Life On Purpose

Day 24 : Hunger or Craving? July 30, 2013

Most of us, myself included, eat for more than one reason. Not just because we are hungry, but because we are empty, lonely, sad, tired, bored, or craving something. We don’t do quiet well. It is hard to be alone with your emotions because they are raw and powerful. But here’s the thing: emotions are a gift from God meant to give life passion and excitement. However, negative emotions can be so very strong and controlling when we don’t consciously make them work for our benefit. Practice acknowledging how you feel in a moment when you are next tempted to eat something you will later regret. Acknowledge it, let your soul sit with it a moment. Put it into a sentence in your mind. “I feel lonely.” Okay. So now how will eating cookies help you deal with it? It won’t. It will make you feel like a failure. What you really need are coping skills. Some people journal, others exercise, or even read books. Find a coping skill that relieves your stress and practice it regularly.

I encourage you to find some Scripture that speaks to your weaknesses and emotions that you dislike. Memorize them. When you are tempted, recall your verses and ask God to help you accept the negative emotions and ask Him to lead you to a way of handling them that honors Him. He has all the answers even when you do not.

Not everyone struggles with emotional eating. However, I think everyone knows how it feels to crave something. Sugar, chocolate, cookies, etc. Learn to listen to your body to decipher whether you are truly hungry or just craving something.

1. If you are irritable, shaky, dizzy or lightheaded, you are way past hunger. Your blood sugar is too low and you should have a meal.
2. If your stomach is aching and you have “hunger pangs” it means you need a meal.
3. If you are thinking about a certain food or see a food that looks appealing and then want to consume it, you are experiencing a craving. Train yourself to recognize this and do not allow it to control when you eat.
4. If you just ate a meal and still feel hungry, try waiting 10 minutes. Then, if you still FEEL hungry, you need more food. Sometimes, you don’t really need more, but your satiety is trained to eating too much and tricks you into thinking you want more.

Take control of your emotions and cravings. You are in control of what goes into your mouth!


Day 20 : Fat ‘n’ Happy Happy Happy July 18, 2013

As I’ve said before: Fat isn’t making you fat (well, mostly). Today I want to dig deeper and help you understand what good fat is and why it helps you burn fat.

Saturated Fats:

“Provide building blocks for cell membranes, hormones, and hormone-like substances

Act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K

Are required for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, and for mineral absorption

Act as antiviral agents (caprylic acid) Help lower cholesterol levels (palmitic and stearic acids)

Modulate genetic regulation and help prevent cancer (butyric acid)”

They actually do NOT cause heart disease and will help satiety keeping you more full and reducing your calorie intake.

I know we have discussed this before, but choosing healthy fats and recognizing dangerous fats are one of the biggest steps to preventing disease and losing weight. It is also worth noting that your fat intake directly affects your HDL cholesterol level, which, if too low is linked to depression.

Processed food usually contains the oils and fats that are not good for your health. Eating a whole food (real food) diet will deliver the fats your body needs. Cook with coconut oil and pastured butter (again, Organic Valley brand is widely available). Don’t be afraid of “fatty” meats that were pasture raised. Their fat profiles contain CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which has been linked to better fat burn, steady glucose levels, muscle preservation and increased metabolism. They key to getting the CLAs in your diet is pastured meats and eggs. You will remember from prior posts that this means the animal was raised to roam freely and happily. I jokingly tell my children we have “happy milk” and “happy beef” from “happy cows.” But in all seriousness: it’s true! If you are what you eat, most Americans are fat and depressed….sound familiar? Why? Because the meat they are eating is from animals raised in terrible, cramped conditions too depressing to talk about right now! Also, use avocados as a salad topping, side dish, in guacamole, in sauces…oh I could go on and on about my favorite food! Avocados are truly a superfood and on the clean list too! So organic is not a necessity. Make your dressings with cold pressed EVOO . Season your veggies with pastured butter and sea salt. Your palate and your tummy will thank you!

Today’s challenge: buy EVOO, coconut oil and organic, pastured butter. Also, buy pasture raised, grass fed meats. Throw away the canola and vegetable oil. Stop worrying about your fat intake. Notice your new-found satiety as you consume a higher fat diet.

Healthy Fats:

Olives and Olive oil
Coconuts and coconut oil
Butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk
Raw nuts, such as, almonds or pecans Organic pastured egg yolks
Grass fed meats
Palm oil
Unheated organic nut oils

Unhealthy fats:

Corn-avoid/mostly genetically engineered (more later)

Canola-avoid/mostly genetically engineered

Cottonseed- usually contaminated by pesticides (more later)

Palm kernel-avoid

Soybean-avoid/mostly genetically engineered & contains pesticides

Vegetable-avoid/mostly genetically engineered & contains pesticides

Peanut-okay in moderation/not good for cooking but organic to avoid pesticides & GMO

Margarine-NEVER eat.



Day 18 : Restock July 15, 2013

First of all, congratulations for making it through some of the hardest changes presented so far! If you’re still here with me, you are well on your way to a healthier life. But now your pantry is looking slim-so how do you restock? We’ve talked a lot about what NOT to eat. Now it’s time for establishing a repertoire of whole foods to nourish your body!

Remember what I said before: the bounty of your grocery cart should be from the perimeter of the store.

Buy organic as your budget allows and prioritize your dollars with this tool:
Dirty Dozen/Clean 15
-aim for a colorful variety
-most of your groceries should be produce
-try all different types of greens and rotate them

Whole Grain:
-ingredients will specify “whole (insert whatever grain here)”
-this shouldn’t make up more than 25% of what you eat

Grains to eat:
Quinoa (actually a seed)
Brown Rice

– Any pasture raised and grass fed meat is fine. Shouldn’t be more than 4 ounces or a palm size serving at each meal
-Check out the Farmer’s Market behind Geppetto’s in Morganton Saturdays 8-12 for good meat vendors (produce as well!)
-Fish should be as fresh as possible and wild caught, not farm raised. It will say on the package “wild caught.” Smaller fish have less mercury contamination.
-Ingles on Carbon City rd. has a fairly good selection for a chain grocery store. You can buy organic/antibiotic free chicken, grass fed beef, organic beef and ground bison there. Right now Aldi is carrying grass fed beef and antibiotic free chicken as well.

-Again, I recommend the Organic Valley brand: it is both organic and pastured! See sour cream, cottage cheese, milk, half n half, heavy cream & butter in this brand ALL available at Ingles on Carbon City!
-Whole milk is the least processed, use in moderation/Almond milk is a great alternative but I recommend Silk or Laura Lynn brand because they are carrageenan free.
-Aged, raw cheeses are best-NEVER buy shredded! Always shred your own. Most cheese is naturally white (it’s made from milk!) so avoid orange cheese because its usually highly processed and has something to color it. I suggest only buying at the grocery store because sometimes homemade cheese contains harmful bacteria (meaning if you aren’t sure your source is completely reputable, you probably shouldn’t buy it) and don’t buy raw if you are pregnant.

-Buy high quality, organic whole wheat flour. I have cut flour out completely as as a personal nutrition choice and use almond meal or quinoa flour for baking. You can also try coconut flour. Still, these are processed forms of whole foods and shouldn’t be the mainstays of your diet.

***Anything on the interior aisles should be scrutinized carefully for processed and GMO ingredients. Look for the USDA Organic Label pictured below.

-Substitute any oil other than butter with high quality coconut oil. Melt it in a microwave-safe dish for any baking and cooking needs. Here’s my favorite: Coconut Oil
Much cheaper online than in the grocery store!
-Sweeten with pure organic stevia, honey or pure maple syrup when at all possible.
Stevia -much cheaper online as well!
You can also buy powdered stevia.

-If you must use refined sugar in baking, buy organic/GMO-free when your budget allows. Remember, if it has the USDA organic seal it can’t contain GMOs.

Today’s challenge is to restock your fridge and pantry with whole foods!

A couple of little tips:
-Store nuts and flours in the fridge to keep fresh longer
-Meal plan around the produce that needs to be eaten sooner rather than later to avoid waste
-Turn sandwiches into salads. You can put a almost anything on a bed of greens! Store bought bread is usually not going to be nutritious enough to buy unless you fork out $6 per loaf.

As my friend Karen often says, you make your health choices at the grocery store.



Day 8 : Meal Planning June 24, 2013

Meal planning is a great way to manage your food intake and your budget. Without a plan, I eat out a lot and tend to lose track of the budget. It is a slippery slope to my old ways of eating-convenient and crappy! Most families are on the go a lot and struggle with getting healthy food on the table. A busy AND healthy life necessitates a plan.

First, decide how often you think you will be grocery shopping. It may take you a while to get in a good groove. So be patient and work on it until you find a good routine. Once you decide on a length of time, then you can begin planning. I have settled into a variable 7-10 day routine for my grocery trips.

I will look at my calendar to see what we have planned for the next 7-10 days to develop a plan. I’ll also consider appointments, meetings, and which day I need to shop. For example, if I have an appointment that will interfere with dinner prep, I’ll try to plan a meal that is either made in the crock pot or grilled. If I can’t plan another grocery trip for another 8 days, then I look at my calendar and plan what we’re eating for each meal until the next trip. Some people prefer a monthly routine, only returning to the grocery store for produce and perishables. I discourage this because it’s easy for your meals to become box and can based when you shop this way. If it’s the only way you can work it in your schedule and operate on a plan-then that is better than no plan!

Some things to consider when meal planning:

1. Breakfast & lunch

2. Side dishes for dinner

3. Snacks

4. How you can use leftovers from a previous meal (for example I make roast chicken and then make white chicken chili for another meal with leftover chicken-2 totally different meals)

5. Making extra of dishes you can pack for lunch or work into another meal (for example, if you make rice as a side dish, make extra and then make bean and rice burritos another night; and another idea is baking extra sweet potatoes to have leftovers for lunch or grill extra meat to make a salad for lunch the next day)

6. Have a fall-back meal. Mine is egg omelets and bacon. We always keep bacon, eggs and veggies on hand. Your fall back should be something you can easily whip up without much time or any shopping.

Try not to let yourself get overwhelmed. A little planning goes a long way. At first you might need to put notes on your calendar to remind you what you need to prep ahead. Marinades, sauces and dressings can often be made the night before to save time when you get home from work. I usually work at least one egg based meal and one bean based meal into our week to decrease costs. Another thing that has helped me is moving past the “3 dish plate.” Maybe it’s a Southern thing-but I always felt like there must be three things on my plate! Let me tell you a secret: it isn’t true! Yippee! How freeing is that?! I finally broke out of the habit of the three dish plate and have made up my mind that if I only have time and money for two nutritious dishes-IT’S OKAY.

I hope these are some helpful hints to get you started meal planning. I also suggest traveling with your own food because fast food is expensive on your budget and on your body (more later).

Next time you grocery shop, take a list with your meal plan out to the side and read those labels!


Day 5 : Consider the Source June 20, 2013

Not all meats and dairy products are created equal. The pound of beef you buy at the average grocery store is NOT the same in nutritional quality as the pound bought at the farm. The cheapest milk in the jug at the grocery store is NOT the same in nutritional quality as the organic, pasture raised half gallon. The dozen eggs you picked up on sale ( or even from your neighbor) are NOT the same in nutritional quality as the pastured dozen bought at the farm or farmer’s market. Why?

Think about the life of a caged animal. If you lived life confined to a tiny bit of light exercise once a day (at best) and otherwise were sedentary, living in a tiny box, how would your body be composed? Mostly fat, right?

more on grass fed meat & dairy

The fat profile of factory farmed pigs, cows and chickens is unnaturally high in saturated fat and unnaturally low in healthy fats (which are CRUCIAL to preventing disease and maintaining healthy weight). I’m a walking example of healthy fat intake. I eat butter, beef, pork, eggs and drink/consume dairy as well. I am a healthy weight. Fad diets that deprive you of necessary nutrients usually aren’t satisfying and will leave you feeling hungry a lot of the time. Steer clear of these. They are not a long term way to health!

To understand what you buy, familiarize yourself with these terms:
1. Organic:
Traditional Pesticide-Free
GMO Free
Antibiotic free
Added hormone free
Synthetic fertilizer free
Generally supports sustainable farming
2. GMO:
Genetically modified organisms, meaning products engineered by altering their genetics. Long term health effects of GMOs are not fully known yet. more on GMOs
3. Pasture-Raised
This indicates that the animal used for the product was raised on pastures most of its life. Will have a much healthier fat profile than traditional varieties.
4. Grass Fed
This means the animal’s diet was mainly grass/hay as opposed to corn or other vegetables that are usually GMO and pesticide-laden.

I prioritize organic, pasture raised meats and dairy because we face three potential sources of contamination
-the animal’s diet: pesticide-contaminated feed
-the animal’s lifestyle: sedentary versus pastured
-the animal’s health: antibiotics and hormones

Whatever the animal consumes, you will consume!

Here’s how to know you are buying quality meat and dairy:
*When you buy from a farm or local farmer’s and ask these questions:
-what do you feed your animals?
You hope they say they are pastured or foraging (aka grass fed) If they say corn or a “mash” then it’s not worth the price you’d likely pay here.
-are they pastured the majority of the time? And what do they eat in the winter? (hopefully mostly hay)
Again, if not, probably not worth the price you’ll pay.
-do you treat with antibiotics or hormones?

*At the grocery store:
I have only had luck with beef and dairy at the grocery store. Depends on where you live. You are looking for key words here:
Pasture Raised or Grass Fed
Free Range (for poultry/eggs)

I am a huge fan of the Organic Valley brand for milk, creamer, butter and sour cream. It’s a widely available, organic and pasture raised source of dairy that supports small farms.

If you live in Burke County, I highly recommend Rock House Farm. They are local and use all organic feed and pasture all their animals. I buy pork, beef, chicken and eggs there.

I will post on organic produce and other organic products another day. For today, I challenge you to think about how you can make buying wholesome meat and dairy a priority. The health benefits far outweigh the cost. For our family, we have prioritized this in our budget by eating out less. I also incorporate bean and eggs into my weekly dinner rotation to decrease our meat bill. I use unsweetened almond milk in place of cow’s milk a lot of the time to save money. How will you make the switch? The less factory farmed meat and dairy you consume, the more results you will see in your body.