You CAN Get From Here To There

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Transitioning to clean eating isn’t as difficult as some would have you believe.  Here are a few ideas to help you:

  1. When you go shopping, mainly shop the perimeter of the store.  The fresh fruits and veggies (organic but for the clean 15, when possible; READ HERE FOR THE CLEAN 15 ) and fresh meat and dairy (again look for organic) are where to focus. The aisles have mostly processed foods.  As a single mom, I get that processed foods are easier; thats where the app I told you about yesterday, Buycott helps out.
  2. Besides using the app, start reading labels, and remember what to be looking for.  Things that are high in sugar, fat, and sodium aren’t good.  Stay away from hydrogenated oils, and the things I talked about earlier in the week; here, here, and here.  Even canola oil, which many tout as healthy (and I believed them for many years, until I had a similar experience to what another blogger had…I didn’t investigate further as she did though) is in fact far from it.  Now fresh Canola Oil CAN BE healthy, depending on how it’s made.  However, usually the high temperatures and chemicals used are of unknowable safety.  The high omega-3 levels can become rancid and oxidize during the process, so it needs to be deodorized…more chemicals, and much of that high omega-3 goodness gets stripped away.  Also, anything oxidized can bring on inflammation.  That includes causing arthritis, and myriad other issues.
  3. Drink more water.  I’m still having a hard time with this, but I’ve cut my caffeine consumption way down and have started every day first thing (even before coffee) having a glass of room temperature lemon water.  Read here for the benefits of warm lemon water.  Back before I met my ex I had just gone through a 3 month workout program and gotten in the best shape of my adult life, and I was drinking much more water then.  I believe the amount of water I drank played a role in my getting so fit.
  4. You’ve been eating conventional processed food all your life, so your tastebuds are used to certain things.  You may need to trick them at first.  One thing I had read about and started doing even before my ex and I broke up was mixing the healthier brown rice with the conventional white stuff.  (He complained at first, but over time got used to it.  Same with my girls, though now if we make rice its just the brown.)  The same goes for pasta…mix it half and half.  Using more herbs also helps raise the taste quotient.
  5. Don’t be afraid to experiment with flavors and different recipes to keep from getting bored.  Just tonight I made enchiladas out of an organic rice, pepper, black bean mix, half a can of organic diced tomatoes with a can of chicken and some shredded organic cheese, filled spinach tortillas, covered them with a combination of the rest of the diced tomatoes and a can of tomato sauce, put a little bit of Tastefully Simple’s Simply Salsa, and more organic shredded cheese.  We hadn’t had enchiladas in years.  I served them with guacamole and instead of sour cream (since what we had in the fridge had turned) organic cottage cheese.  Miss J almost cleaned her plate…Miss M not so much, but I have 2 containers of leftovers in the freezer now.

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Sources

6 Tips to Clean Eating Success. April 10, 2013.   http://youputiton.com/5-tips-to-clean-eating-success/

Michaelis, Kristen. Why Canola Oil Is Not A Health Food. http://www.foodrenegade.com/why-canola-oil-not-health-food/

Recipe: Warm Lemon Water (and health benefits!). https://foodmingleblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/recipe-warm-lemon-water-and-health-benefits/

So NOW What Do I Eat???

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So now that you understand just how bad GMOs and most processed foods are for you, how do you go about changing things?  Committing to adopt a clean eating lifestyle isn’t as hard as it might seem, and as I was starting out I found an app for my iPhone that substantially helped.  The app is called “Buycott, ”  and how you use it is simple.  You put in the campaigns you care about, then scan the barcodes of the products you want to buy, and they tell you if the company supports your campaigns or to avoid the company.  For example, I’ve joined 34 campaigns, some of which include Demand GMO Labeling, No Monsanto, Coke Boycott For anti-GMO labeling Contributions, Buy Good Food & Avoid Bad Food, Buy Organic Brands That Support Your Right To Know, Avoid eating Toxic Artificial Trans Fats, Say No To Canola Oil, No MSG or Free Glutanic Acid in Our Food…..you get the idea.  (By the way, the maker’s of this app don’t know I’m posting this, and aren’t giving me anything for it.)

Before you even go to the store to start finding food for your new lifestyle, you need to clean out the junk.  Anything with artificial ANYTHING needs to go.  If you can’t pronounce it, chances are high that it shouldn’t be going in your mouth.  Its easier to stick to clean eating if you don’t have the bad-for-you stuff around to tempt you.  (I had it easy and did it when my girls were either at school or with their dad.)

When I was starting out with this process, I used my app CONSTANTLY.  At first my girls complained that I wouldn’t get snacks their father gets them, but when I showed them the app and explained what it shows and why I’m using it, they were ok.  Now, when my girls are shopping with me, they will come up to me holding something and say, “Is this ok to get?  What does your app say?”  Last night that happened again at Whole Foods (my favored grocery store that just opened up this summer in my area), and though there was poor coverage as I hadn’t signed on to the wifi, I could tell based on what the item was and the standards of Whole Foods it was ok.  That comes with time.

If you think you need to do this “all or nothing”, you WILL set yourself up to fail, and give up.  Its a transitional process, and “falling off the bandwagon” is completely ok…you can do it in stages if you want (30% clean/70% not, then 40/60, 50/50, etc.); just please don’t give up and go back.  Your body will feel better, you’ll be more energetic, and you will be more “present” in your life.

Next time, I’ll go through some steps that can make it easier to transition, how to keep from getting bored, and how to get your family on board.

THAT’S In My Food?!? Part 2

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The list of countries who have banned GMOs and things made with them continues to grow.  On Facebook today I saw that Slovenia and Serbia have joined the ranks.  I also learned that the American Academy of Pediatrics has cut their ties with Monsanto, which is VERY good news.  They are the same people who produced Agent Orange in the Vietnam War era, developed Saccharin which has been confirmed as a carcinogen (causes cancer).  They are also spending millions to fight GMO labeling.

Slight tangent aside, I’ve been listing things banned in many countries but still lining the grocery store shelves.  The next thing banned in the EU, Canada, and China but prolific in America is bread, rolls, biscuits, etc made with “enriched flour.”  The flour is enriched with potassium bromate.  The baking companies say that the brominated flour makes the dough better able to stand up to their bread hooks by being more elastic.  Seems harmless enough, right?  Not really; it has been linked to several problems…everything from cancer, kidney and nervous system damage, thyroid problems, and gastrointestinal discomfort.  Yuck.

Next comes a lovely muscle enhancer found in almost half the pigs, a third of the cows, and an unknown number of turkeys.  Its called ractopamine, and originally used to treat asthma, in 2013 Russia issued a long term ban on red meat and pork due to traces of this chemical.  They have joined the 160 countries across Europe, China and Taiwan.  Since 1998 more than 1700 people have been poisoned from eating pork from pigs fed this.  It affects the cardiovascular system in humans, causing chromosomal abnormalities, hyperactivity and behavioral changes.  The damage to cattle is more severe, including death and/or disability, and reduced reproductive function.

There are a few more, and more not necessarily banned but should be avoided.  I’ll get to those another time.

So its clear that there are LOTS of things to avoid putting in your body (and your kids).  Next post I’ll start talking about how to transition to a cleaner, healthier diet.  (Not diet in the sense of losing weight, but you will probably find yourself shedding pounds put on through eating the junk that the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association pushes.)

SOURCES 

10 Banned Foods Americans Should Stop Eating Infographic. November 30, 2014. http://complete-health-and-happiness.com/banned-foods/

20 Ingredients To Memorize And Avoid In ANY Food You Consume.  http://www.healthy-holistic-living.com/20-ingredients-to-avoid.html

Hari, Vani. Food Babe Investigates: How Food Companies Exploit Americans with Ingredients Banned in Other Countries. February 11, 2013. http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2013/02/11/food-companies-exploit-americans-with-ingredients-banned-in-other-countries/

Smith, Kim. Think You’re Eating Healthy? Think Again!   August 27, 2013. http://blogs.naturalnews.com/think-youre-eating-healthy-thinkagain/

 

 

THAT’S In My Food?!? Part 1

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Yesterday I started telling you about things that are banned across the globe, but are found in most every grocery store in America. I told you about 3 things then, and there are more than 7 more.  Listing them all would take several hours, and I know you don’t have the kind of time to read it all at once.  I’ve decided instead to break them up to a couple more posts.

Processed foods are more often than not what most families have for dinner.  Their convenience can’t be denied; after a long day at work coming home and making something healthy and nutritious is often beyond the scope of what parents are capable of.  (More on that in another post.)  Plus, there’s the kids complaining about whatever they have going on that day.  Getting dinner on the table…something they will eat…quickly is imperative.  All too often, that famous blue box of mac and cheese gets cooked….you might add some veggies and meat to make it more nutritious, but maybe not.

The thing is, that blue box is loaded with artificial flavors and colors, and other things besides.  All the artificial flavors, of which there are too many to name, ALL are made from chemicals and have absolutely ZERO nutritional value.  There are negative health impacts associated with every. single. one.  Artificial color is in almost everything these days.

Artificial color is MUCH worse.  What it is made of will make you decide never to it eat (or drink) ever again.  FD&C Red No. 40, or Tartrazine (a.k.a. Yellow No. 5)…any artificial food coloring…all are derived from petroleum. Yup….the same stuff that’s in your gas tank.  I don’t know about you, but that is something I don’t wnt my girls eating…nor do I want to!  These colors have been linked to behavioral issues, birth defects, and cancer as well.

So you think you can pick up a cooked chicken on the way home instead…how much can be done to a chicken?  Unfortunately….a LOT.  Arsenic-based drugs have been approved for use in chicken feed, so that they cause accelerated growth and make the meat appear fresher.  Though Pfizer has voluntarily stopped using these drugs, there are still many others on the market.  Chronic arsenic exposure has been linked to skin lesions, headaches, anemia, kidney damage and failure, low IQ, increased risk of diabetes, stillbirth, miscarriage, infant mortality, and low birth weight.

Usually, if you see something  in the ingredient list that is abbreviated, it’s a chemical compound made in a lab that has a detrimental effect on your health.  BHA is butylated hydroxyanisole; it’s known to cause cancer in rats and is suspected to be a human carcinogen as well.  BHT, or butylated hydroxytoluene, can cause organ system toxicity.  Both of these are in most breakfast cereal, meats, nut mixes, beer, dehydrated potatoes, chewing gum, and butter spread.

Olestra, AKA Olean, is a fat substitute developed by Proctor and Gamble and approved by the FDA in 1996.  It’s used in fat-free snacks, and is calorie- and cholesterol-free.  Rats fed chips with olestra in them ended up GAINING weight, and cramps, leaky bowels, and diarrhea.

I don’t know about you, but those things all make me think one thing…..EWWWW.  After I get through the list of things banned in other countries, yet readily available in most grocery stores across America, we’ll get to ways you can transition to healthier eating.

SOURCES

10 Banned Foods Americans Should Stop Eating Infographic. November 30, 2014. http://complete-health-and-happiness.com/banned-foods/

20 Ingredients To Memorize And Avoid In ANY Food You Consume.  http://www.healthy-holistic-living.com/20-ingredients-to-avoid.html

Hari, Vani. Food Babe Investigates: How Food Companies Exploit Americans with Ingredients Banned in Other Countries. February 11, 2013. http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2013/02/11/food-companies-exploit-americans-with-ingredients-banned-in-other-countries/

 

 

Are You Being Unknowingly Manipulated?

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Did you know there are several products commonly used in foods in this country that are BANNED in several others?  Is it any wonder then, that America has higher rates of several diseases than most other countries?  America spends 2.5 times more than any other nation on healthcare, yet compared to 16 other nations we come in at the youngest life expectancy for men and near that for women.

One third of Americans are obese, and another third overweight.  Almost one third of children are either overweight or obese.  Obesity is the second highest cause of premature death, and is linked to 70+ percent of both heart disease and diabetes cases.

It can’t be the case that THAT many people just don’t care about what they are eating.  It seems to me that the food industry  and big harms has been using us Americans as guinea pigs for their genetically engineered food (or other products, some of which I will tell you below).  The profits they make cause them to continue to mislead us, which causes big pharma to sell us more chemicals to treat the symptoms, rather than heal us.  This is a never ending downward spiral.

Genetically modified (or engineered) foods are chemically altered, splitting DNA and combining it with other types of foods or even nonfood.  (What I told my girls was to think of say an apple that has as part of it, say a cockroach.  Their reaction was as expected…ewww!)  What I didn’t realize until I was researching for this article, was that these GMO foods alter OUR DNA as well! Some of the GMO produce has pesticide IN it, so that pests who eat it die.  I understand the thinking.  However, that means consumers INGEST the pesticide, and it is changing our DNA and causing health problems.

Fine…you think.  We won’t eat it, but its ok for animal feed right?  Wrong.  Cows and sheep that had been eating cotton were fed GMO cotton and died, some as quickly as under a week later, some up to 30 days.  An autopsy showed severe inflammation on the internal organs, along with black spots.  Other animals have gone infertile eating GMO feed, or die from internal bleeding.

Many countries…with more being added daily…have decided to completely reject GMOs since they have not been proven safe.  More than two dozen now ban them, while 3 times that have labeling for genetically modified food.  Yet there are neither here in the richest country on earth.

So what other things are banned elsewhere but not here?  One is BVO, or Brominated Vegetable Oil.  This was originally patented as a flame retardant.  Today it is found in citrus drinks like Sunkist, Fresca, Fanta, and Mountain Dew, and my daughter’s favorite….Gatorade.  (They love the fruit punch Gatorade.  I used to LOVE Mountain Dew, and miss it!)  It has been shown to accumulate in human tissue and breast milk, and caused fertility issues in animal studies.  Additionally, it is linked to major organ damage, growth problems, and hearing loss.  It competes with iodine in the body, which can lead to iodine deficiency, hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, and cancer.

One more thing banned internationally but allowed here in the USA is milk and milk products that are laced with rGBH.  This is a man made equivalent to a hormone made in the cow’s pituitary gland, bovine somatotropin, which will increase milk production.  rGBH was developed by Monsanto from genetically engineered E. coli bacteria.  (I don’t know about you, but that’s not something I want in my body!)  In 1999, the UN Safety Agency decided unanimously not to endorse rGBH milk, which is what brought about the international ban on US milk.  rGBH exposure can lead to colorectal, prostate, and breast cancer.

There are many more, but I’ll tell you about them in my next posts.

 

Sources

10 Banned Foods Americans Should Stop Eating Infographic. November 30, 2014. http://complete-health-and-happiness.com/banned-foods/

Hari, Vani. Food Babe Investigates: How Food Companies Exploit Americans with Ingredients Banned in Other Countries. February 11, 2013. http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2013/02/11/food-companies-exploit-americans-with-ingredients-banned-in-other-countries/

Smith, Kim. Think You’re Eating Healthy? Think Again!   August 27, 2013. http://blogs.naturalnews.com/think-youre-eating-healthy-thinkagain/

 

Work-Life Balance Doesn’t Exist??

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There’s no such thing as a work-life balance.

Trying to “have it all” is a recipe for increased stress, potential health problems, and an unhappy life.  The best thing to do is to figure out what the three most important things in life to you are.  For me, those three are family, service to others, and wealth generation.  Figure out what you need to do for each of those 3 things, and focus on that.

When you do that, other things either fall away and become unimportant or fall into place.

Another thing that helps is merging work, home, and social calendars all into one.  Same for “To Do” lists.  They’re all part of life.  That way it will be easier to see and prioritize what needs to be done.  If you have a partner, share the list with them and see if there’s something they can help with.  If you have people working for you, delegate what you can to them.  That also means that some things may not get done EXACTLY like you would do them, but if its not one of your top 3 priorities, does it really matter??

When do you work best?  Some people are most productive early in the morning, while others work better after their kiddos go to bed.  Some people call that your “flow.”  Whatever works best for you, figure out when that is and how you can prioritize working then, and do it.

That also means giving yourself permission to NOT work when you’re not able to focus, even if it means something needs to be put off.  That doesn’t mean being lazy is ok, but if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to be there for anyone else.  Realistically though, if you’re having a hard time trying to figure out what you’re looking at means, how well are you going to be able to make decisions, or figure out how to say what you want to say?  So cut yourself some slack, and don’t force yourself to keep working if you just can’t focus and your head feels like it’s filled with cotton.

So to sum up, choose 3 min areas in life to focus your energy on, make one “to do” list, delegate, and work when you can do it best.  Try it and let me know your thoughts!

Balance Is…

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I think that many people…myself included…can get so wrapped up in whatever our focus is on that we forget the really basic stuff.  What life is really all about, and what matters most.  As Cinderella said in the movie released last year, “Have courage, and be kind.”

Have the courage to stand up for yourself and not be taken advantage of, abused, or deceived.  Know that you ARE special, and important; worthy of respect.  Be kind, gentle and trusting in the basic goodness of humanity at the same time.

When you’re coming out of an abusive situation, that can seem really daunting.  Knowing where to be kind and when to put your foot down (albeit gently) is a challenge.

Never stop trying to improve yourself and your situation, yet be content with what you have.  (Keeping up with the neighbors is sooo overrated.)  That seems paradoxical, but really it’s not.

The car I used to have when I was with my girls’ dad had a remote car starter in it.  On cold winter mornings, it. was. awesome.  I’d go to the window by the driveway about 10 minutes before it was time to leave, and when we went out, the windshield was clear of ice, the car was never frozen shut, and it was nice and warm inside.  The car I’m driving now doesn’t have one though.  Do I want to get one before this winter sets in?  You bet!  Am I going to go into debt though, just so I can have the convenience?  Hardly.  I managed last winter without it too.

Finding The Gratitude

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How many times have you given your kids a chance to do something nice, like stay up to watch a favored show on a Friday night, only to have them turn into terrors when its time for bed?  Every time, you end up SWEARING that THIS is the LAST time they are going to do it, then letting them have another chance.  (You think that maybe they’ll be so tired they just go to sleep.  Problem is, they’re soo overtired they get out of control.)  Yup….happens to me most Friday nights…especially when they will be going to their father’s the next day.  (As I type this, one is in their bunk bed reading and the other is in my bed.)  Night’s like tonight make me lose sight (until after they go to sleep) of the great things they do every day.  Here are some of the gems…

Miss M informed me she had gathered her skirt into a ponytail behind her so that when she was outside playing with the neighbor kids on their scooter, so the skirt wouldn’t get caught in the wheels.

Miss J choosing to fix the laundry sorter next to the washer all by herself as it was coming apart.

Miss M reading almost all of Fox in Socks by herself (she’s just 2 weeks into first grade, and she did this over the summer).

Miss J taking it upon herself to pick up all the spilled beads up in the playroom…TWICE…without being asked to.

Back a few years ago, when their father and I started living in separate houses, Miss M gave me back a sorcerer Mickey Mouse doll I had given her years before that, so I would have someone to cuddle at night.

Miss J, in a rare moment, deciding she wanted Mommy cuddle time.  (She’s 9 now, but the tween years are starting early I think.)

Needless to say, I love them both “to the moon and back”.  My gratitude for them is easy to find when I think of these or other things they do.  I would love to hear some of your comments of things your kids do too!

 

5 Ways To Make Gratitude A Part Of Your Life

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Gratitude is one of the sweet shortcuts to finding peace of mind and happiness inside.  No matter what’s going on outside of us, there’s always something to be grateful for.                           Barry Neil Kaufman

That may seem kind of Pollyanna -ish.  As I said in an earlier post, the more you look for the positive in life, the more you see.  But how do you actively, practically do that?  Here are a few ideas.

One thing I have done in the past was to have a gratitude jar for every family member, and every night we would write something we were grateful for that day on a slip of paper.  It could be something as silly as they were grateful for their new shoes, or something like they were grateful for their sister helping them, or that I got my paper finished early.  Then, after these slips of paper filled the jar, they would be able to look through it when they felt sad.

The next time you have something negative happening, ask yourself “What is a possible positive side effect of this?”  This is a difficult one to do very often in the moment, but being able to step back and find something is often all it takes to pull the stress and strain out of the situation.  It also allows you to be grateful for the circumstance.

People who make a practice of giving back in some way, whether its working in a soup kitchen, volunteering at a shelter, volunteering at a boys and girls club, etc. are often more gratitude filled.  Giving back to those you can help in order to lift them up brings so many rewards.  Those you help are grateful for the help, and your life is enriched through giving.  Its really a win-win.

Put little reminders around your home.  I have a small sign I bought that says “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.”  It sits next to my dining room table on top of a cabinet; I can see it from over here in the living room on the couch.

Try to do at least one random act of kindness daily.  Give that harried mom in the store an encouraging smile and comment.  Hold the door for someone with their hands full.  If you can, buy the person behind you their cup of coffee.  Give up your seat on the bus or subway.  Drop off a donation at a homeless or animal shelter.  The same effect happens as for those who give back.

Who Do You Choose?

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Do you find yourself purposely shrinking what you feel or who you are, just to fit in?  Are you allowing other people’s opinions of who and what you should be make you suffer and different than who you truly are?

Trying to be liked and cared for is all well and good, until it changes you.  Thats what happened to me.  Have you ever heard the story of how to prevent a frog from jumping out of the pot its being cooked in?  You ever so gradually turn up the temperature of the water, so that it doesn’t realize its too hot until its too late.

Thats how I ended up in the worse second marriage.  He turned the control and abuse on so gradually I didn’t realize it.  I had actually gotten him a t-shirt early on in our marriage that said “control freak” and had different types of controllers on it, so maybe a part of me did recognize it in him; I just didn’t think it was as bad as it was.

After a few years, lots of heartache, and couples as well as individual counseling, I decided to go back to school online for a masters degree.  I’d been a stay at home mom for several years, and I decided I needed the interaction with other adults.  If I was going to go back in the work force, I felt I needed to further my education so I could be more attractive to prospective employers.

What going back to school did for me was give me the self confidence to know that I don’t need to change the person I am, just to be someone else’s idea of what a worthy human being is.  To paraphrase Daniel Keopke, I AM worthy, and not just because some says I am.  I am a human being, therefore I matter.  My feelings matter.  My thoughts matter.  My feelings matter.  What I have to say matters.  I don’t need anyone’s approval or permission to speak my truth.  Even if it makes people uncomfortable or angry, I can and will continue to speak my truth.  Its ok to refuse to shrink.  To choose to take up space.  To choose to acknowledge and honor my feelings.  To give myself permission to do what I need to in order to get my needs met.  To choose me.

If you’re finding yourself shrinking yourself down, I am giving you the permission you need to be your true authentic self.  You will be so much happier, and have lower stress, when you are.