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What’s Up with Celery Juice?

February 21st, 2019 | no comments

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Have you heard about the latest nutrition trend out there? Celery juice is the new king in town and everyone (well almost everyone) is drinking it! Celebrities from Gwyneth Paltrow to Sylvester Stallone are singing its praises and downing the bitter green drink like water. 

Should you drink the green “Kool-Aid” or is it just a bunch of hype?

First, let’s take a look at the benefits of whole celery.   

 

Health benefits of whole celery

A good source of fiber, manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium, B vitamins, and vitamins A, K and C, celery is oh so much more than “crunchy water”. Interestingly, the celery leaves contain the most vitamin C, calcium, and potassium, so please don’t discard them like I used to do! 

The abundance of vitamins, minerals and other anti-inflammatory properties in celery can:

  • Promote the health of your gut lining
  • Help regulate digestion
  • Offer cardiovascular support

Eating whole celery offers the benefit of added fiber too, which can really help to keep you full…especially when it’s filled with fresh ground almond butter.  

 

What about celery juice? 

First let me say, I have no problem with celery juice. In fact, those who’ve built a habit of drinking celery juice every morning report better digestion, less bloating and brain fog, and more energy.

 

But I’ll bet they aren’t eating a cheeseburger and fries for lunch. 

 

It’s difficult to say if these reported benefits are due to drinking celery juice, or because they are likely making healthier food choices throughout the day and overall.

Would I much rather catch you drinking a glass of celery juice instead of orange juice? You bet! Because of its super-high sugar content, orange juice will spike your blood sugar like a rocket to the moon (why do you think it’s given to someone suffering from dangerously low blood sugar?). 

Remember all of those abundant vitamins and minerals in whole celery? They are concentrated in juice form!

It’s important to note however, that most studies on the health benefits of celery juice—including lower blood pressure and chronic disease prevention—are animal studies, so we can’t just assume it will have the same effects in humans.   

 

Are there any downside to drinking celery juice? 

Making your own celery juice can be time-consuming. Although celery is relatively inexpensive, it takes about 12 stalks of celery (about one bunch) to make 16 ounces of juice. Buy it from the local juice bar and it’ll cost you between $7.00-$8.00 for that same 16-ounce serving.

You could get three bunches of celery for that price! 

Plain celery juice has a bitter taste, which can tempt even the most well-meaning person to add sweetener. Mint, cucumber, lemon, ginger, or green apple can all make it taste better…just please don’t add sugar

Celery juice isn’t a good idea for those on certain prescription drugs like anti-anxiety, cholesterol-lowering and blood pressure-lowering medications. Just like grapefruit, celery contains natural chemicals that can raise blood levels of these drugs. If you take any of these medications, check with your healthcare provider before drinking celery juice.   

 

Ideas for adding whole celery to your meals

I’m not a juice girl. Mostly because I don’t feel any better after consuming even the greenest of green juices…in fact, I feel hungrier! I would much rather eat the whole fruit or vegetable or throw it into my smoothie. 

Here are a few fun ideas to help you incorporate more celery into your daily diet:

  1. Snack on grown-up “ants on a log”: Fill 3-inch stalks of celery with fresh ground almond butter, top with fresh blueberries or raspberries, then sprinkle with hemp hearts, flax or chia seeds! Add a sprinkle of cacao nibs for extra crunch and antioxidants. Want a little sweet? Drizzle with just a touch of raw honey! Mmmmmm.
  2. Add a stalk to your smoothie and blend.
  3. Chop and add to egg, tuna, or chicken salad, along with chopped red peppers and onions. For a little fiber boost, I like to also add kidney beans or lentils.
  4. Add celery sticks to a 3-cup container of raw veggies and snack on it throughout the day when you get hungry. For a little sweet, add chunks of pear or apple to the mix!
  5. Add celery leaves to your salad.
  6. Stir diced celery into stews, soups, stir-fries and casseroles.
  7. Mix in salsa or guacamole.
  8. Make a celery salad—see this week’s recipe pick for Celery, Date & Almond Watercress Salad.

 

Mel in the media!

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Celery, Date & Almond Watercress Salad

 

 

 

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Intermittent Fasting: Is it for You?

February 13th, 2019 | no comments

Photo by Elisa Michelet on Unsplash

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Fasting has been practiced for thousands of years—dating all the way back to the ancient Greeks.

Admittedly, I used to hold up my hand when someone would approach me with the topic of fasting…and that’s because I was completely ignorant of the benefits. It wasn’t until I began exploring solutions to help manage my rising blood sugar, that I was open to the idea.

When you think of fasting, I’ll bet images of days passing without a morsel of food come to mind. While that is one form of fasting, it’s not the one I’m referring to in this post, nor is it a method I recommend. Intermittent fasting is a “light” and safe approach to fasting that can be practiced by most healthy people.

 

What is intermittent fasting?

Truth be told, anytime you aren’t eating, you are fasting. So, while asleep, you are in fact fasting…which is why your first meal of the day is called breakfast (“breaking the fast”).

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you alternate between periods of fasting and eating. The different types of intermittent fasting are based on the number of hours you spend in the fasting state. I have found the approach that works best for my health and lifestyle is a 14-16 hour fast most days of the week; this is known as a 14:10 (or 16:8 fast):

  • 14:10 fast: Fast for 14 hours with a ten-hour eating window
  • 16:8 fast: Fast for 16 hours with an eight-hour eating window

My day looks like this during a 14:10 fast:

8:00 am breakfast   12:30 pm lunch  5:30 pm dinner  6:00 pm begin fast  8:00 am end fast with breakfast

That’s not so difficult is it? Essentially it means I just don’t eat after dinner. Keep in mind, this approach works well for me because I go to bed pretty early…I’m talking no later than 9:00 pm.

On a 16:8 fast—which is less typical for me—I will eat breakfast at 9:00 am and finish my last meal at 5:00 pm, allowing for a 16-hour fast (5:00 pm to 9:00 am).

Water is recommended—and encouraged—during the fasting period. Supplements, black coffee and unsweetened tea are OK too! Just make sure you aren’t adding any zero-calorie sweeteners, such as Splenda, Sweet’N Low, Equal, or stevia-based products.  

If you are new to intermittent fasting, I would recommend easing your way into it. Start with a simple 12-hour fast: last meal ends at 7:00 pm; breakfast is 7:00 am. You can then increase the fasting window at your own pace and comfort level.

The above types of intermittent fasting are gentle enough to be practiced every day if you desire.

 

Benefits of intermittent fasting

You may be asking why anyone would want to fast in the first place. Great question! It’s one I asked myself for years, until I experienced the benefits firsthand. Some of the physical benefits of intermittent fasting include:

  • Changes in hormones to boost metabolic rate, burn fat, and facilitate weight loss—especially fat loss around the mid-section where dangerous visceral fat lives.
  • Lower insulin levels: insulin, also known as the fat-storage hormone, is stimulated every time we eat. Canadian nephrologist and leading expert in intermittent fasting, Dr. Jason Fung, has this to say about the effects of fasting on insulin and body fat: Insulin levels fall, signaling the body to start burning stored energy as no more is coming through food. Blood glucose falls, so the body must now pull glucose out of storage to burn for energy. He goes on to say: If you are constantly eating, as is often recommended, then your body will simply use the incoming food energy and never burn the body fat. You’ll only store it.
  • Increase in production of human growth hormone (HGH): HGH deficiency in adults can lead to higher levels of body fat, decreased lean body mass, and lower bone mass.
  • Increased release of the fat-burning hormone norepinephrine.
  • Longer life span.
  • Higher levels of energy and alertness.
  • Decreased insulin resistance and therefore lower blood sugar levels.
  • Decreased inflammation.
  • Lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

 

What to eat during your non-fasting window

Intermittent fasting answers the question of when to eat; but how about the what? Specifically, what should you be eating during your non-fasting window? You could be a diligent, gold star-earning intermittent faster, but your efforts will be for crap if the quality of your food is not up to par.

To read more about my simple meal planning strategy, check out last week’s post HERE and scroll down to the section on: How to Make a PeaceMeal.

 

Intermittent fasting is not for everyone

Although intermittent fasting is safe for most individuals, it is not recommended for individuals who are:

  • Under age 18
  • Underweight (BMI of 18.5 or lower)
  • Suffering from an eating disorder
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding

If you are on insulin, diabetes medication, or any other prescription drug, please check with your doctor before trying intermittent fasting. Also, those with gout or increased uric acid may need supervision, as dehydration raises the level of uric acid in the blood. This is another reason why drinking plenty of water is important during periods of fasting.

If you’d like to give intermittent fasting a try, remember: start with a simple 12-hour fast and then increase the fasting window at your own pace and comfort level.

Resources:
The Effects of Intermittent Energy Restriction on Indices of Cardiometabolic Health
Beneficial effects of intermittent fasting and caloric restriction on the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems
Metabolic Effects of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting interventions for treatment of overweight and obesity in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Early Time-Restricted Feeding Improves Insulin Sensitivity, Blood Pressure, and Oxidative Stress Even without Weight Loss in Men with Prediabetes
Intermittent Fasting for Beginners

Mel’s weekly food pick:
NuttZo Bold BiteZ Bar

A couple of weeks ago, I shared my top six favorite nutrition bars on the market. Another great bar to add to your list, the NuttZo Bold BiteZ bar is a perfect blend of a variety of nuts and seeds (cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds) and lightly sweetened with either honey or maple syrup.

Choose from four varieties: Peanut Pro + Collagen; Power Fuel + Collagen; Power Fuel Maple + Matcha (vegan); Peanut Pro Cacao Nibs + Probiotics (vegan). 

These low-glycemic bars contain between: 12-13 grams of healthy fat; 7-9 grams of net carbohydrates (with 5 grams or less of sugar); and 9-12 grams of protein. Enjoy a NuttZo Bold BiteZ bar along with a 3-cup container of raw veggies and a sliced apple with the skin on…a perfect high-fiber, satisfying, on-the-go lunch!

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Chocolate Chip “Surprise” Muffins

 

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This Free Chapter from Missing Peace Will Change the Way You Eat

February 8th, 2019 | no comments

Photo by Aga Putra on Unsplash

Photo by Aga Putra on Unsplash

 

CLICK THE PLAYER BELOW TO LISTEN TO THIS CHAPTER!

 

My dear friend, I have been looking forward to this moment for some time now—sharing a chapter of Missing Peace with you.

If you’ve been following me for awhile, this chapter will sound very familiar. I chose it because it triggers more a-ha moments than any other as it relates to the power that each one of us possesses to take control of our eating habits. I’m certain you will find it rings true for you on some level.

There are three Make Peace Exercises at the end to help you put the concepts into practice for real results. 


Missing Peace #4: What You Feed Your Body Most, It Will Crave

 

Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs one step at a time.

—Mark Twain

This is one of the most empowering Missing Peaces I can share with you.

Do you realize how amazing your body is? It has the ability to adapt to any number of dietary combinations forced upon it. It has to; after all, your survival depends on it.

I want you to take a moment to think about all the foods you crave on a daily basis. These are the must-have foods in your life. When I ask this question of audience members, I usually get answers like chocolate, potato chips, French fries, and pizza. But there’s always that one person who shouts out, “Salad.”

So what gives? Are these salad-cravers freaks of nature?   Not at all.

No matter what your food cravings, I want you to know that you orchestrated every last one of them. You are responsible for the foods your body is demanding at this moment. In reality, the individual who craves chocolate and the one who craves salad have both trained their bodies to prefer these foods. It’s not about willpower; it’s a matter of how frequently you put the food into your body and the physical cravings that emerge over time.

Your taste buds become trained, by you, to crave the very foods you are placing upon them. They know no better. Understand, however, that we have one strike against us from day one: We were born with a preference for sweet. It’s hardwired in our brain. We didn’t come out of the womb craving Brussels sprouts and broccoli; it’s something we have to train ourselves to crave.

This is wonderful news because it means no matter how horrible your diet is right now, you can totally transform it (and your body) by doing one simple thing: start feeding it wholesome food. That’s it.

I’m not telling you to take anything out; I’m asking you to add, and add consistently. This means that if you choose to add a serving of vegetables to your diet, you must do it every single day in order to strengthen your craving for vegetables.

Cementing a craving in place can take anywhere from two weeks to two months, so whatever you do, don’t give up on it. I promise, your body will respond favorably, for it is the law.

My breakfast for the past ten years has been a wholesome Peace of Health shake. The recipe changes from time to time; however, my current addiction is one chock-full of fresh avocado, kale, lemon (peel and all), ginger, turmeric root, frozen blueberries, and cauliflower (yes, cauliflower), and a homemade protein powder made of ground hemp, flax, and pumpkin seeds and naturally sweetened with cinnamon and raw cacao powder. When I don’t have my smoothie due to travelling or when I replace it with an omelet on Sunday morning, I really miss it. My body literally craves it.

 

Earthfoods: Nutrient-Rich Foods from the Earth

 

What exactly are these Earthfoods I’ve been building up? They are the foods your body was designed to eat and truly longs for. They are powerful beyond measure and can heal your body at a cellular level.

Earthfoods include whole, plant-based, nutrient-rich foods from the earth such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, avocados, legumes, herbs, spices, cacao, and green tea. A complete list of Earthfoods can be found in the appendix for your reference.

The payoff of eating an Earthfood-rich diet is a body that is satiated to the core. These foods won’t cause you to raid the refrigerator looking for more food an hour after you’ve eaten them (think potato chips and chocolate chip cookies). Moreover, you aren’t likely to feel the need to overeat them because they are so nourishing. They give you energy, help your brain function at optimal levels, and provide a sense of clarity.

You feel so good on a steady diet of these foods that after a while, you begin to notice two things: First, you can’t believe how crappy you were feeling before. Think about it; if you’ve always felt a certain way, you have no way of knowing how bad you really feel because you have nothing to compare it to. Or maybe it was such a gradual shift toward feeling crummy that you didn’t even notice the subtle differences over the years. Maybe you just blamed it on getting old.

The second thing you’ll notice after eating more Earthfoods is, when you stray off course, and processed foods begin to sneak back into your life, your body doesn’t like it. It responds by manifesting little aches and pains, stomach discomfort, skin problems, digestive issues, and even brain fog.

I’m always delighted when someone tells me that they ate a few chicken wings or pizza at a party and suffered a stomachache or some other minor side effect. It’s not because I’m happy they are in pain; rather, I am elated because I know these are signs that they’ve made a shift in their body. They’ve trained their body to crave the good stuff and reject the rest.

Since this isn’t a diet book, I’m not going to offer you meal plans or strict rules to follow. Instead, I’ll share guidelines and suggestions to help you easily implement more Earthfoods into your dietary routine to help your body crave these foods.

Consistency is critical to your success, so please be diligent about adding more Earthfoods to your daily diet. If you begin by eating a serving of two of Earthfoods at breakfast, continue doing so. They don’t have to be the same ones; in fact, I encourage you to mix it up and incorporate new foods at every opportunity. Just make sure to stick to that pattern of consistency.

A serving of Earthfood is any one of the following:

  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen vegetables
  • 2 cups of leafy greens: kale, collard greens, spinach, Romaine lettuce, arugula, mustard greens, Swiss chard, microgreens, and so on
  • ½ cup of fruit
  • ½ cup cooked legumes: beans, peas, lentils
  • ¼ cup nuts and seeds: walnuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and so on
  • 1 tbsp. of chia seeds, flaxseed, hemp seeds, sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp. of nut or seed butter: almond, cashew, peanut, macadamia nut, sunflower, and so on
  • ½ of a small avocado
  • 1 tbsp. of unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. fresh or 1 tsp. dried herbs and spices

To illustrate what this looks like in an actual meal, let’s take a look at Melanie’s Go-To Power Shake. This shake contains eight servings of Earthfoods. Unless noted, each of the following shake ingredients represent one Earthfood serving:

  • 1 tsp. maca powder
  • 2 tbsp. Earthfood Powder (two Earthfood servings)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp. fresh turmeric
  • ½ of a small avocado
  • 2 cups fresh organic kale
  • ½ cup frozen wild blueberries

To make the shake, add these ingredients to 12 ounces of unsweetened almond or coconut milk in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.

I have full confidence that you will love the way you look and feel so much that adding more Earthfoods will become a natural progression. The more you eat them, the more you’ll crave them.

 

Why No Food Rules?

 

There are two reasons why I refuse to lay down a bunch of rules about avoiding certain foods. First, I understand human nature. Humans thrive on the ability to choose, and if I take that away from you, it will only fuel your fire of desire to eat the not-so-healthy stuff. Remember the example I shared in an earlier Missing Peace, about the persistent child in the grocery store checkout line who desires a candy bar that his mom refuses to purchase? Instead, I will share the foods that will rock your health and those that rob you of it, and then let you decide.

Remember that what you eat, you crave. So if you want to begin craving healing foods, all you have to do is eat them, and do so consistently. I trust you will do what is best for you.

The second reason I am against rigid rules is because I am a realist. We live in the real world, and there will be times when the not-so-healthy foods wind up on our plate. The last thing I want you to do is beat yourself up over eating these foods. Instead, if and when you eat them, do so consciously and intentionally. Be fully aware that you are feeding your body foods that can potentially rob you of good health, if you eat too much. Just the act of being conscious of what you are eating can be enough to help you shift back toward your Earthfood-rich diet. No harm done.

Do you see how much more peaceful this approach is? For example, one of the foods I adore is cheese. I love how it tastes with a glass of dry red wine, accompanied by olives, marcona almonds, and some fresh berries. Is cheese an Earthfood? I wish. I know that eating cheese isn’t particularly good for my health, but I enjoy it in moderation: an ounce or so about five days a week. Even though it’s not a health-rocking Earthfood, I find a way to include it because it feeds my soul. I eat it without guilt, savoring every last bite, and then make sure the rest of my food is clean and nutrient-rich the remainder of the day.

See how this works? So if I’m planning on eating cheese in the evening, I fill my breakfast, lunch, and any snacks with Earthfoods, not cheese. This is how I’ve been able to stay on track and binge-free all these years. It’s also how I am able to stand proud and pronounce my craving for Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and blueberries.

 

How to Make a PeaceMeal

 

Planning healthy meals is key to creating healthy food cravings. I only have one rule when it comes to meal planning, and I think you’re really going to like it: Simply build your meals to include a minimum of three servings of Earthfoods. Three is the magic number to turn any meal into what I call a PeaceMeal.

I find that when too many rules are applied to meal planning, it just complicates what should otherwise be a fun, nurturing experience. Surely anyone can choose three Earthfoods to make a meal.

Take a look at these sample meal plans, and see how easy it is. The number beside each food indicates the number of servings of Earthfoods it provides.

PeaceMeal Breakfast

Three-egg omelet made with:

  • 1 cup of sautéed vegetables: 1
  • 1 tbsp. fresh basil: 1
  • Served with ½ cup fresh blackberries: 1

Coconut flour pancakes made with:

  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts: 1
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon: 1
  • ½ cup diced apple: 1

Peace of Health Tropical Turmeric Shake made with: 

  • 1 tbsp. fresh turmeric: 1
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger: 1
  • 2 cups fresh kale: 1

PeaceMeal Lunch

Oversized salad made with:

  • 4 cups of fresh spinach and arugula: 2
  • ¼ cup unsalted pumpkin seeds: 1

Chicken salad with:

  • 1 cup of chopped celery and red onion: 1
  • ½ cup cooked lentils: 1
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley: 1

Egg salad on a bed of greens with:

  • ½ of a small avocado, mashed (used instead of mayonnaise): 1
  • 1 cup red pepper strips and baby carrots: 1
  • 1 small organic apple: 1

PeaceMeal Dinner

Salmon fillet with:

  • Wild rice pilaf made with ¼ cup walnuts: 1
  • 2 cups roasted Brussels sprouts: 2

Zucchini noodle spaghetti made with:

  • 2 cups of spiralized zucchini: 2
  • Topped with 1 cup of broccoli: 1

Oven-roasted organic chicken and vegetables made with:

  • 2 cups of veggies (bell peppers, onion, mushrooms, eggplant, cauliflower): 2
  • 1 tbsp. fresh spices: 1

 

What about Protein and Fat?

 

To help balance your blood sugar and keep you satisfied, this is my recommendation:

  1. Fill half of your plate with mostly nonstarchy vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, greens, and cauliflower.
  2. Reserve a quarter for some high-quality protein, like free-range eggs, sustainably caught wild salmon, organic free-range chicken or turkey, or organic grass-fed beef. Meatless sources of protein include legumes, nuts, seeds, tempeh, and quinoa.
  3. Add some healthy fats, such as extra virgin olive oil, to dress your salad or the raw pumpkin seeds you sprinkle over your roasted Brussels sprouts.

 

Drink Water, Crave Water

 

Water makes up over 50 percent of your body and about 80 percent of your brain. So whether you like the taste or not, the fact is, you can’t live without it.

Many calculations exist for determining how much water you should be drinking on a daily basis. I have found, however, that the most reliable way to test hydration status is to simply look at the color of your urine. If it’s pale yellow and almost clear, you are pretty well hydrated. On the other hand, if your urine is the color of apple juice or beer, this is a sure sign that you are dehydrated and need to drink more water.

Understand that your water requirements fluctuate based on several conditions. Hot weather, illness, and exercise all demand that you drink more water. Just take a quick peek at your urine color and let that be your guide.

If you aren’t crazy about the taste of water, you can most certainly change this. Just like with food, when you drink water as your main beverage, your body will crave water, and no other beverage will do the trick—not juice, soda, artificially flavored water, iced tea, or sports drinks.

I used to drink very little water; instead, diet soda was my go-to thirst quencher. It’s been almost twenty years since I’ve kicked these artificially sweetened drinks to the curb, and if I happened to take a sip of one today by accident, my taste buds get an immediate shock, and I have to drink a cup of water to cleanse my palate. Today, these drinks are downright offensive to my body. In Missing Peace #6: Awaken to the Source of Your Unsupportive Cravings, you’ll learn why it’s so important to eliminate artificial sweeteners from your life.

To help your body get to this water-craving state, start by squeezing a slice of lemon, lime, or orange into your water. To change things up a bit, I like to make my own fruit-infused water.

To try this for yourself, simply toss your choice of thoroughly washed and sliced fruit into a tall glass pitcher. Watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, pineapple, oranges, kiwi, grapefruit, apples, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are all wonderful. Next, fill the pitcher with water and allow to sit in the refrigerator for at least two hours. When you’re ready for a drink, simply pour from the strainer side of the lid so that the fruit remains in the pitcher. For some really unique flavor combinations, try adding fresh herbs like lavender, basil, sage, lemongrass, mint, cilantro, or rosemary. If you want to get the most flavor from your fruit-infused water, consider using a muddler (or the handle of a wooden spoon) to mash the fruit and herbs a bit before you add the water.

The bottom line is this: Water is the best way to hydrate that beautiful body of yours. But to crave it, you must drink it, and drink it often.

 

A Note of Caution about Fruit

 

I’m a big fan of it, but in small amounts. It is totally healthy to include a bit a fruit in your daily diet, but I would recommend capping it at one to two servings. A serving is about a half-cup, or half of a medium to large piece of fruit (a smaller portion compared to what you may be used to).

Yes, fruit is healthy and filled with fiber and valuable vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but your body still breaks them down into sugar. Of course, the extra fiber that is found in fruit is a blessing because it serves to lessen the rise in blood sugar as compared to table sugar, but at the end of the day, your body treats them the same.

 

Chronic Inflammation: The Driver behind Diabetes, Cancer, and Heart Disease

 

A regular diet of low-quality food not only stimulates cravings for these very foods but also results in chronic inflammation, which underlies most major diseases, like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Typically, when we think of something in our body being inflamed, images of a cut finger or skinned knee appear in our mind. When we experience an injury like this, there’s no doubt that the affected area is inflamed. It shows telltale signs of bleeding, redness, and pain. Our body then does exactly what it was designed to do: White blood cells rush to the injury site, where they perform the role of cleaning up the wound. Our blood clots, and eventually, a scab forms to seal the abrasion to keep harmful microorganisms at bay. The injury and resulting inflammation just described is called acute inflammation, a necessary process that our body must get right; otherwise, we would die.

I sometimes just sit in amazement at the wonder of the human body. It knows exactly what to do to heal and protect itself. Its only role is to keep us alive, at any cost. In January of 2015, I personally experienced the miraculous healing abilities of the human body when I set out to take a walk on an icy morning. About five minutes into my walk, I hit a patch of black ice, slipped backward, and landed directly on my butt. Hoping to break my fall and protect my head, I instinctively shot my left arm out behind me, resulting in a fractured wrist. This is an example of acute inflammation.

Let’s now talk about chronic inflammation. This type of inflammation is much more worrisome because, unlike acute inflammation, where you can see and feel it, the chronic type lies silent in the body, so you really have no idea it’s even happening.

Similar to acute inflammation, chronic inflammation is triggered when something is off-balance in the body, which then activates inflammatory markers to heal the perceived injury. A notable difference between the two, however, is that acute inflammation responds because of a physical injury, while chronic is attempting to heal something that isn’t physically broken. It’s like a warning signal that flares up in response to your lifestyle habits, only the warning signal is silent. And because, unlike a broken wrist, we can’t see or feel the early stages of these diseases, chances are you will carry on as if nothing is off-balance. Then one afternoon, you walk into your doctor’s office for your annual checkup, and she breaks the news that you have prediabetes. Inflammation is fueled when you skimp on sleep and eat a diet rich in heavily processed foods, like fast food, frozen meals, and sweets, and deficient in Earthfoods. It thrives in the bodies of people who use tobacco or avoid physical exercise.

Let me be very clear on this: most chronic inflammation is caused by our choices and habits, those we repeat on a daily basis.

The very fact that your body thrives on Earthfoods, and you begin to crave them when eaten consistently, is proof positive enough that your body prefers them. When you make choices over time that do not serve you, your body knows something is wrong and, just like a cut on your finger, goes into repair mode. Its natural state is ease and wellness. It wants to be well and will do everything in its power to maintain it. When you ignore the eventual signs of disease (high blood sugar, high cholesterol), it has no choice but to be in dis-ease. This is good news because it means you have so much more control over your health than you think.

 

Peace for Diabetes

 

You’ve probably noticed what seems to be an epidemic of diabetes in the United States. What used to be referred to as adult-onset diabetes is now called type 2 diabetes, since it doesn’t only affect adults. Young children and teens are now being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at alarming rates, and it isn’t due to genetic factors, either. The rise in processed foods and simple sugars, coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, creates the perfect storm for a diabetes diagnosis.

Intentionally building your meals around fibrous Earthfoods, with just a touch of fruit, allows your body to manage the amount of sugar it must process. And because all carbohydrate-containing foods break down into sugar, we want to be mindful that we don’t feed it an overabundance of high-carbohydrate foods in one sitting. For me, this works out to be around six to seven cups of mostly nonstarchy vegetables per day and one cup of fruit. I especially like berries because they are low glycemic and house an abundance of antioxidants.

The glycemic index is a measure given to a carbohydrate-based food that reflects its effect on your blood sugar. The higher the glycemic index, the more sharply it raises your blood sugar. The glycemic index is affected by several factors, including how ripe a fruit or vegetable is when you eat it (more ripe = higher glycemic index), how processed the food is (more processed/refined/added sugars = higher glycemic index), and how long it is cooked (longer cooking time = higher glycemic index).

Low glycemic carbohydrate-based Earthfoods include:

  • nonstarchy vegetables
  • leafy greens
  • avocados
  • berries
  • apples
  • pears
  • grapefruit
  • beans
  • lentils
  • nuts
  • seeds

The amount of fiber in food also helps to slow the release of sugar in the blood. This is why I suggest you load up on Earthfoods—they are naturally high in fiber.

In addition, as noted above, when eaten with protein and fat-rich foods, carbohydrate foods will digest more slowly, therefore reducing the impact on your blood sugar. For example, eating a bowl of pasta with marinara sauce will spike your blood sugar within an hour after it’s eaten. If you reduce the amount of pasta in that bowl and top it off with 3–4 oz. of organic, free-range chicken, or a couple of grass-fed beef meatballs, and serve it alongside a generous leafy green salad drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled with raw walnuts, you will have much better control over your blood sugar.

If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, my recommendation is to follow the guidelines I offered earlier: a minimum of three Earthfood servings per meal, including lots of nonstarchy vegetables (two servings of fruit per day or less), and then adding a few ounces of healthy protein and a moderate amount of fat. Don’t forget to cook with plenty of fresh herbs and spices too.

Although those with type 1 diabetes can benefit greatly from the meal-planning guidelines outlined above, it is best to check with your health care provider first, as insulin and other medications may need to be adjusted.

The simplicity of this meal-planning method makes it easy to follow long-term. Gone are the days of counting calories and carbohydrates.

Also, I must mention that whatever you do, be sure to enjoy your food. Really taste and savor every bite. Food is meant to be enjoyed, so let’s not forget that.

 

Peace for Heart Disease and Cancer

 

Now that we covered diabetes, what about heart disease and cancer? How should you be eating to prevent these two major diseases that claim the lives of thousands upon thousands of people each year?

The answer is simple: You needn’t change a thing. At the end of the day, a diet rich in Earthfoods will help create health in your body, which means it lessens the risk for not only diabetes, but also heart disease and cancer.

The Earthfood-rich environment you create in that beautiful body of yours is a threatening atmosphere for disease. What I’m saying is this: Eat more Earthfoods, crave more Earthfoods. Crave more Earthfoods, create more health, and discourage inflammatory diseases from taking up residence in your body.

Rather than wait for a diagnosis, why not get in the driver’s seat of your health and take small steps to create health in your body?

 

“I Want to, but It’s Just Too Difficult”

 

One of the most common beliefs about improving our health is that it’s too difficult. Too difficult to eat healthy; after all, we are so busy nowadays, most people barely have enough time to brush their teeth, let alone prepare healthy meals. Or do they?

Consider this: What if every excuse you’ve been feeding yourself about how difficult life is, is just a big fat lie? What if it’s easy, and we’ve just convinced ourselves it’s tough? It really is a matter of perspective. What were you raised to believe? What do your friends say and believe about living a healthy life? “No pain, no gain”? Or how about “It takes too much effort to eat healthy,” or “I don’t have time to exercise”?

If you tell yourself something long enough, you really do start to believe it. It becomes your reality. But why not choose a different reality?

Wayne Dyer offered this thought in his book Excuses Begone!:

You have absolutely no incontrovertible evidence that what you’d like to change is actually going to be challenging. It’s just as likely to be easy for you to change your thinking as it is to be hard.

He goes on to say:

The belief that [your habits are] going to be hard to change is only a belief! Making something difficult in your mind before you even undertake the effort is an excuse. As an ancient Taoist master once concluded: Nothing in the world is difficult for those who set their mind to it.

Still, you may not believe it’s easy to eat more vegetables when they taste bland or even offensive. But this is where you must trust and have faith in this Missing Peace; what you feed your body most, it will crave.

You only have to move the needle just a little bit in the direction of self-care, and your body will demand more. I’m not talking about moving mountains here; just little piles of dirt.

I challenge you to consider the idea that to stay the same is more difficult than making a single change that can create health and harmony in your body.

Make Peace Exercise: Eat Earthfoods, Crave Earthfoods

  1. Write down all of the foods you crave on a daily basis.
  2. Rather than forbid yourself of any food you currently crave, name at least ten Earthfoods you would like to crave, and begin adding them to your meals (see appendix for a complete list of Earthfoods). This works out to a minimum of three Earthfoods per meal. For example, ginger, carrots, and pears could easily be incorporated into your morning Peace of Health shake.
  3. Make a promise to yourself right now that you will begin feeding that beautiful body of yours at least three Earthfoods at each meal, and repeat until you begin to crave it or miss it when you don’t have it.

Hungry for more Missing Peace in your life? Click HERE to order a copy of your very own!

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How to Deactivate Stress and Enjoy Better Health

January 30th, 2019 | no comments

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Stress can be both good and bad.

It has the potential to elevate you to higher levels of achievement or debilitate and destroy your health over time.

Think there’s nothing you can do? Think again! Although this is a rather lengthy post, I promise you it will be worth the read.

First, what is stress and how does it function in your body? 

 

Acute stress

Acute stress is typically short-lived and can be part of a positive experience. It often inspires you to take action, building you up to be a better person. It can look like any of the following:

  • vacation travel
  • downhill skiing
  • giving a speech
  • falling madly in love
  • getting a new job or promotion
  • a project deadline

Often we don’t even realize we are stressed. This chronic, low-grade, “silent” stress—stress that does not show any outward signs— can be quite dangerous. I’ll get to that in a minute.

 

What stress looks like beneath your skin

So how does stress actually work in the body?

Picture yourself sitting in traffic, accelerating and braking like a well-rehearsed symphony. Suddenly, the car in front of you stops abruptly and you slam on the breaks without giving it a second thought. Your heart races, palms get sweaty and you hold your breath for a moment, and then breathe a sigh of relief because you just avoided a crash.

What just happened in your body is something called the “fight-or-flight” response. It goes something like this:

  • you perceive a threat
  • stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are released by your body in response to the threat
  • these hormones work to increase your heart rate and blood sugar while slowing digestion

The above is a natural biological response that is hardwired in your DNA and serves you very well when you must hit the brakes to avoid a collision or are being chased by a bear. In fact, if a grizzly bear is chasing you, the fight-or-flight response can save your life.

Here’s what happens in the body when confronted by a bear:

 

You spot a hungry-looking bear while hiking in the woods. Your body pumps out stress hormones to help increase your heart rate and force blood to your extremities (so you can run!) and elevate your blood sugar (to fuel your run).

These stress hormones also shut down your digestive system, because digesting your food is the last thing you need to worry about when being chased by a bear!

 

Isn’t Mother Nature brilliant? Think about it; if you weren’t equipped with this fight-or-flight response, you’d soon be dinner for Mr. Bear!

Slamming on brakes and running from a grizzly bear are examples of acute stress. Chronic stress on the other hand, is what most of us experience on a day-to-day basis… and it’s ruining our health!

 

Chronic stress: destroyer of good health

This type of stress is ongoing, negative, disempowering, and paralyzing; it leaves you feeling worse than before. It can be brought on by relationship trouble, death of a loved one, financial crisis, loss of a job, overwhelming and ongoing demands at work, or chronic illness of a loved one or self.

Chronic stress is interpreted by your body as “GRIZZLY BEAR!”, so it responds just like it’s being chased by a bear: increased heart rate and blood sugar; decreased digestion.

If stress continues unchecked over time, this can translate into:

  • high blood sugar
  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • heart disease & stroke
  • compromised immune system
  • chronic constipation

 

Are you experiencing the physical effects of chronic stress?

Wonder if chronic stress is taking a toll on your body? In addition to the above effects, see how many of these everyday symptoms—that you probably blame on something other than stress— you can identify with:

  • low energy
  • headaches
  • upset stomach
  • aches, pains, and tense muscles
  • chest pain and rapid heartbeat
  • insomnia
  • frequent colds and infections
  • nervousness and shaking
  • ringing in the ear
  • clenched jaw and grinding teeth

 

Stress & body fat

Now let’s talk about stress as it relates to body fat.

Did you know that when your stress and cortisol levels are high, the body actually resists weight loss? It thinks times are hard and you might starve, so it hoards the fat you eat or have present on your body.

Cortisol also tends to take fat from healthier areas like your butt and hips, and move it to your abdomen, which has more cortisol receptors. So this means:

  • junk food cravings
  • anxiety
  • lowered metabolism
  • weight gain
  • increased belly fat

Hello stubborn belly fat that hangs on as if it’s fastened with a layer of Gorilla Glue?! 

Can you relate?

 

Presence deactivates stress

In a world where stress is inevitable, it’s crucial for you to understand that your response to a stressful situation is what really matters.

So how can you respond more favorably to the circumstances in your life and keep stress at bay?

 

By spending more moments in presence.

 

Think about it. All we can ever live is in this present moment. And in this moment, this very second, there is nothing at all to worry about. Not a thing.

I get challenged on this idea a lot! For example, an individual (let’s call her Jane) will say:

“But no Melanie, that’s not true! Right now, I am stressed because this morning I got in an argument with my husband and we both left the house angry and I just know that when I get home, the disagreement will continue and then I have to make dinner, drive little Johnny to soccer practice and….”

Let’s deconstruct this rebuttal:

  • argument with husband: took place in the past; we have no power in the past.
  • expectation of argument with husband after work: future anticipated event; we have no power in the future.
  • wash clothes, make dinner, drive Johnny to soccer: future tasks; we have no power in the future.

Not one of these events is happening in the present moment. In this moment, you have nothing to worry about; therefore stress can not exist in this moment. It is the anticipation and worry of future events and the pondering and regret over past events, that creates stress. And all of that pondering, worry and anxiety, occurs in the present moment…of which you have total control.

 

Control your response to stress with this one question…

Your life is a series of present moments— one after the other. And because you have 100% control over how you respond to every single situation placed before you—both desirable and undesirable— you have 100% control over how you respond to stress.

When you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, getting all worked up and activating the chain reaction of stress, I challenge you to: stop, take a breath, and ask yourself this question:

 

“Is the source of these negative feelings due to a past situation or anticipated future situation?”

 

It will always be one or the other. Asking this simple question will bring you into the present moment where all really is well. 

I think Mark Twain captured it best when he said: 

“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”

 

Putting presence into practice

The simple act of breathing is one of the most powerful tools I have found to bring myself back into my body in the present moment. Why? Because I can’t breathe in the past or future; only in the now.

Breathing is automatic, but most of us aren’t breathing properly.

We tend to breathe more from our chest—but that’s not how we were born. We were actually born to breathe from our abdomen. If you don’t believe me, the next time you are in the presence of an infant, pay special attention to his stomach and you will notice this instinctual breathing.

When you take deep breaths from the abdomen, rather than shallow breaths from your upper chest, you inhale more oxygen. The more oxygen you get, the less tense, short of breath, and anxious you feel.

 

How to breathe like a baby

Now let’s focus on breathing the proper way:

Sit comfortably with your back straight. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach and breathe in through your nose. If you are breathing like a baby, the hand on your stomach should rise, while the one on your chest should move very little. Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. 

Even if you only focus consciously on one breath per hour— five seconds in and five seconds out— you are practicing living in the present, and your stress levels will naturally decrease.

 

The most brilliant words ever spoken

I don’t think more brilliant words have ever been spoken than by those of Eckhart Tolle, author of life-altering books such as The Power of Now and A New Earth.

During a 2014 interview by Oprah Winfrey, Tolle had this to say about the power of living in the present moment:

 

“The (your) power can only flow into your life when you are present completely, totally, with what you are doing now. And this is why most people’s lives do not have this power, because they are always living for the next thing, so they devalue the present moment.”

~Eckhart Tolle

Mel’s weekly “food-for-your-soul” pick:
Insight Timer

Looking to invite more presence and power into your life? Insight Timer is a free app that can help you do just that. I’ve been using it for four years now and continue to reap the daily benefits of more peace and clarity.

With the free version you can access all of the following tools:

  • meditation timer
  • guided meditations targeting your present needs (i.e. stress, sleep, pain, anxiety, etc.) or desired outcomes (i.e. love, confidence, focus, motivation, etc.)
  • meditation music
  • real-time data showing number of active meditators. For example, this morning at 5:00 am, there were 4,072 people across the globe meditating with me. How cool!
  • daily reminders
  • meditation tracking and milestone notifications

Remember, your response to stress is what really matters. When you start your day with a little more presence, you will be that much more likely to practice it throughout the day.

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Spicy Avocado “Fries”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How Food Can Help You Achieve Healthy Blood Sugar & Cholesterol

January 24th, 2019 | no comments

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Managing your blood sugar and cholesterol in today’s world can be a bit of a challenge. Temptations lurk around every corner, and let’s face it:

When you’re used to danish for breakfast, lunch meat sandwiches for lunch, and cheeseburgers for dinner, the foods that’ll help you get to healthy, frankly don’t taste all that great (if that’s the case, read THIS).

I need you to understand something. You are worthy of the best health life has to offer.

You. Are. Worth. It.

Do you believe you are worthy of good health?

If you answered yes, I’m going to ask you to dig a little deeper and consider all of the ways you fail to recognize and honor this fact.

Answer this: Which of the following activities do you typically respond with an emphatic “I don’t have time for that!”?:

  • Grocery shopping
  • Simple meal preparation and cooking
  • Exercising
  • The practice of meditation/stress-reduction techniques

Listen up! If you truly believe you are worthy of good health, the above are simply activities that come with the territory of good health—much like daily brushing and flossing are prerequisites for healthy teeth.

When you look at grocery shopping, cooking and exercising as inconveniences, it’s just like saying YOU are an inconvenience; like looking in the mirror and proclaiming: I am not worth it! 

Nothing could be further from the truth.

You have a choice in how you look at these activities. So instead of viewing them as chores, how about seeing them as OPPORTUNITIES?

 

Interpreting your blood sugar and cholesterol numbers

Total Cholesterol/HDL ratio:

Your total cholesterol number doesn’t tell you much. For more meaningful information, start by looking at your Total Cholesterol/HDL ratio. This is calculated by dividing your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol into your total cholesterol number. HDL is also known as your “good” cholesterol, because it moves cholesterol from your arteries to your liver. The lower your Total Cholesterol/HDL ratio, the better.

Healthy target: ≤4.0:1

Triglyceride/HDL ratio:

Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood. High levels may raise the risk of coronary artery disease. Considered to be one of the most potent predictors of heart disease, the Triglyceride/HDL ratio is measured by dividing your triglyceride level by your HDL. Just like above, the lower this number, the better.

Healthy target: ≤2.0

Hemoglobin A1c:

This test measures your average blood glucose over the previous six weeks; so don’t think you can eat with wild abandon and then “cram” for it the week before. You’ve got to really “study” for this one!

The hemoglobin A1c test is used to screen for and diagnose diabetes and prediabetes in adults. Hemoglobin A1c, also glycated hemoglobin or A1c, is formed in the blood when glucose attaches to hemoglobin. The higher the level of glucose in the blood, the more glycated hemoglobin is formed. 

Healthy target: ≤5.6

 

Positive and negative influencers of glucose and cholesterol

To make the most informed food choices moving forward, you need to understand the factors that both negatively and positively affect your cholesterol and glucose levels:

NEGATIVE (because they raise glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides!):

  • Sugar: sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, and hidden sugars in foods (i.e. yogurts, sauces, dressings, nutrition bars, etc.)
  • Processed carbohydrates: breads, cereals, pasta, chips, pretzels, crackers, etc.
  • A sedentary lifestyle

POSITIVE (because they lower inflammation in the body and help regulate cholesterol and glucose levels)

  • An abundance of Earthfoods
  • Moderate amounts of healthy fat 
  • 7-8 hours of sleep each night (if you just rolled your eyes at this suggestion- you need to read THIS)
  • Regular physical activity (calm down, I’m not talking marathons here; walking at a pace that challenges you will do the trick!)

 

What to do if your cholesterol and glucose numbers are “off”

Are you struggling with managing your cholesterol and blood sugar? Has your doctor recently threatened you with prescription medication if you don’t bring your levels down?

I’ve yet to meet a person who actually wants to be on medication.

Look, I’m not suggesting that medication is evil; in some cases it is necessary. However, I think we are way too quick to fill a prescription and pop a pill without even trying to make an effort to reverse the imbalance with diet and exercise.

In an overwhelming number of cases, it is in fact an imbalance: an imbalance of proper nutrition and adequate exercise.

Let me be clear. When I say effort, I’m not talking half-ass, mediocre, I-put-more-effort-into-caring-for-my-car-than-I-do-my-health “effort”, I mean really giving it your all.

Are you in?

I’ll bet you think I’m going to ask you to give up all of the “negatives” and do nothing but eat Earthfoods while walking on a treadmill. Wrong! I think you are really going to like this. So here we go…

 

Eat at least ten servings of Earthfoods every day!

Earthfoods are the foods we all know we should be eating more of: single ingredient, unprocessed, health-empowering, nutrient-rich foods from the earth. Simply put, they are the foods your body was designed to eat and truly longs for. They are powerful beyond measure and include vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, avocados, legumes, herbs, spices, cacao, green tea and many others.

Click HERE for a full list!

A minimum of ten Earthfoods each day is a good goal to aim for because it means you are consciously including them in each meal. Why is this important? Because you are less likely to fill your plate with junk if it is already loaded with Earthfoods—you’re sort of crowding out the not-so-good with the good.

See how this works?

You are also less likely to eat a handful of M&M’s afterwards! It really makes you think twice.

 

Focus on adding…not subtracting foods

Notice I’m not asking you to take anything away; that would only fuel the fire of desire for that very food. Instead, I want you to consciously build each meal to include at least three Earthfood servings. For example: eat a big salad with four cups of spinach and kale, one cup of chopped veggies, one tablespoon of fresh herbs (like basil), ¼ cup of nuts, ½ cup of berries and you’ll easily get six Earthfood servings.

Just when you think this is too much work, remember…you are worth it!

 

20 ways to add more Earthfoods to your daily meals:

What if you are nowhere near ten daily Earthfood servings? Don’t fret my little pet! With a little planning and persistence, you’ll get there. Start with where you are and gradually increase that number by one or two servings.

Here are 20 great ideas to get you started:

  1. Toss a big handful of spinach, a ½ cup of raspberries, and a tablespoon of both raw cacao powder and chia seeds into your breakfast shake.  
  2. Eat a tossed arugula salad with your dinner.
  3. Add roasted broccoli to wild rice or quinoa dishes.
  4. Add a handful of blueberries to cooked quinoa, sprinkle with cinnamon and eat for breakfast.
  5. Fill a 3-cup container with rainbow veggies and snack on them during the day if you get hungry. Try a combination of bell pepper strips, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, celery sticks, cauliflower florets, jicama sticks, and cucumber slices.
  6. Sprinkle a touch of cinnamon on a baked sweet potato and eat as a side dish with dinner.
  7. Steam and puree cauliflower and mix into scrambled eggs.
  8. Spread a tablespoon of fresh ground almond or cashew butter on a few apple slices and eat for an afternoon snack.
  9. Add a scoop of black beans or lentils to your salad.
  10. Make a big pot of chili using a variety of beans, such as pinto, kidney, black, and red beans!
  11. Mix a tablespoon of ground flax seed into yogurt or steel cut oatmeal.
  12. Drink a cup of matcha tea in the afternoon.
  13. Mix shredded turmeric into scrambled egg, rice or roasted vegetable dishes…or add a half-inch piece to your shake and blend!
  14. Make ginger lemonade by combining freshly grated ginger, lemon juice, a touch of honey and water.
  15. For a healthy dessert, sprinkle ground cinnamon over baked apples and drizzle with honey.
  16. Add whole basil leaves to your favorite pizza when it’s hot out of the oven and serve with a leafy green salad!
  17. Add freshly chopped cilantro to guacamole and serve as a dip for veggies or sprouted tortilla chips.
  18. Instead of packaged snack mixes, make your own trail mix by combining raw almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, chopped dates,goji berries and cacao nibs. Just be sure to mind your portions.
  19. Instead of jam or jelly, spread your toast with fresh ground almond butter or mashed avocado.
  20. Make a batch of Grown-Up Chicken Nuggets and serve with a side of roasted Brussels sprouts.

 

Let me get real with you.

If you aren’t happy with the state of your health and know you are worth more (which by the way, you ARE!), then stop telling the story of your health ailments and do something about it. Catch yourself sharing your diabetes diagnosis, aches and pains, cholesterol problems, or fill in the blank medical issues, and instead ask yourself how you can focus that energy in a more positive direction. What choice can you make right this very moment, to move the needle just a little bit in the direction of well-being. 

You are capable of achieving phenomenal results, but first you must get your car out of park. Or as my mom used to say: Poop or get off the pot (although she used a different word 🙂 ). 

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Avocado oil

Avocado oil is fast-becoming one of my favorite oils to cook and dress my food. As far as the health benefits go, strap yourself in because it’s pretty impressive.

Pressed from the fruit of the avocado and bright green in color, it contains chlorophyll and the carotenoid lutein, a naturally-occurring plant pigment with the power to help maintain eye health.

From a heart-health standpoint, avocado oil is high in monounsaturated fat, which is good for keeping your cholesterol in check. It also contains the plant sterol beta-sitosterol—a natural plant substance that can prevent cholesterol from being absorbed from the digestive tract.

You can use avocado oil for salad dressings, marinades, and homemade mayonnaise. It has a medium to high smoke point (up to 500 degrees), which means it stands up well to heat and is ideal for roasting, sautéing, grilling, and frying. It’s what I used for this week’s recipe pick: Grown-Up Chicken Nuggets.

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Grown-Up Chicken Nuggets

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rock Bottom: The Hidden Gems of Hardship

January 16th, 2019 | no comments

rock bottom

Photo by Jonny Lew from Pexels

Your most difficult health challenges can elevate you to unimaginable heights

Plus:

  • Mel’s weekly food pick: Raw honey
  • Mel’s weekly recipe pick:  Homemade Ketchup

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO TODAY’S POST!

 

Would you willingly sign up for a hardship? I’ll just bet your answer is a confident: No! Not in a million years and not even for a million dollars!

What if it served as the springboard for your deepest passions to emerge? Passions you never knew existed until you suffered the misfortune. Furthermore, what if your passion couldn’t be unearthed unless you went through it?

If you know my story, you’ll remember that I hit my personal rock bottom twenty-one years ago while journeying through a three-year battle with binge eating disorder. Like a sharp blow to the gut that I never saw coming, I became instantaneously tangled in a vicious web of food restriction, obsession and binging…all while studying to be a dietitian!  

 

Rock bottom started with one “innocent” diet

It all started with one “innocent” little diet that I tried to shed the few pounds I put on while in the throes of rebound partying after a tumultuous breakup.

One would think a few pounds would be a breeze to lose: restrict a little food, exercise a bit more and voila…gone.

Ha! Not even close.

I went through a three-year mental ping-pong game with one player being food and the other, the rigid rules of the diet. And there I was, the ball in the middle, being bounced around between restrictive rules and abundant food around every corner.

It’s a game the mind can never win. You’re drawn towards food because the diet tells you you can’t have it; as much as you try to resist its lure, food inevitably triumphs. In other words, when limits and restrictions are placed upon food, the mind will always gravitate towards it.

This is where my passion emerges in full force. It’s why I wrote an entire book on the subject! It’s why my heart breaks when I witness yet another well-intentioned person embark on a regimented diet to improve some aspect of their health. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that beneath the surface, a war is about to wage.

One thing is for sure, we will never win this war.

 

How can you use your undesirable health struggles as a catalyst to fuel your passion for self-improvement? 

I am here to tell you that all it takes is a mere change in perception to experience an internal shift so powerful that within twenty-four hours, you could be on the road to healing.

If you choose.

  1. First, make peace with and express gratitude for every one of your tireless attempts to live a healthier life. View each as a gift bringing you closer to well-being.

    When Thomas Edison was asked about his repeated failures at inventing the  incandescent electric light bulb, his response was: I have not failed 10,000 times—I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.

  2. Second, be willing to open up to the idea that you are in fact the solution you’ve been seeking. The diet was never the answer. It will never be the answer. Although it feels like a safety net, it is nothing more than a trap. A sticky spider web of which the only way out is to willingly break free from the diet and do the “work” of going within to claim the power that is waiting for you.

  3. Third, understand the “work” that I’m referring to really isn’t work at all. It’s about developing a deep trust that your body knows exactly what and how to eat. 

    The very fact that your body thrives on a steady supply of wholesome food, is proof enough that it innately prefers it. When treated like a temple, it will flourish like never before.

 

But what if you don’t like the taste of healthy food?

What if the mere thought of eating a Brussel sprout is enough to make you want to gag? This is where the magic of your body really shines through. Did you know that you were born with the power to crave nutritious food? In fact, my personal mantra is: What you feed your body most, it will crave.

In reality, the individual who craves chocolate and the one who craves salad have both trained their bodies to prefer these foods. It’s not about willpower; it’s a matter of how frequently you put the food into your body and the physical cravings that emerge over time.

 

How to learn to like the taste of healthy food (really!)

To experience this for yourself, start by slowly and consistently feeding your body the foods you want to crave. I promise it will reward you with more of those cravings. For example, if you want to strengthen your craving for vegetables, add a serving of vegetables to your diet every single day and watch what happens.

This is how I went from craving cookies and cake every day, to broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Believe me, I am not equipped with any unique and special powers that you don’t have too.

 

My rock bottom was a gift

Looking back, I now realize my eating disorder was a gift, and I understand why I went through it. Dieting, starving, binging—all so I could hit rock bottom and develop this fierce passion to help others learn how to make peace with their food and trust their body.

And you know what? I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world.

 

What about you?

My dear friend, have you hit a personal rock bottom with your health?

Understand that your body’s natural state is ease and health. It wants to be well and will do everything in its power to maintain it. Just tune in, listen, and take action on what you’ve learned.

Your ultimate power to create better health lies within. The truth is, you’ve held the key all along; you were just looking in all the wrong places.

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Raw Honey

First let me say that honey is still sugar. 

Yes, I know it makes you feel good that honey comes from bees and bees are the epitome of nature, right? I mean come on- they are the middle part of the nature-equation: birds, bees, flowers, trees.

Honey is still sugar.

Now that I have that out of the way, if you are looking for a smart way to upgrade your choice of sweetener, from refined white table sugar or artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin or sucralose (please stop using these), raw honey is the perfect choice. 

To qualify as raw, honey must be unfiltered, unpasteurized, and free from additives. This is key because it allows the honey to retain valuable vitamins, minerals and enzymes.  

Here are just a few reasons why you should make the switch to raw honey:

  1. It’s loaded with powerful antioxidants that can reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer when added to an already healthy diet. 
  2. It has a lower glycemic index rating compared to other sweeteners, which means it is gentler on your blood sugar.
  3. A study showed that compared to dextrose and sucrose, raw honey lowered plasma glucose and raised insulin. Again, making it a smarter choice for diabetics. 
  4. When bought locally, raw honey can reduce the severity of seasonal allergies (cool, huh?!) 

How much?

I know you have common sense and won’t go pouring it over everything, right? Remember, a little is good; a lot (just like too much water)…not so good. A teaspoon or two is plenty!

For an upgraded ketchup recipe using honey instead of white table sugar (or worse, high fructose corn syrup in many commercial brands), check out this week’s recipe pick for Homemade Ketchup!

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Homemade Ketchup

 

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Top Six Dietitian-Approved Nutrition Bars

January 9th, 2019 | no comments

 

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Take a look at the growing number of nutrition bars out there and I’m sure you’ll agree they are a sizzling hot, much sought-after solution for those seeking a quick grab-n-go meal.

I definitely fall into that category.

Personally, I like to use bars in one of two ways:

  1. Split the bar in two; eat one half as a snack and save the other for another snack.
  2. As an on-the-go meal paired with a hard-boiled egg and either a piece of fresh fruit or raw veggies and hummus.

A word of caution: You have to be careful with bars. Just because it’s classified as a “nutrition” bar, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily nutritious and good for you.  

 

Mel’s top six favorite nutrition bars  

 

I’ve narrowed the sea of bars down to my top six favorite, along with a brief explanation for why they made the list, and additional information that will help you choose the best one for your particular dietary needs.

NOTE: All six bars have three essential things in common, they are free of: gluten, GMOs, and additives/preservatives.

 

Bulletproof Collagen Protein Bars

  • Net Carbohydrates: 9 grams on average
  • Sugar grams: 2 grams (0 grams added sugar)
  • Sweetened with: organic stevia leaf extract
  • Vegan: no
  • Dairy-free: no
  • Soy-free: yes
  • USDA Organic: no
  • Texture: crumbly like a cookie
  • Flavors: Vanilla Shortbread (my fav!); Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough; Fudge Brownie; Lemon Cookie; Mint Chocolate Chip; Apple Pie
  • Mel’s two cents: this is my favorite bar on the market for a number of reasons. First, I love the texture and flavor because it reminds me of a crumbly cookie—sometimes I enjoy it with a nice hot cup of coffee or tea. Second, it contains brain-powering MCT oil in the form of caprylic and capric acid. It’s a bit messy when eaten in the car…which I shouldn’t be doing anyway, right?
  • PS: The genius behind these bars is Dave Asprey, self-proclaimed ‘biohacker’ and creator of the wildly popular Bulletproof Coffee. He is anything but ordinary (which I adore about him) and one of the most interesting human beings I know. Check out his blog, podcast, and other environmentally conscious and ethically sourced products

 

Garden of Life GOL Bars

  • Net Carbohydrates: 19 grams on average
  • Sugar grams: 9 grams (0 grams added sugar)
  • Sweetened with: organic dates
  • Vegan: no
  • Dairy-free: no
  • Soy-free: yes
  • USDA Organic: yes
  • Texture: chewy
  • Flavors: Blueberry; Chocolate Sea Salt; Maple Sea Salt; Chocolate Coconut
  • Mel’s two cents: although on the higher end of sugar (my recommendation is less than 10 grams per bar with a target goal of 5 grams or less), this bar made the list because it is naturally sweetened with just two dates. The combination of sea salt with sweet from the dates makes this a real treat for the taste buds.
  • PS: My favorite flavor is Maple Sea Salt. If you love maple, you will adore this variety!

 

Raw Rev Glo Bars

  • Net Carbohydrates: 6 grams on average
  • Sugar grams: 2-5 grams (grams of added sugar: undetermined)
  • Sweetened with: organic cane sugar; organic brown rice syrup
  • Vegan: yes
  • Dairy-free: yes
  • Soy-free: no
  • USDA Organic: no
  • Texture: chewy
  • Flavors: Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt; Creamy Peanut Butter & Sea Salt; Crunchy Peanut Butter & Sea Salt; Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough; Dark Chocolate & Cashew Mint; Dark Chocolate Espresso Crunch; Double Chocolate Brownie Batter; Mixed Nuts Caramel & Sea Salt
  • Mel’s two cents: this is another one of my go-to bars because it’s loaded with good healthy fat and dietary fiber—so it does a great job at keeping me full. The dairy-free chocolate chips (in all varieties except peanut butter) give it a sweet taste while keeping the sugar grams low. My favorite flavor is the Mixed Nuts Caramel & Sea Salt.
  • PS: check your teeth after you eat one of these babies, you just may have a chia seed or two lodged in there for the world to see!

 

evo Hemp Protein Bars  

  • Net Carbohydrates: 13 grams on average
  • Sugar grams: 4 grams (grams of added sugar: undetermined)
  • Sweetened with: monk fruit blend; cane sugar; maple syrup
  • Vegan: yes
  • Dairy-free: yes
  • Soy-free: yes
  • USDA Organic: no
  • Texture: crumbly like a cookie
  • Flavors: Brownie Chip; Cookie Dough; Mocha Chip
  • Mel’s two cents: the monk fruit blend sweetener contains erythritol, a sugar alcohol that can cause digestive upset in sensitive individuals. It’s also the sweetest tasting bar on this list!

 

evo Hemp Fruit Bars

  • Net Carbohydrates: 18-21 grams on average
  • Sugar grams: 8-9 grams on average (grams of added sugar: undetermined)
  • Sweetened with: dried fruit; coconut nectar
  • Vegan: yes
  • Dairy-free: yes
  • Soy-free: yes
  • USDA Organic: yes
  • Texture: chewy
  • Flavors: Apple Pecan; Cashew Cacao; Cherry Walnut; Mango Macadamia
  • Mel’s two cents: these bars have a heavy fruit flavor. They carry a decent amount of protein (7 grams on average) and fat to counterbalance the higher carbohydrate content.

 

Bone Broth Protein Bars

  • Net Carbohydrates: 11-12 grams on average
  • Sugar grams: 8 grams (grams of added sugar: undetermined)
  • Sweetened with: minimal sugar alcohols; stevia; organic: sugar, honey, coconut nectar, dates
  • Vegan: no
  • Dairy-free: no
  • Soy-free: yes
  • USDA Organic: no
  • Texture: VERY chewy
  • Flavors: Salted Chocolate Almond; Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
  • Mel’s two cents: because these bars are made with collagen, they are very chewy and can stick to your teeth (so don’t smile after eating one until you’ve consulted with a mirror). Collagen is especially good for supporting skin and joint health.
  • PS: They can be a bit messy, so grab a napkin before opening the package!

 

Nutrition bars to leave on the shelf:  

 

I hate to say it, but there are a lot of bars on the market that are anything but nutritious. In fact, they are downright crap! Honestly, in some cases you’d be better off eating a high-quality chocolate bar (no joke). If you stick with the recommended bars listed above, you’ll be just fine.

Here are just a few that I recommend leaving on the shelf.  

 

“Nutrition” Bar (ha, ha):      Why you should leave them:   
Cliff bars Loaded with sugar (upwards of 6 teaspoons of sugar per bar!)
ONE bars Contains the artificial sweetener sucralose
Quest bars      Contains the artificial sweetener sucralose
Think Thin bars  Made with 20+ grams (that’s a lot!) of sugar alcohols—which will likely cause digestive upset (i.e. excess gas!)
Zone bars  Contains inflammatory soybean oil, corn syrup solids, plus an ingredient list longer than my arm

 

Want nutrition bar convenience without breaking the bank?

 

You can find literally thousands of recipes for homemade nutrition bars online, but be careful because many are loaded down with way too much sugar.

Be sure to check out this week’s recipe pick below for my Whole Food Nutrition Bar!

You may also want to try my recipes for Earthfood Energy Bars and No-Bake Cinnamon Cashew Cookie Bars!

 
Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Whole Food Nutrition Bar

 

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Trans Fats: Still Hiding Out in These Foods

January 1st, 2019 | no comments

Photo by Abhinav Goswami from Pexels

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If there’s one ingredient you should consider eliminating from your diet in 2019, it’s trans fat. They are the epitome of fake ingredients, and a major contributor to inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, low HDL (good cholesterol) and high LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.

I’ve been talking about trans fats since 2006, the year the FDA began requiring food companies to list them on their food labels. If I’m being honest, on one hand I am sick to death of the topic, while on the other, shaking my head in disbelief that I‘m still having this conversation.

 

Trans fats: The good news

The FDA set a June 2018 deadline for the removal of trans fats from all processed food.  However, this ban applies only to the addition of trans fats in the creation of any brand new products.

Unfortunately, foods already on the shelf were granted an additional “grace” year (until June 2019) before they must be officially free from trans fats.

Less than six months to go…we’re on the homestretch!  

 

How to spot trans fats in the mean time

To spot trans fats, you’ll have to look at the list of ingredients, because it is perfectly legal to label a product as zero grams if it contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. Scan the list of ingredients for these other code names for trans fats: “hydrogenated oil”, “partially hydrogenated oil” and “shortening”.

While researching trans fat-containing foods for an upcoming television spot, I was surprised to discover that many companies already removed them from their products and replaced them with other fats like soybean and canola oil. Although not as big of a threat as trans fats, due to their high omega-6 content, these substitutes are still inflammatory and far from healthy. 

That’s a topic for another discussion.

To this day, products like powdered coffee creamer, hot cocoa mix, cakes, cookies, and soft tortillas still contain trans fats. Protect your health and be a savvy label-reader, because there exists no safe level of trans fat in your body.

Period.

 

The bad news: monoglycerides and diglycerides contain trans fats (and they are perfectly legal!)

 

Yes, trans fats will soon be illegal…but monoglycerides and diglycerides are perfectly legal.

Why should you care about these two ingredients and what do they have to do with trans fats?

Monoglycerides and diglycerides are considered emulsifiers, which are food additives used to help water and oil blend together. They contain small amounts of trans fat, but because they’re classified as emulsifiers (and not lipids) the FDA ban doesn’t apply to them. 

Remember what I said, there is NO safe level of trans fats in your body.

Take a stroll down the grocery aisles and you will be shocked at how many products contain mono and diglyerides. Products like:

  • Rice Krispies Treats (check out this week’s recipe pick for a homemade Better-4-You Rice Crispy Treat!
  • Peanut butter (like Jif)
  • Candy
  • Cereal bars (like Nutri-Grain bars)
  • Gum
  • Ice cream
  • Baked goods
  • Shortening (like Crisco)
  • Margarine (like Promise)

 

A no-brainer idea for avoiding trans fats and limiting other fake ingredients:

I know you know the answer, but I’ll shout it from the rooftop anyway:

EAT MORE REAL FOOD!

Listen, I don’t expect you to eat nothing but single-ingredient Earthfoods from now until eternity and never allow a processed food to pass your lips. That can quickly turn into borderline disordered eating. Ever hear of orthorexia?

The good news is, when you spend most of your grocery trip shopping the perimeter of the store, you take a giant leap towards eliminating harmful fats and other fake ingredients, as they are found mostly in processed foods housed in the inner aisles.

 

Resources to help you make better (not perfect) food choices in 2019

 

To help you kick off the New Year on the right foot, here is a short collection of the many posts I’ve written:

 

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Soren Kierkegaard, featured in my new book Missing Peace: Eleven Secrets to Restore Inner Harmony with Your Food, Body, and Health:  

 

“A man who as a physical being is always turned toward the outside, thinking that his happiness lies outside him, finally turns inward and discovers that the source is within him” 
— Soren Kierkegaard 

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Raw Cashews

Photo by Jenn Kosar on Unsplash

You’ve heard me ramble on about the anti-inflammatory benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and the inflammatory nature of omega-6 fatty acids.

In a nutshell 🙂 , although both are considered essential fatty acids, we eat far too many omega-6 fats and not nearly enough omega-3’s. Nuts are a natural source of omega-6’s and—if they were the only source we ate—wouldn’t pose a health risk (unless of course you ate a truckload!).

Sadly, nuts aren’t the main source of our omega-6 fats in the US.

Industrial vegetable and seed oils, like canola, cottonseed, corn, and soybean oil, contribute to our high consumption of omega-6’s. And in case you didn’t know, these oils are overly abundant in processed foods, like chips, crackers, cereals, and frozen meals.

Enter cashew nuts. Although not a significant source of omega-3’s, the fat in these naturally sweet nuts is predominantly oleic acid, which is the monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. Even better, they contain only a small amount of omega-6 fatty acids.

Yes, cashew nuts are good for you…so find a way to include them in your meals on a more regular basis. Here are some great ideas: 

  • Pop a handful for a snack or add to a homemade trail mix.
  • Whip up an easy 5-Minute Cashew Sauce and use as a replacement for heavy cream-based sauces.
  • Blend a batch of cashew cheese and spread on Flacker’s flax-based crackers! 
  • Make a simple cashew-based dairy-free cheesecake
  • Blend raw cashews in your food processors and voila…you have homemade cashew butter! Check out this week’s recipe pick for Better-4-YOU Rice Crispy Treats, made with cashew butter and raw honey instead of marshmallows!

And in case you are wondering, raw cashews are best! 

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Better-4-You Rice Crispy Treats

 

 

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The Power of Perception: “I choose to” vs “I have to”

December 27th, 2018 | no comments
Perception

Source: Pixabay.com

 

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We all want to look and feel our best, and for many, the quick fix/magic pill approach is often too tempting to pass up. Just think, in the snap of a finger…poof…they are changed.  

But even if such a pill existed, would they really be “changed”?

I’m sure you’ll agree there exists no shortage of diet plans and philosophies to help the eager beaver seeking to shed unwanted pounds at the start of the New Year.

Are you a seeker?

Well then go ahead and get it out of your system. Do a Google search for “weight loss”, and in 0.71 seconds you will be faced with 2,860,000,000 results. 

2,860,000,000 philosophies and methods for weight loss. Take your pick; no one is stopping you. 

But first, I want you to be honest with yourself—so honest it hurts: Do you believe in your gut, that this one will work? What’s changed since your last attempt? Let me rephrase that: what’s changed in YOU since your last attempt? 

Author Mike Robbins is quoted as saying: “Nothing changes until you do.” He even wrote a book with the same title. Who could argue with such a proclamation? Nothing changes until you do…really allow these words to seep into your cells. Let them swim around for a few seconds.

Now, hear this: Nothing, and I mean NO THING changes until you change your relationship with yourself. Not your:

  • weight
  • cholesterol
  • blood pressure/sugar
  • relationship with food
  • relationship with your body

 

Who are you really? It’s all about perception  

 

A healthy, loving, and grounded relationship with ourself should come naturally because after all, we’re born knowing we are in fact, the cat’s meow. Just watch a toddler toddle towards his own reflection and greet himself with a big sloppy kiss.

He knows.

He was born knowing his absolute worth and limitless power. 

As grown adults, charred from the fiery perception of our own internal dragons, we have to work at polishing the window out of which we take in the world. And the good news? In any given moment, you can challenge these dragons and shift your perception—widen your internal eyes, take a look around and envelope yourself in the infinite source of greatness that is patiently waiting for you.

William Blake, an English poet of the Romantic age said:

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

 

Food choices and perception  

 

I believe all food choices are snap decisions. 

Think about it. Even if you have a healthy meal planned in advance, with all of the ingredients in your refrigerator—or better yet, the entire meal prepared for you (as in the case of restaurant dining)—the decision to actually eat/order that meal is made in a literal flash of an instant. 

Whether or not you make the right choice for you and your health is again, rooted in perception. Namely, how do you perceive the choice? Is it something you feel you have to do or are you choosing to do it?

They may seem one in the same, but I can assure you the difference is quite profound.

Some may even argue that in certain situations, they are the same. For example: I’m choosing to order the salmon instead of the bacon cheeseburger. I have to because my cholesterol is high.

This is an example of making what seems like the right decision, but with the wrong perception. 

Unless someone is pointing a gun at your head, you don’t have to do anything. “Have to” implies you have no choice in the matter. And we all know what happens when the power of choice (especially when it comes to food) is stripped from us. It’s a dangerous space to linger and the premise of most diets out there.

Decisions made with a have to mentality (i.e. I have to drink this kale smoothie) almost guarantee your car will drive itself to KFC for a bucket of ‘finger lickin good’.

Let me repeat: You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to:

  • go to work
  • eat kale
  • pay your taxes
  • exercise
  • drink water instead of soda

You choose to do them…or not. It’s your choice in the end.   

 

Snap decisions and a moment of presence  

 

You have but a flash of a second to decide how you will perceive what is before you:

“I have to” or “I choose to”.

But within that flash of a second, there exists a small space available to you—the space of presence. You’ve heard me talk about this before. It’s the space you can access with the ease of a single, conscious breath. I go into great detail on this topic in my new book, Missing Peace: Eleven Secrets to Restore Inner Harmony with Your Food, Body and Health.

As illustrated in the Path to Peace image below, the center Peace that governs the remaining ten Peaces, is: Seek No Further. You have all of the answers already within, simply take a breath, tap in, and allow yourself to be fully present for the choice you are about to make. 

Perception

“Path to Peace” illustrating the eleven Missing Peaces

 

Lest you think this is some sort of airy-fairy, kumbaya, mumbo jumbo concept, think again. This is where the real work begins. It’s where the smart folks go when, after exhausting their dieting Rolodex, they come to the realization that they are the answer they’ve been seeking.   

 

Perception is essential…because Cinnabons aren’t going away anytime soon   

 

There will always be cheese pizza, Jack Frost Donuts, French fries, and Cinnabons. Let’s face it, they aren’t going anywhere. Short of living in exile on a remote island off the coast of South Africa, like it or not, if you want to achieve a healthy balance of mind and body, you’re going to have to learn how to coexist peacefully with these foods. 

One thing’s for damn sure, the next time you are faced with your kryponite food, the one that makes you weak in the knees, remember—the diet isn’t going to save you. It won’t help you make the right choice. In fact, it’ll only add fuel to your fire of desire for the very food you are trying to avoid. 

The only thing that will save you, is a shift in perception exercised in a moment of presence. 

By taking a single, sweet, conscious breath, you are able to tap into a strength that will blow your mind. 

Let’s have some fun and role play so that you can understand how to apply this to real-life situations. 

Scenario #1: The airport Cinnabon

You’re at the airport, starving and face-to-face with the Cinnabon counter. The smell is absolutely intoxicating and you can already taste the warm fluffy frosting blanketing that infamous, tender cinnamon dough. 

You have two choices: eat it…or not.

Here’s what not to do…

Do NOT get into the all-too-familiar internal dialogue of: I really shouldn’t. I mean, I have so much weight to lose and this will just put me over the edge. I have to walk away. Cinnabons are off limits!

Even though you may not indeed order the Cinnabon, you will find a way to sabotage yourself in the very near future. This I can absolutely guarantee. 

Exercise a shift in perception:

Faced with the Cinnabon counter, take a slow and deep breath, get present and shift to something like this: Even though I have 100% freedom to eat that Cinnabon, I choose to find something that will nourish my body instead. Cinnabon will always be there if I really want one.

Scenario #2: The bread basket

It’s 6:00 and your last meal was a noon lunch, so it’s fair to say you have a pretty loud level of hunger going on. You and the family just sat down at your favorite neighborhood restaurant and you mindfully order the grilled salmon with veggies and a club soda with a twist of lime.

The server brings your drink, along with a basket of hot-from-the-oven French bread. Everyone grabs a hunk and in unison, slathers their piece with butter…as you sit drooling. You promised yourself no bread because your blood sugar has been elevated and bread always causes it to skyrocket. 

History reveals you’ve never been able to resist the bread.

That’s the problem…you were resisting it, which as I stated earlier, only adds fuel to your fire of desire for the bread. 

Exercise a shift in perception:

Faced with the bread basket, take a long, slow, deep breath in and let it out. Observe the bread, get present, and shift: Even though I have 100% freedom to eat this bread, I choose to wait for my dinner instead. Bread will always be there, and I can have a slice any time I choose. 

Scenario #3: The second glass of wine

You’re out with the girls enjoying a happy hour glass of cheer. Everyone orders a second drink.

You know beyond a shadow of a doubt that a second glass of wine will catapult you into FLC (feel-like-crap) land come tomorrow morning. The second glass ALWAYS makes you feel like crap. You promised yourself you’d stick to a one drink maximum and now the pressure’s on, as your beloved girlfriends are cheering you on:  “oh come on…it’s just one more glass!” (don’t you just hate when they do that?). 

Exercise a shift in perception:

Faced with the decision to order a glass of water or another glass of wine, take a deep breath in and let it out. Get present and shift: Even though I have 100% freedom to order another drink, I choose to sip on water instead. Wine will always be there.

You can do this if you really want to. Remember, no one is taking anything away from you.

Have fun and make a game out of it! Don’t count the number of times you made the wrong choice, rather relish in the bliss of the one you made in a space of presence, while staying true to yourself. 

Perception is everything.

Happy 2019 my love! xo

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Greens: the most nutritious food on the planet!

Photo by Madison Inouye from Pexels

A nutrient-dense food is one that is high in nutrients and relatively low in calories. These are the foods that seriously nourish your body at the cellular level. They replenish, repair, and dare I say…heal like no other food.

It’s no surprise that fruits and vegetables are the most nutritious foods available, with berries being the most nutrient-dense fruit and greens, the most nutrient-dense vegetable. This is precisely why I strongly encourage my clients to include these powerful gems in their meals on a daily basis. 

Because they are the most nutrient-dense food on the planet, greens are in a class all by themselves. They are highly detoxifying due to their abundance of chlorophyll and bioavailable vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. Bioavailability simply means the degree to which a food can be absorbed by your body. 

Greens are so much more than just spinach and kale. Check out this long list of goodness: 

  • Arugula
  • Cabbage
  • Collard greens
  • Dandelion greens
  • Endive
  • Escarole
  • Kale
  • Mesclun
  • Microgreens
  • Mustard greens
  • Radicchio
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnip greens
  • Watercress

Although they are super nutritious, greens tend to trip us up! What can we do with them besides toss them in a bowl with some dressing? Try adding them to: omelets, smoothies, tacos, soups, stews, sauces, and quinoa or rice dishes. You can even include them as a pizza topping or use them as a wrap for your favorite sandwich contents.

For a perfect soup to warm your body and soul on those cold winter nights, check out this week’s recipe pick for Nourishing White Bean Chard Soup. It’s loaded with greens, greens, and more greens!  

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Nourishing White Bean Chard Soup

 

 

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Watching This Movie Will Change the Course of Your Life

December 20th, 2018 | no comments

“Finding Joe”

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If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that I am passionate about so many things (i.e. guilt-free eating, gut health, meditation, Peace of Health shakes, high quality chocolate, almond butter, Jack Frost Donuts, cats, and…cats).

And in case you couldn’t tell, I absolutely LOVE sharing this passion with you.

 

Meet Joseph Campbell

 

Not long ago, I stumbled upon the works of a brilliant gentleman named Joseph Campbell, a life-long student and teacher of the human spirit and mythology. He coined the statement “Follow Your Bliss”, which, according to The Campbell Foundation:

 

Isn’t merely a matter of doing whatever you like, and certainly not doing simply as you are told. It is a matter of identifying that pursuit which you are truly passionate about and attempting to give yourself absolutely to it. In so doing, you will find your fullest potential and serve your community to the greatest possible extent.”

 

According to Campbell:

 

“If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are — if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.”

 

Finding your bliss

 

My personal bliss is helping individuals cultivate their mind and heal their relationship with food and the deeper part of themselves, so that they can step into the health that is waiting for them. I hope this comes through clearly in my weekly posts.

How do I know this is my bliss? Because when I’m engaged in any aspect of it, I feel alive, on fire, positively electric, and full of possibility. Hours can go by in the blink of an eye!

Part of living this bliss was writing my book, Missing Peace: Eleven Secrets to Restore Inner Harmony with your Food, Body and Health. This book was begging to be written and I simply couldn’t rest until it was. To accomplish this, I rearranged my bedtime so that I could wake up at 3:00 every morning and write before going to work, until my manuscript was complete. In other words…I found a way to get it done because it meant fulfilling that burning desire within.

 

What is your personal bliss?

 

Are you living your personal bliss?

Or perhaps you aren’t even sure where to look.

Keep in mind, your bliss doesn’t have to be an earth-rocking thing. It could be as simple as tutoring a child in math. If that rocks your personal world…that’s your bliss. If you would do it even if you weren’t paid…that’s another sign.

It’s my belief that we all have our own personal bliss; we’re just too busy listening to everyone but ourselves and wondering/worrying what “they” will think. If you ask me, life is too damn short not to find and follow your bliss. So get quiet and listen…I promise it’s there, just waiting for you to tap in.

 

I don’t ask much of you, do I? Well, I am pretty insistent on one thing this holiday season…

 

I insist that you take 80 minutes out of your day sometime BEFORE January 1st, to watch the documentary Finding Joe.  Watch it with your family…or alone. Just watch it!

Access it HERE for free.

In the early 20th century, while studying world mythology, Joseph Campbell discovered a pattern hidden in every story ever told and he called it “the hero’s journey”. A truly inspirational film, Finding Joe takes you on the ultimate hero’s journey: the journey of self-discovery. As you slay dragons and uncover treasures, you just may find that the Holy Grail you seek is closer than you think.

The bedrock of this movie is one of Campbell’s most famous quotes:

 

“Follow your bliss and the Universe will open doors where there were only walls”

 

This explains why, when I am truly following my bliss, things just seem to work out for me (and it can for you too!):

  • I meet the right people.
  • I get the best ideas.
  • People react differently towards me (in a good way…really!)

 

 I suppose what really happens when we follow our bliss, is we make a connection with that deeper part of ourselves. The part that is bliss…and peace.

 

The most important question you can ask yourself is…

 

At this moment, do I have any regrets?

When you meet with your final day on this earthly plane, don’t you want to be free from regret? Of course! At the risk of sounding bold—you could meet with death this evening. Yes, you could.

 

The time to banish regret is now.

 

Bronnie Ware, author of The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, was a palliative care nurse who spent many hours with patients in their final days of life.

As you can imagine, she had some pretty heartfelt conversations with these individuals, and out of them came her book. According to Ware, the number one regret of those on their deathbed was: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

 

Think about that for a minute. Then follow that “thing” that lights you up…without any regard for what “they” will think. It won’t matter in the end.

 

Merry Christmas.

 

I love you!

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Cayenne Pepper

 

When you think of cayenne pepper, images of red hot fire may come to mind. 

The extreme spiciness of cayenne is due to its high concentration of capsaicin, the active component of chili peppers. But cayenne is so much more than just a zesty flavor-enhancer. Thanks to the anti-inflammatory effects of capsaicin, there are some serious health benefits baked inside of this red bombshell, including:

  • Heart health promotion
  • Relief from nasal congestion
  • Ulcer prevention
  • Increased fat burning potential (called thermogenesis)
  • Sore throat relief

To make your own Homemade Sore Throat Syrup, combine: 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper + 1 tablespoon Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar + 2 tablespoons water + 1 tablespoon raw honey. 

Cayenne pepper can be used dried or fresh. I like the convenience of dried cayenne myself, especially when added to my hot cocoa. See this week’s recipe pick below for Blissed Out Hot-Hot Cocoa!

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Blissed Out Hot-Hot Cocoa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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