I have several goals for my blog- to scrapbook for my kids, to minister and share the love of Christ, and to educate and add value wherever I can. I am not an expert, but I am a “seeker” and a “learner” and have spent years educating myself on many of these topics. I hope you learn something and I would love for you to pass a post along to any friends if you think they might find value in it too.
One of those topics I post about frequently is health & wellness. I am particularly passionate about nutrition.
I know some people are intimidated by a healthy lifestyle, and that is natural because we often fear what we do not understand. But I also know that some people are just not educated when it comes to healthy eating, and if I can help in any way, I definitely want to do so.
According to the U.S. Department of Health, nearly 53% of Americans have a health literacy below basic. I’m on a mission to decrease that number, one family at a time. (I know, where is my cape, right?)
Really though, if you don’t know where to start, click on the “clean eating” or “nutrition” labels in the label cloud or the “Health & Fitness Junkie” tab and spend some time browsing. I have several older posts about clean eating & overall health that I think will be helpful. If nothing else, THIS is a great starting place, and here is a great grocery list.
Here are some of the reasons I am so passionate about health, wellness, disease prevention, and fitness.
- Our bodies are a temple. (1 Corinthian 6:19)
- I was adopted and don’t know all of my family medical history, so disease prevention is important to me.
- I have lost someone I love too soon as a result of lifestyle choices. 7 out of the top 10 killers are diseases that result from unhealthy lifestyle choices.
- We are called to serve, not be served. We are called to work hard as if working for the Lord. Poor health can limit those callings. (I’m not saying it always does, but it certainly can.)
- I know that I am a better wife, mom, daughter, friend, leader, etc. when I am taking care of myself. Performing to the best of my potential is important because I see it as being a good steward of the gifts I have been given.
- I view providing my family with healthy meals and making sure they get enough rest as part of my ministry in my home.
So here’s the deal…lifestyle related diseases are shortening life expectancy and decreasing the quality of life. Basically, in America, we are digging an early grave for ourselves and our children. (If you haven’t seen Fed Up, I highly recommend it.)
Here are some other statistics we need to know.
“Obesity, a common and costly health issue that increases risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, affects more than one-third of adults and 17 percent of youth in the United States. By the numbers, 78 million adults and 12 million children are obese—figures many regard as an epidemic. Adults are considered obese when they are about 35 pounds overweight. In 2013, obesity rates among American adults remained high. No state has an obesity rate below 21 percent and rates have risen in six states. In two states obesity rates now exceed 35 percent for the first time and 20 states have obesity rates at or above 30 percent.” (http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/obesity-statistics-in-the-united-states.aspx)
Overweight and obese individuals are at increased risk for many diseases and health chronic conditions, including the following:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Osteoarthritis (a degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)
- Dyslipidemia (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
- Some cancers (pancreas, kidney, prostate, endometrial, breast, and colon)
(Reference: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General's call to action to prevent and decrease overweight and obesity. [Rockville, MD]: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General, . Available from: US GPO, Washington.)
Another great starting point is quality supplementation. The Council for Responsible Nutrition encourages supplements to fill in the nutritional gaps of our diet. The four basic products for core nutrition they recommend in conjunction with healthy eating, adequate sleep, exercise, and less stress are:
- Calcium (which need to be taken with vitamin D and magnesium for best absorption)
- Omega 3- Fatty Acids
SO, now for the real point of this post. “Is that REALLY healthy?”
We are told so many lies in America, and a lack of knowledge about nutrition is leading us to consume lots of food we THINK are healthy, but in reality are anything but. I want to knock out a few myths about healthy eating & share some key thoughts. I know I have fallen into the trap of believing a few of these, so I hope sharing what I have learned will change your thinking & help you make better choices for your family.
- We all have a diet. Some are better than others. “Going on a diet” does not work, so focus more on lifestyle adjustments (eating a healthy breakfast, proper portion sizes, minimal processed foods, drinking plenty of water, etc.) that can actually last a lifetime so you are not yo-yo dieting and destroying your metabolism. Consistency is key.
- For the average person, fat-free, low-fat, and low-carb diets are not a good idea (unless you’ve been instructed by your doctor for a specific medical reason). We NEED healthy fats (think nuts, avocado, fatty fish, etc.) & complex carbs (sweet potatoes, oats, quinoa). The key is BALANCING those with our protein at each meal.
- Lean protein and amino acids are extremely important because they are the building blocks of muscle. We WANT lean muscle because it keeps us strong (for every day activities) and helps burn more fat. If you are supplementing protein, know that all protein powders are not made the same. You want a high quality, pre-digested protein without all the fillers. (This is one instance where you often get what you pay for, but you also need to know what you’re looking for in a protein. There is a difference between protein to supplement in your diet and protein specifically for post-workout.)
- Processed foods are garbage. If you can avoid the center aisles of the grocery store or anything in a box or plastic that is not made on its own in nature (like fruits & veggies, beans, meat, eggs), try to avoid them. A few examples of processed foods include chips, cookies, crackers, lunch meat, microwave meals, cereal, soda, fruit juice, canned soup, mac n cheese, Hamburger helper, pre-made frozen chicken nuggets, etc. If you want one of those items, it’s best to make it yourself. Otherwise, just say NO.
- Just because something is diet, organic, all-natural, or Paleo, does NOT mean it is healthy. For example…you can get organic packaged bean & cheese burritos, or all natural cheese puffs, or Paleo brownies. Those are not good for you. While they may be a somewhat better option than the conventional items, they are still not the best choice. Those titles do NOT deem something as healthy, so be cautious.
- Overall, we have no clue about portion sizes and are eating the wrong amounts. We should be eating small, balanced meals every 2 1/2 – 3 hours to keep our metabolism burning and our blood sugar stable. Most of us are either not eating enough (yes, that IS a thing!) or are eating way too much all at once. We eat a lot of food throughout the day to fuel our bodies properly, but that’s the key. There are some awesome portion size guides that are very helpful.
- Alcohol has a TON of sugar. It should be avoided.
- Even the ‘healthy’ options at most restaurants are not as healthy as making the same meal at home. (This is a tough one for us because our parents really enjoy eating out, so this is often how we spend time with them.)
- Most condiments are packed with sugar and sodium. Mustard & salsa are a great option.
- Eating healthy does not have to be boring or bland! We eat so many flavorful, robust meals that are absolutely DELICIOUS!! We mix it up all the time, add new spices, and try new recipes to keep it interesting.
- Eat a BIG, hearty, balanced breakfast. Most people are starting their day on the wrong foot.
- Tea & coffee do not count as consuming water. Drink more H20!
- Sneak in health foods when you can. I love to add chia seeds (super food!), ground flax, apple cider vinegar, and Amazing Grass
- We do not deprive ourselves & we do not obsess about how we eat. We enjoy cake at birthday parties & weddings, & we like fro yo as much as the next person. We just take Carb-Ease first and try to enjoy them in moderation.We make the best choices we can as often as possible.
- Non-nutritive sweeteners get a bad-rap from the media (who know nothing about nutrition), but they are a better alternative than sugar. Sugar is extremely addictive, and the majority of Americans (myself included) are eating WAY TOO much sugar. Sugar leads to obesity, which leads to many of those diseases listed earlier, which can lead to death. Personally, I trust the doctors and medical professionals who HAVE done the research and have found sucralose to be the safest non-nutritive sweetener. Always consider your sources. Are you listening to someone telling you to avoid sucralose who eats fast food, processed food, & makes other unhealthy choices regarding nutrition?
- Subway not not healthy. It may have better options than Burger King or McDonald’s, but it is still not healthy. Starbucks is not healthy either. Your best bet is to avoid them both, despite what pop culture & the media is trying to convince you.
- Yes, it takes some time to learn this. And yes, it takes some time to meal prep. But, it DOES get easier, and the rewards are immense. It becomes habit & second nature, and you and your family are WORTH it!!
Hope that helped some.
What small step are you taking to start eating healthier?