To GMO or Not To GMO

To GMO or Not To GMO

These days with all the misinformation and biased information we hear, I have been very skeptical of all that I previously thought I knew to be true.  So in true fashion I have been doing a great deal of reading and questioning and deciding what is true for me.

In my quest to eat healthier I have been reading, watching documentaries and following the news about Genetically Modified  Organisms.  And I am still not sure which side is the right side…

But I do know this–all of the negative reputation that has been brought upon GMO companies, GMO farming practices and GMO foods seems to be a  little over the top.

I remember the saying that if something seems to be too good to be true then it probably is.  And the negative stories of GMOs seem too perfect an argument to boycott the use of them.

After all, if you think about it, foods, specifically the seeds of the foods we grow, have been genetically modified for hundreds–probably thousands of years.

Granted, a thousand years ago, when farmers were choosing the seeds of the strongest plants or cross pollinating plants they were doing so slowly.  Not by choice but because they lacked the knowledge and technology to do it any faster.

The science, over time, has improved the way we grow food, given us the ability  to grow more food using less resources and that has given countries the ability to feed their people and for our country the ability to feed people all around the world.

I ask myself why this is a bad thing?

On the other side of this are the “realities” that question and have concerns about the safety of our food.  That GMO foods are affecting our bodies negatively producing obesity, gastrointestinal problems, heart disease, and cancer to name a few.

So I have read a great deal and watch documentaries and informative videos (and will continue to read and watch) until I am satisfied with the information I am gathering.

I have yet to come across any scientific study that proves anything definitively about the GMOs.

Do I believe that people are now suffering from more lifestyle diseases like diabetes II, gluten sensitivities, heart attacks, and strokes?  Yes.  Do I believe that chickens and cows and other farm animals are grown under harsh and sometimes unsanitary conditions? Sure. Do I understand that the same pesticides that help our food grow strong and yield high amounts may cause us humans damage? Absolutely.

But what I don’t believe is that this whole industry is in existence to control the world’s food supply and ultimately cause the destruction of the world like it is depicted.

I am not a crusader–but I do question other crusaders: what are their motives?  Who are these people that ask, protest and try to convince the American people to boycott Monsanto and all the brands it owns plus the financial companies like Vanguard that have their financial holdings?

Are they really concerned with the well being of others or of advancing their own careers through the articles, books and movies they create?

Now–I am not saying that everyone should just eat whatever they think tastes good without checking labels, ingredients, and recommended serving sizes or that all GMOs are good and we should leave ourselves in the hands of these companies.

But what I am saying is that we are intelligent people and we should be careful what we believe.  We should look for the motives behind the movements that are currently raging in our society.

Could these people that are so vehemently against GMOs really be people that have been worked up by others that really want to destroy successful companies in an effort to disrupt the financial structures in our country?

Everything is interconnected.  There are bad people in the world–but I believe and have always believed that there are more good people than bad people in the world and that ultimately we are all striving for a better life. I do not believe that all the scientists trying to make better crops for our food supply are bad people.

So eat as healthy as you can eat.  Enjoy your life. And be careful about the information that is being fed to you!

Leave a comment, tell me what you think!  I appreciate everyone’s opinions!  If you like you can also email me at emptynestsaavy@gmail.com!  Have a great day!

Going Organic

Going Organic

Every Sunday I go to the grocery store to buy our groceries for the week. As we are trying to eat healthy and get back to basics-we buy a lot of fruits and vegetables, both raw and frozen.

It never fails to amaze me how much more the organic varieties are compared to the “regular” fruits and vegetables.

I used to ask myself if it was worth it and I answered myself that of course it was not!

We do not buy organic-I don’t think it’s worth it! And although I have been criticized for it–It is MY CHOICE.  Here are my reasons why:

 

How do I really know that the organically labeled produce was actually grown organically? I don’t! I’m taking the word of the company that created the labels.

And the definition of “organically grown” only means “USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines, addressing, among many factors, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives.” (USDA.com)

What? Exactly what does that mean? In my mind it means some families have their own farms and they grow their crops the best they know how without the help of modern science.

I’m good with that and I think it is a noble profession. Congratulations to those families and the love they have of their way of life. I celebrate them for it, because that is their choice.

But in our wonderful capitalist society we have competition and I also have a choice and for me the choice is to pay less for my produce so I can buy more of it.

 

In order to grow food organically–by federal guidelines–you must use more land, more water and “natural” pesticides such as copper sulfate. Copper sulfate is a natural product, so it falls under the “organic” guidelines–but this product when ingested in a certain amounts can cause vomiting and gastrointestinal problems.  No thanks.

Additionally, I also don’t buy organic because it takes more land to grow organic food. In a world that is continually growing (we are over 7.6 billion people now!)  and with so many people worried/arguing/protesting about world hunger it seems like a great waste of resources in a world where so many people go hungry.

Only in America are we so full of ourselves that we feel that we should strive to eat only organically grown foods so we can “be healthier”, so we can “protect and preserve the earth”, so we can “lead the world by an example” by going against the “big corporate world” that is trying to “control what we eat.”

Think about all the other people in the world that are not worried about eating healthy or being socially conscious as they eat–they just want to EAT.

 

But I think the biggest reason I don’t buy organic produce is because it’s a huge marketing scheme to make (primarily) Americans feel that the only way to eat healthier is to eat organically and I know that to be untrue.

Marketers are brilliant people–and they do their job well. They can make multitudes of people believe that regular fruits and vegetables are bad for you and that if you don’t have the money to shell out for organic–then well poor you, at least you can eat a regular apple–that’s better than nothing at all!

A person recently told me that they eat organic strawberries because they had less calories than regular strawberries. I was going to correct her–but she was enjoying those strawberries so much–why burst her bubble?  The marketers certainly did their job on her.

 

It comes down to this–we are so fortunate to have choices.  If you choose to buy organic and you can afford to do so, more power to you.  Do that if that is what you want to do. I am not stopping you or trying to convince you otherwise. And I do not have to believe what the marketers (or movie stars) say, if I don’t want to. So I decide to spend my dollars on good old regular produce. That is my choice.

What are your thoughts about organically grown foods?  Leave a comment below or email me at emptynestsavvy@gmail.com.  And enjoy your fruits today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healing What Ails You

Healing What Ails You

Admit it…all of us have something wrong with us that we are trying to change.  And this may not be a sickness–but it is something that bothers us and we think about it all the time.

For some of us we may think we are: too tall, too short, too thin, too hippy, no hips, big chest, little chest, thinning hair, hair in places you should not have hair…

But for others of us we have pain in our backs, our joints, our neck. We are tired all the time and irritable. We get headaches, our allergies flare up–and not in a pretty way. We feel like the flu is coming on or maybe a cold. We are just not sure but we know something is wrong–so we go to the doctor.

And the doctors run tests, they check us over and they give us the diagnosis:  there is nothing wrong with us. Perhaps we are just over tired, stressed out. Get some exercise they say and try to eat better and they send us on our way.

Sometimes we believe them and go home–relieved–that we don’t have anything–even though we feel like we have something.

Sometimes we don’t believe them because we feel so lousy. So we go for a second opinion, or we seek out a nutritionist, a health coach, a trainer to whip us up into shape again.

There is a whole industry around fixing what is making us feel sick–but we overlook the most basic healer of all–ourselves!

We are the ones that made ourselves–and sometimes our families–feel sick. And luckily, according to the doctor, we are not sick–with a real diagnosable illness yet.

But if we keep doing what we are doing we are certainly headed for the lifestyle diseases:  diabetes, heart conditions, allergies, obesity, IBS, etc.

Some of us have these things but not to a level that shows up on the tests yet–just to a level in which makes us feel miserable because we know exactly what we are doing to our bodies.

Why did we do this to ourselves?  Well because it is easy and because it becomes an addiction.

Look in your pantry–if it looked anything like mine a few years ago–it is probably filled with boxes and bags, cans, jars and bottles. An abundance of food for our in a hurry, have to run out the door, lives.

If we start reading the labels on this abundance we will begin to realize why we feel so bad. And when I say we are addicted, I am really not kidding.  

We are addicted to sugar, to caffeine, to salt and a host of other things–including an addiction to getting our meals on the table quickly so we don’t have to waste time.

And these addictions are bad, because not only are they hard to break, but day after day, they contribute to even higher and more instense desire for the stuff that makes us feel sick.

This is what I did to get on the road to recovery in 2 steps, this was not easy and I struggle still but I am really starting to see the benefits.

1) I cleaned out my pantry and my refrigerator.

This happened in waves.  First and easiest–I took out everything that was expired or had been opened and abandoned and had gone bad.

Second, and to my shame, I ate the foods that were still good until we were out of them. I just could not throw things out.

Third, I stopped buying the stuff that is not good for us.  I started with chips and cereals, cookies, processed, boxed and canned goods etc. You get the picture.  

This process took me about 18 months. Mostly because there would be days when the sugary, processed, crunchy, salty fake buttery goodness stuff would find its way back into my home.

2) I started buying and making good foods.

The hardest part and my continued struggle today is finding good ideas for good meals that are interesting and tasty and easy to make.  For example, eggs are good for us and I love eggs but I cannot have eggs in every meal.

Plus I still like easy, fast meals to prepare and eat on the go!

I am continuously learning about nutrition to incorporate the best balance for me and my family.  

I have discovered protein drinks and shakes (and after trying everything on the market I could find–found a brand that works well for me!)

Now I am reworking all my recipes, and watching my portion size.  I’m still in Step 2.

But already I feel (and see) the benefits of these changes. I feel better, I have lost weight, I have more energy–many of my aches and pains have gone away.

And I did this myself!  I am healing myself by learning and changing for the better.  It did not happen overnight, but it did happen–I did it and so can you!

What challenges do you have in making the dietary changes you need to change the symptoms that ail you?  Drop me a comment or send me an email at emptynestsavvy@gmail.com.

We only have one life–Have fun!  

My Morning Coffee

My Morning Coffee

I have been drinking coffee since my early teenage years.  Since I am now 50 that has been…well, a long time.

Depending on who you ask coffee can be good for you or coffee is very bad for you.  Like with anything else, I say that it depends.

If you drink 12 cups of coffee a day then I think it is safe to say that the coffee habit is probably bad for you.

But if you have one or two cups of coffee a day, my thought is that it’s probably okay.  

The older I get the more true the saying is that most things in moderation won’t hurt you.

There are benefits to coffee, most coming from the little jolt of caffeine that coffee offers. Caffeine helps stimulate metabolism, increase our wakefulness and give our brains a little shot of alertness.

The drawbacks of drinking coffee, even if you drink it in moderation, is not the coffee itself but all the things we add to the coffee: Sugar, creams, milk, non dairy creamer, and flavor shots to name a few all add calories, unnecessary fats and in some cases artificial flavors, colors and chemicals.

While my years of coffee drinking have not always been with the best cups of coffee–when you know better, you do better.

But for over 30 years I had a “cafe con leche” each morning.  This consisted of a full cup of whole milk, warmed on the stove or microwave, a heaping teaspoon of instant coffee and 2 teaspoons of sugar.

This, of course, was creamy and delicious and gave me quite a jolt in the morning followed by a sugar crash a few hours later. Not good–but I’ve made the change.

Here are my two recipes for a healthy cuppa:

Expressive Espresso

Brew a 8 oz  pot of espresso coffee (my favorite brand is Cafe Bustelo) and add 1 stevia packet to sweeten.  Makes 4 2oz servings–sometimes I refrigerate any extra servings for the next day–just warm in the microwave. I can only have 2oz at a time–espresso really packs a punch!

American Brew

I like a mild columbian roast made in a traditional coffee pot.  Stevia to sweeten to taste, usually 1 packet. I only drink one cup, so unless others want coffee also, I make the smallest amount possible.

If a regular roast is not available or I am in a hurry I just put a coffee cup of water in the microwave and heat about 1 and ½ minutes.  Once hot, I add one teaspoon of instant coffee and ½ stevia packet and I’m done.

Easy…and no added stuff that masks the taste or changes the number of calories.  

So I hope, like me, that you are enjoying a cup of coffee when the mood strikes you and that you don’t let others decide for you what is good or bad for YOU.  

While most of us are learning and trying to live a more healthy life that does not mean–that with the proper information–we can’t make decisions for ourselves.

Enjoy your cuppa and have a great week!

Reach out with a comment about My Morning Coffee or email me at emptynestsavvy@gmail.com with your thoughts and questions!

 

Genuine Artificial Food

Genuine Artificial Food

As I was looking for the best carbohydrates I can find to provide complex sugars to give me energy I found a dark and confusing place that I am not sure I’ve completely recovered from–it is similar to Alice in Wonderland falling through the rabbit hole and finding a whole new upside down backwards world.

Like Alice, I became fascinated and then horrified about what I was learning and eventually finding my way back to the real world.

And since I am not very science minded–at least I don’t think so–I will try to explain my findings, or lack thereof.

So here it is.  Too many carbohydrates are bad because they break down into simple sugars too fast in our system creating a spike in sugar.

The body, in its infinite wisdom, produces a lot of insulin to bring the sugar levels back to normal, overcompensates with too much insulin and then we crash. We feel weak and tired.  

The body (mostly the liver) is working overtime to clean out the extra sugar and insulin.

Meanwhile, we begin to crave more sugar (or carbs) to make us feel better and most of us give in and have more carbs–putting us right back on the cycle of a spike and a crash.

At the same time, the body (on the inside) is experiencing stress from having to produce the insulin and fix itself and then clean itself out and that stress slows down and sometimes stops digestion–so the body stores all the extra stuff we did not use–as fat.

Like I said–a scary rabbit hole.  But our travels in the upside down world are not over, Alice–there’s more.

Most of the carbohydrates we consume are not only empty calories, as we have heard many nutrition gurus tell us, they are also made up of chemicals.

Chemicals our bodies cannot absorb or break down because the body cannot identify them as a carbohydrate or a protein or a vitamin. So these chemicals build up in the body–in our fat–and for many of us it creates disease or conditions and for others it just makes us feel blah.

Diabetes, IBS, heart disease, high blood pressure, gluten intolerance, foggy brain, undefined pain, allergies, unexplained inflammation, eczema, depression, chronic fatigue, cancer, autism and infertility to name a few are thought to be caused by chemicals in our food and our environment.

Now wait–I am not saying we should go out a boycott anything and everything because of chemicals. Chemicals have their place in the society we live in. And our bodies are wonderful machines that can filter out things or adapt to new environments.

Like I said–the rabbit hole can be fascinating and terrifying at the same time. A balance is what I am looking for.

Here is what I am doing to find that balance–I am reading all our food labels.  That in itself is a scary thing–but very eye opening! If a product has more than 5 ingredients I already know it could be trouble.

Here are a few things I try to minimize:

  1. Trans-Fat:  this is also called hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat. I’m not even sure what it is yet–but it is not real–it is chemically made.
  2. High Fructose Corn Syrup: a substitute for real sugar. Sugar is bad enough–the substitute, is worse. I feel the same about any artificial sweeteners.
  3. Artificial Colors, artificial sweeteners, artificial fillers: the name pretty much spells it out Alice!  It is genuine artificial–not real.
  4. Preservative: these are usually described on labels by their initials–MSG, BHT, BHA, TBHQ, etc–I can’t pronounce what they stand for but clearly a chemical compound.

So where is my balance?  I realize we cannot go crazy and completely eliminate all these things–we just don’t have to take it to an extreme.

We are eating more salads and fruits and vegetables and looking for the right amounts of macro nutrients our body needs.

What about labels for the fruits and vegetables and salads?  Well broccoli, whether organic or not, is real and doesn’t need a label–so I feel we are already better off than the bag of Hot Cheetos!

And at some point we need to get out of the rabbit hole or we will get stuck in the upside down backwards world!

Have I found the best Carbohydrates yet?  Not really–it’s a journey…and I will get back with you on that.  

In the meantime, I am going to read my labels and continue my search. I hope you’ll come along for the trip!

What have been your findings in your health journey with processed foods?  Comment below or send me your thoughts, comments and questions to emptynestsavvy@gmail.com