Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Strong Mind Strong Body


When I started this blog in 2014, I knew there had to be a connection to how we choose to nourish our bodies not only from food and drink, but also from our thoughts, emotions, and spiritual connection.

Over the past several months, I have been more observant to how the dots may be connected within the mind, body, and soul.

Throughout much of my life and even as a child my parents taught me the importance of being physically active and consuming a healthy diet and I am very thankful to continue to have this foundation in my life today.

My interest in nutrition and wellness guided me to become a Registered Dietitian and I continue to practice this important role on a daily basis helping others to find a nutritional balance.

With that said, over the past several years I have been thinking a lot about the health and wellness of our society. 

I have a degree in the field of dietetics and nutrition but there is actually a lot I still question regarding the best "diet" for individuals to follow.

I question a lot of things.  I have concerns. 

The world of nutrition is not black and white.  In fact, there is a lot of grey.

I have spent many years educating others on following a healthy diet filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, minimal processed foods, and drinking plenty of water.

What I am starting to realize is that consuming a healthy diet seems to be about one-third of the bigger picture to true wellness.

I believe the other two-thirds of true wellness include feeding our mind and spirit.  Both, very big pieces included in the whole pie.

I know not everyone will agree with this theory because there are no scientific tools available to test how spiritually sound and emotionally balanced a person is, but that's my whole point.

We have ongoing medical and scientific research to conclude the most suitable practice available for the treatment of malnutrition, illness, and disease within the medical/health care community yet our nation continues to get sicker.

This doesn't make sense.

The reason this doesn't make sense is because in many cases I feel we are treating symptoms and not fixing the problems.

In fact, billions of dollars are spent every year in health care to treat symptoms but the medical community and scientific research does not put a lot of money into preventative medicine which can correct imbalances that lead to morbidity and mortality.

Is there scientific, evidence-based research available linking illness and disease to how we feed our mind and spirit?

Can you measure a person's level of stress?  Can you measure a person's spiritual connection with the universe? 

No.

But, stress can certainly cause imbalance in the body leading to symptoms of illness and disease.

If the body is in a stressful state too long from any or all of the following:
  • Not getting the proper foods.
  • Not replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.
  • Not connecting spiritually and positively to your soul.
Then the equilibrium within the body is thrown off and it is not in the homeostatic state required to properly function.

In chemistry class years ago, I remember taking a chicken bone and placing it into a beaker of Coca Cola and comparing it to a chicken bone placed into a beaker of water.  Within days, the bone soaking in Coca Cola was weakened and breaking due to the exposure of phosphoric acid.

This is just one example of the effect an acidic environment can potentially have on our bodies.   

The pH spectrum of common foods and beverages can be found on many websites. 

Not surprisingly, foods and beverages that are more alkaline (pH value near 7, neutral) include fruits and vegetables, fish, eggs, grains, beans, and water.  Foods and beverages that are more acidic (pH value far below 7, acidic) include soda, energy drinks, cheese, beef, white bread, and sugar-processed foods.

It would certainly be difficult to only consume foods and beverages on the alkaline spectrum for the long haul, aka "The Alkaline Diet."  However,  I do believe there is validity in this information especially when considering nutrient dense foods such as fruits and vegetables to be on the alkaline side of the spectrum.

And, how are we feeding our mind and soul emotionally and spiritually?

Can our negative thoughts lead to negative emotions causing negative energy which then leads to illness and disease? 

Is it possible for negative thoughts and emotions to create weakened mechanisms within our bodies similar to the reaction of the chicken bone being exposed to the acidic content of Coca Cola

How are we feeding our mind? 

Stress, anxiety, depression, fear, negative voices in our heads, and negativity from others can certainly cause illness in the body.  In fact, this article explains the link between negative emotions and heart disease.

If we don't replace the negative thoughts and emotions by feeding our mind with positive thoughts and emotions, then our bodies will become weakened and breakable just like the chicken bone soaking in Coke. 

How do we replace negative thoughts and emotions with positive thoughts and emotions?

It is a part of life to have negative moments, but the more you fear them, fight them, or avoid them, the stronger they become.  By taking action and moving forward no matter how negative the moment may be, you can make the situation positive.

We have free will and freedom of choice to either feed our minds and surround ourselves with negativity or we can choose to take action to change our mental wiring to be positive which in turn can create positive surroundings.

Energy is all around us.  It is in the planets, it is in the trees, it is in the kettle of water boiling broccoli on the stove. 

Energy is not created or destroyed but it can be changed. 

Therefore, it is possible to change negative energy or situations that arise in life by taking positive action both physically and emotionally.

Our spiritual world cannot be proven by any scientific evidence or study, but I believe it exists.  God exists.  A higher power exists.

I believe we can connect to a spiritual source to connect to our soul.  By feeding our soul spiritually, we can replace illness with wellness.

It is my theory that the mind, body, and soul are all connected and if any pieces of the pie are off balance, then the rest of the pie can also be effected. 

The point is this...

Wellness is not just about eating healthy foods, or thinking positive thoughts, or going to church on Sunday. 

Wellness is feeding the mind, body, and soul the foods/beverages, thoughts, and spirituality that it craves in order to function without illness and disease.

We need to be intuitive and pay attention to the messages our bodies are giving to us via signs and symptoms.

Rather than avoiding unwanted symptoms or treating them with medicines which in some cases may cause more harm, we can prevent them from happening in the first place and take action by making changes in our lives.


As a rule the mind, residing in a body that has become weakened by pampering, is also weak, and where there is no strength of mind there can be no strength of soul.  ~Mahatma Gandhi



Friday, August 26, 2016

Are You Hungry?

Hunger and satiety, aka fullness, are part of the driving mechanism that controls our daily eating habits.  We all experience symptoms of hunger and we all experience symptoms of fullness.  I am choosing to write about hunger and satiety because the symptoms that accompany the two can be ignored.  A classic example is a gathering for a holiday or summer cookout where the desire to consume mouth-watering food and beverages even after our stomachs are full is high.

At the gathering, we may spoon a serving or two of the indulgent food onto our platters because it looks so delicious.  I can say for myself that 95% of the time there is a social or family gathering, my plate is filled. 

Although my plate is filled to the brim, I am tuned-in to my body.  I am mindfully aware to how hungry I am at the beginning of a meal as well as the moment that triggers physical fullness.  The concept of eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full sounds easy, but the reality is there are many variables that come into play when we decide if we are going to keep eating or not.  It is important to be mindfully aware of the physical and psychological  signs and symptoms that we are experiencing on the hunger and satiety scale. 

In Today's Dietitian, March 2013 Issue, author Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD shares an example of a hunger scale to assist individuals with being mindful of hunger and fullness levels.  

By analyzing where you fall on the scale with extreme hunger on one end (1) and "oh my goodness, I think my pants are about to bust" (10), we can learn to consume food in moderation and appreciate food as the nourishment our body needs to obtain a healthy lifestyle. 

“The Hunger-Satiety Rating Scale” listed below  is from Why Weight?  A Guide to Ending Compulsive Eating  by Geneen Roth and reposted by Erica Lesperance, RD, LD in an internet article via the Diet Channel: Diet Essentials: Learn To Recognize Your Hunger Cues.

Satiety 10 = Stuffed to the point of feeling sick
9 = Very uncomfortably full, need to loosen your belt
8 = Uncomfortably full, feel stuffed
7 = Very full, feel as if you have overeaten
6 = Comfortably full, satisfied
Neutral 5 = Comfortable, neither hungry nor full
4 = Beginning signals of hunger
3 = Hungry, ready to eat
2 = Very hungry, unable to concentrate
Hungry1 = Starving, dizzy, irritable

If we are mindful to where we fall on the hunger and satiety scale, we will be able to pay attention to our inner voice, the voice that tells us whether we are truly hungry or truly full. If we ignore the symptoms between 1-3 or 7-10 our bodies will not be in a neutral, balanced state and we will physically feel the effects.

The physical symptoms our body experiences in relation to hunger are internal cues to signal to our brain that it is time to eat.  Hunger symptoms include gurgling or growling in stomach, dizziness, headache, irritability, or nausea.  Our bodies are wired so that our internal physical symptoms of hunger can be communicated to our brain in an effort to motivate an external response for us to eat food.  This is a survival mechanism. 

It is our responsibility to pay attention, to be mindful of where we fall on this scale, and to be aware of our inner voice especially in a society that surrounds us with a plethora of food and beverage options.  We are surrounded by mouth-watering food on a daily basis.  It is important to recognize that our mental desire for the mouth-watering food can take over our physical symptoms of hunger and fullness.  By "mindfully eating" we can overcome our mental desire to consume too much indulgent food whether it is a holiday, social gathering, or an average American day. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Back To School Lunchbox

It's the time of year when the kids are off to school.  As a parent of two children I know how hectic the days may be.  I understand how tempting it is to want to give your child money for lunch to purchase cafeteria foods rather than sending your child with a midday brown bag meal.

I'll be honest.  Back in the day, I used to throw random leftovers and anything I thought my son would eat in his lunchbox.  I didn't give much thought about him having a balanced meal.

This may be surprising for some individuals to read considering I am a dietitian.  The truth is that I am also a parent and I understand how chaotic the days become during the school year.

I admit to the times I would grab anything in the refrigerator or freezer (corn dog, pizza, hot pocket) to feed my kids because they had to be fed "now."

But, now I realize the importance of taking time to plan weekly meals. 

In the past, I would put random food items into my son's lunchbox about 10 minutes before I had to  take him to preschool.

This year, I will be planning all meals for the week to ensure my son and daughter are fed healthy lunches.

I know how busy school mornings are and I hate feeling rushed.

School mornings in my household consist of two children complaining how tired they are and dragging their feet to head out the door because they know we are already late! (seriously walking like zombies out of the door...it's a production for sure).

But with a little preparation, it's easy to fill the kids' lunchboxes with healthy foods and you can feel like one proud parent!

It is up to me to provide my kids with healthy food options. 

It may also be confusing to know which foods and beverages are considered "healthy" to pack into the lunchbox. 

Listed below are suggested healthy meal options.

Sandwiches: 
  • Multi-grain bagels, whole-grain English muffins, tortillas and colorful wraps, whole- grain bread slices, crackers and pita pockets are all great options instead of white bread 
  • Light canned tuna fish, chicken, and egg salads mixed with a small amount of mayonnaise
  • Lean, low sodium lunch meats such as ham or turkey
  • Peanut butter or almond butter spread with slices of apples, bananas, raisins, or granola
  • Veggie or turkey burgers topped with a slice of cheese or guacamole
  • Whole-grain English muffin pizza (spaghetti/pizza sauce on each half, sprinkle with shredded cheese and favorite toppings, heat and eat!)
Snacks:
  • Sliced veggies such as carrot sticks, celery, broccoli, tomatoes, colorful peppers and don't forget to pack your child's favorite veggie dip on the side!
  • Sliced fruits including strawberries, grapes, pears, peaches
  • Whole fruits including bananas, blueberries, apples
  • Dried or freeze-dried fruits
  • Applesauce
  • Yogurt
  • Raisins
  • Cottage cheese
  • Baked chips
  • Veggie straws
  • Cheese stick
  • Trail mixes
  • Pita bread and hummus
  • Granola bars
Beverages:
  • Low-fat or fat-free milk
  • Water
  • 100% Fruit juices
  • Water with a splash of fruit juice for extra flavor
  • Avoid soda and high sugar beverages such as fruit punch
By packing a serving of food from the protein group, whole-grain/multi-grain group, fruit and vegetable group, and low-fat dairy group your child will be consuming the essential vitamins and nutrients he or she needs. 

The benefits of children consuming healthy foods is not only important for their long-term optimal health, but also their academic performance. 

Studies have shown that students with poorly rated diets perform lower on standardized tests.  In addition, experts have found that skipping meals or consuming unbalanced meals interferes with concentration at school.

The benefits of packing healthy foods and beverages into your child's lunchbox are endless.  If you haven't given much thought about your child's lunch in the past, start thinking today!   




Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Healthy Living Addict

It's 6:00 a.m.  She wakes up for school, drinks some hot tea with no sugar, gets dressed and goes to class. 

Her stomach is growling for food by 10:00 a.m. but she ignores it and puts a mint in her mouth in an attempt to ease the hunger pains.

By 1:00 p.m she is home from school and tries to eat as little as possible before she is on her way to work by 3:00 p.m. 

At work she drinks diet sodas because she doesn't want to consume calories and the carbonation will hopefully curb her appetite.

On her work break she eats a bag of sliced apples and a Lean Cuisine frozen meal.

By 8:30 p.m. she is back home and begins studying for a college exam while snacking on baby carrots and Fat-Free Italian dressing.

It's now 11:00 p.m. and although her stomach is still slightly growling, she goes to bed because if she is sleeping she will not be reminded of how hungry she is.

The next morning she wakes up and her schedule repeats...

She continues to feel control over her world by controlling the amount of calories that she consumes.

She is refusing to give her body the amount of fuel it requires to function because she not only enjoys the feeling of being thin but she also feels a periodic "high" by withholding food while everyone around her is stuffing their faces. 

To some extent, she enjoys being different from everyone else.

This is the mind of a young woman with an eating disorder.  Her brain and body has learned to function on one-third of the calories it used to several years ago.  She has an addiction to not eating food because the feeling she gets from withholding food provides a sense of pleasure, comfort, and control. 

Unfortunately the "high" that results from withholding food is temporary.  It the meantime, her physical health is suffering because it is not receiving the nutrition it requires to function properly. 

She is not happy. Her weight is less than ideal.  Her stomach growls much of the day.

She uses withholding food as a form of escape.  She doesn't have to feel so much sadness or disappointment or hurt in her soul if she uses food (or lack thereof) as a coping mechanism.

It will take hard work and inner strength to overcome the condition of anorexia nervosa.

While the stressors of life continue through the college years, she starts to enjoy feeling "buzzed" after drinking a few beers with friends. 

When she has several drinks she realizes how hungry she is and eats without caring what the calories will do to her body.  She also does not care about withholding her body from men.

Her family and friends frequently comment on her ability to control her alcohol consumption, but she believes she is fine and does not have a problem.

She doesn't understand why everyone is so concerned about her drinking because everyone drinks in college.

But, overtime she gets sick (literally) of being hungover nearly every weekend and starts to enjoy smoking marijuana instead. 

Her stress and anxiety diminish every time she lights-up and she eats as much junk food as she wants.

Over a period of time she enjoys mouth-watering double bacon cheeseburgers, chips, and ice cream more than the feeling of smoking a joint.

She is now pushing 30 years old.  Her weight went from being significantly under ideal in her late teens from anorexia to being significantly over ideal at age 29 from binge eating.

It will take hard work and inner strength to overcome the addiction of binge eating.

In this woman's case, she went from addiction to addiction trying to cover-up unhappiness, stress, anxiety, fear, and/or responsibilities of life.

The pleasure she felt from withholding food, binge eating, binge drinking, or smoking weed became more important to her than taking care of her soul.

On her 40th birthday, she realizes how lucky she is to still be alive and decides to live the second half of her life much differently than the first.

She is fully aware of her addictive personality but wants to use it to her advantage versus destroying her health and possibly her life.  She becomes addicted to living a healthy lifestyle. 

She starts by planning three healthy meals and two small snacks a day. 

She starts taking walks around the block after work even though she is dog-tired and would do anything to lay on the couch.

She starts becoming thankful to God for her body even though it is far from society's standard of perfect. 

She realizes how lucky she is to have the ability to care for herself.

Because her attitude toward her life changed in a positive way, so did her health.

Living a healthy lifestyle was no longer an addiction to her.  Healthy living was a different way to live life.

Over time, she realized she did not have to cope with life's stressors and sadness by resorting to highly addictive foods or substances.  She realized how destructive food, drugs, and alcohol can be to her health and she wanted the opposite.

She realized that stress, sadness, and negativity exists in life, but she can choose to deal with negativity by taking part in activities that are not destructive to her health.

She is now 45 years old and feels stronger than ever physically and mentally because she took control of herself.  She doesn't let negativity destroy her and instead she destroys negativity.

I have met several people in my lifetime that have been or are currently addicted to food, drugs, or alcohol.  All three can be highly addictive and destructive to our health.

Living a healthy lifestyle involves more than eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy.

Living a healthy lifestyle is a choice. 

We choose whether or not we want to live healthy everyday.

How will you choose to live tomorrow?








 













Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Change Health Rules 101

Can you imagine if we lived life without rules? 

We could drive through red lights, grab food from the store without paying, take a week off of work without telling anybody, and the list goes on and on.

If we didn't have rules to live by, then we would live based on how we feel from day-to-day.  In essence we would be driven by emotion rather than rules or commitments.

And if we continue to live life without rules or commitments, then chaos will result. 

Emotions change.  Rules guide.  People need guidance because emotions change.

You know what else doesn't change easily?  Our beliefs. 

Belief is power. Beliefs control actions in life.  Beliefs also stem from our attitudes.

If we change our attitude, then we change our behavior.

So what does all of this have to do with health? 

Our emotions, beliefs, attitudes, and actions regarding making food and beverage choices are routine and comfortable to us.

It is routine and comfortable to wake up in the morning and grab a coffee and doughnut.  It is routine to grab a burger and fries at lunch.  It is comfortable to stay home for dinner and call for pizza delivery.  And, hey, why not add a 2-liter soda and side of breadsticks for a couple more bucks!

I'm sure you have seen these healthy guidelines (aka healthy rules) listed below:
  • Eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains.
  • Drink water. 
  • Limit fast food and convenience food items
  • Limit junk foods
  • Choose lean meats and low-fat dairy foods.
These guidelines have been developed because there are countless studies proving them to be beneficial to our health.

These rules, unfortunately are being ignored.  Over two-thirds of our nation is overweight or obese.

We have gotten used to ignoring foods that are good for us.  

For many of us, we have either grown up eating junk food and we don't know any different, or we have developed a positive attitude toward junk food and believe it is okay to eat on a day-to-day basis.

Contrary to the belief that non-nutritive foods are okay to eat and are acceptable in the American diet is the reality that illness and disease continues to rise. 

We are consuming an abundance of unhealthy foods and beverages and this should not be acceptable. 

We are ignoring the "healthy rules" listed above.

As a clinical dietitian, I see first-hand, the consequences that arise (diabetes, heart disease, obesity, death) when individuals do not follow healthy rules of eating.

It is also important to note the responsibility of big business and how it has contributed to our sense of comfort consuming non-nutritious foods. 

We are bombarded by images and commercials with greasy burgers, fries, ice cream, and candy daily. 

It's also not surprising why we associate these images and commercials with positive thoughts and attitudes as there are scantily clad models, smiley faces, and happy families consuming them. 

So, does the responsibility to provide healthy American food fall on big business or the consumer?

From a business standpoint, businesses supply consumers non-nutritive foods because they are demanded.  Businesses remain successful because they are supplying demanded products to consumers and pocketing billions of dollars. 

There is no reason for big business to change.

From a consumer standpoint, consumers buy convenience foods and beverages because we believe there is not enough time to prepare food ourselves.  The fast, convenient food tastes really good too!  We have created positive attitudes toward convenience foods and beverages because they are fast and taste good. 

Why should we change? 

If big business is happy producing unhealthy foods and beverages and we are comfortable with consuming them, then what's the big deal?

The answer to this question is up to you based on your beliefs, attitudes, and expectations.

However, one main reason our country continues to get bigger is because we are making excuses for not following healthy rules.

If we continue to make excuses for not living a healthy lifestyle, then, we will never succeed.

If we continue to excuse our unhealthy choices and allow the exceptions, then we will fail to reach our potential of successful healthy living. 

No matter the environment we grew up in, nor the positive attitudes we may have developed regarding plentiful consumption of non-nutritive foods, we must understand our society is now facing consequences of not following a healthy diet including illness, disease, and death.

If you do have hope for your health and you would like to get out of your comfort zone, as uncomfortable and awkward as it may feel, then you are ready to change your health.

You are responsible for changes in your life. 

Change is uncomfortable. 

It's time to get uncomfortable. 

But, don't worry, in due time, you will be comfortable living your new healthy lifestyle and you will never look back!

And if you don't believe me, go ask a Registered Dietitian ;) 



 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Now Is The Future



Over the past several months, I have been thinking a lot about the things and people I have in my life. 

I think about my past.  I think about my life at home and at work.  I think about my future and my family's future.

Since I work in a hospital, I am constantly reminded of physical and mental health issues that arise if we don't take care of ourselves.

Some people may think we don't have control over anything in our lives, but I disagree.

We don't have any control over our past, because that happened yesterday.  We don't have control over our future, because we don't know what is going to happen tomorrow or 10 years from now.

The only time we have control over is Now.

The choices we make now, will guide our future.

When I think about the health of our future, it doesn't look good.  We are getting sicker and our children are getting sicker. 

Healthcare costs continue to rise, pharmaceutical use continues to rise, and mental illness rates continue to rise.

If we don't die instantly from say, a motor vehicle accident or blood clot, then it seems as if we are all being killed softly over time.

Not only are the "junk" foods slowly killing us, but the toxins in our environment are slowly killing us too. 

We are becoming a product of our environment.  The same toxic chemicals surrounding us on a day-to-day basis are showing up in blood and breastmilk when tested.

How is this happening?

Because our bodies are not only absorbing the chemicals from food we consume, but also chemicals we spray into the air, clean our clothes with, clean our homes with, and put onto our skin.

I can choose foods that have more nutritional value by reading food labels, but what about the containers used to package the food? 

In other words, if I choose a can of red kidney beans to make chili, will the chemicals used to produce the can (for example, BPA) leach into the beans as they sit on the shelf?  How many toxic chemicals will my body absorb from the bean container?

We don't breathe clean air because it is polluted.

We eat scientifically engineered food.

The household cleaners we use are toxic.

To overcome illness and disease, we put potentially harmful medication into our bodies.

So, what do we do?

Start simple. 

We use the information we have at the present moment and do what we can.

We can't control the future, but we can guide the future by making educated choices Now for our health and the health of our families. 

Start small. 

If you care about your nutrition, then don't buy foods that have little or no nutritional value.

If you care about your physical health, then make an effort to plan for an activity that will allow you to move your muscles more or increase your heart rate.

If you care about your mental health, then seek a mental health counselor to help you achieve optimal mental health.

If you want an environment that is less toxic, then do your research to learn how to live a green lifestyle.

Remember, the consumers drive business, not the suppliers. 

If we make an effort today to stop purchasing crappy foods, move more, achieve optimal mental health, and start taking control of our environment, then tomorrow may not seem so scary when we think about it.




*Image:  http://swans.com/library/art15/jeb211.html













Monday, September 28, 2015

I Can't Diet

It's a classic scenario. 

You go the doctor to get an annual physical.  You get your lab work checked.  Then a week or two later, you get the results. 

The doctor has informed you that your cholesterol is high, you are overweight, and you are at risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

A bad report card from the doc. 

You try to remember all of the foods and drinks consumed over the weeks, months, or years that led to weight gain, clogged arteries, and elevated blood sugar.

What's the next step?

Your doctor says to follow a low-fat diet, eat more fruits and vegetables, and exercise.

OK.  Sounds easy right? 

On the way home from the doctor's office you realize you are hungry. 

You think to yourself:  I am on a diet...again.  I can't have all the yummy good stuff.  No croissants, burgers, fries, chocolate, candy, pizza, fried chicken, soda, and beer.  This sucks!

The feeling of deprivation sets in.  The feeling of I can't is now consuming you because you can't have greasy, sugary, high-calorie foods.  Basically, you can't have the foods that taste really, really good.

Yes.  It's true. 

All of the greasy, sugary, high-calorie foods taste really good.  So good in fact we can easily become addicted to the flavor and mouthfeel of chips, burgers, fries, ice cream, soda, etc.

The brain can become addicted to the rush of sugar-filled foods and beverages.

Our taste-buds can acquire an increased tolerance for high-fat, high-calorie, salty, sugary foods and beverages.

But, unfortunately, our bodies are not adapting to the effects of consuming high amounts of these types of foods.

We are no longer hunters and gatherers. 

We now live in a society that has an abundance of food companies making food for us.

Food companies are making billions of dollars to make foods and beverages filled with chemicals, flavor-enhancements, and preservatives.

Unfortunately, our bodies are not responding well to the foods produced by major food companies. 

Our bodies are not getting the nutrition required to function properly. 

On a cellular level, our cells are starved and dying because we are not feeding them what they require to stay healthy and alive.

Disease, obesity, and death are on the rise because we are consuming high amounts of food produced from billion dollar food companies, and low amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables.

We have become addicted to the flavor enhancement and mouthfeel of lab-altered foods and beverages and continue to desire more of these types of foods.

It's hard to stop eating the MSG, preservative, convenience foods.

It's also important to understand brain and body chemistry can be altered from consuming these foods on the regular.

Is this any different from a smoker addicted to nicotine, a drug addict addicted to cocaine, or an alcoholic that can no longer function without a daily fix?

Our society has become addicted to food and beverages that are prematurely killing us. 

Two-thirds of the country are overweight or obese including children.

Is it possible to stop this unhealthy epidemic? 

Have we become addicted to consuming foods and beverages that provide high-fat, high-sugar, and high-calories?

I would say yes. 

But like any other addiction, it is possible to break the unhealthy eating epidemic and it's going to take work.

Instead of telling yourself you are on a diet and can't have fried, creamy, buttery, sweet foods laden with fat and calories, tell yourself that you can.

I CAN'T is often associated with the word DIET.

I CAN'T is often associated with a plethora of mind games, neuroses, and failure.

If you change your thought pattern to I CAN, then your world can change too.

Tell yourself that you can have fries, chips, sugar-filled sodas, and chemically altered foods and beverages, but you are making a choice not to do so.

If we fill our plates with more natural and fresh fruits and vegetables, hormone-free meats and dairy products, natural fats and oils, 100% whole grains, and drink water, we will no longer have room on our plates or in our bellies to be filled with non-nutritive junk.

Our bodies will thank us on a cellular level when we provide the vitamins and minerals it requires.

Our nation will no longer have an obesity epidemic.

And as a bonus, we might even be able to afford healthcare again. 

Food companies want you to eat more of their lab-altered products.  Why?  Because they make money.  Lots and lots of money. 

We get diseases, become overweight or obese, and our life expectancy is shorter as a result. 

And this is legal?

Think about the billions of dollars we spend trying to correct the damage done from consuming high-calorie, high-fat, high-sugar, unhealthy non-nutritive, preservative-filled foods.

It's as if we are feeding ourselves so we can then feed the healthcare system! 

Drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, and chemically altered food products produced by major food companies are here to stay. 

But, we can make a choice to not consume these products or to limit them at the very least.

You can start adding fruits and vegetables to your meals everyday.

You can drink more water.

You can purchase farm-raised meats and dairy products.

You can take a trip to Farmer's Markets or a local farm to get fresh fruits and vegetables.

You can start eating the foods that provide the nutrients your body requires to function every day.

I CAN'T will no longer be associated with DIET. 

Instead, let's start saying, "I can't diet." 

Diets don't work.  If they did, then our country would not have an obesity epidemic.

If we fill half of our plates with fruits and vegetables and the other half with lean meat, fish, whole grains, and low-fat dairy, then there will be very limited room for dessert!

How will you start adding more nutrition to your meals to eat less as a result?

You can do it and your body will thank you.



Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Side Effect Is Weight Loss

After I put my kiddos to bed, I usually spend a moment to myself cruising the web, checking out Facebook posts, reading a book, or accidentally falling asleep on the couch.

Last night, I chose to get on the computer to check my e-mail, but something caught my attention.

It was an article on the Yahoo! homepage called "Why Waist Training Is A Really Really Bad Idea."

After reading the article, all I could think was, this is just ridiculous.

Waist training?  People (including non-celebrity people) are using corsets in an attempt to shrink their waist....in the 21st century?

After researching more on this topic, I decided waist training must go into the same category with all of the other fad diets and fad weight loss products that exist in our society.

After hearing from time to time about the latest fad weight loss strategies, I always wonder why people spend their mental energy, time, and money on products that don't work in the long run.

Let's talk about mental energy for a minute.

The mental energy that is involved with the desire to try a weight loss product, pill, or special diet to get rid of unwanted fat.

The promises these products and fad diets offer are so amazing because they attempt to disprove real science and the facts that we know to be true, which is then why we believe the newest and greatest weight loss products and diets will really work.

The following emotions may then get stirred at the initial thought of trying a new weight loss product:  hope, excitement, happiness, and contentment.  All positive emotions.

After trying a weight loss product or diet for a short time, we may notice our unwanted pounds melting away.  And again, positive emotions may result.

But, these weight loss products and fad diets are not realistic in the same way we may view a model or celebrity's photo on the cover of a magazine.

It takes a lot of time, technology, and money for celebrities and models in photos to appear the way they do in magazines, television, and on stage.

A great deal of time, money, technology, special products, special enhancements, and possible surgeries are required to present these "perfect" individuals.

"Perfect" beauty and picture perfect people surround us every single day.  We spend a great deal of mental energy, time, and money on products in an attempt to achieve an unrealistic beauty as a result.

We may be motivated to lose weight because of a special product or weight loss diet.

But, what if we are motivated to lose weight for our mental health?

In other words, instead of focusing on outward appearances of "beauty" in an effort to achieve weight loss and a healthy lifestyle, why not focus on inner strength and mental health in an effort to achieve weight loss and live a healthy lifestyle?

It takes inner strength to lace up your kicks and go for a run or walk around the block after a long, stressful day at work versus sitting on the sofa and watching T.V.

It takes inner strength to choose to prepare a salad with grilled chicken versus a bag of chips in the pantry when you are tired and stressed.

It takes inner strength to look in the mirror and see real beauty no matter what size or shape appears.

One way we can strengthen our mental health is to move our body.

Exercise. 

We all know the physical benefits of exercise, but the mental benefits may be even greater.

What if we got inspired to exercise for above-the-neck benefits (mental benefits) rather than physical benefits such as losing unwanted inches?

By moving our bodies, the following mental benefits result: 
  • less tension, stress, mental fatigue
  • less anger and frustration
  • improved self-confidence
  • improved self-esteem
  • greater focus in life and motivation
  • sense of achievement
  • energy boost
  • improved sleep
  • boost of happy chemicals (endorphins)
These are not only positive, life-changing emotions, these are emotions that result by moving our bodies.

Can you think of a weight loss product or fad diet that provides all of these benefits?

I can't. 

Do we not strive to achieve many if not all of the listed mental benefits listed above?

By exercising to keep our brains healthy, we will have weight loss as a result. 

In essence, we are killing two birds with one stone. 

Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it?

Monday, April 27, 2015

What's Inside The Package?

Before I go to the grocery store, I usually have a list of everything I need to purchase for the week.

If I don't, my grocery bill will be double the amount I intended it to be. 

Why?

Because I will get sucked into purchasing grocery and household items based on their outer appearance.

Marketplace grocery and household items are contained in very attractive packages.

Take cheese for example. 

As soon as I get to the cheese section at the grocery store, I am faced with about thirty different types of cheese that all look delicious!

Suddenly, I think I need to purchase white American cheese versus the yellow American cheese that I initially intended to purchase along with cheese sticks and various flavors of brick cheese because they look good.

And then...

Wait a minute.

Did I just see veggie cheese?

 

It looks so healthy.  And, I found it in the vegetable section at the grocery store too!

I think to myself,  Maybe I should get some veggie cheese because it is probably made with vegetables.

But, after reading the ingredients label, I realize these cheddar flavor shreds are not made with whole vegetables, but with soy base (filtered water, isolated soy protein).

The Go Veggie! cheese product above contains the following: Soy Base (filtered water, isolated soy protein), Casein (a dried skim milk protein), Canola Oil, Modified Food Starch, Sodium Phosphate, Salt, 2% or less of Rice Flour, Tapioca Starch, Enzyme-Modified Cheese Flavor which incudes cultured milk, salt, enzymes, and calcium chloride, Tricalcium Phosphate, Natural Flavor, Sorbic Acid (a preservative), Dried Yeast, Carrageenan (Cara...who?), Lactic Acid, Food Color known as carotenal (must be related to Carrageenan), Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin C, Ferric Orthophosphate, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3, Folic Acid, Vitamin B6, Butterfat, Riboflavin, Vitamin E, Potato Starch, Powdered Cellulose to prevent caking, Natamycin - a natural mold inhibitor (well, at least it's natural).

The package also claims that this food product melts and stretches.

So, is it cheese then?

No.  This is definitely NOT cheese. 

Cheese is the curd of milk separated from the whey.

This nice colorful package contains a cheddar flavor processed cheese food alternative that is not made with whole vegetables.

In fact, soy protein isolate is mainly used in food products as an emulsifier and to improve texture.

But, since the label of this food product is GoVeggie! consumers are led to believe that it is as healthy as eating fresh vegetables, especially when the slogan on the package says, "Eat Smart. Live Happy.  GO Veggie!"

And by the way, there is also a Go Veggie! processed cheese food alternative that is made with rice instead of soy. 

Is rice a vegetable?

Do you see how misleading the brand names of food products can be?

The colorful packages of food attract the eye of the consumer and the marketing claims lead you to believe the product inside the package is healthy.

"Naturally Flavored, Made With Whole Oats, Sweetened With Real Honey Flavor, and Can Help Lower Cholesterol," are examples of marketing claims used to convince consumers to purchase food products.

Take a look at this package of Lucky Charms cereal:



Each marshmallow has a description beside implying that cereal containing marshmallows is healthy.

This Lucky Charms cereal box claims the cereal inside has no high fructose corn syrup, has 10 grams of sugar per serving, and is a good source of calcium and vitamin D.

Did you also notice at the bottom of the box the words Goodness first?

Consumers may purchase a package of Lucky Charms because after reading the marketing claims, they believe marshmallow cereal is not only magically delicious, but it is healthy too!

Unfortunately, Lucky Charms cereal is not magically healthy.
 
If you read the ingredients list on the side of the cereal box, whole grain oats are the first ingredient which is good and healthy.

But, they are covered with sugar, corn syrup, modified corn starch, corn starch, dextrose, artificial colors and flavors which is not so healthy.




It's like taking peanuts (healthy) and covering them with chocolate and a candy layer to make M&M's (not so healthy). 

Sure, Lucky Charms and M&M's taste good, but they are in no way, shape, or form considered to be healthy.  But, the marketing world tries to make us believe that they are!

The marketing world is very good at their job which is to get consumers to buy products.  

The food industry is a business. 

The food industry is happy to accept your money and presents food and beverage items in colorful packages to get your attention.

When I go down the cereal isle at the grocery store, I don't see cereal.  I see high-fiber breakfast products with added vitamins and minerals that have been clinically shown to enhance my morning performance.

Successful strategies to marketing food includes showing consumers that the food product is more than the food itself.

This is the challenge we face as consumers of the foods and beverages being marketed to us.

Our challenge is to start being more mindful when we are purchasing food and to try to pay attention to the food itself.

The marketing world will continue to label foods using misleading names and claims which promote unhealthy consumer choices, behaviors, and lifestyles. 

In a nutshell, don't let the powerful influences of the marketing world fool you. 

The only way to truly know what is inside the package is to read the food label.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Caught Up In The Moment

We've all done it. 

Getting caught up in the moment of doing something other than what you should be doing at that moment in time. 

Daydreaming about a glorious summer vacation while you should be productive at work. 

Catching the last episode of your favorite T.V. show instead of studying for that test tomorrow.

Surfing Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram catching the latest on what your friends are getting into these days instead of doing household chores or anything else on the to-do list.

Trust me.  I get it.  I live it.  The acknowledgement of having responsibility.  It's always been there and it's not going away. 

Responsibility.  There's ALWAYS something that needs to be done. 

And not only is there always that something that needs to be done, but there is a moral component included because we either did a good or bad job completing our responsibilities.

But, when it comes to the responsibility of our health, what do we truly deem as being right, wrong, good, or bad? 

Do we believe we are being "good" because we are following the latest fad diet? 

Is it "right" to take control of our health by counting calories and exercising to prevent weight gain so that we can look good in less clothing for the summer season?

As the weather is getting warmer, there are more commercials on the radio to purchase products that will help people lose weight and get rid of unwanted fat just in time for bikini season.

I respect the fact that individuals want to look good, achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and take control of their health.

I also think it is important for individuals to self-reflect by asking questions such as, "Who am I looking good for, and why am I trying to lose weight?

Questions such as, "Am I losing weight to look good on the beach?  Am I trimming up and building muscle so that I can look good for those wedding pictures?  Am I counting calories so that I can achieve a healthy weight to look good for my boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife?"

And, what makes us feel attractive?

Do you look in the mirror, take a brief moment then conclude either:

(A.)  I like what we see.
         
(B.)  I hate what we see.

(C.)  I don't care what I look like.

Or, do you rely on other people to determine your self-worth, physical attractiveness, or acceptance in society? 

What about the concept of looking good for YOU and no other person, place, or thing?

What about finding a healthy balance within yourself because YOU want to?

What about achieving and maintaining a healthy weight because YOU are worth it?

Based on commercials and what is on television these days, the societal standard is to continue to look young and be happy.

However, the means of looking young and being happy according to advertisements is to drink adult beverages, eat burgers, take prescription drugs, and have plastic surgery.

And, do we not get caught up in the moment when we see and hear these advertisements?

That moment when the commercial allows you to imagine being thin or muscular because of a new diet or weight loss pill.

That moment when you can imagine eating that indulgent burger layered with melted cheese.

That moment of imagining yourself dancing with your soul-mate at age 68 and still being able to make sweet love because of a magical blue pill.

It's that moment of happiness. 

The feeling many of us strive to achieve on a regular basis.

And if we are not feeling content or happy from within ourselves, then we may strive to achieve these feel-good emotions via drugs, alcohol, sex, plastic surgery, vacations, consuming food in excess, restricting food, or spending money.

Can that irresistible ice cream bar covered with three layers of milk chocolate make you feel better?

Will adhering to the latest fad diet to lose ten pounds provide a sense of satisfaction and contentment?

If you kick back and have a few beers then will you feel happy and relaxed?

I predict the answer to these questions is...

Yes.

But, the feelings of contentment that may result from consuming high fat and high calorie foods, using the latest fad diet to lose weight, or consuming beers and spirits until you feel a happy buzz are only temporary.

Not all temporary moments of happiness are healthy or beneficial to your well-being.

It's your choice to determine the external sources that will not only provide temporary moments of happiness, but will also benefit your long-term health and wellness.

It's easy to get caught up in the moment when you are feeling pleasant as a result. 

At the same time, it can be challenging to determine whether or not your long-term health and happiness is taking a toll due to the indulgence of external sources that provide temporary happy moments.

The good news is we have the ability to live our own lives and think for ourselves. 

We can choose to get caught up in the temporary moments that lead to long-term health and wellness instead of long-term health destruction.


It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day to day basis. -- Margaret Bonnano