Living Holistic: Helping the Cancer Sufferer Repair (Guest Post)

Organic market fruits and vegetables

Organic market fruits and vegetables (Photo credit: SalFalko)


Honey Crunched readers, I am thrilled to say we have another guest post!  David Haas, a writer for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance (MCA)  has graciously decided to share the important of holistic nutrition for those battling cancer.  David shares important information with us on how essential healthy eating when battling cancer is.  So please take a moment to read the following post and leave your thoughts:


Many studies recently have become available about the correlation of what humans take into their bodies through food and the effects of this food upon their bodies. In many cases, it’s been shown that the diet of protein, processed food, refined sugar and genetically modified dairy is not the best way to achieve a healthy mind and body. Studies conducted by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. as published in “The China Study” help people to understand why it’s necessary to control what humans eat and to ensure that what’s going into the body is organic and natural. In addition, the study sheds light on how certain diets actually set people up for chronic disease and cancer. Choosing a holistic lifestyle must be more about living in a way that helps your body heal rather than make it more difficult. These are some of the basic principles to getting started.


How to Go Holistic


One of the main parts of starting a holistic diet is that you throw away most of the food in your refrigerator and pantry. It’s simply not going to help you to eat processed food, food with preservatives, genetically modified food or food littered with pesticides and herbicides. Every holistic lifestyle usually consists of organic eating principles, meaning that your fruits and vegetables don’t contain pesticides and herbicides, and your protein and dairy choices are not genetically modified. While it’s not entirely promoted to change to a completely plant-based diet, many studies like “The China Study” promote a predominantly plant-based diet to help the body heal and start cleaning out the toxins that can be found from eating foods with aspartame, MSG, high fructose corn syrup and various other chemicals that you see in most of the food at the grocery store.


Detoxing the Body


Holistic lifestyle is about a balance in the body and mind. To have more energy, strength, better health and well-being, it’s necessary to detox the human body. Some people choose to go through extreme methods, such as buying food products designed for detox like certain medicated drinks or even doing enemas, but really it’s about eating food that will help your body trap toxins, flush them out of the body and repair. Some of the foods that can definitely help detoxify your system include beets, celery, apples, chia seeds, flaxseed oil, broccoli sprouts, lemons and dark leafy green vegetables such as kale, collard greens and swiss chard.


Using Holistic as a Philosophy


If you consistently monitor what goes into your body, you’ll begin to see results right away. Many start this process by being a juicer and adding in all sorts of vegetables together to produce a liquid meal of detoxing agents but also help to repair the parts of the body that are suffering from malnutrition. Sufferers of any type of cancer, including mesothelioma, can benefit from a holistic lifestyle.



Is Stress Making Me Fat?

Stress Management

Stress Management (Photo credit: Livin’ Spoonful)

Have you felt overwhelmed by your tasks at work or at home or both?  Feeling sluggish or lacking a good energy vibe that used to be there?  Have you found yourself getting quick with people and acting a bit intolerant of anything you deem as miscellaneous information?

If you answered yes to a few if not all of these statements you may be stressed out.  Surprise, surprise how can we not be stressed out with our jobs on the line, the prices of everyday groceries going up, the demand our employers are expecting from us weighing on our shoulders, and North Korea threatening to dampen our day with a nuclear test. Actually 1 in 5 Americans felt stressed in 2012 according to the American Psychological Association.  In fact 75 percent of Health care costs are associated with extreme stress which lead to chronic illnesses.  But is all stress bad?  Well, no actually. Mild stress is good it forces us to sharpen our minds and act quickly further helping fine tune those decision making skills.  We’d call this type of stress, tolerable stress.  However when it happens more frequently and the stress lasts longer periods of time that’s when serious implications can start to occur and you push past that tolerable level.

How about stress and weight gain, are they related?  Possibly.  There is a hormone your adrenal gland releases in times of stress called Cortisol.  The more stressed your adrenal gland is the more cortisol that is produced.  This release relates to physical stress (exercise/exertion), mental and emotional stress as well.  It is also true that those who are in a constant state of stress maintain above normal levels of cortisol too.  Having high cortisol levels for an extensive period of time can cause blood sugar imbalance, elevated blood pressure, lowered immune systems, and yes extra fat particularly around the middle.  But don’t get too ready to point the finger at cortisol as the reason for weight gain, turns out that for some cortisol can even cause weight loss! (Fitday) This is possible in part to the extra energy burst we feel when in that stressed fight or flight stage.

Ultimately, it’s all about how you choose to respond to the stress that leads to weight gain or no weight gain.  Some people turn to emotional eating when stressed and the cravings of comfort foods or just a sense of hunger kicks in.  This is where overindulgence can occur and if this extends for a period of time weight gain will ensue. (Mayo Clinic). Others go the opposite route and are so stressed food becomes the last thing on their minds. Neither of these being the ideal responses but everyone deals with situations differently.  For instance, I don’t over eat when stressed nor under eat I get angry.  my stress turns to anger and I start getting irritable and crabby and short with everyone around me.  To cool down now takes a great amount of effort and willpower just to turn away from that overwhelming emotion.  It may sound silly but what works for me I learned in Adam Sandler‘s Anger Management movie (one of my favorites, shocking?).  It’s the scene where Adam and Jack Nicholson are driving and Adam gets an extreme case of road rage.  Jack Nicholson stops their car in the middle of the road, turns it off and forces Adam to sing “I feel pretty“.  It takes Adam a bit to change his mindset but once he does and starts singing he calms himself down and removes those stress barriers.

So the next time you are stressed just stop what you’re doing and think about why you feel the way you feel. See if you can pinpoint the stress in your life and consciously make an effort to see how it makes you feel. That will give you a good indicator as to how you handle stress. From there start making changes. Can’t get rid of the stressors? Try and change the way your treating the stress then for the better.

How do you deal with stress in your life? Knowing that what changes do you plan on making to deal with it better?

Written by  Kimberly Evans

Dessert Daily? Kim’s Top 5 Dessert Picks

Strawberry ice cream dessert

Strawberry ice cream dessert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have an incredible sweet tooth. In fact, when I was pregnant it got so bad that if I didn’t have some version of triple chocolate ice cream in my freezer every night I’d have a meltdown! Seriously! So naturally that sweet tooth has managed to infiltrate my daily food regime even still, three years later!

It’s essential to have some type of sweet every night before bed else I can’t sleep. Period. Sounds crazy right? Well, fact of the matter is as long as you are staying active regularly, dessert can fit into your life too. How and what kind of desserts you ask? Below are my top 10 desserts. Keep in mind, i do not allow myself to go over 300 calories on dessert….EVER. So all the suggestions below fall into the 100-300 calorie range making them totally possible! Also side note, I try hard to take into consideration more than just calories but things like sugar and fat. I don’t always hit the mark since it is dessert, however these were evaluated as not being too over the top.

Kim’s Top 5 Dessert Nominee’s:

1. Greek Frozen Yogurt – This treat is awesome! I stumbled upon the vanilla 0% frozen yogurt at my local Trader Joe’s a few weeks back. I have since then purchased Oikos 0% brand from Whole Foods both great options and at 100 calories, 0 grams of fat per 1/2 cup can we really even call this a sweet? Dress this frozen yogurt up with any of the following topics to take it from breakfast to dessert: banana slices, cool whip, crushed graham crackers, strawberries, blueberries, even a little bit of peanut butter mixed in tastes great… you get the picture!

2. Jello 60 calorie pudding snacks – Take anyone of these guilt-free flavors and add some cool whip on top or fruit mixed in and it’s a great tasting, still healthy treat. I’m a fan of mixing blueberries in with the vanilla flavor complete with a top of cool whip.

3. Smoothie turns Milkshake – blend up your favorite fruits, peanut butter, add in chocolate almond milk (dark, or milk chocolate) and blend! Healthy chocolate milkshake. (p.s. the almond and soy also have strawberry flavors to test out)

4. Smart Ones Desserts Here you have a multitude of options to satisfy any sweet tooth like key lime pie, strawberry shortcake, chocolate chip cookie dough, turtle sundae…the list goes on. A delectable choice for dessert all coming in at well under 200 calories.

5. Shortcake Dessert Cups – more commonly known for the vanilla flavor and in creation of strawberry shortcakes, but don’t let that stop you. Add in your favorite fruit instead of strawberry or swap out the vanilla up for the chocolate cups with diced banana and cool whip.  Unfortunately Hostess made some of the best versions of these but have closed their doors as of this past winter.  Whole foods, Target, and Walmart sell versions however Whole Foods is the only place I have seen the tasty chocolate dessert cups.

To close, as you see from the five examples above there is no reason to avoid dessert from your lifestyle.  There are many options out there that can fill that void.  So next time skip that extra serving of chips and save some room for one of the above in your day.  You won’t regret it!

Written by Kimberly Evans

Portion Size Distortion

Portion sizes are one of the biggest contributors to the rapidly increasing average waistline sizes of Americans.  Did you know that in the 1970’s, 47% of people were obese or overweight?  Did you know that since then that rate has reached 66%?  (Divine Caroline 2013) Sadly, it’s become the norm to be overweight.

How many of you take your leftovers home from dining out?  How many of you eat what you can and just leave the rest?  Those with the latter choice, not only are you spending $8-$20 per meal but you’re leaving half of it!  So you’ve just wasted a whole other meal’s worth of hard-earned cash.  That’s not fair, and it’s not your fault.  Portion size in the US has grown tremendous in size over the years.  The best example of this is Italian pasta dishes.  Going to places like Maggiano’s you’re sure to be delivered 3-4 servings on one plate.  Well, no wonder America’s obese rates are skyrocketing!

This over portioned problem also infiltrates our homes when we attempt to prepare meals for ourselves and families. We have developed such warped views on what a portion size should look like that when we do see one it looks small and un-fulfilling. Did you know a serving size of meat is about the size of a deck of cards?  Sure 2 servings is fine if you’re just pairing it with vegetables but we’re not.  We’re adding condiments, bread, pasta or potatoes with butter and sour cream.  Do you see where I’m going with this?

What it comes down to, is it’s not all attributed to a lack of nutrition education.  The nutritional information is on the packaging, explanations for what the ingredients and amounts represent are getting easier to understand, and ultimately we do have a choice on how much we eat or don’t eat.  It’s the norm that is working against us in our expectations from a serving, just like the norm of being overweight as I mentioned in the beginning.  We’ve gotten ourselves used to such large portions of items that normal servings look like bird food!

So what are some things you can you do to avoid the portion distortion when out to dinner or even when cooking at home?

1. Use a smaller plate – don’t reach for the big fancy china dish but instead take the salad plate.  May look small at first but over time you’ll save a lot of calories and get used to it.

2. When at a restaurant immediately put 1/2 to go.  I do this all the time and it works.  It takes 20 minutes when eating to begin to feel full.  If you leave everything there you will be tempted to consume it before you even realize you’re full.  Now you’re too full!  Take it home and eat it tomorrow or give it to your child or pet for their next meal.

3. This is one that the critiques are out on, but is worth mentioning:  if given a choice eat your food on blue plates/bowls/cups etc.  Red apparently is a strong bold color and has shown in studies to increase your appetite (how deceiving!).  On the other hand blue is shown to have the opposite effect.  What colors are your plates in your kitchen?

4. Measure your serving sizes.  The method of “I’ll add a dash of this, a dab of that. scoop of this…”, is just not reliable.  That extra tablespoon or 1/2 cup could be over time what’s standing between you and that waistline especially when it comes to highly caloric items like cheeses, oils and peanut butter.

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Written by Kimberly Evans