Sensitive to Wheat? Maybe you should try Spelt!

Spelt is a grain you should know about.

Spelt is very much like wheat with just a few important differences, as a matter of fact spelt IS an ancient form of wheat.  For this reason it shares many attributes with wheat, and foods made with spelt are very similar (and taste similar) to those made with wheat.spelt and wheat

Heap of ripe grain feed of wheat as a texture

Wheat berries

Spelt enjoyed greater popularity as a grain for several centuries, but was replaced by wheat over the last century for a number of reasons. However, spelt has recently had a resurgence in popularity primarily because of some of it’s healthy attributes.

Spelt grain

Spelt berries

Spelt has a great taste – although the flavor has been described as a bit nuttier than wheat, spelt is actually very wheat-like in both it’s taste and texture.  Spelt has also gained a reputation for being a healthy for grain since it is often raised without the same herbicide load as wheat.   Much of the spelt grain and flour found in stores is actually organically raised, eliminating the concerns that go with herbicides, pesticides, and specifically glyphosate (the primary ingredient in Roundup).

You can now find a variety of spelt flours and spelt products (bread, crackers, rolls, etc) in many of the mainstream grocery stores, not just in specialty or health food stores.  Nutritional content and calorie count are very similar to wheat.

It’s important to note that spelt does contain gluten, but many people who have troubles when eating wheat do not have the same problems with spelt.  This may be because of the way the spelt grain has remained largely unchanged for so long, or due to differences in farming practices.   As noted previously, glyphosate (Roundup) is sometimes applied to wheat before harvest (though wheat treated this way is never labeled as such, and may be included in the flour or wheat based products you purchase).   This is not the case with Spelt and may account for the differences in digestive problems or gut irritation.   Find out more about spelt and consider trying some spelt products yourself.   I personally bake all of my recipes that call for wheat flour with at least a partial blend of spelt flour.

 

Questions or comments – use the form below – I’d love to hear from you!

Why would anyone want this in their food?

Just a short post to point out the continued concerns with glyphosate- the primary chemical in the product Roundup.

Previous postsroundup-display have pointed out some of the concerns about pesticide and herbicide residue in food and feedstock items.

Unfortunately, this has not changed – and recent articles and studies underscore  this concern.  A recent article on the website of the Independent – a British newspaper – contained the headline:  “Scientists urge caution over experts’ claims pesticide is ‘probably’ carcinogenic”.

It goes on to reference a report from The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) – a the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization.   What stands out to me is the statement: ” The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is that the herbicide glyphosate is classified as probably carcinogenic to humans”.

Take the time to read the linked articles and studies for yourself.
In my mind, the information that there is a probable link to cancer from this substance and as rroundup-ingredientseferenced in the Lancet Journal of Oncology – “Glyphosate and glyphosate formulations induced DNA and chromosomal damage in mammals, and in human and animal cells in vitro”.    Yikes!

I’d rather not ingest anything that damages might damage my dna or chromosomes, or is “probably carcinogenic”.  If you’re concerned about herbicide residue in food, or this type of potential damage to your body, I’d urge you to do the same.    Next up – how to avoid exposing yourself to glyphosate (think organic).

 

Questions?  Comments?  Use the form below – I’d love to hear from you!

 

What did you really eat

So what did you eat today?

Can you answer that accurately and in detail?
If you are wanting to move toward a healthier diet and healthier lifestyle you need to know the answer to these questions. Just like when using a map or GPS – the first thing you have to do in order to plot a course to get somewhere is know where you’re at – identify your location.Ciruelas rojas y amarillas.

When I coach people on improving their overall health, I find that it is crucial that they keep a food log or diary of all they consume.  It is also important that they keep track over the course of several days. By tracking over the course of several days or a week and logging *everything* you consume, you’ll get a more accurate picture or where you’re at, what items are normally found in your diet, and what you need to change. Once you’ve done this, you can begin to pick your targets for change.

Coming up – next steps:  what changes should you target and what about jumping into one of the more popular diets?

Questions, comments, or just want to chime in?  Use the form below – I’d love to hear from you.

So what is the deal with all these diets?

Seriously – there seems to always be some new diet that is all the rage; some dieimage courtesy of qualitystockphotos.comt or hot new method to lose weight, cleanse your body, detox … you get the idea.  All it takes is a glance at the magazines at any grocery store checkout to see what the celebrities consider to be the latest and greatest way to shed some pounds.  The promises are many – this is the hidden secret, this is the one that doesn’t make you change what you eat, this one lets you eat as much (fill in the blank) as you want, the Paleo diet, Keto diet, Low Carb diet, All Carb Diet, Gluten Free Diet, Peanut Butter Diet, All Veggie Diet, and the list goes on and on and on.  But do these really work, and are they good for you?

Upcoming are several posts that will deal with these questions, questions about diet, diets, and dieting, and also some guest posts that will give you some real-life firsthand accounts of experiences as a result of various diets and approaches to a healthier lifestyle.

As a foundational truth though – remember that diets don’t work – not in the long term and not for lasting change toward a healthier lifestyle.  Sometimes they can be helpful (and just the thing you need) to shed a few pounds or kick start a change in lifestyle – but “going on a diet for a while” is almost always destined to fail since you’ll eventually end up right back where you started (or worse off) once you return to your old ways.

The bottom line – “diets” in the traditional sense don’t work – but a change in your diet can work if you incorporate those changes into your daily life and make them foundational for a new lifestyle.  If you do that – there are several different dietary approaches out there that do work.  Upcoming posts will take a closer look at these questions, provide some real-world feedback, and attempt to address any questions you might have.

Questions or comments – please use the form below – I’d love to hear from you.

Listen to your body – it wants you to eat right

Listen to your body – it sends you signals about what you eat, how you eat, and how much you eat.

If you pay attention, it lets you know when you should stop eating, which foods agree with you or which foods cause you to not feel good, These are all signals your body is giving you to try to protect you from foods you shouldn’t eat and to guide you to eat the right amount of things it needs.

1.  Take your time eating, thoroughly taste and chew each bite – this gives your body a chance to begin the digestion process in the right way, and also gives it a chance to signal you when you have eaten enough.  There is a feedback mechanism built into your body – specific hormones that turn hunger on and off (ghrelin and leptin) – learn to “feel” and listen to these hormones and other signals that your body gives you that you have eaten enough.

2.  Pay attention to how you feel after you eat certain foods.image courtesy of kozzi.com
Headache in the afternoon some days?  Upset stomach?  Gassy?  Stomach that “just doesn’t feel right” or is flip-flopping?  You might find an interesting correlation between certain foods and when these symptoms occur.  This is another reason why it’s a good idea to keep a log of the foods you eat as you start to make changes to move you toward a healthier lifestyle.

Your body is talking to you all the time – you may need to relearn to hear it, and then listen to what it’s saying.  This is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining and protecting your health.

Questions or comments?  I’d love to hear from you.

Start with your goals part three – what is really important to you?

This may be the most important part of what you need to do in order to begin to move toward a healthier lifestyle.  You have to decide what is really important to you – once you do this, you can begin to move toward it and eliminate the things that stand in your way.

You have to decide what is most important because that is will define what is not as important.  I know some people that can hardly ever pass a donut shop without stopping.  If donuts are your “thing” or you feel like you can never pass up chocolate cake, certain physical or fitness goals are probably out or reach.  If a certain level of physical health or athletic performance is your goal, it won’t seem like such a great sacrifice to give up some of the sugary treats and other things that you might otherwise eat.  To put it another way, think about whether the daily things you do from a dietary and fitness standpoint move you toward or away from a healthier lifestyle.   Did the dietary and exercise choices you made yesterday move you toward being healthier and feeling better, or was it just more of the same way you’ve done things for the last month, year or many years.

If your top priority is to wake up and feel healthy, strong and vital every day, to reduce illness and/or injury and to avoid the bad effects of the typical western diet, you begin the measure your meals and snacks and the things you do (or don’t do) against that goal.  I personally stay focused on how good I feel every day, and I don’t want anything to derail that or keep me from that.  In order to do this, I think it helps to keep this at the front of your mind with a simple phrase or reminder. 

If you’ve never felt that, or if you wake up not feeling good every day, I’d challenge you to consider changing your goals.  Don’t expect everything about your body and health to change overnight – because it won’t.  But you can begin today to make little changes that will move you toward a healthier lifestyle one little step at a time.  Remember that you didn’t get to where you are today overnight either.  Set your sights on a lifetime goal of healthy living and feeling good.

 

A road trip is not a vacation from health

At least it shouldn’t be.

I have been traveling recently, and I’m always fascinated to watch the breakfast habits of fellow travelers.  Other meals are interesting too – but I find breakfast even more interesting since it’s easy identify the travelers; especially so if you are eating in the hotel in the morning before hitting the road or heading out to meetings.

Most people who read this blog have an understanding of the importance of healthy meals – including breakfast.

A breakfast of waffles or muffins or pastries with a big glass of orange juice doesn’t cut it – not if your goal is eat a healthy or at least balanced meal.   Waffles, muffins, pastry, toast (even if you didn’t put the jam or jelly on it) is basically sugar, sugar, sugar, sugar  – and if you had that big glass of orange juice – then you washed it down with sugar.

A healthy lifestyle doesn’t consist of a diet with breakfasts like this, and breakfast when traveling shouldn’t be like this either.

If you want to be healthy, you need to move toward a healthy lifestyle, and that is built on good meals, healthy nutrition, and staying active.  Just like a short term fix like a diet doesn’t fix an unhealthy lifestyle, treating yourself to a breakfast sugary breakfast doesn’t set the stage for a healthy lifestyle.  Aside from negative effects you’ll have on that day, many people find that treating themselves to a “special breakfast” like this to be a slippery slope to returning to unhealthy eating habits.

Try to look for good sources of protein such as eggs or meats, some cheese, a little fresh fruit and perhaps some yogurt or a little salad (if it’s available at breakfast time).  Dont’ forget coffee – it has it’s own health benefits, and it’s delicious. 
I try to avoid pastries, cereals (these are usually loaded with sugar) and other processed items like “breakfast bars”.  Most foods that claim to be a healthy meals that come in a bar, bag or pouch may be meal replacements, but I’d doubt they’ll help you reach a goal of a healthier lifestyle.

If we begin to think of a healthy lifestyle as the sum of consistently making good choices for your health, choices about what to have for a specific meal get easier; they become part of a pattern or plan for a healthy lifestyle rather than just what you happened to eat for that meal.

 

Questions or comments about this post?   Use the form below to contact me – I’d love to hear from you.

 

What about supplements –worth it or a waste?

Two of the most frequent questions I get concern vitamins are:

Should I take them, and if so, what should I be taking?

To answer the first question – despite the fact that you can’t make up for bad nutrition with good supplements – most people could probably benefit from vitamin supplements.

When people hear this suggestion – they typical response is – why?

 1.    It’s difficult to always make sure that your diet includes the proper amounts of some of the most important vitamins.  Which ones?  Keep reading – we’ll get to that.  Some nutrients are difficult to get and the correct supplements can help make up for shortcomings in the foods you eat.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind that the RDA which is often looked at for “how much should I take” is really a recommended amount necessary to avoid the vitamin deficiency diseases – it is not necessarily the optimum amount for excellent health.

2.    As a result of decades of intensive farming, and utilizing methods to shorten the amount of time to harvest, it’s questionable that food have the same nutritional value they once had.  The University of Texas released a study in 2004 concerning this.  That study of 43 garden crops led by a University of Texas Dr. Donald Davis suggests that their nutrient value has declined in recent decades while farmers have been planting crops designed to improve other traits; “Considered as a group, we found that six out of 13 nutrients showed apparently reliable declines between 1950 and 1999,” he said.

The nutrients they identified as declining at least somewhat in measurable value were protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin and ascorbic acid. The declines ranged from 6 percent for protein to 38 percent for riboflavin.

This study is reflective of the kind of nutritional changes in our food supply over the last 50 years.

So – should you supplement your diet with vitamins – my answer is yes.
Make sure you read the next post covering vitamin supplements for more specifics  and for general guidelines concerning what you should take and what to avoid.

Questions about vitamins or supplements?  Contact me using the form below – I’d love to hear from you.

One more reason to dislike GMO – it’s unsustainable

Read some of the previous posts if you want to know more about what GMO is, how it’s made, some of the GMO foods that are already (unlabeled) in the US food supply, and why you should be concerned about GMO products in our food supply.

If these haven’t given you reason enough to be concerned about silent addition of GMO foods to the US diet, my last post pointed out the effects that GMO crops are having on land and farming.  There is yet another reason to dislike and be concerned about GMO products.

GMO products are directly causing even greater harm to the environment and are pushing us further away from sustainable farming and responsible land use.   One of the unintended effects of the introduction of GMO products and the accompanying designer herbicides and pesticides the development of “superbugs” and “superweeds” that are requiring both increased use of toxic herbicides and pesticides, and the use of more potent versions of these chemicals on crops and farmland.

Over five years ago Scientific American reported on the appearance of herbicide resistant weeds that were showing up.  Since then, the problem has continued and even escalated.   According to a recent study released from Washington State University, “…the use of herbicides in the production of three genetically modified herbicide-tolerant crops – cotton, soybeans and corn – has actually increased.”  This runs against what most people would think and against what the GMO industry would like to you to believe.   While the idea of GMO crops has been sold to the public as a way to feed the world with fewer resources, while in fact this study has found quite the opposite.  According to this study “Resistant weeds have become a major problem for many farmers reliant on GE crops, and they are now driving up the volume of herbicide needed each year by about 25 percent….”  Similar reports have emerged from other studies as well.

So not only are farmers having to use more and stronger chemicals to battle the resistant weeds and pests, but they are utilizing more fossil fuels in the process (more frequent and heavier application) and of course the resultant effects on the land and in terms of runoff and contamination are greater than before.   Do your own research and you’ll find even more reasons to say no thank you to any GMO foods or ingredients in your food.

If you have questions or comments, please us the form below to contact me.  I’d love to hear from you!

Unhealthy food grown in unhealthy soil

Previous posts have looked at the definition, manufacture, and a renewed saftey concern with GMO food.

Aside from the innate questions about the safety about GMO foods, there is another concern you may want to consider:

What about pesticide or herbicide residue in the foods you eat?

Think about one specific example  –  the use of glyphosate – the active ingredient found in the herbicide Roundup from Monsanto.

This product is typically used in conjunction with Roundup Ready seed, but is sometimes used with conventiona seed as well.
Some of the Roundup Ready GMO crops currently in use in the US market include alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, soybeans, and sugarbeets. The herbicide is sometimes applied to the soil prior to planting, timing and frequency of application depends upon the specific crop.  Depending upon the crop, it can even be used as close as three days before harvest.

The heart of this concern of mine is that I do not want to be eating food that was raised in soil that has had glyphosate applied to it, food that has been raised having glyphosate applied to it, or eat food that was raised on crops that have had glyphosate applied – perhaps even days before it was consumed as forage.   There are too many concerns in my mind about the effects of long term exposure to herbicide and pesticide residue in my food, and the effect that this has on food that I eat (animals raised on herbicide and pesticide treated crops).

In addition, serious concerns have been raised about the changes to soil resulting from the use of glyphosate.  Both soil biology (natural bacteria) and mineral content is being affected due to the chelating effects of glyphosate – locking up key minerals like iron, calcium, manganese, and zinc while at the same time having a negative effect on the natural occuring beneficial bacteria.  As a result both harmful soil bacteria rise in population and the root structure of plants is impacted in a harmful manner.

Keep in mind that we’ve only looked at one herbicide, and haven’t even touched on the subject of pesticides in this post

Make sure you read the next post on the residual effects of herbicides like Roundup on the environment and the effect on sustainable agriculture and initiatives.   If you have any questions or comments, please use the form below – I would love to hear from you.