Tuesday, October 29, 2013

More on sugar...and gluten

Since my mom asked about it, I'm posting a link to a website that explains sugar pretty well (although  kind-of a funny website).  Not all sugar is created equal.  :)

Here's the link: http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2013/06/17/everything-you-need-to-know-about-sugar/

He also explains other things you might be curious about, such as gluten.  Sorry for the title of his post, but he does explain it well.  http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2013/10/28/what-the-hell-is-gluten/.  I'm glad that he points out that gluten-free does not mean more healthy.  Foods labeled gluten-free often are still just as bad for you, so you have to still look at the ingredients (particularly the sugar, salt, and fat).

 (Lisa) I also read the book "Salt, Sugar, Fat" by Michael Moss.  Interesting read.  Good reminder that the food industry does not have our best health in mind.  They are of course out to sell the most products.  The food giants are competing with each other for sales, and they know how to reel us in.  These companies research and determine the "bliss point" for foods, the point at which it's just right for the taste and for your wanting more and more.  The government requires labeling of the ingredients, but these food companies have gotten really creative in how they do that.  Do you really know what all those things are?  The things that end in -ose are usually the sugars, but also corn syrup.

Best thing to do is stick with more fruits and veggies, meat, eggs, nuts, or in general whatever doesn't have things added to it.  And yes, you have to find what works for you, but if you are trying to lose a lot of weight, you might not even be able to "cheat" here and there on sweets.  If you're lucky enough to have a really good metabolism, you can probably eat dessert every day.  (Sorry, this all sounds like it's directed towards Lisa.  It's not.). :)

My goal isn't weight loss either.  Just trying to have more energy and get my body in top working order.

If you really want to get serious, you could research the glycemic index of fruits and veggies too.  Some things are better than others.  Potatoes or carrots might not be as good a choice as sweet potatoes or green beans, etc.  I think for me sweet potatoes are much better than regular potatoes, in my body's ability to process them.  (But that's another diet theory from the Blood Type Diet...)

I am interested to hear what works or doesn't for you. We can all help each other!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Tips for a healthier you?

Okay, I have a bunch of other posts in line, but this is on my mind now. So I'll get it out of the way and then get to the kid stuff. I have some more health and weight loss things to try... I hope you don't mind. I'm not one to sugar-coat or keep secrets or withhold information that I think could be useful. And I will also say that I am not a dietitian and don't have any background in this, but it's just me reading books and passing along info. So if you don't agree or don't think it sounds right, that's okay. I don't know whether it's actually right or not either. Just Annie here sharing what maybe could help you. Or not. You read it and decide if you want to try it. Doesn't hurt to try. And that's the best way - try it out. If it works, great. If not, try something else. (Although some things might take 6 months to a year to notice a difference.)

 Anyway, so my books of choice are often self-help, health related, books about parenting, etc. Hmmm...why am I attracted to those... I need a lot of energy for a lot of kids. Here are a few of my latest health reads: "Little Sugar Addicts" by Kathleen Desmaisons (LSA), "Power Foods for the Brain" by Neal D. Barnard (PFB), and "Wheat Belly" by William Davis (WB). LSA was an interesting look at how sugar affects your body. The title immediately caught my eye because I am addicted to sugar myself, and I think I have a few little sugar addicts as well. Sugar acts like a drug in the body. It affects the same brain chemicals that heroin and morphine do. Obviously the affects are different, but it is interesting that sugar does have the power to literally make you feel good and you can become addicted to it. Trying to get off sugar can give you similar withdrawals as drugs (so you just have to push past that crave and also don't go cold turkey). Too much sugar leads to imbalances and sugar sensitivities in 3 areas: blood sugar, serotonin, and beta-endorphins. You'll have to read up more on these, but basically when you consume too much sugar, it causes your system to overreact or affect the chemicals in your brain responsible for calming you (serotonin) or painkiller (beta-endorphins). When your body processes sugar, it has to release insulin. If you overload the system,
you have blood sugar spikes, so the body has to release adrenaline. (Think sugar high, particularly for
 kids.) I thought it was also interesting what the author mentioned about caffeine. It also acts like a drug, it peaks in 40-60 minutes, and takes 3-7 hours to get out of your system. Caffeine blocks adenosine (that quiets the brain), contributes to sleep disturbance, and causes an increase in serotonin receptors (which deal with impulse control; making it hard to say "no").

 Okay, next book. PFB talked about the best and worst things for our brain. We have to be careful about toxic metals - not just aluminum, but iron, zinc, and copper. Too much of these leads to Alzheimer's and other problems. One interesting note is NOT to take a supplement with minerals. You'll end up getting more than you need. If you do take a multi-vitamin, get just a vitamin supplement without the minerals. Liver and meat-heavy diets contain a lot of iron, which is harder for the body to regulate. Exercise does help get rid of excess iron. Plant-based diets help avoid an overdose of zinc and copper. Avoid partially hydrogenated oil (trans fat), which cause the body to make more cholesterol, which eventually pinches off the passage of blood. Get plenty of vitamin E, an antioxidant (from broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, almonds, walnuts, flaxseed, etc.) Although
don't eat too many nuts, which are high in fat. Get folate (leafy greens!, citrus fruits, etc.). Get Vitamin B6 (whole grains, green veggies, beans, bananas, nuts, etc.). Get B12 from fortified foods or supplements. Orange fruits and vegs have the most heart protecting power. Apples and pears are best for preventing stroke. Get plenty of exercise! The author actually advocates a vegan diet (not eating anything that is animal based - meats, eggs, etc.) as the best for your brain, but I'm not jumping on board with that. A side note for migraine sufferers: common triggers are dairy, chocolate, eggs, citrus, meat, wheat, nuts, tomatoes, onions, corn, apples, and bananas. What's left to eat... you get to eat veggies and beans!

 Alright, WB book. The author coined the term "wheat belly" to mean the accumulation of fat from consuming foods that trigger insulin, the hormone of fat storage. It doesn't just accumulate in the belly, although that is a common area (and one of most concern as far as leading to diseases). In the book, he talks about the destructive nature of today's modified (dwarf)wheat. The wheat being grown today has small changes in the wheat protein structure, which is hard for your body to process. The
author argues that wheat is the most destructive dietary ingredient, due to these reasons: appetite stimulation, exposure to brain-active exorphins (counterpart to endorphins), exaggeraged blood sugar, inflammatory and pH effects that erode cartilage and damage bone, activation of disordered immune responses, and leads to diseases - neurological, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis. Supposedly, looking at glycemic index, whole wheat bread increases blood sugar as much as or more than table sugar. And this is not just a gluten free thing, the author says that foods made with cornstarch, rice starch, potato starch, and tapioca starch increase blood sugar even more than wheat products. Many gluten free foods are made with these starches. His best advice for weight loss is to completely cut out wheat from your diet. I'm not on board with that either, but I also don't have a weight problem to deal with. If I did and was desperate, I might be willing to try it. My thought is that if you really did cut out all wheat, you would also be eliminating the processed foods and bakery items and junk food that also have other destructive ingredients in it.

 Okay, so I don't just go with everything I read, but I take bits and pieces and try them out. From things I have read recently and in the past, I started jotting down a list of things I wanted to incorporate into my diet. Here are some of my weight loss tips:
Exercise (45 minutes a day, 4-5 times a week)
- Limit sugar (sweet treat once a week)
- No soda, alcohol, coffee, or tea
- Drink more water (I'm bad at this one...)
 - Avoid fruit juice - Eat a good protein breakfast
- Don't snack in between meals or right before bed (working on this too...) - Limit wheat and corn (just less, not eliminate)
 - Eat more fruits and vegetables (but limit underground vegs like carrots and potatoes)
- Eat more leafy greens
- Replace oils with olive oil
 - Limit processed foods
- Avoid bacon, ham, and pork
- Red meat once a week
- turkey or fish (or chicken if you're not blood type B...) twice a week
- Eggs and nuts (almonds/walnuts) daily
- Incorporate "super foods" into diet (broccoli, onions, berries, spinach, kale, pineapple, garlic, etc.)
- Avoid aspartame, cornstarch, corn syrup (especially high fructose), ketchup, MSG, soy sauce, tapioca, Worchestershire sauce
-You might need a B12 supplement if you're not getting enough of the B12 fortified foods
- Don't eat out often (maybe once a month, unless you can find restaurants with healthy choices AND stick to the healthy choices. When I eat out, I tend to eat more and more of the stuff I'm not supposed to.)
- And don't have a lot of friends... :) they make you eat out and have girl's nights with lots of sweets and comfort foods... and then there's baby showers and church activities...okay, good luck with those. I'm too weak not to pig out at those! Really, do all social activities have to revolve around food? Guess so. Otherwise, we would just be sitting around looking at each other, instead of looking at each other between mouthfuls. Ha ha.

 One thing to mention: I don't think there's a temporary or quick loss solution. It has to be considered as a lifestyle change, and it has to happen gradually so your body has time to adjust to the metabolism changes. Good luck to finding out what works for a healthier you!

 Oh, one recent discovery (from a cooking class) - did you know you could make oat flour by putting oats in your blender? Makes a pretty good flour substitute.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

things that make me smile (and some that don't...)

Most of these pictures are from the day we took "professional" family pictures. I snapped a few pictures after the session, and they turned out better than the professional ones (and mine were not great either, so...) I guess that's what happens when I go for a $19 Groupon deal. I regret having to spend $19 for the lousy picture that I had to choose. Oh well. We'll just have a friend take a few pictures for us later. I remember why we don't get professional pictures done very often. The whole process is painful. The kids hate getting pictures taken and are not very cooperative, it's usually very expensive, and then if you actually want your pictures to use digitally, you have to pay even more money. Why does it cost SO much to have YOUR pictures on a CD to use? I don't understand that. CD's are cheap! I know, the photographer has to make money. But isn't that what the session fee is for? Why do they need so much to actually hand over the use of your photos? If I hadn't used a coupon, it would have been outrageously expensive. Here is what it would normally be - $100 for the session fee, $200 to have all your digital files, $80 PER PICTURE for re-touching, and $50 for just a basic package (which is only an 8x10, two 5x7's, and 8 wallets of one pose). So... if we did just the basics, no re-touching, and wanted our pictures to use, we would have to pay $350. This is what we have to pay for a painful 30 minutes for a family photo?! (That's $700/hour for the photographer.) And this particular photographer didn't have a clue about lighting. All of you could have taken better pictures than they did. Also, with scheduled professional pictures, you can't plan around weather, naps, migraines, facial blemishes, or any other things that may come up (like one family member scheduling a work trip over the family pictures... what's a family picture with one member missing?) And we actually had problems with all of those things that I mentioned. Yep, I got a migraine shortly before the pictures. In general, it's really hard to coordinate clothes for 7 people! I didn't want to put them in their ratty t-shirts and athletic shorts (maybe I will sometime, just to keep it real.) :) And then trying to coordinate colors of the few nice clothes they do have... I had to go shopping for a few things. I had actually coordinated a whole different fall wardrobe, but changed it up at the last minute since it was a lot warmer weather that afternoon. Anyway... I'm sure there are wonderful photographers out there and much more affordable deals. But this experience left a really bad taste in my mouth. Luckily, what does make me smile are the subjects of the pictures! I may not have a great looking picture to hang on my wall, but I do have a really great family that makes me smile every day. Love these kids (and husband)! (This first collage has some pictures from another day.)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

older and...older

I don't feel like I'm getting any wiser.  Luckily I'm not getting WIDER either!  Maybe Alex is a little bit.  :)  Not really, but I have noticed a few white hairs and Alex's hair is going white too.  Just becoming a little more pure right?  Anyway, we both are pretty healthy and somehow have just enough energy to keep up with the kids (although some days I am just plain worn-out).  

We had some low-key birthday celebrating - some yummy meals and cake. We went out to eat at Chili's the day before my birthday, since my birthday was on Sunday this year (and we don't usually go out to eat on Sundays).  Alex made fajitas for my birthday dinner and a lemon cake.  I made omelettes, a Mexican dish (with lots of green peppers), and chocolate cupcakes for Alex's birthday.  We hadn't planned on it, but ended up getting to go out on Alex's birthday for ice cream WITHOUT THE KIDS.  I watched a friend's son at the last minute, and then she watched our kids when she realized it was Alex's birthday.  (Thanks Vivianne!) 

Lookin' pretty good for mid-thirties right?