Sugar: Marketing Impact Part 4

brain-954821_1920

I want to “discuss” (because it is not like I am sitting with you to talk about this) the how companies are impacting what we consume. I will just present my thought in main points, but I would love to hear what you think in the comments below.

I Feel:

  • You can see sweets are in your face EVERYWHERE! Next time you are in the convenience store or grocery, pay close attention to what is eye level for you and children. What is the most accessible and visible products when you first walk into your grocery store?
  • Sugars (processes, artificial and natural) are included in ingredients lists for things that it does not even make sense to have sugar in it. Look at the ingredients of the snack and packaged food items in your pantry:
    • How many of them have sugars in the list of ingredients?
    • Where is sugar on the list? Is it within the first 5 ingredients? Should it be so prevalent in the item you are looking at?
  • Sugar is not the devil, but companies are making it out to be. Most companies have their profit in mind, not our health. If adding certain ingredients creates a product that you can get hooked on, they will do it regardless of whether it is good for people to be consuming it.
  • Snack foods and sugary beverages do not solve the world’s food problems.

We Can Do More:

  • Easiest thing, make different choices.
    • Educate yourself. This can be as easy as watching Jaime Oliver’s Sugar Rush, That Sugar Film or the documentary Fed Up.
    • Learn to make simple healthy food. Not enough time? Consider how you can make it work for you.
      • Slow cookers can save you time.
      • Pre-chopped vegetables and fruits may cost more, but could be worth the time saved.
      • Keep it simple. Salt, Pepper and Olive oil can create a lot of great flavor to your protein and vegetables.
    • Reduce or stop purchasing processed foods.
    • Request products at your grocery with simpler ingredients (5 ingredients or less) and that do not contained additives of which you have no clue what they are. Did you know you can submit requests for certain products in your local store? I even submitted a request at my local Whole Foods and they listened! 🙂
  • Contact your politicians to voice your priorities.
    • They should listen to their community to vote on legislation and make decisions
    • If they can propose groceries stop distributing disposable bags, then they should be able to propose a tax on junk food and beverages or change up requirements of how stores are set up.
    • They could impact what is provided in schools.
  • Get involved at your child’s school.
    • Provide whole foods for your kid’s snacks and lunches.
    • Talk with the science teacher about a field trip to a farm or garden to help the students understand where their food comes from.
    • Members if the PTA at some schools can work to make changes to what kind of foods children are provided.
  • Contact brands with the number/email on the back of the package and provide your feedback on the ingredients they use.

The research I have been doing for this blog has me chanting, “I want to be more active in my community regarding this topic, I expect more from the food provided to me and I can not sit by anymore listening to the statistics of our country’s health crisis. I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore.”

So now what? I take action. I continue picking up that phone to call my city representative, making requests at my local grocery stores, purchasing whole foods to make simple, healthy meals, taking advantage of opportunities when someone asks me about what I am doing to feel so great and writing posts for this blog to show people it is possible on a budget. I want to impact people in a positive way, the same way I have seen people change how they feel about science in my work at the museum everyday. Positive experiences are long lasting. I hope my passion and actions are providing that to others.

 

Advertisements

Lesson Learned: Spring Slim Down Challenges Do Not Support Me

I have debated a post like this because I do not like to focus on appearance or size. Why? It causes me to have pretty negative thoughts, but slimming down is an important part for many folks to get healthy. I like to promote doing what makes you physically and mentally feel good. When I feel good, I like the way I look. So for me its all about feeling good. Getting to that state happens when I take care of and support myself.

Knowing what does not serve me

April typically kicks off all the challenges for Summer and media ploys toward looking your best in your swimwear. I loved participating in these until I made the connection that the language used by these challenges had me being unfairly negative and harsh toward myself when I did not meet “my goal”. A typically an unrealistic goal which was generated by the expressions from the challengers. I believe for many they can be a great way to kick start getting healthy, but I question how some of these events may be designed.

The wording specifically could be used to market products to you, while hindering you feeling good about the progress you have made. This is what I noticed in myself. I wanted all the stuff they were selling and the body they said I could have if I follow everything they instructed me to do, but then the statements made caused me to feel like the amount of progress made was not enough. So no more Summer body challenges for me. Lesson learned.

Coming off my bulk

If you do not know, bulking means that you eat more calories than you need to maintain your weight so that you gain weight. This weight gain can be in the form of both muscle and fat. I was bulking from November to February. The time of the year you typically eat more any way due to all the winter comfort foods and holiday get togethers, so I figured it to be the best time to bulk.

I am currently changing how I eat after my bulk during the Winter. I took about a month and a half to focus on eating when I felt hungry to halt any over eating habits I had developed during the bulk. I have definitely put on muscle, but also fat. I gained about 6-7 lb. during this time. I now want to stop gaining weight though to see how much muscle I have really put on. I notice I am stronger, but this was really the first time bulking so I am trying to learn what process works best for me to gain strength and hopefully maintain it without becoming over weight again.

I am taking a step back from all added sugars, as well as changing up the distribution of fat, carbs and protein. My calorie in-take will remain the same now that I am back to maintaining. I have seen in the past that when I focus on eating my carbs in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables, reduced the amount of fat by more frequently skipping out on fatty additions (mainly the fried foods, extra cheese, sauces, dressings, nut butters, etc.) and get out of the habit of consuming dessert, I see a more lean body. So to summarize, same amount of calories, but replacing the more frequent treats with high quality, real food.

I will plan to do an update in a month to let you know what I have learned from my first bulk and especially whether or not my strength was maintained. Hope you have a beautiful Earth Day!

Natural Product Review – Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Concentrate

We are about a month into Spring and I have another natural product review for you! This month’s product serves multiple cleaning purposes for us around our homes, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Concentrate. We have purchased the Lavender and Red Clover scents. We use it to clean the toilet, counters and floors. We pour 1 Tbs amount into the toilet before scrubbing with a toilet brush, add 2-4 Tbs into a spray bottle and fill the rest of the way with water to use on all surfaces (including that once a month shower wipe down) and add ~ 2 Tbs to the bucket of water we use to mop our kitchen and bathroom floors.

IMAG7828-COLLAGE

Cons

  • If not balanced well with water it can leave your surfaces sticky. This can be especially annoying with floors, so we do a test after it dries to know if we should run a water only soaked mop over the floor to remove the stickiness.
  • Not all scents from the brand are great… They thankfully offer a lot of options and we STRONGLY suggest you smell it prior to purchase. My partner was the first to pick up this brand of cleaner and I remember I had to return the first bottle because the name of the scent sounded great, but when I opened the bottle we both gagged. No I can not remember which scent that was, sorry, it has been several years. We were both quite surprised by the Red Clover 🙂 though.
  • I wish it worked on windows. I tried and got streaks, even with the help from a microfiber cloth. I am still looking for that natural product to do it ALL and window-like surfaces are the last thing I really need something multi-purpose to be able to tackle. Please let me know if you have recommendations in the comments below!

Pros

  • Simplicity of only needing to purchase one item to clean the entire apt. We use to have separate solutions for shower, toilet, bathroom counter, kitchen counter, hard floors, etc.. That not only was expensive, but over crowding our cabinets and created a lot of waste… :/
  • It cleans quite well. I do not find myself scrubbing my life away to remove things from surfaces. I spray and let it sit for a moment or scrub with a brush and TA DA the surface is clean!
  • Leaves behind a lovely scent. It typically lasts until I either cook something with a strong scent, in the case of the kitchen, or my partner takes a shower, in the case of the bathroom, because his manly scented products conquer all others. The other areas of the apartments it will linger for a few days, especially with the lavender scent.
  • Affordability. We spent around $7.99 for the Lavender scent 2 years ago and still have it. The Red Clover scent is only a year old, we got it 40% off with a Cartwheel offer exclusively for that scent from Target and we have barely made a dent.
  • Accessibility. Always available at Target and I have seen it in many other stores as well.
  • Cruelty free. No animals were harmed in the making of this product.

Overall, I have recommended it to folks, but I would say it is ok for me. It cleans very well and leaves a refreshing scent, but I really wish it could take care of those glossy surfaces too.

Meal Planning

Today I give you my thought process and tools I use for planning out meals for the week. Enjoy my incredible brain at work to feed me! Also, I included some pictures of the finished products.

Let me first explain, I meal plan for a period of about 11 days, or the typical time frame in between my visits to see my partner. Then, I also meal plan for the 3 days we are together in his town, since at the moment we do not live in the same city. Therefore, right before the weekend I visit him, I make sure to update the google document of my current food supply to be able to plan accurately while taking the train. This post features my meal planning for the 11 day period I am in my town, let me know in the comments if you want more information on how I handle the living/cooking in 2 separate cities situation.

I start with contemplating about what I have been craving and how that might align with the food I already have in stock. For instance, I bought tempeh on sale from Whole Foods with a $1 off coupon, which made it cheaper than the tempeh at Trader Joe’s! If I had been in the mood for a rueben, I could make a vegetarian rueben sandwich. My all time favorite way to eat tempeh!

Although, this week I am craving crab cakes and something from my happy hours with my Museum Studies cohort at Michigan. Sava’s had an incredible vegetable lasagna. Hands down the best lasagna I have ever eaten. I have some Italian cheeses (pecorino and mozzarella) and frozen cauliflower that I could use in a recipe I found recently that reminded me of this dish, so why not try to recreate it! Especially since I heard Sava’s took it off the menu. 😦 It is one reason I LOVE recreating things I had at restaurants, because then you can enjoy it whenever and wherever you are!

IMAG7799

Baked vegan crab cakes packed up for take away with romaine leaves, avocado and vinegar slaw. I tried baking the cakes without the breading since I can not be bothered with frying, so messy, and they turned out brilliant!

Since that is not enough servings for 11 days, I know I could either bump up the amount of ingredients to make a larger batch OR I could finally make the vegan crab cakes I had been eyeing for months. Not to mention I have a huge jar of artichoke hearts in the pantry, plus the celery and onions in stock.

Now, what about breakfast, snack and dinner. In the same document where I keep my current food supply listed, I also save ideas I have throughout any given week that involve items I own. Sometimes these are poorly thought through, but usually it helps me fill in the blanks.

IMAG7798

Roasted, chopped gold potatoes seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika, garlic and pecorino cheese, topped with 2 eggs and hatch chili salsa.

Under breakfast suggestions, I saw something that could help me make a dent in the 15 lb. bag of gold potatoes I picked up at Costco, as well as, use up the hatch chili salsa leftover from a previous meal. So huevos salsa over spiced home fries it is. And the free range eggs I prefer are on sale at Whole Foods for cheaper than those at Trader Joe’s! As for a snack, I love to have fruit and I see Gala apples are on sale for 88¢/lb. I can have my beloved apple nachos with the cashew butter and cacao nibs I already have in my pantry.

Lastly, what to do for dinner. I want to eat down the some of the grains I have and items in my freezer. I also would love to try out a recipe from my new Soup & Bread cookbook that a friend highly recommended to me. So why not make the coconut lentil soup from the book to use up some red lentils. Then pair it up with the veggie burgers I have in the freezer. Also, I should finish up the pita bread I have so I could make veggie burger pita pockets! Ta Da! Done!

IMAG7797

Pita bread with mustard, caramelized onions, romaine and a veggie burger. Whole foods had the veggie burgers on sale and a $1 off coupon 2 weeks ago, so I paid $1.50 for 4 burgers! The ingredients of this brand amaze me so when I found them at an affordable price I had to finally try them 😉

In the end I will only need to purchase the following (which cost me less than $30 for 2 weeks worth of meals):

  • Gala apples ($6 for 1/2 peck organic, should last me more than 2 weeks)
  • Romaine
  • Swiss chard
  • Slaw mix
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Eggs

I feel much of my creativity is really shown in my cooking. I love to take what I have and make something amazing out of it, even without a recipe specifically in mind. Yet trying recipes is how I understand how to combine flavors and the role each ingredient plays. My inventiveness in the kitchen keeps me within my budget and from contributing to the immense amount of food that is wasted in our country.

What works for your interests and needs when it comes to meal planning? Please share in the comments below!

Sugar: Best Time for Consumption Part 3

Since I can not consume coffee nor do I want to take energy supplements, foods with sugars can help me power through an intense workout. I plan my weekend workouts to be more intense and tend to be the first thing I do in the morning. Actually, first thing in the morning is typically when it is most convenient for me to do all of my workouts. So I plan out my meals to increase my glycogen stores to help me get through those rise and shine workouts.

Sugars are carbohydrates (carbs) and you need them to fuel your muscles. I have noticed that carbs in the morning help me feel more awake and ready to take on the day. I do try to limit the processed grain carbs I consume, but fruit and vegetables I will eat as much as will fill me up. On top of providing me carbs for energy, fruit and vegetables provide much of the micronutrients I need.

IMAG7482

St. Louis’ Finest Indeed! One of the things I ALWAYS indulge for when I visit my family, Ted Drewes. Now you can even get it at the airport!

Now, when I treat myself to dessert (more than just a piece of fruit), I will often line that up with a moderate to intense walk or run following immediately to burn off the energy. Especially since added sugars give me quite the rush and can make it challenging to sleep.

For instance, on Pi day (March 14th) this year I indulged in half a slice of pie some coworkers brought in around 2 PM and within 30 minutes could not focus on my work and felt SUPER jittery! I ended up going for a 2+ mile walk after work, which helped bring me down from my sugar high. My digestion was not in it’s best state, but at least I was not up all night.

Now it may sound like I should just start my day with dessert if I am going to have it, but that just makes me feel sick the whole day. I have also had folks tell me I NEED to be eating something before I workout, but I really do not have the time to eat something, wait for it to digest, get my workout in, cleaned up for the day and out the door on time for work.

Also, there are arguments both ways on the importance of breakfast first thing in the morning. Personally, I have found that not eating as soon as I wake up works well for my lifestyle. Let me clarify, I NEVER skip breakfast! I just do not eat it before my workout. Since I workout in the morning I need to refuel afterwards with something nutritious for my muscles to recover and grow. Even if I do not workout in the morning, I find myself feeling sluggish and irritable without breakfast until I get my lunch. #NotProductive

This is just another reminder to do what works best for you and what I have learned about how sugars effect my body.

imag6321

Fruit is one of the great ways to get in carbs 🙂