clean eating

Health secrets from a centenarian

Three years ago, on my birthday in mid-August, I found myself in a remote Maasai village, about three hours from Nairobi. There was no need for cake or ice cream or balloons. I received the most FANTASTIC present, first thing. I was given the opportunity to sit at the feet of a 100+ year old man and hear about his life. Dickson, my Maasai host, introduced me to Sankau Ole Sirote. He seemed weathered, but well. Sankau gave me permission to interview him, recording our exchange on my phone. I could hardly wait! What had his eyes seen, over the course of those many decades? And what secrets might I learn (and pass on to my readers and friends) about how to live a healthy, long life?

Sankau, resting, outside his friend's home

Sankau, resting, outside his friend's home

I was also eager to see for myself if the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) principles would hold water. Did a diet of traditional, unprocessed foods sustain this man to 100 years of age and beyond?

Here are some excerpts from our conversation:

  • what he did as a child and youth

“When I was young, there was no school by that time. So my life was just to go and handle the cattle. That was my daily activity. Getting the cows, and going hunting."

  • on hunting

“When we were morans [young warriors in training], we would really hunt lion, and rhino, elephant, buffalos. We would hunt for fun, not really to eat the meat of the lion or the elephant or the rhino. We would just hunt for fun.

One time we also went hunting, and...[a] companion of mine was attacked by a lion and killed. So I...came back to help the family, to raise the children of my departed friend."

Rhino mama and her baby
Rhino mama and her baby
  • what he would eat as a child

“When we were children...our diets were milk, fat, meat, and also sometimes honey. There was a lot of rain. Wild fruits were available and the milk was plenty. And the cows also were healthy. So everything, when we were young, everything was just healthy."

  • regarding his health today

"I'm getting old because of my eyes and in the morning sometimes I have joint aches. It's just age."

  • regarding his health across the years

No surgeries? "No." No medicine? "No." Any shots? "Recently, because of this hand. It is swelling, so I got an injection. Because of the swelling."

  • regarding the community's health in the past

“There was no one who was sick. We were all very healthy.”

  • regarding the community's health today

“There are so many changes. People are getting sick. There are diseases which…there are many, many diseases, which I cannot even describe. There are a lot of diseases coming, but before, as I said, there were no diseases.

During my days, there were no injections but right now every time, they just say the people need to be vaccinated because a disease is coming, people need to be injected. But when I was a young man I never had an injection.”

  • what people are eating today

“Even food they have changed. Because you have to buy food. Everything you have to buy from the shop so… And during my time you would depend on what is coming from the livestock. But now you have to go and buy."

  • how his diet has changed

"I started having tea in 1916."

  • what he recommends eating for good health

"If you start with milk exclusive, or cream made from milk, just that. That is it. Up to 7 years [of age]. Children were breastfed up to 5 years. Everything [we ate] was from the cow: milk, blood."

  • about his family

"I have more than 17 children. And 5 grandchildren. They are good, good health. I have three brothers. They are still alive. I have one sister. She is still alive."

  • about wealth, cattle and goats

"My sons have taken them."

Goats (but these are not the ones taken from Sankau!)
Goats (but these are not the ones taken from Sankau!)
  • final thoughts

"I am also thankful to God that I have had that opportunity to do good while I have been in this world. I am alive because of God. God formed me in the womb."

There you have it! To me, it's crystal clear that Sankau's traditional diet has contributed to his good health and longevity. And as I see it, the secrets to a healthy life from this centenarian include eating plenty of raw milk (and cream), taking opportunities to do good, and giving thanks to God. What do you see?

***

Hilda Labrada Gore is a podcast professional who helps holistic health practitioners launch their own shows! She is the host and producer of the Wise Traditions podcast, sponsored by the Weston A. Price Foundation for wise traditions in food, farming, and the healing arts. She is an integrative nutrition health coach, a fitness professional, and the DC Metro Regional Director for Body & Soul Fitness. She lives in D.C. with her husband, Mitch, their children, and their cat and dog.

How to navigate food (and life) transitions

How to navigate food (and life) transitions

“How do you get your family to accept a real food diet when all they want are chicken nuggets?” “My kid is a picky eater. He eats cereal three times a day. What do I do?” “I want to eat ‘healthy’ but I crave a sugary snack every afternoon (and evening, if I’m honest)!”

The struggle is real! You are now convinced of the basics: that eating a healthy diet means eating more real, whole foods, and less of the food-like processed stuff that comes in packages! Bravo! But how do you go from the head to the heart (or should I say to the mouth)? 

Nutrient density: the best way to fuel your body

I was once one of those people who needed to eat every few hours. If I didn't, I would feel suddenly weak and dizzy, as if I were an iphone whose battery precipitously dropped from 83% to 2%. Mid-workout, I would grab an energy bar to power up again. In my worst moments, I would become shaky and sweaty, like someone detoxing from alcohol. It wasn't a pretty picture. I eventually stumbled upon the term “hypoglycemia” and determined that I simply needed to eat more frequently. It never occurred to me to look closely at what exactly I was eating. What was the composition of my diet exactly and could it have been a factor in my condition? In the 1930s, Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist and a researcher, became curious about what contributed to good health. Thankfully, he did carefully examine and compare various diets to determine the factors at play in the best diets. He looked at the nutritional content of traditional foods and compared it with the so-called modern foods of his time (those sold at shops and comprised of refined flours, sugars, etc.) He found that traditional diets had 4x the minerals and water-soluble vitamins and 10x the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K. The bottom line? Modern diets often were (and still are) woefully inadequate in critical nutrients.

Whether we currently have any health concerns or not, it’s clearly time to ask ourselves some important questions, starting with: what the heck are we eating?! Are we simply satisfying our hunger with whatever happens to be close to our “pie hole,” or are we looking to build our bodies in better ways? I don’t mean “build” in a muscle-building fat-burning machine way, although some may have that goal. I mean, are we giving our bodies the fuel they need to thrive? Better nutrition translates into more energy, less fatigue. There’s easier brain function/more brain power, greater ease of movement/strength to take on physical tasks. Do you want this for yourself, for your family? Who doesn't, right?!

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Sally Fallon Morell takes Dr. Price’s findings and helps us figure out how to apply them in the day-to-day. She seriously sheds light on how to get the biggest bang for your buck out of every bite. (I may be mixing metaphors here, but you get what I'm saying!) Click here to listen to episode #30 entitled “Nutrient density.” In it, Sally touches on:

- how even those who think they’re eating “healthy” may still not be getting all of the vitamins and minerals they need - the foods that offer the fat-soluble vitamins that are critical for our brain and body function (in organ meats, fish eggs, egg yolks, cheese, for example) - the symptoms of fat-soluble vitamin-deficiency (including depression and anxiety) - the dangers of a diet high in lean proteins (without sufficient fat) - the fats that are implicated in heart disease (hint: not the saturated fats) - how vitamins A, D, and K are a triumvirate: how they work together and should be in balance - why she questions the USDA’s definition of “nutrient density” (Hint: they call vegetables nutrient dense, but they count it per calorie, and many vegetables are low in calories. This means that you’d have to eat copious amounts of broccoli, for example, to get the same amount of vitamins or minerals you’d get from a spoonful of liver.) - how Dr. Price, through improved nutrition, improved the health and behavior of  some orphans - how to tweak your diet to improve not only your physical health but your mental health; how to increase optimism - the one simple thing you can do to make a noticeable difference in your health, even if you do nothing else

I'm convinced that nutrient density (principle #3) is key to wellness. (For the entire list of "characteristics of traditional diets" click here.) I've been tweaking my diet over the years to align with the Wise Traditions diet and guess what?! All symptoms of hypoglycemia have resolved. Better still, I have no serious health concerns. I have sustained energy for the physical and mental tasks I want to complete. My body and mind feel strong and good.

What about you? Are you willing to try some of the foods rich in fat-soluble vitamins? What can you add to your diet to help your body thrive? Please comment below if you take even one small step in the nutrient-dense direction. I'm eager to hear what difference it makes for you!

*** Hilda Labrada Gore is a health coach and the host of the Wise Traditions podcast (found on iTunes, Stitcher and at westonaprice.org). She is also the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die

  This truism applies to our relationship with food and health, as well. Everybody wants to be healthy, but nobody wants to change what they're eating. So, yes, it's true: people want to have their cake and eat it too.

I get it. Habits are hard to break. Certain treats feel like rewards after a long week at the office or at home! But everything worthwhile requires some effort and sacrifice. I see the same students in my Body & Soul exercise classes week after week. They could be doing anything else: sleeping in, gardening, taking care of errands, you name it. But they show up time and again, sacrificing other things to commit themselves to movement.  And their bodies are the better for it.

Maybe it seems easier with exercise because everyone knows it is good for you. There is agreement. But with food, how do you decide which diet is best?

Here's something most every diet agrees on (at least those that are not trying to sell you special powders or products).  Ultra-processed foods are to be avoided. What do I mean by ultra-processed? These are foods that are de-natured and refined, foods whose nutritional content has been stripped or changed so that it no longer nourishes us as it would have in its original form. Just this past week, the University of Sao Paolo and Tufts University released a study that indicated that 50% of the American diet is made up of such foods. And these processed foods make up 90% of the sugar intake of Americans. No wonder we are sick and tired!

Some people call this "clean eating" because you are getting away from the junk that is sold as food. To step away from these processed foods, we've got to shop the perimeter of the supermarket. Let's fill our carts with food without labels. We can find this kind of food at farmer's markets, too. Or we can get farm deliveries or join a buying club. Maybe it's time to garden. For our health, though, we must begin to do whatever we can to avoid these overly manipulated foods and oils with extra additives, preservatives, colorings, flavorings, and sugar.

It will take effort, so in a sense it may feel like you are dying at first. But soon you will reap the reward of "health heaven." Trust me. Heaven is for real.

P.S. If you're ready to take the plunge but need more inspiration and how-to's, listen to this podcast episode "No refined or denatured foods" with Sally Fallon Morell, the head of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

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Raw milk is rawesome! (See if you agree, as I make my case!)

By now, you've heard of the growing interest in raw milk. Or maybe you haven’t. You may be perfectly happy with milk from the store. And when you hear a comment or report on the radio, you dismiss it out of hand. Turn the page. Turn off the radio. Who are the nut jobs who are into that stuff? Haven’t they heard of the outbreaks of sickness and deaths in the U.S. that led to the pasteurization of milk? Don't raw milk proponents know that raw milk is dangerous and full of bacteria? IMG_5835

On behalf of all the nut jobs out there, let me answer these questions. The answers are: yes and no. Yes, we know when and why pasteurization began, and no, we’re not worried. We know that raw milk is full of bacteria, but we believe that a lot of that bacteria is good for us, in the same way that bacteria in yogurt and other “super foods” is good for us. We don't believe raw milk is any more dangerous than other real foods.

Let me address this last concern first. In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that nearly half of foodborne illnesses in the U.S. from 1998 to 2008 were linked to fruits, nuts, leafy greens, and other vegetables. People are not steering clear of these foods today. My point? Any food can be mishandled and become a carrier of pathogens (bad bacteria). Rather than being afraid of food, we need to look to find ways to make sure we get it from the safest, cleanest source.

In fact, this is why pasteurization was applied to milk in the first place. There was an interest in making our milk “safe” or "safer." People were becoming sick because they were drinking milk from cows kept in poor sanitary conditions. But rather than changing the conditions of the cows, the idea was to pasteurize (or heat up) the milk to eliminate the pathogens. Unbeknownst to us, pasteurization changed the milk drastically--from a living product to a dead one. Pasteurization killed the bad bacteria, indeed. But it also got rid of the good stuff at the same time. It resulted in a product with a good long shelf life, but that wasn't good for our lives. Despite ads to the contrary, this milk doesn't do a body good.

In contrast, raw milk, from healthy cows in good conditions, is an amazing healthy food, teaming with good bacteria (and pathogen-fighting bacteria that “kills” any bad guys that crop up). Even the Mayo clinic in the 1930s had a program for using milk to kill a variety of ills, called "the milk cure." Yes, doctors once considered raw milk good and healing, when produced in sanitary conditions.

I equate milk pasteurization with meat irradiation. In 2000, the USDA passed a regulation allowing for meat to be irradiated to avoid spoilage and to keep it "safer" for consumers. Why wasn't it safe from the get-go? Unsanitary slaughterhouse practices were causing feces (and bad bacteria) to splash onto the meat. Rather than correcting the problem at its root (the slaughterhouse), they opted to blast our beef and poultry with radiation.

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Personally, I trust whole, real foods, more than I trust what others tell me is best. And I also listen to others' experience. More and more people struggle with digesting "safe" pasteurized dairy products. While those drinking raw milk and eating raw cheeses are finding healing.

Listen to this week's podcast episode with Charlotte Smith for one example. (Click here or go to Stitcher or westonaprice.org.) As a young mom, she was looking for a cure for her children's eczema. She came upon raw milk and became so convinced of its beneficial impact that she started a micro dairy (three cows only). I have to say, hers is a very mooooving story! (I couldn't resist the pun!)

You may find yourself completely unswayed by the above. Rawesome. I urge you to keep your eyes and ears open. Apply your own skills of observation to the situation (and to your own body, should you decide to try it out). I am eager to hear what you conclude!

 

 

 

 

Six step simple squash soup! (A yummy tongue-twister of a dish)

True confessions. I used to be intimidated by squash. Its shape is weird. I didn't know what it tasted like. I never ate it growing up. Then I bought some butternut squash soup at Whole Foods and I liked it. A lot. Then my friends made it. I liked it even more. Finally, my daughters made it. It was delectable. I finally decided to go for it myself, before my cat got into the act!

Step one. Grab the squash and stick it in the oven at 350°. That's it. No fuss, no muss.

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Step two: Let it cook long enough so that it looks mushy (about 20-30 min). Then peel it by hand.

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Step three: Sauté onions, peppers, carrots---whatever you have on hand, really---in butter or coconut oil or your favorite saturated fat. :)

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Step four: Add broth.

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Step five: Start cutting off chunks of the squash. Get rid of some of the stringiness in the middle (but set aside the seeds for toasting and enjoying at a later time, if you want).

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Step six: Toss the 3-4" chunks in the pot and blend it all up with a hand blender.

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That's all there is to it! Once you've got the basics down, you can spice it up (literally) with paprika, garlic powder, turmeric, coconut milk, whatever you like! But it's perfectly yummy this plain and simple way, as well!

Let me know if you give it a whirl! Here's to making intimidating vegetable-itis a thing of the past!

One more present for you...

Just when you thought you had everything unwrapped, there’s one more present for you: the Wise Traditions podcast! WAPF favicon

The podcast is wrapped up in brown paper (and tied up with string) on its way to us all in just a few days! If we could track it with an app, it would appear as saying "shipped." Now we're awaiting delivery from the iTunes truck!

This podcast is going to be a wonderful topper to all the gifts you received this past holiday season. And it's going to be one that you will come back to again and again. You are simply, absolutely,  unequivocally going to LOVE it!

You'll get three episodes right off the bat---an interview with the President of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Sally Fallon Morell. She talks about the foundation's core principles and why they are so committed to educating the public about the healthy traditions of our ancestors.  We also talk to farmer and veterinarian Will Winter. He has a brilliant mind, and a straight-forward way of talking that makes the most complicated matters related to life and health (and climate change) sound simple! And finally, we talk to Dr. Tom Cowan, a holistic doctor who wraps up the interview by saying "Don't believe me. Don't believe anybody!" Talk about unconventional!

All three of these episodes will be available as soon as the podcast arrives and, thereafter, 30-minute podcast episodes will be released once a week. You will be able to find them on iTunes (search for "Wise Traditions" under "Podcasts") and on the westonaprice.org website (click on "New! Podcast" on the side bar). Each episode will be entertaining, informative, and helpful. And, of course, you will be able to share them at the click of a mouse.

I simply can’t WAIT for you to check out these episodes and all those that follow. The minute they go "live" you will know. I will post about it here and you will see social media light up with excerpts, pictures, and more!

Hooray for an extra little present that is one-size-fits-all! And here's to a happy and healthy 2016 for all of us!

Guilt be gone! (Why self care is not selfish.)

Raise your hand if you have felt guilty when you've chosen to read a book (or binge on a t.v. series) instead of folding laundry. Or when you opted to meet a friend for coffee, instead of completing a certain project for work. Or when you blew off a PTA meeting to grab dinner with your spouse or good friend. Now that all our hands are raised, let me just say, it's okay. Wait, no. It's MORE than okay. It probably was just what you needed! Too often in life, when we take a break, we feel like we should be doing something else. But I like what author and theologian Henri Nouwen has to say on the subject: "Don't should on yourself!"

It is perfectly legitimate, and, yes, even often absolutely necessary to leave some things undone so that you can do something that restores you. Whatever it is that "fills your bucket" or replenishes your stores, do it! Even if it's just for one evening, or for a mid-day break, you will find that the mini-vaycay can work wonders on your state of mind and heart. It's like water to a parched soul, oxygen to an astronaut. (I guess I still have the movie "Martian" on my mind!)

This could be you!

Seriously, though, as a health coach, I see people overlook this aspect of health all. the. time. You can eat as "clean" as Gwenyth Paltrow, but you will still be unwell if you stress yourself out through over-work and under-self. When you keep going and going and going, it's as if your body is in constant fight-or-flight mode. You will literally wear your adrenal glands out and no amount of caffeine can bring you back to life. When you get to that point of exhaustion, (and let's face it, we all do from time to time), you are no good to anybody, least of all yourself. Literally. You are not being good to yourself or anyone else in your life.

Parker Palmer, author of "Let your life speak," has this to say about taking care of ourselves:

“I have become clear about at least one thing: that self-care is never a selfish act, but it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on the earth to offer others.”

Parker is saying (and I am well aware that I am making him sound like he's my best friend, but, hey, he has made a difference in my life, and I do feel close to him, so...), yes, Parker is saying that the only way to care for those around us, is for us to be in some, decent kind of shape to do so. I don't mean physical shape. I mean emotional and spiritual shape.

Back when I worked for Naval Intelligence, a colleague of mine made a remark about my attitude, one day. I told him that I hadn't really been consistent in my devotional life in those recent weeks. His off-hand response? "Yeah, I can tell." My self-care, time for centering prayer and grounding Scripture at the start of the day, had fallen by the wayside. Apparently, it was making me stressed out and negative and impacting everyone around me, in ways I had failed to notice (but that others had.)

So, my advice? Get thee to a pumpkin patch! Get outside. Enjoy fall! Blow off the laundry and the mopping! Delegate the work project (if your boss lets you)! Find something that fills you up, replenishes, and restores. And if anyone questions what you're doing, tell them that you're doing something sustainable and replenishing for the good of others...and yourself!

Me, outside, a couple of years ago! I better get out there again!

There's chips involved... Yeah, I feel guilty.

"There's chips involved.... Yeah, I feel guilty," Jane laughed nervously. This was Jane's reply when I asked her about her current diet. Jane is a 29 year-old professional in the city, so it's not surprising that she's pressed for time and that her diet isn't stellar. But, get this. Jane isn't American. She's a Kenyan, from the Kikuyu tribe, living and working in Nairobi. IMG_2753

Yes, professionals in Kenya face the same challenges we do here in the States. Like us, they have far too much to do and too little time to do it in. They are rushed and often grab whatever is available, convenient, or "cool" when they need energy or sustenance. It's a more hurried, harried life compared to the one in the village. And the food is very different, too.

"I have lived in both worlds," Jane said. I was intrigued and asked her questions to find out more.

  • IMG_4938on her childhood

I grew up partially in a village with my grandmother.

  • on what she ate

Mostly healthy, vegetables from the farm. Sorghum. Ugali. We would eat fermented porridge. And then we would also eat, rather drink, milk from the cow, because she used to have a cow.

  •  on her health as a child

Very healthy, because I would rarely go to the hospital. I don’t remember falling sick, as such. Maybe flu or a cough, but nothing too major. To me, it’s the lifestyle I was living at that time, as compared to now, I’m in the city.

  • on her current diet

There’s chips involved. There’s burger. Rice. Lots of rice. Lots of meat, sometimes soda. Yeah, I feel guilty. A lot of cake, unhealthy snacks, mostly.

  • comparing the health of those in the village and those in the city

I would say the city people, per se, we are not as healthy as people in the village. It is so clear when you go to visit them. Someone who’s my age, because they are working, they are walking, they are eating those greens from the farm, they are taking milk from the cow. They look much stronger than I do.

Even my mom would go like, “That tummy needs to go, obviously.” You know, because she is more active and eating healthier, I do believe, better than I do.

  • on what's "cool"

For most of us, actually, we think it’s cool to be seen somewhere at KFC or Pizza Inn. Like [with ]a big pizza or coca cola. But, no, it’s not. Like I said, I know from both worlds which one is cooler....

  • her response to our presIMG_2719entation on nourishing, traditional foods

To me it was a wake-up call. Like, yeah, the village people are not wrong. That’s the way it should be because I have seen the difference because I have lived in both worlds. In the village and now in the city. So, to me, I could relate so much so because I have seen it both ways.

It’s true. I’ve lived it. Eating the natural foods, and now where I am just walking to a fast food place and get whatever.

I don’t want to [die fast], so I have to start, like, recollecting to making decisions to go for the natural foods, for sure.


Are you like Jane, eating chips and feeling guilty? Living a fast-paced life with little space for "slow food?" You're not alone. Let's help each other to do as she suggested, and "recollect" to make decisions for the natural foods. For sure.

Back to basics – four simple ways to refresh your spirit

On the street, I cringe when I see a mother on her cell phone while she completely ignores the baby right in front of her. Maybe she’s the nanny and not the mother? Regardless, no sooner do I pronounce judgment against her in the courtroom of my mind, than I am on my own device, turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to the people and life around me. 11401143_449295375233091_2744221912510494426_n

Our devices stupefy us. We sit in front of them for hours on end, at work or play. From stay-at-home moms, to students, to CEOs, we are all tempted to put real life on hold as we give our full attention to the dazzling and demanding virtual show. Spoken words and true connections are like droplets of rain on a water-resistant slicker. They sit on the surface but do not penetrate our hearts. We are impervious to what is going on around us.

I'm late, I'm late for a very important date!

And it’s not just our devices that distract us from real life. Busyness also numbs us to reality. We are pinballs, careering from one event to the next, especially this time of year---do you feel me, moms of elementary-aged children? We need a moment. But we are like frantic and harried vacationers, so eager to make our destination that we barrel through quaint small towns, missing their charm (and what we could learn if we adopted their pace).

We are hypnotized by the illusion of connection (with our devices) and self-importance and efficiency (with our penchant for busyness). How do we snap out of our self-induced trance? Below are four simple ways to refresh our spirits and reconnect with real life.

  • Come up for air…in small ways. Put an end time” on your work,  like an expiration date on a carton of milk. My sister is a champ at this. She leaves the office at a pre-determined time, regardless of how many emails are in her inbox, and I’m pretty sure she has thousands! She also chooses not to access her work remotely once she gets home, even though there is obviously MUCH to do. She comes up for air every time she does this and it allows her to connect with her husband, children, and friends, in a way she couldn’t otherwise. I want to be like my younger sister when I grow up. Give yourself a grown up “time out." It’s a gift, though, not a punishment. Take a break for 5-10 minutes every hour or so. Whether you’re at home, folding laundry, or at your desk churning out emails. I've used the timer on my iPhone to remind me to take a little walk or do something different for a few minutes. It gives me a clearer mind when I return to the task at hand.and in big ways. A family vacation rocks but don’t wait for that. If possible, look for pockets in your schedule to take a mini get-away of some sort. My husband and I went to Winchester, Virginia for an overnight recently. It was no Hawaii, but, hey, it served its purpose. We got off the treadmill and caught our breath and connected with each other.
  • AttachAs we detach from our devices and busyness, we find room to attach to something positive---a person or pastime that we enjoy. Set up a mini date with someone close to home or a friend that you love but haven’t seen for months. Pick up your phone (for a second) and give them a ring! Return to a hobby that fell by the wayside---knitting, tennis, reading. Detaching gives you the gift of time you didn’t have before! Use it to attach to something more life-giving!
  • photo 1-6Read a book (esp. a good one) – Summer is made for this! It can be an educational book or one that is simply an escape. I’m reading two very different books right now. “Gone girl” has nothing to do with my life (thank goodness) but it’s very entertaining. And “The good and beautiful God” is fantastic and super inspirational---with tons of tips for self-care and spiritual growth. Audiobooks come in handy, too, to get your mind off your burdens while you commute or tend to simple tasks around the house.
  • Eat "clean" for a day (or a week)  – This is a surprising way to lessen the load of stress that you may be carrying! Adjusting your diet for a day is a simple way to detox (without the ambitious undertaking of making smoothies that require ingredients from a rainforest in Brazil). Find a friend and do this together, if you want accountability. For 24 hours, avoid processed foods (snacks in bags, meals in boxes) and buy fresh (from a farmer’s market, if possible). Don’t eat out for the allotted time period, either. You should feel a natural energy boost. You will also 1) save money and 2) feel better.

Notice that the acronym for these simple steps is C.A.R.E. When we step away from our devices and the busyness of life, we are caring for ourselves and therefore better equipped to care for others and meet the rigors of our day-to-day lives. Let me know how it goes for you when you implement these simple steps! I care.

Want to lose weight? NEVER go on a diet!

The first three letters of the word "diet" say it all. D-I-E! When you deprive yourself of certain foods, you make them all the more enticing in some ways. Think of Adam and Eve in the garden. They probably weren't all that into apples (or whatever fruit it was---the Bible doesn't actually say). But once God said that they could have all the fruit from any of the trees except ONE, all hell broke loose…literally! 1 dieter

So the best way to thrive and, yes, even lose weight, is the opposite of deprivation: it's to actually nourish yourself. Eat the best food you can and you will find that you are so satisfied you won't be tempted to eat junk or "cheat". (This works in so many realms, by the way! Think about your schoolwork. If your head is full of knowledge, you don't need to look at your classmate's answers during the pop quiz. If your marriage is strong, you won't give that hottie with the body a second glance.)

Therefore, rather than telling you what foods you should avoid, I'm going to tell you in today's post what you CAN eat and why. Here are 4 simple categories of foods to choose from:

1. Animal foods - All healthy people groups around the world have some sort of animal food in their diet. This category includes everything from fish, beef, chicken, and pork, to organ meats, bone broth, and raw milk and cheese products. You may already eat plenty of these foods, but don't forget that the source matters. Buy the best quality antibiotic- and hormone-free meats you possibly can. They literally have a different chemical composition than the meat from big factories, and your body will be the better for it. Also, feel free to stretch yourself! If you're not ready to try brains (shudder), try liverwurst, a "gateway" organ meat that is available at stores like Whole Foods.

You had me at "liverwurst."

2. Grains, legumes, and nuts - Does it ever seem to you like every person on the planet is gluten-intolerant? I understand why. There are enzyme inhibitors found in grains, legumes, and nuts that strain our digestive system. We all can benefit by preparing these foods carefully to make them easier on our systems. I'm still learning how to do this myself. Methods include soaking, sprouting, sour leavening and culturing and fermenting.

3. Vegetabl3 tossed salades and fruit - These foods are a rainbow of delights that brighten our plates and give us needed vitamins and minerals. It's easy enough to grab a banana or an apple in the morning for a mid-day snack, but it's harder to get those vegetables in on the regular, isn't it? I have friends that are big into the smoothie craze. They make power-packed drinks with kale and lemon and ginger. Find a friend who's good at this or give it a whirl yourself! (Get it?) Personally, I put tons of veggies into my homemade soups to make sure I get heaping amounts of veggie goodness into my system. I also toss together salads for a quick nutritious side with my lunch or dinner.

4. Fats and oils - Yes, they deserve a category all to themselves. Have you heard of the Bulletproof coffee craze? (Read about this fad in this NY Times article here.) I'm not advocating this diet, but I under the satiety that Dave Asprey experienced when he added significant amounts of butter to his coffee and his life! No wonder he lost weight. You may see weight loss, too, by making the simple switch to healthier oils and fats (butter from pastured cows, coconut oil, olive oil) from the usual conventional, partially-hydrogenated oils.

A lot of the above material I gleaned from a little Weston A. Price booklet entitled "Healthy 4 Life."  (You can print out their PDF or order a copy here.) I don't get any renumeration from WAPF for promoting their materials, by the way. I'm just a fan of their simple, straightforward life-giving thoughts on eating simple straightforward and nourishing food.

Hope this post was helpful! Let me know if you're into dieting or if you've found any of the above foods to be satisfyingly yummy and helpful for maintaing a healthy weight!

Organic on a budget

I gave a nutrition presentation to a group of young moms this week. it was entitled:

"Seven heavenly tips for healthy, happy families."

(Okay, okay, I confess I got carried away by the rhyming and alliteration. I'm not sure what made the tips "heavenly" other than the fact that they came from me.) Toward the end of the talk, one mom commented, "Hilda, I really aspire to this. But I just don't see how my family can afford to eat this way." Many moms nodded in agreement and talked about the common phenomenon of spending their "whole paycheck" at Whole Foods.

receipt

I could empathize. As a mother of four, and an avowed foodie, I have seen my fair share of grocery bills that looked like luxury car payments! So I appreciated the money-saving tips that came up in the course of our conversation. Especially at this time of year, when money is tight, few of us can afford to splurge on groceries. I love the tips that the moms shared and I hope you do, too!

1. Eat less meat. High-quality meat (grass-fed, and antibiotic- and hormone-free) has a host of benefits, including being a vital source of vitamins B, D, and iron. But its price is higher than the ground beef that's on sale at your typical Safeway or Giant. One mom said that she justifies paying, say, $10 for quality ground beef versus $3 for the "regular" ground beef, by simply serving it less often. In other words, instead of having meat with dinner 4 or 5 times a week, she might just prepare it once or twice. But when she does, she is serving her family the best---meat that is both delectable and deeply nourishing, with none of the side effects of conventional meat.

Talk about paleo!

2. Shop around. Yes, buying organic is expensive if you do one-stop shopping at the high-end stores. But now organic produce and other natural foods are often available at places as varied as CostCo, Target, Wal-Mart and even your local grocery store. (Kombucha is cheaper at my neighborhood Safeway, for example.) Finding the deals takes a little more time, obviously, and you may have to go out of your way to get them, but if you plan it right, you can come away with some decent savings.

3. Know your "clean 15 and dirty dozen." If you want to ease into your organic purchases, start here. This handy-dandy chart from the Environmental Working Group is a guide that distinguishes "clean" produce---that which has the least amount of pesticide residue and chemicals---and "dirty" produce--that which frequently has significant amounts. The "dirty" ones are the ones you should avoid, obviously. Choose organic the next time you want to buy something off the "dirty" list. And feel free to buy the less expensive conventional "clean" produce next time you go shopping, guilt-free.

clean and dirty

4. Farmers markets - When I brought this up, the moms began to murmur and shake their heads. It's true--farmers markets aren't known for their low prices, but I see buying fresh greens there as a great deal. Even if they are pricier than their store-bought counterparts, they will taste freshKale-2er and better, making it more likely that your family will actually eat them. The outcome? Less science experiments in the produce drawer of your fridge and more yummy nutritious food in your tummies. Here are two sources to find awesome markets in the DC metro area: first, a map compiled by the Washington Post in April of this year, and second, a list of FRESHFARM markets in the area. Kale never tasted so good!

5. Buy bulk - I'm not talking toilet paper or laundry detergent (though I suppose that's great, too). I'm talking sides of beef. This is especially easy to do if you have freezer space to spare. Right off the bat, here are two farms I can recommend that sell meat in bulk: Black Diamond Meats in Blacksburg and Polyface Farm in Shenandoah, VA. Black Diamond will ship meat. For Polyface Farm meats, you need to be a part of their buying club. Both are worth looking into, but I have to warn you. You will be spoiled. One taste of these high-quality, mouth-watering cuts and you will never go back to the mystery meat on pink styrofoam trays in your grocer's freezer.

Hope these tips give you a little more spending money for Christmas presents this season. I am certain that if you follow them,  you will find yourself nourished and happy and more able to cope with all of the challenges and busyness that come with this time of year.

How to avoid a "food hangover"

I'm at work and doing fine. Cookies are on the first floor. I know this because I spotted them earlier. I turned my nose up at them at 10:30 a.m. But now it's just after 3 and I suddenly feel like I'm in the Hunger Games and if I don't get sustenance NOW, I won't be able to help Peeta back in the cave. I race down the stairs and make a bee-line for the kitchen. Living up to a college nickname of Hoover Hilda--yes, a friend dubbed me H.H. when he saw me consume two sno balls in under 2 minutes--I quickly inhale the cookie and whatever isn't tied down within a three-foot radius of the platter by the fridge. sno balls

I feel okay in the moment. Hunger has temporarily subsided. But it's not too long before I begin to experience that unhappy "food hangover" feeling---that mix of regret and that "I-really-shouldn't-have-eaten-that" sentiment. It's followed by anger at myself and a headache or stomach-ache or both. I feel bloated, unhappy.  I'm not satisfied physically or emotionally.

I don't like that feeling. I want to make choices that leave me happy today                             and happy tomorrow, too.

something fitness

I have been in both places--food-hangover-ville and panza-llena-corazon-contento land (full stomach, happy heart). I'd rather be in the latter. Here's what helps me get there.

1. Planning ahead. Granted, it takes a little work ahead of time, but the payoff is worth it, for me and my family. Going to a day-long conference? Skip the predictably sticky pastries and processed muffins offered mid-morning. Bring your own nuts, cheese, or beef jerky. Going on a business trip? Avoid the pricey (and mediocre) airport food by taking some trail mix or hardboiled eggs with you. I went to see "Interstellar" this week (it's mind-blowing--go see it) and I packed homemade popcorn for me and the fam (click on link for recipe) and, of course, kombucha. What I prepare is tasty and nutritious---a far cry from the aforementioned sno balls.

2. Eating at least three meals a day. I know it happens; people skip meals all the time. Work can get overwhelming and you hardly feel you have time to breathe, let alone grab a bite. My daughter Cristina and I were in NYC recently (see vid for the big picture, literally) and we stopped in a little bakery around 6 p.m. just to take the weight off of our feet. A man in a business suit seated next to us was eating a pastry and swearing to his colleague that it was his first meal of the day. I felt so sorry for him! Not only was he only just getting around to eating but he was eating mostly sugar and refined flour. I make eating regularly a priority so that I won't get so ravenous that I'll make poor choices.

3. Getting the biggest bang for my buck. There are moments when I'm out and about and I'm unprepared. Hunger strikes and I'm getting that H.H. feeling. At work this week, we were celebrating a coworker's birthday. On the cart were cupcakes alongside cups of fruit. Either could easily immediately gratify a sweet tooth. But I knew only one would satisfy on a deeper level. I went for the fruit. Whenever I'm faced with a choice like this, I "upgrade." I go for what's closest to real. I'll choose seltzer with lime over the Sprite,  cheese over the cheese-flavored Doritos, etc.

Following these tips makes me feel like this:

DSC_0728

Instead of this: me wiped

Sometimes we get selective amnesia and forget what a poor food choice will do to us. That sno ball is whispering your name and you succumb to its charms. Hey, it happens!  Whatever you do, don't condemn yourself. That only makes the hangover worse, emotion-wise. Healthy habits take time to build. Just breathe, forgive yourself and move on. And remember for the next time:

every time you eat nourish poster