Thursday, February 28, 2013

Taking A Bite from the Girl Scouts' Cookie

We had some fun friends over for dinner last week and they brought Girl Scout Cookies. Some small part of me was terrified I'd go crazy and eat them all. Another part of me (well, maybe the same part) was telling me not to touch them with a ten foot pole.

But, really and truly, I didn't want to deprive myself and there was a big part of me that was jumping up and down to have them.

So I very consciously decided to have one of each of the flavors, which also happened to be my all-time favorites: Thin Mints and Samoas.

They tasted mostly like I remembered... but I really found I didn't like them much anymore. Curious, I took a look at the ingredients list on these boxes, and I was HORRIFIED... hydrogenated oils = trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, palm oil, GMO ingredients.

I could have made myself a tastier, richer, healthier, more satisfying dessert if I gave myself 10 minutes

Oh yikes, to me, this isn't even real food. Our bodies do not know how to handle these highly processed, chemically-derived, and nutritionally depleted food-like substances (and so guess where your body looks for the nutrients it knows it needs to digest them - it pulls them from your bones and organs). Michael Pollan describes these as "edible food-like substances."

So, I was curious. I hopped online to see what the Girl Scouts website had to say about their cookies... and I got nothing but ANGRY.

Now, I don't get worked up very easily. I pride myself for having big-picture perspective and a whole lotta compassion and understanding. Those two things were being majorly insulted:

Their Cookie FAQ Page says a lot about "healthful ingredients" and the assurances they get from their "bakers" about the "highest quality" ingredients. (I'm thinking, gee, do you think they have any stock in giving those kinds of brown-nose answers to their buyers?) This is totally atrocious. And, yes, I understand they are "treats," but it is a literal shame that anything made with ingredients that are well-established by nutritional science to be literally disease-promoting could be talked about as made with "quality" and "healthfulness" in mind.

The worst travesty of the FAQ page, in my opinion, is the implied blaming of obesity, diabetes and being overweight on the individual. No blame for the industry crafting this misleading language and bogus health claims. No, YOU must take responsibility for eating your treats in moderation, says the webpage.

While, yes, I agree, personal discrimination is important, they're missing the point. The "failure" of individuals to have self-control is not the cause of this devastating diabesity* epidemic, no, not when these highly processed foodstuffs are marketed as "ok in moderation" and at the same time DESIGNED to make you overeat. What gives?

Point being, the normalization - and worse, the misleading labeling of "quality" and "healthful" - of these types of highly processed, known disease-promoting ingredients is what is causing obesity and diabetes. To say that personal consideration - about ingredients described with loaded, undefined, and unquestioned labels - is how one avoids becoming overweight or diseased, is to ignore and be an accomplice in the epidemic.

The Girl Scouts' stance on raising healthy girls and selling cookies made with those ingredients is completely contradictory. They are allowing themselves to be under the thumb of a profit-driven industrial food industry. I believe it is ignorant and irresponsible for the Girl Scouts Institution to allow the girls - and the people - of this country to believe that ANY consumption of cookies made with these ingredients can be deemed healthy in any way.

As for me, I was raised a proud Girl Scout. I was was indeed built as a girl of courage, confidence, and character, here to make the world a better place. I'm committed to just that, even if it means standing up against the establishment who helped me to get here.

Oh, and next time - just so I don't leave you hanging without a dessert - try making these Chocolate Coconut Truffles (mmm with walnuts is the best) next time! They'd crush any GS cookie in a taste competition.

For further reading, especially regarding how processed foodstuffs are designed to make you overeat:
*Dr. Mark Hyman: How Diet Soda Makes You Fat (& Other Food and Diet Industry Secrets)

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Gluten Question? The simple way to find out if you're sensitive to it.

I've been totally not into cleansing this past year... I found them to be much too much like little diets. No This, That, and the Other for 3 weeks! After a lottta lotttta years working through my tendency to deny myself foods I had deemed as "bad" I think I just needed some time off. To eat and explore and listen to my body. And it's worked.

Now as I'm learning to listen to and notice the way my body sends me all kinds of signals about my health, I'm starting to get more alert and sensitive to what's going on. I'm suspecting something is still off... some minor digestive flairs still happening, some skin eczema (dry patches) still rearing up now and again...

I was talking with my friend and colleague, Gina who helps women clear up all sorts of symptoms, usually by eliminating gluten. The Gluten Question is totally something I've been dodging. Me? No, I'm totally fine. I grew up Italian. It's in my blood to eat pasta and bread all week.

Reality check: Alex, your Italian cousin is very much allergic.

So Gina asked me about wheat and gluten - how many times a week do I eat it? I do try to minimize, but I still had to say that on average, three times a week. She looked me right in the eyes and said, "Well, that's rather a lot for something that might not be agreeing with your body." Oh well. Yes, agreed.

Most Americans eat much more than that, wheat is packaged into almost our every meal, and much of it is highly processed, and almost nutritionally void. Are you having frequent digestive upset? Bloating? Joint swelling or paint? Inflammation? Skin outbreaks? Low energy? It might be time to investigate. Simply eliminating gluten can sometimes kick all of those symptoms in one go.

The best way to know if you've got a sensitivity? A 10-day elimination diet. Take it out for 10 days. Eat a bunch on day 11 and then stop again to see what happens. This is a listening to your body test and is the most effective way to know. Lab tests aren't so accurate yet.

(What IS gluten? What are the signs of sensitivity/allergy? Plus a gluten-free banana bread pancake recipe to die for. - a la My New Roots)

So I'm making the best of the situation. I also know that dairy (eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese) are common digestive/inflammatory body aggravants and make me feel phlemmy and clogged up, so I'm cutting those out for the 10 days too. Sugar too....

What this means is that it's time to play in the kitchen and try out some new recipes!

The internet is a wealth of healthy, delicious, even gourmet and foodie recipes, just waiting for my taste buds. I'm taking this as an opportunity to explore and make tasty new things!

Some of my favorite healthy foodie blogs I'll be exploring:
My New Roots
Green Kitchen Stories
Coconut & Quinoa
Eat it.
The Conscious Kitchen
The Holy Kale
My Wholefood Romance

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Waking Up Refreshed

How I USED to get up in the morning: Alarm goes off. Groan. Is it time already? Turn it off. Today's Wednesday. What do I need to do today? Roll through my to-do list. Try not to drift back to sleep. Wake up, wake up, c'mon! Groan. Roll out of bed. Stumble groggily into the bathroom. Begin.

How I CURRENTLY get up in the morning: My love kisses me good morning before he heads out to work, my wake-up call. I stretch all of my limbs. I open the blinds. Ah yes, natural light! Still snuggled under blankets, I take a book from my bedside table and read a short poem or story. I reflect it into my own life. Deep, slow breath. I swing my feet onto the floor and into my slippers. I sit up. I am so glad to have this day. I drink a long cool drink of water. Ahhh, freshness. Stand up. Begin.

I've got two books of inspiring poems and story/vignettes sitting on my bedside table. Every morning, before I get out of bed, I pick one up and read a piece or two of inspiration. Talk about one of the best ways I've found to kick-start my energy, positive thinking, motivation, sense of connection and happiness - EVERY SIMPLE DAY.

It's so worth it to buy books that inspire you, and to gift yourself 20-30 extra seconds to wake up the way you want to. I've chosen books that bring me into gratitude and wonder and awe about the world. Here are the two I have right now.

How do you want to feel when you wake up? With what thoughts do you want to start your day?

So tell me, what's YOUR favorite way to wake up?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Feeding My Creativity Craving

Sunday, a handful of spunky women and I rented out a painting studio, to spend a full day arting out!

Having an entire day to get messy, exchange ideas with other creative people, and have wide open time to explore and be free in my brain was so refreshing and inspiring. I did a lot of brainstorming and vision boarding (of sorts) and came to all kinds of clarity!

The experience was also so energizing!
A lot of women ask me how to have more energy. While eating clean, real, whole foods creates the physical foundation for naturally abundant energy, we can't expect to have lots of energy and pizazz for life if we're not enjoying our day-to-day and building fun, silly, creative, and social activities into our calendar.

We won't spring out of bed in the morning if we don't have something to motivate and excite us. What can you create in your next week to give yourself something to look forward to?

Check it out:

What are you going to do this week that will inspire, excite, stretch, and jazz you up?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Happiness Starts in the Mind: Lesson 1

yip! yip! yip! yip yip! yip! yap yap yap! yap! (said the neighbor's little dog)

Since I actually love dogs and have no way to stop the noise (no, I will not kill it)...
I'm practicing taking radical responsibility for my reality, which is a thing of my mind.

yip! yip! yap yap yap!

Memo to self:

Friday, February 8, 2013

Beat the To-Do List Demons & Stop "Shoulding" Yourself

True Story: My mom was visiting recently and we took a Friday spa day, to relax and treat ourselves to massages. Ah, yes, taking such good care of ourselves! We got there early so we could unwind before our massages. I took a long, hot shower, salt scrubbed my skin in the steam room and stretched in the sauna. I climbed onto the massage table feeling loose, took a few deep breaths to really settle in, when all of the sudden - I kid you not -
 I started thinking about my to-do list.

This will probably sound familiar: "Did I email my client back about next week? I'll have to check. And I need to get to the hardware store next week too, there's still so much to be settled in our new place. I never sent Dad a picture of the new sofa. I should really just call. I should have called last week. And Jeri called and I forgot to call her back..."

Luckily, I caught myself: Um, most wonderful self, aren't you here to relax? To retreat and take time away from all of that chatter? To take care of myself and mom? Yes I am, thank you for asking!

Even knowing that, I realized there was a part of me that felt guilty for taking a "work day" to go to the spa. "You should be doing something productive." Even though it was a special day because my mom was visiting, and one of the reasons I work for myself is so that I can make this kind of time, I couldn't shake the little voice that said, "there's so much you could be doing with the money you're spending on this massage," and "there's so much you should be getting done right now..."

Yep, right there on the massage table,
 I started "shoulding myself."

Does this ever happen to you? Where you go in knowing you deserve it and you need it and then the "I should's" and "I could's" begin to creep in the back door and you feel selfish, guilty, unproductive? Sometimes I even convince myself that I don't even deserve it after all. This is what I call a mind spin-out, when our outside fears override what we feel inside.

When it comes down to giving ourselves exceptional self-care and self-love, we often fall into feeling self-ish!

Here's what I think the critical difference is - and how I try to deal with those feelings when they come up:

  • If you catch the voices in the middle of their yappering, say "Thank you for sharing, I hear you. But I'm here now and I deserve this. I'll come back to all of that when I'm ready."
  • Sometimes a brain dump is necessary, for me especially before meditating or going to bed. Write down everything that's on your mind, all the to-do's and things you're worrying you'll forget. Once it's out on paper, you can let the paper hold on to it while you get some much needed quiet time.
Please share! When your mind starts to wander and you would much rather just ENJOY the massage, what works for you to quiet that "shoulding" voice?