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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Healthy Eating and Living Tips

It has been almost a year and a half since my last blog post.  Sad, I know!

Over the past few months, I've been asked quite a few times for nutrition and health information.  It's no secret to those who know me that I spend a lot of my free time reading blogs, books, articles and other information about health and food.  It's a passion of mine, and I always like to share my learnings with others to help them live better lives.  I just recently pulled together a brain dump of information following a request from a family member.  After typing it all up, I thought this info might be helpful to others, and my blog was a good place to post it!

Let me know what you think and if you have any other tips to share with others about how you eat and live healthy.

My top tips for eating healthier for anyone:
  • Go for fresh, unprocessed food
  • Stay away from fast food
  • Buy organic as much as you can
  • Eat less meat.  Not only is it expensive, but studies have shown eating less meat is healthier for you.  Even eating it two less days per week brings big health benefits.
  • Reduce or eliminate dairy consumption.  Many people have lactose problems and don't realize how much pasteurized dairy inflames the body.
  • Reduce or eliminate gluten consumption.  I have helped many people solve their health issues by cutting out gluten completely.  You would be amazed at how many people have health issues (migraines, rashes, eczema, canker sores, digestive problems, join pain, fatigue) from eating gluten.  The wheat of today has much more gluten in it than wheat of decades ago, and some think this is causing more and more people to have gluten sensitivity or intolerance.
  • Stay away from artificial anything - colors, flavors, sweeteners
  • Buy in bulk - the bulk bins are your friends and full of healthy foods that are cheap.  Think of oatmeal, dried beans, peas, seeds, nuts and other grains.
  • Stay away from packaged foods.  They are more expensive and full of preservatives and chemicals.
  • Eat like someone would have eaten 100 years ago.  Fresh, local and homemade.
  • Take the time to cook and prepare your food.  Make batches of soups, stews, salads, and sauces on the weekend and enjoy them throughout the week.

Remove the following food ingredients from your home NOW.  Absolutely no exceptions:
  • Trans fats (partially hydrogenated oil)
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Artificial sweeteners - Splenda (sucralose), Equal, Sweet & Low, aspartame, etc.  You'll find this in yogurts, diet drinks, gum, etc.
  • Margarine (full of trans fats, rancid GMO oils, other bad crap.  It's not really food)
  • Foods with nitrates.  This includes cold cuts, hot dogs, bacon
  • Corn oil or non-organic Canola oil (these are both GMO = bad news)
  • Farm-raised fish - full of PCBs
  • Soy anything - fake soy meat, soy crisps, tofu (soy is not a health food!).  It raises your estrogen levels and risk of breast cancer and more.
  • Anything that says "Diet" on it - if it says that, it's probably full of artificial sweeteners and chemical junk!
Once you've gotten past those "worst offender" items, my next phase of removal would be:
  • White bread/white rice
  • Soda - this should only be a treat, and never diet soda
  • Skim milk (at this point, the milk is a "food-like substance".  It is so processed, it's not good for you anymore).  If you are going to drink milk, try to find raw milk.  If you can't find that, try to find an organic milk from pastured cows.  In general, cow's milk isn't good for human consumption, and most people have issues digesting lactose.
  • Non-organic meats
  • Regular eggs 
  • Packaged juices - orange, grapefruit, etc. (they are all pasteurized and no longer beneficial.  All the good stuff has been killed by heat!)
  • Imported shrimp - full of contaminants
  • Any non-organic produce in the dirty dozen list:
  • Agave - contrary to popular belief, this is not a healthy sweetener.  It's just as bad as high fructose corn syrup
  • High sodium, prepared foods - frozen dinners, canned soups, canned broths
  • Cereals.  Most cereals from the big brands (Kellogg's, General Mills, etc.) are full of GMO (genetically modified organisms.)  Most of the corn and soy in the US is GMO, unless it's organic.  Most of the sweeteners in the US (such as high fructose corn syrup) are all made with GMO corn.  If you are going to eat cereal, make sure it's organic and does not have soy in it.  Soy is awful for you, and they sneak it in everywhere they can!  Kashi cereals are notorious for their use of soy and GMO corn in their cereals.

What you should make sure you have in your house for healthy foods
  • Organic coconut oil or Avocado oil - for cooking and frying
  • Pastured, organic butter - for cooking and frying
  • Himalayan or sea salt - full of beneficial minerals
  • Wild-caught fish - Salmon, Halibut, Cod
  • Pastured, organic eggs
  • Pastured, organic meat (grass fed is best - it has more omega-3 fatty acids and is much better for you)
  • Unsweetened coconut or almond milk in place of dairy milk
  • Raw cheese
  • Organic fruits and vegetables
  • Raw nuts and seeds (roasted nuts have many of their vitamins and minerals depleted)
  • Oatmeal
  • Fresh-squeezed juice
  • Raw honey and maple syrup for sweeteners.  For granulated sweeteners, organic evaporated cane juice or sucanat
  • Quinoa, brown rice, brown rice pasta, quinoa pasta (I've found that many people have reactions and inflammation from products containing gluten.  Eating gluten-free grains seems to benefit many people)
  • Unsweetened yogurt - just add fruit and sunflower seeds or flax.  Yogurt is full of beneficial probiotics.  
  • Another good source of probiotics is sauerkraut, but it has to be the kind that's kept in the refrigerated section in the grocery store.  Any sauerkraut that you buy that's shelf stable has been pasteurized and has killed all the good bacteria.
  • Low sodium broths - look for the ones in the septic packages, rather than cans.  The canned ones have BPA in them from the can linings.
  • Canned, low-sodium beans.  Look for Eden brand.  They don't use BPA in their can linings.
  • Pomi tomatoes - they come in the septic packages, rather than cans.  The acid in the tomatoes eats the BPA off the linings of canned tomatoes, and you don't want that!
  • Dried beans, lentils, peas.  Great for soups, stews, etc.
  • If you're like me and must chew gum, get Glee Gum!  It's all natural and made with real mint.
Beneficial Supplements
  • Most vitamins you find in a typical drugstore are all synthetic and cannot be processed by the body.  They end up doing more harm than good.
  • If you want to supplement a healthy diet, I recommend food-based options or non-processed supplements:
    • Probiotics - I like Dr. Mercola's or Dr. Ohhira's
    • Fish Oil - Carlson's Lemon Flavored Cod Liver Oil is good
  • Ground flax seed - great for omega-3 fatty acids
  • Cinnamon - helps to regulate insulin levels.  Add it on your fruit or oatmeal
  • Maca root powder - add to smoothies for helping with engergy and stress
General Home Well-Being
  • Ditch your air fresheners - they are just spewing chemicals into your air
  • Get rid of your plastic shower curtain.  It's also spewing chemicals into your air.  Just get a fabric one instead.  The other benefit is you can put it in the washing machine!
  • Stick with natural cleaners.  I use Seventh Generation and Method.  You can also make your own, if you're so inclined, with vinegar, baking soda and other household items.  I can give you recipes if you want them.
  • Look at your personal care products.  Get rid of anything containing parabens.  They are hormone disruptors.  You'll find them in lotions, conditioners, makeup, etc.
  • Get rid of fluoride toothpastes and rinses.  Fluoride is toxic!  Try Tom's of Maine or Kiss My Face Fluoride-free toothpastes instead.
  • If you burn candles, look for soy wax or bee's wax.
  • Stay away from plastics in the kitchen.  For food storage, use glass.  Get rid of plastic cooking utensils and use wood or bamboo instead.
  • Stay away from non-stick cookware.  Use stainless steel, glass, cast iron or enameled cookware instead.
Here are some Web sites, books and other reference items you might find helpful:

Vegan sites:
Happy Herbivore
Happy Herbivore Abroad is a great cookbook

Dr. Fuhrman
Two good books by him are Eat to Live and Eat for Health

Raw Sites:
Choosing Raw

Ani Phyo
Ani's Raw Food Essentials is a great book

Health/Well Being:
Dr. Mercola: (he can be a bit extreme at times, but has good information)
Rodale News:
Natural News: (again, sometimes extreme, but has good alternative, homeopathic information)

Mark's Daily Apple:
Joyful Abode:
Against All Grain:
He Won't Know it's Paleo:
Paleo Mom:


Books - Local eating and and understanding the food supply system in the US:
Any book by Michael Pollan.  In Defense of Food and An Omnivore's Dilemma were my favorites.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Movies to watch:
Supersize Me:
Forks Over Knives: