Tag Archives: Health

Apple Cider Vinegar Cold Remedy

natural-cold-remedyWell I’m sick. Boo! I almost never get sick, and here I am sick as a dog for the fourth time since Luke was born (4 months ago). Now before you say my immune system is probably down due to lack of sleep I have to say that God blessed me with one of those fabled, magical, unicorn babies who has slept through the night since birth! I figure He decided to throw me a bone after all I went through. I digress.

I guess its probably just one of the joys of the postpartum phase where my body is unrecognizable and nothing works the way it used to, including my immune system.

Since I’m breastfeeding I was leary to take any over the counter medications lest I negatively affect my milk supply. So I got to thinking and googling and came up with this super awesome get-better-soon-elixer.

organic-raw-acv-apple-cider-vinegarHere’s what you need:

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Raw unfiltered organic

Honey (preferably organic, raw and local),

and a shot glass.

Raw unfiltered ACV is known to have dozens of health benefits not least of which is its ability to act as a natural expectorant by thinning mucus and draining the lymphatic system. You have to use the raw unfiltered kind, pasteurized ACV does not work as well. I found the Bragg brand at Target and you can also get it on Amazon (click on the image).

The honey not only serves to coat and soothe your sore throat, but raw local honey has wonderful anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties, and works naturally to strengthen the immune system. I buy a big jar of it at the local farmer’s market, but I was fresh out when I took the picture (hence the store-bought variety shown).

To make the Elixer:

Simply pour half a shot (1 TBSP) half a shot of ACV and microwave for about 8 seconds. Add half a shot of honey to the hot ACV. Stir and the shoot it down the gullet. I find its better to just chug it back rather than sip it because the ACV is a bit strong on the nostrils. The honey makes it go down smooth, and warming it up makes you feel all soft and cozy inside. I promise you will feel better after trying this! Do it 2-3 times a day and you’ll be back at it in no time.

A spoon full of HONEY makes the medicine go down in the most delightful way. 🙂

spoon-full-of-sugar

Now I’ve got to stop writing and go back to bed. Hope this works for you!

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My Natural Birth Plan

homemakerchic-9monthspregnantWell I’ve made it! Today is my due date. Somehow this sweet little baby has tarried on and we’ve gotten all the way to 40 weeks together. I’m so thrilled and can’t WAIT to meet him! Come on little boy, make your appearance. Annnnnnny time.

I thought I’d take the opportunity to post before everything goes bananas around here. I want to share my birth plan with you and explain why I’ve chosen to do some of the things I’m doing, in case you were wondering.

Disclaimer: Please don’t read any of this as judgment toward those who have chosen a different path than mine. I know there are many different and valid ways for babies to come into this world. This is just representative of my personal beliefs and desires for myself regarding childbirth.

I’ve chosen to have my baby at a birthing center under the care of amazing Midwives as opposed to at a hospital with a Doctor. Because of this, I really don’t need a birth plan because they automatically honor all of my wishes without me having to ask. All of the things I have listed below are standard operating procedure at the birthing center. But there is always the rare chance that I might need to transfer to a hospital for one reason or another. IF that happens I want to be prepared to let the hospital staff know the kind of birth I’m hoping for.

I’d also like to highly recommend anyone who is considering a birth center or home birth with Midwives to read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. It is an amazing resource and very helpful.

-My Birth Plan-

Labor

1) Intermittent monitoring only. Freedom to walk around and move as I wish.

The reason for this is because natural childbirth requires the woman’s body to move. The baby needs help moving into the birth canal and it is just not sensible for a woman to do this lying on her back. Squatting, kneeling, swaying, dancing, rocking, are all useful positions to help get baby into optimal position for birthing. I want to be free to try whatever position is helpful, and not be constrained to a hospital bed. As long as baby and I are healthy, I don’t see any reason to be on constant monitoring.

2) Do not offer pain medication.

It is my desire to have an unmedicated birth. I want to do this because I think the female body was designed to give birth and that God gave us natural pain relief hormones and chemicals that work beautifully without intervention. I also don’t see anything wrong with a little discomfort. We, as a society, are so completely against discomfort, inconvenience, or challenge. In my view childbirth is a part of womanhood and I welcome the challenge to experience it as God intended, without intervention. I do however understand that I am human and may feel tempted to give up if I’m offered a way out. I really don’t want to have to deal with that, so I’d rather not have the option given to me.

Delivery

1) Allow me to to push and birth in position of my choice.

2) Access to drinking water at all times.

Ice chips? Really? I’m sorry but I drink at least a gallon of water a day and there is no way that I am doing the most physically intense thing my body will ever do without being properly hydrated. Would you consider running a marathon, or going to the gym without water? There’s just no chance. Labor is just as (if not more so) physically demanding. Everyone who has seen me in the past 9 months knows that I come with a water bottle every where I go. There will be no negotiating on this in the delivery room.

3) Allow me to eat light snacks as I desire.

Most hospitals will not allow the mother to eat during labor in case she needs to be transferred for an emergency Cesarean. I understand the reasoning behind this, but it is completely unreasonable to expect an otherwise perfectly healthy woman to do the most physically demanding job of her life without proper sustenance. It is no wonder so many moms give up on natural birth because they are exhausted and have no energy. I’m not talking about eating a steak dinner, but I plan to have fruits, nuts, and energy packed snacks to help me keep up my strength for the big show!

4) Allow my placenta to deliver naturally without Pitocin.

Even if you haven’t been induced with Pitocin for birth, many hospitals (and even birthing centers) will use Pitocin to help speed up the process of delivering the placenta. This should be a LAST resort option, only if there is an issue with the placenta not coming out on its own, or the risk of hemorrhage. Most healthy women will naturally deliver the placenta, without intervention, within about 10-30 minutes of birth.

5) Save my placenta for encapsulation.

Placenta encapsulation is when the placenta is dehydrated, ground, and poured into capsules for the mother to take postpartum. This is usually done by a doula or a midwife. I have arranged for a doula to do this for me. The placenta is packed with amazing vitamins and nutrients. Consuming it has been known to help prevent postpartum depression, increase energy, and help with milk supply. Women in many non-western cultures will actually eat their placenta (ew). I’m not hippy enough to fry it up or drink it in a smoothie, but I figure a capsule form can’t be all that bad. And I’ve heard so many women swear by it! Some women describe them as little speed capsules. Extra energy with a new baby and no sleep? Sounds good to me! I will let you know if it helps at all.

6) Please do not perform an episiotomy. I would like to use essential oils to help prevent tearing while birthing.

Many doctors will just automatically cut every woman to allow the baby to come out. This is completely unnecessary. Think of a paper towel. If you pull tight it will stretch, and it might even tear a bit. Think of that same paper towel with a small slit cut into the top. When you pull, it will tear completely in half with little effort. I’d much rather let my body tear naturally if that’s what’s going to happen. In a natural, unmedicated birth, the uterus will contract at a normal speed, to allow for proper stretching. The mother will be able to feel what is going on so she won’t just push arbitrarily. With an epidural the mother cannot tell what she is doing, and might push too hard and tear worse than she needs to. The use of warm cloths and oils during crowning can really help ease the baby out and prevent tearing. Some tearing might still occur, but it will heal much more quickly and naturally without a large cut made that probably wasn’t needed at all.

7) Delay cord clamping until the cord has stopped pulsating.

Studies have shown that delaying the cutting of the baby’s umbilical cord until it has stopped pulsing has many benefits. The baby is getting his blood supply from the placenta and as long as it is pulsing it is still sending nutrient rich blood to your baby’s system. We want our babies to have a full tank, so to speak, and have good, high iron and blood levels. This only takes about 5-10 minutes, and can be especially helpful for babies born early. The ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) says this, “a longer duration of placental transfusion after birth may be beneficial because this blood is enriched with immunoglobulins and stem cells, which provide the potential for improved organ repair and rebuilding after injury from disorders caused by preterm birth. Although the magnitude of the benefits from enhanced placental stem cell transfusion has not been well studied, the other neonatal benefits have led investigators to consider revising umbilical cord clamping practice guidelines.”

Baby care

1) As long as baby is healthy I would like baby placed on me directly after birth. Baby will breast feed, so only offer my breast and no artificial nipples.

Breast feeding is one of the single best things you can do for your newborn infant. I understand that many women cannot do this for various reasons, but I wholeheartedly believe that EVERY mother should at least try. Even if its just for a few days. It may not be fun or easy, but it is so very good for your baby. I plan to allow my son to do what is called the “breast crawl.” The breast crawl is when a newborn baby is placed directly on the mom’s tummy and allowed to crawl on their own up to the breast and then latch on. This process is amazingly natural and instinctive for the baby and helps to promote bonding between mom and baby, and a natural latch. You can learn more about it here, and watch an amazing video of a newborn little girl doing the crawl. Its seriously one of the sweetest, most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

2) Do not bathe baby- I plan to bathe baby after I have had time to rub in the vernix.

Vernix is the white, waxy sort of substance on the baby’s skin after he is born. This substance has a ton of amazing benefits and nutrients that should not be washed off. Here is an article that explains more.

3) We are planning to delay circumcision until baby’s first pediatrician visit.

This is because we are declining the vitamin K shot, which you can read about below. Babies bodies need about a week to develop the ability to properly coagulate blood. Because of this, the circumcision will need to be delayed so he does not have any bleeding issues.

We are declining the administration of:

1) vitamin K injection (Only use oral vitamin k)

I could explain this here, or I could refer you to Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist, who is an awesome blogger that already did an awesome job researching and sharing why the vitamin K shot may not be as great as you think!

2) hepatitis b vaccine

This vaccine is to protect infants whose mother’s may have hepatitis B. However many hospitals administer it to every infant regardless of his mother’s test results. This just doesn’t make any sense to me. I do not have hepatitis B, so I really don’t see the point in giving my child a precautionary vaccination that he does not need, and expose him to potentially harmful side effects.

3) erythromycin eye ointment or any other eye salve

That goo that they put in babies eyes isn’t vaseline folks. Erythromycin is an antibiotic eye ointment administered to newborn infants. Its purpose is to protect the baby from any infection that could come from the mother if she has an STD such as Gonorrhea or Chlamydia. Since I do not have either of these diseases there is absolutely no reason for me to give my baby an unnecessary antibiotic. Hospitals often administer it even if the mother has already tested negative for the STD’s “just in case.” For me personally, I know that “just in case” is not a factor, so I’m declining. When babies are born, their immune system is trying to build itself up, so any unnecessary antibiotics should be avoided so as to not impede the natural processes that are taking place in their bodies. Again, I do not want to expose my baby to medications that he does not need, and potentially cause harmful side effects. It really just doesn’t make any sense.

13 Banned Foods Still Allowed In The U.S.

photo-by-lauren-welter

photo credit: Lauren Welter

By Cristina Goyanes, Shape

You think the FDA has your back? Sure, they recently proposed two new regulations to up food safety measures, specifically how food processors and farmers can work better to keep their fresh products free of dangerous bacteria (remember that killer cantaloupe outbreak from 2011?). But while it may seem like the government is out to protect us from bad–even fatal–food-borne illnesses, which cause some 3,000 deaths a year, they don’t completely have our best interest–or health–in mind.

“For numerous suspicious and disturbing reasons, the U.S. has allowed foods that are banned in many other developed countries into our food supply,” says nutritionist Mira Calton who, together with her husband Jayson Calton, Ph.D., wrote the new book Rich Food, Poor Food due out in February.

During a six-year expedition that took them to 100 countries on seven continents, the Caltons studied more than 150 ingredients and put together a comprehensive list of the top 13 problematic products that are forbidden by governments, outside the United States, due to their detrimental effects on human health.

“If you see any of the following ingredients listed on the nutrition label, don’t buy the product,” Calton warns. “Leaving these banned bad boys on the shelves will speak volumes to grocery stores and food manufactures about what informed consumers simply won’t tolerate.”

Ingredients: Coloring agents (blue 1, blue 2, yellow 5, and yellow 6)

  • Found In: Cake, candy, macaroni and cheese, medicines, sport drinks, soda, pet food, and cheese
  • Why The U.S. Allows It: We eat with our eyes. “Recent studies have shown that when food manufacturers left foods in their natural, often beige-like color instead of coloring them with these chemical agents, individuals thought they tasted bland and ate less, even when the recipe wasn’t altered,” Calton says. This may explain why the use of artificial dyes–the most popular being red 40, yellow 5, and yellow 6–has increased five-fold since 1955.
  • Health Hazards: Back in the day, food coloring came from natural sources, such as saffron and turmeric. “Today most artificial colors are made from coal tar, which is also used to seal-coat products to preserve and protect the shine of industrial floors,” Carlton says. “It also appears in head lice shampoos to kill off the small bugs.”

Ingredient: Olestra (a.k.a. Olean)

  • Found In: Fat-free potato chips
  • Why The U.S. Allows It: Procter & Gamble Co. took a quarter century and spent a half a billion dollars to create “light” chips that are supposedly better for you, Calton says. They may need another half a billion bucks to figure out how to deal with the embarrassing bathroom side effects (including oily anal leakage) that comes with consuming these products.
  • Health Hazards: “This fat substitute appears to cause a dramatic depletion of fat-soluble vitamins and carotenoids, robbing us of the vital micro-nutrients,” Calton says, adding that many countries, including the U.K. and Canada, have banned it.

Ingredient: Brominated vegetable oil (a.k.a. BVO)

  • Found In: Sports drinks and citrus-flavored sodas
  • Why The U.S. Allows It: BVO acts as an emulsifier, preventing the flavoring from separating and floating to the surface of beverages, Calton says.
  • Health Hazards: “Because it competes with iodine for receptor sites in the body, elevated levels of the stuff may lead to thyroid issues, such as hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, and cancer,” Calton says. That’s not all. BVO’s main ingredient, bromine, is a poisonous chemical that is considered both corrosive and toxic. It’s been linked to major organ system damage, birth defects, growth problems, schizophrenia, and hearing loss, which explains why it’s been nixed in more than 100 countries.

Ingredient: Potassium bromate (a.k.a. brominated flour)

  • Found In: Rolls, wraps, flatbread, bread crumbs, and bagel chips
  • Why The U.S. Allows It: This flour-bulking agent helps strengthen dough, reducing the amount of time needed for baking, which results in lowered costs, Calton explains.
  • Health Hazards: Made with the same toxic chemical found in BVO (bromine), this additive has been associated with kidney and nervous system disorders as well as gastrointestinal discomfort. “While the FDA has not banned the use of bromated flour, they do urge bakers to voluntarily leave it out,” Calton says.

Ingredient: Azodicarbonamide

  • Found In: Breads, frozen dinners, boxed pasta mixes, and packaged baked goods
  • Why The U.S. Allows It: While most countries wait a week for flour to naturally whiten, the American food processors prefer to use this chemical to bleach the flour ASAP.
  • Health Hazards: It’s not enough to just ban this product in Singapore. You can get up to 15 years in prison and be penalized nearly half a million dollars in fines for using this chemical that’s been linked to asthma and is primarily used in foamed plastics, like yoga mats and sneaker soles.

Ingredients: BHA and BHT

  • Found In: Cereal, nut mixes, gum, butter, meat, dehydrated potatoes, and beer
  • Why The U.S. Allows It: “Made from petroleum [yummy!], these waxy solids act as preservatives to prevent food from becoming rancid and developing objectionable odors,” Calton says. A better solution may be natural rosemary and sage. In a 2006 study, some organic herbs and spices proved to be efficient at preventing oxidative decay in meat, which ultimately could improve the shelf-life of these products.
  • Health Hazards: California is the only state that recognizes the U.S. National Institute of Health’s report that BHA may be a human carcinogen, a cancer-causing agent.

Ingredients: Synthetic hormones (rBGH and rBST)

  • Found In: Milk and dairy products
  • Why The U.S. Allows It: Gotta keep moo-ving things along. Dairy farmers inject cows with genetically engineered cow growth hormones to boost milk production by about 10 percent, according to Calton.
  • Health Hazards: “Cows treated with these synthetic hormones often become lame, infertile, and suffer from inflamed and infected udders,” Calton says. Humans who consume these cows byproducts are in no better shape, she adds: “The milk is supercharged with IGF-1 (insulin growth factor -1), which has been linked to breast, colon, and prostate cancers.”

Ingredient: Arsenic

  • Found In: Poultry
  • Why The U.S. Allows It: Big brother FDA permits arsenic in chicken feed to promote growth, improve efficiency in feeding the birds, and boost pigmentation. “The arsenic affects the blood vessels in chickens and turkeys, causing them to appear pinker and, therefore, fresher,” Calton says.
  • Health Hazards: The European Union has outlawed the use of arsenic since 1999, Calton says, and the Environmental Protection Agency classifies inorganic arsenic as a “human carcinogen.” Take matters into your own hands by sticking to organic birds only.

This article was written by Cristina Goyanes and published in Shape on January 15, 2013.

Photo by Lauren Welter

10 Steps to Remove BPA from Your Body in Less Than a Week

Many of you know about my struggle with recurrent miscarriage. Though we are so excited about the prospect of growing our family through adoption, I’m still concerned that something is wrong in my body and the doctors just can’t seem to figure it out. This year I’m taking my health into my own hands and instead of looking to the medical profession who up to this point have completely failed me, I’m looking inside my own body for the answers. This year I’m seeking to get my body back to to a whole, healthy, and healed place. One way I’m doing this is by eliminating BPA from my diet. You can also learn about the Real Food diet and how to cut out processed foods by reading this post.

What is BPA you ask? Bisphenol a (BPA) is a synthetic estrogen used to harden polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resin. Yes, you read that right. SYNTHETIC ESTROGEN. An estimated 6 billion pounds of BPA are produced globally annually, generating about $6 billion in sales. It is fabricated into thousands of products made of hard, clear polycarbonate plastics and tough epoxy resins, including safety equipment, eyeglasses, computer and cell phone casings, water and beverage bottles, DENTAL FILLINGS, and epoxy paint and coatings. Despite research that has proven this chemical to be hazardous it is still approved for use in a shocking amount of products. What’s so bad about it? Trace BPA exposure has been shown to disrupt the endocrine system and trigger a wide variety of disorders, including chromosomal and reproductive system abnormalities, impaired brain and neurological functions, cancer, cardiovascular system damage, adult-onset diabetes, early puberty, obesity and resistance to chemotherapy. The most disgusting fact of all is that the highest levels of BPA have been found in baby bottles, and liquid infant formula. Seriously.  (Source: EWG)

When I first started researching this and found out that women who have recurrent miscarriages are found to have much higher traces of BPA in their systems I was horrified. I’ve been systematically poisoning myself and I didn’t even know it. When I was pregnant I probably ate 2 cans of Campbell’s soup and drank tons of bottled water. I also have fillings in my mouth that are composed of 50% BPA. There’s nothing I can do about that now (hopefully most of the harmful chemical has dissipated and been flushed out by my body by now). I use so many plastics and canned goods and never could have imagined in my wildest dreams that it could be contributing to my miscarriages. So its OUT WITH BPA.

There is some good news folks. BPA has a VERY short half-life. That means it can be flushed out of your system in less than 24 hours. Just a few days of going BPA free can get you completely back to normal, you just have to be vigilant. Here’s how to do it.

BPA is Everywhere.

It’s in everything we touch, everything we eat, everything we buy: it’s hidden in grocery store receipts and beauty products, in coffee cups and soda cans, in the very food and water we need to live. So, what’s the big deal? We’ve survived so far. Or… have we? Cancer and autoimmune disease rates continue to rise steadily. In 2009, EWG tests found estrogen-disrupting  levels of BPA in 9 of 10 umbilical cord blood samples. We all have BPA in our bodies. There’s nothing we can do about it. Right?

You can Remove BPA from Your Body.

And you can do it in less than a week. BPA is metabolized by the body very quickly. A recent study found that participants were able to reduce the levels of BPA in their body by 65% in three days just by avoiding packaged foods¹. By eliminating additional hidden sources of BPA in your environment you can increase that number, as well as reducing many other toxic chemicals that are found in plastics like phthalates, and polyethylene. Here’s how.

1. Just Say No to BPA-loaded Receipts

Did you know that some receipts contain 250 to 1,000 times the amount of BPA typically found in a can of food?²  If that isn’t scary enough, BPA transfers readily from the receipt to skin and cannot be washed off. Different types of receipts contain varying levels of BPA. If you aren’t sure whether or not a merchant uses BPA in their receipts, either ask directly or let them know early in the transaction that you will not need your receipt. Gas station receipts are particularly notorious for containing huge amounts of BPA.

2. Avoid Packaged Food

True, you might have to give up potato chips. But, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. So, what will you possibly eat? There are many safe options available to replace the packaged staples in your kitchen. You can buy fresh bread from the bakery in paper, milk in glass bottles, bring a glass container for cheese and meat from the deli, buy cereal in bulk, get beans and grains from the bulk bin in your own cloth or paper bag. Forgo the packaged salad greens for unpackaged – use cloth or paper bags in the produce aisle.

3. Switch to a Safe BPA-free Water Bottle

You know that funny taste that your plastic water bottle gets when you leave it in the sun? That’s the taste of chemicals leaching into your water. Doesn’t sound very refreshing, does it? There are many safe stainless steel and glass alternatives to plastic bottles. My favorites are those made with 100% safe glass, with stainless steel or silicone in place of a plastic top. Three great options are from Vessel, Bottles UP and Bkr. If you choose a stainless steel option, make sure to get one that is not lined with plastic. Kleen Kanteen is a safe choice. While you’re at it, skip the water cooler for fill-ups. Those big plastic jugs are loaded with BPA too. Tap is safer.

4. Store Food in Glass

Did you know that even “safe” plastics can leach toxic chemicals³ once they are washed in a dishwasher or scrubbed with detergent and a sponge? Why take the chance? Ditch those plastic tubs in place of safe all-glass alternatives. For on the go or smaller items, forgo plastic wrap and plastic sandwich bags in place of small glass containers, wax paper bags, or parchment paper.

5. Avoid Canned Foods

92% of all canned food is lined with BPA coating. Look for alternatives in glass jars (most will have BPA lined lids but overall contamination is much less) or stick to these safe BPA-free brands: Eden Foods (except tomatoes), Wild Planet tuna, Vital Choice tuna, Native Forest  and Native Factor canned goods.

6. Give up Soda

Believe it or not, even aluminum soda cans are lined with BPA. If you can’t give up soda, you can always buy a brand that comes in a glass bottle.

7. Eat at Home

Most  food  in restaurants originates from highly packaged sources or is stored in plastic. As a result, almost all restaurant food is loaded with BPA. Eating at home and bringing your lunch to work more often will help reduce the BPA in your body.

plastic-free coffee

8. Make your Own Coffee

Unless you’re lucky enough to have a local coffee shop that brews in glass, a cup of  to-go coffee comes in contact with BPA during each stage of the brewing process. From the plastic bag the beans are stored in, to the hot plastic coffee maker it’s brewed in, the thermos it’s kept hot in, and the plastic – lined cup it’s served in.

For a BPA- free brew, buy beans from bulk, store in glass, and drip brew with paper filters, a stainless steel  Coava filter and Chemex glass carafe, or stainless steel french press. Pour into a ceramic cup and, voila! BPA-free coffee to go.

9. Buy Personal-care Products in Glass, Paper or Metal.

BPA, phthalates, and other toxic chemicals can leach into beauty products from a plastic container and absorb into your skin. Work to eventually phase out these items by replacing them with safe-packaged alternatives as they run out. If you are on a budget, most beauty products can be made from simple ingredients.

 10. Replace Plastic Items with Safer Alternatives

Because BPA, phthalates and other plasticizers are not chemically bound to the plastics they’re added to, they are continuously released into our air and transferred to our skin when touched. Begin to replace plastic items in your household as you are able. Children are especially vulnerable to plastic chemical exposure. Gradually replace children’s toys and tableware with safer, non-plastic options. Even choosing natural fibers over synthetic clothing (did you know spandex is made of plastic?) can reduce the amount of plastic chemicals stored in your body.

Of course, we can never completely eliminate plastic from our lives

But, the more plastic we avoid, the less BPA in our bodies. Have I eliminated synthetic clothing? Um, no. And I do eat a bag of chips now and then. Although it can be done in 3 days, gradual changes will result in a slow and steady reduction of BPA too. It’s all about knowing how BPA gets into our bodies and cultivating an awareness of plastic so we can consider opportunities to avoid it. It’s about empowering ourselves with the knowledge to make healthy choices.

Real Food: How to Cut Processed Foods Out of Your Life

Among my New Year’s resolutions this year is the desire to become healthier and to eat better. I will be talking a lot in the coming weeks about all the different things I’ll be changing about my diet this year. One of the benefits for you is that you will be seeing a lot more nutritious, healthful recipes on Homemaker Chic in 2013. This week I want to talk about Real Food. I am learning about it from Lisa Leake author of the blog 100 Days of Real Food. The basic idea is to cut out processed foods in exchange for REAL healthy simple foods from nature. Check out the link for more information from Lisa about the 100 Day challenge.

 

I didn’t think I was really all that unhealthy to be honest. I eat a lot of fresh vegetables. I don’t use a lot of packaged products. I steer clear of anything that seems ĂĽber unhealthy. But when I began reading the ingredients lists of basic foods in my home (like Peanut Butter, Tomato Soup or Pickles) I was shocked at all the junk in there that I did not want in my body! Why do pickles need to have 16 ingredients? With all the supposed benefits from science and technology, why is it that people seem to be more sick than ever before? Cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, celiac disease, anxiety, depression. All of these health problems are more rampant today than ever before. With all these “advances in medicine” shouldn’t we be getting better and not worse? Something just isn’t adding up here. With all the problems I’ve had with pregnancies, and the battery of tests they’ve put me through to find out what’s wrong, none of my doctors thought to ask, “Hey what are you putting in your body?”

Sorry medical profession, you’ve failed me. I’m taking things into my own hands.

So this year I am taking the plunge, and going all in. I’m getting back to basics. Basically if a food requires some sort of technology or treatment to be prepared I’m not buying it. Only fresh, simple ingredients this year (and hopefully beyond!) I will also be talking next week about going Gluten Free, so keep an eye out for that post, and for some yummy GF recipes this year!

Here are some of Lisa’s rules about what to eat and what NOT to eat if you decide to try the Real Food Lifestyle. I hope you’ll consider this for you and your family. Being healthy and vibrant is the best gift you can give yourself this year.

 

What you CAN eat:

  1. Whole foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry
  2. Lots of fruits and vegetables (we recommend that you shop for these at your local farmers’ market)
  3. Dairy products like milk, unsweetened yogurt, eggs, and cheese
  4. 100% whole-wheat and whole-grains (find a local bakery for approved sandwich bread and check the Understanding Grains post for more info)
  5. Seafood (wild caught is the optimal choice over farm-raised)
  6. Only locally raised meats such as pork, beef, and chicken (preferably in moderation)
  7. Beverages limited to water, milk, all natural juices, naturally sweetened coffee & tea, and, to help the adults keep their sanity, wine and beer!
  8. Snacks like dried fruit, seeds, nuts and popcorn
  9. All natural sweeteners including honey, 100% maple syrup, and fruit juice concentrates are acceptable in moderation
  10. Also check out the Recipes & Resources page for a more detailed list of meal options including links to recipes

What you CANNOT eat:

  1. No refined grains such as white flour or white rice (items containing wheat must say WHOLE wheat…not just “wheat”)
  2. No refined sweeteners such as sugar, any form of corn syrup, cane juice, or the artificial stuff like Splenda
  3. Nothing out of a box, can, bag, bottle or package that has more than 5 ingredientslisted on the label
  4. No deep fried foods
  5. No “fast foods”

     

    How to Avoid Processed Food in General

    If you feel that you have the will, but not the skill to do the 10 Days of Real Food pledgethen here are some general lifestyle changes to consider instead…

    1. Read the ingredients label before buying anything. For years, if I even looked at food labels, I was reviewing items such as fat grams, calorie count and sugar content. While this may be important to some, the best indicator of how highly processed a food is can actually be found in the list of ingredients. If what you are buying contains more than 5 ingredients and includes a lot of unfamiliar, unpronounceable items you may want to reconsider before buying.
    2. Increase your consumption of whole foods especially vegetables and fruits. I am sure you’ve heard similar advice a thousand times, and I hate to tell you that it couldn’t be more true. This will help to displace the processed foods in your diet, and will actually make your food selections in general very simple. No more counting calories, fat grams, or carbs when your only concern is selecting whole foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry.
    3. Buy your bread from a local bakery. I actually used to eat white bread, but what I bought for my husband from the grocery store was what I thought was whole-wheat bread. When we finally checked the ingredients and found 40 different items on the list, including white flour and sugar, we decided it was time for a change. Why would there be so many on the list if it only takes a handful of ingredients to make bread? We since started buying our bread from Great Harvest Bread Company. Not only do they grind their own wheat every morning, but their honey whole-wheat loaf only has five ingredients – whole-wheat flour, water, yeast, salt and honey.
    4. In addition to your bread choice, when selecting foods like pastas, cereals, rice, and crackers always go for the whole-grain option. And don’t just believe the health claims on the outside of the box.  Read the ingredients to make sure the product is truly made with only 100% whole grains – not a combination of whole grains and refined grains which is unfortunately how a lot of “whole grain” products are made. The white flour or other refined grain alternative is simply high in calories and low in nutrition.
    5. Avoid store-bought products containing high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and those “that have some form of sugar (or sweetener) listed among the top three ingredients” according to Michael Pollan. Despite the mixed research on if HFCS is really worse for you than good ol’ white sugar, it just happens to be “a reliable marker for a food product that has been highly processed”.
    6. Don’t order off the kids’ menu. The next time your family is out to dinner try to avoid the kids menu. Those selections are most often things like pre-made chicken nuggets, fries, and pasta made with white flour, among other things. Instead try assembling some sort of side item plate (like baked potatoes and whatever else your kid will tolerate) and/or try sharing some of your meal.
    7. Visit your local farmers’ market the next time you need to restock your fridge.According to Michael Pollan not only will you find “food that is in season, which is usually when it is most nutritious”, but you will also find a selection of pesticide-free produce and properly fed meat products. It is also better for our environment to purchase locally grown products as opposed to the supermarket produce, which travels on average 1500 miles from the farm to your plate.
    8. Lastly, to once again quote Michael Pollan, he says to “eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.” If you had to peel, chop and deep fry potatoes every time you wanted French fries then you might not eat them very often. Only eating “junk food” such as cakes, sweets, and fried foods as often as you are willing to make them yourself will automatically ensure the frequency is appropriate.