Proteins That Pack a Punch

When I say protein, I know most immediately think “meat.”  I’m not just talking about meat!  Protein is found in far more than meat so, for the sake of this discussion, I hope you will not simply note the information provided here to be a recommendation to “eat more meat,” as it most certainly is not!  Eating too much meat can have many serious health consequences.

Many like to treat animal protein as far superior to plant protein because of it’s complete amino acid profile.  However, the body doesn’t just absorb whole proteins and add them to muscle mass.  It has to break them down into their amino acids to construct its own proteins.  While we won’t delve too deep here, know that proteins that don’t get broken down completely can birth inflammation and disease while too much animal protein can do also be harmful to the bones, teeth, kidneys and other vital organs.

Protein is not only essential for muscle mass, but also for spurring on a plethora of physiological processes (as enzymes that break down food and catalyze reactions; as antibodies that fight off foreign invaders). While carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel source (see our article on Carbohydrates:  Foods that Fuel), protein can also satisfy the body’s energy needs and will in fact do so over the body using it for protein synthesis.

Protein is calorically dense but because proteins are harder for the body to break down than starches, it is not quite as efficient as an energy source as carbohydrates.  This is why high-protein/low-carb diets are such a trend.  The body burns more energy attempting to convert protein to energy, thereby aiding in weight loss or so is the theory but it has to be understood that carbohydrates are necessary to support this energy conversion process.  The lack of adequate carbohydrates is why most find that they’re diet/weightloss efforts come to a screeching halt as the body lacks the resources needed to convert alternative energy sources from amino acids/proteins and fats.

It should be thoroughly noted: more protein does not necessarily equal more weight loss.  Animal proteins are often packaged with excessive fats and other health hazards.  Even too much of the leaner cuts can still lead to weight gain as an excess of calories is an excess of calories (energy which gets converted and stored as fat).  This may only be worsened as an excess of animal protein can cause acidity and constipation, which stalls weight loss and health efforts.

For many looking to consume more protein out of a desire to increase visible muscle mass, remember: a lack of muscle mass is more commonly due to lack of demand placed on those muscles than a lack of resources for them.  Simply consuming protein will not in itself, increase muscle mass. There must be a demand placed on those muscles for the body to determine it must make them larger to perform the tasks demanded of it.  The body is incredibly efficient.  If nothing is signaling to it that it needs more muscle, it won’t build it.  On that same line of thought, a lack of muscle mass is not always indicative of inadequate protein intake.

All this considered, proteins are an essential part of a healthy diet and should be gathered from a variety of sources.  Just as not all sugars are created equal, so is the same with protein.  There are healthful and unhealthful sources.  For example, a steak may be loaded with protein but may also be loaded with saturated fats.  Ham may be loaded with protein but also overloaded with fat and salt (not to mention the parasites…).  It’s important that you seek to get your proteins from the healthiest, cleanest sources possible to help your family maintain a healthy weight and an overall healthy body.

Proteins are found in every cell of the body, in bones, skin, hair, muscles and every other body part and tissue.  They give us the enzymes that power a multitude of chemical reactions throughout the body and the hemoglobin that transports oxygen in our blood.  It takes at least 10,000 different proteins to build and sustain you!  It’s certainly worthwhile to be sure you’re getting the best sources possible.

Sources

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Proteins are comprised of amino acids.  These amino acids are found in every whole food, in varying amounts and proportions.  Fruits, vegetables, grains, greens, nuts, seeds, meat, poultry, fish and dairy all contain amino acids. In animal products, the proteins are generally considered “complete” only meaning that all of the amino acids needed for protein synthesis are present.  Essentially, the animal you are consuming has harvested all of the amino acids for you.

Plant-based proteins are often considered “incomplete” only because most individual plant sources do not contain all of the amino acids needed to make protein in that one single source (though there are some “complete” plant protein sources, such as hemp).  However, these amino acids can be easily acquired by eating a variety of healthful, plant-based foods.  THIS DOES NOT MAKE PLANT PROTEINS INFERIOR TO ANIMAL PROTEINS.  It only means that you should aim for diversity among sources which you should be doing with your diet anyways.

HERE’S THE FACT:  Protein deficiency in the United States and most of the world is incredibly rare!  Deficiencies are typically seen in parts of the world where starvation is a real issue.  Most people, especially in the United States would need NO ADDED PROTEINS in adopting most any exercise protocol.  Most people are already consuming more than enough protein to support the growth of muscle mass WITHOUT added supplements, protein shakes, and extra chicken with their chicken.

On a personal note, if I’m going to have a (plant-based) protein shake, it would be either pre-workout where I don’t want to heavy my stomach with a full meal, or post-workout when I’m on the go and won’t likely be eating for a while.  (Post-workout is actually a perfect time to grab a Complete Shake while the muscles are primed and ready to rebuild and replenish nutrient levels.)  Protein rich foods and beverages can be great for staving off hunger and promoting the rebuild – just be sure you don’t get caught up in the head game of “I exercised therefore I need more protein.”  What you do really need post-workout are carbohydrates.   Not a ton, but consuming some within an hour of working out is great for restoring glycogen levels in the muscles so they’re ready to rock again when you are.

It was once thought foods had to be properly combined in one meal for the body to utilize those amino acids in protein production (such as in combining beans and rice).   This has since been found to be false.  While they can be consumed this way, the body will acquire amino acids throughout the day and assemble them as needed.

Essential vs. Non-Essential Amino Acids

What’s also key to understand here is the difference between essential and non-essential amino acids.  An essential amino acid is one that we must get from food. The “non-essentials” are not un-needed, but are those that don’t have to be acquired from our diet as the body can convert other present amino acids into the ones it needs to comprise the proteins.  (Didn’t God just make you so awesome?!).

While many try to depict plant protein as being “inferior” to animal proteins, nature shows us this is simply not true.  The largest animals on the planet (elephants, giraffes, cattle, etc.) only eat plants. Even the omnivores we’re most closely biologically acquainted with, such as gorillas, only eat enough small animals, eggs and lizards to comprise about 1% of their diet.  The rest of the proteins that build up these powerful creatures all comes from plants.

Don’t Get Duped!

While I am not trying to tell you to not eat meat, I do want you to see that your family can get loads of clean protein from healthful plant sources.  Quite frankly, I’ve had enough of the marketing schemes and tactics employed by the meat and dairy industry duping family’s out of their health and into doctor’s offices and pharmacies.

There are many myths and misunderstandings surrounding digestibility and bio-availability, nutritional needs and more so be mindful when reading articles telling you why you should be eating more protein, as well as in recommendations as to which kind.  Our capitalist culture places the burden on the consumer to consider who is making the recommendations and why.  Too much of even a good thing can be bad for you.

These industries would have us believe that we really have to make an effort to get enough protein, (i.e., that we should buy their products to aid us in our deep need).  Protein deficiency, especially in America, is ridiculously rare. Even the CDC states that most Americans get more than enough protein and should be more focused on an overall healthy eating plan that consequently incorporates plenty of proteins along with many other essential nutrients.   Again, excessive amounts of animal protein have been linked to numerous diseases and health problems.  If you’re looking to boost overall proteins, look at ways you can broaden your nutritional horizons and get them from whole food plant sources that will simultaneously boost your intake of healthy fiber and other key nutrients/phytonutrients.

For now, look to acquire your protein from a wide variety of lean, nutritious sources but fret not over acquiring enough.  Be sure to incorporate plenty of beans, greens and other plant sources such as hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds, asparagus, cauliflower, peanuts, mung bean sprouts, almonds, spinach, broccoli and quinoa to get a broad array of amino acids and other amazing health benefits!

11 Ways to Better Immunity

Hippocrates, known as the “father of medicine,” is known for saying “Let thy food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be thy food.”

While some believe catching colds in cold season is just what you do, we love that you know there are some things you can do to fortify your family.   …cause an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.

*Please seek the advice of a health professional prior to self-treating any illness with medicinal herbs.

1. Raw Foods

Raw foods are chock full of enzymes and vitamins that can be damaged or destroyed completely by heat.  Many people today eat very little fruits and vegetables, and even less are eating these in their natural state.  Consuming more raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds gives the body more of a fighting edge as they help to optimize the overall health of the body while strengthening its resilience.  While some foods are made more palatable and/or digestible by cooking, most fruits and vegetables can be turned into gorgeous, colorful, delectable dishes with no heat in no time.

2. Probiotics & Prebiotics

Health experts estimate that anywhere from 60-80% of your immune work happens in the gut.  An unhealthy gut can put the body in overload mode and make it more susceptible to sickness.  Many parents have had great success in boosting their children’s immunity by including prebiotics and probiotics in their diets.  Probiotics are the “good bacteria” found in the intestines that kill the bad bacteria.  It is especially important to replenish probiotics in the digestive tract if you’ve used antibiotics, which kill the good bacteria with the bad.  Prebiotics are a special form of dietary fiber that nourishes the probiotics in the gut.  Supplements can be purchased that contain both, however, you can also give those tummies a regular boost through simple, everyday foods.

Probiotics:  Make sure the food/beverage you are purchasing for these contain LIVE CULTURES.  Probiotics can be destroyed by heat and time. So, the fresher, the better.  Its good to get an array of good gut flora (different strains will be listed with the ingredients).  Find these in kefir (milk, water or juice), yogurt, kombucha, fermented juices (no, I’m not telling you to pour jr. a glass of wine.  Many grocers now carry juices with live cultures for gut health); raw cheese, and other raw fermented foods, like sauerkraut, beet kvass and others.  Again, be sure the product was not pasteurized post-fermentation.  Many companies do this to yield a product with the right flavor and a longer shelf life.  Probiotics are living organisms that are useless to you dead.

Prebiotics: This is another area where raw foods are key.  Raw foods, such as bananas, garlic and asparagus are all excellent sources of the undigestible fibers that promote the growth of probiotics in the intestines.

3. Elderberry (Sambucus)

Known for being loaded powerful antioxidants and immune boosting properties, elderberry has long ranked high on the list of go-to remedies for health professionals and moms alike.  Elderberry has been used for centuries for coughs, colds, flus, bacterial and viral infections and tonsilitis.  Its bioflavanoids and other proteins are said to diminish/destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect the body’s cells.  Israel’s Hasassah’s Oncology Lab has determined that elderberry stimulates the body’s immune system so efficiently that they’re using it to treat cancer and AIDS patients with it.

Elderberry is sold as a tasty syrup for kids and adults.  Our favorite is Nature’s Way Sambucus with Echinacea.  We keep this stuff on hand for a quick immune boost when around others who are sick or at the first sight of infection.  If you happen to be thinking about making your own, please note, the berries of certain cultivars of this plant can be toxic when eaten raw.  Elderberries should be cooked down for safety, digestibility and palatability.

4. Echinacea

A well known immune booster, echinacea can be purchased as a tea, tincture, supplement or syrup.  The University of Maryland reports that several studies suggest echinacea contains substances that boost immune function, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and have hormonal, antiviral and antioxidant effects, making it potentially useful for urinary tract infections, yeast infections, ear infections, hay fever, sinusitis, athlete’s foot, and slow-healing wounds.

Caution: Those with allergies to ragweed, chrysanthemums or marigolds should exercise caution when considering echinacea as it may trigger an allergic reaction.  Caution should also be exercised by individual’s taking immunosuppressant medication.

5. Garlic

Garlic has been used for centuries for treating a host of ailments.  It was used to prevent gangrene in the soldiers of both World Wars.  It has been used as an antiseptic and applied to wounds to prevent infection.  It is rich in antioxidants to fight off free radicals and is commonly used to kill parasites and boost the immune system, amongst many other ailments.

Raw garlic, not cooked or dried, is most beneficial for health, since heat and water inactivate sulfur enzymes, which can diminish garlic’s antibiotic effects.

6. Vitamin D3

Crucial for bone health and immunity, the body produces this when exposed to sunlight.  15 minutes a day can do wonders for people with lighter skin.  Darker skin types may require more exposure to produce sufficient amounts of Vitamin D.  D3 levels can run low in the winter but may be adequately restored by stepping into the sun with the face and hands exposed.  Vitamin D3 can also be purchased as a supplement in capsule form or in a small dissolvable tablet.

Vitamin D can also be obtained through mushrooms, eggs, dairy products and many flesh foods.

7. Joy

One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is the gift of joy.  Chronic low-joy environments are associated with many things we will be talking about in the future but, for the sake of this article, let’s just talk about how it relates to our bodies’ ability to ward off disease.  Studies consistently show links between mental/emotional disposition and health.  Pessimism, depression, constant frustrations, a negative environment – all of these things way on the whole person and make the body more susceptible to disease.  Same goes for our kids.  Joy and laughter support a healthy mind and healthy body.  Don’t resist the opportunity to enjoy a good laugh and make memories you and your children will enjoy for a lifetime.

8. Water

With an estimated 90% of the population chronically dehydrated, this point certainly warrants the space.  Water is critical for good heath, especially when it comes to immunity.  Water oxygenates blood, flushes out toxins, supports lymph production (critical in immune response), keeps eyes and mouth clean, aids digestion and assimilation, prevents and aids many chronic ailments.  As much as possible, spring waters and home-filtered waters should chosen over municipal water thats often laden with a toxic excess of flouride, as well as chemical disinfecting agents and other chemicals that are less than supportive to the immune system.

9. Exercise 

Exercise works wonders for the body, including boosting immunity.  Our bodies have more lymph than blood but, unlike the blood flowing through the heart, the lymphatic system has no pump.  The lymphatic system is responsible for transporting white blood cells to fight infection.  The lymphatic system relies on your body movement.  Do your kids seem bounce everywhere like mine do?  While there’s a time and a place for all things, I try not to dissuade them when I can help it as bouncing is one of the best ways to get lymph moving through the body.  Even a steady, gentle bounce on a small rebounder can be of great benefit.

10. Rest 

While I know you’re busy and life has more demands coming at you than you can shake a stick at, hear me when I tell you – you’ve got to make time for rest.  It is crucial that you not only get your 7-8 hours sleep a night but that you also set aside a day to take it easy each week.  I’m a mom too.  I totally get it.  I’ve struggled with this more times than I can count and it doesn’t take long for it to catch up with me either. The body has to have time to cleanse and repair itself and it needs rest to do this.  This is especially true for children as they have the added demand of growing and learning so much.

11. Sweets 

I know, this is the tough one for so many and kids especially love their sweets but avoiding sugary foods is especially important for the immune system.  Studies have shown that sugar consumption can inhibit the immune system for upwards to 6 hours after eating it!  Boost the immune system with naturally sweet substitutes.  If “super-sweet” is a “must,” try dates (especially Medjools).  They are especially good with a touch of almond/nut butter smeared down the center and can totally satisfy a craving for a decadent dessert with only a few.  Stevia can also help to decrease sugar consumption without the threat of mutiny for suddenly removing sugar from the household.

Carbohydrates:  Foods that Fuel

Learning basic keys to carbohydrates is a great way to learn how you can best help fuel the family through the day in a way that keeps energy and nutrition to a max!

Carbohydrates are plant-based energy – they break down quickly and easily into sugars to provide the body with the fuel it needs to keep up with life.  At least 50-60% of your diet should be comprised of good, healthy carbohydrates.  Many people have falsely come to the belief that “carbs are bad.”  Low-carb diets are a go-to for many looking to lose weight fast but does this leave the person any healthier or energetic in the long-run?

Your body needs carbohydrates but to understand which to enjoy and which to avoid, we simply need to understand a couple of simple distinguishments.

Natural vs. Refined Carbohydrates

Some may think “What’s the difference in the carbs I get from this sandwich and what you get from that soup, or the carbs I get from these fries in contrast to the ones you get from that salad?”  Not all carbs and sugars are created equal. The natural carbohydrates found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans produce a healthful, clean energy while also providing us with vital nutrients and fiber.  Those found in processed foods, white breads and other refined products are often lacking in nutrients and can be flat riddled with toxins. They are also often accompanied by excessive amounts of fat, salt and added sugars which makes them even more harsh on the body.

In other words, a 400 calorie plate of roasted vegetables and brown rice may be just what you need to put that pep back in your step while the same calories from a side of fries can leave you longing for the sofa.  Same goes for eating 400 calories of fruit in contrast to 400 calories worth of candy.  Refined carbohydrates include white breads, refined sugars and are found in the vast majority of processed foods.  Natural carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes/beans.

Excellent choices include whole grains such as farro, barley, buckwheat and steel cut oats in place of store bought breads and pastas.  Opt for fresh or frozen fruits over jammed, canned and packaged sources.

Simple vs. Complex Carbohydrates

Now that we’ve settled that you’re only going to eat the good kinds of carbohydrates, which ones are going to give you the most or best fuel?

Complex carbohydrates take longer for your body to break down, providing more sustained energy. This means, you have what it takes to get from breakfast to lunch, and from lunch to dinner without feeling drained.  Good complex carbohydrates to enjoy often are: brown/whole grain rice (not white or “quick” rices), steel cut or thick cut old-fashioned oats, quinoa, barley, farro, any kind of beans, peas and lentils.  If consuming store-bought breads, look for organic 100% whole grain bread (I personally like Ezekiel sprouted grain breads) or an alternative that aligns with your dietary needs and preferences.

Simple carbohydrates are the body’s most easily assimilated fuel source as the body is able to more rapidly metabolize them.  This group is comprised primarily of fruits and vegetables but may also include foods like honey and maple.  These are my go-to’s throughout the day to keep me fueled for a fast-paced day.  While complex carbohydrates take longer to break down, I can generally feel a noticeable difference in my energy level within 15-25 minutes of eating fruits.

To keep the family equipped with a steady, ample supply of energy, pair simple and complex carbohydrates, fats and healthful proteins throughout the day.  Understand the type of fuel you’re counting on and how much/often you need it.

Some may find that too many simple carbohydrates or ones with a higher glycemic index is a bit much to handle, particularly when heading into an office or to school where they’ll be sitting most of the day.  If you need to have a stable fuel source to carry across several hours, you will want to rely more on complex rather than simple carbohydrates.  If you really need this sustained energy to stick with you longer, you may also wish to pair your carbohydrates with a protein or fat, which slows the processes by which carbohydrates are broken down and released into glucose (sugar) in the body.

See?  Easy as pie!

10 Ways to Save Money by Eating Better

Yes, eating healthier is likely to cost more than eating very poorly.  You wouldn’t expect to buy better gas for your car for less than the cruddy gas would cost; we can’t very well expect to fill our bodies up with “Premium” fuel for less than the bottom-of-the-barrel offerings.  With that said, there are ways to save money on eating healthier and here’s how you do it:

1.  Keep an Eye Out

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Produce departments will often mark things for clearance that are actually PERFECT. Bananas are a big one here (So many people think the brown spots mean they’re bad when it actually means they’re ripe).  Bananas are fairly cheap anyhow but I have gotten them by the bag-fulls for just a couple bucks a bag.  I then get them home, peel them, drop them straight into a freezer bag and freeze them for later use in smoothies or to throw in the food processor for an easy alternative to ice cream.  Green beans, sliced carrots, peas, berries, stone fruits, avocados and countless others freeze very well with little effort. Many fruits can be bought nearly at a steal when in-season, from grocers, farmers’ markets or straight from the grower.

2.  Offset Your Expenses AND Boost Your Health With Our Favorite Budget Savers

  • Dried Beans & Lentils

Beans & lentils are loaded with energy, fiber, and many body boosting vitamins while providing an abundance of protein without the extra fat found in animal products.  Dried beans are super affordable (even buying them organic is cheaper by the pound that meat alternatives), are ridiculously easy to prepare (soak & boil.  Yep, that’s it!) and are extremely versatile.  Beans & lentils can be used to create everything from traditional soups, stews & sides to veggie burgers to cream sauces…even to desserts like brownies.

  • Whole Grains

With all the dietary trends making villains out of grains, we run the risk of missing out on a powerhouse source of energy and nutrient.  Grains have been staples of the human diet across thousands of years, and have even been the saving factor for entire nations that otherwise would have starved to death in times of famine.  Grains can be an inexpensive way to fuel body and brain.  Whole wheat (whole grain and flours), hulled barley, millet, buckwheat groats, brown rice, wild rice, specialty rice…the list just goes on and on.  Grains are versatile and can be added to just about any dish – soups, stews, one-pot wonders, you name it.

  • Spuds

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Seriously, I really don’t know that I could ever wholeheartedly trust anybody who doesn’t like a good spud at least every now and then. I mean, come on!  Who doesn’t love potatoes?  All joking aside, potatoes are seriously awesome.  They tend to be inexpensive, easy to cook and go with just about anything and any meal of the day.  Roasted, baked or boiled, potatoes make a delicious dish loaded with nutrients (especially those much-needed minerals) and easy on the wallet.  We buy these organic because pesticides and herbicides are absorbed directly into the potato itself from the surrounding soil.  Still, even organic potatoes typically run only about $1.00/lb when buying in bags of 5+ lbs.  A 5lb. bag of potatoes is enough to make potatoes alongside or mixed into multiple meals.  Alternatively, a full bag can be prepared as mashed potatoes to serve fresh and save.  Freeze in quart-sized freezer bags for easy sides later.

  • Rolled Oats in Bulk

Repeat after me:  “No more Instant Oats!”  Instant oats often have very little remaining nutritional value, are much more expensive on the whole, and are typically chock full of added sugars and junk flavorings.  Rolled oats are every bit as quick and easy without these cons.  A pinch of cinnamon, a little almond milk and a splash of honey or maple and you’re in business, my friend.  Steel Cut Oats still boast maximum nutritional value, as far as oats go, but for those that simply do not have the time, rolled oats are a good runner up.  My favorite way to eat them is with cinnamon, maple and fresh sliced banana.  No cooking necessary.  I like the slightly chewy texture over the mushy, cooked consistency.  Either way you like them, oats are a great way to boost nutrition while saving time and money.

3.  Opt for frozen over fresh when watching that bottom dollar

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…especially when shopping “out-of-season.”  “Freshest is bestest!”  Still, when fresh produce isn’t available or affordable, be sure to check out what’s in the freezer section.  This can also be a good way to get a better quality for your buck too.  You can often save money by buying things like organic frozen green beans instead of the conventionally grown alternatives found in the produce section.  Is it always an even swap culinarily speaking?  No, but most of the time the exchange can be made with little detection or compromise in your favorite dishes.

4.  Opt for quality over quantity

This is especially key with meat and dairy.  Too much meat and dairy is unhealthy.  Period.  No further elaboration needed there.  (We’ve really already talked on this in  our article on Proteins that Pack a Punch or Dairy if you need reasons why).  With that said, you may find that you’re able to afford organic or better quality choices by reducing the family’s overall consumption of animal products. Most people easily eat in a day, the most they would need for a week.  Other protein options, such as beans can cheaply replace meats with many meals.  Reducing the portion size is another way to save on the expense (giving you more money for better quality) while boosting your family’s overall health.  Higher quality foods of all sorts provide more nutrients.  This means you can eat less while gaining more in terms of nutrition.

5.  Shop Smart & Know your Dirty Dozen & Clean 15

Eating organic and watching a budget can be a real challenge.  Get acquainted and educated on which foods tend to be the most highly contaminated and which tend to be the cleanest.  This will help you get a better idea of which foods are worth the splurge and which you can more safely save a little moola on.  Be sure to print out your lists of the Dirty Dozen and The Clean 15 to take with you on your next shopping trip!

6.  Stock up & Save on Staples

Some items may be used so much that paying the high price of buying a little at a time makes no sense whatsoever.  When possible, by larger volumes of items, such as a good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which can be transferred into a smaller vessel, as needed, for ease of use.

7.  Compare Unit Prices

Bulk is often a good way to save money but there are times when the bulk runs more per pound or ounce than even the very same product & brand, in a ready-to-go package.

8.  Take inventory of your time & resources

Be sure you check your fridge and cupboard before venturing out to buy more. You may have forgotten those peppers you picked up last week or missed how perfectly they’d pair with a little tomato or cucumber the couscous you already have in the cupboard for a delightful, refreshing couscous salad.  Throw in a cup of those peas you happen to already have in the freezer and Bam!  That’s one less meal you have to plan to buy food for this week.  Sometimes you’re all set to rock your face off with what you already have on hand.  This helps to reduce food waste and frustration, save money, and maximize your grocery budget.

Also, be sure to be realistic about the time you have in the coming week. If your schedule is already booked, you may not want to buy all you need to make something that would demand hours of your time in the kitchen.  The last thing you want to do is spend a chunk of your budget on something you just don’t have time to prepare, only to watch it turn into one of those creepy science experiment looking things that not even the dog would eat.

9.  Plan Ahead

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Let me tell you what I personally find frustrating – Meandering through a grocer for over an hour, emerging $20 OVER-budget and getting only half-way through the week before I realize I have a house full of groceries and nothing to make for dinner.  {insert one big, fat frowny face right here}  It sucks.  And I must admit, I am not one to always sit down and plan ahead each meal.  I like the freedom of going with my gut on what I’m going to have for dinner.  What if I plan spaghetti for Thursday and decide I want tacos?  Here’s the thing, at the very least, making a list of things you must have to make some good, whole meals and other household staples is a good way to keep you on point and under-budget.  This will save you time and money while shopping.

10.  Don’t Shy Away from Replays or Retakes

Keep an eye out for foods that can do double time.  And I’m not just talking leftover-city.  For example, I may make one large pot of beans and divide them.  Some may go on salads, some seasoned and served as a side with dinner, and some pureed to make cream sauces or bases for other dishes.  This saves time and money while making the most of and reaping the most from the foods we buy.


We hope these tips have been a great help to you.  If so, please don’t forget to SHARE this article with other friends and family who stand to benefit from it as well!  Thank you!

The Essential Learning Nutrients

Scroll down to learn more about each nutrient and where you can get it!

Article written byLaTricia Morris, CIWC  LaTricia Morris is an Integrative Wellness Counselor, Writer, Author, Illustrator & the Founder of See Kids Thrive.

In Eating for A’s, Schauss, et al, discuss what they call the 12 Essential Learning Nutrients.  In the text, they explain that by acquiring all of these nutrients through dietary diversification, children should consequently receive adequate amounts of all nutrients.  RDA’s are according to this text.  Please, note, daily recommendations may change over time or be recommended in different quantities by different health professionals.  Further, there are other nutrients, such as DHA that have been proven essential to brain function.  These featured nutrients, as acquired from a healthy diet, are said to greatly increase children’s capactiy to learn, laugh and live life to the fullest.

*Please note that RDA’s may vary depending upon resources.  All effort has been made to provide accurate recommendations.  Still, we recommend you  seek the personal counsel of a reliable health professional prior to supplementation or implementing any dietary advice you receive from ANY internet source.

Vitamin A

RDA: 4,000IU

Benefits:

Aids in manufacturing of protein and DNA and promotes tissue formation of the skin, eyes, nails, lungs, ears, and mouth

Deficiency Signs:

Depression and apathy; lowered friendly intestinal flora, which prohibits the conversion of carotene to vitamin A; retarded brain growth in infants

Sources:

Amaranth Leaves, Acerola, Arugula, Apricots, Basil, Asparagus, Cantaloupe, Chili Powder, Beet Greens, Cherries, Laver (Seaweed), Beets, Grapefruit, Paprika, Broccoli, Loquats, Red Raspberry Leaf Teas, Cabbage, Mango, Soymilk, Carrots, Mangos, Spirulina, Collards, Orange Juice, Stevia, Cress, Papaya, Barley Grass, Dandelion Greens, Passion-Fruit, Endive, Peach, Grape Leaves, Persimmon (Japanese), Kale, Plantain, Oatmeal, Lambsquarters, Tomato, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Onions, Pak Choi/Bok Choy, Peas, Pumpkin, Puslane, Red Bell Pepper, Spinach, Squash, Sweet Potato, Swiss Chard, Taro Leaves, Turnip Greens, Watercress, Zucchini

Vitamin B1 {Thiamin}

RDA: 3mg

Benefits:

Aids metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates; helps brain process energy; aids transmission of nervous system signals; known as “morale” vitamin due to effects on mental attitude; supports learning & memory capacity

Deficiency Signs:

Fatigue; impaired memory, mental confusion, reduced alertness, impaired reflex actions, general apathy, and lack of interest, disorderly behavior, irritability, impulsiveness, poor sleep, and fatigue. linked to anorexia/loss of appetite, indigestion, constipation, weakening of heart muscles  which can result in cardiac failure causing swelling in the lower legs, then thighs,  difficulty breathing and can even eventually lead to death as the heart gets enlarged and other cardiac impairments occur

Sources:

Leafy Greens, Avocado, Mushrooms, Squash, Carrot, Peppers, Orange/Tangerine/Pineapple Juice, Papaya, Plums, Raisins, Black Beans, Cowpeas, Lentils, Lima Beans, Mung Beans, Navy Beans, Kidney Beans, Peas, Pink Beans, Pinto Beans, Winged Beans, Yardlong Beans, Yellow Beans, Soybeans, Peanuts, Potatoes, Brown Rice, Buckwheat, Millet, Oats, Barley, Alfalfa, Triticale, Semolina, Wheat Germ, Whole Grains (Germ & Bran), Flaxseed, Brazil Nuts, Hazelnuts/Filberts, Hickory Nuts, Macademia Nuts, Pistachios, Pecans, Safflower Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Nutritional Yeast, Kelp, Spirulina

Vitamin B2 {Riboflavin}

RDA: 1.7mg

Benefits:

Needed to process amino acids and fats, activate vitamin B6 and folic acid, and help convert carbohydrates into the fuel the body runs

Deficiency Signs:

Bloodshot eyes, abnormal sensitivity to light, itching and burning of the eyes, inflammation in the mouth, a sore and burning tongue, and cracks on the lips and in the corners of the mouth, bloodshot eyes, abnormal sensitivity to light, itching and burning of the eyes, inflammation in the mouth, a sore and burning tongue, and cracks on the lips and in the corners of the mouth.  May also lead to malfunctioning of the adrenal glands or contribute to anemia or cataract.

Sources:

Almonds/Almond Butter, Beet Greens, Lambsquarters, Portobello Mushrooms, Shitake Mushrooms, Crimini Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Durian, Prune Juice, Passion-Fruit Juice, Spinach, Buckwheat, Oatmeal, Pumpkin Seeds, Quinoa, Sesame Seeds, Soybeans, Tempeh, Whole Grains, Ancho Chilies, Barley Grass, Chili powder, Coriander, Nutritional Yeast, Paprika, Parsley, Parsley, Peppermint, Spearmint, Spirulina, Yeast Extract Spread (Marmite)

Vitamin B3 {Niacin}

RDA: 50mg

Benefits:

Assists the brain in producing chemicals and acids essential in the manufacturing of protein; necessary for healthy blood circulation and impedes cholesterol accumulation; also known as the “happy vitamin” for its influence on personality.

Deficiency Signs:

General weakness, muscular weakness, and lack of appetite. Skin infections and digestive problems may also be associated with niacin deficiency.

Sources:

Asparagus, Barley, Beef, Broccoli, Brown Rice, Buckwheat, Calf Liver, Carrots, Chicken (esp. breast), Crimini Mushrooms, Gingko Nuts, Halibut, Lamb, Leafy Greens, Lentils, Mangos, Milk, Millet, Oysters, Passion-Fruit Juice, Peanut Butter, Peanuts, Portobello, Potatoes, Prune Juice, Rice Bran, Salmon, Shitake Mushrooms, Sunflower Seeds, Tomato, Tuna, Turkey, Venison, Wheat (soft & hard red winter), Wheat Bran, Wheat Durum, Wheat Germ, Wild Rice

Vitamin B6 {Pyrodoxine}

RDA: 5mg

Benefits:

Also helps the brain produce chemicals and acids essential in the manufacturing of protein; also influences hair color, growth and texture.

Deficiency Signs:

Dizziness, skin diseases, tremors, convulsions, fainting and motion sickness.

Sources:

Acorns, Alfalfa Capsicum, Almonds, Avocados, Banana, Barley Malt Flour, Beechnuts, Beef Liver, Beets, Breadnut Tree Seeds, Brown Rice, Brussel Sprouts, Carrot Juice, Chick Peas, Chicken, Cod, Durian, Garbanzo Beans, Garlic, Halibut, Kelp, Palm Hearts, Papaya, Pineapple Juice, Pinto Beans, Plantain, Pork, Potatoes, Prune Juice, Red Clover, Rice Bran, Rice Flour, Safflower Seeds, Soybeans, Squash, Sunflower Seed Butter, Sunflower Seeds, Sweet Potatoes, Tomato Juice, Tuna, Turkey, Venison, Walnuts, Wheat Germ, Wild Rice

Folate

RDA: 400mcg

*Folate and folic acid are different forms of the same vitamin. Folate is the natural form of the vitamin found in foods, while folic acid is the synthetic form used in dietary supplements and in fortified foods.

Benefits:

Helps the body produce RNA & DNA, both important in the formation of nucleic acid and the storage of recent-memory events.

Deficiency Signs:

Apathy, impaired memory, irritability, withdrawal, slowing of all intellectual processes, anemia, fatigue, general weakness and parasites

Sources:

Adzuki Beans, Agar, Alfalfa, Amaranth Leaves, Artichoke, Asparagus, Avocado, Beets, Black Beans, Boysenberries, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Calf Liver, Chicken Liver, Chickpeas, Collards, Cowpeas, Cranberry Beans, Durian, Eggs, Endive, Fava Beans, French Beans, Garbanzo Beans, Great Northern Beans, Green Beans, Kelp, Kidney Beans, Lentils, Lima Beans, Lima Beans, Lima Beans, Moth Beans, Mung Beans, Mustard Greens, Navy Beans, Navy Beans, Okra, Orange, Orange Juice, Peanuts, Peas, Pigeon Peas, Pineapple Juice, Pink Beans, Pinto Beans, Potatoes, Pumpkin Seeds, Red Clover, Safflower Seeds, Soybeans, Spinach, Sprouted Grains, Sunflower Seed Butter, Sunflower Seeds, Tomato, Turkey Liver, Turnip Greens, Watercress, Wheat Germ, Wild Rice, Yardlong Beans, Yellow Beans

Vitamin C

RDA: 250 mg

Benefits:

Aids in the utilization of protein; improves absorption of certain forms of iron needed by the brain; often referred to as the “master vitamin” for its necessity to overall bodily processes.

Deficiency Signs:

Fatigue, depression, hypersensitivity, colds; general run-down condition, bruising, bleeding gums, and shortness of breath

Sources:

Acerola, Acerola Juice, Amaranth Leaves, Apple, Apple Juice, Apricot, Artichoke, Asparagus, Banana, Beet Greens, Black Currants, Blackberries, Blackberry Juice, Blueberries, Breadfruit, Breadnut Tree Seeds, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cantaloupe, Carrot Juice, Casaba Melon, Cauliflower, Cherries, Chestnuts, Collards, Corn, Crabapples, Cranberries, Custard Apple, Dandelion Greens, Durian, Elderberries, Feijoa, Garden Cress, Gingko Nuts, Gooseberries, Grapefruit, Grapes, Guava, Honeydew Melon, Jujube, Kale, Kiwi, Kohlrabi, Kumquats, Lambsquarters, Lemon, Lentils, Lime, Litchis, Loganberries, Longans, Mulberries, Mustard Greens, Nectarine, Okra, Orange Juice, Palm Hearts, Papaya, Papaya Nectar, Parsnips, Passion-Fruit, Pea, Peach, Peach Nectar, Pear, Persimmon, Pineapple, Plantain, Plum, Pomegranate, Potatoes, Prune Juice, Pummel, Pumpkin, Purslane, Radishes, Raspberries, Red Currants, Rutabagas, Saurkraut, Soybeans, Spinach, Squash, Starfruit, Strawberries, Sundried Tomatoes, Sweet Peppers, Swiss Chard, Tangerine, Taro Leaves, Taro Shoots, Thyme, Tomatillos, Tomato Juice, Turnip Greens, Turnips, Wasabi, Watercress, Watermelon, White Currants, Yam, Yam Bean

Iron

RDA: 10 mg

Benefits:

Essential for building healthy muscles and maintaining healthy blood; aids in processing of nutrients required for neurological processing; helps process neurotransmitters and DNA

Deficiency Signs:

Anemia, listlessness, worry, dull hair, fatigue, inflamed mouth or tongue

Sources:

Adzuki Beans, Amaranth, Asparagus, Barley Malt Flour, Barley, Pearled, Bulgur, Cashews, Cereals (Not The Sugar Laden Stuff), Chickpeas, Clams, Coconut, Cowpeas, Cranberry Beans, Dandelion Root, Great Northern Beans, Hemp Hearts, Hyacinth Beans, Kidney Beans, Lentils, Lima Beans, Miso, Moth Beans, Navy Beans, Oats, Organ Meats, Oysters, Palm Hearts, Passion-Fruit, Pink Beans, Pinto Beans, Potatoes, Prune Juice, Pumpkin Seeds, Quinoa, Rice Bran, Rye Flour, Sorghum, Soybeans, Spinach, Spirulina, Squash Seeds, Tahini, Thyme, Tofu, Wheat, Wheat Germ, White Beans, Winged Beans, Yardlong Beans, Yellow Bean

Magnesium

RDA: 30-360mg, depending on age of child

Benefits:

Helps the brain attain energy from nutrients; key for the activation of enzyme reactions (required for over 200 enzymatic functions); essential to have balance between calcium and magnesium as the heart muscles contract with calcium and relax with magnesium; and aids in balancing the blood’s pH levels.

Deficiency Signs:

Irritability, nervousness, lethargy, depression, confusion

Sources:

Adzuki Beans, Agar, Almond Butter, Almonds, Amaranth, Artichoke, Barley, Barley Malt Flour, Barley, Pearled, Beet Greens, Black Beans, Black Walnut, Blackberry Juice, Brazil Nuts, Brown Rice, Buckwheat, Buckwheat Flour, Buckwheat Groats, Bulgur, Butternuts, Cashew Butter, Cashews, Chinook Salmon, Coconut Water, Corn, Cornmeal, Cowpeas, Cranberry Beans, Flaxseed, French Beans, French Beans, Great Northern Beans, Halibut, Hazelnuts, Hyacinth Beans, Lima Beans, Lotus Seeds, Macaroni, Millet, Mung Beans, Navy Beans, Oat Bran, Oats, Passion-Fruit Juice, Peanut Butter, Pigeon Peas, Pine Nuts, Pink Beans, Pinto Beans, Potatoes, Potatoes, Pumpkin Seeds, Purslane, Quinoa, Rice Bran, Rye, Rye Flour, Safflower Seeds, Scallops, Sesame Seeds, Soybeans, Soymilk (Calcium-Fortified), Spaghetti, Spinach, Squash, Squash Seeds, Sunflower Seed , Sunflower Seed Butter, Swiss Chard, Triticale, Triticale, Walnuts, Wasabi, Wheat, Wheat Bran, Wheat Durum, Wheat Germ, Wild Rice, Winged Beans, Yardlong Beans, Yellow Bean

Potassium

RDA: 50 mg

Benefits:

Required for normal levels of brain neurotransmitters; known as “the alkalizer,” potassium works with sodium; potassium flushes waste from cells and balances body fluids

Deficiency Signs:

Weakness, loss of appetite; nausea, irrational thinking, confusion

Sources:

2% Milk, Adzuki Beans, Amaranth Leaves, Apricot, Artichoke, Bamboo Shoots, Banana, Beet Greens, Blackbeans, Blackberry Juice, Breadfruit, Breadnut Tree Seeds, Brussel Sprouts, Cantaloupe, Carrot Juice, Cashews, Coconut Water, Cottage Cheese, Cranberry Beans, Dates, Durian, Grape Juice, Great Northern Beans, Kidney Beans, Lean Beef, Lentils, Lima Beans, Lotus Seeds, Navy Beans, Orange Juice, Oranges, Palm Hearts, Papaya, Passion-Fruit, Passion-Fruit Juice, Peach, Plantain, Pomegranate, Portobella, Potatoes, Prune Juice, Pumpkin Seeds, Quinoa, Raisins, Salmon, Sesame Seeds, Soybeans, Spelt, Spinach, Spinach, Squash, Sundried Tomatoes, Sunflower Seeds, Sweet Potato, Swiss Chard, Tangerine Juice, Tomato Juice, Turkey (Esp. Dark Meat), Wasabi, Water Chestnuts, Whole Grains, Yam, Yogurt

Zinc

RDA: 10 mg

Benefits:

Required in virtually every enzyme reaction in the brain; aids in the manufacture of RNA, DNA, and protein; helps provide energy from glucose and protein

Deficiency Signs:

White spots on fingernails, lack of energy, visual problems, slow healing, blood sugar problems, poor appetite, anorexia, fatigue, confusion

Sources:

Adzuki Beans, Amaranth, Baked Beans, Beef, Calf Liver, Cashew Butter, Cashews, Hominy, Hyacinth Beans, Lamb, Millet, Miso, Napa Cabbage, Oats, Pecans, Pine Nuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Rice Bran, Rye, Rye Flour, Safflower Seeds, Scallops, Sesame Seeds, Squash Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Triticale, Turkey, Venison, Watermelon Seeds, Wheat, Wheat Germ, Wild Rice, Yogurt

Chromium

RDA: 100 mg

Benefits:

Essential for glucose metabolism (the human brain is almost totally dependent on glucose for its fuel); permits insulin to cross cell membranes; increases HDL, suppresses hunger symptoms; and helps prevent diabetes

Deficiency Signs:

Poor concentration, impaired short-term memory, mood fluctuation, general feelings of tiredness

Sources:

Apples, Asparagus, Bananas, Beef, Black Pepper, Brewer’s Yeast, Broccoli, Cereals, Cheese, Grape Juice, Green Beans, Mushrooms, Nuts, Organ Meats, Potatoes, Prunes, Thyme, Turkey, Whole Grains

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Upgrade Your Plate

 By LaTricia Morris, Author, Illustrator, Personal Trainer, Boxing Coach, Integrative Wellness Counselor and Founder of See Kids Thrive & Eden Life Ministries

I, for one, believe you can hardly get enough plant-based goodness.  I’m all about getting crafty in the kitchen and finding all kinds of neat and nifty ways to upgrade any meal.

Sure, I can scour the web for hours on end to get a glimpse of another gal’s kitchen, peeking inside her pantry and thumbing through her recipes.  Still, I find a simple delight in crafting our own family favorites.  While the methods and the options are as endless as the stars or the steady stream of sound effects and interesting discoveries that come with the motherhood-package, there are a few springboards I like to leap from when Momma wants to be creative but really needs to just whip something up and make a meal happen.

Mash ‘em

Grab a fork or potato masher and make some magic with those beans or steam up some cauliflower or your favorite root crop veg and whip it up into a delectable mash with some aromatic herbs and spices.  Seriously, beans coarsely mashed and used in place of chicken and tuna salads will rock your ever-loving world!  Chickpea salads are a favorite go-to in our household and I have a sneaking suspicion they’ll soon be one in yours too!

Mince ‘em

Seriously – it is crazy how ridiculously easy and outlandlishly scrumptious mushrooms, onions, beans, and barley can be when finely chopped or pulsed in a food processor with a little ground flax and made into non-meat-balls and burgers.  You can mix-and-match those veggies ‘til the cows come home (happily, of course, ‘cause it won’t be on the table.  No ma’am – not this time.)  Really though, you’ve hardly lived until you’ve had the chance to savor a perfectly grilled veggie burger topped with avocado, roasted red pepper, red onion and a touch of EVOO.

Bake ‘em

Okay, so, yes, you can bake a potato but that’s not what I’m getting at here.  What I mean is for you to take those fruit, veggie and bean purees and use them in place of oils and liquids in recipes for anything from breads to cookies to snack bars.

Blend ‘em

Pasta sauce is a sneaky mom’s best friend.  It is a perfect vehicle for disguising vegetables.  Just remember your color wheel here, people.  Red and green make brown and a bust.  I mean, sure, it’ll taste good but too much broc in the pasta sauce and the jig is up, my friend!

Try cauliflower, cannellini beans or navy beans in white sauces such as alfredo or a primavera.  These work really well when making cream bases for pot pies and other creamy dishes.  Just puree your beans in your broth and viola!  They’ll never know and ever grow all the healthier for it.

Pumpkin and sweet peppers blend seamlessly into red sauces and if you happen to have a family that digs on pesto, you are in great luck with the perfect place to stash broccoli, spinach and peas!

Chop ’em

I’ve found that even when it looks like you’ve straight confettied the plate, most kids don’t mind the fruits and veggies so much where they’ve been finely chopped and added to their favorite dishes such as pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, tacos, or, of course, most anything dippable.  Chopped vegetables also make a great add-in if you like making your own homemade breads.  Just fold in some grated onion or finely chopped olives to add a unique taste and upgrade that loaf at the same time.

Wrap ‘em

Come on.  Everything is better in a wrap, right?  You’re not fooling anybody.  You get excited for a good wrap too, even if you’re subbing out those carbs for one scrumptious leaf’o’lettuce.  Bring a rainbow of color into your favorite wraps, topped with guac, hummus or your favorite dips and sauces.  Remember those bean/chickpea salads we mentioned earlier?  Yeah.  Throw that on your wrap with some slices of red pepper, fresh sprouts, chunks of roasted garlic or some savory olives for easy wraps fit for a queen.

Roast ‘em

I’ve hardly met a roasted veg I didn’t like and how easy can you get, right?  Oven – 425°.  Produce – sliced.  Sea salt + extra virgin olive or coconut oil + spices/herbs of choice.  25-35 minutes later the whole family is swarming the kitchen, poppin’ ‘em left and right.

Yeah, it’s all fun and games until the family sits down for dinner to realize they already ate it all from the stove top.  Well… what can we say?  Food happens and it’s a beautiful thing.

So, how about you?  What are your favorite ways with food?  What methods do you use as a jumping point to create your own culinary classics?

5 Ways to Turn Your Body into a Calorie Inferno

Article by LaTricia Morris, Author and Illustrator of The Good, The Bad & The Broccoli and It Came from the Cupboard, Founder of See Kids Thrive and Eden Life Ministries, Certified Integrative Wellness Counselor, Personal Trainer & Boxing Coach.

Ever wonder how some people seem to hop in the gym today only to be ripped weeks later?  (okay, so that might be a slight exaggeration but let’s face it, it’s just ridiculous how quick some people shed pounds that some of us have to topple mountains to get rid of.)

If you’re thinking it’s all in their genes, stop.  While genetics can play a great role in tendencies to retain or shed excess weight, there are ways you can biohack your own system to get that metabolism revved and ready to blast those pesky pounds and inches.

Biohack your health and wellness efforts by applying a little S.P.E.E.D.

SLEEP

In a 2007 research review, Knutson et al. found that chronic partial sleep loss could increase the risk of obesity and diabetes via dysregulation of glucose metabolism (i.e., insulin resistance) and altered neuroendocrine control of appetite resulting in excessive food intake and decreased energy expenditure.

The average adult needs between 7.5 and 8 hours of quality sleep each night. This can vary based on health status and additional needs for recovery, such as during periods of intense training or recovery from injuries.

PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESSstress-reduction-bang-head-here_u-L-F59O3O0

Stress adaptation requires a coordinated series of responses mediated through the hypothalamus-pituitary-axis (HPA) and sympathetic nervous system, which act to maintain homeostasis and protect against chronic diseases.

Chronic hyperactivation of the HPA axis (which can occur with things like low calorie dieting) has been linked to visceral fat deposition, insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, altered lipid profiles, and coronary artery disease. Chronic stress can also lead to increased food intake, as well as relapses and overeating after weight loss has been achieved by dieting.

ENVIRONMENT

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FINALLY! A low maintenance home garden without the time or work of a garden!

There are hundreds of synthetic chemicals currently used for agricultural and industrial applications that are leading to widespread environmental contamination. These include antimicrobials, pesticides/herbicides, plasticizers and flame retardants. These endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can disrupt hormonal balance and result in developmental and reproductive abnormalities. In addition, some studies link EDC exposure to obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.  The Environmental Working Group has a list of the “dirty dozen” endocrine disruptors and an app that identifies these toxic ingredients in cosmetics and other personal-care items.

Limit exposure to EDCs by avoiding chemical laden products and choosing organic when it comes to produce and hygiene products (if you shouldn’t put it in your mouth, you shouldn’t put it on your skin) which are highly sprayed and animals that are fed conventional feed.

EXERCISE

Take the path of most resistance to drive your metabolism through the roof!

Muscle burns a lot of energy.  The greater the muscle mass, the higher the caloric expenditure in every move you make.  Yes, EVERY move, from walking to the car, coming up the stairs, hitting the track or hitting your best friend – more muscle to move demands the body lend greater energy to produce the movement.

The most effective tool for increasing or maintaining lean body mass (LBM) is resistance training.  Maintaining or increasing LBM is essential for a healthy metabolism. It also reduces the tendency to regain weight and is important for maintaining adequate body function with aging.

Resistance exercise has the potential to improve metabolic disorders and reduce the need for medications associated with being overweight (e.g., diabetes and hypertension). It can also reduce abdominal adiposity and biomarkers for cardiovascular disease.

DIET

There are a number of ways to biohack your diet to increase your metabolism. While there are a plethora of diets and trends out there, the best approach, as has remained true for THOUSANDS of years, is to enjoy a diet founded on whole food principles.  Many trend diets only continue to prove very harmful to the body, no matter how much better people feel at their onset.  You really don’t need any one of them.  Many experts would simplify it by saying “eat a little bit of everything but not too much of anything.”

Eating a diet comprised of whole foods, eliminating anything processed or refined, helps to restore the body’s natural mechanisms to regulate energy, appetite, weight, hormonal balance and so much more!  As you work to get back to a sound and simple foundation of high quality foods, you can work to fine-tune your diet based on what works best for you (i.e., maybe less dairy or more nuts/seeds…)

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Some added dietary biohack tips include:

Don’t cut too many calories

When you eat less than you need for basic biological functions (roughly 1,200 calories for the average adult), your body adjusts by slowing your metabolism down. In addition, it can elevate cortisol levels, which leads to the breakdown of lean body mass to meet energy needs, and cravings for fat and sugary foods. Low calorie diets also run the risk of micronutrient deficiencies over time.  Limit caloric deficits to no more than 500 cal/day shy of your baseline for sustainable weightloss.  Diets consisting of less than 1200 cal/day should only be implemented under the close supervision of your healthcare provider.

Consuming enough calories is critical in keeping your metabolism up and giving you the energy needed to press through those awesome workouts (which happen to rev your calorie burn all the more).

Don’t forget the fiber

Plant-based diets that are inherently high in fiber can increase fat burning. Colorful vegetables and fruits also have numerous phytonutrients, which can reduce inflammation, resulting in better health and the prevention of many diseases.  The CDC states that only about 1 in 10 Americans are getting enough fruits and vegetables.  They further state, “Seven of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States are from chronic diseases. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables daily can help reduce the risk of many leading causes of illness and death, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and obesity.

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Current recommendations say we should be eating 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day (16-18 for athletic types).  In other words: EAT YOUR PLANTS!

Hydrate or Die

A German study found that drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30%. The study concluded that drinking 2 liters of water per day would enhance energy expenditure and that the thermogenic effect of water should be considered in weight loss programs.  Adequate hydration is necessary for a number of functions, including supporting proper detoxification and elimination, and supporting higher energy levels.  You should be drinking AT LEAST half your body weight in ounces (ex: 150 lb person should drink a min. of 75 ounces).  Increase water intake with exertion, consumption of diuretics (coffee, tea, etc.), high sugar/carbohydrate/salty foods or prescription medications, all of which can dehydrate the body.

Eat more organic foods

Researchers report that dieters who consume foods with the most organochlorines (chemicals from pesticides which are stored in fat cells) experience a greater than normal dip in metabolism because the toxins interfere with the energy-burning process. Other research hints that pesticides disrupts the gut biome and can trigger weight gain. Choose organic in place of highly sprayed foods whenever possible.

Don’t Skip the Fats

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Finally, a totally plant-based Omega Blend offering the perfect balance of omega 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9 fatty acids, containing DHA, EPA and ALA, derived from fruits, algae and seed oils.

Recommendations for “low-fat” are archaic at best.  Research has found that not only does a low-fat diet NOT result in weight loss or improved heart health, it runs the risk of doing far greater harm than good, including contributing to an increase in overall calorie consumption.

We need fat for hormone production, lubrication of the joints, neurological function, nutrient assimilation and more.  A healthy diet consists of 20-35% fats from quality sources.  Avoid margarine and other refined or hydrogenated oils, limit saturated fats (the long-chain fatty acids found in animal products NOT so much the medium-chain fatty acids as found in coconut).  Be sure to include foods such as flaxseeds, avocados, nuts and seeds which also come with fiber and protein, helping to increase satiety while supporting better overall health.

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Eat some bugs.

A diet high in fruits and vegetables helps to create a favorable gut biome which has been found to have a direct relation to weight and metabolic functions. Make sure to include prebiotics and probiotics into your daily diet. Supplementing with a probiotic is also a good strategy to support a healthy body.

Biohacking your metabolism isn’t rocket science, it just takes a little S P E E D.

How about you?  What are your favorite takeaways and where do you get your “competitive edge” over your health and fitness endeavors?

Healthfully Yours,

LaTriciaMorris

 

 

 


References

Center of Disease Control and Prevention, Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits or Vegetables, November 16, 2017

Borsheim, E., Barh, R. Effect of Exercise Intensity, Duration and Mode on Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. Sports Med 2003;33 (14): 1037-1060.

Boschmann M, Steiniger J, Hille U, Tank J, Adams F, Sharma AM, Klaus S, Luft FC, Jordan J. Water-induced thermogenesis. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2003 Dec;88(12):6015-9.

Casals-Casas C, Desvergne B. Endocrine disruptors: from endocrine to metabolic disruption. Annu Rev Physiol. 2011;73:135-62.

Chen KY, Brychta RJ, Linderman JD, Smith S, Courville A, Dieckmann W, Herscovitch P, Millo CM, Remaley A, Lee P, Celi FS. Brown fat activation mediates cold-induced thermogenesis in adult humans in response to a mild decrease in ambient temperature. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Jul;98(7).

Dulloo AG, Geissler CA, Horton T, Collins A, Miller DS. Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers. Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Jan;49(1):44-50.

Gupta, C., Prakash, D. Phytonutrients as therapeutic agents. Journal of Complementary & Integrative Medicine Sep 2014, Vol. 11 Issue 3, p151.

Howarth NC, Saltzman E, Roberts SB. Dietary fiber and weight regulation. Nutr Rev. 2001 May;59(5):129-39.

Hursel, R.; Viechtbauer, W.; Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S. The effects of green tea on weight loss and weight maintenance: a meta-analysis. International Journal of Obesity. Sep2009, Vol. 33 Issue 9, p956-961.

Jabekk, P, Moe, I., Meen, H., Tomten, S., Hostmarl, A. Resistance training in overweight women on a ketogenic diet conserved lean body mass while reducing body fat. Nutrition & Metabolism 2010, 7:17.

Knutson, K., Spiegel, K, Penev, P., Van Cauter, E. The Metabolic Consequences of Sleep Deprivation. Sleep Med Rev. Jun 2007; 11(3): 163–178.

Paddon-Jones, E., Westman, E., Mattes, R., Wolfe, R., Astrup. A., Westerterp-Pantenga, M. Protein, weight management, and satiety. Am J Clin Nutr May 2008 vol. 87 no. 5 1558S-1561S.

Redman LM, Heilbronn LK, Martin CK, de Jonge L, Williamson DA, Delany JP, Ravussin E; Pennington CALERIE Team. Metabolic and behavioral compensations in response to caloric restriction: implications for the maintenance of weight loss. PLoS One. 2009;4(2):e4377.

Tomiyama AJ, Mann T, Vinas D, Hunger JM, Dejager J, Taylor SE. Low calorie dieting increases cortisol. Psychosom Med. 2010 May;72(4):357-64.

Vicennati V., Pasqui, F., Cavazza, C., Pagotto., U., Pasquali, R. Stress-Related Development of Obesity and Cortisol in Women. Obesity (Sept. 2009): Vol. 17, No. 9, pp. 1678–83.

Wein, Harrison, PhD. “Gut Bacteria May Influence Metabolic Syndrome – NIH Research Matters – National Institutes of Health (NIH).” U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 15 Mar. 2010. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://www.nih.gov/researchmatters/march2010/03152010bacteria.htm&gt;.

Geoff Lecovin, How to Biohack Your Metabolism.  National Academy of Sports Medicine.  December 19, 2014

Post-Workout Recovery Fails and What to Do Instead

Article by LaTricia Morris, Author and Illustrator of The Good, The Bad & The Broccoli and It Came from the CupboardFounder of See Kids Thrive and Eden Life MinistriesCertified Integrative Wellness Counselor and NASM Personal Trainer

Some of the things we put ourselves through on our journey to get fit can be downright borderline insanity but, as we see those results (not just in slimming down but in overall improvements), we’re reminded why it was all worth it.  Yet, how frustrating is it to put in all that work and it still seem like we’re spinning our tires?

While progress (especially the real and lasting kind) does take some time, there are some things we can and should be mindful of so as to not sabotage our own efforts.  In accomplishing any goal, it is key to see not only the steps we need to take to make our way toward the end goal but to also see things that may be working in opposition to our health and wellness goals.  Below are some I see all too often and what you can do to be sure these hurdles don’t hinder you.

Not Eating at AllAdobe Spark

Especially where weight loss is an aim, it can be tempting to just skip eating altogether right after a workout to ride out that post-workout burn.  While that can seem like a good plan, it could actually do more to hinder your goals in the long term.  When working out, your body relies heavily on the glycogen it has stored in the liver and muscles tissues to supply the energy it needs to complete what’s being asked of it.  The longer you workout, the more glycogen stores get depleted.  Now, as these reserves run out, the body can and will work to convert fat to usable energy.  However, because of the work it must do to convert that fat to usable energy, performance tends to be compromised, triggering a cycle that ultimately leads to exhaustion and failure.

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 1.5 g carbohydrates/kg body weight within 30 minutes post-exercise is recommended for maximum glycogen replenishment(1).  Delaying carbohydrate intake by even 2 hours can decrease total muscle glycogen synthesis by 66% (2).  The post-workout environment may hasten glycogen repletion as a result of increased blood flow to the muscles and an increased sensitivity of the cells to the effects of insulin.(3)

Waiting to refuel until your starving is a good way to drive yourself to overeat (which we justify because, you know, we worked out).  Helping the body replenish its reserves immediately after exercise is a good way to avoid a ravenous binge, and prepare your body to bring it even better (burning even more calories and building even more muscle) the next time you step to the gym.

Craving carbohydrates post-workout is totally normal.  Having sensible amounts to meet these demands is a pro recovery move.

Reaching to “Reward” Rather Than to Restore

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I can’t tell you how often I hear people at the gym, talking about how much they look forward to getting their hands in that cookie jar or having a face-full of cake straight after the gym as the “reward” for all their hard work.  My question is, why do that to yourself?

For starters, and studies back me up on this, we shouldn’t be looking to a “reward” system to keep us on track anyway.  Studies show that people are significantly less likely to engage in an activity for which they’d normally get a “reward” once the “reward” is taken away.  Example: children who were rewarded for art were significantly less likely do it simply for the sake of doing it whereas children who were offered no reward were more likely to continue to participate over the long haul, simply for the enjoyment of the activity.

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The thought pattern that this caters too is “working out sucks and I should be rewarded for doing it at all.”  Your workout and that great post-workout feeling should be the reward in itself.  Even where it can be painful, even downright gruesome at times, count it all joy.  It is a GIFT to be able to be active, to participate in such challenging activities and to know you’re getting stronger, fitter, and faster by the day.  

Instead of spending your workout pondering how much you hate it and on what you’ll “get to” have on the other side of it, try redirecting your focus to thoughts of gratitude and even excitement at the progress you know you’re going to make as you bring your best effort every time.  Pick a key scripture or positive affirmation to focus in on and let that saturate your mind as you work to be the healthiest version of yourself possible.

Another problem with this habit really is that not only does reaching for the sweet-eats post-exercise reinforce the negative associations with exercise and the need to follow it up with something to “make it all better” but it also primes the body for defeat.  When you step to that plate, that class, those weights, that track… you are placing a lot of demands on the body.  You’re not just expending energy.  The bones, the muscles, the joints, the lungs, and the heart are all working very hard to produce the work being demanded.

Post-workout recovery is not just a time to restore glycogen levels (to get that blood sugar back up) but also a time to provide the body with the raw materials it needs to restore the body and help it to rebuild itself with greater strength.  You cannot expect the body to be of superior construction with sub-par materials.  Consuming sugary/processed foods and neglecting to restore nutrient levels is a quick way to run the body ragged, leading to burnout.  Be sure you look for top nutritional value in anything you’re looking to incorporate into your post-workout plan.

Neglecting to Prepare the Body Pre-Workout

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By now, most people understand that the foods they eat after their workout and throughout the day factor into the speed and quality of their recovery. The foods you eat before a workout can also play an important role in preparing for the tissue-rebuilding process once the workout is over.

Digestion is a lengthy process; proteins, fats and carbohydrates that you ingest prior to the workout will still be circulating in the body afterward. For this reason, choose your foods wisely. Make sure you get high-quality, lean protein along with some complex carbohydrates, especially if you plan on an intense workout. Meals should be consumed two-four hours prior to your workout to avoid digestive issues or cramps, or that lag you feel trying to workout while your body is also working to break down the food you just ate.

If you must have something before your workout and don’t have this window to wait, keep it small and opt for things that break down more quickly like bananas or other fruits.  Even better – puree them into a quick smoothie or grab a raw juice.  This will allow for more rapid gastric emptying and make the energy and nutrients available to you sooner.

Protein OverdoseAdobe Spark

We have been fed so much junk over protein, it’s just mind-boggling.

Yes, your body needs proteins as part of its daily needs, especially with post-exercise recovery.

HOWEVER, your body can only do so much so fast.  Excessive amounts of proteins will not help it accomplish this any faster.  This is of special concern with products containing whey protein, and other animal products, as too many animal proteins place a heavy burden on the kidneys, in particular, and the body as a whole, generating much stress and inflammation.

Be real with yourself on what you’re doing and what you need.  20 minutes of yoga does not justify 40 extra grams of protein for the day.  I’ve seen people knock back protein shakes like the shake itself is going to build muscle.  It won’t.  Your body will only build muscle in accordance with the demands being placed on it along with the presence of adequate energy and nutrients.  Consuming more than it needs only prompts the body to use it as fuel or convert it to fat to be used for fuel later.

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Fresh food at your fingertips without the time, space and work of tending a garden.  GO FRESH.  GROW VERTICAL.

Bear in mind, we get amino acids (the building blocks of protein) from everything we eat (at least if you’re eating those nutritious whole foods).  MOST people already consume plenty more than enough to meet their daily needs, even with the added workout.  That’s not to say we don’t need any or that you shouldn’t protein shakes at all.  Just be mindful of the sources, quality and how much you’re consuming.

All that being said, HEALTHY shakes and smoothies can be GREAT post-workout recovery options, especially because being in a liquid form makes it easier for the body to assimilate.  Just make sure the focus in on maximal nutrition, looking at the body’s needs as a whole, beyond simple protein intake.

My favorite here (shameless plug, yes, because it tastes fantastic and has so much to offer and happens to be my personal favorite) are JuicePlus+’s Complete Shakes.juice-plus--complete-variety.img  They blend down smooth, even in a shaker (SO unlike so many other brands), they’re so delicious my kids request them for dessert though they’re not loaded with sugar, they’re plant-based and they incorporate all sorts of superfood extras to further help you in your efforts to become the healthiest version of yourself possible.

Getting Too “Radical” for Your Own Good

Your awesome.  I get it.  You get it.  Everybody gets it.  While I love that you have no qualms with being so totally radical, you might want to watch how much free-radical action you’re generating during those killer workouts.  (I know.  Totally cheesy but you’ll thank me for being so ridiculous when you ponder this later.)

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We absolutely love Eden’s Garden Essential Oils. What a joy to get quality oils from a company that sows back into the lives of others!

The body produces many free radicals daily but generates even more of them during intense exercise.  Free-radical damage is a well-known offender when it comes to generating a lot of inflammation in the body (and many health experts have a saying – “inflammation is the root of all disease”).  In order to combat free radicals, we need to make sure we are taking in plenty of antioxidants, which we get from fresh fruits and vegetables.

Making it a point to include some raw fruits in our post-recovery grabs is a great way to take in plenty of extra antioxidants packaged with enzymes and nutrient rich water to hydrate and nourish the cells throughout the body.  You certainly get extra credit here for reaching for the raw greens, whether in a juice, smoothie or straight off the fork as they are chock full of phytonutrients to support restoration and vitality to every cell and tissue throughout the body.

 

 

Resources:

(1) Ivy JL, Lee MC, Broznick JT Jr, Reed MJ. Muscle glycogen stor- age a er di erent amounts of carbohydrate ingestion. J Appl Physiol. 1988;65(5):2018-2023.

(2) Liljeberg HG, Akergerg AK, Björck IM. E ect of the glycemic index and content of indigestible carbohydrates of cereal-based breakfast meals on glucose tolerance at lunch in healthy sub- jects. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;69(4):647-655.

(3) Berning JR, Steen SN. Nutrition for Sport and Exercise. Gaithers- burg, MD: Aspen Publishers; 1998.

Ditching This Mindset Will Work Wonders on Your Eating

By LaTricia Morris, Author, Illustrator, Integrative Wellness Counselor and the Founder of Eden Life Ministries and See Kids Thrive

Over the years, I’ve watched women wrestle with their eating in a number of ways.  The struggle happens on so many different levels and can stem from so many different roots.

As complex as it all is, I can’t tackle the whole of it here but I did want to touch on one common hurdle I see mark the end of the race for so many health efforts – that’s coming from a place of deprivation.

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In a way, it is very natural to us.  When we dive into a cleanse or a fast, or are just getting into a new plan to improve our eating, we tend to find ourselves mulling over the whole list of what we “cannot” have.  This is especially so where we get hungry and start thinking of all the things we’d normally eat to satisfy our cravings.  We start thinking “ooooh, I’d like this – oh wait, I can’t have that either!

Much of this is because the neural pathways in our brains that process food options and choices have been developed around those foods and have been reinforced for years, if not decades.  Those thoughts and attitudes toward different foods have literally, albeit  ever unintentionally, been hard-wired into our brains.

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Eden’s Garden Essential Oils

However, thanks to neuroplasticity (the ability of our brains to restructure based on new information, perceptions and learned thought processes) we have the ability to retrain and reroute those neural pathways toward better food choices and a healthier attitude about it all.  BUT, we have to respect that the process takes time.

There are no short-cuts for this.  This is not 21 days like many have taught for years.  The process of taking a new way of thinking or behaving and making it a habit takes about 63 days.  That may seem daunting but bear in mind that the brain is doing an incredible work in that time that will absolutely alter the rest of your life, if you but let it.

Healthful eating is not something some people were made to do and others weren’t.  It’s a trained skill and you’re more than capable of learning it.

Many people wonder how I’m not even tempted to put stuff in my mouth that others seriously wrestle to walk away from.  I am able to do it easily because God has walked me through the process that has helped me to address the root issues that were spurring the MANY eating issues I had and to rewire the thoughts and perceptions I have toward foods, leaving no desire or even cravings to eat Modern American foods.

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Fresh food at your fingertips without the time, space and work of tending a garden.  GO FRESH.  GROW VERTICAL.

I once was so not into Chard.  Now, I love it.  For many years, I felt almost powerless to my food choices but I now know that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’ve come to understand that my health efforts have nothing to do with “depriving” myself but nurturing and taking care of myself.  The Health Freedom God has given us is not about being free to eat whatever we want exempt from the consequences that come from those choices.  Food and health freedom is about being released to enjoy the foods that love us back – the foods God gave us to bring healing to our bodies, to build us up and equip us to live our lives optimally, in full spectrum.

It’s a sad fact that most people have no clue how good their bodies were designed to feel.  Too many people count their bodies among life’s burdens rather than God’s blessings.  Not eating sugar-laden, counterfeit foods of this world is not a form of deprivation.  Pairing back down to the basics and enjoying a diet rich in fresh, organically grown produce is a gift and a privilege too many in the world would be abundantly grateful to have.

I love how Lisa Terkhuerst puts it in her book “Made to Crave,” where she says (and I’m paraphrasing) “I have these boundaries to define the parameters of my freedom.”  She talks here about how God has given us boundaries in life which apply to foods as well.  Those boundaries do not deny us freedom but rather define the space in which we are free to eat and live in security, without fear of what may be lurking around.  It’s not punishment.  It’s not denial of some “finer things in life.”

God’s provision is good, exquisite, plentiful and life-giving.

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What we have to understand is that when we come from a place of deprivation (thinking in terms of what we can’t or don’t get to have) we don’t come from a victor’s mindset but one that pushes us closer to a survival mindset.  Here, we think along the lines of “look at all I can’t have… I don’t know if I’m going to make it.”  Any time a human being finds themselves submersed in discontentment and a place of perceived scarcity, they will desperately seek a way out.  I’ll quote my husband here, as he spoke in terms of our take on marriage “those who go in looking for a backdoor will find one.”  Same goes with food.  When we come in with a negative, defeated mindset, we’ll come up with any number of excuses to ditch it and move on.  This usually ends in extreme eating and binging when we finally “release ourselves” back to our old ways of eating.

This sort of deprivation (survival-based) mindset primes us to think even more about the food and prompts us to eat more, only making the cycle and struggle worse.

It’s not that it all has to be so hard but we have a way of making the struggle way more than it ever should be.  This is just not sustainable.

So, how do we break these patterns?  While it may take some time and effort, it can be done.  You can retrain your brain to LOVE eating healthfully and to have zero desire to eat the foods you once struggled to avoid.

Here are some of my keys to doing just that:

1.  Catch & Replace

The Word tells us that we are to take our thoughts captive.  You’ve got to be on guard to catch the thoughts that are keeping you trapped and to intentionally replace them with thoughts that align with your goals and what you know to be true.

If you’re thinking:  “I just don’t have the willpower.”

Try thinking:  “I’m not letting that food have mastery over me.

If you’re thinking:  “I’ve tried a thousand times and just about everything.  I always fail.

Try thinking:  “My victory here is secure.  I am NOT about to just hand it over this time.  This time I WIN.

If you’re thinking:  “I’m just going to be so hungry all day

Try thinking:  “This is more than plenty and if I really need more, I’m free to/will be able to get it later.

If you’re thinking:  “It won’t taste good.  It just won’t have the flavor this will.

Try thinking:  “These foods are amazing!  I can’t believe I never realized how many options there are or how good it could be!” (yes, even when you’re not feeling it, you can at least remind yourself of all the good it’s doing for your body.)

If you’re thinking:  “I just don’t like healthy foods/_____________(parsnips, kale, fill in your own blank)”

Try thinking:  “I’m just trying to find the way I like it prepared best.  That may not have been exactly what I’m looking for but I’ll just go with a different recipe/prep it different next time.

If you’re thinking: “But a life without cake…that’s TERRIBLE!

Try thinking:  “You know, I could eat that and I’m sure it would taste good but it really doesn’t resonate with my current health and wellness goals or what I want for my future.

It’s not that you can’t have cake ever again but realize there are PLENTY of other options out there that are better suited to your health and wellness goals.

2.  Bring Success into Your Present Tense

Looking positively toward the future and planning for success is highly beneficial, even critical in your overall success.  Still, don’t underestimate the value of declaring those realities into your now moments.  Don’t just tell yourself you’re “going to eat better” as though it is still something lingering on your to-do list.  Instead, speak from a place of “I don’t eat that way anymore…  I am so glad that I’ve finally really committed to do this for myself.  No more putting it off – now is absolutely my time!”

While we’re at it, why don’t we bring up past successes too?  Don’t tell me how many times you felt you failed over all.  Look at all those meals and all those days you disproved the notion that you can’t do it.  You made it through July 21st of last year, you can make it through today and you’ll do it again and again with even more finesse.  Count your victories and watch how quickly they’ll keep piling up!

3.  Dig with Your Eyes Before You Dig with Your Fork

Instead of sitting around thinking of all the things you “can’t have,” be intentional about thinking of all you can do with the things you can have.  Don’t veg out with your phone, scouring pictures of cupcakes and wonder why a salad now doesn’t sound so appealing – you’re not prepping your brain or stomach to eat it.

We eat with our eyes (and noses) first.  Pick up a good, healthy recipe book with LOTS of pictures.  (I often tell people to nab a healthy vegan cookbook.  Even those not looking to go vegan can find incredible benefit from a recipe dedicated to making the most flavorful dishes with fruits and vegetables taking center-stage.)

Start locking in on the abundance that could be yours and all the things you really can do with fresh, whole food ingredients.  Seriously, you’re hard-pressed to ever really run out of options or get bored.  You may find a handful of go-to’s but the recipes out there could go on for eons.

4.  Declare the Victory That’s Already

Christ has already done a COMPLETE work for you.  You lack NOTHING you need to be successful.  He didn’t die on that cross or let sinful man cast such abuses on Him so you could live in and from a place of defeat and deprivation.  He came that you would have live and have it MORE ABUNDANTLY!  It’s a gift freely and already given.

We’re not meant to live in captivity and lack but in freedom and abundance.  It’s up to us to renew and reshape our thoughts around that truth as we retrain our thoughts toward life, our food choices, and ourselves. Recognize and appreciate the abundance within your reach and the rich future it primes you to walk out.

Why Christians SHOULD Be the Fittest People on the Planet Yet So Many of Them Aren’t

By LaTricia Morris, Author, Illustrator, Integrative Wellness Counselor and the Founder of Eden Life Ministries and See Kids Thrive

I know the title here may sound a bit like a bold statement but the reality is, those who’ve been redeemed by Christ and received the full measure of what He’s done for us should be the healthiest, most vibrant people you’ve ever seen.  I think one of the great testimonies to our faith is how God has given us the ability to live an abundant life, walking in wellness and joy.  Yet, too often, even when we’re willing to believe that’s His desire for others, we struggle to believe it’s His desire for us.

Is that you?

Maybe it’s just me but I get incredibly upset seeing Christians – young Christians with decades of powerful living ahead of them – miss it because they’ve settled for less than Christ’s vision for them, especially where they’ve fallen prey to modern/worldly living that’s slowly killing them.

The Word says that we’ve been given the choice – life or death, blessings or curses (Deut. 30).  God says “choose life that you and your children may live.”  We have been granted freedom but too often we use that freedom as a cover up for a lack of personal responsibility and discipline.  

Yes, we are totally free to gorge ourselves full of BonBons and Bacon Cheeseburgers but as we understand that our bodies were not created for our own indulgence and we start to process the reality of what those foods do to us, do we honestly believe that way of living resonates at all with the plans and the call God has on our lives?  I’d argue a VERY LOUD “ABSOLUTELY NOT!”

While there are many things that have held us captive in our health (and believe me, I have every intention of tackling them in the time ahead), there are several acts we need to catch ourselves in so we can turn the tables on our health and consequently become more powerful and effective in every other area of our lives.  That’s not to say we have to be perfect but we should be doing the best we can with what we’ve been given.

I typically try to keep my writing a little more upbeat and really hope you guys don’t think I’m out to give anyone a word-lashing, but I really feel like these are some key points we, as the Church, need to rethink and I don’t really know how else to approach it but head-on.  Sugar-coating it, playing victim and patting ourselves on the back about it isn’t helping!

I look forward to every opportunity to encourage and uplift here but we have got to be willing to catch ourselves in these traps so we can learn to avoid them in the future, freeing us to embrace an incredible life.

Dr. Caroline Leaf consistently reiterates the importance of being “transformed by the renewing of the mind.”  We have to change our mind before we change our behavior and today we’re doing just that.

1. We abuse the privileges granted in Scripture.

Got a Christian that doesn’t want to exercise?  You just might hear:  “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”  (1 Timothy 4:8)  

Note, this passage doesn’t say physical training is of no value.  It merely reminds us of the priorities we ought to have – godliness is of more value than speed or brute strength.  Physical training is good for this lifetime but spiritual training is good for eternity.

Maybe you have somebody who wants to eat whatever they want to eat and they don’t want to hear a thing about it…  They might say, “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.”  (Colossians 2:16)

 

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And I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been asked about passages in which God declared “all foods clean.”  {Yes, He declared them “clean” in that what we eat has no bearings on our spiritual status.  A rack of ribs will not disqualify from entering His presence but that doesn’t change the scavenger nature of the animal it came from. }

The thing is, the issue here is not about holiness and sanctification to which these passages are referring – the issue hereis stewardship.  God set the record straight with Peter because the food laws of the Jewish people were serving as a barrier keeping people from hearing the Gospel.  It was creating division amongst a people God intended to be united.  However, this was not to say that all foods are equal in terms of our health. 

While we are free from sin and the bondage that comes with rigid legalism, we are not exempt from biological cause and effect.

We can totally acknowledge the importance of demonstrating good stewardship over our finances and even in not being wasteful with things like food.  We understand that as good stewards, we should care for our environments, taking good care of the gifts God has granted and striving to be wise with the resources He’s given us, using what He’s provided to advance His kingdom and live a life that brings Him praise.  

Now, maybe my view is a little less conventional here but hear me out.  

We only get ONE body and that ONE body is our “earth suit” in which we walk out the entirety of our lifetime.  That ONE body, can be a great gift to you OR it can be the source of some of your greatest burdens.  By and large, that choice is up to you.  While I don’t claim to know the answer as to why some people never see the fullness of healing here on earth or why some people are born with disabilities we do not yet have an answer to, the evidence is increasingly clear that MOST people could be living an incredibly vibrant life ifthey were but willing to seek God’s wisdom, pray it through, and align their lives with that desire.   

Yes, you have every right to eat processed foods that destroy your body and eventually lead to disease.  But, as Paul says “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say–but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’-but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Cor. 6:12)   

At some point, we have to realize that our determination to eat the foods that result in death and disease is not a measure of freedom but rather a form of bondage.  If you do something you know you ought not (especially where you know you really don’t want the results inherent to it), you are not walking in freedom but enslavement to something the enemy will, if given the opportunity, use to destroy you.

Pray God would help you see His plan for you in this area and that He would give you the scriptures and support to help you realize it.  

2. We take the gift for granted.

I know it may not seem overly profound to put it this way but in a great way, I think we should walk in the gifts we have with gratitude, rather than tossing them aside as we take them for granted, knowing there are so many that wish they could have such gifts and don’t.  

In terms of food, we live in a time and country where most of us have access to incredible, life-giving foods in abundance yet we choose, (for whatever reason we offer) to let them rot on the shelves.  People around the globe wish they could eat so well while we stock our pantries with non-foods and complain about why we don’t really like all that healthy stuff.  So many call it “rabbit food” and turn their noses up to it.  Excuse me but, no, that’s human food and is an incredible gift to have.

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Here’s where some may not like me but I shall toss it out there any way.  It’s not theory.  It’s fact.  Acknowledging it could save your life.  Ignoring it could cost you dearly, even your own life.

God made us.  God made the food that would feed us – food that would give us energy and help our bodies ward of all manner of disease.  The food God provided is God’s provision (“pro”+”vision” = for the vision He has for our lives).  He made it to nourish and satisfy, prevent cancer, rid our bodies of all manner of toxins, abolish inflammation, repair tissues and more.  Yet, we say “God, I don’t like that.  I’d rather eat what this company/restaurant/fast food joint made…”  (As though Nabisco is somehow better at making food than God. ? )

Now, when that all backfires, because we have chosen man-made counterfeits to God’s provision, whose fault is that?   I’m not trying to throw guilt but I am trying to challenge our perspectives.  

We should be eating and living for purpose over pleasure.  Any time pleasure takes the helm in our decision-making process, destruction is not far behind.  It catches up with us all eventually.  Yet, when we determine to eat and live for purpose rather than for pleasure, we end up finding great pleasure in the things that fuel the purpose.

How do we justify eating ourselves into diabetes and heart disease then act like God put that on us as our cross to bear?  If this is where you’re at, I hate to have to tell you but no doctor or medication will/can bring about the fullness of life that only God and His provision can give.  Too many Christians make it too easy on the enemy when it comes to taking us out.  We’re killing ourselves with a fork and still giving him the credit.

With fitness too, we need to stop complaining because those first few minutes hurt or because its work.  We should be incredibly grateful to be able.  Even if we’re so far from “fit,” we can’t fathom stepping onto a track, we can still take those first few steps then ask God’s help to take a few more. 

I recently walked with a very determined young man as he left his wheelchair to make his way up two sets of stairs to walk with our group.  He was on his knees because he couldn’t walk but, holding onto the rail with one hand, and my hand under his other arm, he made it to the top.  You could see his pain and struggle but he made it.  In my heart of hearts I know that if he had but the chance, he’d run – he’d run with all he’s got.

Stop complaining that you “have to walk” here or there or the length of a few extra parking spaces at the grocery store and be grateful you can.  

I dare you to step to health and fitness in gratitude – even and especially when it gets hard.  Instead of telling yourself how bad you hate it, tell your God how grateful you are that He has made you able and that He is making you stronger with every step you take with Him toward the amazing life He’s envisioned for you.

Do you realize what Christ has given that you could live well?

He bore the stripes upon His back that we would be healed (1 Pet. 2:24), he came to set the captives free (Isa. 61:1) and came that you would have life and life more abundantly (John 10:10).  

I cannot tell you with what depth of sincerity I pray that we as Christians would come to understand and appreciate what we’ve been given and that we would walk in the incredible gifts He has so freely granted us all.

3. We forget who we’re living for.

We as Christians understand that we have been bought with a price.  Our lives are not our own.  In that, I come from a perspective that while my body is a gift given me by God for my use in the time that I am here, it is not to be used just for my own ends or pleasure.  

This body is one of the greatest assets I have as I work to reach people with the Gospel and for meeting the needs of those around me.  With these arms, I get to bring comfort and carry my little ones.  With these feet I get to go wherever God sends me or travel whatever distance I must to walk alongside others, using the voice I’ve been given to uplift and speak life over all I can.  

My body is a gift to me but it is not exclusively for me.  I was created by God with works prepared in advance for me to do and it is much harder to do those things if I abuse the body he’s given me to do them with.  

Again, we’re talking about stewardship.  My aim is not to make it all about me but to protect my capacity to serve God and others.  

Image result for tower gardens
Fresh food at your fingertips without the time, space and work of tending a garden.  GO FRESH.  GROW VERTICAL.

I don’t know about you but I’m not up for spending the last 3-5 DECADES of my life deteriorating, winding down into the grave.  I want to make the most out of this ONE LIFE I’ve been given, to be as powerful and effective as I can in my ONE SHOT to do so.  

Once the curtain drops on your life, that’s it.  Won’t you be so glad to say you didn’t live it just to indulge and die but that you lived it with purpose on purpose.  Safeguarding your health plays a critical part in that!

4. We fail to see what it means to everyone else.

Last but not least, we often let ourselves get away with not walking in wellness because we limit our view on who it affects to ourselves.  The truth is, you cannot even begin to calculate the lives that are impacted whether you are walking in sickness or in health.  

Growing up with a mom who was always sick, I believe this especially applies to our spouses and children.  

Consider the gifts you give to them when you take care of yourself and consider what you’re ultimately asking of them when you don’t.

Even beyond our immediate family, there are countless people in the world desperately in need of the gifts God has placed within you to give to them.  Too many Christians flick through the channels and scroll through the stories with an “awe, that’s so sad, I’ll have to pray for that…” when they find themselves too weak/tired/sick/distracted to respond any other way.  Yes, pray.  Pray continuously.  But remember what James said loud and clear – faith without works is dead.  We pray but we’ve also been called to take action and to make a difference in this world.

Too many Christians are so tied up in doctor’s offices and waiting chairs that they feel powerless to affect the many things unfolding around us.  Yet, meanwhile, people are dying because they lack basic resources.  Widows and the elderly are slowly losing themselves in loneliness and a life they can no longer keep up with.  Precious, amazing children, who but wish they had someone to wrap a pair of loving arms around them are being cast aside or trafficked for use by wicked men.  

I know this view may seem harsh – maybe even extreme – but it’s still not as extreme as Christians willingly/carelessly settling for a life that’s far less than what we’ve been called to and actually believing we’re powerless against the world as it devolves around us.  Are cookies, cakes, pies and fries really worth it?  Are we really willing to trade off a life of power for a life of indulgence?  That’s not how the children of God should be living!  

 

It’s long past time we as Christians accepted that there’s much more to our lives than ourselves and that there are others out there waiting and counting on us to be who God Himself has made us to be.  We should strive to be the healthiest, fittest people on the planet because we’re determined to live ready to be used, ready to help, ready to be a light in this dark world.

We don’t have time for self-indulgence and lackluster living.

We must rise up and walk in the victory God has granted us in every area of our lives.

God has placed within you a gift to help bring the change that the world so desperately needs.  I dare you to live in such a spiritual, mental and physical preparedness that as God says “GO!,” you’re hopping saying “God, I’m ready!”

I am so grateful that as you determine to shine for Him, He is going to shine through you – accomplishing great and mighty things beyond your wildest imagination!

 

4 Ways Women are Losing the War on Health & How We Can Rise to Conquer


Seriously.  Could we be any more engulfed in drug ads and companies aching to scratch that itch to look and feel better?!  It’s insane to ponder all the companies, products, programs, books and plans out there, all claiming to be THE answer you’ve been looking for to get your health and your life back on track.  Even though, much of it comes down to the ever-so-simple yet ever-so-overlooked areas of diet and lifestyle.

Whole food nutrition and movement – two simple things that can impact your health in such a huge and awesome way yet we struggle to believe it could really be that simple.  

Yes.  It is. 

I think we’re getting this.  I think we’re inching our ways over toward understanding yet why do we struggle so profusely with simply implementing what we know?  We want to live well but there always seems to be that one thing standing in the way.  (Okay, maybe 23 things for some of us.  Whatever.  Today’s discussion still applies.)

We all have our obstacles; some of us more so than others.  But, what we have to realize is that regardless of the obstacles that lie before us, we can walk in victory in our health.  The road may not be easy but it’s certainly not a dead end.  In fact, it just might be the start of an adventure of a lifetime.  It surely has been for me.

Far too many of us have been losing the war on health and it is costing us, and our families, dearly.  The phenomenal news is that IT’S NOT TOO LATE!  You can totally hit the reset button in each of these areas and watch incredible things unfold in immediate and long-term results.

1.  We Call Self-Neglect Self-Sacrifice

Being a wife and mother of two, I understand that these are jobs of many sacrifices.  From that “I do” and from the moments of conception and birth, many things must be set aside or adjusted to make room for a wife and mommy to meet all of her household’s needs.  

It’s what we do. We take care of our homes.  It’s Biblical, right?

It seems that mode of adjusting never really stops as our lives ever fluctuate and fill in the cracks with each time and season our family is in.  

Amongst all the chaos and the crazy, we have a tendency to put certain things on the back burner while we tend to everything else.  Unfortunately, for countless women, health seems to be one of first things set aside and overlooked; at least until it starts to fail us.

The problem with this is that the longer we put it off, the greater the risk we run of exhausting our capacity to be of any help to those we love and seek so much to serve.  Not only does our ability to help them steadily diminish but also our capacity to even help ourselves.  NOT where you want to be.

While I totally get and appreciate the sacrificial heart of a loving wife and mother, I hope you are not blurring the lines between self-sacrifice and self-neglect.  Don’t view your efforts to take care of yourself as time or energy you’re taking from them.  Rather, view them as another way you give to them – a means of protecting (and increasing) your ability to keep pouring into your family.


Start taking healthy back with one simple change.

2. We Claim We’re Keeping the Peace

I can’t tell you how many women regularly buckle under the pressure to eat and feed their families junk they know they should not be eating in some sort of effort to “keep the peace” in the home.  While I believe in promoting an environment of joy and peace, especially at the kitchen table, this IS NOT an area to fold up under.  

If this is you, know that even as you “keep the peace,” you may be “winning a battle” while you very well may be losing the war.  We all have to learn to “pick our battles.”  True.  But, we also need to recognize the time to take a stand with all we’ve got, determined to take hold of the prize that awaits our families on the other side of our efforts.

I know it isn’t always easy getting everyone else on board.  To ease tensions, I HIGHLY encourage you to make sure your lines of communication are strong.  Help them understand what you’re looking to accomplish and why.  

Also, never underestimate the power of education.  The kitchen is a great place to teach our families and equip them to live long, vibrant lives.  You don’t have to shove sprouts and apples down there throats daily to help them live healthfully.  

Rather than trying to force them to adopt your take on it, try educating them so they can draw their own conclusions.  Though some still hold their ground on the not-so-good food choices, many, as they come to understand what certain foods do to the body, will determine on their own that they don’t want to put those things into their bodies.  It’s here you get to go from an adversarial position into a more supportive role in which you get to be there to learn together and help them reach their own health and wellness goals.

Even in households where the struggle gets a little more “real,” you can totally get to a place where it’s not even an issue any more as everyone comes to appreciate what does and doesn’t count as food. THEY WILL become more cooperative and will gain a greater capacity to really win in every other area of their lives.  They just need you to hold steady – Consistent and Persistent!

Misguided Perceptions

In talking to as many people as I do, you hear a lot things that people think when they weigh in on healthful eating that, often times, simply aren’t true.  Here are a few examples and the responses I would give to each.

  • “It’s too expensive.” – While organic and whole foods can get more costly on the front end they are still far less costly than eating out or overeating on processed foods as our bodies crave more in volume in an attempt to fill the nutritional void.  Eating healthfully is certainly less costly than getting sick.   Did you know the average American will carry 3 times as much in medical debt as they will bank or credit card debt?  Yes, eating healthy cost more than eating processed/refined foods.  You wouldn’t expect to drive a Cadillac on a Pinto budget.  Still, you can save money and boost your health by spending less money on sweets and meats and more on things like bulk buys of beans, lentils, grains and cereals.
  • “It takes too much time.” – Many incredible, life-giving foods can be prepared in the same or less time than going through a drive through or prepping those meals-in-a-bag.  It’s often more a matter of  perception of the simplicity.  We have a tendency to view the time spent on the same-ole-same-ole as being less than that spent on creating something new because of the thought and engagement involved.  On one, our brains just kindly slip into neutral.  On the other, we’re pacing out each step.  As you learn to embrace new habits in the kitchen, you’ll soon have no trouble popping off into the kitchen and whipping up something healthy.
  • “I won’t like it.” – Palates are trained.  Just like yours have become trained to like what you now eat, it can be trained to truly love a grander array of bright and flavorful foods.  Stop deciding in advance that you won’t like it and start determining that you will.  You may be on your quest to find the ways you best like them prepared but YOU WILL find them.  Just keep at it.

Here’s the thing, if you truly want to win the war on health for you and your family, you’ve got to get your head in the game!  Any part of your thinking that doesn’t resonate with the vibrant life you’re out to live has got to go!

Think you have no time for nutrition?  

Make your day Complete with grab’n’go goodness.

Non-GMO – Vegan – Low Fat – No Cholesterol – No Artificial Flavoring – No Coloring – No preservatives – No Wheat, Dairy or Eggs – No Added Caffeine or Herbs



  1. Misaligned Priorities

I once saw a video of a guy who had no cable, no big screen tv’s…  his family didn’t go for all the thrills, bells and whistles in life BUT they enjoyed an abundance of fresh, organic produce every day.  Seeing this, challenged my thinking in a great way.  

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve come across sporting iPhones, iWatches, nice cars, and straight bedazzled to the nines on a Ramen Noodle diet.  Because, clearly the items we may use on a daily basis for a number of months/years rank well higher than the bodies we live in constantly from cradle to grave.

I really don’t mean to be offensive but I do want us to see the distortion in our thinking and how our priorities sometimes get a little out of whack.

Most people could make HUGE differences in the health within their households if they so much as took the money being applied to, say, the cable bill or some other extra and put it on the grocery bill.  I know, some months can run tight and in many areas, the bills just have to be paid.  Still, I cannot beg you enough – if the strain with healthy eating is financial, please don’t let the grocery budget be at the top of the list for places to look to crop expenses!  

When it comes to food and your health – we tend to get what we pay for.  

The question is (whether we’re talking the rewards of eating healthfully or the consequences of eating poorly) are you really willing to pay what it will cost you?

The health of your family is hands-down, one of the wisest investments you can make.  Little by little, it all adds up and totally pays back in spades.

Time & Energy

In terms of time and energy, the same questions apply – where are your priorities?   

After a long day at work, yes, I can be flat exhausted.  Sometimes the stanky stuff hits the fan and we just have to roll with what we can.  Still I ask, are you dedicating the time and energy needed in the kitchen to carefully craft the kind of health and future you want for you and your family?

On days when you’re bogged down with the “I-don’t-feel-like-it’s” or any number of excuses, just think of what you’re really after here and why, and I’m confident you’ll totally muster up the moxie to step it back up.
And, we’re out.

I know, that was a total eye-full but know this – you can win this!  Not a single word here is meant to tear you down – only to be used as tools to tear down the obstacles in your health – real and potential.

You can so win this in a huge way for you, your children, your grandchildren…  You’ve all been created to be and do “incredible” beyond anything you could possibly presently imagine.  That’s why I’m so excited to see you, sword (or chef knife) in hand, ready to take back what’s rightfully yours – health, wellness and amazingly scrumptious eats.

Sick of being sick? I was too. Here’s what I did about it.

Sick of being stuck in a rut of crap eating and poor health?  I was too.  For too long, I’d believed the lie that sickness, disease, depression, obesity and lackluster living were all just part of the life I’d grow to live.  I thought it was just in our family’s DNA.  What a crock!

Something had to change.  I had to change.

Wielding little more than a sharp knife, a couple of delicious-looking recipes and a handful of scriptures, I dove into my first 11-week intensive health initiative.  Yes, I probably should have had my head examined.  Yes, I prayed my way through those last few 10 weeks and 5 days, wondering if I’d ever make it.  No, I’ve never been the same.  

While I could write a list probably a good 39.25 miles long on all the things I’ve learned on this journey, I shall refrain and simply offer these 5 key concepts that have helped to radically change my health and that can radically improve yours too.

1. Realized it wasn’t my doctor’s job

I know this is where I tend to step on a lot of toes.  (Before it has some of you coming after me, I am not telling you not to see your doctor.  It is your right and responsibility to seek out competent healthcare and team up with well educated health professionals to accomplish your health and wellness goals.)

What I am saying is that anybody who assumes that it’s their doctor’s job to fix them (not taking the initiative to invest in their own health), is going to have a very hard time ever achieving true wellness.

It’s in taking a proactive approach that you’re going to find yourself more empowered and better equipped to live your life to its fullest.  

That’s not someone else’s job.  That’s your job.

As well educated as any physician may be, if you refuse to do what you know you should be doing, i.e., eating right, exercising, and adopting healthy lifestyle choices, there really isn’t much of anything anybody can do for you.

When we take our health as our own, personal responsibility, we are better able to team up with the right health professionals in our effort to achieve real health and wellness without the use of (or with at least minimal use of) any sort of met medication/remedies whatsoever.

2. Changed my mind a time or ten.

I believe there is a GREAT deal to be said for reassessing old ways of thinking and, where needed, giving ourselves a mental overhaul.  When we really think about it, are we willing to pay the price of poor eating?  I think not.

I used to think like a lot of people.  I thought of certain foods as “treats” until I realized that a food that would do my body as much harm as conventional eats do, isn’t really “treating” myself anyway I want to be “treated.”  

Now, I enjoy taking great delight in foods that love me back while tasting absolutely scrumptious.

I could really go on here but you can fill in your own blank.  What are some things you’ve caught yourself thinking and/or saying that you know really doesn’t align with your current health goals or line up with the kind of life you want to live?

3. I got more of the good stuff.  

Like most people, when I decided to step it up in my health, I thought I had myself covered with a simple multivitamin but soon enough learned, they ARE NOT all created equal.

I started flooding my body with the highest quality nutrition I could, emphasizing prevention over medicine.

An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure!

While I’m ever working to maximize my plate, I know that having something to help my family bridge the gap between the fruits and vegetables we should be eating and the ones we actually are is really helpful (let’s face it – 7-13 servings a day can sometimes get past the best of us).  

For a long time, I invested in high quality supplements boasting a broad range of vitamins and minerals.  As great as these were, I jumped off this wagon and got our family hooked up with JuicePlus+ to give my family an excellent added source of whole food nutrition.  (Mega awesome that we get it for our kids totally free.  Even more awesome that you could be getting it free for your kids too.)

In addition to JuicePlus+, we are ever working to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to every meal.  Organic isn’t always accessible or affordable but we do strive to buy organic and eat as clean as possible.

If in doubt, check the label.  Even better – focus on foods that don’t need a label.

4. Stop taking shortcuts

When was the last time you caught yourself racing to beat that other car to the spot closest to the door?

Come on… we’ve all done it.  Now, knock it off!  

Some days we’re in a REALLY big hurry and some days we’re in no hurry to get moving.  Wherever you’re at, I hope you’ll start making it a point to stop taking the easy route and look for opportunities to add movement into your day.

Yes, scheduling time to workout is great and something we should all be doing.

Still, whether you’re at the gym at 6am or not, you can and should be looking for every opportunity to challenge your body and get that blood flowing.  Don’t underestimate the benefits of taking a few extra stairs or walking a little further.

5. Made it my job to help others do the same.

You may think this one is not for you.  Maybe, maybe not.  But, don’t think that you have to start a blog or jump in to health coaching to be able to help others in achieving their health and wellness goals.  Teaming up with others is a great way to keep ourselves on point.  

You may think you’re in no shape to be helping someone else get healthy.  

I STRONGLY disagree.  

You may not be where you’d like to be but the life you live can be a great testimony to others, inspiring them to eat better and live better.   

Whether you’re just getting started or feel like you’ve been at it for eons, you really can make a huge difference in your own health and in the lives of those around you as you realize you totally can take the steps to a healthier more vibrant you!  

What steps are you taking today toward the you you want to be tomorrow?

 

Forget “Willpower.” Here’s What You Really Need.

The day was shear madness!  I had finally had enough. Stress levels were through the roof and I felt like was on the brink of flipping my e v e r – l o v i n g – l i d. Then came the overwhelm. I just couldn’t take it anymore.   

At the time I was a good way through a big health initiative but in that moment, I could care less. My hand was on the fridge as I was ready to pitch it all by the wayside to cushion the borage of emotional blows with one massive bowl of pasta that’d been stashed, unintentionally, for just such a moment.  Because, you know…nothing really chases away the worries of a stressful day quite like a face full of carbs, right?

Almost. I almost went for it but then I didn’t. I didn’t because it was in that moment, just as that lovely refrigerator light started to break free from the door, I reminded myself that the food didn’t cause the problem and it wasn’t going to fix the problem. In fact, it was only going to make me feel worse when it was all said and done. The day had been bad enough. The last thing I needed was to end it in more defeat.

How many times I’ve heard women tell me they want to eat better and live more healthfully but they just don’t have the “willpower.”  If this is you, hear me loud and clear here – IT’S NOT ABOUT WILLPOWER.  Or, as I remember hearing some time back ago – “It’s about the food but it’s not about the food.

While there a number of factors that can come into play and things that can make some food cravings more intense than others, I think one of the biggest things we’re lacking isn’t willpower, it’s perspective.

When I hear the term “willpower” the image of arm wrestling comes to mind. Are we going to sit, pushing and pulling back and forth with it or do we gather enough sense to just walk away from the table?

Have you ever wondered why some people let themselves slip into alcoholism or drug addiction?   We rack our brains, perplexed at how anyone would consume or use something they know is going to destroy their bodies and wreak havoc in their families. Come on. I mean, we know that when someone starts using that stuff it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” it’s going to come back to bite them in the rear. The chances are VERY good that it will result in sickness and/or death.

Yet many do it every day with the food and beverages we bring into our homes and think so little of it. We’re killing ourselves slowly with a fork and calling it a delight. 

You may be thinking “whoa…that’s a bit harsh…” When you think about it, is it really?  Many physicians now agree that anywhere from 70-90% of all disease could be prevented or cured through proper diet and lifestyle choices. We know, for a fact, that processed, refined, and chemically treated foods damage the gut, harm the brain, raise blood pressure, and promote diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Yet, we look away thinkin we don’t have time to be bothered with it or we don’t think that we are capable of implementing a better plan because we think it would take too much of that “willpower” stuff we’re sure we don’t have enough of.

The problem has never been the willpower.  What we’ve really needed is some better perspective, better understanding and some personal responsibility in hopping to the helm and turning that ship around.

The most pivotal moments in my health have come on the other side of me changing my mind about the food I was eating and the way I was living. I’m still ever growing here as I learn new things. {I think we should ever strive to learn and grow!} 

I think a big one here, as we gain perspective, is redefining what we call food. 

You and your family are incredible and incredibly important. Your bodies have certain needs that should and must be met through the foods you eat.  

When someone says “I just don’t have enough willpower,” what they’re really getting at is that they’ve either not fully understood the implications of how their food choices impact their lives OR that they’re still not ready to commit to eating for purpose over pleasure.

When I say you should learn to eat for purpose over pleasure, understand that that doesn’t mean you have to relegate yourself to a lifetime of eating foods you hate.  As you place the purpose (you and your family living healthful, vibrant lives) at the forefront of your decision-making process, you’re going to see a lot of changes in how you want to eat. Your body will soon love being nurtured by all the healthful foods you’re eating and your palate will change.

When you learn to eat for purpose over pleasure, you will soon enough find great pleasure in the things that feed the purpose.

In no area of our lives are we called to place pleasure at the forefront of our decisions. That is not to say we should avoid anything we enjoy. That’s just to say that it shouldn’t be the leading factor. Think about it. When pleasure (especially immediate satisfaction) is priority number one, we can make some really dumb decisions that, quite often, we only regret later. Whether we spend too much on that stupid thingy-ma-bob that just looked so cool in the store or binge on cheesecake (or pasta), we have to recognize that placing pleasure front and center in our thinking and behavior is not freedom, its recklessness.

I think this is one area where some may take me as harsh or where I’m not always fully understood in how I think or how I pray for people. It truly breaks my heart to see people, especially Jesus-loving believers, run down with sickness and disease. It hurts to see them wrestle to understand why God would want them to be sick and carry these diseases when I don’t believe that’s the issue at all. For that, I can’t pray the same way I hear so many others pray. I would never seek to diminish or question the heartfelt prayers of my brothers and sisters. As we’re talking about here, I’m merely talking about a matter of perspective.

We have a measure of responsibility in our living. It may seem fanciful to pray “God, take away my cravings for bad foods.” But we have to be willing to step to the plate (or back from it) in an effort to live the ways we know we should.  There are many factors that can come into play; many variables that can add great weight to the struggle.  We absolutely need God’s help to navigate these waters as we set out on such a quest.  I truly believe that where it’s our hearts desire to live healthfully and to live a life that brings Him glory, He is absolutely 100% there to help. Still, we have our choices to make.

Are the choices you’re making today lining up with the things you’ve been seeking God for, or the things your heart has most deeply longed for, or are they working in opposition to them?

Perspective.

Open eyes.

Understanding.

How I pray God gives us them all.

I truly believe that incredible things are before you, but, I also believe that before many of us can take hold of those things, we have to be willing to take a step back and honestly evaluate how we’re living and what/Who we’re living for. 

Make up your mind and move forward.

Don’t ponder. Don’t pace. Can the “What if’s,” the “maybe’s,” and the notion that you somehow have to muster up the power to “wrestle down” those cravings/inclinations. Yes, there may be a struggle for a time but once your mind is made up, it’s just up to you to walk it out. Soon enough, it won’t even be an issue any more and you’ll be right back on track to changing the world.

So, how about it?  What are some things that have come into light lately for you and how are those things helping you to realign your life with how you’d really love to live?

8 Super Hideable Healthfoods

hide-able-health-foods-fb

By LaTricia Morris, Author, Illustrator, Integrative Wellness Counselor and Founder of See Kids Thrive & Eden Life Ministries

So, we understand a healthy diet is critical to our growth and wellbeing.  No need to sugar-coat it anymore.  The Standard American Diet is a slow poison that’s killing us.  We know we need to be getting more fruits and veggies (especially now that the daily rec’s are 7-13 servings a day [16-18 for athletic types]).  Yet, between time and taste buds, we find it incredibly difficult to get NEAR that much.  

What on earth is a mother to do?  Right?  

Well, I guess you could duct tape them to a chair and threaten those wee little tots with a lifetime of slop’n’biscuits if they don’t make those peas vanish STAT!  

OR, you could spare yourself the drama and the chaos (and maybe the fun of it) and opt to help their bodies grow to appreciate those fresh fruits and veggies by slipping some extras under the radar.  

Get crafty with these easy to hide foods that “power up” any meal.

 

Avocados

To some, these creamy, dreamy babies are perfect with anything sweet, savory, spicy, tart… okay, with everything.  To some others, that green, mushy madness is a straight no-go.  

While we love avocadoes sliced, diced and straight off the spoon, we also love their versatility (along with their incredible health benefits).  Try mashed avocadoes in place of mayo in wraps and sandwiches; drop it in a food processor with some cacao and raw honey/agave for a chocolate pudding that will rock your world, or throw it in the blender to make a decadently creamy smoothie or shake.  

Zucchini

This summer beauty is delicious raw or cooked but the waxy texture of zucchini and squash can be a little off-putting to some.  Mix things up by throwing thin slices on a pizza or mixing it into pasta.  Spiralize it and use it in place of pasta in spaghetti or fettuccine.  Slice it lengthwise and layer it into a lasagna.  Slice and bake them into Zucchini Chips or puree them and bake them into cookies, muffins and {sweet} breads.

Beans

Beans beans, good for the heart; the more you eat, the more you… Hey, knock that off!

I love beans and always seem to find ways to incorporate them into all sorts of things.  So, you kid doesn’t always like straight beans… who cares?  There are LOTS of scrumptious ways to enjoy them.  One of my kids’ favorites right now is to enjoy them in salad blends that would remind you of, say, a fish or chicken salad but without all the meat’n’mayo action.  Instead of mayo, you simply use a combination of tahini, cider or wine vinegar and a touch of maple and salt.  Instead of the meat, you coarsely mash your drained beans in a medium bowl with a fork or spud-masher.  Sauce it up with your mayo substitute and mix up the flavor with some of your favorite combos such as minced carrots and celery, sweet pepper and scallions, or cranberries and walnuts (drop the crazy-brow – it’s absolutely delicious in a chickpea salad).

Add a bean mash to wraps, paninis and other handhelds or sweeten the deal by incorporating them into cookies, brownies or truffles.  

Pumpkin, Sweet Potato or Apples

These harvest time favorites seldom need hiding as they truly shine on their own.  Still, where you’re looking to slip in a little extra of these nutritional powerhouses, you just may find yourself having a little too much fun with all the recipes that allow you to incorporate them.  Pumpkin, Sweet Potato and Apple purees can be incorporated into brownies; used in place of oils or liquids in cookies, breads, pancakes and waffles; or whipped into a deliciously festive fall soup.  Drop them in the blender for smoothies or for a fun twist on your favorite pasta sauces.

Broccoli

You may wonder how on earth you’re going to get those tell-tale florets on that plate all “incognito” but fret not, my dear, fret not.

While most reach no further than the cheese drawer to bring the broc, there really are so many more healthy ways to enjoy it.  Case in point: pasta sauce.  Open blender, drop in favorite organic sauce and some steamed or frozen-but-thawed broccoli florets and puree away.  Dump in saucepan to heat and you are in business!  Like pesto?  Break out the mini-chopper and pulse in some broccoli.  Dips & spreads?  Broccoli!  Cake?  You guessed it!  Broccoli!  Wait…what?  Okay, kidding, don’t put it in a cake.  (Though, I’m sure if you’re like some Cupcake Wars star, you could pull it off.  Otherwise, let’s just not go there…)  Hey…you can use them for broccoli and sweet potato cakes!

Pizza, stir-fry, ramen, soup…  So many possibilities for these green gems and even some for their stems as many markets are now also offering broccoli slaw mix which turns into an out of this world side dish when dressed in a maple balsamic vinaigrette with cranberries and walnuts.

Cauliflower

Yes, there really are more ways to enjoy it than steamed and drowning in cheddar.  

Serve cauliflower up buffalo-style.  Throw it on a pizza or whip it up as a hash.  Throw it in the blender for a delicious, creamy, low-cal retake on a classic alfredo sauce.  Pulse it into cauliflower rice or to make up a delectably dippable batch of cauli-tots.

As much as I’d love to keep going here, all this food talk is making me a little hungry and I happen to be sitting right next to the kitchen.  So, yeah, um… your turn!  What are some of your favorite ways to get those extra fruits and veggies in throughout your day?

 

How to Stop Flushing Your Money Down the Loo on Dietary Supplements

By LaTricia Morris, Author, Illustrator, Integrative Wellness Counselor and Founder of See Kids Thrive & Eden Life Ministries

With growing demand for nutritional supplements, there are literally thousands of products on the market with countless new brands ever trying to breach this lucrative industry.  

If you’re like the majority, you may just be standing there scratching your head, wondering “What’s the difference?”  Many people simply want to cut the crapola and get down to business – Which are the best supplements to take?

The thing is, it’s not just about which products are the best but which are also the safest and most effective.  Some sources are a complete rip-off at best and flat toxic at worst.  In fact, GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart have been implicated by New York’s Attorney General  and others for selling fraudulent supplements.  As their report stated, these supplements were found “to be fake or highly adulterated and contaminated.”

I get it.  It can be easy to get sucked in by crafty sales pitches and deep “discounts” that make you feel like you’re getting a really good bang for your buck.  Quite frankly, we’re sick of you being cheated and lied to.

Here are some of the things that we look for in selecting top quality products to help you realize your greatest health ambitions.

Nutrient Form

Calcium is calcium.  Right?  Wrong!

If you’ve ever checked the back of the bottle, you may have noticed that many nutrients have parentheticals next to the nutrient.  For example, the bottle might say “Potassium (as potassium aspartate)”

Read labels carefully to see what nutrient forms are included.   

For some nutrients, such as Vitamin E and beta-carotene, you want to make sure you’re getting natural, not synthetic, forms.

Minerals also come in various forms.  Elemental minerals, such as those found in soil, are not readily absorbed, so manufacturers typically bind them to amino acids or other substances that our bodies are able to take in. These are known as “chelated” minerals, and have names such as “Magnesium Biglycinate Chelate” on the back label.

In general, most forms of minerals are acceptable, but there are some differences in bioavailability based on your health status. The most common form of calcium—calcium carbonate—for example, is found in many supplements because it’s cheap though it isn’t well absorbed by most people, especially those who are deficient in hydrochloric acid.

Quality supplements from quality sources are key for getting top value for your dollar.

Dosage Level

Once you’ve determined which form you’re looking for, you’ll want to check the label for dosage level.  On the surface, Bottle A containing 60 caps for $20 may seem a better buy than Bottle B containing 30 caps for $18.  However, if the dosage for Bottle A is 2 caps daily and Bottle B’s is 1 daily, B may actually the better buy.

Be sure to check the dosage – serving size and amount per serving, as well as the suggested use (whether you should be taking it once, twice or thrice a day…).  You want to make sure the product has enough of the active ingredients or nutrients to actually improve your health.  

For example, an arthritis supplement may boast a slew of excellent ingredients, including 500 mg of glucosamine sulfate. This may sound great until you learn clinical trials have shown that the amount of glucosamine sulfate needed to produce a beneficial effect is actually three times that —1,500 mg.  So, in reality, it’s not going to do you much good unless you’re taking more of it to bridge the gap.

Some products boast a wide range of really good ingredients, leading you to believe you’ve really got all you need right there in that one bottle.  However, when you look at the labels, you may find that each ingredient is provided in such small amounts that they couldn’t possibly have a therapeutic effect.  A laundry list of ingredients can also complicate the body’s ability to absorb and utilize each ingredient as it tries to determine exactly what it’s digesting.

Some blends are good and may actually work synergistically, boosting bioavailability of key nutrients.  Check the label to determine how much you’re actually getting of what to determine whether you’re really getting your money’s worth.

Keep it simple.  Keep it clean.  Keep it real.

Reputable Manufacturers

Nutritional supplements are big business, and thousands of companies are in the market.  You want to be sure you’re getting your product from a company that can be trusted.  Avoid supplements and foods that come from countries with poor regulations and standards.

Solid, reputable nutritional supplement manufacturers formulate supplements based on scientific research, buy the best raw materials and pay independent labs to make sure their products meet label claims and contain no contaminants.

It is perfectly reasonable to contact a supplement manufacturer and ask for verification of quality. Good companies have product specs, research supporting their formulas and laboratory assays stating that their ingredients are free of contaminants and true to dosage claims made on the labels. Some of this information is available on company websites but some other companies will make you dig for it.

Price

We’re all looking to save money, but understand that price has some bearing on quality.  For example, most B-12 supplements are in the form of the cheap, synthetic cyanocobalamin (cyano- because it’s bound to a cyanide molecule).  Methylcobalamin tends to cost more but comes without the toxins and is much more readily assimilated and utilized by the body.

Cheaper supplements may be more affordable but are they really providing the value you want out of something you’re going to be putting into your body daily?

Do not purchase dirt-cheap or mail-order brands without carefully studying labels and learning something about the company!  Manufacturers of discount products have to save money somewhere, and they may do it by using inadequate dosages, improper nutrient forms or other cost-cutting measures.

You can get information like this from organizations that evaluate consumer products. One that specializes in nutritional supplements is Consumerlab.com. They review a wide variety of nutritional categories, make general recommendations, test products for quality and potency—and post all of this information on their website.

Seals of Approval

Some organizations offer “seals of approval” for products that pass their evaluation requirements.  Many of these organizations are reputable—although a few are simply rubber stamps for a fee. However, virtually all of them require manufacturers to pay thousands of dollars per year to use their seal on products and in advertising, and smaller, less well-known or prolific companies may not be able to afford the fee even though they deserve the seal.

Seals of approval from Consumerlab.com, the Natural Products Association (NPA), the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), and others are indicative that the products are the best supplements to take. However, the absence of such a seal is not a real reflection on quality, either good or bad.

Expiration Dates

Always look for an expiration date. While some nutrients, such as calcium and other minerals, maintain their potency for several years, others like vitamins B and C have a significantly shorter shelf life. The FDA doesn’t require expiration dates on supplement bottles, so many companies don’t provide them. We do not recommend buying such products.

Past expiry doesn’t render all products useless as it simply guarantees potency up to that date.  Still, you want to make sure you’re getting the best quality possible.

Look for Label Red Flags

Look for “red flags” on labels—sugar, artificial coloring and flavoring, preservatives, and additives such as shellac, chlorine and other chemicals should be avoided.

Above all, don’t be afraid to seek help when shopping for the best supplements to take. Ask questions of a nutrition-minded physician, a nutritionist, a well-educated naturopath or health-food store employees. Just make sure the advice you get isn’t tainted or tilted but comes from a source you know you can trust.

DISCLAIMER: This information is offered on an informational basis only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health provider before making any adjustment to a medication or treatment you are currently using, and/or starting any new medication or treatment. All recommendations are “generally informational” and not specifically applicable to any individual’s medical problems, concerns and/or needs.

Sources:

http://www.drwhitaker.com/choosing-the-best-supplements-to-take/

http://mamavation.com/2014/09/toxic-vitamins-how-to-pick-a-supplement-thats-clean-for-your-family.html

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/03/new-york-attorney-general-targets-supplements-at-major-retailers/?_r=0

http://www.newsmax.com/TheWire/fake-herbal-supplements-walmart/2015/02/03/id/622342/

http://www.naturalnews.com/032766_cyanocobalamin_vitamin_B-12.html