Far too often the word organic is misused and misunderstood. I think it’s most important to understand the reasons behind the difference staring back at you on the price tag, and then only you can decide for yourself whether it’s worth the financial, physiological, and environmental costs.
Organic standards prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, fertilizers, antibiotics, growth hormones and genetically modified organisms. Additional organic requirements are set to support the environment, including soil improvements and prevention of soil erosion.
What does this mean for you as a consumer? Potentially a greater chance of a reduction in your exposure to harmful chemicals. As an environmentally-conscious consumer? Hopefully refraining from further contributing to soil erosion, energy use, and water pollution while contributing to biodiversity.
Side tantrum: Just because it’s organic does NOT mean it’s healthy. Organic jelly beans (my favorite) are packed with organic cane sugar, tapioca syrup, and full of fruit juice and natural flavors. Can I consume them obliviously thinking I’m fulfilling my quota of that “rainbow” of fruit and veggie servings for the day? Not exactly. Anything full of sugar (even organic sugar) is not a “healthy” food. I would say the importance of selecting organics is greatest for items in the perimeter of the grocery store (think produce, meats, dairy, eggs). Easy, right?
What’s With the Seal?
The USDAs National Organics Program ensures ...
It’s officially summer and many of us—over 36 million Americans—have embraced international travel recently. For students and families in particular, this is the season for exciting adventures overseas. It may not be very glamorous, but, before heading off with passports in hand, how can we ensure the healthiest trip possible?
Your mother was right: plan ahead
- Check if your health insurance goes beyond the US border. If not, it is easy to purchase a short term travel insurance policy.
- Find out as much as you can about your destination’s health risks or dangers.
- Most diseases are preventable. Talk it over with your doctor or see a travel doctor who specializes in such advice.
- Be certain you have the needed vaccinations and medicines before heading out.
- Don’t let ....
Like most bright ideas, this one was sparked while sipping a mojito – why am I not growing mint? Well, this “little project” turned into a full-blown garden last year. So my challenge this year is to share with you how to grow some culinary herbs.
Why Growing Herbs at Home is Great…
- It’s fun. Trust me, the smell of basil straight from the ground will take your mind on a direct flight to southern Italy.
- It’s economical. How many times have you purchased a ginormous bunch of parsley, only to use a few sprigs? Having live plants means you can take as little (or as much) as you need, when you need it. One $3 basil plant can save you well over $20. You will waste less, and likely will use herbs more frequently since they will always be available.
- It encourages creativity. When you have an assortment of plants begging to be used, you might take a handful of each and add it to the recipe. You can create endless combinations of herbs and spices to a variety of dishes.
- It’s easy. Whether you have an amazing boyfriend that will yank rose bushes to make room for your gardening experiment, a balcony that sees the sun, or just a naked windowsill, you really can grow herbs anywhere.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and the same goes for your health. Sometimes the process of improving or maintaining health may seem difficult, if not impossible. It may seem like a journey of more than just a thousand miles even. But keep in mind, there are little things—baby steps—that you can do every day to make that journey to health an achievable and enjoyable one.
The key is to think small and realistically. Ask yourself, what is your overall goal? Do you want to manage diabetes? Do you want to be able to run a 5k? Do you want to quit smoking? Whatever your goal, even if you don’t have a map, it helps to know your destination and have your shoes strapped on before you head out on the journey.
To figure out if you’re ready to take steps towards your health goals:
Make a list of pros and cons, such as “pro: eating more vegetables will help me lose weight, con: I don’t know how to cook vegetables that I like."
Get a journal or find a friend and walk through all the pros you listed. They don’t just have to be health-related. For instance, will increasing the amount of sleep you get each night help you do better at work?
Try to imagine how you will handle the cons that come with change and make a plan. For example, if your goal is to exercise at least thirty minutes a day but you find it difficult to make time, physically block out time on your calendar (at work, on your phone, etc.) If you miss a day, what will you do to make up for it?
When the pros outweigh the cons, you’ll have a better chance at successfully making that change. Just remember that the larger journey is the product of many smaller steps and often some wrong turns or setbacks. Thinking ahead about what you will do when you take a wrong turn and breaking down your goal into small steps will help you achieve the bigger health goals you set for yourself. If you want to cut down on the number of sweets you eat, cutting them out all at once (trying to leap ahead a thousand miles) is going to be much harder than choosing to eat one cookie after dinner instead of five (taking a single step).
Here are some tricks to help take the baby steps that will move you forward on your journey to better health:
(Read part 1 of this ‘Spring Cleanse' series here for more on how many calories you actually need, how to track your intake, and what you need to know about fluids.)
There are thousands of books out there, everything from an intensive fasting period to a detailed 21+ day program. Pick one that seems like it would yield the highest degree of success for you, but remember these basic parameters of all detoxes and cleanses:
- Don’t go less than 1200 calories a day. (Doing so stimulates a decrease in your metabolism, which unfortunately won’t immediately correct once the cleanse is completed. )
- Don’t expect more than 2 pounds of weight loss per week. If you see this on the scale, it means you are losing lean muscle mass (not a brilliant idea since this tissue is most metabolically active = your best friend in the battle of the bulge) or you are under-hydrated. The goal is gradual fat loss, hydration maintenance, and preservation of lean muscle mass if you want your results to last.
- Avoid junk (caffeine, alcohol, sodium, artificial sweeteners, refined sugars and refined grains). You want to get the biggest bang for your caloric buck, so opt for whole grains, fruits and vegetables rather than processed food.
- Assess your tendency for withdrawal. This can be from caffeine, alcohol, salt, refined grains/sugars, or simply the habit of heading for frozen yogurt on weekends.
What you should know about….
Spring is finally here! Finally, the opportunity to congratulate Seattle for behaving according to season, and enjoy tulips that Dougie in the spring breeze, and the first panic wave reminds you that you’ve got only a few weeks before bikini season (you get the point). Your innocent neurons automatically fire “detox diet’ and “cleanse”. Well, let me warn you that I am not a fan of the “drink maple syrup and eat lemon wedges” diet. Not because nutritionally they are a joke, but if you follow one, you morph into a mix of Tasmanian devil and Garfield, a creature with a short temper, little patience, an appetite with no boundaries, yet profound laziness.
Instead, how about something realistic with sustainable results? Here are tips to clean up your eating behaviors and make sure you are on track to tackle your goals.
Track Your Intake:
Do you know how much calories, fat, sugar, fiber, fluids, etc. you are concerned about, that you are consuming these days? This is where you need to start...