October 22, 2014

Man cannot live on bread alone…or here’s what I learned last week!

Man cannot live on bread alone…or only food for the body for that matter. Our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being are closely intertwined. Starving any one of those will result in an imbalance that affects our quality of life.

Nonstop work has been wearing on me, but last week provided an interesting mix of lectures, documentaries, and presentations around here. I attended enough of them, I should be a lot smarter than I was two weeks ago. Am I? Probably not, but at least I enjoyed some interesting distraction and I can share with you what I took away from the events:
Dr. Rodney Ford
Tuesday – Dr. Rodney Ford presented the story of his journey to believing that gluten-zero is the best alternative for many, if not most, of us.
Observations: His tone and approach have softened in the two years since I last visited with him. Always informative and able to present complex medical information in an audience friendly way, Dr. Ford brings compelling evidence from his pediatric practice that many patients who test high in Anti-Gliadin Antibodies (AGA) improve on a gluten-free diet even if they are not celiac and yet the medical community and many parents remain resistant to adhering to the regimen.
Takeaway: Dr. Ford poses the question regarding our beliefs about the importance of socialization vs. the importance of health when it comes to making decisions for our children. It’s a subject that we focus on often here at Cooking2Thrive. We love his bravery in asking the tough questions! He’s done it his whole career and his patients are better for it. I’m better for it having read his books.
Comment: At Cooking2Thrive, we continue to observe that it is rarely a lack of information that keeps us from making healthy choices. It’s not even necessarily a lack of desire to be healthy. More often, it’s a lack of social and emotional support for a healthy choice in a given moment that leaves us with the overall feeling that being healthy will mean giving up too much.
garden_gun
Wednesday – Rebecca Darwin, CEO of the Allee Group and a founder of Garden & Gun magazine spoke on the advent of the magazine, the organization’s expansion into books and events, and the importance of dedication to quality content and thinking big.
Observations: If Ms. Darwin had not been willing to leave her high profile New York job as marketing director of Fortune magazine and move with her husband who had decided to attend the seminary, Garden & Gun would not exist.
Takeaway: Dedication to quality content and thinking like a big player can take you far.
Comment: Sometimes we become so focussed on what we’ve achieved, we are afraid to let it go and move on to something different. It is inspiring to know that Rebecca Darwin resisted that temptation and the result was an incredible new publication.
Hoop Dreams
Thursday – Arthur Agee, Jr. (one of the subjects) and Gordon Quinn (artistic director) discussed the making of the 20-year-old documentary Hoop Dreams.
Observations: This lecture was held in the same room as the Garden & Gun lecture. The crowd was much smaller and the discussion more intimate, moving, and compelling.
Takeaway: Arthur Agee, Jr.’s desire to do his parents proud brings him to tears and makes it easy to understand why he can support himself with a role model foundation. Gordon Quinn’s extraordinary story of how the producers of the film voluntarily, without legal obligation, cut the subjects in on the profits once the film made money shows that some organizations do the right thing just because it’s right.
Comment: The display of authentic goodness in the room was the feel good story of the week!
Just eat it
Sunday - We made a quick drive on a beautiful, crisp morning to a screening of the film, Just Eat It.
Observations: In the film, a couple lives for 6 months on only food that has been discarded. While some of the food comes from dumpsters, they’re kind that are parked behind food wholesalers and filled with thousands of packages of unexpired hummus, not the kind full of partially eaten scraps. The couple rescues enough food ($20,000 worth) to let their friends come shop from their pantry.
Takeaway: The waste built into our farming and food distribution system is so huge as to boggle the mind. Part of the waste is because of our expectation of uniformity in fruits and vegetables and our failure to understand freshness labeling.
Comment: I live in a state where 19.7% of households experience food insecurity. There has to be a way to rework our expectations and reroute perfectly safe and edible food away from dumpsters and into homes where it is needed.

I love weeks that leave me feeling inspired, challenged, and a bit more informed. If you have recently learned something exciting, please share the source with us in the comments section.

For more information, visit these sites:
http://drrodneyford.com/
http://gardenandgun.com/
http://www.arthuragee.org/
http://www.foodwastemovie.com/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be god for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

October 11, 2014

Enjoy These Gluten-Free Candies on Halloween

Enjoy these gluten-free candies on Halloween and avoid the consequences of an auto-immune response. If you’re Celiac or Gluten Intolerant, there’s no need to feel limited on Halloween. Below, we’ve listed more than 75 candies that are gluten-free to help you navigate the candy isle at your local store. For your convenience, we’ve also listed items to avoid.
Halloween Candy
You can also use this list to sort your child’s candy haul once you’re back home. Let’s face it, there’s too much sugar in that cute pumpkin shaped bucket to turn any kid loose with it sans supervision. As a parent setting boundaries, you can determine the best way to approach the task of removing harmful items.

If your child is very young, you may not even want to mention gluten. You can simply focus on yourself as the keeper of all sugarfest items and establish a schedule that you will follow for doling out the treats. Once you’ve set that expectation, dispose of the harmful items and distribute the others as promised.

You will have successfully set your child’s expectation, and although they may put up a fuss in the beginning, if you stick with your plan they will soon give up in recognition that fussing is futile. Yes, some kids will require being told no over and over and over again, but the simplest solution to such behavior for the long haul is to stick by your plan.

Each time you enforce boundaries and show the kids you mean what you say, you reinforce the idea that defiance will not result in a change in your plan. Setting this standard early will be useful as your children mature and you must help them understand that you will not allow them to have gluten-filled pizza no matter how much they whine that all their friends get to eat it.

If your child is older, you may want to have a conversation about which candies are gluten-free so that they can make good choices when at a friend’s house or in the convenience store.

Now let’s get to that candy list so you can move on to the task of finding or finishing the perfect costume!

From Hershey’s
Enjoy:
Almond Joy (except Almond Joy Pieces)
HERSHEY’s Milk Duds (all)
HERSHEY’s Nuggets
HERSHEY’s Nuggets Milk Chocolate with Almonds
HERSHEY’s SPECIAL DARK Dark Chocolate with Almonds
HERSHEY’s Nuggets Extras Creamy Milk Chocolate with Toffee and Almonds
HERSHEY’s Milk Chocolate Bar
HERSHEY’s Milk Chocolate Bar with Almonds
HERSHEY’s Air Delight
Heath Bar
Milk Chocolate Kisses
Caramel Filled Chocolate Kisses
Cherry Cordial Creme Kisses
MOUNDS (all)
PAYDAY (all)
REESE’s Peanut Butter Cups (except for unwrapped minis and seasonal shapes)
REESE’s PIECES (all except REESE’s PIECES Eggs)
ROLO Caramels (all except Minis)
Scharffen Berger
Skor Toffee Bar
YORK Peppermint Pattie (all except YORK PIECES, YORK Minis and YORK Shapes)

Avoid:
Almond Joy Pieces
HERSHEY’s Extra Dark Chocolate
HERSHEY’s Cookies ‘N’ Creme Bar
HERSHEY’s Milk Chocolate Drops
HERSHEY’s Miniatures
HERSHEY’s Special Dark Bar
Mr. Goodbar
REESE’s Peanut Butter Cups unwrapped Minis and seasonal shapes,
REESE’s PIECES eggs
ROLO Minis
Symphony Bar
Kit Kat
YORK PIECES
YORK Minis and YORK Shapes

From Jelly Belly
Enjoy:
All jelly beans are gluten-free and dairy free
Jelly Belly Candy Corn

Avoid:
Any mix containing malt balls
Chocolate Bridge Mix
Licorice Bridge Mix
Chocolate Malt Balls
Licorice Buttons
Licorice Pastels

From Just Born
Enjoy:
Seasonal Peeps as noted on package
Mike and Ike’s – Berry Blast
Italian Ice
Jolly Joes
Lemonade Blends
Original Fruits
Redrageous
Tangy Twister
Tropical Typhoon
Zours
Hot Tamales
Goldenberg’s Vintage Peanut Chews

Avoid:
Any Peep not labeled GF

From Mars Chocolate
Please read labels on all Mars products

Enjoy:
All flavors of 3 Musketeers
Dove Chocolate products other than those containing graham or cookies
Plain M&Ms meet the stringent standards for GF certification, additional M&Ms other than pretzel flavored or special flavors
Milky Way Midnight Bar
Milky Way Caramel Bar
Munch Nut Bar unless noted
All flavors of Snickers

Avoid:
M&M pretzel flavor
Some packages of M&M White Chocolate, Mint, and M&M Coconut flavor
Maltesers
Mars Bar
Mars Combos
Milky Way Bar
Twix

From NECCO
Enjoy:
Candy Buttons
CANADA Mint
CANADA Wintergreen
Banana Splits Chews
Mint Julep Chews
Haviland Thin Mints
Haviland Wintergreen Patty
Mary Jane
Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses
NECCO Wafers
NECCO Chocolate Wafers
Sky Bar
Sweethearts

Avoid:
Clark Bars
Haviland Bridge Mix
Haviland Real Chocolate Covered Raisins
Haviland Real Chocolate Double Dipped Peanuts
Mighty Malts
Peach Blossoms
Red Hot Cinnamon Bat-Wing Wafers
Slap Stix
Squirrel Nut Zippers
Sweethearts Mummy Hearts
Zombie Hearts

From Nestle
Enjoy:
Baby Ruth
Bit-O-Honey
Original Flavor Butterfinger
Goobers
Laffy Taffy
Laffy Taffy Rope
Milk Chocolate
Nips
Oh Henry!
Rasinets including Cranberry and Dark Chocolate
Runts
Sno-Caps
Wonka Pixy Stix
Wonka Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip

Avoid (some are processed in a facility that processes gluten containing items, read label):
100 Grand Bar
Butterfinger Crisp Bar
Butterfinger Giant Bar
Butterfinger Snackerz
Butterfinger Medallions
Butterfinger Jingles
Butterfinger Hearts
Butterfinger Pumpkins
Chewy Spree
Everlasting Gobstopper
Nestle Crunch Bar
Sweetarts
All flavors of Wonka Bars
Wonka Nerds
Wonka Gummies
Wonka Kazoozles

From Sweets
Enjoy:
Chocolate Jelly Sticks
Gummy Bears are all certified GF
Jelly Beans
Salt Water Taffy

Avoid:
Candies packaged by Sweets, but not made by Sweets. Read labels.

From Tootsie Roll Industries
Enjoy:
All Tootsie Rolls and Charms products with the exception of Andes cookies.
The following Tootsie Roll products are also peanut and nut product free:
Andes mints
Crows
Celia’s Milk or Dark Chocolate Covered Cherries
Charleston Chew
Charms Squares
Charms Sour Balls
Charms Candy Carnival
Frooties, Dots
Tropical Dots
Fluffy Stuff Cotton Candy
Junior Mints
Junior Caramels
Caramel Apple Pops
Fruit Smoothie Pops
Pops Galore
Tootsie Pops
Tootsie Peppermint Pops
Tropical Stormz Pops
Zip-A-Dee-Mini Pops
Child’s Play Tootsie Roll Assortment
Fruit Rolls
Tootsie Rolls
Sugar Babies
Sugar Daddy
Sugar Mama

Avoid:
Andes Cookies

From Mars Wrigley
Enjoy:
Cream Savers
Lifesavers
Skittles
Starburst

Avoid:
Altoids Smalls Peppermint Mints
Altoids Chocolate Dipped Covered Mints

I must admit it seems a bit ironic to blog about candy immediately following a post on healthy eating, but hey it’s Halloween and I love Halloween so I want you to quit worrying and have as much fun as I plan to!

Happy Halloween!

If you require additional information, you can contact these candy companies at the following numbers:
Hershey’s 800-468-1714
Jelly Belly 800-522-3267
Just Born 888-645-3453
Mars Chocolate 800-627-7852
Necco 800-225-5508
Nestle USA 800-225-2270
Sweet’s 855-772-7720
Tootsie Roll Industries 773-838-3400
Mars Wrigley 800-974-4539

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sources:

http://www.thehersheycompany.com/nutrition-and-wellbeing/nutrition-information/special-dietary-needs/gluten-free-products.aspx

http://www.necco.com/FAQs.aspx

http://www.mars.com/global/about-mars/faq.aspx

http://www.nestle.com/aboutus/ask-nestle/answers/gluten-free-products

http://www.specialtyfood.com/organization/company/8077/

September 30, 2014

We’re bombarded with the words Eat Healthy, but what do they really mean?

Every day we’re bombarded with the words Eat Healthy, but what do they mean? Do any of us really know?

Watch TV news shows for a day and you’re bound to see a graphic that features some combination of the words healthy and eat, eating, or diet in a list of behaviors that can reduce your chances for contracting some chronic health condition – diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, seasonal affective disorder, inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, migraines, and more.

If a healthy diet can help prevent us from contracting all of these horrible things, you’d think we would all jump on the bandwagon so we could avoid feeling bad, doctor visits, side-effects of medicine, higher insurance rates, and a shortened lifespan. It kinda seems like a no-brainer, and yet I’d wager that a high percentage of us really have no idea exactly what a healthy diet is.

The word diet has come to be automatically associated with low calorie or something you do to get skinnier. Since you can be both thin and unhealthy, let’s start by removing our association of diet with calories alone.
healthy meal
A healthy diet combines a good balance of water and nutrients. Nutrients are the components in foods that our bodies use to survive and grow. They include carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and vitamins. Also essential to human metabolism are some dietary minerals – salts, copper and iron.

In the broadest view, the best foods have the highest ratio of nutrients to the lowest amount of calories, but you do not have to limit yourself to these foods. You can eat in a healthy manner by maintaining a good balance across all food groups while managing portion size.

In order to know whether you are getting a good balance of nutrients, you must first know what’s in the food you consume. That doesn’t mean knowing what a TV commercial says about it, or what the large marketing terms on a package scream out. In fact, it’s best if you erase the food pyramid from your brain along with packaging that says DIET, no ADDED sugar, WHOLE grain, or low fat. These terms do not mean the food is healthy.

To know what’s in packaged food, you must read the ingredients and nutrition information on the label. To learn the composition of fresh foods, you can use one of the many tools available online.

It’s also good to have some general guidelines regarding how much of each nutrient your body requires. Because everyone’s metabolism is unique, there’s not a single, exact formula that applies, but you can begin with generalities and then observe and adjust to fit your body’s requirements. You may need less or more food than listed based on your age, height, health condition, and activity level.

Here are some general guidelines to healthy food consumption:

Allow the following in your diet each day:
75 – 100 grams of protein, plus additional if you eliminate complex carbohydrates (300 – 400 calories)
60 – 80 grams of carbohydrates, plus additional to meet calorie requirements. Most of the additional carbs should come from fresh vegetables, legumes, and fruit (240 – 320 calories minimum)
63 – 97 grams of fat (567 – 873 calories)
9 – 13 cups water minimum (0 calories)

If you find all of this confusing, just remember to focus on FLAVOR!

F resh food
L imit packaged, processed food and grain-based carbs
A nimal proteins with the least amount of fat and no additives
V egetable and fruit carbs in wide variety
O rganic when possible
R epeat each day

And now for more detail:
protein
Protein Minimum: 46 (women) – 56 (men & pregnant women) grams of protein per day.
Better: 25 grams per meal or about 75 grams per day.

Examples of high protein foods: beef, pork, lamb, bison, chicken, eggs, fish, seafood.
Other foods with protein: milk, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs. nuts, beans, tofu, quinoa.

A 3 ounce portion of meat typically has 21 grams of protein and each gram of protein provides 4 calories of energy. Meat will also contain fat. In order to keep your fat intake reasonable, it is good to eat a variety of lean meats, poultry, and fish. You can also choose yogurt made with skim milk instead of whole milk, raw nuts instead of roasted nuts with oil, and you can cook beans with chicken stock rather than ham or salt pork.

Protein is made up of amino acids that your body uses to build healthy cells. If you do not get enough, you can suffer from fatigue, weakness, or muscle loss and your immune system may suffer.

veggie carbs
Carbohydrates 60 – 80 grams per day is sufficient.
If you have a calorie deficit after consuming the amount of protein and fats you need, then adding vegetables, legumes, or fruits for more energy is a healthy choice.

Each gram of carbohydrate provides about 4 calories of energy. Carbohydrates can be broken into two categories – simple and complex. Simple carbs from fresh fruits and vegetables are the healthiest form of carbohydrates. They provide many essential vitamins, minerals, water, and fiber. Legumes, which can be either simple or complex, are also a source of protein.

Examples of high carbohydrate foods: fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes. Less healthy carbohydrates often combined with fats are bread, rolls, wraps, tortillas, cornbread, crackers, cakes, pies, brownies, candy, muffins, pancakes, waffles, donuts, pastries, toaster pastries, breakfast bars, breakfast cereal, many protein bars, cookies, french fries, ice cream, ice cream bars, pasta, rice, corn, and oats. Other high carbohydrate foods that should be consumed in limited amounts: sugar, soft drinks, energy drinks, ketchup, maple syrup, cane syrup, high fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, honey, jellies, jams, and candy.

Simple carbohydrates are single and double-chained sugars and usually end in the letters ose – glucose, fructose, lactose, maltose, and sucrose. These simple carbs are usually devoid of nutrition in spite of the calories they add. If you get these sugars from fruits or dairy, the fruit itself or the dairy product will contain nutrients. If simple sugars are added to processed food, they provide temporary energy, but no significant nutrition making them empty calories.

Complex carbohydrates are made from many chains of simple sugars joined together. Complex carbohydrates include starch and fiber. Foods containing complex carbs include wheat, corn, rice, oats, barley, hops, some beans, potatoes and other vegetables, breads, wraps, cakes, muffins, pancakes, waffles, donuts, pastries, breakfast cereal, breakfast bars, many protein bars, toaster pastries, chips, and pasta.

Your body will process simple sugars faster than it processes complex carbohydrates. Because we have a cultural habit of eating 3 meals per day spaced 5-6 hours apart, many people have become accustomed to using complex carbs as a way to feel full for a longer period of time. You can eliminate complex carbohydrates and eat more often and still be eating a healthy diet that will give you continual energy. If you eat too little protein, it may be even more tempting to fill up with starchy complex carbs in order to feel satisfied.

Bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, pasta, rice, corn, and oats are less expensive to purchase than proteins. For that reason, restaurants, fast food outlets, and the increasingly popular fast casual restaurants have menus filled with an overabundance of carbohydrates and fats combined with small portions of protein. Fresh vegetables and fruits are offered in limited selection because they have a short shelf life and are relatively expensive.

Since many grain based products are fortified with vitamins and minerals, they appear to have more nutrients than the raw grains offer. There’s nothing wrong with added nutrients unless they are accompanied by a high amount of fat, simple sugars, and chemical additives. This is often the case with packaged, convenience foods.

As the public has demanded lower fat food choices, many packaged foods have replaced fats with sugars to enhance flavor. If you read any nutrition label, you may notice that the percentage of the recommended daily allowance of sugar is never listed. The carbohydrates will be listed in grams, but never the percentage of RDA. This is a clever omission to make it more difficult to recognize how much sugar you are consuming in each serving.

Filling up with high carbohydrate packaged foods on a daily basis is not healthy.

(This is perhaps the most debated food group and rarely do medical professionals take a stand other than in relation to diabetes. There are some physicians who believe no carbohydrates are essential, but many vegetables and fruits are good sources of essential vitamins and minerals so most will concede that some carbohydrate consumption can be healthy. A larger group warns against highly processed, high fat, sugary complex carbohydrates. The seemingly largest, and most vocal, group of medical professionals and nutritionists encourage the consumption of whole grain breads, cereals, and pastas so that you will get proper nutrients and enough dietary fiber. Often overlooked in their recommendations is the fact that most breads, cereals, and pastas purchased at the market must be fortified with added vitamins and minerals in order to offer you the nutrients of which they speak. Additional oversights seem to be: 1)Breads purchased in a package will often contain a significant amount of sodium even though they do not taste salty. 2)Fruits, vegetables and nuts contain a large amount of fiber making it possible to get enough fiber without consuming complex carbohydrates.)

fat
Fats Women should allow consumption of 63 – 73 fat grams per day, and men from 77 – 97 depending on age and overall calorie requirements.

Examples of foods that contain fat: meat, some fish and seafood, poultry, eggs, bacon, cheese, salad dressing, lard, shortening, nuts, nut butters like peanut butter, avocados, whole milk, butter, cod liver oil, coconut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, and other vegetable oils. Muffins, cookies, crackers, cakes, chips, fried chicken, french fries, other fried foods, breads, candy bars, and protein bars.

Each gram of fat contains 9 calories which is more than twice as many calories as contained in a gram of protein or carbohydrate. That’s about 120 calories per tablespoon.

The body requires fats that it cannot manufacture. These fats help proteins do their jobs. They help the body stockpile nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K, and they begin chemical reactions used in growth, immune function, and reproduction. Naturally occurring fats may be saturated or unsaturated. Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature while unsaturated are not.

There’s a category of fats called trans fats that is produced in the gut of some animals. Small amounts of trans fats then appear in foods made from these animals. There are other artificial trans fatty acids created by an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. These trans fats will be listed on labels as partially hydrogenated oil which is no longer considered generally safe in human food and should be avoided.

Minerals and Vitamins There are recommended daily allowances for many vitamins and minerals and upper allowances for some. Minerals and vitamins are contained in most of the foods listed above.

Vitamins and minerals are important for bone health, electrolyte balance, thyroid function, and many other body functions like blood clotting and heart rhythm.

Examples of minerals that you need: Calcium, copper, sodium, iron, potassium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and iodine.

Examples of vitamins that you need: A, B6, B12, Niacin, Riboflavin, Thiamin, C, E, K, and folate.

In order to get all of these vitamins and minerals, you will need to consume a wide variety of foods. If you have been advised to limit your salt intake, it is important to recognize that many packaged foods contain a significant amount of sodium even though they don’t taste salty.

Water Average adequate intake per day for a woman living in a temperate climate is 9 cups.
Average adequate intake per day for a man living in a temperate climate is 13 cups.

Water needs are affected by weight, age, temperature, electrolyte balance, intake of caffeine, intake of sugar, physical activity, your surrounding environment, health conditions, and pregnancy or breast-feeding so you may need more water than the amount listed here. You will also get water from fruits and vegetables, liquids like tea and coffee, juice, milk, and flavored drinks. Most flavored drinks also contain a large amount of added sugar or chemical sweeteners and should be limited or avoided altogether.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and contributes to the function of every body system. Lack of water can lead to dehydration that can drain your energy, give you a headache, cause weakness, dizziness, palpitations, confusion, fainting, sluggishness, and inability to sweat. Severe dehydration over a period of time will cause body systems to shut down leading to life-threatening conditions.

Now that you know the guidelines – we’ve said it before, but perhaps it bears repeating, the easiest way to know what’s in your food it to prepare it from fresh ingredients. Even when cooking from scratch you’ll make the healthiest choices by reading labels. This will help you avoid added sodium or preservatives that are often injected into meat or poultry. If you notice that a label contains lots of tough to pronounce chemicals, then it is probably best avoided or at least limited.

Again, if you don’t have time to study every little item you consume, then you can always just focus on FLAVOR as your guide:

F resh food
L imit packaged, processed food and grain-based carbs
A nimal proteins with the least amount of fat and no additives
V egetable and fruit carbs in wide variety
O rganic when possible
R epeat each day

There’s nothing more tasty than a perfectly ripe sweet cherry, peach, or tomato. You don’t have to cook them. They are rich in nutrients. They are just three of the hundreds of healthy, fresh foods that you can include in your diet and they prove that healthy can be both simple and delicious. Now get out there and Eat Healthy!

Want to know more? Check out these links:

http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthy-kitchen-11/how-much-protein

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/dehydration-adults

http://www.doctoroz.com/article/protein-fact-sheet

http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/dietary-guidance

http://www.doctoroz.com/article/good-carbs-vs-bad-carbs?page=1

http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/carbs.html

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/pyramid-full-story/

http://www.drperlmutter.com/learn/faq/how-much-carbohydrate-do-we-absolutely-require-in-the-diet/

http://www.pennmedicine.org/health_info/nutrition/not_same.html

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130423102127.htm

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/vitamins-minerals-how-much-should-you-take?page=2

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

September 17, 2014

Can you stop just existing and thrive? You can, and you are worth it.

Can you stop just existing and thrive? You can, and you are worth it, but you may not be living that way because you may not believe it way down deep. Why do so many of us feel so bad about ourselves?

In this age of headlines and 24/7 talking heads we lunge from crisis to crisis. Our culture is swept up in rivers of bad news, glaring failures, dissatisfaction, and united finger pointing at whomever we can identify as a potential villain. NFL players have taken the stage this week led by Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.

What has resulted is a narrow focus on the behavior of professional athletes. Not even women’s rights advocates have suggested that all professions should purge their halls of those who physically assault their partners or children. Why is the NFL special? Let’s purge elementary schools, colleges, newsrooms, courts, churches, investment firms, manufacturing facilities, the trucking industry, pipe fitters, doctor’s offices and mental health facilities as well. If we don’t, what point are we making?

And that’s my point. Most of the time, it feels like we’re just finger pointing and creating a villain of the moment – someone who can make us feel better about ourselves while we contrast our public behavior from theirs. What we sometimes forget is that most of the violent incidents we see aired were not believed to be public. They were private moments. We know this and if we’re willing to tell ourselves the truth, we know that we would not look good if our most vile or shameful moments were plastered on a TV screen.

All of us have erred. All of us feel shame. In this commonality of human experience we can find compassion, empathy, and healing or we can find condemnation, comparison, and hate – peacefulness or warmongering.

The problem with focusing our energy on the condemnation of other people in order to make ourselves feel better, or momentarily superior, is that this behavior systematically prevents our own improvement. As we elevate ourselves in contrast with others, we become less and less willing to admit when we have erred in a similar manner for fear that an astute observer may remember our prior condemnation of this behavior and hold us accountable. We will go to great lengths to support our fantasy that we not like those we vilify.

As we feel the internal conflict inherently created by trying to live a fantasy, we are forced to disassociate from our authentic feelings and real truth. Until we reconnect with these, we simply cannot live fully. We will be able to make superficial change, but our inner turmoil will remain. We will never thrive.

Unfortunately, many of us are products of family systems that denied our reality. We had mothers who failed to report our injuries from our father’s physical violence, or fathers who failed to acknowledge the real danger we experienced when our mother passed out and almost burned the house down with us in it. Of course there are millions of versions of this story. The point is that when our family systems normalize this behavior while simultaneously requiring us to hide it, we are trained early on to deny the truth of our experience.

With a cultural bias toward public condemnation and universal opportunities presented by social media to anonymously criticize, it can feel daunting to embrace your truth, especially when it doesn’t match up with social convention. So many of us develop a habit of selling ourselves short.

If we grew up as targets of abusers, we may carry this a step further. The scenario goes something like this: deny our truth, sell ourselves short, blame someone else for holding us back, feel angry, release that anger in inappropriate ways or use it as a defense that prevents us from receiving love and support, suffer the consequences of our behavior or perceived lack of support and continue to make choices that cause us to feel like a victim. Victims do not recognize their power. If they did, they would not choose to continue to live like victims.

If you are existing rather than thriving, we support your desire for change! No matter who you are or what you have done, you deserve appreciation and love. We cry with you as you grieve your losses. We accept your less than perfect behavior even when we can’t condone it. We understand that when we tell ourselves the truth, you are the same as we are and given similar circumstances we are capable of making the same choice you have made.

Forget what you think you “should” do. We encourage you to do at least one thing each day that makes you feel free, safe, happy, light, or content. We also encourage you to allow yourself to feel your anger, fear, sadness, and longing in order to begin the process of letting it go. You do not need permission or approval to embrace the unique gifts and journey you have been given. They are your birthright.

It does not matter how many times you have been told you are worthless. Repetition does not make it true. Whoever told you that was lying to you to make you believe you are powerless. It does not matter how much time you’ve spent alone because a parent did not nurture you. You deserve love, attention, and affection and there are people who will show you love when you find the courage to let down your defenses. You are not valuable because of what you achieve or what you own. You are valuable because you are here. Let your legacy be how fully you live. If your energy is consumed by attaining material wealth at the sacrifice of your relationships or your health, you are living a life limited by material possessions. Such an existence may appear full from the outside, but you know the hollowness inside the facade.

The path to thriving is not all easy, but it is all worth it. No matter where you began or what you have endured, today begins with a choice. You can choose to live your truth or you can be confined by someone else’s. Can you stop just existing and thrive? Yes you can, and you deserve it. The truth you choose will determine whether you exist or whether you thrive.

Epilogue:
When you need a bit of inspiration, check out the stories of these survivors of violence, neglect, and abuse who have found a way to move past horrific events in order to thrive. Know someone else inspiring? Share with us in the comments below.

ESmart

Elizabeth Smart

IVanzant

Iyanla Vanzant

PConroy

Pat Conroy


JWalls

Jeanette Walls


OWinfrey

Oprah Winfrey

BClinton

Bill Clinton


RBritten

Rhonda Britten

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”