So what did you do over the Christmas break? I hope it was relaxing and enjoyable. I was pretty lazy and spent time hanging out, calling family and catching up on some reading. I also streamed the documentary, Hungry for Change. It's produced by the same people that created, Food Matters, which is another documentary about healthy living.
I know... I'm a huge nutrition geek. I admit it, it's true. I'll gladly spend hours reading and researching anything having to do with health, nutrition and exercise. We all have our own "thing", right?
Anyway, I wanted to share a few notes I took while watching the documentary . Yes, I will occasionally take notes when I watch documentaries. It's not weird, I promise.
Hungry for Change is basically a documentary that sets about interviewing experts in the health and nutrition field. Granted, I didn't know much about the exerts featured in the movie but they were pretty interesting to listen to.
Sugar is Bad, Really Bad
A lot of time was spent talking about sugar and how our modern diets contain tons of it. One of the experts mentioned that the average American eats 150 pounds of sugar a year. My initial thought, "surely you jest!" Upon further investigation it's actually 156 pounds per year on a per capita basis, according to the U.S.. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The other interesting thing about sugar consumption is that the average American also consumes about 79 pounds of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) per year. I'm assuming that this number is included in that 156 pound number.
Anyway, that's a lot of sugar. One of the reasons for this large amount of consumption is that fact that sugar is in everything. High fructose corn syrup is probably one of the hardest ingredients to avoid in the grocery store. It's in everything from whole wheat bread to yogurt.
The documentary discussed how sugar can be addicting and that it's part of our genetic code to be addicted to sugar. I wish they would have went into more detail about this issue of sugar addiction. I'm going to dig a little deeper on this issue in a future post. Until then I know that Diane Sanfilippo has a program called the 21 Day Sugar Detox that many people have benefited from.
What is sugar, really?
One thing I was very happy to hear these experts talk about is how people need to change their definition of what sugar is. When we think about sugar it usually brings pictures of a white, granular substance to mind.
Of course table sugar is sugar but what about that box of whole wheat pasta, is that sugar? My answer would be, "yes". Even though the pasta has very little, or even zero, added sugar, it still is converted into sugar very quickly by the body once you eat it. The point being, that many people would think that they're not eating a high sugar diet when they eat a diet high in whole wheat bread, bagels, pastas and cereals. The reality is that they are eating a very high sugar diet by eating these kinds of foods frequently.
It's important for all of us to understand how our bodies work and to take care of them. I outlined how blood sugar works in a post a little while back. It's in depth and will give you an easy to digest understanding of how blood sugar works in the body.
We have seen the enemy, and it is fat. Or is it?
They also spent a good amount of time talking about fat in the diet. The discussion was centered around getting good fats in your diet from foods like avocados, olive oil and salmon. I'm on board with this.
If you're reading this then chances are good that you understand that your body craves the good, omega-3 fatty acids that are found in those foods. I have to admit that I'm still surprised by how often I hear people say that they're avoiding certain foods because they have too much fat and then see that same person down a huge bagel for breakfast. This is misinformed at its finest.
When you walk the aisles of the grocery store there are still a ton of products that promote the "fat free" label. The truth is that when the manufacturer takes the fat out of the product what they usually add in is a lot of sugar. So an misinformed person, who wants to eat right, will see the "low fat" or "fat free" on the label and think they are making a good decision. In reality, they're causing themselves more harm than good.
The fat that comes from eating two or three eggs in the morning would not make you fat but the bagel and fat-free yogurt for breakfast every morning definitely will lead to fat gain because it's sugar as far as the body is concerned.
It's Time to Go Green
It's my opinion that many of us don't eat enough green, living foods... yes, I mean everyone. Even us perfectionist paleo people... myself included 1000%.
I understand that eating copious amounts of spinach, mixed greens, kale, asparagus, broccoli, seaweed and cabbage are good for me in a host of ways but for some reason it can be tough to get all the green veggies in every day. Do you have this same problem or is it just me?
Hungry for Change spent a lot of time talking about detoxifying your body by juicing. Specifically, juicing a lot of green foods and enjoying that beverage every day. This is something I've always wanted to do but I've yet to find a recipe that I could easily make and enjoy the taste every day.
If anyone has a killer green drink recipe please share it! I would be forever grateful.
Good Health, It's Mental
They spent time talking about your inner self. More specifically the inner self-talk that we all have. It can be easy to sabotage ourselves when we're constantly beating ourselves up for not being good enough.
Living a healthy life truly starts from the inside out. Our beliefs, values, emotions and mindset play a critical role in being healthy. I would argue that this mental aspect of health is just as critical as the foods we eat.
One of the health gurus mentions a mental exercise that everyone should do for 30 days straight. She's convinced you will feel and see a dramatic change in your well-being by simply posting a sticky note on your bathroom mirror that says, "I accept myself unconditionally, right now." Then you read that note to yourself out loud every day for 30 days.
Another health expert in the documentary was a man who at one point weighed over 400 pounds and is now a healthy and vibrant 190 pounds. He talked about visualization and how it can be a powerful language to talk to your subconscious mind. He suggested spending thirty seconds each day visualizing what it would feel like and look like to have the body and health you desired.
I think visualization is powerful because it harnesses the power of the reticular activating system in the brain which influences things like sleep, sex, eating, elimination, walking, wakefulness, focus, consciousness and motivation.
Are these methods a little new age? Sure. But I could think of worse rituals. What do you think? Are these worth trying?
What I'm hungry for in 2013.
My wish is that 2013 will bring more people who are ready to take ownership of their health and well-being. That we will all start to vote with our dollars and our habits for healthy, sustainable food sources and less stressful lifestyles.
I hope you'll join us in 2013 as we strive to help more people get on a path to better health and well-being. Thanks for reading. If you found this article interesting please share it.
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