Tag Archives: Health

Free 31 Page eBook – Healthy Eating Shouldn’t Be a Workout!

This 31 page ebook is yours for free with sign up of my newsletter!

This 31 page ebook is yours for free with sign up of my newsletter!

I’m giving away a Free 31 page ebook called Healthy Eating Shouldn’t Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living.  I launched it today and I’m really excited about it!  I know it’s kind of a weird thing to write a blog post about but I want to make sure as many people get access to it as possible and sharing it here is a great way to do that.

This is a great free resource for anyone who wants to take charge of their health and is willing to put in just a little effort to do it. It’s full of tried and true strategies for eating well, recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways you can save money when adopting a new lifestyle and so much more!  Everything in this book is something I know works because these are the things I have come back to day after day after years of trying to lose weight, eat more intuitively and take better care of my body.  Why do I come back to them?  Because these are things that work.  These strategies keep me moving forward and enable me to get back on track quickly when I take a detour.

I know we’re hit with so much health and wellness “noise” today that it has become hard to know who to listen to.  One minute we’re told something is good for us, the next it’s bad.  It’s really confusing knowing if what you are doing is helping or harming your health.  My goal with this ebook is to take some of that stress away for you, especially if you are a beginner in making changes.  I know just how overwhelming it can be!

If you want to feel your best, you need to eat your best.  And this free guide can help you figure out how you can make that happen.  If you don’t want eating well to feel like a workout, it doesn’t have to! How do you get it?  Just click on the photo at the top of this page and follow instructions or click here.

If you sign up for it, I’d love to know what you think!



What’s the deal with GMOs in food? Should you eat them or not?

IMG_2697We keep hearing about GMOs in food. It’s on the news. Vermont just passed a mandatory labeling law. Some food products packaging declare that they are GMO free. But what’s the deal? Should you be eating them?

Some say we shouldn’t eat them and other’s say there’s absolutely no danger and that they’re necessary for the future.  I can see the potential benefits to the science behind it but I am wary that enough long term research hasn’t been done (especially when it comes to things like Bt corn).

When I decided to hold a veggie garden workshop last month, I sent home attendees with a handout on GMOs (along with some organic non gmo seeds) and I thought I would share it here because so many people have questions about whether they should be eating GMOs.  I tried to give pros and cons to both sides (but I’ll admit it’s hard for me to not sound biased).  Here’s the thing, no matter what research you do, you’ll be able to find sources that support whatever side you look at (and not just with GMOs) so it’s really important to try to take in as many facts as possible and then make up your own mind.

What do you think?  Do you think I’m crazy for being wary of them?  Do you worry about GMOs in your food?

GMOs Yay or Nay?
For a little background, GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism.  Humans have been altering the genomes of plants for a very long time but until relatively recently it was through natural means; things like planting only the seeds of the best crops or cross breeding varieties to produce a sweeter plant. Today, a scientist in a lab can take DNA of any living thing and choose to insert it into another, completely unrelated species.  For example, they may choose to insert a gene from a moth into a potato to reduce the effect of potato blight disease on the next crop.  We even have GMO crops that have been engineered to withstand normally deadly doses of herbicides and pesticides.

The Upside of GMOs
Some of the benefits of GMO foods are that they are expected to increase our food supply. Advocates of GMOs say that with less disease or pest problems, farmers can grow more crops and feed more people, in less time and for less money.  GMO foods can be bred to taste and look better.  There is even potential to increase the nutrient content in certain varieties. GMO science also has wider reach than just food production. GMO research is helping the medical community understand which genes are responsible for certain diseases and speed production of some vaccines.  We are even studying GMO pigs for future organ transplants into humans!  There is also research being done to see how GMOs could be used for cleaner fuel sources.  With the growing problems our planet is facing, it would be irresponsible not to investigate the potential of GMO science.
The Downside of GMOs
As far as GMOs in our food goes, there is a lot we just don’t know yet.  The USDA does not require independent safety studies on GMOs and no long term studies have been done.  Research on GMOs is still in the infancy stages.  Some plants have antibiotics added to them so that they are resistant to certain diseases.  These antibiotics then show up in our bodies making medicines less effective when we need them. Some GMO corn and cotton varieties have been bred to contain Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacteria that naturally occurs in the soil that is deadly to moths, caterpillars and butterflies.  This bacteria has been used as a pesticide in Organic farming because it is effective but easily washes off produce.  These GMO plants that have been bred to contain this bacteria have it in every fiber of the plant.  There is no washing it off.  So while this bacteria previously wasn’t harmful to humans, what happens when we’re ingesting large quantities of it in every bite of corn, corn syrup or tortillas that we eat?  Try finding processed food that does not contain corn in some form. Cornell University found that Monarch Butterfly larvae died after eating pollen that came from Bt corn.

Beyond unknown health risks, a few other possible consequences of GMO foods is the potential to create super weeds that are resistant to herbicides, difficulty preserving non-gmo fields (A farmer in Oregon found GMO wheat growing in a field he did not plant it in), legal ramifications (GMO seeds are patented and farmers have been sued for planting seeds more than once after purchase), and environmental pollution from liberal pesticide spraying (on pesticide tolerant gmo plants).

Unfortunately for us, there is no clear answer yet as to whether GMO foods are good or bad. Credible research on the dangers of GMOs are limited and often inconsistent but at the same time, much of the research that has come out saying GMOs are safe for consumption have been done by the same biotech companies who benefit financially from their widespread use.  If you do your own research, you will find people on both sides armed with lots of “facts” to obliterate the other side’s argument. It’s confusing and frustrating. It’s up to you to decide.  There is no requirement at this time to label foods containing GMOs so we don’t always know when we are consuming them.

For me personally, just because there isn’t a ton of evidence saying that they are bad yet isn’t enough for me to jump on board wholeheartedly.  Once upon a time, the American public was convinced cigarettes were not harmful either.  I’d rather be safe than sorry.

If you are concerned about GMOs in your food, the most important thing you can do right now is getting the government to require labeling for GMO foods. There is a lot of money coming in from biotech companies (like Monsanto) to prevent labeling.  They know if we know there are GMOs in our food we will choose to spend our dollars elsewhere. We at least should have a choice in knowing what we put in our bodies.

What foods in our food supply are more likely to be GMO?
The crops most likely to be GMO today are: soy, corn, sugar beets, canola oils, papaya, rice, potatoes, tomatoes and peas, zucchini, yellow squash, dairy (due to the use of rbGH growth hormone) and alfalfa (fed to factory farmed animals).   To give you an idea of the reach, 88% of corn and 94% of soy produced in the US in 2012 were GMO.

How can I avoid GMOs?

  • Buy Organic when possible.  The USDA organic certification states that “the use of genetically engineered organisms and their products are prohibited at any stage in organic production, processing or handling.”
  • Look for the Non-GMO Project Verified Seal.  GMO labeling is not mandatory in the US and this label is the closest thing we have currently to any guidelines.  You can read more about it online at: http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/understanding-our-seal/
  • Buy from local farmers – ask about their sources.  Local is usually a better choice even if it isn’t organic.

What else can I do?

  • Advocate for GMO labeling in your state. Until we know if GMO foods are truly safe (and we won’t know for many years) we should at least have the right to know what is in our food.  A label declaring this is the first step. Visit www.righttoknow-gmo.org/states to learn how you can help your state to support GMO labeling.

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Misleading Food Label Claims and What to Do About it

What does this all mean anyway?

What does this all mean anyway?

The other morning I was having some granola for breakfast and as I was pouring it from the package I laughed because one of the claims on the package was that it was “Cholesterol Free!” as if that was some huge revelation.  The ingredients are oats, flax, honey, amaranth, millet, vanilla and apple puree.  Not a single one of those ingredients contain cholesterol and that is because cholesterol only comes from animal foods.  Did you know that?  Most people don’t and that is why the marketing on food packaging is so confusing. In this particular case, it is technically true that the granola doesn’t contain cholesterol but it’s slightly misleading when the package next to it on the grocery store shelf has the same ingredients but doesn’t have that claim on the label.  More people want to buy the product that boasts that it’s  “Cholesterol Free” (but they are both free of it!!!!).  Cholesterol in our food isn’t always our enemy anyway, but that’s another blog post for another day.

It’s important to understand what the food label claims on your food package really mean before choosing one product over the other. In the US, some words in food packaging have legal definitions and others don’t.  Unless you know what they mean, you could be purchasing something that isn’t as healthy as you think.  There’s no way I can go over all of the misleading and confusing claims that are out there (there are far too many!) but these are just a few examples of marketing tricks to watch out for.

Natural / All Natural
There is no legal definition or standards for using this label on a food product, except in the case of meat and poultry.  Meat and poultry can’t contain artificial preservatives and can only go through minimal processing to use this label.  It does not mean they are free of hormones, antibiotics or raised in a humane environment.  Other foods that use the term “Natural” means absolutely nothing.  It does not mean that a product is organic or that it is even remotely healthy.

To use this term on it’s label, a food must meet specific requirements for the amount of fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium in the product.  It doesn’t mean that it’s actually good for you.  A food labeled “Healthy” could be full of preservatives like BHT or BHA or have an ingredient list where you don’t recognize more than a few items.

No Trans Fat
If you see this claim on a label and then the ingredient list contains “partially hydrogenated oil” put it down!  The FDA allows manufacturers to use the claim No Trans Fat or 0 g Trans Fat if a product has less than .5 g of trans fat per serving.  There is no safe amount of artificial trans fats to consume.  What is so worrisome about these types of claims is that most of us use far more than just one serving of these foods and you could easily be getting a couple grams of trans fats every time you eat your favorite butter spread or cooking spray.  Have you ever used just 1/3 of a second of cooking spray?  I didn’t think so.

Good Source of Whole Grain
Whole grains are great, but products that contain some whole grains are not necessarily better for you.  A product that claims it’s a “Good Source of Whole Grain” must contain at least 8g of whole grain per serving.  But if the serving size is 30 or 50g, then the majority of the product is refined grains.  That 8g isn’t really doing you a heck of a lot of good, especially if those whole grains are in junk food like cookies or crackers.   A product that contains the Whole Grain Council’s 100% Whole Grain Stamp only needs to contain 16 g of whole grain per serving to have that stamp on it.   But again, it doesn’t mean that the product is made from nothing but whole grains.  Look at the weight per serving and subtract the whole grain and everything else is likely refined.  If you really want to increase your servings of whole grains, start using them more at home.  There are so many delicious and easy to cook grains available today:  quinoa, amaranth, millet, kasha, wheatberries, bulgur, farro, etc.

Free Range Eggs
The term free range has some definition when it comes to some poultry products but there is no standards for egg production.  Hens that produce eggs that are labeled free range need to have some access to the outdoors but there is no criteria for what that means.  Are these hens allowed out of the barn for 20 minutes a day in crowded small fenced in area or are they allowed to roam freely out of barn all day in a large grassy field?  You don’t know. Free range does not mean they are raised more humanely (beak cutting and forced molting are still allowed) or that they are fed a higher quality food.  The only thing it probably means is that they’re not kept in cages.  It doesn’t mean that they are not sitting on top of each other in a crowded excrement filled barn.

Reduced Fat
Foods that are labeled as “Reduced Fat” must have 25% less fat than the original version of the food.  It doesn’t mean that it is low fat or low calorie.  You may have noticed that reduced fat foods often have the same amount of calories (or sometimes slightly more) than the regular fat version of the food.  This is because when manufacturers take fat out, they usually replace it with sugar or some sort of bulking action fiber.  Worse, they often add extra salt or chemicals to make the food still taste ok. Why is it better to eat more sugar, salt and chemicals than fat? It’s not.

So what do you do?  Completely Ignore claims made on the packaging.  The packaging is there partially for transporting the food but it’s main purpose is free advertising for the manufacturers.  Don’t fall prey to it.  Ignore it and look for the facts by reading the ingredient list and the nutrition label.

As far as purchasing eggs goes, try to buy from someone local or call the brand in question and ask them specific questions about how they raise their hens.

Try to make the majority of your food whole foods that don’t come in a package and isn’t made in a processing plant. Keep your eyes and ears out for new marketing claims – new ones are popping up all the time as marketers realize consumers are paying more attention.  There’s no sign they’re going to start being more honest anytime soon so the best defense is to not put any stock in what they’re trying to promote.

What labeling claims do you tend to look for? Is there a claim that you are wondering about? What do you find frustrating about grocery shopping today?

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