Thursday, October 6, 2011

It's not easy being green...or is it?

I have embarked on a love affair with leafy greens. I've always enjoyed the occasional Brussels sprout, spinach salad, or head of broccoli. But never until recently, have I enjoyed them so much. And for good reason. These foods are, per calorie, the most nutritious foods out there. They are truly the foods that love me back. These crispy light leaves prevent cancer and strengthen my immune system. They assist in purifying my body which helps give my liver and kidneys a little break, thus improving their functions. They give me energy and help prevent the moody blues.

It's sad that these are the foods most missing in the standard American diet, because everyone could benefit from eating more of them and in turn fall in love as I have. I think everyone would love to see their skin brighter and clearer. I think having more energy and getting sick less would improve the quality of life of most. They aren't expensive. They aren't hard to prepare. So why aren't more people reaping the benefits of them?

In my opinion, greens carry a "negative healthy" stigma. By negative healthy, I mean your mom told you to eat them when you were a kid, so they must not taste good. But with so many different varieties, and so many different preparation methods I think this is a bunch of pish posh. I think if you only like your broccoli with cheese on it, or your spinach creamed then you should eat your broccoli with cheese on it and have creamed spinach. Who said that greens lose their health benefits if you cook them with something considered more "fun" in the food world? They still do the above things for your body. And more importantly, it will get you to eat them!

So my plea is for you to give greens a chance. Try to incorporate a green a day into your diet. Try experimenting with different varieties. You may find new greens that you didn't know about that you really like and develop your own love affair with them. You'll thank me, I swear. You'll wonder why you didn't listen to your mother sooner!

Monday, August 29, 2011


I love to cook. It's one of the ways I relax. I love new recipes and there is nothing more tasty than a nice warm meal when it is chilly out. I also very much enjoy a cool crisp salad or some fresh fruit on a hot day. I enjoy cutting veggies and preparing a salad. It's the above reasons why I found a recent lecture on raw foods so interesting.

The lecturer was a "raw foodist," who eats only food that can be consumed raw. He does not eat meat (other than sushi grade fish), and sticks with a diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, seaweeds, grasses, sprouts, herbs, superfoods, and fermented foods. Though this encompasses a variety of different foods, I imagine it gets quite boring. I can't wrap my brain around a diet of only the above mention groups of foods. I can't wrap my brain around a world of not being able to cook up a hot soup, or delicious pasta or rice dish.

But here's what I got out of it: Incorporating more raw foods into your diet does have it's health benefits. The lecturer recommended at least 51% of your foods come from the raw sources mentioned above. 51%? That's over half? He had many reasons such as the amount of nutrients that can be lost through the cooking process as well as your body's response to cooked foods vs. raw foods. All of these were quite convincing reasons that he cited.

I'm going to put it out there that though I love a fresh piece of fruit, or a handful of raw almonds, a lot of the pleasure of eating comes from preparing, cooking, and serving a delicious, well thought out meal. I also must say that I do see that there are benefits to raw foods. So here's my challenge to myself, and to my readers. Try adding at least one or two raw foods to your meals. At breakfast, eat a piece of fruit. At lunch pile in some fresh salad greens, or other veggies on to your sandwich. At dinner, eat a salad in addition to your cooked meal. For snacks, try raw nuts, fruits, or veggies. I have a feeling that through this experiment we will notice more energy and vitality. I'm looking forward to living out this challenge and reporting back what I discover. I'm a skeptic, but I certainly can't knock it until I try it.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Carb: A four letter word?

Since when did carb become a four letter word? I read a blog post yesterday about how grains are slowly killing us. This particular blogger cited all sorts of statistics about diabetes, heart disease, and inflammation, but failed to recognize that all of her statistics were based on studies of refined, processed grains. She also used the word carb interchangeably with grain. It's this mentality and easily accessible misinformation that have caused what I have affectionately named "carbaphobia."

Carbs are a macronutrient. One that is essential for your health. Other macronutrients you may recognize are proteins and fats. Macronutrient by definition is a food required in large amounts by the human diet. Key word being: required. This means that macronutrients are required for your body to function at optimal levels. Yes, you do need each macronutrient in different quantities. Each person is different so each person needs a different ratio of macronutrients. I may do a blog post at another time about what ratio works for what etc etc. But the point I am trying to make now, is that carbs (by definition) are an essential part of the human diet. Period.

What I'm noticing as I observe people at eating time (a habit I've taken up lately), is that people are fearful of carbs. I think this is because people think carb equals cake, cookie, white bread, potato chip, etc. In reality carbs are more importantly whole grains, nuts, beans, legumes, vegetables, fruits and so on. Each full of nutrients your body needs and usually on lists of health foods to eat more of. So really carbs=necessary. Obviously you should limit the refined, processed variety because those are not optimal for good health. You should be choosy about where you get your carbs, but you need to get them.

Carbs are what give your body energy (along with fat, which is another blog post for another day); energy it needs to get up in the morning, walk across the room, give your kids a bath, do laundry etc. If you eliminate carbs from your diet it causes your liver to have to find stores in your muscles and other areas of your body to convert to energy. Can you imagine the effects on your liver after your body is forced to do this time and time again, let alone your muscles and other tissues? On the other hand refined grains and sugars which are a staple of the American diet, and what people believe to be a "carb" are just as bad. These cause a spike in your blood sugar causing your pancreas to work in overdrive to produce insulin. Over time your pancreas gives up and causes Type 2 diabetes. This spike does not happen with whole grains.

I broached this subject today because I cringe when I hear someone state that "carbs are bad" or "this is good for me because it's low carb." It's such a twisting of what is actually true. Your body needs carbs. Your body does not need refined grains or sugars. But it does need carbs. It needs whole grains, it needs vegetables, and fruits and many of the other healthy options out there. The word Carb (which is short for carbohydrate) may be a four letter word, but let's make it one of the best kind. The kind you say with positive connotation. The kind you eat the good variety of to make you healthy and energized. Please let me know if you want any guidance on what carbs you should choose or tips for choosing what's right for you.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What I love.

It took me awhile to figure out what subject I should focus on to get me writing more (since I have been doing a terrible job at it so far). So I took a look back at all of my blog posts up until this point. Eureka!!! Pretty much every single one of them is about health, healthy food, exercise, and all over wellness. So it occurred to me, if these are subjects that peak my interest, why not devote my blog to them?

So yeah, duh, I like the subject of health if you hadn't already noticed. I love it so much that I have started at a nutrition school to learn to counsel others on good health and wellness. This way, people will actually WANT to listen to my ramblings of "This is good for you," or "You should probably stay away from too much of that." My hatred of High Fructose Corn Syrup and MSG will be channeled and take a positive role in my daily life. Currently, when I use one of the above phrases or something similar, I can almost feel the eye rolls of my husband, friends, and coworkers. This brings me to wonder; Do people not like listening to nutrition advice because they find it annoying, or is it because they feel like they will have to give up all that is tasty in exchange for good health?

I remember my resistance to changing the way I ate in the attempt to being healthy. I have always been an avid exerciser. I believed that this alone would keep me in the best possible shape and that it didn't matter what I ate. So then the magical age of 27 arrived and my world was rocked. I was still working out at the same and even maybe a higher intensity than I was before but I was beginning to notice that clothes didn't fit. This is when I realized that what you eat is more than half the battle. When I changed my eating habits for the better (and it's still a work in progress, but they get healthier every year), I noticed that I felt better and even looked a little better. I also realized that I can take foods I love and change them a little to improve their health quality, thus improving MY health (and Justin's because let's face it...the guy can't cook). I have never been one to weigh myself often, but my weight has gone back to where it should be, my skin looks better, I have more energy, and recently I've learned ways to combat some upper and lower GI issues that I have suffered from for years.

This is where my annoying rambling came from, folks. I figured that this had made me feel so freaking awesome, that I needed to share with everyone who will listen or pretend to listen. So if you have been on the receiving end of my nutritional ramblings, I truly mean well. I am so looking forward to being able to counsel people (and lets be real...get paid for it too). I want to help people feel as awesome as they have the potential to feel. I hope that pinpointing a subject to blog about allows me to write more and I hope that my readers (all 10 of you), find something valuable. Because one more healthy thing you do for yourself, puts you one up on that healthy ladder. I will welcome questions. I will also try really hard to give great suggestions that are practical for those of you that aren't as health nutty as me. Hopefully I can help you make that one change that leads to the next that leads to the healthiest happiest you!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

On my soapbox....again.

So my best pal Emily told me she missed my blogging. You know what? I miss my blogging too. Even if no one really reads it, it's really helpful and therapeutic to get my thoughts out by writing. I will do my best to write more often, and even touch on some interesting things that may be useful to someone...or not useful to someone. Doesn't matter as much to me as getting it out there. There are many small pieces that make up the whole me. I'm interested in lots of things and plan on sharing my opinions on ALL of them. Today I am going to remain on my soapbox about the craptastic food industry and how they are slowing messing up our bodies.

My sister, Angela has been struggling with her oldest son's migraines. My poor 5 1/2 year old nephew suffers from some zingers. He usually ends up vomiting. She made the connection between these episodes and Red Dye found in foods. She has done her very best to keep it out of his diet, but the poor kid just can't escape it sometimes. One of these horrible times, his stupid teacher (not all teachers are stupid, but this one says the word "funner" and can't read a food label) gave him a Nutri Grain bar. Nutri Grain bars are healthy, right? Wrong. This bar has everything from the dreaded Corn Sugar (aka High Fructose Corn Syrup) and, you guessed it, Red Dye. But with a name like Nutri Grain, people think that they must be healthy.

This is where I start to lose my mind about this stuff. JUST BECAUSE FOOD IS MARKETED AS HEALTHY DOES NOT MEAN IT IS! Anything that has an ingredient in it that you can't pronounce is probably not so healthy for you. Generally processed foods aren't healthy. Refined flours and sugars aren't healthy. And for the love of Pete, Nutri Grain bars aren't healthy!

I don't put all the blame on my nephew's teacher, even though "funner" is not a word and never will be. I actually blame the food industry more. If they didn't try to pull the wool over the eyes of Americans, then these types of things could be avoided. I see foods at the grocery store that have big bold labels on them like "Made With Whole Grains!" and "No High Fructose Corn Syrup!" and the always fun "No MSG!" Though I think this is a small step in a more positive direction, I think it would be better to tote such labels as "Only Half Made with Whole Grains and the Other Half Is a Processed Mess!" and "Packed with High Fructose Corn Syrup!" or the even better "MSG Laden!" Pretty sure that would be a marketing disaster on the part of the food companies, but at least it would be honest. And maybe it would even make them more inclined to use natural, clean, whole ingredients in their products as to not have to deal with the embarrassment of selling crap to people.

I do have a secret on how to avoid these health disasters though. I will share it now: Read the Nutrition Label and Ingredient List!!! Food companies are required to list what they put in food, just not in bold print. If every person took an extra 30 seconds to scan the list of what they are putting in their grocery cart and reject anything that is not clean or natural, then I think this world would be a much healthier place. I think that this would force food companies to be held accountable for what they are feeding the population, causing them to offer better fare. Obesity wouldn't be as huge of an issue. Cancer would be much less prevalent, and my sweet nephew wouldn't have to suffer another horrible migraine.

I challenge anyone and everyone out there to do this one thing for themselves and their families. If you agree leave me a comment!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I'm Seriously Serious

Today I am proclaiming as the day that I became a serious runner. I am training for a 10K that will precede a 10 miler. I had a 4.5 mile run on my running schedule today and the sky opened up with glorious (sarcasm) rain. I did not want to go. Not one bit.

I complained and bothered my husband with it. I threw my running gear around in a huff. I then put said gear on and went out into the dismal, nasty weather to complete my 4.5 miles. It bothered me that my feet were getting wet. It bothered me that the wind was blowing too hard. But I was going to run that 4.5, if it was the last thing I did today.

I ran by a guy getting out of his car and I just knew he was thinking that I was such a serious runner for being out in such crappy weather. Well, that's right buddy....I AM a serious runner. I kept thinking about how great it was that even though it wasn't perfect running weather (about 60-70 degrees and sunny), and that I don't like rain or getting stuck out in it that I was still out there trudging through puddles while the rain pelted my dedicated to my training.

This positive thinking must have gotten me going, because I began actually enjoying this run. Every song that came on through my iPod was perfect for the day and the run it had in it. The wind died down, or so it felt. By this time, the puddles I was splashing through didn't bother me (because my feet were already soaked, so it probably didn't matter). I got into the zone and I felt fantastic.

So now I am excited to say that the running bug has seriously bitten me. This makes me a serious runner. I will run rain or shine and be happy about it. I will do my best not to make comments such as "well as a serious runner I...," or "before I was a serious runner..." or "I'm sorry, do you know are dealing with a serious runner here!?!" Those are probably best kept to myself. I will, however, enjoy my runs. I'll do my best to put on my running shoes and go out and enjoy the high I get from pounding the pavement.

I may not be considered a serious runner to other serious runners. I don't think I will ever run a marathon and I'm not sure if I'll ever again do a half marathon. But I will continue running and racing. At first I began running for the health benefits, the aesthetics of it all, and to have something to do. Those things are all still factors. But now that I've entered serious runner-dom, the most important reason I run is because I feel good about it. I accomplish something. I put on my shoes and I accomplish miles. There will always be more miles for me to accomplish, so I will continue striving to do so. If this causes me to run a marathon, then so be it. I look forward to seriously running and seriously loving it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Meat and more meat.

After my summer off of blogging and all things academic, I feel like a recently viewed documentary has sparked my need to roll with where my brain is taking me. So here goes...

I recently convinced my husband to watch a documentary entitled Food Inc. with me. It wasn't so hard because as I've stated in earlier posts, he really enjoys a boring television program or movie. But I digress. In this particular documentary, they explore the food industry in its complexity and what this means to us as consumers.

Parts of this were shocking and parts were understandable. Because I think everyone should watch this and be knowledgeable of what is going on around them, I will spare most of the details and let people make their own decisions. The part that most interested me and got me thinking was the part in which they highlighted the meat industry. It showed very candidly the conditions in which meat that is produced by the three largest meat companies in the US is processed from farm to your plate and mine. It was slightly disturbing to say the least.

Now before you stop reading because you think I'm anti meat and I'm going to go all animal rights on you, go ahead and hear me out. I love meat. I think it was put on this earth to be consumed. With this said, I also feel that there is a certain humanity that should be extended our fowl or livestock to ensure that they make the best possible chicken breast, steak, or pork chop.

This is where my brain started going. I do not believe that animals' brains have the complexities of the human brain. Nor do I believe that they can understand the full range of emotions we as humans experience. However, I do believe they feel fear and I also believe that they can experience stress. When I am stressed, how does my body react? Stressful times are the times I get sick. When an animal is treated inhumanely in order to mass produce its meat, I'm sure that fear and stress take a toll on that animal’s health, thus affecting the health of the humans that consume it.

I then was equally intrigued by a farmer who was interviewed who raised grass fed cows, free range chickens, and I believe he also farmed pigs. This farmer seemed to love and even respect his animals. They were free to roam their area of a large farm. They were fed diets that were necessary for optimum health. This farmer did slaughter his animals, but he did it in a way in which they did not suffer. I feel like an animal that lives its life in the best possible environment is going to be the healthiest meat to put in my own body. So in layman’s terms: Happy animals produce healthier meat.

I am going to make every effort to buy grass fed beef, free range chickens and their eggs, and pork that is raised free to roam. I realize this may be a little more expensive than the average package of chicken at my grocery store. I truly feel like the more people that choose to make this change, the more likely it is to become more affordable.

I have learned a lot lately about what is best to put in my body. I love reading about it and I love talking with others about it. I would advise anyone to take the time to watch this movie. It'll change the way you look at your dinner.