Posts Tagged ‘wisdom’

Let Evidence be Your Guide

July 24th, 2017 No Comments Tags:

I have heard the cheers for the proposed plans of the new Canada’s Food Guide. I’ve been pondering this more deeply though, hmmmm. I want to join the throngs of enthusiasts, but to me, the jury is still out until I see the final product. You may recall the post I wrote: Does the Food Guide make my butt get fat? a while back. I revealed that creating any educational material for a target group of people poses many challenges. So devising a new Guide for 35 million people over the age of two, living in a culturally and geographically diverse country such as Canada makes this a mammoth task – understatement of the year…

The Good

At first blush, the guiding principles seem sound: The first outlines what to eat (more veggies, fruit, whole grains and plant based proteins), the second cautions what not to eat (ultra processed and prepared foods, especially those containing a lot of saturated fat, sugar and salt) and the third provides strategies on how to eat (highlighting a need for more cooking and eating together) – very Brazilian Guide-esque, don’t you think? That guide received rave reviews, so including these elements makes sense as these issues are applicable to Canadians too. The devil is in the detail. People want specifics; however, like “what should I buy, then what and how much should I eat?” Don’t leave consumers hanging Health Canada because people will fill in the blanks which could lead the population down another dark, new epidemic alley.

The Bad

I believe in the old adage “if something seems too good to be true, it probably is”. This rings true in this case. Don’t call me a Debbie Downer. I am certainly hoping for the best, really I am. But as I read the centrefold of the Globe & Mail’s National News section on July 19, 2017 a few alarm bells rang. Put the pom poms down and hear me out.

The Consultation Process I liken Health Canada’s consultation process to sending a “Dear Santa” letter when I was young. It’s a dark hole where everyone and their monkey’s uncle weigh in. Many people feel because they eat, they must know a thing or two about food. I am all for the democratic process but when building a document as important as the new Food Guide the final decisions must be based in food and nutrition scientific evidence, not popular opinion. Should the loud minority be hushed by making changes? I certainly hope not. Decisions need to be made seeped in evidence – period.

For example, just because a very small percentage of the population don’t drink milk in their culture shouldn’t mean we remove that section of the guide, especially if a vast majority of the population benefit by it. I am sure the Canadian Consumer Health Survey results are in and I’m guessing the findings about what Canadians are eating are grim, thus the need to make such sweeping change. I surmise that Canadians are snacking more of ultra processed food, cooking less, not meeting requirements for essential nutrients, eating alone and eating out a lot. If one nutrient rich food, such as milk can single handedly fill an array of nutrient gaps for many age and gender groups when you do a modelling exercise, wouldn’t that be a good reason to keep it in the new guide? Including nutrient rich choices makes sense. I have many more reasons why dairy belongs in the guide: Don’t be a dairy contrarian?

The Ugly

Creating this is difficult enough with food and nutrition as the primary focus, but Health Canada wants to pull in environmental sustainability too. I want to believe this can be included, but I encourage them to put food and nutrition as the primary goals and the environment as a secondary one, after all it’s a Food Guide.

Look folks, I’m all for “making our planet great again”. In my very household, we are getting rid of two gas guzzling vehicles and replacing them with one electric car, putting solar panels on the roof and more (and yo, if you see me hitch hiking by the side of the road because I forgot to recharge my car like I sometimes do with my phone, have a heart and give me a lift, would you?). In the balancing act of creating a new guide and covering all of the evidence-based food and nutrition bases, making the environment central to the decision making might be a stretch, especially if we end up nixing important dietary elements because of it. Don’t bite off more than you can chew by trying to be all things to all people.

You don’t know what you don’t know, you know! I have been a sad spectator of this “gluten-free” craze over the years. It’s been “a thing” for much longer than expected unfortunately. I know some intelligent people who have assimilated that “a diet must be healthier without gluten” because we’re still bombarded with all of these alternate facts and nonsense for so long. Alternative facts are permeating people’s consciousness as a consequence. If Health Canada decides to remove the dairy group to shut the loud minority up, I worry people might make similar wrong assumptions.

Empower the People!

If Health Canada wants to empower Canadians to make better food choices, then they should be committed to providing the best tools to do so. Usher in a better Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP) for instance. If you want Canadians to eat less sugar, add that line with grams of added sugar per serving right on the panel? Also, while the Skip the Dishes app seems to be all the rage as consumers eat out more, why not mandate all of the NFP information be available to Canadians for restaurant food, starting with fast food. The fact that only a few tidbits of nutrition information of menus is available in various provinces isn’t something to cheer about. Consumers need all of this info available in every province now. What are you waiting for Health Canada?

Alas, I applaud the Food Directorate’s efforts in this painstaking exercise. Do keep food and nutrition scientific evidence as your primary focus and don’t let popular opinion of the loud minority influence your decisions. Get all of your policy ducks in a row – from food labels for all food Canadians consume – packaged and restaurant food alike. Don’t make sweeping change for the sake of making change. Include dietitians as the “go to” experts to help Canadians make sense of all of the food and nutrition non-sense. And at the end of the day, realize that whatever you decide, people won’t be holding hands and singing Kumbaya, but it is a necessary task nonetheless.
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Posted in Eating Vortex, Francy Rants, Policy for the People, Who's Zoomin' Who?? | No Comments »

Unapologetic Expert…Time to Speak UP

June 30th, 2017 No Comments Tags: , , ,

Canada Day is fast approaching, our 150th, no less. We Canadians are know for being polite, watching our p’s and q’s and for apologizing, “oops, sorry”. We are bombarded with an avalanche of misinformation almost everywhere we turn which has amped up over the decade… big sigh. Whether at the family table, the hair salon, social media or any sort of gathering with fellow humans, life feels like an information battlefield sometimes – one I prefer to retreat from.

Years ago when someone checked out alternative medicine as a last resort when everything else failed, I thought, “Why not, what harm could that do?” But fast forward to today and I know too many people who choose alternate therapies as their first line of treatment then bring in the “trained guns” – doctors, dietitians, for example – those of us who are registered professionals governed by a college to protect the public, when things goes south. Sadly many of us sit by in silence.

Case in point, I visited my neighbourhood salon recently. I asked a simple question “how are you?” and got a long and winding tale. Happy to be an ear, I heard about the plight of my stylist visiting a chiropractor for various ailments. I was told how this person tried various maneuvers, yada yada yada…. I was also told that before starting anything she had to sign a release form “in case I had a stroke or died”. Say what??!! Instead of sitting in silence I decided to politely weigh in. I asked whether her medical doctor requires her do the same thing and noted that if THEY did something wrong they could get their licence revoked, sued or charged. Then I asked “so why did you go in the first place?” and she told me “because it’s covered by my insurance”. Great big sigh.

Well my fellow experts, I say it’s time to break the silence and weigh in on such conversations. When everyone out there claims to be an expert, it’s time for the real experts speak up, unapologetically. You with me??

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Posted in Edit-Storial By A Foodie, Francy Rants, Nutrition News, Who's Zoomin' Who?? | No Comments »

Calling All Canadians: March for Science, Stand UP for Evidence!

April 18th, 2017 No Comments Tags: , ,

Earth Day is fast approaching. It’s time to lace up and join in the March for Science on Saturday, April 22, 2017. Mark your calendar and spread the word.

As Archie-Bunker-in-Chief south of the border rounds out his first 100 days in office our Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad world has gone “mad-er”, sadly. We now live in an era with admitted “alternate facts” in a seemingly parallel universe. I’m not referring to a Sci-Fi flick but the daily news we use…big sigh…

Life threatening climate change is plaguing our world. Instead of instituting measures to help, with one signature, he drags coal out of the dark ages and back into the picture, what gives?! I wouldn’t be surprised if he ushered Gwyneth Paltrow, promoter of Goop into a key position in the White House. Good grief. The sad thing is we can’t change the channel, this is the new world disorder.

In times of despair, do something constructive and March! Join in won’t you? You don’t need to be a science geek to take part. But believe me, a science geek has made a difference to you or a loved one by their tireless work efforts, expertise and exactness, whatever their discipline. Activate your circles of influence to get involved, calling all Canadians:

  • Calling all teachers: address these modern day issues in your class and encourage your students to participate
  • Calling all health professionals: post a sign in your waiting area and motivate your patients to join in
  • Calling all fitness instructors: sway your clients to get involved this weekend
  • Calling all parents: rally all generations of your family to share in the opportunity to walk, wheel and weigh in
  • Calling all social media mavens: post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more using #ScienceMarch
  • Calling all artists: get crafty, make some signs and lend a hand!

It’s a perfect way to take a stand and a great way to get your daily steps in. Walk, tweet #ScienceMarch, donate, don’t let it pass you by. Bring a friend or ten. See you there!

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My word for 2017 is ….

January 3rd, 2017 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

I have done a lot of soul searching this holiday season. As per my usual routine, I drafted a few New Year’s type blog posts. None have seen the light of day as they didn’t quite hit the mark for how I’ve been feeling lately. I have been inspired by what some people have chosen as “their key word” for 2017 though. That got me thinking more deeply, hmmmm.

Although I have written a lot this past year, I have not posted much. Various family members have been experiencing their share of challenges, so my usual musings about food and nutrition didn’t quite feel right to post about in the grand scheme of things.

I did host a pre-Christmas get together with one of my sisters. I connected up with my many aunts to meet our new great nephew – Russel. I reflected on this get-together with awe about how lucky I am to have so many amazing women who are fabulous role models in my life in addition to my own Mom and Mom-in-law. Each has soldiered through their fair share of life’s challenges without the helicopter-type safety nets many young folks possess today. Yet each show up with smiles, love and enthusiasm, like always.

I am out at my hide-away as I write this and have been taking in the brisk winter outdoors with deeper reflection. On New Year’s Day I took the trek up snowy Knox Mountain. It’s is a love-hate thing – love it when I’m done and hate it while I’m trudging up…. a perfect way to contemplate life….

As I plodded along, it came to me: ROBUST!

  • This word sums up what my Moms and aunties have shown in their rich lives as they take on the world.
  • This explains the gumption you need to face an extreme challenge with courage, grit and a smile.
  • It goes deeper than merely “shaking a leg” in life, but losing one and making the best of it.
  • It’s what you need to break out of your routine and follow your dream.
  • It’s not spinning the yarn of mundane pettiness of the status quo, yet implies vitality & vigor, toughness & sturdiness, health & enthusiasm, to make a difference. Yes robust is my word this 2017.

May this word have meaning for you as you grab 2017 by the horns: Go forth and be ROBUST!

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Control, Alt, Delete

January 20th, 2016 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

How many times do you hit these keys on your computer – control, alt, delete? Now that 2016 is in full swing, let’s consider how to apply this to our everyday lives. Listen up!

Control – Do you experience eating struggles? How much energy do you waste with preoccupations about food and eating? Break away from your current vortex and try something new by becoming more aware. As I often say “awareness is bliss”. When you understand what’s sending you into a tailspin you’ll be better prepared to reframe your way of thinking and change what you’re doing. Consider the following new steps to break out:
1) Start a Journalling Journey to create a love affair with food & activity. For the coming weeks scribble down details about food, eating and more as described in my ebook. Your journal will hold the keys to unlock your own personal eating mysteries, your own diet finger print.

2) Breaking Bad Habits – do the 3 x 3 – Instead of embarking on an overwhelming plan that twists your life into a pretzel to adhere to choose a few habits to work on at a time. What’s the rush? Why put any undue stress on yourself and take a slow and steady approach to make lasting change.

3) Thoughts on full – Instead of making food-related goals at first, change it up and choose behaviour goals instead with no food being deemed off limits.

Alt – Take a fresh, alternative approach to making new goals by being good to yourself. Work in as many positive ways to keep you stoked. You’ll love this new approach and wonder why you’ve been so hard on yourself depriving yourself, cleansing while not building yourself UP. Consider these new strategies:

1) Rewards to Stoke Motivation - From this day forward establish a reward system to treat yourself for good behaviour. Forget the punishment mentality once and for all!

2) Motivation 6 Ways – Work on an array of ways to stay motivated during the dead of winter. These will keep your motivation sizzling and NOT fizzling!

3) How are your goals taking shape? At various intervals take stock of your progress.

4) Reactivate your activity – If you’ve traditionally shut yourself in during winter, let yourself out! Renew a few ways to reactivate you moves. These will boost your endorphins and keep you pumped.

Delete – Put behind you old ways of thinking by finding new perspective:
1) One Plan to Rule them All - There are more than a 1,000 ways to do the same thing right. Figure out what’s right for you and custom create your own approach that fits your diet finger print that you will unveil while journalling.

2) Test, test do the Thanksgiving dinner test – If you do want to start a new eating regimen put it to my test, the Thanksgiving dinner test!

3) Eating Satisfaction Test - While you’re at it, this is a perfect time of year to put your favourite food to the test. Check this out as some of your faves might fall off your list. All of a sudden that Happy Meal is no longer making you smile…

There you have it folks, control, alt, delete yourself into the New Year. For more healthy and stealthy tips check out my ebook Skinny on Slim, The little black dress of diet books.

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Posted in Eating Vortex, Miss Behavin', Successful Loser Logic, Who's Zoomin' Who?? | No Comments »

Check, check….Time for a reality check

December 30th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

As the year comes to a close it’s only natural to ponder what was, what is and what could be for 2016. It helps to clear your head of all of the ‘would have’, ‘could have’, ‘should have’s’. We’re ready for a clean slate as the New Year rolls in, right? Instead of setting an array of unrealistic expectations and goals work on one thing – keeping it real.

A perfect place to start is readying yourself for the usual barrage of unsubstantiated health and nutrition information that bombards us. Like Tim Caulfield suggests, steer clear of bunk!

As I write this I reside in the ultra-contrived city of Las Vegas, adults’ very own Disney Land. My first impression is, “I’m not in Kansas anymore, Auntie M!” like Dorothy proclaimed in the Wizard of Oz. One of the many billboards I passed during my time here read “Make Better Choices.” I thought, hmmmm, I don’t think their definition of “better choices” is the same as mine….

“Keeping it real” is far from this place’s motto, from fake eyelashes, to volcano eruptions at the Mirage, to silicone implants and more. Every hour is happy hour it would seem. People here put photographs on their business cards. All of them seem to be missing one important element… that would be business attire….They even have a “Menage a Trois” wine. I expect the flavour floods your senses with hints of exotic spices with a strong oaky finish…. twice…. Ahhh I digress.

Yes, I have written many times that “awareness is bliss” and keeping it real is the name of the game. When you know better, you do better. Keep this in mind for the dawning of 2016 as you do your own reality check:

  • May the advice you find and follow be steeped in scientific evidence
  • If something seems too good to be true, realize it probably is, then forget about it, and
  • Work Mother Nature into your life regularly – on your plate, with your outdoor activities and with your de-stress strategies

Peace out.

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Activity level’s up a notch, thanks Apple Watch!

December 16th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Thought I’d give an update on the Apple Watch I’ve been sporting since May. I have been wearing it religiously, despite it not always matching my outfits. My relationship with it has been growing stronger. Truth be told, I thought the novelty would have worn off by now. I’m happy to report that it hasn’t.

I wrote about it back in June: A Wee Nudge to Help Me Budge. I particularly liked the Activity App with friendly reminders to help get and keep me moving. My schedule over the past 6 months have put a proverbial monkey wrench in my routine with travels galore. This could wreak havoc on anyone’s routine, but the friendly reminders on my watch kept me moving even for short bursts wherever I have been.

When I browse my calendar I realize that one thing my routine lacks is well…..a routine. This is where the Activity Apps on the Apple Watch keep me mindful of making the most of each day to get me moving whatever I’m doing. The prompts shift with your varied routine.

Activity App to Nudge You – The Activity feature touts “Live a better day by achieving 3 daily fitness goals.” These include goals to move (in calories), to exercise (in time) and to stand for one minute (number of times/day).

The first day I wore it I received a gentle nudge on my wrist with a message “Time to stand up!” When I did it, I received a congratulatory message “You did it!” There are varied prompts that focus on one of the 3 goals depending on your day. When I was captive on a train ride from Vancouver to Toronto that chugged from Friday night to Tuesday morning the prompts focused on my standing goal. These nudged me to try to move, even a little, which I did when the train stopped along the way.

Achievement Awards To Stoke Motivation – I have received a wide array of achievement awards from the App which totally caught me off guard. These are motivating to propel you to earn more. For example, one called “New Move Goal” saying “You’ve earned this award 5 times for reaching a new daily move goal.” Another called “Longest Move Streak” says “you earned this award for your longest daily move streak, 12 days.” I have received others for a “perfect move week” another for a “perfect exercise week” and recently one for “100 Move Goals” since dawning this device. My competitive spirit has me gunning to earn more!

Review, Reflect & Reframe – I regularly review my activity history on the app on my phone. I also review the dashboard of the Health App on my phone to review monthly charts showing daily steps taken, daily distance and active calories. These metrics have improved vastly from wearing this day 1. I am more mindful with the regular reminders to vamoose my caboose. Before all of this I’d take a 3 mile walk and do my 16-minute investment into my hourglass routine feeling as if I’ve earned a hero sandwich. Now I get up to move regularly even if it is to stand while talking on the phone. Each Monday I receive a “week in review” to help me review, reflect and reframe my goals, something I wrote about in my e-book Skinny on Slim, The Little Black Dress of Diet Books.

So me and my Apple Watch have been through a half a year together and our relationship has grown stronger. We’ve been through sedentary times together on the train and active times together on bike rides on Myra Canyon, mountain treks up Knox Mountain, long meandering walks up to the escarpment of the old town of Lyon, near the Giants Causeway in Ireland, the hills and dales of San Francisco and a trail near Mount Cook with routine neighbourhood walks in-between. Despite the season changes, my activity goals are mounting, thanks to the messages keeping me mindful, motivated and moving!

It’s upward and onward from here, thanks to my Apple Watch! If you’re not sure what to ask Santa for, he might have one for you in his sack!

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Mother Nature 3 Ways

November 19th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I’m back. Back from Middle Earth, a driving tour that led me around New Zealand’s south island, ahhhh. I love getting away and being able to ponder life’s wonders.

During that time my soul was doused with a triple dose of Mother Nature. Being able to witness the splendour of Mount Cook with a back splash of cirrus clouds, to crystal blue glacier lakes, fjords of Milford Sound on a mysteriously rainy day, an end-to-end rainbow with 2 pots of gold, the glory of spring flowers, to Fangorn’s Forest all connected by rolling hills and flatlands of farmland with flocks of sheep dotting the countryside from coast to coast to coast. Nothing could be finer, truly. Middle Earth? It felt like living a fairy tale. There and back again with Bilbo Baggins of sorts…

As I reflect about what was most captivating aside from “nature in your face” was the (almost) absence of big corporate anything, met with warm and genuine hospitality of unpretentious New Zealanders. Rarely a logo, a billboard, a golden arch, a fancy handbag was sported with a casual, comfort and acceptance of being as you were whether at a gas station filling up or a dining room of a remote lodge. How refreshing.

I relished listening to the silent whispers of nature whether a waterfall, sweet bird songs, the bark of a seal or wind rustled leaves. I collected souvenirs of rocks from the blue pools, some feathers of a red hawk and twigs of a grand Cypress tree found on the grounds of Larnarch’s Castle. How odd for me being a self proclaimed Material Girl, nothing seemed finer than those treasures I stashed in my suitcase….

There aren’t words to fully express the magnificence of it all as I mull over the jarring sumptuousness of my experience.

Speaking of jarring. The reentry to reality after an overnight flight being coddled to a final dose of New Zealand congeniality to San Francisco had life’s BS meter off the charts experiencing a double whammy of Friday the 13th day of November, literally. Paris splattered the headlines, to the Ho Ho Ho of Christmas harriedness, to my twitter feed spewing with breaking news. What gives?

It has been a few days since arriving home, still feeling a sense of calm from Mother Nature’s sweet caress despite our world going postal yet again in spades, sadly. As I took my daily walk I pondered my feelings more deeply, hmmmm. A lightbulb went off, AHA!

What we all need in our lives is more of Mother Nature – that’s the answer! I hiked to the grocery store yesterday to pick up some of her bounty that landed on my dinner plate. I walked with her feeling the brisker breeze blowing through my hair and sauntering by the bare trees reaching up to the sky. I felt her sense of calm to douse the stress of our world’s madness helping to make sense of it all somehow.

As I pondered what I’d write about in the months ahead aiming to synthesize life down to its skivvies, it came to me: let’s get more of Mother Nature in our life through our food, with fun activity and with her sage counsel to manage stress for our soul.

Hmmm, Mother Nature 3-Ways, more on this to come, Through Thick & Thin…

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Hold the trick on treats this Halloween!

October 28th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

The tweet fest has been mounting about whether to give kids healthy treats or toys at Halloween, hmmmm. Is that an oxymoron – “healthy treats”? I call that a “trick” in the “trick or treat” declaration, wouldn’t you?

Look folks, Halloween comes but once a year. It’s fun to celebrate a spirited day, dress up funny and shell out. Why suck the fun out of it? Truth be told, it’s a perfect time of year to put your relationship with food to the test…

Food means so much more than simply the vitamins and minerals it contains, but has a place within our social and psychological fabric. Kids are sharp as tacks being intuitive, sometimes more than we adults ever realize. When we the “gate keepers” take the “treat” out of “trick or treat” kids get the message that you’re telling them that something is bad about that. When you head down that road, it’s a slippery slope in a negative direction. Kids who live in “cleansed” environments without any goodies could go into “food seeking” mode and will gorge on treats when they eventually get them. Some studies have shown this. The unintended consequence could result in psychological eating issues which could shackle them in a vortex of disordered eating for decades. Lighten up!

Ideally we all want kids to establish a positive relationship with food or as I like to say “a love affair” described in my e-book. This involves eating and enjoying food, some treats in moderation, guilt free. This is not a black or white issue, but grey. When we deem foods by our actions as “bad” the unintended consequences could be staggering. That’s not the goal is it: to create a negative situation by being so virtuous?

I usually wait until the day before the big day to pick up my treats. You name it, I get it – potato chips, Cheetos, chocolate bars, candy, the full court press of offerings. It’s Halloween folks, kids don’t want “healthy treats” and neither do I as I sit at the door when the tykes drop by. Save the bridge games for the old folks home! What kind of trick is that? A very bad one! This is one of those occasions to take part in and have fun – nibble, nosh and be merry. When the sugar rush wears off, it’ll be time for school and work so enjoy!
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As the saying goes, “The whole is greater than the sum…”

October 23rd, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

We have all heard the saying “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” This saying came to mind recently when the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s press release exclaimed “Cut the crap!” They revisited their nutritional recommendations for a healthy heart and slightly shifted their position suggesting we eat more whole foods and less highly processed, low nutrient junk food, AKA “crap”! How wise is that? Very!

Well, well, well, what a breath of fresh air these well thought out, new recommendations are for everyone! Over the past decades the masses have complicated matters of the heart and the diet, transforming the innocent act of eating into such a complicated affair. We got to focusing too much on micronutrients, while losing the essence and joy of food and eating somehow. It’s time to put “the bread” back into “breaking bread together”!

I am not proclaiming that nutrients in the food don’t matter. Our masterful machines – our bodacious bodies need all nutrients to function optimally. Changing our focus to one overarching goal – to consume mostly whole foods in a balanced fashion, is sage advise. Aiming to cook these whole foods at home more often can be life changing and for some life saving.

Instead of needing to remember a wide array of complicated food and nutrition rules – “…more of this, less of that, this percentage of the other… ” you simply have to ask yourself, “Is this a whole food or not?” When you look in your fridge, freezer, pantry and grocery list you can easily see if you are on the right track. Make small changes to move in the direction of eating whole foods more often in balanced proportions.

A few weeks back I made a vat of tomato eggplant sauce and froze it in smaller containers. Last week I made a lasagne with ground beef & mushrooms, spinach & ricotta and noodles using that trusty tomato sauce. This week I assembled this cinchy dinner of smoked salmon & brie, whole grain bread with a side salad. Next week I plan to create some calzones and dip them into my tomato sauce. Trust me, I am no Julia Childs and approach this to make food prep as easy and enjoyable as possible.

It’s helpful to take stock of your whole food enjoyment right now. If you have been falling short during this harvest season get a move on to your grocery store or market and load up.

Because it’s true, the whole IS greater than the sum of its parts. Eating more home-prepared, whole foods is better for you than consuming your nutrients from a bottle or elixir and following a plethora of illogical food rules, don’t you think?

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