I'm going to change things up this week...I'm not going to talk about food (what?!?! I know crazy, right?!). You all know I'm a big holistic health advocate so that means focusing on every aspect of health in the entire body...the body as a whole. So, if you'd like to hear about the healing of my spirit read on....
I had always been fearful of the word God. As a child, the God I learned about was vengeful, judgmental, a magician. I was told stories of a God that sent a vengeful storm for the sins of humanity, a god who judges based on the choices made in life, a god who magically creates. I didn't want to believe in that God. I would ask myself "why would a God punish people?" "Why would a God 'test' me?" "How could a God create something out of nothing?" This was heavy in my heart for a long time. As my world grew bigger, so did my understanding of God. I searched through religions trying to find something that would explain God more clearly to me. I learned that God is many things to many different people. Each of us has to find our own meaning and understanding.
I've found my own path and my own God. It's hard to express the ideas that we have of our own God in a world filled with dogmatic religious philosophy. Buddha has said, "Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; not upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in scripture. But when you yourselves know: 'These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,' enter on and abide in them." That Buddha was a smart guy! He told us to believe what we feel is right and what we have experienced for ourselves and not follow along with things we've been told or rumors we've heard.
I am putting it into the Universe that your God may be different than my God and that's OK! I am finally finding peace in my God. I am no longer questioning my virtue in seeking my God. I have my own path for whatever reasons that the Universe has chosen. Whatever those reasons may be, I would like to share with you. My hope is that this reaches someone who is also searching for their path and they can find some solace in my thoughts.
My God doesn't punish.
My God doesn't judge.
My God is love.
My God is light.
My God is compassion.
My God is kindness.
My God has no face, no form.
My God doesn't create because my God shares the energy, essence, spirit in which all things are brought into the universe.
Imagine God as an ocean and all things as waves. Waves are not separate from the ocean. They are the ocean. As a part of the ocean, waves are a transfer of the ocean's energy. As a part of God, we are a transfer of God's energy. Energy cannot be created nor destroyed; therefore, I am God, You are God, trees are God, animals are God...
I love myself, animals, you, trees and everything because I love my God and my God is all things. Since all things are my God and I am my God, then, I am you and you are me. This fundamental level is where we learn that we are all connected and what we do affects everything in the world. Wow, think about how powerful you are and I am!! Let us use our powers for good...Loving others means loving yourself. Having compassion for others means having compassion for God and all other things. As your essence flows through the Universe be sure it is filled with everything that you would want in return like love, compassion, kindness, joy because remember, we are all the same energy!!
At an earlier time in my life, I never would have had the courage to share these words. These words have come to me after meditation. Only through my experience could I believe that such a thing could be so powerful!! Through my practice, I have found so much peace, joy and abundance.
The power of meditation lies in its creation of mindfulness...living in the now. When we live in each moment there is no time for worry, guilt, regret, fear....I'm not telling you I no longer feel/think these things because I do! We all do!! Our minds are computers that never power off, but we CAN have power over our thoughts. As Douglas Adams says, "So much of our suffering happens between our own ears." How powerful is that statement?! Our worst critic is in our mind, our demise creator is our brain. We need to learn to take control of our thoughts. This is where meditation comes in; it is a PRACTICE of having power over our thoughts. That power comes in the form of mindfulness. In their innumerable forms, mindfulness and meditation can look like many things! I encourage you to find your THING! In all their forms, it allows you to find that silent space between your thoughts where peace, light, and joy reside.
Each morning, I dedicate 10-30 minutes to a silent, seated meditation practice, but another important part of my practice is getting outside...being a part of nature. When I am immersed in the silence of the forests and mountains, I find myself clearing my mind without thought of doing it. I find peace and joy. I've taken to photography during my nature adventures and this has helped me stay mindful, as I put all of my energy into focusing on the beauty around me. It is so easy to get lost in the minuscule details of the mountains and forests.
I encourage you to give meditation a try. It doesn't have to look like anything in particular! Take 5 minutes to focus on your breath, to stare at a beautiful flower, to watch your child smile and laugh, but be completely, 100% in that moment. Immerse all of your energy and spirit into that moment. FEEL that MOMENT. All we have is this moment!
Peace, Love, Plants,
"But chicken is healthy, right?” Is that a rhetorical question??...it's the look I get. It scares me a little. I feel I need to take a few steps back (out of reach) before I answer. People REALLY love their chicken!! We were that family! “What's for dinner?” Chicken. My husband LOVED chicken. We raised chickens! Ok, not to eat; I couldn't do that!! I loved those little ladies! But we ate A LOT of the waste from their menstrual cycles...or more commonly called eggs.
So what's the problem, you ask? Let's start with cholesterol...raise your hand if you think red meat has more cholesterol than chicken. Is your hand up? You know I can't see you, right? Chicken and red meat are comparable in the amount of cholesterol they contain. Did you read my blog post about protein? That's where we learned that cholesterol is made in the liver and all things that have a liver produce cholesterol. If you are eating things that have a liver, you are eating cholesterol. We make cholesterol in our liver, too; therefore, we do not need ANY from our diets.
P.S. One egg has 187mg of cholesterol!! And I know you know, but cholesterol is linked to clogged arteries and heart disease
What else? Chickens are full of GROSSNESS! A recent study showed that almost half of the chickens in grocery stores are contaminated by E coli, which researchers say is an indicator of fecal contamination. E coli comes from colons either from a human colon, or more likely chicken colon(s). In other words, there is poop in your chicken meat! There are 250,000 cases of E coli infections reported every year in the United States (and countless unreported). What else is in the chicken? Salmonella is in 16% of grocery store chickens. Salmonella is responsible for an estimated 1,027,561 illnesses, 19,336 hospitalizations, and 378 deaths per year in the United States. Annnndddd….63% of store bought chickens contain Campylobacter bacteria which causes 845,024 illnesses, 8,463 hospitalizations, and 76 deaths every year.
I know what you are going to tell me...you clean the chicken right? Have you asked yourself why studies have shown that there is more fecal bacteria in your kitchen sink than your bathroom? Let me whisper in your ear: It's From Your MEAT. A study was published as “The Effectiveness of Hygiene Procedures for Prevention of Cross-Contamination from Chicken Carcasses in the Domestic Kitchen” (uh, what?)...anyway, these researchers visited 60 homes putting them to the test:
Was that enough for you? No? Ok, how about some of these statistics:
Have you changed your mind about chicken, yet? Ok, if I can't appeal to your brain, can I appeal to your heart?
Chickens raised for their flesh are often packed by the thousands into massive sheds and fed large amounts of antibiotics and drugs to keep them alive in conditions that would otherwise kill them.
Many fowl are stuffed into unimaginablely small cages.
I don't offer up the “I don't eat animal-anything” nugget unless asked. The way you eat is your business and the way I eat is mine. With that being said, I LOVE talking about the plant based lifestyle so don't be afraid to ask;) However, once revealed that I don't feast on anything that comes from an animal, I get a lot of questions. The very first one I almost always get is “Where do you get your protein?”. I addressed that question in the last post. Now, I'm going to jump on another common one: “Do you eat bread?”. I think this one stems from the low-carb and gluten-free crazes. Short answer: yes, I eat bread. The end. Thanks for reading.
Just kidding. You didn't think I would leave you without giving you all the good science-y stuff, did you? First, let's start by addressing the low-carb craze. It can be a little complicated, but here is the simplified form: Carbohydrates are what our bodies use for energy, including brain function. Carbohydrates are necessary for proper bodily function. As we eat carbohydrate rich foods our body converts them to glucose and moves them to our cells with the help of insulin. Excess is stored in the liver, muscles, and other cells or stored as fat. Still with me? So, we need carbohydrates. Why, then, do so many people lose weight when eating low carb? When our bodies do not have carbohydrates either from the food we are eating or from our storage (we only have about 24 hours worth in our liver and muscles) it pulls energy from the fat, i.e. burns fat, which means we lose weight. Hmmm that sounds good, right? Not so fast...eating low carb can be helpful if done right; however, it is mostly done wrong. Most people participating in a low carb diet eat a lot of protein (we already discussed how this can be bad) and a lot of fat, also bad. We could all benefit from cutting out carbohydrate rich foods like white bread and pasta, processed foods, sugary drinks, cereals, etc. But we should all be eating more of these carbohydrate rich foods: vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and legumes (beans, peas, lentils). When we cut out carbs, we cut out fiber. Fiber is the #1 thing all Americans need more of!! Fiber-deficiency is the #1 cause of inflammation in the body and inflammation is a major cause of disease! In addition, there is evidence that a low-carb diet (one high in protein and fat) impairs arterial function, which means clogging our arteries leading to heart disease.
Let's now address this gluten-free demon. I eliminated gluten from my diet for about 6 months (crazy hard) just to see the effects. There weren't any. I did not lose any weight. I mostly felt the same before and after; I had a little easier time in the bathroom after eating gluten again (sorry for the TMI). Only about 1% of the population has celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder affecting the small intestine where the sufferer has to completely avoid gluten. There is also a condition known as gluten intolerance or sensitivity where the individual also avoids gluten. With the gluten-free industry reaching billions of dollars, millions of people are drawn to these products as they are being marketed as a health food. The fact is there is no evidence that avoiding gluten is beneficial to your health for anyone other than those with a diagnosed intolerance, sensitivity, or celiac disease. In fact, you could be doing your body harm by avoiding gluten. Eliminating gluten from your diet means removing a very important food group, whole grains. Whole grains have been found to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and other chronic diseases. From nutritionfacts.org “Gluten, itself, may also boost immune function. After less than a week on added gluten protein, subjects experienced significantly increased natural killer cell activity, which could be expected to improve our body’s ability to fight cancer and viral infections. Another studyfound that high gluten bread improved triglyceride levels better than regular gluten bread.” Not only does the research indicate that going gluten-free doesn’t fix the gut or cool inflammation, but that it alters your gut flora and allows bad bacteria to grow in your gut. We need gluten to maintain the community of good bacteria in our guts.
To sum it up...yes, I eat bread and pasta and carbs. It is rare that I eat white, processed bread...it might be a crunchy french bread with pasta or if we are eating out I might have a veggie sub or something of that kind. I eat lots of good carbs like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains like quinoa, brown rice and pasta, oats, etc. Again, stop worrying about calories, carbs, protein and think about filling your plate with A LOT of plant food!!
Peace, Love, Plants
I'm going to spend the next few blog posts answering some questions. Every time someone wants to discuss my eating habits, I get the same questions over and over again . Starting with the #1 question I get, not only because it comes up so often, but because I feel it is vital that everyone has the facts about this overwhelmingly misguided perception perpetuated by the media and the-billions-of-dollars-a-year meat industry.
Where do you get your protein?
I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me this question...I could buy a billboard! First, I will discuss why we need protein, second, sources of protein and more importantly, third, I will explain why too much protein is bad NOT good.
In 1839, protein was discovered and since then has been revered as “THE” most important nutrient for the human body. (I could write pages on just protein; so, I'm going to try and control myself and make this as user-friendly as possible. I encourage you research this topic; check out the sources that I have cited at the end.) Protein is found throughout the body—in muscle, bone, skin, hair, and virtually every other body part or tissue. It makes up the enzymes that power many chemical reactions and the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in your blood.
Protein is made up of amino acids. There are a total of 20 amino acids; essential and nonessential. Nonessential amino acids (11) are the ones our bodies manufacture themselves and we do not need to find in our diets. Essential amino acids (9) are the ones that we must consume through food sources. Animal sources of protein are complete proteins, which means they contain all the essential amino acids. Plant based proteins can be incomplete; whereas, not every plant contains all of the essential amino acids, but some do! (No worries about plants and amino acids! We'll discuss this later) Wait?! “Did you just say animal protein is better?!” NO! I said it was a complete protein. Yes, it contains all the essential amino acids; however, animal products are not a good source of protein. Animal products cause diseases. Check out some of these facts:
Ok, Ok, you are seeing it, right? Scientifically and clinically, the consumption of animal products has been shown to increase risk of all diseases. So play it safe and get your protein from plant sources.
Protein is found throughout the plant kingdom and shocking as this may be for some people, some plants have more protein than meat! GASP!! Now, don't go believing that myth that you have to eat “complementary proteins” meaning you have to eat certain plants in specific combinations to meet your amino acid needs. Eating a diet rich in plants will meet ALL of your needs. Jeff Novick, RD explains it best on his website: http://www.jeffnovick.com/RD/Articles/Entries/2012/3/28_The_Myth_Of_Complimenting_Proteins.html
So what plants can we eat? ALL OF THEM!! Here's a great info-graphic showing the protein in plant foods. This graph is based on the percentage of protein per calorie. As you can see, plant foods are rich in protein. A majority of them containing between 20-30% protein!!
Now that you've got all the facts, STOP worrying about protein! Protein deficiency in the United States is extremely rare and only happens in persons not getting enough calories to meet their daily needs. The Center for Disease Control estimates that the average woman and man needs only 46-56g of protein per day, with the physically active individuals needing slightly more.
Something you do NEED to be concerned with is TOO MUCH protein! The majority of Americans get MORE than the recommended daily allowance! The body takes excessive amounts of protein, coverts them to fatty acids, which are then stored as fat. Also, the excess could be filtered through the liver and kidneys adding extra stress to these detoxifying organs. The consumption of higher amounts of protein have been linked to increased cancer rates, bone disorders, kidney problems (specifically kidney stones and cancer), liver diseases, and heart disease.
Stop worrying about protein, carbohydrates, and calories! Start eating plants and lots of them. Next, week I will continue the question series with “Do you eat bread?”.
Do you have a burning question you would like answered? Ask me in the comments or send me an email and I will try my best to help you out!
Peace, Love, Plants,