Home Cooking for Your Health

Posted by on Apr 29, 2013 in Cooking at Home, On My Soapbox, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

I recently read an article in the New York Times where two of my favorite writers covered one of my favorite topics: cooking. Not a celebrity chef cooking but US cooking in our homes.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the article … “[Michael Pollan] says: “Cooking is probably the most important thing you can do to improve your diet. What matters most is not any particular nutrient, or even any particular food: it’s the act of cooking itself. People who cook eat a healthier diet without giving it a thought. It’s the collapse of home cooking that led directly to the obesity epidemic.”

In my house the main cook is my husband. His grandfather was a chef / short order cook /restaurant owner. He learned to cook because that’s how the division of labor worked when he was growing up. He was bad at waking everyone up in the morning, so his sister took over those duties. And he took over her duties in the kitchen. And thus … he loves to cook. Early in our marriage I did some regular cooking, but after a year or two we discovered that everyone was happier when he cooked most of the time. I know I am super lucky! Not only does Cris like to cook … he makes delicious, interesting meals!

Cris especially loves to cook for a crowd!

Cris especially loves to cook for a crowd!

Given this situation, I especially thought it was interesting when the article quotes Pollan saying, “We need to complete that uncomfortable conversation about the division of domestic labor, which the food industry deftly exploited to sell us processed food,” he says. “But if we’re going to rebuild a culture of cooking, it can’t mean returning women to the kitchen. We all need to go back to the kitchen.”

Although Cris and I are invested in being healthy, we don’t count calories or obsessively exercise. And most of our health-indicating blood tests come back in the “healthy” range most of the time. We believe it’s because we rarely eat food just from boxes or drive-up windows. In fact, I’d estimate that 90% of our food is home-cooked.

Contrast this lifestyle with some folks I know. For example, I have a massage client who has never used her stove in the 7 years since she bought it. One day I was talking to the friend who helps us keep our house clean (super grateful for her help too!) about how much work it can be to clean our kitchen. I happened to ask her if this was pretty common among her clients. She said that as many of her clients don’t cook as do cook. Wow!

One of my favorite wellness authors, Marc David, says this in his Eater’s Agreement:

“I recognize that at its deepest level eating is an affirmation of life. Each time I eat I agree somewhere inside to continue life on earth. I acknowledge that this choice to eat is a fundamental act of love and nourishment, a true celebration of my existence.”

Don’t you love that idea? Our fridge has an important sticker on it … too important for the car bumper. It says, “Love People. Cook Them Tasty Food.” Even if you are just cooking for yourself today, aren’t you worth that love??

 

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Health Coach or Fitness App?

Posted by on Apr 3, 2013 in On My Soapbox, Questions Clients Ask, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

Someone recently asked me, “Why would I hire a health coach when I can download a free fitness app to keep me on track?” And, you guessed it, I have an answer to share with all of you!

Don’t get me wrong—I love fitness apps like LoseIt and MyFitnessPal. In fact I think that these apps are the food diary of the twenty-first century. I remember my first venture into Weight Watchers back in 1990. We received a small paper booklet every week and were told to write everything we ate in the booklet. Then a few years later a calculator-type tracker was available—for about $75 I think.How things have changed! Now these FREE apps have millions of entries in a database that users can continually add to. The apps can tell you all kinds of different nutrition information about that snack or restaurant meal. They approximate your home-cooked meal’s nutrition value with ease. Lots of advantages … including all the things an app will tell you about calories burned during your day. You can even count the calories involved in cooking your dinner!

App or Coach

So what does a health coach offer that’s different? I can only speak for my approach, but one thing a health coach does is consider each client as a wholly individual being. The health coach does so much more than focus on calories in and calories out. Even the prevailing health wisdom is calling that an outdated approach.

While every health coach has an area of expertise or specialization, they know how to incorporate that knowledge into the reality of a client’s day. For example, I work primarily with people who are interested in addressing chronic pain and inflammation through holistic and nutritional means. There are some very specific steps towards this goal, but based on my experience I can determine whether or not those steps apply to you.

A few days ago, I was working with a young woman who contacted me because food shopping and knowing healthy from unhealthy was very difficult for her. After four sessions, including a grocery store tour together, we reached a really important moment. It started innocently enough with a conversation about how great the grocery store tour was for her confidence. And all of a sudden, my client was making connections about her food-related childhood experiences and the fear she feels today. It was a tissue and tears moment, and it cleared away a lot of her tension about food.

This story is a perfect example of what health coaching offers that ISN’T available in a free app. Health coaching offers recognition that each client’s needs are individual. It offers a place to discuss not just what to eat but why to make adjustments. Together clients and health coaches create sacred space where big emotional connections happen. The coach shares practical tips like recipes and lessons in label reading—in a way that’s easy to absorb.

Most importantly the health coaching relationship offers trust, hugs and love—invaluable encouragement!

 

Ready to get started feeling less pain and more energy? The best way to determine what program is right for you is scheduling a FREE 45-minute get acquainted call. Simply call or email me today to get started!

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My Gluten Free Story … So Far …

Posted by on Jan 29, 2013 in Gluten Free, On My Soapbox, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

Lots and lots of people are out there in the blogosphere and health world talking about eating gluten free. I’ve been listening to them for years—have you? Well, I finally joined onto that bandwagon. Here’s a little bit about why I did, and more importantly what it did for me.

Every time someone brought up eating gluten free, my  response was the same. “Maybe someday I’ll change but I’m not ready right now.” Honestly that’s just a nice way of saying … give me a good enough reason and I’ll consider if it would be worth it to me. I love bread and all things wheat, so being gluten free sounded like a small bit of hell right here on earth. But just in case, I eliminated processed breakfast cereals and limited my bread consumption … okay but I still had the occasional pizza or subs or cookies or cakes. I definitely found that the more healthy, clean, unprocessed choices I made, the better I felt. But gluten-free … nope, I wasn’t ready yet.

Well, about 3 months ago things started to shift. As you know, my primary health coaching focus is working with people who live with pain and inflammation. Since that’s my everyday world as well, I spend a lot of time researching this type of information. When I read a great book hoping to gain some insight for a newly diabetic family member, the connections really started to click. What? A book about diabetes talked about gluten? Yup – and inflammation … and the connection between the two. And I found an article that seemed credible covering the connection between autoimmunity and gluten. And I read another book about the connection between thyroid issues, autoimmunity and gluten too. More reading and more credible, scientific connections ensued. And I decided to it was time to give gluten-free living a try.

Making pizza with a cauliflower crust ... no gluten here!

Making pizza with a cauliflower crust … no gluten here!

Know what really flipped the final switch? Well I just happened to stand on the scale one morning. The previous evening I’d had two small pieces of pizza and a few baked, breaded shrimps. Shocker – the scale showed I had gained four pounds overnight. Nothing else in my food the day before was inflammatory. But four pounds of water/inflammation packed on just from a “moderate” serving of wheat-based stuff. You should know that I’m not super worried about my weight – it’s healthy and I’m fitting in my clothes. That’s another reason why four pounds overnight just seemed crazy.

So with all of this information, I figured maybe there is some truth to the connection between gluten and inflammation. And I thought to myself, “let’s give it 4 to 6 weeks and see how I feel. If there’s no change, I’ll just go back to gluten.” And how long did it take to see and feel a difference? Not 4 to 6 weeks but 4 to 6 DAYS! Truthfully, I am still finding things that have changed … and it has been about 10 weeks now. Here’s what I noticed:

  • Flexibility (what I noticed first … and as a massage therapist this change is very helpful … plus it’s easier to get on the floor and play with the grandkids)
  • Major reduction in morning stiffness, especially in my hands (again, so helpful when I have early morning clients)
  • Strength or more muscle soreness (I think keeping my muscles strong will ultimately benefit my joints, so this is important to me too)
  • Major changes in how clothing waistlines fit (small weight change too, plus every single piece of clothing is looser & all muffin tops are gone)
  • Less swollen feet at night (I stand for up to 8 hours each day, so this comfort level change is huge)
  • Less wildly uncontrollable hunger (I used to say my stomach was really a headless monster but not anymore …)
  • Less irritability, especially around hunger (this is huge because I have been attributing irritability to hormone changes … maybe not so much)
  • Calmer emotions even in times of great stress (so I’m in the sandwich generation and a small business owner … need to be calmer every day)
  • Less brain fog – not “losing words” or my train of thought at all (super helpful and makes me feel a lot less crazy)
  • Changes in muscle definition and general tissue quality (now you can see my muscles, plus they feel looser and less tense to both me and my massage therapist)

I can’t say for sure that going gluten-free will help you with these issues. (But I would wish good changes of any type for you!) I can’t say for sure that I will always experience being gluten-free as a positive force in my life. But I am hopeful … and that makes all the difference each morning when my feet hit the floor. Don’t be surprised if you see a few gluten-free recipes peaking up here, and some more conversation about the benefits. After all, sharing information is what I’m all about!

Looking for support in going Gluten Free? The best way to determine what program is right for you is scheduling a FREE 45-minute initial health and wellness consultation. Simply call or email me today to get started!

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Well … isn’t that Pinteresting …

Posted by on Aug 7, 2012 in On My Soapbox | 0 comments

If you’ve been spending time on the latest online social networking site, you know just what I mean … Pinterest is a pretty fun spot for all kinds of information. Just in case you’re curious what has been catching my eye, here are links to a couple of my Pinterest boards:

Healthy Food … Mostly – lots of great recipes and general food information

Nutrition Infographics – taking nutrition data and turning it into cool infographics

Truffles with Energy – lately I am obsessed with finding the perfect energy truffle recipe

Live Healthy – green, sustainable and just plain smart ideas

Clean & Cheap – ideas about how to make your own cleaning products using every day (less chemically-driven) materials

I’m also working on a new board that captures a lot of Anti-Inflammatory food and lifestyle suggestions!

I’d love for you to follow any of these individual boards. Or if you’d like to know more about me – what I love and what I find pinteresting – then follow all my boards!

Ready to get started feeling less pain and more energy? The best way to determine what program is right for you is scheduling a FREE 45-minute initial health and wellness consultation. Simply call or email me today to get started!

 

 

 

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Buzzkill or Mindful Consumption?

Posted by on Aug 3, 2012 in On My Soapbox, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

Lately I have been feeling a lot of buzzkill vibes. I keep hearing people say this or that food is “totally delicious” and is making all kinds of great nutritional claims. Maybe it’s my marketing background or the cynic inside me, but I just don’t believe the marketing spin or reductionist nutritional claims of processed food products today. I am here to own my buzzkill vibe because I believe it’s going to keep me healthy for a long, long, long, long time.

Items that need a little buzzkill in my book:

The cookies called WhoNu …

The fast food chains, especially [insert your favorite here] …

Pretty much any food item sold in a bag or a box …

Comfort foods that ultimately don’t make our waistbands (or our guilt complexes) more comfortable …

Food companies survive on consumer gullibility and our desire “not to know” what’s really going into our bodies. Is that the way I want to live my life? Is that the way I think I will be able to live the BEST kind of life for me? I support everyone’s right to choose whatever food they prefer. I just encourage everyone to be mindful – spend 2 minutes reading that label or Googling the ingredients of your favorite chicken strips. And then choose what you consume.

If ignoring the truth gives us a buzz, I will pass on that one. My buzz in life is feeling so much energy I can skip the afternoon nap. My buzz in life is craving exercise and laughter instead of cookies. My buzz in life is making choices today that will enable me to feel this good in thirty more years. I choose not to let mindlessness hinder the fullness of life I deserve to experience.

What buzz do you choose – mindful or mindless?

Ready to get started being more mindful? The best way to determine what program is right for you is scheduling a FREE 45-minute initial health and wellness consultation. Simply call or email me today to get started!

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My client called me a “hater” today …

Posted by on Jul 9, 2012 in On My Soapbox, Wellness Ideas | 4 comments

Okay, so it was really “Cheerios hater,” which seems a little less harsh. And I feel inspired to explain that one to the world at large – what is it about Cheerios that I have an issue with? Whether you think I’m a hater or not is up to you …

If you look at the label, one cup of Cheerios has just one gram of sugar and three grams of fiber. Sometimes I use the ratio of fiber to sugar as a way to judge what cereal to suggest. So if that was my only judgement, I’d have to say Cheerios isn’t all that bad. 100 calories, more fiber than sugar, no fat … what more could a healthy eating person wish for?

I’m not the only one discussing this question right now. CNN Health just posted an article today called, “How to choose a healthy breakfast cereal.” (Hint … no Cheerios on the list … )

Well … what are my two main reasons for disrespecting Cherrios?

1. First four ingredients: Whole grain oats (includes the oat bran), modified corn starch, trisodium phosphate and wheat starch. Ingredients are always listed in the order of amount – so the ingredient which makes up the largest part of the cereal is listed first. But there’s no way to know if the largest part is 99% or 30% … it’s just never listed.

Yup, whole grain oats is a positive. A lot of breakfast cereal is still processed through equipment that extrudes it into the round “o” shape … or flakes or whatever. So it bears little resemblance to actual whole oats (think oatmeal here). But fundamentally this is an important first ingredient.

Modified corn starch is corn whose fundamental properties have been changed so that it can be used simply as a thickener, stabilizer or emulsifier. Although I have no proof, most corn in this type of application is likely to be genetically modified (GMO). Because the corn has been genetically altered, our bodies aren’t familiar with how to process it and best draw any available nutrients from it. Then it’s modified again into corn starch, so our bodies aren’t familiar with how to process that either. This kind of long-term confusion can be damaging to our digestion.

Tripotassium phosphate is a potassium salt of phosphoric acid used as an antioxidant synergist, buffer and emulsifier in food. Potassium and phosphate are naturally occurring compounds in our own bodies, so their are few known side effects. But again this is the third ingredient on the list and it just doesn’t sound appetizing to me.

Wheat starch is wheat flour (already a refined ingredient) that has been further processed to remove the proteins from it. Like the last two ingredients, this is used as a stabilizer or thickener. It’s just there so that the “o” stays in an “o” shape. Or so that the “o” doesn’t rot too quickly.

2. Processed, processed, processed: Breakfast cereal can be one of the most highly processed foods we choose during our day. Of course there are cereal choices that may be less processed, but most cereal has been smooshed, mashed, baked, and coated for hours and hours. Check out this video from the folks at How It’s Made. It’s not a whole food like oatmeal, for example. If you are trying to make healthier choices, you want to get closer to whole foods as the basis of every meal.

If not Cheerio’s, then what? Let’s just say that breakfast cereal is something you need to keep in your daily meal plans – there’s no doubting its convenience! What would I pick in this case? Well, here’s an option that isn’t marketed by a huge company spending gazillions of dollars on advertising. Even more important, it’s possible to pronounce the entire ingredient list. Plus it’s nutrition label tells me there’s 0 grams of sugar and 6 grams of fiber – that’s a good ratio in my book. Call me old-fashioned, but if I’m going to buy something in a box I’d prefer a choice like this. While it’s not technically whole food, it has more redeeming value and a whole lot less hype on the front of the box!

 

I could actually write quite a bit more about breakfast cereal … but I must get going to my day and probably you feel the same way! Let me know what your favorite breakfast choices are – whole foods or not – I’m curious to know. And thanks for reading this far so you know I’m not really a hater!

Ready to get started making healthier choices? The best way to determine what program is right for you is scheduling a FREE 45-minute initial health and wellness consultation. Simply call or email me today to get started!

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