When it comes to our food choices, let’s cut the crap

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Making healthful food choices can seem like a burden. Let’s do something about that.
Part 2 in a series: What’s Weighing You Down?

It’s no secret that Americans are unhealthy. We’re overweight, overstressed and overmedicated, and our rate of disease is staggering. Our grandparents didn’t obsess over their food and avoided many of the medical concerns we deal with today. What’s up with that?

Well, a lot, actually. This has been an area of interest for me for several years, and, while it would be easier to let everyone cut through the crap and the controversies by themselves, I wanted to add my own bits of encouragement to the madness.

I promise, we have plenty to be encouraged about when it comes to our food.

I don’t claim to have all the answers. Not even close. But, as I frequently say, we’re all in this together. I know without a doubt that I’m my own worst enemy, and I need you to help me navigate, just as I believe you need me. And, sweet mercy, we all need Jesus!

food confusion
It’s time to stop being confused about our food choices.

The last time we talked about diet and nutrition, I revealed that my reader survey results surprised me a bit. The surprise wasn’t that diet and nutrition was the No. 1 topic of interest but that the responses were unanimous. (Well … until my husband’s answer screwed up the perfect score. Two factors there: Bruce doesn’t struggle with obesity – he’s underweight – and he didn’t vote until I was compiling the results and told him he had to. 🙂 Also, diet and nutrition got his No. 2 vote.)

Since I started putting pounds on my hips – and, later, other parts of my midsection – at about age 30, I’ve done a ton of reading on food, nutrition, weight loss and health. If you’ve struggled with it for any length of time, you probably have, too (especially if you’re female).

If you’ve read more than one article or book, you no doubt have run up against two or more opinions on what makes us healthy, unhealthy, fat, skinny or something in between.

AND IT’S CONFUSING!

And maddening. And frustrating.

It makes you want to cry or throw up or, at the very least, just throw down the book and eat an entire pint of Häagen-Dazs right out of the carton. I mean, seriously, who scoops ice cream from a pint container into a bowl to eat it? (If you have, please share your experience with the rest of us.)

(Interesting fact: spellcheck didn’t flag Häagen-Dazs just now, meaning: I spelled it correctly the first time. Which totally speaks to the fact that I’m a former copy editor and not at all that I’ve had a lot of experience eating the chocolate-chocolate chip variety of this brand of ice cream. I’m just sayin’.)

A few “facts” I’ve discovered in my years of research:

  • Fat is bad for you.
  • Fat is good for you.
  • Cholesterol is bad for you.
  • Cholesterol is good for you.
  • Reducing calories is the way to lose weight.
  • Calories are not all created equal.
  • Oreos are God’s way of showing His love for us (this one is indisputably true – I’ve done extensive research).

No wonder we’re cray-cray about what to do at mealtime.

I, for one, am ready to cut the crap and start digging down to the root(s) of our problem.

So … because I’m a “bottom line” kind of gal and I promised you some encouragement, here are two things to help you RELAX:

  1. Despite all the conflicting advice and the multimillion-dollar marketing campaigns that only serve to confuse rather than clarify, you can do a few things to start healing (and losing weight, if you need to). It starts with GUT HEALTH.

Fun fact: Did you know that scientists refer to the gut as our “second brain”? (We’ll find out why in the next installment. If you already know, feel free to tell us in the comments.)

  1. Of the dozens of books I’ve read, I have some recommendations, plus a documentary based on one of the books. Here are two of the books:

Passionate Nutrition: A Guide to Using Food as Medicine from a Nutritionist Who Healed Herself from the Inside Out by Jennifer Adler. Except for one section of the book that I could’ve done without, I love this book for its balanced approach to eating. Bottom line: Don’t obsess over nutrients or restrict certain food groups; instead, use “food as medicine” to heal your body and live a passionate life that allows you to enjoy food in moderation.

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by journalist Michael Pollan. If you’d rather watch a documentary based on the book, rent or buy it here. Both are excellent, as is everything I’ve seen from Pollan.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. I sure thought I had watched a documentary based on this book, but I must have been thinking of Food, Inc. Pollan is interviewed in the documentary, but it’s not based on his book. If you want to get FED UP, watch that video. (It has made me seriously consider becoming a vegetarian – and stop eating corn.) If you want to stick with our theme of encouraging info, skip the documentary for now! 🙂

What is the No. 1 question you would like to have answered with this series of articles?

Next up: Why is gut health so important?
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What’s weighing you down? Part 1

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It seems I’m not the only one who struggles with issues related to food, nutrition and physical health. I did a quick survey of my subscribers and Facebook visitors recently, and I couldn’t have been more shocked at the results.

The struggle is real. I have to keep reminders visible so that I make good choices.

Not surprised that the No. 1 topic was diet and nutrition but that the consensus was UNANIMOUS. Everyone who replied to the email or visited the Facebook page wanted to talk about this topic next at To Well With You. (The choices were emotions/depression; finances/debt reduction; and diet/nutrition.)

Well … until I cajoled my skinny husband into voting. He picked a different No. 1 topic, but he said diet/nutrition was “a close second.”

Because Bruce ranked diet a close second, it shows that even underweight people struggle with food and nutrition issues. Bruce has Crohn’s disease, but he’s been super-thin all his life. And Candy, who commented on the Facebook page, said she had always been underweight until the past few years, and now she struggles with the opposite.

Life, age, hormones, medical problems, stress … they’ll do that.

I didn’t struggle with my weight (besides the typical female lament, “I’m fat!” when I wasn’t) until around age 30. (I can remember noticing around Christmastime a few weeks after my birthday that my butt was bigger than I had realized. It happens slowly …)

I’ve put off writing this series because I wasn’t sure where to start. I know I’ll be opening a can of worms once I get going, and where do we stop?

But I’ve opened the can, poured hot sauce on it, have my fork ready, and here we go.

A couple of people you’ll be hearing from as we take this journey together:

  • Dr. Margaret Rutherford, the clinical psychologist I referred to in my email to subscribers. She has a wonderful podcast, SelfWork, that makes me feel as though my best friend, mentor and sounding board are all speaking directly to me. Dr. Margaret practices in Fayetteville, Ark., and I met her through the Arkansas Women Bloggers community. I’m excited that she immediately accepted my invitation to help us sort through the noise and the mess of our thoughts and feelings around food. I’ll be asking her about emotional eating and lots of other stuff, and I hope you’ll feel free to ask questions, too. Dr. Margaret developed an eating disorder when she was in college, so she’s been there, y’all. Here’s her latest blog post, an excellent discussion of the emotions around food. (Tip: It really isn’t about the food.)
  • Dr. Beth Milligan, a medical doctor who’s been my friend since seventh grade! Dr. Beth was my personal physician when she practiced in North Little Rock, Ark. She’s since moved her practice and I moved to another town, so we only see each other on Facebook nowadays. Dr. Beth makes me laugh, and I always enjoyed looking at the autographed pic of Tom Selleck on the wall of one of her exam rooms! Dr. Beth wasn’t as surprised as I was that the survey respondents were unanimous about nutrition as their topic of choice. She has treated a lot of people with weight issues in her years of practice. I can’t wait to glean a few nuggets of insight from her. (And there’s bound to be a laugh or two.) We’ve been saying we need to collaborate on something, so I guess this is our chance! Here’s a link to Dr. Beth’s website.
  • Other clinicians or experts yet to be determined. I’m a podcast junkie and I love to read, so I’ll provide you with some good resources to check out. I’ll also reach out to others who can talk us through some of the topics we want to discuss.
  • You. I’d love to tell your story, share your insights, discover what you’ve learned, or maybe just support you in this community if that’s what you need. As I often say, WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. I believe God made us for community, and He has brought us together to learn from and help each other. If you’re brave enough to be interviewed for a future post, I’d love to talk to you. Contact me here.

Friend, I have SO many thoughts running through my mind as I write this. I’ve been bouncing ideas around in there constantly since getting the survey results.

Please give me your feedback. Do you have questions? Advice? Share them in the comments, post them on the Facebook page or send me a private message. We’re gonna tackle this can of worms, one bite at a time.

Pass the hot sauce.

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Well, Well, Well: tips & tools

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wellwellwell3 - tips & toolsEach week I bring you three tools, tips, articles, recipes or other resources that I find useful or interesting on the journey to wellness. Feel free to suggest your own helpful hints and tips by leaving a comment (see Comment link above).

Here are this week’s three:

NUTRITION

I’ve followed Dietitian Cassie for about 18 months, and I really like her approach. I struggled with which post to start you out with, because she has so much good advice. She’s an advocate of PFC (protein, fat and carbs) at every meal, and she’s not afraid to eat butter!

Cassie bucks the conventional wisdom of the U.S. medical community, but she does it in a respectful way. She wrote a post a few months ago about being open-minded to new things (such as newer research saying that we need fat in our diets!). I’ll share that post with you another time. Today I’m sharing one of her Start Here posts.

Check it out: Simple Starting Steps


FITNESS/EXERCISE

The secret to being a real runner is easy. There is only one thing you have to do. You just have to run.”

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Last year Erin Henderson, mom of 12 (soon to be 13), was the guest speaker at our Women Run Arkansas 5K pasta party. Erin is a runner who lost about 80 pounds and credits running with a lot of her success.

Erin and her husband have adopted most of their children, and some of them have disabilities. No. 13, whom they’re hoping to bring home from China in December, has a severe physical disability and, although they thought they were finished with 12, they both “knew” she was theirs when they saw her. I love that!

Even though I didn’t get to hear Erin speak last year, I’ve followed her blog since before she visited Arkansas and she inspires me every time.

I hope this post will encourage you if you’ve thought about running or are just beginning, and those who’ve been running for years can take something away from it, too.

Check it out: How to Be a Real Runner


HUMOR

I believe Reader’s Digest’s had it right: “Laughter is the Best Medicine.”

You may think a humor piece doesn’t fit into a wellness-tips category, but laughter is healing and this 2-minute YouTube video made me laugh. Besides, don’t we need a good laugh to pick us up on a Monday morning? (We can’t let coffee do all the work!) I hope it gives you a chuckle or two.

That’s it for this week, kids. I hope you found something useful or at least interesting. Until next time …

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