the animals (beef cattle, pork, etc.) from Norway for themselves to eat and left the Norwegians with nothing to eat but plants.  Ironically, prior to the invasion, Cancer was prevalent, during the time of the invasion and for a number of years after, Cancer rates dropped, significantly.  But after the war, when the animals returned, so did the Cancer.

Now here’s where I get excited (where my plant-geekiness really comes through).  In each of these films they talk about plant phytochemicals.  I know, you’re saying, “Phyto-what?”  Phytochemicals are the natural chemicals in plants that protect them from the elements, insects, etc.  and they have found that these same phytochemicals have protection and healing properties for us when we eat them.  (The more phytochemicals the darker the plant/fruit… think dark leafy greens, blueberries, etc.)  And what’s even better is that eating plants can repair damage that has already been done, even Cancer.  In 1928 Dr. Max Gerson discovered that by juicing and eating a plant-based diet that he could heal many chronic diseases, including Cancer.  Now, believe me, it makes me a little nervous to put this in print because according to our society’s standards I don’t have the right credentials to say this.  But what I can say is that it makes perfect sense to me.

I think of anything I’ve ever heard about food that was the best thing I could hear.  We often hear that if we eat this or that it will help prevent Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Heart Disease or Cancer, but in the back of my mind I wonder, “But what if it’s already there and I just don’t know it yet?”  To learn that eating the right foods, a whole group of them, not just one or two, plants specifically, can repair damage that’s already done is incredible.  Remember as a kid when you were playing and you goofed up, but you didn’t want to lose the game so as quickly as possible you’d yell, “Do over!”.  Now we, as adults, can also yell “Do over!” to our bodies.  And you can start the repair with your next snack or your next meal!  How cool is that?!?

At one point someone told me I was trying to hit too many topics with this blog, that maybe I should just focus on one… say, gardening, or mindful living, or healthy eating.  But to me, they are all intertwined, which is why the tagline is, “Living today for tomorrow’s generation.”

Eight weeks ago I started off on a mindful living journey.  When I started paying attention to my health, the health of my friends and family, I discovered I really needed to take a harder look at our food.  Then I realized that I need to limit my meat intake to just a few ounces a week.  I need to incorporate more plants into my diet.  And what’s the best place to get fresh food?  Why our own garden of course!  If we take care of the soil, don’t use herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers, then we are growing food in a sustainable manner.  If we are being mindful of what we are doing to the earth, to the soil and what we are putting into our bodies, then we are living sustainably and mindfully.  You see… all connected.

The final part of my food and plant journey includes the next steps in my life.  I’m transitioning my diet to a primarily plant-based diet, which I will elaborate more on later.  But on a business note, I have decided to begin the Urban Farming Certification Program in my area, which starts in January.  What that means for you is that I’ll be adding more ammunition to my plant knowledge, specifically edibles, which will add more services to my business. More knowledge, more experience…  more food!

Grow food! Eat Plants! Plants heal.


January 26, 2012

Whatcha eatin?

Ahhh, food.  It’s a hot topic lately.  It’s causing chaos and uproar.  People are picking sides likes its West Side Story.

It’s all pretty funny when you think about it.  We can get so emotional about food.  Food is the stuff that nourishes our bodies (or is meant to anyway), yet we attach so much other “stuff” to food.  Emotions, the smell of apple pie on a late fall afternoon or fresh bread baking in the oven conjure up memories of mothers and grandmothers everywhere. Certain flavors or smells bring me right back to the days in college when I lived in Austria.   Swedish Fish (not really a food per se) brings back childhood memories of going to Sears with my grandfather and stopping off at the candy counter on the way out.  Food is even associated with sex, considered aphrodisiacs either by how they appear or how they react with our bodies while or after we eat them. But in the grand scheme of things food is what keeps us going.  It’s what our bodies need to keep running efficiently.

I’m not sure when the tides turned and people started realizing that not everything that is on the store shelves is good for us, but it seems that recently there is a heightened awareness to what we have done.  Perhaps it’s because America has labeled obesity as an epidemic.  Perhaps it’s because organic food is more readily available making people question what was wrong with what they’ve been eating.  Perhaps it’s because we’ve come to realize, the hard way, that all the chemicals in “food” are actually hurting us and eventually it does catch up.  Whatever the case may be, I can say that regardless of which team you’re cheering for, I’m glad for one thing.  We’re talking about it and to me, that’s progress.

The school my son goes to is a part of the Farm to School Network which if you aren’t familiar with it, is explained like this:

Farm to School is broadly defined as a program that connects schools (K-12) and local farms with the objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities, and supporting local and regional farmers. Since each Farm to School program is shaped by its unique community and region, the National Farm to School Network does not prescribe or impose a list of practices or products for the Farm to School approach.

In any case, he’s been at the school for 3 years and in that time-frame I’ve noticed a difference, a shift for the better.  I’ve been trusting in the program and talking to my son when he takes “hot lunch” on occasion to see what is offered and what choices he makes.  So, today, when a friend posted on Facebook that the school will be adding Dominoes pizza to the lunch menu, I was alarmed.  Her post was followed by a phone call, we chatted about what’s going on and are both pretty upset about the change.  Just to make myself clear, I’m not opposed to pizza every once in a while, but what bothers me is that it appears as though pizza is going to be a daily offering.  I also need to note that I’m not 100% positive that this is going to be a daily offering, and I’m looking into this a little more, but the concept of it being offered to children every day really bothers me.

Moments after finding this out, I read a post on Facebook from the author of 100 Days of Real Food.  She described a situation where a neighborhood child came over to play and brought Pop Tarts for a snack.  Her point was that kids will eat what we offer them.  If you offer them Pop Tarts, they’ll eat Pop Tarts, but if you offer them for example an apple and raisins, they’ll eat an apple and raisins.  Sadly, her point was missed, she got blasted from a ton of parents about the subject and felt that she was judging the other parent.

That’s when I realized I’ve probably said some things that have come across as “judgie” without intending it to be that way.  For me, food is a big deal.  I believe strongly in eating organic food when I can, making good food choices as often as possible and eating everything in moderation.  I don’t ever mean to sacrifice people for their choices.  We live in a free country, we should all be allowed to eat what we want, right?  But it’s not that simple.  Our choices have led to obesity, and more medications and increased insurance claims and premium costs.  We’ve put many, many band-aids on our health rather than dealing with the real problem. So really all of our choices affect everyone else.  But, with that said, I also believe that many people don’t have a clue what’s wrong with our food.  And I don’t think they realize that most of the things on the store shelves truly are not good for us.  We trust that what’s in the stores is okay, right?  Unfortunately, not.  I strongly believe that we’ve missed the bus on teaching children, and grown-ups for that matter, what health really looks like.  I honestly don’t think a lot of people even know what food really tastes like.  I mean it.  If you were to strip it down, take off the seasonings, the sauces, the dips, the processing and “added flavors”, do they know what it tastes like? (What the hell does that mean anyway, “added flavors”?  What kind of flavors?)  I’ll give you an example – today, I opened a container of what I thought was egg whites.  When I went to pour it in the pan, it wasn’t clear or white like egg whites should be, it was YELLOW.  I’m sorry, but the last time I checked, I thought egg whites were white.  That’s when I read the back (which I obviously should have done earlier).  It contained 99% egg whites, coloring, salt and garlic powder.  WHAT? What’s wrong with egg whites?  I wanted egg whites, they were labeled as egg whites and I got yellow egg whites with salt and garlic powder.  Wow.  I must not like white egg whites and I must not like my eggs to taste like… eggs!

So what do we do about it?  We all love food.  None of us like to find out that we’ve knowingly or unknowingly been putting nasty stuff into our bodies or our children’s.  And worst of all we hate when someone else points out that we’ve done it because, well, we feel kind of dumb about it and get defensive, and now that we know we’re expected to do something about it.  BUT, if we all take a step back and quit judging each other or getting defensive and come to the party realizing we all become aware of things at different times meaning just because we know something today doesn’t mean the person next to us knows the same stuff and even if they do, they have the choice as to what to do with the information.  We all have the choice as to what to do with the information we receive.  But a lot of people never receive it.  It seems that it’s very slowly getting to the general public or maybe they just don’t care or think it’s not their problem. But we need to care about our kids!  Not my kid or your kid, but all of them.  We need to care what we’re feeding them.  Some kids get one meal a day, and it’s at school.  If we feed them junk at school, that’s all they will know.  Instead, we need to teach them the truth about food.  We need to offer them good food and teach them to make good choices.  We need to show them what happens if you treat your body well and what happens if you don’t.  We need to offer kids foods that nourish their bodies and minds.  And we also need to give kids some credit, we need to stop feeding them “kid food” because we think they aren’t mature enough to eat “real food”.

We need to keep sharing information with each other.  Share what we know.  Share our weaknesses in what we don’t know.  Ask questions of each other and support one another.  We need to care about more than ourselves because our future and our kid’s future depends on it.


November 3, 2011

Healthy Eating – Saying Goodbye to Halloween!

One of the things that is both good and bad about working from home is that food is always at your fingertips.

The good thing is that it makes eating healthy meals easier.  Everything is there at your fingertips to either make something fresh or heat up something healthy that you made the day before.

This also happens to be the downside of working from home.  When an intense candy holiday, such as Halloween arrives, it means candy is also readily available.  After eating at least a dozen “Fun Size” packages of Twix, Hot Tamales, Snickers, Three Musketeers, Milky Way and M&Ms this morning my body is HATING me and the day is only half over. Every garbage can in my house is littered with wrappers.

First pieces of evidence (nos. 1 - 6) - Office garbage

Pieces of evidence nos. 7 & 8 - Kitchen Garbage

Pieces of evidence nos. 9 & 10 - Kitchen Garbage cont.

With each piece I ate, I told myself “this is the last one”. Right! I have a HUGE sweet tooth. Unfortunately my son inherited that from me, so he has it too.  Both of us have been known to eat ourselves sick on sweets. Because of this (and for our health in general), I try not to have sweets in our house on a regular basis.  A few months ago after many daily conversations that started with “Mom, can I have a treat after dinner?” and ending with “No. Treats are called treats, because it’s special, it’s not meant to be eaten every day.”  my son tired of this and suggested on his own that we only have treats one day a week and selected Sunday as the day.  Holy smokes!  I could hardly believe my ears or maintain my composure!!!  But I was no fool, if my child was going to suggest such a plan, then who was I to argue?  He eliminated hours of begging and arguing in one motion!  And, not to mention, he secretly gave me something to abide by during the day as well.  And honestly, what a smart cookie.  He no longer feels the need to ask whether he can have a treat, but knows he is guaranteed a treat one day a week.

Pieces of evidence - nos. 11 - 13 - Bathroom Garbage

That was until Halloween came along.

Originally I wanted to hand out something other than candy this year.  I thought it was a good idea.  I was thinking glow sticks, pencils or some other fun but useful chotchskies, but that suggestion was received with blank stares.  Okay, honestly I didn’t completely buy it myself and I worried about becoming the “lame” house or getting egged, so I gave in and said we could do candy under the condition that we did not open any of it before Halloween.  And so it was.  No one did.  My son and I even had to race to open it when the first little trick-or-treater arrived.  But that’s where it ended. My husband took our son out trick-or-treating and I was left to “man” the house and “hand out” candy… My process went like this: a few for them, a few for me, a few for them, a few for me… you get the picture.

Maybe this happens with everyone, or maybe just those of us with a weakness for sugar, but if I don’t eat any, I’m fine. No cravings, nothing. If I eat one, I’m done for.  UNLESS, I do something as stupid as I’ve done today and literally eaten myself sick.  This might be thought of as strange, but I truly think of this as a good thing.  Now that I feel a little ill and my blood feels like sludge going through my veins, I want nothing more than to get myself on track, eating healthy food again.

So my mission this evening is to get my list together, get to the grocery store, fill the house with good stuff and be done with it.  Now, I promised my son that we could keep the candy in the house for 1 week.  I will honor that promise for him.  Then it’s out of here. In the mean time, no need to worry about me because as I mentioned before if I don’t have anything I’m fine and I already ate myself sick so that pretty much kills all cravings.

The final piece of evidence - Dining Room Table

Next year, it’s glow sticks for sure!  (They’re not edible, right?)