Category Archives: Wellness

8 Tips To Eat Healthy On A Budget

Eat-Healthy-on-a-Budget_dybybq

Eating fresh, healthy, organic, local foods sounds great—but what if you’re on a budget? Maybe you dream of shopping at Whole Foods, but the cold, hard light of day finds you wheeling down the aisles at your local grocery store.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to eat well and actually save money in the process. Your shopping list isn’t going to include vegetarian, brown rice sushi rolls from the macrobiotic deli case, but trust us, you’ll live.

1. Don’t shop hungry!

How often do you swing by the market on your way home from work, tired and starving? While this seems like grandmotherly advice, it’s firmly rooted in current research; a new Cornell study shows that people who shop while hungry are more inclined to buy more calorically dense food. Keep a piece of fruit or a small Ziploc® bag full of raw nuts in your bag to guard against filling your cart with foods you’re craving now but wouldn’t buy on a full stomach.

2. Buy flash-frozen fruits, vegetables, and fish.

While any processing takes away from a food’s maximum nutritional value, flash freezing is a great way to preserve vitamins and minerals when vegetables and seafood are at their freshest. And the convenience of a bag of veggies or a filet of fish in the freezer can’t be beat. The price? For seafood, there’s no comparison: fresh is much more expensive—when you can get it at all. (If you check at your local grocer’s fish counter, you’ll find that much of what is being sold in the case as fresh has in fact been previously frozen.) Produce is trickier: frozen is sometimes, but not always, cheaper than fresh, in-season, fruits and vegetables.

3. Shop at your local farmers market.

This may surprise you, but it’s cheaper to get your veggies—organic or not—at the local farmers’ market than at the local supermarket. A 2011 study by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont is one of several around the country showing that farmers’ market prices are consistently lower than those of neighboring grocery stores. Who knew? So have a great time shopping with your neighbors and supporting local farmers, and be happy in the knowledge that you’re saving money too.

4. Stick to your list.

Don’t cave in to the snazzy packaging on the supermarket shelves. Make your meal plan and shopping list at home, and then stick to it. Here’s the exception: when you shop at the farmers’ market or local produce stand, sometimes a gorgeously fresh fruit or vegetable will stand out—one you hadn’t planned on. Build some flexibility into your list to account for these unanticipated treasures . . . just decide which meals you want to add them to before purchasing. A good rule of thumb is to stick absolutely to your list of pantry items, but give yourself some leeway with fresh, seasonal foods.

5. Eat lots of beans and always soak your own.

Beans are a great source of protein and fiber, and form the cornerstone of many world cuisines. And they’re dead cheap—if you buy them dried. Soaking your own beans is easy, though it does take more planning than opening a can of them. But it’s no big deal. Just decide the night before what you’re going to eat the next day. If a meal includes beans, then put them in a pot of water to soak and leave them overnight. In the morning, let them cook as you’re getting ready for the day.

6. Buy in bulk.

Costco® and other warehouse stores sell fruits and vegetables at ridiculously low prices—if you’re willing to buy, say, 15 pounds of potatoes or 8 pounds of oranges at a time. You’re in for some work at home, but at those prices, who’s complaining? Also, in many regions it is possible to pair up with another family or two and buy a portion of either a cow or a pig directly from a local farmer. In exchange, you will receive many, many neatly wrapped and labeled packages of meat. An extra freezer is necessary for this, but well worth the investment if you live in a region where such arrangements exist. Another huge benefit of this is that you know the animal was not raised on a factory feedlot. Therefore, the meat will likely be free from the steroids and antibiotics that plague grocery store bargain meat cuts.

7. Join a CSA.

Community Supported Agriculture is another way to save money by cutting out the middleman. With a CSA, you pay a flat fee up front. On the East Coast it’s typically $400-$500—for a whole growing season of produce! Every week you get a box of whatever came out of the farmer’s field. Like buying in bulk at warehouse stores, this calls for some time and creativity in the kitchen. In late summer, we sometimes freak out trying to figure out what to do with all those perfect, ripe tomatoes. What a problem to have!

8. Cut your consumption.

Over the last few decades, restaurant portions have become gargantuan, and we somehow seem to think that a platter of food is actually a single serving. Most restaurant entrées can easily feed two or three. So when you’re out, either share a single entrée, or get half boxed for another meal. And at home, serve smaller portions on smaller plates. It won’t take long at all before you’re satisfied with sensible portions!

Top 5 Foods for Thyroid Health

thyroid

Pick the right foods for thyroid health

The thyroid provides a convenient organ to blame for all our misfortunes. Weight gain? Sluggish? Can’t get out of bed in the morning? “Your thyroid is slow,” many practitioners will respond.

Very often, we drain our thyroid with a modern lifestyle and modern diet. Take a look at some of the many thyroid-abusing factors we face each day:

  • Emotional stress
  • Consumption of soy
  • Refined carbs
  • Over-exercising
  • Too much estrogen
  • Chemicals in body care products
  • Too little sleep
  • Extreme diets, such as very low carb diets and vegan diets
  • Vegetable oils (canola oil, corn oil, safflower oil, etc. as well as grapeseed oil)

To support the thyroid function in order to boost metabolism, we have to eliminate these thyroid-abusers and fuel up with the right building blocks. Here are 5 top foods for thyroid health:

1. Liver for thyroid health

In my book, properly sourced liver provides the most significant thyroid-boosting properties in a whole food source due to one vital nutrient: vitamin A. As a matter of fact, liver offers the highest concentration of vitamin A in nature.

Vitamin A plays a key role in nursing a sluggish thyroid back into health. In one study, groups of obese and non-obese women supplemented with 25,000 IU of vitamin A per day. After four months, both groups showed and increase of circulating thyroid hormone and a decrease in TSH, indicating improved thyroid function. 25,000 IU sounds like a lot of vitamin A per day, but in early traditional cultures across the globe, people consumed upward of 50,000 per day!

Most importantly, the vitamin A from liver (and all other animal sources) is the bio-available form vitamin A, which means the body can utilize it. The vitamin A from plant sources such as beta-carotene, in contrast, must first be converted to retinoid form to be useful in the body. The extremely poor conversion rate of carotene-to-retinoid is made insignificant if we have a slow thyroid, so it is imperative to get true vitamin A from animal sources.

I do not recommend long-term vitamin A supplementation, since synthetic vitamin A carries a higher risk of toxicity since it is not well-utilized by the body. Opt to get true vitamin A from foods.

One important caveat: make sure you source liver from small, organic/biodynamic farms – good choices are pastured beef liver and pastured chicken liver. The liver filters toxins, but it doesn’t store toxins. However, the livers of conventionally-raised feedlot animals will contain toxins because they are overburdened

The Weston Price Foundation recommends 2 to 3 3oz. servings of liver per week. If you don’t like the taste of sauteéd liver or pate, take desiccated liver capsules each day.

2. Coconut oil for thyroid health

small coconutCoconut oil is about 2/3 medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), fatty acids that are directly absorbed into the bloodstream in the small intestine and used for energy. These MCTs have been shown to increase increase energy expenditure, which is another term for boosting metabolism.

Since increased thyroid function is essentially synonymous with increase metabolism, we can draw the conclusion that coconut oil is profoundly healing for the thyroid.

For a bit of anecdotal evidence of the benefits of coconut oil for thyroid, farmers in the 1940’s tried to fatten their animals with coconut oil only to find that it made the animals lean and energetic!Later, it was discovered that corn and soy feed accomplished the goal. It had an antithyroid effect on the animals, allowing the pigs to fatten quickly while eating less. Conclusion: if you want stable weight and a happy thyroid, ditch the soy and favor the coconut!

3. Eggs for thyroid health

Eggs live up to their title of The Perfect Food, especially when it comes to balancing hormones through diet. They provide a concentrated source of thyroid-supporting building blocks like protein, cholesterol, B vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins, and minerals.

Contrary to the belief of mainstream (or, as I say, mislead) nutrition, the yolks – not whites – are the most nutritious part of the egg. Take a look at the nutrition highlights of eggs:

  •  Iodine – everyone knows that the thyroid gland requires iodine to create thyroid hormones. But did you know that eating 2-3 eggs per day can fulfill 20-30% of your daily iodine requirement?
  • Selenium – both the egg yolk and the white provides an excellent source of selenium. This mineral supports the conversion of thyroid hormone T4 into the useable form of T3.
  • Fat-soluble vitamins – the egg yolk contains all of the fat-soluble vitamins in the egg. These vitamins A, D, E, and K all support thyroid.
  • B Vitamins – B vitamins support blood sugar balance and energy levels. Egg yolks are particularly high in choline, which supports the detox pathways and hormone balance.
  • Cholesterol – although demonized by scientists with poor research habits, the beneficial qualities of dietary cholesterol is slowly garnering attention. Dietary cholesterol from pasture-raised egg yolks only does a body good. Dietary cholesterol supports the synthesis of balanced sex hormones, therefore aiding thyroid.

4. Unrefined Salt for thyroid health

It seems to good to be true… salt makes food delicious AND it is good for us? Indeed! An important distinction, however, is the difference between unrefined salt such as himalayan salt and processed, bleached table salt.

These are just a few of the ways unrefined salt boosts thyroid:

  • It reduces circulating cortisol and adrenaline. These stress hormones are anti-thyroid so reducing them supports thyroid expression.
  • It supports overall adrenal function. We can’t fix thyroid without helping our adrenal glands… adrenals and thyroid are joined at the hip.
  • It supports the synthesis of proper stomach acid so we can digest our food
  • It provides a unique profile of trace minerals

Salt your food freely and to taste (if you have kidney disease or hypertension, it is a good idea to consult with a medical practitioner before increasing salt intake.). Again, favor unrefined options like  real salt or Himalayan salt.

5. Cod Liver Oil for thyroid health

Cod liver oil, a historically sacred food, offers the unique balance of vitamin A and vitamin D, both in highly bio-available forms. Everyone from babies to pregnant mothers to the elderly can benefit by taking a top quality cod liver product daily. Those with compromised thyroids benefit from the hormone-balancing fat-soluble vitamins.

As a bonus, this super-supplement has been heralded for curing acne and preventing the common cold. I can personally attest to the latter: ever since I started taking a daily dose, my immune system is supercharged! I rarely get colds anymore, and if I do, they last for just a day or two.

Fermented cod liver oil is the most pristine and effective form of cod liver oil. Although fermented cod liver is the top choice, the cod liver oil capsules may be acceptable.