What is Healthful Living?
For the sake of definition, healthful living is doing what’s most natural for your body, mind, and spirit. I believe that our bodies were created to function in a particular manner. When those natural functions are interrupted (by chemicals we inhale, by consuming genetically-modified foods, by being surrounded by petroleum products, etc.), we are unable to find balance and peace within our mind and spirit. Healthful Living is making decisions that are best for YOU and decided by YOU. It’s about ignoring a world created for you by media, advertising, and Big Business and finding what fits your definition of health. I won’t focus on calories, fat, cholesterol, or any other “nutritional” numbers here. I won’t focus on fanatical ideas nor politics. I offer what I know, through research and personal experience, and hope it guides you toward a healthier life!
I highly recommend that everyone attempt a dairy-free diet at some point. You will notice a difference in your mood, overall health, and appearance. I will admit that I am only an expert on my own experience with this and I have done no formal research on the subject. (Good luck finding formal research. The dairy industry keeps any negative reports on their product from reaching the media.) But I have had nothing but good results from limiting dairy. Since I stopped eating dairy altogether:
-I no longer get sinus infections, which were something I thought I was prone to getting.
-I rarely get headaches.
-My skin cleared up and I no longer get pimples.
-The seasonal, flaky patches on my scalp disappeared.
-My digestion improved.
-For the Ladies: I no longer get yeast infections.
Just think about it: how many infants/children have a dairy intolerance? Have you ever heard someone say, “I just can’t get enough cheese and butter! My system just feels so out of whack if I don’t get my daily dairy!”?
The problem is this (and this is the problem with many other inflammation-causing foods): what were are buying is not a whole food. The milk, butter, cheese and yogurt you buy, even if it is organic, is a processed product. It is stripped of its original form and has so many additives that the body cannot process it. And I will stand by the notion that cow’s milk was intended for baby cows, not humans 🙂
Personally, I eat yogurt because I believe it has good bacterial properties, but that is the only dairy I eat, save for the occasional ice cream splurge. I think dairy should be treated as a treat, instead of a staple, as the dairy industry would have you believe.
So, here are some extra resources if you want to know more:
Healthnotes–Dairy Free Diet, from PCC Natural Markets A simple, concise explanation of what a dairy-free diet is like and why one might need it
NotMilk.com A wealth of articles, some backed by journaled research, about the dangers of dairy
The China Study A controversial book contesting that animal proteins, particularly casein (found in milk), is a cause of cancer
Gluten-Free Info and Links
There seems to be confusion about what it means to eat a gluten-free diet. It DOES NOT mean that one simply doesn’t eat bread and pasta. It DOES mean that one avoids (or can’t have at all) foods containing gluten, which is a protein composite that gives food its elasticity. It mainly comes from wheat, but can be found from other grains.
I like this basic explanation from Kaplan Medical Center:
The speaker brings up some important points:
-Gluten can be found in OTHER foods, like oats, that don’t normally cause issue for people with gluten intolerance.
-Corn and rice gluten are different than wheat gluten.
-Wheat gluten can cause a “cascade of damage to the autoimmune process of the body.”
-The exact reason for this reaction in the body is yet to be fully explained.
I read somewhere once that perhaps the reason that so many people have issues with wheat is not because of the wheat, but because of what’s been done to it. So many of our foods are genetically modified to perform in a certain way, and wheat is no exception.
My personal experience with a gluten-free diet was a positive one. I was advised during my pregnancy to avoid wheat gluten and sugar in the last months of pregnancy to ensure that the free-radicals from these substances didn’t end up tightening my ligaments and extending labor. I can attest that I had a relatively short labor for a first birth (11 hours) and my son literally did corkscrews down the birth canal, throwing an elbow into the mix as he was born. I had no tearing and the doctor even commented about his surprise that there was none.
I like to prepare meals that are gluten-free, when possible, especially when I am baking anything.
Green Living Info and Links
Even One Change Makes A Difference
I wish I could remember how we became a green household. I wish I could remember the first time I thought about cloth diapering. I honestly wish I could pinpoint that defining “A-Ha!” moment when it only made sense to live a more eco-friendly life. Then it would be simpler to pass this all on in a concise package, wrapped in a recycled, reusable bag and tied with twine. Until then, I’ve got a list and some links (This is an evolving list; please feel free to contact me with questions, ideas, or favorite resources you’d like to see!):
BIG-ISH CHANGES (Changes that require a shift in mindset or are more expensive than everyday purchases)
-Consider purchasing a more fuel-efficient vehicle (Click here for U.S. Dept. of Energy Fuel Economy Guide)
–Evaluate the energy efficiency and water usage of your appliances when you purchase new
-Understand where your goods are produced, how they are produced, and how far they travel to get to you, specifically,clothing and food. Consider buying Fair Trade when you have the opportunity.
-Research plants native to your area and plant only those species in your yard (Google: “[your]State Native Plant Society”)
-Join a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program (Google: “[your]State CSA’s)
–Raise backyard chickens for fresh eggs (The Crunchy Wife writes about her personal experience on the subject here.
-Cloth diaper your children. Click here to Visit Changing Diapers Book (all about modern cloth diapers).
MEDIUM-Y CHANGES (Changes that substitute a current practice with a different one)
-Eliminate paper products such as paper towels and paper plates
-Stop using chemical cleansers (Fan me on Facebook for my all-purpose cleanser recipe!)
-Buy organic foods, especially produce and meat
-Elminate unnecessary plastics from entering your home (i.e. plastic goods that get one (or no) use and will be thrown away)
SMALLER CHANGES (Changes you can make TODAY!)
-Replace your lightbulbs with energy efficient flourescent bulbs or LED bulbs
-Turn off lights when you leave a room
-Unplug electronics when not in use
-Walk or bike instead of drive, when appropriate
-Reduce the amount of trashable goods you bring into the home
-Reuse containers, clothing, etc. or pass them on to someone who can
-Recycle the rest!
-Think about the impact of your decisions. Your changes may not be immediately felt, but you’re influencing the next generation to respect their surroundings and environment!