Tag Archives: clean eating

The Healthiest Places in the World

Are by all estimations part of a very esteemed short list, by no surprise.  Also by no surprise, the good old US of A is no where in ear shot of this list.  So then naturally, it begs the question–what does it take to be the world’s healthiest country, and are we capable of ever joining the ranks.  So let’s first take a look:

  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Iceland
  • Sweden
  • Japan (Major)
  • South Korea

That’s basically in order, according to average life-spans and incidence of disease.  Notice a trend?  Nearly half the list is comprised of Asian countries.  The list is however fully comprised of countries whose focus has been on good water, clean air, and sustainable, organic farming.  In fact, in many articles I have been reading they don’t even decipher between organic farming, and conventional farming, because organic is the standard.  In many cases there are laws in place to protect consumers from GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms), and other dangerous pesticides.  So, ok–check.  Healthy growing practices. 

What else?  I noticed that they all eat clean food as a standard.  There aren’t modified ingredients, few refined foods, and very little processing.  Not only does this protect the heart and waistline, it also protects the air and water quality as well–see point above re: healthy agriculture.  In a couple inquiries I sent out in curiosity about clean eating diets, I was met with raised eyebrows and question marks as to what exactly clean eating is!  Can you imagine?  The concept is so normal, it’s not even a concept!  It’s a way of life.  So high quality, clean food.  Check. 

In Okinawa, it is not abnormal for people to live to see 110 years old.  In fact, it’s normal!  The answer?  Simplicity.  The thing we very ironically seem to have to fabricate, and strive for, and invest huge amounts of effort into here in the States.  They eat a plant based diet full of organic, local produce, they walk, do tai chi and martial arts, and stay busy all day long, promoting restful nights sleep.  That’s it!  This is not new information.  We all know this, right?  Eat well, exercise, do meaningful work and sleep.  Essentially, being kind to yourself.  Check.

To be fair, the food, agricultural and nutrition practices in these regions of the world have survived from generation to generation for centuries.  They believe in what they are doing, and there is no other alternative.  They settle for nothing when it comes to health, and the governments make it a determined mission to protect everyone from anything less.  Admirable!  We try here, but we have so much against us.  It doesn’t feel like we really know how to eat.  We follow fad diets, eat crap, put exercising last, and work to make money, as opposed to doing passion driven work.  Take the Netherlands.  It’s cold there.  Yet, there are few cars and everyone rides bikes.  New Zealand has it easiest–they are in the sun all day long eating kiwi’s and enjoying the freedom of building in a multitude of outdoor activities into daily life. 

So can we get there?  We’ll have to each answer that on our own, as it will take a community effort to achieve country wide healthfulness.  Afterall, it’s our demand that drives the production of all our little nutrition sins.  We can learn from these trail blazing countries though that it starts (literally!) from the ground up.  Good water breeds good soil.  Good soil breeds healthy crops.  Healthy crops breed clean air.  Clean air breeds healthy people.  And of course, healthy crops is the beginning of all nutrition.  We have to take it upon ourselves to care more, and pay attention to what we are doing and certainly what we are eating.  Then, surely, Government policies and regulations will respond resoundingly.  Sorry dairy.  Sorry caged animals.  Sorry corn & soy.  We can take this country back!  That’s a start!

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Amazing Food Finds: The Snack Edition

ImageSnacks!  I recall when I first really started eating clean, and restricting to my diet to healthy fats, fruits & veggies and grains, I felt like I was condemning myself to a snackless life.  Nope, fruits don’t count.  I mean they are delicious, and they are snackable, but an apple will never be a pretzel, no matter how much you twist it!  But, even in my sugar mourn, I thought there had to be an alternative solution to just apples and carrot sticks.  In fact, that’s where most my food research and discoveries derive from: my resistance to a monotonous food life.  I really hardly ever eat the same thing the same way.  And with enough scanning the shelves, being brave enough to enter the center aisles (yes, even Whole Foods is a danger zone when you leave the perimeter, but that’s a blog for another day (and soon! they pissed me off again, recently…)), and reading enough of those freebie health watch magazines–I have devised quite an extensive snack food cabinet.  By the way, those little 12 page magazines they give away can have some of the best recipes and new product watch information!

ImageBefore I go into my list of fave’s, let’s first be clear on the snack food requirements, and rules for execution (or, consumption if you prefer 🙂 ).  Here are the rules: There most be at least one whole grain listed as the number one, main ingredient before anything else.  And it should be an interesting one.  Not simply whole wheat everytime (by the way, everyone knows that “wheat flour” is just another word for white/enriched flour, right?  Good.  Check.), and preferably lots more whole grains somewhere in the very short list of ingredients.  Which brings me to the next rule: There should only be a short list of ingredients, and the producers shoudl be really proud of them, and express so somewhere on the package.  They may even put the ingredients on the front of the package, or write them in funny font, or rave about them elsewhere on the packaging.  Next: No added refined sugar, period.  No sugar, with exceptions.  Sugar naturally occuring in grains is of course great, and if there’s dried fruit involved that’s sort of okay too, but it should be further down the list.  My next rule: Avoid added oils.  And if there are oils, then make sure it’s high Imageoleic (these oils are able to be baked at high tempuratures due to a lower level of Omega 3’s, which eliminates hydrogenation from occuring (by the way, the high amounts of healthy omega 3’s in Olive Oil makes it UNsuitable for cooking, as it becomes toxic at high temperatures), thus providing the healthful effects of lowering cholesterol, etc.–it’s never going to be like eating the fats of an avocado, but its something your body will be able to sort of smile about!).  And finally, the snack must be versatile!  I want to be able to dunk it, smear it, crunch it, layer it, and love it.  Phew!  That’s a lot of rules!  Aren’t you glad I did the leg work for you!  Now, if all these rules are followed–no sugar, lots of grains, healthy fats, short list of pretentious ingredients–I don’t even bother looking at the calories, because I know they will work for my body.

Now, last but not least, a snack is just that–a snack.  It is not a meal replacer, it’s a meal accompaniment.  Preferably with a veggie or fruit along with.  Think nut butters (PB2!) and celery or apple.  Or guacamole and hummus with a few carrots, or dilled cucumbers.  They are not to be grazed on the whole day long, but rather enjoyed at a designated time.  And if you feel so compelled, count it out.  Make a serving size for yourself, separated out from the rest, because believe me–it will be hard to put the package down once you’ve started!

Stay tuned for some of my fave sweet snacks, and a few more salty ones too!!


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