Back To The Basics

Something I’ve been noticing a lot lately is that we’ve become quite distracted with so many diet fads and new health “discoveries” that it seems we’ve lost sight of one of the most basic keys to weight loss and health in general….the calorie. There are so many other things to worry about, such as whether or not we should have gluten, or fat, or carbs, should we have almond milk or soy milk, is cow’s milk bad? What about protein powder, or artificial sweeteners? Sometimes we think as long as it’s organic or gluten free then we’re good, we can eat as much of it as we want and still be healthy. Then when we don’t lose weight (or we may even gain some), we wonder where we went wrong. Well here is key to weight loss which I believe we’ve lost sight of, CALORIES IN VERSUS CALORIES OUT.

What is a calorie anyway? A small calorie (cal) is the amount of energy needed to raise one gram of water by one degree Celsius. A large calorie (kcal) is the amount of energy needed to raise one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius. We use these units of energy to measure how much food we need to take in based on how much energy our body uses each day. Calories are not a bad thing because we need them to sustain life. However, we need to be aware of how much we are taking in.

More often than not, we consume significantly more calories than we need. If we aren’t paying attention, this will happen. I’ve come across people who will say they are gaining weight but they need all the calories they are eating currently. This is simply not true. While it is very important what type of calories you are taking in, the bottom line is, if you are gaining weight you are not using as many calories as you are taking in, if you are losing weight you are using more calories than you are taking in.

This does not mean that everyone must obsessively count every single calorie they take in for the rest of their lives. However, I highly recommend that you pay attention to portion sizes and the calories that go along with it. Yes, absolutely eat healthier choices, I am a huge advocate of organic foods. Choose fresh foods that are not processed and they will naturally be lower in calories. Avoid eating out, eating foods out of a box or bag or can, and don’t drink your calories. These are all great ways to ensure you are not taking in too much energy and storing it as fat.

There are many other things I could say on this matter, but my last word of advice if you are struggling in this area, is to see a holistic nutritionist or naturopath and find out exactly what your body needs and how much energy it naturally uses (your resting metabolic rate). We are all different and only you can take charge of your health and choose to live more abundantly!!

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Got Kombucha?

Blog kombucha

Why on earth would someone want to drink fermented tea? Especially if you live in the south and are used to having a little tea with your sugar, kombucha may be an acquired taste. However, as I discuss a few of the MANY benefits of drinking kombucha regularly, you may want to learn to love it!!

Basically, kombucha is a traditional fermented tea using a starter culture, sugar, and black or green tea. Even though it may seem like a new trend, it has actually been around for hundreds of years, originating in China. This tea has amazing detoxifying effects in your body by binding to the toxins and rushing them to your kidneys to be excreted. This reason alone makes it very effective at protecting against sickness and disease!

Kombucha is also filled with probiotics. Believe it or not, our digestive system is filled with hundreds of strains of bacteria (gut flora). Only about 15% of this should be “bad bacteria” that can be harmful to us, and ideally we should have about 85% of it being “good bacteria”. If all is as it should be, and the good bacteria far outweighs the bad, then your body should have no problem fighting off invaders. Our problem today is that with the increased use of antibiotics (which kill off good and bad bacteria), and our increased intake of sugar and processed foods, our gut flora is completely out of balance. Because of this we are seeing a major increase in many health issues. In order to get your gut flora back in balance and increase your health, you will need to replace these “good bacteria” by ingesting probiotics. Kombucha and other fermented foods are a great source of probiotics!

As with any other health food, it’s very important to read the label and even do some research on the type of kombucha you choose to drink. Many companies are taking advantage of the increased popularity of this beverage, and adding things like caffeine, sugar, and artificial flavors to the kombucha after it is brewed. In this case, it may not be much better than drinking a soda. Unless you are brewing your own, be very selective about the type of kombucha you choose.

I could go on and on about this wonderful health drink, but I’ll let you see all of the wonderful benefits yourself when you go get your own kombucha! If you are interested in brewing your own batch, I personally order my starter culture at Thrive Market. Enjoy!!

 

Sources and more info:

http://www.thehealthhomeeconomist.com

http://thrv.me/YXAxrH

 

The Lemon Miracle

lemon

When you go to a restaurant and order a water, oftentimes they will ask if you would like lemon with it. What you may not realize, is that lemon is good for a whole lot more than just adding a little flavor to your water. Lemons are extremely rich in nutrients and can benefit our bodies in countless ways! I’ll do my best to highlight some of the most important benefits in this post.

My personal favorite attribute of lemons is that they are alkalizing in the body with their high mineral content. It can be confusing because lemons themselves are very acidic. However, the acidity of the food itself is not what’s important, but rather the effect it has on the body. Sugar and processed foods, along with others, cause our bodies to be very acidic, which is highly dangerous because it allows disease to grow and thrive. Drinking a glass of lemon water in the morning 20-30 minutes before you eat anything can have an amazing effect on your body’s pH level and your overall health.

Another amazing benefit of lemons are their detoxifying effects. As you sleep, your body is restoring itself and removing toxins that have built up. Drinking lemon water in the morning will help your body flush these toxins out. If you don’t hydrate first thing in the morning, your body will not have any way to get rid of these toxins, and I don’t know about you but that creates a very unpleasant image in my mind.

I could go on and on about how wonderful lemons are but it could take all day! I’ve included a list below of some of the other beneficial properties of lemons. Please feel free to ask questions and next time a waiter asks you if you’d like lemon with your water, ask for a whole bowl!

  • Rich source of vitamin C which builds up the immune system
  • Lemon water can boost your metabolism in the morning
  • Contain pectin fiber which is healthy for your colon and digestion
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Strengthens the liver
  • Great source of potassium which nourishes brain cells
  • Skin health – prevents wrinkles and acne
  • Contains unique anti-cancer compounds

Alkaline Chart 2

Cooking Your Way to Health – Part 2

cooking

Life is busy and it always seems to be getting busier! When I come home after a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is think about what to make for dinner, go to the grocery store, and then spend an hour cooking. If this were my strategy, we’d probably be eating frozen meals or out to eat every day. The key word here is “strategy”. You must have one if you are going to be successful at cooking meals at home.

It’s all about planning ahead. Each week, either on Sunday or Monday, I literally sit down and write out exactly what we will be eating for each meal that week. I usually consider the inventory I already have in my kitchen, and try to build meals off of that. Then I make a list of the items I don’t have, and I take one big trip to my store of choice, Trader Joe’s. I would say 65% of my groceries come from here, 25% from my monthly order at Thrive Market (click here to check it out) and 10% from the items I like to buy in bulk at Costco. Buying groceries from the same place each week can really save some time and effort.

By planning ahead, I save myself the stress of getting home from work and trying to figure out what to do for dinner. I already know all day what I’ll be preparing and I already have the ingredients I need to do so. I make the schedule flexible enough so that if something else comes up, I can rearrange. I also keep a few backup options in the freezer for emergencies. 🙂

If you’ve never tried something like this before, I would encourage you to experiment next week and see how you like it! When I first started, I only had a few recipes to work with. I was able to slowly build up my collection to around 30-40 recipes that I rotate now, with our favorites being much more frequent than others. Every other week or so I’ll try out a new recipe and if it’s good, add it to the rotation. If you need some recipes to try I’d be happy to provide some.

Using this planning strategy has drastically reduced my stress and has helped us to eat much healthier on a regular basis. Not to mention it saves a significant amount of time and money. I hope this information has been useful and inspires you to cook your way to health!!

Cooking Your Way to Health

keep calm love cooking

She probably wouldn’t remember this, but my mom told me once that “anything you cook at home is better than anything you eat out.” While you may find an exception to this statement, after working in the restaurant industry for 7 years, I realize there is a great deal of truth to this.

A restaurant exists for one purpose, to make a profit. Everything it does revolves around this. How do they make a profit? By making food that tastes good and costs as little as possible. As a business, it only makes sense! They simply do not exist for your health. In order to make food taste good, often times they will use ingredients that are not good for you. As long as people come back and keep eating it, they will keep serving it! In order to make a nice profit margin, restaurants will use ingredients purchased at the lowest cost. Low cost usually equal low quality.

Realizing this truth does not make me anti-restaurant. I enjoy eating out as much as the next person. However, it does motivate me to cook at home 90% of the time. It is not easy, and it is certainly not convenient, but knowing it is better for the health of my family (not to mention our wallet), is what keeps me going. If you do dine out, I’d recommend doing some research and spending a little more for a healthier meal.

For those of you who read this and are saying “there’s no way I have time to cook at home and I wouldn’t even know how to get started if I did”, don’t worry, my next blog is for you! 🙂

The Low Fat Lie

Butter heart

Say it with me, “Fat does not make you fat!!” There has been a lot of confusion around the topic of eating foods that contain fats. Somehow we started believing that eating a low fat diet would make us lose weight. This is just not the case.

It is not necessarily the AMOUNT of fat you are ingesting that is important, it is the TYPE of fats. Many saturated fats and especially trans fats are indeed dangerous for your health, especially when consumed in high amounts. These “bad fats” are found in fried foods, many desserts and baked goods, margarine, pizza, etc. Eating these foods with the fat removed does not make them healthy. The fat must be replaced with something else, often times increasing the sugar content. For example, in low fat or fat free milk, the fat is usually replaced with powdered milk, and the end product is higher in sugar than whole milk. Think about all of the fat free dairy products out there…

Fats are needed by your body for many reasons. One is that they actually trigger the release of a hormone that curbs your appetite. That’s why when you eat a food high in “healthy fat”, you feel more full. Fats also help you store less by slowing the release of sugar into the bloodstream, which is actually one of, if not the biggest cause of weight gain. We should be much more concerned about our sugar intake, which is a topic for another day.

So what are these “healthy fats” and how do you know what’s good or bad? Let’s go back to my first piece of advice, “only eat things that rot or decay”. Eating foods that have not been tampered with is always a good way to determine if you are eating the good fats. The fats you want to eat the most of are mono and polyunsaturated fats. These can be found in olive oil, sunflower oil, avocados, nuts, fatty fish, etc. Saturated fats are not all bad for you, but should be limited. Sources of these are beef, chicken, whole milk products, coconut oil, etc. You will always do better to choose these products in their natural form, rather than with the fat removed. The less your food has been altered, the better.

Is Gluten Really the Enemy?

In short…the answer is no. Gluten is not the enemy. In order to keep all of my posts concise and to the point, I will give you a little bit of information that will hopefully clear up some of the confusion around the gluten issue we’ve had in recent years.

First of all, what is gluten? It is a protein found in wheat. It is not added to wheat, it is part of it. However, because of it’s elasticity, it is extracted and often added to certain products to give them a more chewy texture or stable structure. You may see it on the ingredients list as “wheat gluten” or “vital wheat gluten”.

Why are we suddenly becoming intolerant of gluten if we’ve always eaten it? You should ask yourself this very important question, where is your wheat coming from? I learned something very alarming about a year or so ago and I’m happy to share it with anyone who wants to know.

“Common wheat harvest protocol in the US is to drench the wheat fields with Roundup several days before the combine harvesters work through the fields as the practice allows for an earlier, easier and bigger harvest.”

Now where do you think all of these chemicals end up? In our bodies. They do this because as the wheat is sprayed, it releases more seeds, yielding more wheat. It also kills the wheat which allows it to be harvested earlier. The consequences of this practice go far beyond gluten sensitivity or allergies. It can lead to many other health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, infertility, and many others.

In order to avoid this toxic wheat, it is not necessary to eat gluten free, unless you have already developed an allergy to it. (Even in this case, there are methods that may reverse your sensitivity.) Make every effort to avoid eating conventional wheat products. It is not easy or convenient, but the health benefits are worth it in the long run!

Source and more info: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/real-reason-for-toxic-wheat-its-not-gluten/#more-18867