Raw//Live//Local

Keep your feet on the ground and your head in the clouds.


Leave a comment

5 Habits for Exceptional Health

Image

1. Start your day with awareness

Meditate. Drink tea. Write down three things you’re grateful for.

By paying attention to yourself first thing in the morning you set a peaceful tone for the day ahead, and honor the possibilities of a new day.

2. Only eat when you’re hungry

We make thousands of choices about food every day. Eating should only be done when you’re hungry. Not bored. Not sad. Not lonely. Not drunk. By eating when you’re not hungry you don’t allow your digestive system to relax, and more than likely you’ve got waste hanging out in your intestines that won’t get properly broken down and used for energy. This leads to weight gain, lack of energy, inflammation, and toxicity in the body. When you feel hungry, ask yourself if that’s really what it is. Most of the time, a glass of water, cup of tea, or walk around the block will help get rid of the urge and tide you over until your next meal.

3. Don’t punish yourself

We all do things we’re not proud of, but when it comes to food we tend to be typically brutal on ourselves. If you want desert, eat desert. If you want a glass of wine, enjoy a glass of wine. Don’t look back on it and hate on yourself for it.

By making reasonable indulgences part of your regimen, you won’t go crazy at your niece’s pizza party and pass out covered in ice cream. Commit to a solid foundation of whole, nutrient dense foods, and mindfully appreciate when it comes to enjoying things that aren’t necessarily so healthy.

4. Make exercise an enjoyable ritual

If you hate yoga, don’t do yoga. If running the stairs ten times makes you nauseous at the thought of it, stay away from the stairs.

Being active is a critical part of a vibrant life. The most important part of exercising is finding activity that suits you as an individual. This is the only way you’ll stick with it and the only way it will benefit you. Do whatever is in line with what makes you happy. Ride your bike at sunset. Walk your dog for an extra twenty minutes. Join a local team for a sport you played in high school. Pick something and get to it.

5. Eat the colors of the rainbow

Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds – these foods are completely packed with all the nutrients you need for a healthy body and mind. Do as best you can to start all your meals with vegetables, and to snack on fruit and nuts during the day.  You’ll have tons of energy, great skin, and a strong immune system, and will save money at the store not buying packaged products.

Photo by Ben Moore


2 Comments

5 Beliefs That Lead Us to Gain Weight

I talk to people all the time who are so confused as to why they’re gaining weight. They tell me they don’t eat much and when they do it’s low fat, or they pay so much attention to calories and carbs that this should be thinner. They’ve tried so many ways of slimming down to no avail, all of which ended in frustration and usually a carb-fest. Why is it so hard for us to be thin?

Let’s look at the broad picture…

Americans are fatter than ever before and we’re getting larger by the generation. From the outside this would seem unlikely: everywhere we go we see new ways to lose weight, fat free foods, and gyms on every corner. We have access to the highest quality food and information about nutrition, but we continue to get heavier and sicker every single year. Of our $2 trillion healthcare budget $1.5 trillion is spent treating preventable diseases. If we are supposedly more educated, more active and more aware than ever before, why are we still gaining weight?

As food has become more of a hot topic it’s become much more complicated. The healthiest foods for us have one ingredient, are grown in the ground and have an expiration date. These foods are making up smaller fractions of our diets as they’re being replaced with complex, more elaborate versions of food.

What’s making things even more difficult are the multitudes of diets that are out there now: gluten free, dairy free, vegan, vegetarian, fruitarian, Paleo, non-fat, low-fat, low-carb, GMO-free, blah blah blah. How are we supposed to eat anything when everything is bad for us??!

These diets lead people to eat all kinds of things that really aren’t good for them, and on top of that, dieting, as it turns out, is the biggest pre-cursor for weight gain.

Many things affect the way we do (or don’t) gain weight- genetics, environmental factors, our inner ecology, and our body types. The nice thing to know is that there are healthy ways to control our weight and give our bodies what they need, while still enjoying what we eat. For many people it’s the beliefs around food that lead to the development of sickness and weight gain in certain people. Here are some beliefs we hold as a society that lead us to unsuspectingly gain weight, and why it’s so important to change these beliefs.

1. All calories are created equal

A lot of people seem to believe that it doesn’t matter what you eat as long as you watch your calories. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. What’s much more powerful than how many calories we consume is what certain foods cause our hormones to do.

Our hormones govern everything in our bodies. Hormones such as insulin, thyroid hormone, cortisol and estrogen regulate our weight, energy levels, concentration, immune response and more. The food we eat has an enormous influence on our hormones and has the power to disrupt their delicate balance, which can lead to lots of problems, one of which is weight gain. If your hormone balance is off this can increase cravings for sugar and carbs, encourage you to eat more in a sitting and more often, feel less satiated after a meal, and cause your body to store more food as fat. This imbalance will do much more harm to your waistline than an extra 100 calories from an avocado or olive oil will

For instance, something may be very low in calories, but still contain high-fructose corn syrup. What you’re eating may be low fat, but when it enters your body and you digest it, high fructose corn syrup causes a huge spike in insulin levels, which instructs your body to store fat. This accelerates insulin resistance and obesity, and causes resistance to leptin, the hormone that signals to your brain that you are full. The same effects happen from foods with artificial sweeteners, pesticides, hydrogenated oils, and refined flours and sugars.

Ingesting less calories will not prevent you gaining weight, especially if the foods you are eating are loaded with ingredients made in a lab. When the body detects a toxin it extracts it from the blood stream and puts it in a fat cell to protect the organs from the toxin. People who have very toxic systems tend to gain weight quickly because their body is doing it’s best to protect the vital organs from the toxins.

There needs to be a shift in thinking that values quality of calories over quantity.

Although there is no perfect combination for the right hormone balance, the right foods, consistent exercise, good sleep, and stress management will certainly help. High fiber, whole foods (leafy greens, mushrooms, ginger, flax, quinoa, and water, to name a few) help stabilize your metabolism, improve the efficacy of your kidneys and liver, strengthen your digestion, and reduce inflammation. These are the things your body needs to be thin and energetic, not fewer calories.

2. Fat free foods will help us lose weight

With so many items out there to choose from, food companies have devised clever ways to market their products. Unfortunately these labeling tactics can be deceptive and misleading. Because of our country’s obsession with dieting and being thin, a lot of foods are marked as low fat or fat free. What we fail to consider is how something with supposedly zero calories can still taste good. The way the food industry makes things taste good while having no calories or fat is to artificially enhance the flavor through processed additives such as high fructose corn syrup or aspartame. Things like yogurt, cereal, bagels, lean cuisines and sodas usually have these chemical additives in them.

Artificial sweeteners not only fail to satisfy your hunger the way real sugar would and leads to overeating, but they have an extremely high glycemic load resulting in insulin production and increased fat storage. They also inhibit the hormone leptin that increases your metabolic rate and signals to your brain that you’re full.

There are numerous other risks associated with consuming artificial sweeteners such as depression, anxiety, headaches and brain tumors, but for those most concerned with vanity they will most definitely lead to weight gain.

If you are eating something that comes in a package, flip it over and read the ingredients. If there are artificial sweeteners and chemical additives, there is a 99% chance that those ingredients will encourage your body to put on weight.

The lowest calorie foods are not advertised as such because they come naked, as they are, in the fruit and vegetable section. If fruit and vegetables are organic they are our best bet to reduce our chances of unsuspectingly consuming chemicals and additives that contribute to weight gain.

3. Dairy is good for us

I’m sorry to say this, but dairy has the nutritional content of cardboard.

There is a school of thought that full fat, whole milk and cheese provides enzymes and probiotics important for a healthy system. This may have been true when people raised their own cows but with commercial dairy this is typically not the case. There are many reasons not to eat dairy, so I’ll just make it straightforward:

· Dairy products are so highly pasteurized and processed that any nutritional value the might hold is completely gone by the time it hits grocery shelves.

· Dairy cows are injected with a genetically engineered hormone called rbGH to produce dairy year round instead of only when they are pregnant. This can lead to extreme weight gain in humans and also can be a precursor to diabetes and lead to heart disease or cancer.

· Milk from cows is perfectly suited to turn a 65-pound calf into a 400-pound cow within a year because of its high protein and mineral content. Unless you’re seriously trying to bulk up, you don’t need milk.

· If you are eating dairy from a cow that has been fed grain for some or most of it’s life, chances are that cow has spent its life very ill. Evolutionarily speaking, a cow’s stomach is designed to digest grass, not grain, so the grain creates an acidic environment in the stomach and cannot be properly digested. In order to prevent cows from becoming sick they are fed a steady flow of antibiotics. This is not a nutritious source of food.

Everything noted above will lead you to gain weight. If you are concerned about getting enough calcium, make sure to eat lots of leafy greens and you will be fine. If you can’t give up dairy entirely, as I know many people can’t, treat it as an indulgence, not a nutritious part of your diet, and enjoy it in moderation.

4. Eating well is too expensive

Yes, eating whole organic foods does cost more and take more time than packaged low-fat foods and diet drinks. However, what’s far more expensive is being sick. There are no excuses for this one. Cheap food high in calories and low in nutrition will cause you to gain weight, and often leads to many more serious health problems. Much of your health is in your own hands, and you have the power to protect yourself from sickness and disease with high quality, whole foods.

5. Portions should be large, we must eat quickly

Thousands of years ago when we were cavemen food was sparse. When it was available it was eaten in abundance, and the excess was stored as fat because it was unclear when the next full meal would be.

For some reason we still eat this way.

Eating should be a slow, luxurious experience, but most people act as though someone is going to rip the fork out of their hands any minute so it’s best to eat as much and as quickly as possible. When we eat at such a pace we fail to recognize when we’re full and eat much more than we need.

Portion size has grown drastically over the last hundred years. One Canadian study found that people overestimate the size of an appropriate portion and underestimate the amount they actually eat. The result is huge portions that lead people to overeat.

Another issue is that people don’t eat regularly enough. Skipping meals or substituting coffee for food means that when we actually sit down to a meal we eat way more than we need. Prepare for the day with some healthy snacks like nuts, fruit and chopped veggies so that when you feel hungry you’re prepared. This will prevent you from eating way too much later on.

Avoid overeating by using smaller plates, actually measure things when you cook, and share meals with a friend when out at a restaurant.

There are many reasons why we as a country are over-fed and under-nourished. A large part of this is due to the fact that we’re consuming more things created in a lab than ever before. These come as additives in our packaged foods, pesticides on our fruits and vegetables, and hormones in our animal products. Protect yourself by being mindful, reading labels and considering the source of your food before you buy it. When it comes to nutrition keep it simple, buy things with less than five ingredients, and make the majority of what you eat fresh vegetables.


Leave a comment

From Italy: 5 Ways to Live More Holistically

20121001-112328.jpg

Known for their excessively long lunches, luxurious beach holidays, and shameless promiscuity, Italians truly live a sweet and unapologetic lifestyle. Italy is a fantastic place to learn how to slow down and savor the delights of life. What is most fascinating however, is the longevity experienced by this indulgent culture.

Sitting at the dinner table my boyfriend’s grandparents at eleven o’clock at night, we share stories and I watch their tenderness towards one another. Both in their late eighties and practically perfect health, you see that their joy and wellness does not come from following every dietary rule there is or limiting wine to one glass per night.

Their health comes from living a full life – finding love, holding family at the core of life, and taking time in their daily rituals. They take vacations, drink wine, stay up late and eat bread (and pasta!) at every single meal. They grow gardens and cook extensively, ride bikes, and enjoy the natural beauties of the country. I’m quite sure guilt doesn’t even exist in Italy – indulgence is to be enjoyed it and every sweet moment savored. Everything is done in moderation but also with passion.

Living holistically means living in harmony with your surroundings. A truly happy and fulfilled life does not come from limiting yourself through diets or pushing yourself through extreme workouts. It comes from a community of loving friends and family, enjoying the beauty that surrounds us and giving thanks for the many joys that life has to offer. Here I offer a few simple tips I learned from my truly holistic Italian family.

1. Take your time – Slow down, savor the goodness in life and live in the present. Don’t think about your next task, meal or deadline. Take time to listen, taste, smell and enjoy each detail of every experience you have.

2. Eat whole foods – One of the many perks of technology is that we now have access to processed foods that make cooking and eating a lot faster. Unfortunately what we now know is that these convenient meals are costing more than they save as they are filled with dangerous chemicals and fattening sweeteners. This is why it’s so important to base your meals around whole foods. Growing your own garden is the most amazing way to get back to your roots, to self-sustain and to have fresh foods ready for every meal. Just a small herb garden can be so healing in itself. I recognize that this is a luxury and many of us do not have the space or time, so the next best thing is to take your time at the farmers market or grocery store choosing whole grains and veggies for your meals. A wholesome and nutrient rich meal should be filled with bright fruits and veggies. If pasta or delicious local cheese is part of it, all the more to enjoy, just make sure to balance.

3. Cook your own meals – You don’t have to be a great or creative cook to eat delicious meals. Dishes like sliced tomatoes or asparagus in olive oil, salt and pepper is a fantastic addition to a meal. Decide what veggies you and your family enjoy and go from there. Cooking and eating well doesn’t have to be complex. A great rule of thumb is to cook once and eat twice – prepare something that can be stored and fixed for dinner that night or lunch the next day. It saves you time and money and means you don’t have to worry so much about every meal.

4.Eat your largest meal at lunch time – Between twelve and two P.M. our digestive systems are working at their full potential, so this is the best time to eat a lot as our bodies can process and utilize nutrients and energy most efficiently. Many people hesitate to do this as they don’t want to feel sluggish afterwards, but if you eat low glycemic load foods such as vegetables and whole grains I assure you this won’t happen. Feel free to enjoy a coffee or desert also, as your body can process it well at this point in the day. A lot of us eat a large meal for dinner but this puts a toll on our bodies as the evening is for winding down and re-energizing for the next day, not spending extreme amounts of energy digesting a calorie dense meal.

5. Incorporate physical movement into your routine – Because gas is so expensive in Italy (almost $10 a gallon!) and things are so close, most people find it much more convenient to ride their bikes or walk. This has a double benefit as it gets the heart rate up and pumps fresh blood throughout the system, improves brain function, and keeps one looking fresh and feeling young and energized. Staying active doesn’t mean pushing your body to the limit five days a week in a gym; many studies show that thirty minutes of gentle movement a day proves to have positive effects on most people. Simply using the stairs instead of the elevator at work, taking your dog (or going with a child or friend) for a thirty minute walk in the evenings, riding your bike three days a week instead of driving has excellent effects on your physical and mental health. Find what works for you and commit to it.

These steps may seem simple but the point is to simplify your routine. As the burdens of work, family and responsibilities build up over time, life gets in the way of living. Our bodies and minds suffer as a result and time flies by without notice. It’s time to slow down, bask in the sweetness of life and nurture our souls. Choose one of these ideas and see how it feels. Once you incorporate one positive change into your lifestyle, many other good things come effortlessly. Good luck and let me know what works for you!