Have you ever watched a reality TV program called “My 600-pound Life“? Morbidly obese people travel to Houston, Texas in hopes of getting weight-loss surgery. There are extensive personal interviews as we follow these people on their weight-loss journey before and after their surgery.
They talk about what food means to them, about how eating makes them happy and hunger is never satisfied. Their every waking moment is consumed with their desire for food and they only feel complete when they are eating. Yet, at the same time, they hate their lives and their bodies.
Food becomes their addiction and obsession, longing for the comfort only food can bring. Just as strong as the desire for food are their feelings of shame, self-loathing, disappointment, hopelessness, and frustration over their lack of self-control.
Whenever I watch this program, I cry inside for those frustrated, pitiful, unhappy people. I understand the yearning for change and the shame and disappointment that comes after the eating. Fortunately, I do not weigh 600 pounds, but the struggle of seeking comfort in food is very real for me, too.
Loving ourselves requires thinking about what we eat and how it affects our health and well-being. We are inundated with foods that have been designed for maximum shelf life and maximum taste appeal. Many of these foods contain ingredients that have been genetically modified for any number of different reasons: promote faster growth; resistance to disease; contain chemicals to control insects; create sweeter taste; or to insure longer shelf life.
Processed foods are chemically manufactured using refined ingredients, artificial additives, and high levels of sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup. They are foods engineered to appeal to our natural affinity for sweet, salty and fat, resulting in overconsumption.
Processed foods contain preservatives, colorants, and chemically created flavors and textures. Because processed foods have been engineered to appeal to our taste buds, they are extremely rewarding and can become highly addictive. They often contain refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, and are low in fiber and nutrients.
A word about artificial sweeteners: DON’T! We should always avoid putting things into our bodies that were chemically created and have nothing to do with natural processes.
The scientific evidence is clear: plant-based, unprocessed, natural whole food diets have been proven to promote health, prevent disease, and even reverse conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
A plant-based diet consists of emphasis on eating a variety of vegetables and fruits that are supplemented with whole grains, beans and legumes. Animal products, including dairy, if eaten at all, are a very minor part of this way of eating.
The most important aspect of plant-based eating is that it is not a “diet” in the traditional sense. It is a lifestyle choice. The concept of a vegetarian lifestyle, has been talked about for more than 80 years. Robert Bootzin, widely known as Gypsy Boots, was the first person to bring public attention to the importance of organic food, vegetarian eating and fitness. He is actually reported to have opened the very first health food store in the country.
An interesting fact about Gypsy Boots is that in the 1950’s, he was considered a kook, a weirdo, with strange ideas. We now can see he was a leader, so far ahead of his time that people could not understand the truth and wisdom of his teachings. Today, being vegetarian, using organic produce, and exercising to stay fit is a way of life embraced by millions of people. The best part about this lifestyle is that it has been proven by scientific investigation to produce optimal health and prevent disease.
While we are part of a society that focuses on Christmas, we often forget that not everyone we meet personally celebrates Christian traditions.Throughout the world, millions of people are participating in joyous and holy celebrations unrelated to Christmas.
Diwali This five-day festival of lights, celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. It is a celebration of good triumphing over evil and is usually held in November.
Chanukah A Jewish holiday, this is an eight-day festival of lights. It is a celebration of triumph over adversity and the miracle of a small jar of holy oil that burned for eight days instead of one, which allowed the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
Kwanza A seven-day holiday of lights, created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 to celebrate family culture and heritage, and is modeled after the first harvest celebrations in Africa.
Winter Solstice The shortest day and longest night in the Northern Hemisphere. This year it falls on Friday, December 21st. There will only be 7 hours and 50 minutes of daylight hours. Throughout human history, from prehistoric time to the present, this time of year has been a time of celebration and ceremony.
Ancient civilizations around the world built temples and structures designed to capture the rays of the sun at the moment of the Solstice. One of the most famous of these is Stonehenge, located in Wiltshire, England. The Winter Solstice is particularly important for Druid, Wicca, and Pagan communities. Today, people around the world celebrate the Winter Solstice with bonfires, music, family gatherings, dancing and singing.
Shalako Kachina Ceremony is a series of dances and ceremonies conducted by the Zuni people at the winter solstice, typically following the harvest. For other tribes, this is commemorated as the season when the river freezes and the land sleeps, known as Luut’aa and also the season of K’aliyee, the time of the north wind blowing.
The Iroquois Midwinter Ceremony involves extinguishing old fires and lighting new ones. The Hopi Holy Cycle celebrates the changing of the seasons and the nature of the Hopi sacred universe.
Chinese New Year Also known as the Lunar New Year, this is the most important date of the Chinese calendar and is related to the Chinese Zodiac. Because the Chinese calendar is both a Solar and Lunar calendar, the actual New Year’s Day changes from year to year. Prior to the New Year, people clean their houses thoroughly and set up traditional decorations.
This is a time of year for family reunions, parties, gift giving, and fireworks.Many of us look forward to the holiday season each year, and revel in the traditions that accompany it. However, with the holiday season, comes a myriad of potential threats to your health. Check back next year (on January 1), when we will post about how to stay healthy in the New Year.
Whatever gatherings, ceremonies, celebrations, and traditions in which you participate, I want to wish you a healthy and joyous holiday season.
Can you believe we are in the midst of the holiday season? With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought we should discuss something generally overlooked during the holidays – wellness. Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for gathering together with loved ones and indulging in a massive feast. Thoughts of health and wellness are not usually at the forefront of people’s minds. However, as enjoyable as the holidays are, they can take a toll on your overall health and wellness. I’d like to help you have the healthiest Thanksgiving possible.
The holiday season, and Thanksgiving in particular, are loaded with decadent, fatty, rich foods. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the average person puts on an extra pound during the holidays, with people who are already overweight gaining around five pounds. The alarming thing about this is that most people don’t lose the extra weight after the holidays. And over time, the this adds up to an unhealthy situation. Read More
We are a culture obsessed with finding the “next best thing.” And our diets are no exception. We’re constantly bombarded with new diet trends, “must-have” supplements, “miracle cures,” and “superfoods.” So, how will you recognize those things which are worth incorporating into your diet? In this blog post, I’m focusing on a diet which has stood the test of time — a plant-based diet, often used interchangeably with terms “vegetarian” or “vegan” diets. Note that my use of the word “diet.” This doesn’t reflect a fad, but rather a lifestyle.
Perhaps you’ve wondered what the difference is between a vegetarian and vegan diet?
While these two diets are similar, key differences exist. Modern vegetarians tend to consume dairy (lacto) and eggs (ovo), and some also include seafood (pescatarian). Vegans, on the other hand, do not consume or useany animal products. Veganism is a lifestyle, while vegetarianism is a diet. Read More