Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sometimes it's okay to be a control freak ~

Recently I posted about dangerous toxins and how they have invaded every part of our lives. Whether it is the toxins in food, household items, self-care products or even toxic people (we call them energy vampires, I believe) we need to find a way to rid ourselves of them.
Did you know there are thousands of ingredients that the FDA has approved for use, but no one has studied in over 3 decades, or for that matter, some not at all? And little to no studies have been done on the cumulative effect of all these industrial food-scientist-created ingredients in our food system. 

Many of these ingredients are created by substances contaminated with carcinogens, some make us addicted to non-food substances that are cheaper to produce than real food, and some are downright dangerous.
If you feel overwhelmed and are tired of all the conflicting reports and information out there, making you want to throw your hands up in the air, I have one suggestion. And it's simple. It will reduce your exposure to these toxic substances, at least in your food, and it's called, cook at home. 

“The most important thing you can do with your health is cook. Cooking is more powerful than any medication.” ~ Michael Pollan
But the key here is that you cook using whole foods, meaning food that is not processed, not from a box, and with ingredients you can pronounce and know what they are. Eat at least 15 meals a week at home using ingredients you buy (so you are in control of what you are consuming) and cook yourself.  Make it fun and  involve other family members. It is a great gift to teach your children to cook. 

That's 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 5 dinners. And these can be simple meals, you don't have to get all fancy with it. That leaves you 6 meals a week where you can be flexible to eat wherever you choose, dinner at a friends,  have a night of take-out, or at a restaurant.

Cooking at home is beneficial in so many ways; you save money, more time with family, you can flex your creativity, and of course, you know exactly what is being consumed by your body. You control the amount of salt, sugar, and fat you use, as well as being in charge of portion control. Another extremely important benefit that you will get from cooking at home is that you will nourish and ground your relationships, creating a loving and healthy environment for those around you. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Do you take sugar in your coffee? 1 teaspoon or 2?

I remember when I moved up to Olympia, Washington in 1987. There was this incredible and edgy new Coffee Roaster in town, Batdorf and Bronson. This was well before Starbucks became the rage and was situated on every street corner in America.

On my first visit I sat down at the counter and ordered some crazy (at the time) concoction. I think they called it an iced cappuccino, but really, it was anything but that. It came in a large glass, poured so that the espresso and 1/2 and 1/2 separated, creating these wonderful layers, almost too pretty to stir. It was one of the most delicious things I had ever tasted. It was like drinking an adult milkshake, without the guilt. I mean, come on, it was coffee.

Now, loving coffee like I do, I really appreciate the idea behind the coffee house. The gathering place where friends meet and conversation is cultivated. And for many years, it felt that way to me. It was a place geared towards adult and the adult beverage. But slowly it changed. Everything about it changed.

Starbucks and the other large chains became the place to bring your kids. It became the Ronald McDonald playland for the hip young moms and the grandmother's with their little grandchildren in tow. A place where they could get their "coffee" and buy the kids a little something as well. What's the problem with that, you might ask? Well, for starters, what we are now calling "coffee" is really just a major sugar high in disguise. Actually, it's not even in disguise, and it's not coffee. It's in a cup called a "Grande"~ it is filled with caramel, vanilla or chocolate syrups and topped with whipped cream and another helping of caramel, or . . . yes, yes, I know, everyone loves them.  And what's wrong with giving our kids a little treat?

Only about 15 tsps of sugar!
But they are not a special treat anymore, not a once in awhile delight.  They have become a part of our daily lives.  They say most people now average spending $90 a month on "coffee" ~ the drinks we buy outside the home. And the cost is much larger than the dollar amount we are spending.

Now I must admit, years ago, during the winter, I got into the habit of getting a Starbucks "tall, non-fat, 2-pump mocha" on my way to work, at least 4 times a week. Later in the summer, I would treat myself to a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Vanilla Blended. A small one. Oh, how much I loved them! I haven't had one in a long time and the other day I felt I wanted to treat myself. It was the first time I ever asked the barista how much sugar the small Vanilla Blended contained. He didn't know, so he went to look it up. He came back over and said "not too bad, it has about 44 grams of sugar." 44 grams! That comes out to about 10 teaspoons of sugar in that one small drink!  I ordered an iced coffee instead.

What we have started here is an awful habit and for some, addiction, in our young people. I see teens with these monstrous sugary "coffee" drinks and I can now see that it's no wonder we have such an obesity and early childhood diabetes problem in this country, and spreading quickly to many more I might add. We have got to get our sugar addiction under control, as consuming sugar only leads us to craving it more and more. (And just an FYI ~ Starbucks Grande Caramel Frappaccino comes in at a whopping 59 grams of sugar.)

I was really sad to learn about the sugar content in my favorite Iced Vanilla Blended. One more item on my "never to do" list. I don't see it though as deprivation, but more, a new found appreciation and dedication to my health. There are other ways to treat your taste buds and get that warm and cozy feeling without harming yourself in the process.You can recreate many of your favorites. For example, when this fall, Starbucks re-introduces their crowd pleasing, Pumpkin Spice latte, do yourself and the ones you love a favor, and make a healthier version of it at home.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Elimination "Diet"

Detoxing has become the new black as far as health and diet activists are concerned. It is something we do when we want to give our bodies a breather. But why detox, you ask,  is it really necessary? Since we live in a time with more toxins in our environment than ever, many say an occasional detox is a good idea. Whether you do a simple juice/water fast for a few days, a brief cleanse or an extended, restrictive food detox, they can be quite beneficial.

And toxins enter our bodies through much more than just the foods we eat. We also receive toxins regularly through the cleaning supplies, laundry detergents, lotions, deodorants perfumes, hair coloring and makeup that we use on a regular basis.  It would be best if we could minimize the use of these chemical based items and substitute natural and chemical free products where we can.

But I believe that what is just as important and necessary for many of us is a media detox for our mind, spirit and soul. One thing that has happened in the past 20 years or so is that we have become overloaded with activity with very little time left for rest, rejuvenation and relaxation. We are on call 24/7 and most of us are not ER doctors, nurses, or first responders. We have programmed our phones to let us know when we receive an email, a Facebook post, or a text message and these alerts come through at all hours of the day and night. For some reason, we feel that if we don’t find out immediately what is going on, we might be missing out on something.  The truth is, most of this information is far from an emergency that needs our immediate attention, and more than likely doesn’t require our attention at all. We are overfeeding ourselves ~ too much news, too much information, and it has created an overload that is clogging up our mind and starving our spirit.

I realize in this high-tech day and age, it is hard to let go of something that seems so vital to our existence.  But if you really look at things, do you need to be on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and every other social media site out there? It is exhausting to say the least. And what are the true benefits? You might want to ask yourself this question. What would benefit you more; adding another post or link on your Twitter account or using that time to do something like, read a book, spend time with a friend, relax in a chair and watch the clouds go by?

I have had to pull in the reins on my own social networking. I was told it was necessary to be involved in all of these if I was to become successful in my business. But after attempting it for only a short time I found that what I was doing wasn’t authentic ~ it wasn’t my true voice or serving my soul purpose. I was so busy trying to figure out what to tweet on Twitter, which hashtags to use on Instagram and finding recipes to share on my website, that I was falling behind on the things that really matter to me. So I eliminated what I could and settled on just a couple of the things that I like to do best; my blog, my business Facebook page, and spreading my message the good old fashioned way, by talking, by word of mouth.

If you are feeling what I am feeling, a bit overwhelmed, then my suggestion is to try a media detox for a short period of time. I can hear you screaming “Nooo” right about now. I realize it is asking a lot.  But if you can, take some baby steps here, and at least set some boundaries for yourself where you are “off limits” to the rest of the world ~ establish periods of time that you are available for work calls, phone calls, returning emails and the like. Try to spend the first hour or so of your morning without turning on your computer or the morning news. Set a time in the evening where you turn it all off and don’t recheck it again until morning. Stick to it for a little while and I have a feeling you might just end up sticking with it.

No country for old men (or women)