Good mooooorning!!! So excited for today’s blog post, as Monday Motivation will now be a weekly thing! This is my chance to share with you guys my own health and wellness journey. It’s one of my passions (especially nutrition!) and I’m constantly trying to continue my education and become a better version of myself. When I asked you guys last week, you said you wanted this blog post to be on Mondays so that we could all kick off the week on the right foot, and I think that’s a brilliant idea. If you have any specific questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll answer them in next Monday’s post!
*I also want to preface this post by saying that I am not a doctor, and that you should consult with your health care professional before making any significant changes to your diet or lifestyle.
My current food philosophy
I don’t really like labels. I’m hesitant to label myself as a “vegetarian” or “vegan” or anything related to that because I’m human, and I’m an evolving person. So for now, I try to eat as many whole, unprocessed foods as possible. I currently do not eat chicken or beef, but I will occasionally have eggs (if they’re from pasture-raised chicken) and wild-caught fish. When it comes to produce, I try to eat local and organic as much as possible (more on that later!), and get in a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains every week.
I truly believe that food is medicine. It has been proven that most deaths in the United States are preventable and are related to what we eat (and drink!). Our diet is the number one cause of premature death and the number one cause of disability (source). All of the leading causes of death in the United States (including coronary heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.) can all be effectively prevented with a whole food, plant-based diet. I’M SERIOUS! Doctors are taught how to treat illnesses once you have them… not prevent illness in the first place through nutrition. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can prevent disease through diet, I strongly recommend that you read this book! I know for myself, I want to live a long time and be healthy enough to run around with my kids, grandkids and great grandkids for decades to come.
In the present, I FEEL so much better eating a plant-based diet than I ever have in my life. It didn’t take very long for the effects to kick in, either – I have more energy and clearer skin that I also have in a long time. I don’t have to count calories to maintain a healthy weight – it’s amazing what your body does when it’s given the right foods! I’m able to eat as much plant-based fare as my heart wants, and my body weight stays at a homeostasis. When I’m eating whole, unprocessed foods, I don’t get any crazy cravings, either. I eat when I’m hungry, I quit when I’m full. I remember being obsessed with calories in college, counting every single Poptart or pack of goldfish until my “calorie limit” hit 1,200 every day. I can’t tell you how liberating it is to not count any calories at all, to feel like you can eat anything and as much of it as you want to, and it’s actually good for your body!
So why organic?
Whenever the word organic gets tossed around, most people’s first reaction is “organic = expensive.” I’ve heard too many people say they can’t “afford” to eat organic. I don’t think this is true! Yes, organic produce does cost more than non-organic. But the cost of eating a full week off of organic produce versus going out to eat a few times per week is virtually the same. And the cost to your health may be even greater. Conventional produce is sprayed with synthetic pesticides, fungicides and herbicides, and then when you buy it and eat it, you are also consuming these chemicals. For example, the commonly used herbicide Roundup has been classified as a “probable human carcinogen” and the insecticide chlorpyrifos has been associated with developmental delays in infants. Studies have also suggested that pesticide residues – at levels commonly found in the urine of American kids – may contribute to ADHD. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
If that isn’t enough to convince you, eating organic is also waaaay better for our environment! Organic food production eliminates soil and water contamination, helps preserve local wildlife and conserves biodiversity. All because organic food production avoids chemicals and instead uses all-natural farming methods that are safe for our bodies and thus, safe for the environment.
When Organic Isn’t always the best choice
Although I really value organic produce, I think there is another factor at play that’s equally as important, and that’s whether or not the produce is locally grown. When it comes to food, I try to make choices that are least extravagant in using up the world’s resources. If you eat an organic apple, but it comes all the way from New Zealand, then what good is that doing for the environment? (Think of all the resources it took to fly that apple across the world to end up in your grocery store!) I love shopping our local farmer’s markets – it’s now a fun tradition for my husband and I to go on Saturday mornings – we bring our reusable coffee cups and order some coffee from Krankie’s, then walk around checking out all of the fresh produce, cheese, wine and baked goods. (If you live in Winston, I really love Plum Granny Farm because all of their produce is organic – you can find them at the Cobblestone Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning!) If you are going to hit up the farmer’s market – it’s important to talk to your farmers! Their produce might not be USDA Certified Organic, but if you ask them about their methods for growing crops, it’s probably safer than conventional methods. Some farmers use dormant oils instead of the really toxic stuff that gets under the skin of the fruit. (In this case, be sure to give those fruits and/or vegetables a good bath!) It’s always best to support local businesses and ESPECIALLY local farmers. They are our future!
Okay, now that I’ve caught you up to date on my current food philosophy, I want to share some random health/wellness tips that I picked up this week 🙂
Kitchen Gadget I’m loving
I have so many kitchen gadgets that I love, but one that I’m loving this week is this package of glass straws. We use these ALL the time for smoothies, I love that they are pretty wide and they’re washable – I usually stick them in the dishwasher to clean but they also come with two little scrubbers to get down in there. I also use these when I drink my lemon water in the morning, so that I don’t get the acidic lemon all over my teeth! These are made of lead-free borosilicate glass, reusable and environmentally friendly, and LESS THAN $10! 🙂
Books of the week
I have two 🙂 These books really helped me get started on my own health and wellness journey! First up, How Not To Die by Dr. Michael Greger. I LOVE THIS BOOK! I’ve blogged about it before – I’ve read it twice now and will probably read it a third time. This was the book that first convinced me to eat more plant-based. The book is entirely based on science. Dr. Greger has put in the research, sifting through hundreds of thousands of studies and basically summarizing the results in an easy-to-read and, at times, quite humorous book. The second book that you should read (and I would read it AFTER How Not To Die), is The Food Babe Way, by Vani Hari. I do think Hari comes across a little intense at times, however I learned soooo much about food additives. This book will make you MAD at the food industry (and for good reason), and you will probably want to give up processed food forever after reading it.
This week, eat more of….
Chocolate! And not just any chocolate, but beautiful, rich dark chocolate. I was listening to this podcast recently with Max Lugavere and he encourages adults to eat one dark chocolate bar per week for brain health. I can get on that bandwagon! If you buy quality dark chocolate (not the sugary crap) with a high cocoa content, then it is actually quite nutritious. Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants including polyphenols, flavanols and catechins. It’s also a naturally fermented food and a top source of magnesium, and can even improve brain function by increasing blood flow! Lugavere recommends a chocolate bar with at least an 85% cocoa content…I’m still searching for one with that much cocoa, but in the meantime I LOVE this chocolate bar (organic & 70% cocoa) and just a couple of squares at night satisfies me.
Clean beauty product I’m Loving
It was relatively easy for me to throw out all of the junk food in our pantry, but it’s not *quite* so easy for me to do the same to our bathroom cabinets. In the past, I’ve felt like the natural beauty products never work quite as well, but I think it’s all about finding the right products. So I’ve been slowly introducing clean products into my beauty routine, and one of them that I absolutely love is pure grapeseed oil. My mom actually introduced me to this product as an alternative to body lotion. Apply it right out of the shower when your skin is a little damp, and it locks in moisture without leaving your skin oily or greasy. (I read a bunch of reviews on Amazon and a lot of people use it as a nighttime facial oil to brighten and even out skin tone). I actually think it leaves my skin luminous and glowy, which I really love! Your skin is your largest organ, and all the products you put on your skin absorb right into your bloodstream – including toxins or parabens that are hidden in your beauty products. That’s why it’s EXTRA important to make sure anything you’re smothering your body in is super clean!
Let me know if you guys have questions! In the future I also want to include more information about my workouts and maybe some healthy recipes 🙂 Also want to remind you that I am HUMAN haha and just because I try to eat organic and unprocessed foods doesn’t mean that I stick to that 100% of the time – you will probably still see some packaged snacks on my Instastories (or the occasional Starbucks cup) and some “conventional” and not-so-clean beauty products on my blog 😛 But it is all about the JOURNEY, and hopefully this will inspire you to begin yours. Love to you all! xoxox