Thursday, June 9, 2011

Healthy Resources

It has been a very long time since I have posted anything. I have been thinking of creating a list of resources for anyone who would be interested. I’ll try to update it as often as I can, when I find better deals on things.

First, I love the healing benefits of Coconut. For price and quality I love Tropical Traditions. They sell coconut oil and a lot of other organic and healthy alternatives to toxic products we use every day. I’m taking baby steps at this time to use more natural methods in my life. It was too overwhelming at first, so step by step I’m replacing harmful things that I have over time accepted as normal, with things that are not so toxic.

32-oz. - 2-Jar Pack - Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil - 2 quarts Total
You have to watch for specials, which they have frequently. If you “like” them on facebook, then you can get notified of their specials. To read a bit more on the health benefits (which are many) of coconut oil click here.

Essential oils has become a part of my every day life. Because my husband hasn’t worked in over a year due to health problems, this has become our insurance. I have been propelled into learning as much as I can about nutrition and personal health care because I want to know that I can take care of my children and myself if anything happened. There are many places to get essential oils, I have gone with doTERRA because of the very high standard of quality and reasonable pricings. When you sign up with them and pay a small fee you get a cheaper price for the year. Click here to check out their site.

With these oils I have naturally treated problems like itchy scalp, hemorrhoids, fever, constipation, stomach ache, ear ache and infections, rash, cuts and bruises, weight problems, depression, anxiety, sunburn/burns, detoxing, and the list continues. These have been very affective for safely treating my children especially in treating fever, ear infection, rash and to help them relax.

Sometimes its hard to find healthy snacks for our kids. If anyone is interested I can make a list of things I get for my girls, off the top of my head, I have to say that I LOVE Lärabars. I’m all about simplicity in ingredients, the fewer the better, and if you can pronounce every ingredient, that is important too. Also I don’t like artificial anything. You can find them at Sams club and Costco, Target and Walmart.

Click here to have a look. My girls love these and I have no guilt when I give them one. They love them so much, my one year old woke up crying because she dreamt that all of our “bar-bars” were gone. I wrote Lärabar about it on facebook and they liked the story so much they sent us a box full of goodies. They are a great company and are on facebook.

Something that I add to my food every day is Chia Seeds, mostly in my morning smoothie. I get mine from Amazon here I get the 5 pound bag because it’s the most cost effective. Chia seeds are a rich source of Omega 3’s that we don’t get a lot of in our diet, unless you eat flax seed and eggs, but even in eggs the Omegas get weakened through cooking. There are so many health benefits to chia seeds. I can say they have helped me with weight loss. They help you stay full, reduce problems with blood sugar, keep you hydrated, and so much more. You can read more about it if you search the web. They were used anciently by the Aztecs and Mayans (read here)

I think I will add more to the list in the future. If anyone out there is looking for healthy alternatives, just let me know and I can tell you if I have found one, or even take a look and see what I can find.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Carbo-Hungry All the Time

This is my first time posting on this blog, my wife, Carey, asked my to share some information I recently came across concerning sugar and, more specifically, carbohydrates.  To set things up, I recently lost about twenty pounds using a low carb diet.  The science behind a low carb diet is sound and it works, very well and very fast—especially compared to calorie counting.  Low carb dieting scared me, I thought it was all about eating meat and fat, but it is doesn’t have to be that way.  Most natural foods are lower in carbs: nuts, vegetables, some dairy products, and, of course, meat, are low in carbohydrates.  So why does it work so well?  It is all about sugar.  Carbohydrates, even complex ones, turn into sugar in our blood.  Too much blood sugar quickly becomes toxic to our bodies so our bodies need to use it or store it, it can’t just hang around until it is excreted.  So, our bodies store the blood sugar it doesn’t use as, fat.  If you cut carbohydrates, and therefore lower your blood sugar, your body has to rely on the stored fat for energy because it isn’t getting enough energy from your diet.  The end result is you loose weight, most of it fat.
            So how does this help us understand sugar addiction?  It is related to the process of storing the blood sugar as fat.  When we eat lots of sugar and simple carbohydrates, like yummy white bread, our body has to work very hard to keep from becoming toxic.  It uses insulin to do this.  But, the more insulin we have to produce, the less effective it becomes.  It starts telling the body to store all that blood sugar as fat, so much so that our cells don’t get enough of it to use as energy.  This results in the dreaded cravings a sugar addict knows so well.  I’ll give an example of this, say I eat a bowl of sugary, high carb cereal for breakfast, by 10:00 I am usually starving and craving food.  My body processed all those carbs super fast, much of it going into my fat cells, and my muscles and brain didn’t get what they needed to sustain me.  So, my brain, being a self-preserving organ, tells my body I’m hungry, even though my belly may be full.  Think of eating a whole pizza and still craving food.  It happened to me all the time.  That is why counting calories while eating carbs is so hard, and ineffective. 
            Now, some quick things about fat, the kind we eat.  Fat has been blamed for a host of ills, including: heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity, and cancer, to name a few.  This isn’t necessarily true.  The body needs good fats for lots of functions.  The brain is mostly fat and there is even some research that suggests mental problems like depression can actually be caused by a low-fat diet.  In reality, the food pyramid should be more like a slightly tapered trapezoid, with fats and proteins getting larger squares than they have in the pyramid.  The FDA suggests eating 300g of carbs a day, an amount that lots of research suggests is too much for the sedentary lifestyles most of us lead.  Fat is not the real culprit for the obesity epidemic, it is carbohydrates, especially sugar.  Since the low-fat, high carb diet—as suggested by FDA—was instituted, type two diabetes has also become an ‘epidemic’.  Refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup consumption is a big part of that, but so is refined flower and starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn.  It might not seem like it while we’re eating them, but that bag of potato chips and those fries are turning into sugar in your bloodstream, and lots of it.
            In conclusion, it might seem like a hard way to live, cutting out yummy carbohydrates…so don’t do it, eat pasta and rice and potatoes, just do it in moderation.  Keep your daily carbs in mind, and try to get more carbohydrates from fruits than from white breads and other simple carbs.  The problem with dieting is extremes; when you are done with the diet, you go back to the way you used to eat and gain all that weight back again.  The key is to be balanced.  Eat protein to feel full and build lean muscles,  eat fat to keep your body functioning smoothly and for slow energy release, eat fruits and vegetables for nutrients and anti-oxidants, and eat carbs for energy.  Just don’t over eat them or your blood sugar will spike and you will be craving more food hours later, even with a full tummy.  Too many carbs, equal, high blood sugar.  There is nothing good about high blood sugar, nobody would dispute that.

Note:  There is a really educational documentary called Fat Head that explains all of this in much greater detail.  The documentary is a little slow, but well worth the watch for the information presented.  The link to Fat Head blog.  

Monday, February 28, 2011

Laura’s Take: Spiritual Health and Addiction

Carey already did an amazing job defining addiction in the very first blog post called “If you are addicted to it, then it is an addiction.”

Like she said, addiction is unique to the individual. Addiction hides behind many masks. It is something that we may or may not be aware of, if we are; we are most likely ashamed of it. We may feel the need to hide it from those who we care about most or we care about what others think about us. Its repetitive behavior, it robs our time by way of our thoughts, actions and moods. Withdrawal symptoms are inevitable, and we may even miss the behavior like an old friend.

For all of us who have overcome a bad habit, know the difficulty it can be with it returning, and returning with a vengeance. For me it was my depression and weight. After I got married, which was a positive stress, the change from being single to a couple, and a mother of two was an upheaval to the structure that kept me on the right path. That structure was perfected as a single person, but the terrain changed. Like spiritual paralyses I had to relearn the things that kept me strong in the past.

A message by Victor D. Cave had a profound influence on me years ago when I was battling depression. Called:
"Parables of Jesus: The Parable of the Empty House", Ensign, Mar. 2003, 45–47

You might wonder what one of Jesus Christ parables would have to do with addiction. Whether or not you believe in God or the Devil, there IS opposition in all things; Light/Darkness, Good/Bad, etc.

In this message he quotes Spencer W. Kimball

“The devil knows where to tempt, where to put in his telling blows. He finds the vulnerable spot. Where one was weak before, he will be most easily tempted again.

“In abandoning sin one cannot merely wish for better conditions. He must make them. … He must eliminate anything which would stir the old memories.

“Does this mean that the man who has quit smoking or drinking or had sex pollutions finds life empty for a time? The things which engaged him and caught his fancy and occupied his thoughts are gone, and better substitutions have not yet filled the void. This is Satan’s opportunity. The man makes a start but may find the loss of the yesterday’s habits so great that he is enticed to return to his evil ways, and his lot thus becomes infinitely worsened. …

“Many who have discontinued bad habits have found that substitution is part of the answer, and have conquered a bad habit by replacing it with a good or harmless one.” (The Miracle of Forgiveness (1969), 171–73.)

“True repentance (or putting off an addiction) is not merely eliminating the negative but replacing it with positive attitudes and actions.”

The parable of the Empty House is found in the New Testament, Matt. 12:22-37 and also can be found in that article in more clarity. To be honest I didn’t understand it reading it through the first time. It took several times and allot of prayer and study. I felt it held answers for me so I was driven to understand it. It had such a profound effect on me that several years later I did a sort of a diptych of the parable.

The second painting was to symbolically show a “full” house. We are vessels that must be full at all times. We choose what to fill our vessels with.

So what can we replace our bad habits with?

It will be different for everyone, just like our weaknesses and addictions are varied. Our strengths are varied too. We can’t afford to be idle. That is when we can be caught off guard. For me filling me life with more prayer, fasting, scripture study, service, yoga, meditation, work, painting along with other hobbies etc., helped me a great deal. Avoiding people or places that would potentially bring me down, like an alcoholic would avoid a bar, I had to avoid certain things that would trigger my eating or depression.

If you look within yourself, you can find many wholesome things to replace the time spent being less edified. It is good to have a plan so you can fall back on it during weak moments. I can confirm that it does get easier as we persist. Because that which we persist in doing becomes easier, not because the nature of the thing has changed, but because our ability to do it has increased. (Ralph Waldo Emerson) And with God’s help, anything is possible.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Sugarless Manifesto

Well, it's been far too long since I participated on this blog.  Life has finally mellowed just a touch and i wanted to take a moment to concentrate on what I've learned about letting go of "sugar". 

When it comes right down to it, could you walk away from sugary treats forever?  I have the hardest time saying yes to this question.  Throughout my life I've attached so much importance to the existence of sweets.  Fun, comfort, group enjoyment, family togetherness.  For me the most subtly sinister attachment has been a feeling of deservedness.  For example, if I can't have new clothes or don't have enough money for the new 'thing' then by heck I'm at least going to get something I want.  And that something would end up sweet and gooey and fatty.

Letting go of eating sweets has been so much more than just not eating sweets. It's meant facing life's challenges without a buffer.  And you know what?  It's not nearly as hard as I thought it would be.

So what are the initial steps necessary to begin the transformation?  Everyone is different.  My husband and I each used a different approach but 1 thing remained the same.  We both made a manifesto.  A list of guidelines, helps, goals and plans.  After all, if you fail to plan, you will fail to succeed.  I relied heavily on my manifesto during the first 2 weeks of 'sweet abstinence'.  If I got the shakes or cravings (and I did)  I would read it out loud several times and things would get easier.  Several months have passed and my manifesto still hangs in the kitchen, mighty as ever.

Things to keep in mind when planning.  Balance, be realistic, avoid zealousness but accept that addiction requires more than moderation (hard line to walk), realize error will happen and foster an attitude of 'try, try again', set limits to your restrictions (birthdays Christmas, 1 exception per month).

To outline a helpful manifesto I recommend these key ideas:
1.  A goal needs a reward but also a punishment.
       For example, my reward was money - because I like money.  My punishment was disappointment and I had to start over on the time-line of my goal.

2.  My manifesto included general advice. 
       I gleaned advice from the internet, from lots of personal evaluation, from family and especially a loving and wonderful father who is also a recovered alchoholic.  After gathering as much info as possible, I took it to the Lord in prayer for guidance.

3.  A list of good ideas and good practices to learn while 'unlearning' the bad habit. 
      For example, if you are craving sweets, eat an apple.  Meditate, think positive, get out of the house, record successes and feelings.  Blogging has helped me A LOT.

It's never easy overcoming an addiction.  No matter the subject.  Just when you think you've got it beat, you experience the hiccups of life and find yourself crawling right back to those old comforts.  I've found that keeping an attitude of 'try again' has kept me in the ring with my head up and gloves on. 

A note on zealousness - 
I believe that zealousness when it comes to food is extremely counter productive.  The more you do without it and force yourself to avoid it the more you're going to rebound when a weak moment occurs.  It's critical to find balance between the 2 extremes of never and always.  Unfortunately with an addiction it seems that the balance has to hang on the 'never' side of things.  That's why I believe that sugar addiction cannot be overcome without integrating the heart, mind, soul and body.  Facing the things that frighten or worry us is difficult but so much better than being a slave to a mindless chemical.  In fact, that may be a discussion for another day - sugar and idolatry.  Until then, be kind to your body.

Monday, January 31, 2011

What is the pH of the food you are eating?

So what are foods that we eat that cause a more acidic environment in our body? And which foods neutralize the acid? What percentage of foods should we eat from each category?

Depending on your health, from what I have read it is best to have a 60/40 ratio of alkaline/acid foods. Those of you who are like me, who are trying to regain your health and have been suffering from symptom related problems caused by a lifetime of unhealthy eating habits should aim for 80/20.

You can find many list on the internet of which foods are alkaline or acidic. For one example you can click

I will list a few: Most all fruits and vegetables, most beans, spices, herbs, some nuts, some grains, some oils.

Foods that are more acidic are pretty much all animal products, ie meats, cheeses, eggs, fats, etc. most condiments, canned foods, sweets, all refined and processed foods, white flour, coffee, alcohol etc.

Now if you are like me when I first saw the list of acidic foods I thought… well what else is there to eat. I do love my veggies and fruit but how can you get enough to eat when you try to avoid those on the list?

Please don’t get discouraged. Habits take time, and it’s good to continue to educate ourselves. Take small steps each day and it’s amazing what kinds of changes you can make to your diet.

Problems that I used to suffer from severally have either disappeared completely or have improved greatly by eating this way. I am convinced that if you have a problem with insulin resistance, that you will find complete improvement by eating most of your foods from the alkaline list. You will also find weight loss to be much easier. I have lost nearly 50lbs in 5 months, with no exercise. (no exercise because of still struggling health issues) And I’m still going.

Hopefully more to come…

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Is pH important?

I was introduced to pH in junior high chemistry, but I didn’t really understand the importance of how it related to my health until I read the book “How to be Well…” by Leah D. Widtsoe. I’m considering making a few post on the importance of pH in the foods that we eat and how it effects our overall health. (I will mention more about Leah Widtsoe's book later)

First what is pH?

In chemistry, pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. Pure water is said to be neutral, with a pH close to 7.0 at 25 °C (77 °F). Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline. pH measurements are important in medicine, biology, chemistry, food science, environmental science, oceanography, civil engineering and many other applications.

The pH of different cellular compartments, body fluids, and organs is usually tightly regulated in a process called acid-base homeostasis.

The pH of blood is usually slightly basic with a value of pH 7.365. This value is often referred to as physiological pH in biology and medicine. (

If we aren’t careful with the balance of food that we eat, eating foods that are more acidic for example, our body has a way of balancing the pH for us. One major way our body neutralizes acid overload is to release calcium from our bones. If this environment is prolonged it can lead to osteoporosis. The body will also release other minerals like potassium and magnesium from our organs and bones too.

Because our body is about 60% fluid, it is important to help keep that fluid the right pH. If we do not it can be very taxing to our bodies, not just our bones but our organs, cells and tissues.
A high acidic environment promotes unhealthy bacteria and viruses in our digestive system and throughout our body. On the other hand those unfriendly microbes die more readily in a more alkaline environment.

Hopefully this has peaked your interest, if any of you have specific question that you’d like me to answer, feel free to add a comment below.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Surviving the Holidays

Sugar addiction and the holidays are a terrible mix.  Not only are there extra sweets about there is also something much more enticing: memory.  I'm sure each person who grew up in a Christian home has fond memories of helping a grandma or mom in the kitchen.  Sometimes there is more to sweets than just the taste.  I have many happy memories of my grandmother making all kinds of delicious candy from divinity to fudge but what comes to mind more than eating the candy is the act of making it together.  Nothing beats that feeling of being with a loved one.  I knew I was completely loved by grandma and felt very  warm and safe and candy just happened to be there too.  There is also a feeling of excitement at being able to visit with family that are usually far away and renew friendships.  That is always associated with good food and sweets.

It's a tough choice in a way.  I know how sugar makes me feel (like I've been poisoned).  But I also want to take part in all the festivities and not be a sugar scrooge.  But I also know that an addiction is ever present and anxious to be reignited. 

When Corey and I decided to take responsibility for our sugar eating problems we also recognized the danger of zealousness.  After much discussion we came to an agreement that we would have 1 allowance per month per person, so a total of 2 allowances for a sweet per month.  We both wanted to be part of other family members birthdays and certain holiday celebrations and traditions.  So far this has been perfect for us.  It has eliminated the feeling of "can't ever have any" and replaced it with "can have, but don't need right now."  It eliminated the danger of all or nothing behavior.  

This attitude has been instrumental in disallowing sugar to rule our lives.  Why?  Because if we have more than what we are supposed to in a moth, we loose a predetermined reward.  But also because when an 'all or nothing' belief is in place there is no room for failure and when failure happens (and it always does) the belief inhibits rebound.  You know, makes it harder to try again, to do better next time. 

In a previous post, Sarah asked the question "is it ever ok?  is there any moderation to (the no) sugar thing?"  My feeling is that there has to be.  I would really like to hear Laura's take and anyone else as well.  I have never succeeded at anything that I got zealous about.  Excelled for a time, yes.  But succeeded, no.  I always succeed when I stride myself and work realistically toward something.  But you know, it's taken me 30 years to get to the point that I finally recognize how to go about this lifestyle practically.  It's a delicate balance right now.  But balance is the key.

So ultimately I think that "is it ever ok" is a personal discovery and the answer to the equation is tailor made to the individual. For me it is not ok to eat sweets more than 2 times a month or I can't control my desire for sweets very well.  The realistic limitations are actually welcome safety nets that have kept me from suffering many times.  Would I tell an alcoholic to go drink twice a month to pad his loss of alcohol?  No way.  With some addictions and some people it just doesn't work that way.  I'm always disappointed after eating a sweet.  It is never fulfilling. And truthfully sweets are loosing their charm and appeal.  Hurray for me.  But that strange problem of wanting to consume all sweets everywhere is still there, and may always be there and is especially heavy the day after an allowance.

This isn't an end all decision but rather a lifelong travel of finding inner strength and learning how to take care of myself.  All while striving to achieve balance against the adversity of an addiction.  Because balance and addiction don't compliment each other.  But I'm proud of myself for trying and I'm doing well at what I set out to accomplish and there is a lot to be said for that.