Archive for November, 2011

It’s Not Really About The Food

November 27th, 2011

A friend of mine recently told me that this was one of her favorite “messages” that I had written—it appeared in my “What The Fork” newsletter last year…right around this time.  I figured if she liked it (she’s a tough cookie), it might bear repeating.  Enjoy!  ~ Sheree

One of the biggest challenges in transitioning to any new way of eating is societal and peer pressure. Our culture is undeniably food-driven and we alternately use meals as a means to establish community, a way to celebrate or reward and as a demonstration of love. Conversely, consumption of food can also be used as a stress release, a way to commiserate with others or even a peace offering. Food is laden with meaning and—if we let it—cuisine taken in the company of others takes on significance far beyond it’s mere calorie content. Imagine inviting someone to your home for an evening and not offering them something to eat or drink: you’d feel inhospitable and they might even be insulted!

Once you gain a level of confidence you’ll find it’s not necessary to avoid family gatherings, poolside barbeques and parties in order to stay true to a healthy food lifestyle. The first step in being able to handle the pressures of “eating out” is to reconcile what the event really is about. Unless you are attending a gourmet food writers’ conference, the reality is that the occasion is about something other than the food. Yet many times food and drink can take center stage and our focus shifts away from the real reason for the gathering —usually, that would be spending time with friends and family or celebrating a milestone. The reasons for this are many times emotional, and often based on tradition. The challenge becomes how to replace patterns or at least substitute behaviors in a way that serves you better in the long term.
Here are some tried and true tips to get you through your next social occasion:

1. Eat before you go.
It’s a lot harder to resist a slice of cheesecake when you’re famished than when you’re genuinely satisfied from the green smoothie you just had an hour before. If you can honestly say, “Oh, it looks wonderful, but I am full right now,” you’ll be that much closer to being able to stay the course. Try and keep your focus and attention on the occasion and the camaraderie of other people.

2. Practice the art of dodging.
From cocktail parties to sit-down dinners, I have learned how to identify the most opportune time for me to visit the ladies room, go greet a colleague across the room or simply “take a powder”: and usually it is when there is something being served that I do not choose to eat. Although most of the time now I am comfortable enough to simply say “no thanks” without a grand explanation, in the early days of transitioning to the raw food lifestyle that I currently practice, I needed to feel like I didn’t stand out too much. I learned that sometimes the easiest way of handling a potentially awkward situation is to simply avoid it. Just knowing when to make an exit can be a valuable skill.

3. Have an alibi.
Sometimes having a ready-made reason why you’re only eating a salad or not having dessert makes it easier to avoid the embarrassment of having attention directed at your plate. While I am certainly not an advocate of lying, I will confess that some stretching of the truth got me through the uncomfortable early days. A few examples of things that helped me over the hump were:

  • “My stomach has been acting up: I’d better not.” (This one is actually true: my stomach was revolting from years of crappy food and I wasn’t going to give it any more!)
  • “My doctor has me on a special diet.” (People back away when you trot this one out: after all, your doctor knows everything, right?)
  • “It looks great but I am stuffed from a late lunch…maybe in a little while.” (In a “little while” everyone else will have eaten it anyway and you’ll be off the hook!)

The idea is to have a ready-to-go reason why you’re doing what you’re doing —assuming you are in a situation you feel that you can’t (or don’t) choose to be in the open about your food choices. Yes, the pressure can be tough at times. But if you keep in mind that for most social engagements it really isn’t about the food, you’ll be in a better place.


This is Your Wake Up Call

November 16th, 2011

Yesterday I ran into a woman who had participated in the 6 Week Detox program I developed for R Studio Fitness in Des Moines. The curriculum includes weekly emails: lessons and assignments designed for greater understanding about what detoxification is and how to avoid the phenomenon of “retoxing.” I asked the detox graduate which of the messages she had received during the program she had found most interesting. Her response was the same answer I get more than half the time when I ask that question. She immediately recalled my diatribe about the poisons we encounter everyday. I thought it might be worth sharing a portion of the lesson with a broader audience, and I welcome your feedback, input and insights!

Our Toxic World

We live in a very unnatural world, and our bodies were not designed for the challenges we face at every turn from our contaminated food, air and water. Add to that the chemical soup in our clothing, household items and cars, and then toss in the virtually inescapable electromagnetic fields we endure everyday…well, you can see why we need to seek every break we possibly can from this toxic overload we call modern life!

According to the World Resources Institute, there are 17,000 chemicals appearing in common household products, yet far less than half of them have been adequately tested for their negative effects on our health. If you take into account all the chemicals that you might come into contact with during a single morning, you’ll understand how critical this topic is to your long-term health. Just to get you thinking, consider a “typical weekday” in the average American’s life:

You wake up after sleeping on bed sheets washed with detergents containing alkyl phenol ethoxylates (APEs), shut off your electromagnetic-field (EMF) emitting alarm clock and stumble into the bathroom. You use toilet paper containing residues from the manufacturing process including bleach and select xenobiotic endocrine active compounds (EACs). Reaching for your toothbrush, you soap up your teeth with a concoction of sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), which is used to clean oil spills, and a dab of triclosan, which is a pesticide. If it’s your time of the month, you insert a chlorine-bleached tampon laced with synthetic ingredients, pesticide residue, and traces of dioxin. Being health conscious, you take your synthetic multivitamin, which potentially contains binders, fillers and other manufacturing additives, and is then coated with shellac. Awake now, you’re ready for a cup of coffee. Over 1000 chemicals have been reported in roasted coffee; more than half of those tested are carcinogens. You brew yours using tap water, which contains chlorine, fluoride (a by-product from aluminum production) and other chemical additives. Unknowingly, you pour your brew into a cup that was made using lead-based paints before you flavor it with a chemically laden “low carb” artificial sweetener.

And you haven’t even hit the shower yet!

We are bombarded on every side by hidden poisons, including those we put in our mouth and smear on our skin voluntarily. While this is not exactly a lighthearted topic, knowledge truly is power. The bit of information here serves as a starting point for those who are serious about detoxification on an even more profound level.