New Year’s Revolution

19 Jan

Though I’m a couple of days later than some, I’m thinking it may be good for me to resolve to accomplish a few things this year that will improve my general journey through life, without actually calling them resolutions. I never actually made resolutions, anyway. I just figured I’d commit to whatever moved me to do so, whenever it did. So maybe I don’t accomplish as much as some of those who set more concrete goals, but hey! –maybe I do.

First!

I will have a garden that’s at least double (but preferably four or six times) the size of mine from the previous two years (particularly last year’s, as we were gone so much it wound up producing only the most independent veggies). I will be more thorough in planning it, in weeding out what has failed in the past and investing in new plants and previous years’ successes, and in enlisting help. As of right now, I have a friend who is a champ at farming who is planning on moving in this spring to help start a larger-scale garden with me. You will bear witness, I promise that.

Second!

I will write this damn blog as much as my scattered brain will allow. I’m aiming for two posts per week. Feel free to harass me about this if it seems that I’m slacking. I love external motivation (and so do YOU! Right?). This way we can really start figuring out together what I need to focus on health and food and fitness-wise, and you can clue me in on what you need in those areas, too. Yee-haw.

Third!

I will work on food photography so I can make this blog beautiful for you to look at and the recipes tempting to try at home. That will involve investing more money in food, time in preparation and figuring out quality recipes, and in burning more calories so I have more room to eat all the terrific food I plan to make.

Fourth!

I’ll make greater efforts to avoid buying/eating food that doesn’t benefit me, i.e. those cursed ripple chips and French onion dip, sugary foods, starchy foods, too many carbohydrate-bomb gluten alternatives (but they’re always on sale!), alcohol, and meat from unknown sources. I’ll work on eating and making more fermented foods, like sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, and kim chee. I’ll try to resist joining in when my main squeeze enters sugar-seeking mode, instead of feeling like it’s only fair if I participate, too.

Fifth!

I’ll exercise AT LEAST thirty minutes every day. Even if it’s only through cranking my stereo and jumping around my house, and even if I have to mainline a little caffeine to help me get moving. Also, I’ll work harder on rehabbing my screwy shoulders so I can climb harder, and more, too.

(Hmm, I didn’t know I had so many things I was going to write down…)

Sixth!

I’ll become a sharp-shooting triple threat. My mom gave me a shotgun for Christmas and my boyfriend gave me a compound bow. No, I wasn’t expecting either of those things, and no, I don’t hunt, but yes, I want to scare my shadier neighbors who do things like cut my fence and steal my barn wiring, and yes, I want to be able to hunt should I have to. Mainly I really want to learn my way around a gun so if I ever need to use it I can do so, and do it well. Side note: New Year’s Eve Day about ten people I know went out in the woods with twenty guns, handguns, shotguns, AR-15s, even a 1937 Czech Mauser. A couple of the guys had found five mannequins at a local thrift store, and so the lot of us were able to shoot all of each other’s guns at real fake people. And yes, it was a psychologically healthy thing to do and we laughed a lot (though not insanely, relax). It was loud and fun and a bit painful (I think my hand is bruised from the .357), and the first time I’ve ever done anything like that. I like Ohioans more every day.

Seventh!

I will focus on improving self-discipline in all areas. Have I already kind of said that? Well, this is me putting it down explicitly. I will invest in my future self a hell of a lot more than I’ve been doing. And that’s one thing I hope we all share in doing.

If you have something to add, please say so, though I’d prefer you tell me about the future self you’re investing in instead of telling me more things you think I need to improve. But hey, I’m sure I could use the input…

Just Putting It Out There…

19 Jan

Before we go any further together I want to clear some things up for those less acquainted with me.

I am flawed. I eat ripple chips and french onion dip. Sometimes my eyes are bigger than my stomach, and my stomach hates me for it. I make less than stellar decisions. I have occasional entire days where I see barely a vegetable. I make bad jokes. I forget important things. I am sometimes scattered, indecisive, and unmotivated. But – this shouldn’t scare you away. Instead, relax a little knowing that your own sins are forgivable, even understandable in my eyes (the dietary ones, anyway, can’t speak for all of the others).

feet_sand_2.jpg

Having gotten that out of the way, you should now feel a little more at ease with me. I know that transition is often plodding and difficult, but the rewards are worth it. I’m searching for a life free of disease, frailty, and limitations, and full of energy, movement, and freedom, and there’s little point in me having one of those lives if I can’t drag as many people along with me as possible so that I can enjoy it in good company. I’ve also changed particular aspects of my lifestyle over the years that vastly improved how I feel and function (just think, I used to be all those flaws above and more!), and all of it was inspired by other people. At the very least I want to be what those people were for me – a resource for information and motivation.

I’m both an optimist and a realist. I am certain that there are simple things that every single person I know can do to improve their lives to some degree, no matter their finances, living situation, location, or current state of health. The ultimate aim is to become superhuman, and even if we don’t quite reach that, we’ll be better off for having worked to arrive there. Self-experimentation – nutritionally, physically, and mentally – is crucial to understanding what works best for your particular body. The world of health in general is fraught with conflicting information and absolute statements (fat is bad! fat is good! fruit juice is good! fruit juice is bad!), and the reasons for it being so are sometimes complex and confusing, but know that only you can truly determine how you feel when you eat a certain something, take up a particular pursuit, or try something at all different.

Lydia in Grocery Store

Yeah, there’s a lot I don’t know, but a ton I do have to share, and if I knew it all it would be difficult for me to take others along for the ride, anyway. In short, I love a few things. Food. Being outside. Rock climbing. Traveling. Reading. Learning new stuff. The people and animals in my life. Practical jokes.

I’m not sure what the meaning of life is or what in particular it is I want out of it. But I do know that the best way to figure it out, if such a thing is even possible, is to remain capable of adapting to my environment, by striving to be strong and flexible and healthy and educated. That doesn’t mean I’m always the best example but I’m working on it. Your input is appreciated, too.

– Lydia

Fighting the Tide of Resistance

18 Jan

Fight the Tide

My friend Heidi wrote me an e-mail today to tell me of her recent trip to visit her family. Here’s what she shared:

“It’d be really cool if my family were on the same page with me on dietary philosophy – when I visited back in August, I told my mom and sister what I was eating and doing and had a few confrontations with them because they completely ignored what I told them – second day I was there – Mom made spaghetti w/ meatballs, using regular pasta, lots of frozen processed meals, et cetera,  sister took me out to eat at a pizza place in downtown Houston, and the list goes on – I ended up eating a crab cake & fresh fruit while I watched her noshing on her pizza… and they both fussed at me for choosing to eat a larger salad or veggies with my meat instead of eating the pasta or rice or potatoes they were serving with meals.

‘THAT’s your problem! That salad is HUGE. You just need to eat small portions.’ ‘Aren’t avocados loaded with fat?!!’

Eff that – I was craving greens so I made myself a nice salad with arugula, fresh herbs, cukes, bell pepper, onion, and avocado, and used minced garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil to season. I ate the salad with each meal since they were cooking with pasta and rice and sugar and processed foods.”

In spite of knowing that Heidi was diagnosed by her doc as pre-diabetic and is currently on prescribed medication for it, her family ignored her fresh preferences for a healthier lifestyle, even telling her that really the only thing she needed to do was eat smaller portions. They went on to imply that the size of her salad was likely the root of her problems. And avocados! They’re full of fat! She must be asking for it, right?

What Heidi’s dealing with is NOT rare. Often family and friends are so resistant to change that they criticize you when you make moves toward a healthier lifestyle. It’s as if it’s personal –“Well, if you want to be different, then you’re criticizing my choices, and I can’t stand that!” This of course applies to change of any kind, whether it’s emotional, physical, and even spiritual, though here the issue is Heidi’s health. This means that, like most people, Heidi’s family would rather dismiss her new lifestyle than be excited about her making choices that will greatly increase her lifespan, her energy, her resistance to all disease, and her ability to simply move through life with ease.

Of course it’s a little more complex than simple resistance to change. Ignorance is also at the root of most resistance, and individuals have to choose to learn, choose to be aware and awake, and choose to make an effort. We also live in a society that gives us a truckload of misinformation on a daily basis. Avocados have saturated fat in them, sure, but saturated fat is good for you.

Here’s a tidbit from the California Avocado Commission:

Avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid. They also act as a “nutrient booster” by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein, in foods that are eaten with the fruit.

It’s difficult to blame the average consumer when our grocery store shelves are loaded with foods that will literally kill us if we consume them long enough. How can we blame Americans (and the rest of the world that lets in our influence) for being so fat? For eating more and more food with a nutritional void and becoming bigger and bigger while they become more malnourished? It is our very own government that trembled with joy at the idea of cheap replacement fats like Crisco, margarine, and corn oils because it is them who ultimately profited from their subsidization. The people who produce these “foods” become richer while Americans pay the price in higher taxes and human lives.

Check out this short video clip I found on Sarah Wilson’s blog from the documentary “Fat Head” for a super-quick synopsis of why saturated fat and cholesterol became vilified in the United States:

Heidi has lost thirty pounds since she was diagnosed as pre-diabetic in April. She added exercise to her healthier diet, and her happy doctor says that her blood sugar levels are normal again and she’s on her way to getting off the meds.

So. What are you to do when you decide you want to make a little change but are worried some of your family or friends might make it difficult for you? You find support elsewhere. Talk to your healthier, fitter friends. It’s scientifically proven that you become who you hang out with, physically and emotionally. Ask them to help encourage you, even if it’s just by saying to them, “Man, I really envy your glow (or your toned arms/legs/abs)! How do you do it?” You can tell them you’re trying to avoid certain temptations and seek out new healthier ones, and to please help you resist when they’re around you. Subscribe to blogs that have great content about healthy food, and make a point to read them several days a week. Find a health coach who can guide you and hold you accountable for your choices. Most importantly, know thyself. Figure out what drives you, whether it’s looking hotter for your next class reunion, being able to fit into your high school jeans, becoming healthy enough to get pregnant, running farther, climbing higher, feeling happier, or not following in your family’s footsteps.

Here are a couple of my favorite blogs for healthy food-motivation:

http://glutenfreegirl.com

http://www.nourishingmeals.com

Super Simple, Cheap, and Tasty Meal Ideas

18 Jan

Healthy Dish of Awesomeness

Super Simple Meal Ideas/Recommendations. The following meal ideas are terrific for people in a hurry who want to get stuffed on quality food for cheap. Stock your pantry and fridge with a few particulars like beans (canned or dry, but pre-soak the dry), salsa, dark leafy greens, eggs, oats, and whatever fresh veggies are in season. Don’t forget the garlic and spices for upping flavor, reducing salt cravings, and boosting nutrition. I push cooking with coconut oil and butter for a lot of reasons, but number one is because they are stable fats at higher heats and thus ultimately far safer to ingest (and inhale, because that will happen, too). Plus, they taste damn goooood.

Breakfast

  • Scrambled omelet – Two or three eggs (pastured if possible because they have far more nutritional value) cooked in butter or coconut oil over medium low to medium heat. If you want to add other stuff and still make it quick, sauté veggies like zucchini, shiitakes, onions, spinach, garlic, and after preferred level of doneness has been reached, drop your eggs in the pan and stir until ready. Add some small chunks of aged cheese like parmesan or prima donna for extra goodness.
  • Eggs and greens – Sauté dark leafy greens (kale, bok choy, collards, etc) in butter or coconut oil, and plate with two eggs any style.
  • Oatmeal – For those without grain sensitivities I recommend steel-cut oats because they are DELICIOUS and taste like they have cream in them even when they don’t. The key to making them more quickly is to place a serving in a pot with the correct amount of water and let it soak overnight. You will likely have to add a little water in the morning. OR – at night bring them to a boil, take them off of heat immediately and let sit covered overnight for an even faster breakfast. Reheat in morning and add butter, nuts, cinnamon, maple syrup, dried fruit, etc cetera [Butter will make you feel fuller longer and also aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, cinnamon is great for easing inflammation, maple syrup is loaded w/ B-vitamins, nuts have protein and quality fats].
  • Healthy granola – homemade is great because you can make it how you like it. Recipes are easy to find on the web and easy to make, too, but there are plenty of good store-bought kinds, regular and gluten-free. Granola is always a better option than store-bought cereals, which are not good for you no matter how “natural” they claim to be. Sure, there’s a good bit of fat in it, but fat is not the enemy, sugar is. Try eating with coconut milk beverage (vanilla is my favorite), kefir (good for repopulating your gut bacteria), or Greek yogurt (I prefer 2% fat, and the brand Greek Gods is my personal favorite for its deliciousness and modest price compared to Oikos)
  • Breakfast salad – chop up veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, kale, garlic whatever you like, and toss in a pan with butter over medium heat. Cover for faster cooking. Add beans for more protein, fiber, and fullness. Drop an egg or two on the top when veggies are close to finished and stir in until done. The difference between this and the scrambled omelet is that the ratio of veggies to eggs is MUCH higher. Top with salsa or sriracha if you like.
  • Pancakes – the key to making healthy pancakes is in what you add to the mix. I start with a gluten-free ready to go mix (Pamela’s is my favorite), but any reputable brand free of trans fats will work (avoid Bisquick, argh!!). For the oil I use coconut (always extra-virgin and unrefined). Add ground flaxseed (for Omega-3s and fiber), shredded coconut (awesome texture, taste, and good for you, too), pecans or walnuts, chopped fruit like peaches, bananas, or even thawed frozen blueberries (I thaw them in a cup of water or otherwise batter around them won’t cook), maca root for a superfood boost, and usually an extra egg and maybe a little more water than recipe calls for to balance out the extra dry ingredients. To top, use coconut oil or butter, maple syrup, of course, OR try greek yogurt, apple butter (amazing), applesauce, or fruit preserves. Some people even top with peanut or almond butter. Chime in with your ideas!
  • Kale Ranchermus – start with a couple of spoonfuls of hummus on your plate, then top with sautéed leafy greens or raw, more tender greens, then two eggs over easy (or how you like), then topped with salsa or fresh tomatoes.

Egg With Black Beans and Avocado

Lunch/Dinner

  • The Breakfast Salad works for any meal, see above.
  • Black bean tacos – sauté garlic and onions in a saucepan, add can o’ black beans and stir until hot. Put corn or flour tortilla in a separate skillet with a little butter and fry it up a little. Flip and add cheese while still in the pan, cilantro, peppers, and top with bean mixture. Wrap it up and EAT.
  • Beans with salsa and poached eggs and veggies – this one is a favorite standby, simple but makes you feel like you really done some cooking (though really, you barely have). Throw a can or two of whatever beans you’re in the mood for, half a jar of salsa give or take a few ounces, and throw chopped veggies and garlic in to stew with that for awhile. Season with cayenne and turmeric (both great anti-inflammatories), cumin, pepper, and stir until veggies are a little less than as done you like. Add an egg or two once mixture is simmering, and delicately fold bean mixture on top of eggs so they cook more evenly. When eggs are desired doneness, scoop and eat.
  • Soup with shredded greens beneath – about as easy and fast as they come. Chop kale, bok choy, or collards into half-inch strips, fill up half a soup bowl with them and top with hot soup. Great way to make your soup way more filling and nutritious.
  • Salad — sounds super-obvious but I had to make sure. Make a salad any freaking way you want to. The possibilities are virtually limitless. For the basic standard, start with spinach, romaine, arugula, or spring mix, and add the simple stuff. Red onion sliced thinly, pecans, walnuts, bell peppers, baby carrots chopped into little sticks, tomatoes however you can find ’em, garbanzo beans, sunflower seeds, hard-boiled egg, leftover chicken or pulled pork, bacon, I could go on and on. Salads can be a great way to clean out your fridge drawers before your next shopping trip. And if you’re out of decent salad dressing, emulsify some apple cider vinegar with olive oil (I do one part vinegar to 2 parts olive oil) and whatever random herbs and spices you feel like tossing in, maybe a splash of lemon juice to boot, and shake it up in a jar ’til well-blended.

Local Restaurant Tips (for Athens, Ohio). This is just where I happen to be a decent amount of the time, and I love eating out in this town because there are so many healthy, locally-owned restaurants with locally-sourced and sustainably farmed food. Start making your own list of easy meals on the cheap in your town. A lot of my favorite options are great because they’re one huge kind of pricy meal that becomes two perfect-sized cheap meals for two people. It helps to have an eating partner with similar tastes, of course. Most of the reason that meals in restaurants are so huge now is so they can justify charging a lot for one meal. Once they’ve made a meal, it’s not expensive to add a little more to it to persuade you it’s worth the bigger price tag.

  • Pita Pit – get a salad with spinach and romaine, and meat if you want it. Get them to throw the meat on the grill with mushrooms and onions (mushrooms shouldn’t be eaten raw), and load it up with veggies! Don’t forget the hummus and avocado. This is a great deal for around $6.50 because you can stretch it out to two meals or be happy to be stuffed on mostly vegetables, the BEST kind of food to be full of. Add your own dressing if you’re taking it home (or brought it with you, crazy person) or try their SECRET SAUCE, which is apparently the banana pepper juice with oil and herbs. So much for secrets. I hope.
  • Subway – similar as above. If they have spinach, though, and not all of them do. Tuna salad, which I think is great, on top of a spinach salad with all the veggies is about $5.50
  • Casa Nueva – Taco Salad with vegetarian chili comes with cheese, tortilla chips, and micro-greens as well as a side of salsa, is $7.
  • Village Bakery – soup and bread (or sub corn tortilla) for just $4. Sourced locally and great quality. Call ahead for soup choices.
  • Fluff – same deal as Village, and they also have rice bowls for $6, as well as often locally-sourced ingredients. The flourless chocolate brownie may not be the healthiest option, but it’s rich and grain-free and utterly decadent at $2.50.
  • Purple Chopstix – weekend brunch is a splurge at $15, but it is super-tasty, includes beverages and dessert, and is all vegetarian. I’ve only been once and I crave it every weekend I’m in Athens. Call ahead so they waste less.
  • The Farmacy – also has soups from local sources, as well as tasty Turkey and Havarti wraps and homemade dressings, but their salads are the best bang for your buck (as in most places). (Coffee is also cheap at $1.29 and freaking good, too)
  • Chipotle – go for the salad/naked burrito. Go light on the rice and cheese and skip the sour cream which they glop on, and you have a great bowl of beans, veggies, and all the salsas if that’s what you want, for around $6. They also claim their meat is happier than your basic standard, but it’s still a chain, so I kind of doubt it’s a huge step up.
  • Jackie O’s – locally sourced amazing salad greens. The Greek Salad is the bomb, at $7 or $8. You can really taste the difference in the vegetables here from Pita Pit and Subway. The portions are somewhat smaller but damn, it’s great food. They also have local happy burgers.

Terrific Points to Remember:

  • Drink water. It’s good for you and it’s free, and often when you feel hungry you’re really just thirsty. It will take up room that food otherwise would. Sugary beverages are hands down the number one way to kill yourself and get pretty gross along the way, and fructose is the worst form of sugar for you. We’ll cover that in more detail later.
  • Split your meals whenever possible. Halve your bill, waste less food, and leave less stuffed. Most restaurant meals are too big for just one person.
  • Season your food. Turmeric and cayenne are great examples of potent anti-inflammatories and everyone can benefit from using them in as many meals as possible. Studies have been done that say 1/2 tsp. cayenne is an appetite-suppressant. A little pepper multiplies turmeric’s anti-inflammatory effects, which is a great example of synergy in action, which leads us to our next point –
  • Eat whole foods as much as possible. Our bodies evolved alongside with every other animal, dependent on the sun and the rain and food from the ground and meat from animals. Our bodies do NOT know what to do with processed, fractionated, shelf-stable, homogenized foods. When we eat them our bodies compensate for what those foods lack by causing you to crave other foods, i.e. we eat egg whites, our body craves the yolk that goes along with it. This may not manifest as a craving for egg yolk, but will show up as a craving in some area.
  • If you eat fruit, try to eat it as a meal unto itself, not with other foods. Fruit skips some of the beginning steps of digestion that other foods have to go through to break down, so when you combine it with other foods, the fruit has to wait around until everything has to move through. This can cause bacteria to attack and indigestion to set in, resulting in gas as well as in food that is now blowing your belly up instead of moving through normally. Also, fruit has many benefits, like antioxidants, anthocyanins, and compounds we don’t even know about yet, BUT it still has a lot of sugar. Try to keep fruit consumption low in the first place, and aim for the most nutritious ones of the bunch. Avoid fruit juice altogether. Once it’s pasteurized it loses almost all of its nutritional value, plus it has none of the fiber real fruit has to slow down its entry into your system. BOOM, insulin spike, stressed liver, chaos reigns and diabetes is crushing you. Well, not exactly, but over a few thousand similar events combined with other food stressors, sure.
  • Cook with stable fats. Extra virgin olive oil is fine for salad dressings and low heat applications, but isn’t stable enough for higher heats, and more and more articles are coming out exposing vast amounts of “olive oil” as not olive, i.e. cheap and crap. Avoid letting your cooking fat of choice ever reach its smoking point. Most oils say on the back of the bottle what temperature the oil can reach before smoking. Use butter, coconut oil, sustainably harvested palm oil (i.e. not from a clear-cut rainforest), bacon fat (from pasture-raised pigs), or lard. Trust me. Also see my “Fat is Fantastic” blog. There I give a long list of reasons to embrace saturated fat and why to mostly avoid vegetable oils (and thus fried foods from restaurants, too).
  • Avoid homogenized dairy products. They enter your bloodstream as soon as you drink them and your body goes into freak-out mode, producing mucus to line your digestive system to keep the foreign proteins out. This is bad on multiple levels. Also, seek out slow pasteurized milk if you still feel compelled to drink it (and don’t have access to or don’t like raw milk). This process, unlike flash-pasteurization, is less likely to denature proteins and turn it into yet another factory product that your body doesn’t know how to handle.
  • Try to eat fermented foods whenever possible. This is more difficult (due to availability) in the US than in most other parts of the world, and our guts show it. Fermented foods like kim chee, kefir, tempeh, and more keep our second brain (our gut) in good working order, meaning we digest and absorb our food more thoroughly. This translates into needing to eat less food because we’re getting more out of it, and becoming a whole lot healthier to boot, i.e. superhuman. I’ll talk more about this later. Check out this website and others for more info:http://akealife.com/blueprint-for-life/nutrition/fermented-foods/
  • Buy organic when you can, but if you can’t, just eat as many damn vegetables as possible. An important point to remember is that insects also often go for the most nutritious foods, like kale, collards, bok choy, strawberries, et cetera, and that means that they are often the most heavily pesticided foods. Take advantage of your local farmer’s market if you have one. When you can’t buy organic, make sure you wash your fruits and veggies in a bowl full of water with a splash of apple cider vinegar, which is a natural, effective cleanser.

Fat is Fantastic

18 Jan

Fat is a huge part of life for me, and not because it makes people huge. Ooooh, yeaaahhh, I love the stuff, and not simply because it makes everything taste so much better. Garlic sauteed in butter, pancakes sizzling in coconut oil, salads doused with generous helpings of a high-quality olive oil based dressing, my daily dose of fish oil . . . I could go on and on. In other words, dietary fat is a delicious necessity, making otherwise hollow meals tasty, as well as performing some important functions within your body that makes the food you eat even better for you. Fat breaks down slowly, helping you feel full and suppressing hunger for far longer than food with no fat. You can eat more of particular kinds of fat than you’ve likely been led to believe, but there are some caveats to keep in mind.

butter in dishFirstly, animal fat is awesome for several reasons, among them its stability in high heat cooking, for the essential nutrients it contains like Vitamin D and A, and for its role in brain and neurotransmitter function. However, substances like heavy metals, toxins, growth hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, and even negative emotions (due to the hormones produced under stress) are concentrated in fats. Therefore it’s pretty important that you buy grass-fed animal products whenever possible. These animals have theoretically been spared the toxic stress and cheap diet of factory farmed animals, an energetic and nutritional legacy which will live on in your body. For omnivores, vegans, and vegetarians, coconut oil is an incredibly useful cooking tool, notwithstanding its myriad uses outside the kitchen (as moisturizer, massage oil, deodorant, et cetera).

Any fat that is heated to its smoke point and beyond is toxic whether eaten or inhaled as smoke during cooking. Higher proportions of saturated fat in cooking oil equate to safer cooking because of higher smoke points. Instead of vegetable oils, even the popular olive, use coconut oil, lard, ghee, butter, or sustainably harvested palm oil. Polyunsaturated fats, which have been pushed by the USDA and its associates for decades, including corn, canola, safflower, and soybean oils, are unstable and far more subject to rancidity. Ironically, they are generally extracted using high-heats and chemical solvents like hexane (food-grade petroleum product), meaning they are rancid before they are even packaged, and thus NOT good for you, just good for the sellers of this cheap stuff. Rancid oils wreak havoc in your body, turning off tumor-suppressing genes and making you more prone to cancer. There is no doubt a deeply-forged link between our society’s obsession with cheaply produced and widely available vegetable oils and our exploding cancer rates.olive oil in wok

Our hormones, i.e. estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and cortisol, are made from cholesterol. On a low-fat diet, our bodies redirect cholesterol from our endocrine system in order to repair the brain and help it function, meaning our bodies cannot maintain hormonal balance.

Your liver manufactures 75% of the cholesterol you need while you obtain the rest from food. If you starve your body of fat, your liver will work far harder to produce it, releasing extra insulin which heads into the bloodstream in order to make cholesterol, as well as the triglycerides you need for energy. Low-fat diets can thus cause high cholesterol while your liver works itself into a distressed state.

Lastly, if you do nothing else for your health, take fish oil. Its ability to reduce inflammation plays a huge role in disease prevention, helping thin the blood, easing arthritis, and lowering risk of heart attack and stroke. Omega-3s increase the lifespan of cells, slowing aging as well as its frequently accompanying demons like alzheimers, macular degeneration, and sagging skin. It’s extremely important to make sure that it’s a high-quality fish oil, though, certified to have the PCBs removed. If you can taste fishiness in it, the PCBs and heavy metals still remain, too.

Let Them Eat People Food!

4 Mar

I share my food with my cat, and I think it’s the right thing to do. I get a little tweaked when people tell me that they don’t give their pets “people food.” The only thing that I define as people food is processed, shelf-stable, fortified junk that people shouldn’t eat, anyway. All animals, including us, deserve to eat fresh, healthy food. Whether there is enough to go around or not is moot in my opinion, because the majority of us here in the States are stuffing ourselves while our dogs sit, quivering and drooling, staring at us lick the bacon fat and egg yolk off our plates, or, far worse, throwing away perfectly good scraps right in front of them.

Most people justify their choice to feed their pets only processed, shelf-stable, petrified, byproduct animal slurry compressed with corn, gluten, or other filler grains foreign to their digestive systems because they don’t want their pets to beg. Domestic animals must know their place, and that is by their food bowls, eating crunchy bits of tasteless and nutritionally devoid junk food. Why not every once in awhile put those meat scraps in the fridge and mix them in with your animal’s kibble when it’s time for them to eat? Take one forkful of tuna out of that can and put it in your pet’s dish when you’re making your own tuna melt.

Stop wondering why dogs and cats get fat and smelly and itchy and cancerous when they don’t have to, and start feeding them real food, even if only occasionally. Of course they want your food more than their own–because it’s actually food. All of us animals evolved eating what was available in our immediate environments, or what we could hunt down and kill. We grew stronger, smarter, and faster eating plants, roots, berries, eggs, meats. Every species diet is slightly to vastly different, but pet food is still a humanmade product. Even humanmade (processed) food made for us is killing us, and we have a multitude of choices, unlike our animals. We are becoming weaker, softer, and dumber than our predecessors because of our certainty that easier food is just better, and that’s simply not the case. Not for us, and not for our beloved animals.

Do I expect you to start preparing every meal for your pet, even if you don’t prepare the majority of your own meals? Hardly. I certainly don’t (though I feel guilty most days about that). But why not give your dog a carrot or some raw cabbage mixed in with her crunchies? Why not throw your cat some chicken or raw fish when you have it around? It’s not like you’re starving (and if you are, stop reading this blog right now and go dumpster diving ASAP).

With cats it’s a little more complicated, because often if they’ve been eating kibble all of their lives they don’t know what to do with anything else, even just another brand of kibble. So start small, and mix it in. Know for yourself that even if they don’t know it’s better for them (and of course tastes far better) that they will ultimately benefit from it. A commonly cited experiment is one in which cats were fed only cooked food, but the experiment had to end early because by the third generation none of the cats could successfully reproduce. There are flaws within the study (see Pottenger’s Cats) but it’s hard to deny that the vast majority of our housecats come from strays that had access to a rodent diet, and then (I HOPE) we neuter or spay them, anyway. There are books out there with recipes for nutritionally correct meals for both cats and dogs, but to keep it simple, just add a little meat to your carnivorous cat’s diet whenever you have some to spare, but avoid giving them fruit or veggies. Research what not to feed them and what’s good for them, and seek out multiple opinions.

Dogs are more suited to an omnivorous diet, but there are some things you shouldn’t share with them, like grapes (can cause renal failure), eggs, avocados, nuts, dairy products, et cetera, but just like humans, they need fresh vegetables and quality protein. If you want your animals to live long, active, and disease-free lives, treat them as you would yourself were you to be concerned with the same thing (and you should be). The dry and wet food you feed your pets should be grain-free whenever possible, i.e. no corn, wheat, barley, etc, as well as soy, byproduct (often simply cartilage, bone, lungs, spleen, even cancerous tumors, essentially all “meat” deemed unfit for human consumption), and brewer’s rice-free. Know that by choosing to feed your pet packaged food without these fillers that your pet will require less to eat overall (plus, as a side benefit, they will poop less since more of their food is usable), so the extra dollars that higher-quality food costs is an investment that immediately pays off as well as benefits your wallet long-term in fewer vet bills–though, of course, if you have your pet around a few more years you’ll have to feed them then, too…

Remember that we live in a nation of fat, malnourished human beings. This has happened because we have access to cheap, fast and easy food that is virtually empty of nutritional value. Our bodies are starving because they need nutrition and we are giving them unhealthy, rancid fats, sugars, grains, and processed food instead. Don’t fall into this trap, and don’t throw your animals into it even as you decide to save yourself.

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