Thursday, August 5, 2010

Healthy Living 2: Healthy Eating

Last week I began the 3-part Healthy Living series for returning to the basics to achieve overall physical and mental health, and covered "Read the Label." This series is intended to remind you that everything you need to be healthy is within your reach, and to act now for your long-term health rather than re-acting later to any health issues that arise.

In addition to being proactive about what you put ON your body (as discussed in Read the Label), it's imperative you do the same WITHIN. But in this day and age, our society doesn't exactly make that easy on us, with quick, easy options at our fingertips that seem on the surface to be healthy, often we make the wrong choice without even knowing it, and even more often, without knowing what the true healthy alternative is.

Clause: I'm no nutritionist or medical practitioner, but I find it frustrating that those two jobs are rarely combined. What is written below is from my personal research, years of my own healthy eating, and listening to my own gurus. I urge you to choose your own path, find what natural solutions are right for you, and always listen to your own gut.

In 1980 I learned a very valuable fact/lesson that I literally never put into practice, and still struggle with today, 30 years later. Fact: Coca Cola DISSOLVES copper pennies. Lesson: it will do that to your intestines. Coke and Pepsi have spent decades on marketing that avoids this lesson, yet the fact remains. Somewhere in my late 20s I realized that when I drank a soda, my intestine had this weird fluttering twitch and I could no longer ignore the fact that still haunted me from elementary school.

But bottom line is, it's not the soda that does this. It's the laundry list of nasty ingredients in these products, the first of which is High Fructose Corn Syrup. Which hits the physical system like an adrenalin shot of sugar, and in 60 minutes, your energy level is down below your norm. Wellness Coach Nick Hodgson explains it well in his blogpost on Coke. But it's not just Coca Cola, this applies to Diet Coke as well, and you know this.

In fact, remove the word "diet" from your vocabulary right now; everyone cringes at that word, and everyone has their own version of "healthy diets." I am certainly NOT saying cut out everything that makes you happy. This is in essence, contradictory to the "Healthy Living" topic, as being happy is central to being healthy. But the point is that Diet Coke is no more "healthy" than regular Coke. So let's just lose the word diet right now.

Instead, look for the alternatives as if it were a healthy challenge, and once you find them, sitck with them for a few months (3-6). Then go back to Coke, tell me if it still makes you feel good.

For healthy, natural soda seek out Hansen, Blue Sky, IZZE, Jones, and Ginger Brew to name just a few. Make sure the label says "cane sugar," has no coloring, and most of all, tastes good. (Recycle the can of course.) You can also choose natural juice and mix it with straight soda water to make your own, but remember that 64-80 ounces of water a day will keep your insides moving healthily! Avoid corn syrup in everything if possible, but especially the high fructose kind.

Since this isn't meant to be just about drinks (got side tracked!), other healthy choices for "American Living" include:
  • Choose chocolate to replace unnatural candies (no brainer!).
  • Replace your white sugar intake with cane sugar or honey (HUGE! White sugar is bad for your blood, digestion, caloric intake, bones, liver... on and on)
  • Use olive oil instead of Canola Oil (HUGE! Honestly, please take everything that is genetically engineered OUT of your kitchen!)
  • Choose organic when you can, but buying veg at a farmers market is actually better for you than buying organic at Giant, Safeway, or Albertsons. Do your research- Where does your food come from-IE how far does it travel? Is it picked pre-ripening and does it ripen in a truck? Does their organic stamp refer to pesticides or soil? All these factors equate to your overall health as well, believe it or not. Buy local when possible, eat in season, and freeze some vegetables for winter months.
  • Remove "hollow" foods from your kitchen all together; these are foods with no nutritional value whatsoever, "junk food," like Twinkies, M&Ms, etc. Replace with healthy snacks like apples and nuts. By removing temptation, and replacing with food that makes you feel good, you will begin to lose the need or temptation for "junk." I promise you will eventually notice that Twinkies don't make you feel good, no matter how good they taste.
  • Listen to the gurus of healthy eating and make changes slowly, but stick with them. Such as: cooking with olive oil, baking meat instead of frying it, using fresh or frozen herbs instead of dried, eating more raw foods than cooked ones, etc.
  • Don't buy anything that says "homogenized" or "pasteurized" if you can.
  • For added health, supplement your diet with vitamins, Kombucha, ProBiotics, WheatGrass, protein powder, etc.

Last, learn what absolutely doesn't agree with you, since we are individuals, and listen to that. Many people get red cheeks from alcohol or strawberries without realizing it's an allergic reaction. Listen to your body. Many people get migraines and don't look at their diet as a solution or symptom. I have cut wheat out of my diet because of arthritis and psoriasis, and wish I'd figured that out decades ago. What you put in your body always reflects how well it performs. Always; no different from your car, except your body is priceless and irreplaceable. Take care of it!

Keep reading: Healthy Living 3: Environment

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