FED UP – America’s Sugar Addiction

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

It’s no secret that I love a good “truth in food” documentary, so I was super excited to see that “Fed Up” is coming out on DVD next week!

It’s another look at how the corporate food industry drives our addiction, especially to sugar, and keeps us fat…. all the while, telling us it’s our fault that we continue to struggle with obesity and multiple health epidemics here in America.

“Upending the conventional wisdom of why we gain weight and how to lose it, ‘Fed Up’ unearths a dirty secret of the American food industry-far more of us get sick from what we eat than anyone has previously realized. Filmmaker Stephanie Soechtig and TV journalist Katie Couric lead us through this potent exposé that uncovers why-despite media attention, the public’s fascination with appearance, and government policies to combat childhood obesity-generations of American children will now live shorter lives than their parents did.” (Sundance Film Festival)

Narrated by Katie Couric, it hails from Laurie David (the Oscar-winning producer of “An Inconvenient Truth) and Stephanie Soechtig.

As the trailer warns us, by 2050, 1 out of 3 Americans will have diabetes. This statistic is truly horrifying. We cannot continue to let the food industry and the government manipulate our health.

Check out the trailer, and pre-order on Amazon here!

The more we know about our health and the obstacles we must overcome to achieve better lives for ourselves and our family, the more we can act, and the more we can educate others to do the same.

Have an amazing long weekend, Foodie Bitches, and be well!

Nick Polizzi: Your Body Knows What it Needs

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

The other day I was listening to a talk between Cynthia Pasquella and Nick Polizzi from the Transformational Nutrition Summit.  I had read some of Nick’s stuff before, and had actually watched his movie, “Sacred Science.”  I love and am intrigued by his work, so I was excited to see that Cynthia would be interviewing him – I knew it was going to be interesting!

In the movie “Sacred Science,” Nick and a team of scientists, shamans, and experts in the healing plants of the Amazon, took a group of individuals who had various illnesses into the Amazon jungle for 30 days.  During this 30 days they went through various healing sessions and cleanses, and worked with the medicine men and shamans to help their bodies heal themselves.  They were exposed to various healing plants, tinctures, or teas, and were basically secluded for the 30 days.

It was a fascinating movie!  When Cynthia and Nick were talking in their interview, Nick summed up the movie in a nutshell:  Your body knows what it needs, we just need to slow down enough to tune into it, and listen.

He said the plants and shamans and the jungle were all wonderful, but the most important thing for those people, was to “unplug” from the noise and distractions and to get quiet with themselves – to face their fears, to make peace with their past and to just listen to and communicate with their body.

This really struck a cord with me.  Now, I know it’s important to slow down, to quiet your mind, to be present, and so on… but to actually do it is another story.  But, it’s a story I’m working on re-writing.

It seems that sometimes the things that are most important for us to do, and that actually really aren’t that difficult, turn out to be the ones we just can’t bring ourselves to do.  I’m talking about meditating, exercising, eating well, spending time with loved ones, nurturing ourselves, etc.

Have you ever tried to meditate?  For most, it’s much easier to distract themselves with the Internet, social media, TV, and other noise, than it is to sit still and quiet their mind.  And, for many, it is much easier to get in their car, drive to a restaurant, and eat their meal out, than it is to create a healthy, lovingly prepared meal at home.

And, I know all too many people are familiar with how much easier it is to watch TV or sit on their computer with a cup of coffee, than it is to physically move their body with a walk, or yoga, or some other form of physical activity.

And, I know we all know many people who would rather have their eyes, again, on the computer or their iPhone, than they would engage and be present in a conversation with a friend or loved one.

Why is it that we run away from ourselves and everything that would possibly bring us the most joy?  That’s an entirely different blog post…

Nick commented to Cynthia that these people probably didn’t need to go to the jungle for 30 days, but would they have been able to unplug as much as they needed had they not made the trek?  Good question!

There are many times I think it would be great to rent a cabin in the woods for a week and unplug, myself.  Or, better yet, I envision a secluded farmhouse in Tuscany or Umbria, where there isn’t any Internet service, where they have pure food grown on the farm, and where distractions are held to a minimum.  Sounds wonderful, but do I really need do leave my home to do that?  And, even if I did do that, after a couple of days I would slow down, certainly… but upon returning home, I would most likely jump right back on the merry-go-round.

So, I’m thinking, maybe what we need (or at least me, anyway), is a few little things each day that we can do to train ourselves to be more mindful, to slow down, to fully breathe, to listen to our bodies and our hearts, and then give them what they need.

That’s not asking too much, right?  The rewards are certainly worth it:  more focus and clarity, more connections with loved ones, less stress, better health, more peace.

I’ve actually started this process within the last couple of weeks, and am feeling more focused and nourished.  It’s not a perfect system I’m putting in place, but I’m at least moving in the right direction.

I have started meditating again – I’m doing Deepak Chopra & Oprah’s 21 Day Meditation Challenge.  And, I’m doing some form of exercise each morning – even if all I have is 20 minutes, I will do a 20 minute Yoga session from My Yoga Works.  And, after I let the horses out of their stalls and into their pastures in the morning, I will take some deep breaths and tune into my body and heart and listen to what it has to say.  Sometimes I feel that I need a certain essential oil.  Sometimes I hear that I need a certain juice elixir.  Sometimes I hear that I need to take some deep breaths into a certain part of my body that might be tense.

And, sometimes I hear that I need to make some banana bread with a side of bacon :)…

Then, and this is the key, I’ll honor that request.  I’m telling you, when I do that, my day goes so much better and I feel so much more energized.

It’s definitely a balancing act for me – feeling the pull to accomplish a thousand things in one day vs. unplugging and tuning in to myself and those I come in contact with.  But since I’m not interested in flying to the Amazon jungle for 30 days, I think I’ll make it work here.

For those of you who would like to try the same, or would love to have a “retreat at home,” check out the article and photos on Houz where they give you tips for using your current resources to create a peaceful, structured, nourishing retreat in your own home.

My challenge for you:  today, take 2 minutes (just 2 minutes – you can do it), close your eyes, breath deeply and fully, notice where you are tense and breath into that area, relax, and listen…

BLT with A (for Avocado!)

BLT with avocado

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

So, tonight’s recipe isn’t anything new (aside from an avocado twist), but it’s simply a reminder of a great option for using those tomatoes that are starting to pop up in your garden about now.

Is it me, or does it seem the tomatoes are ripening a little later this year in West Michigan? They just started popping up in our garden last week – it looks like next week will be the week for canning!  In the meantime, I’m enjoying snacking on them every time I come back from doing anything with the horses in the barn, as the garden is between the barn and the house.

Mike and Frankie just made a trip to Florida last week and they brought back some bacon from Pasture Prime, near Ocala. It’s pretty good stuff! So, I thought I would use it along with the fresh tomatoes and make BLTs for dinner tonight – with a little twist of avocado spread.

Here’s what I did.

Ingredients:
Bacon (2 slices for each sandwich)
Bread (I used Whole Foods Gluten Free bread)
2 Avocados
1 large ripe tomato, sliced
Lettuce
Olive oil
Sea salt
Pepper

Directions:

Turn the oven to 400 degrees F, and put the bacon in a pan lined with aluminum foil in the oven as it is preheating.

Meanwhile, heat a pan over medium heat and add the bread, making sure to coat each side with olive oil and sea salt. “Grill” the bread (2 slices per sandwich, obviously) and set aside until ready to assemble the sandwich.

Take two peeled and pitted avocados in a bowl and add about 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil, about 1/2 tsp. sea salt, and 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper. Chop up and mix all of this together until it forms a chunky spread.

When the bacon is finished, assemble the sandwiches. Spread the avocado mixture onto one piece of the grilled breads. Add 2 slices of bacon, tomatoes, and lettuce, and finish off with the other slice of grilled bread.

Plate and enjoy the bounties of the season!!

How Food Affects Your Brain

Dr. Drew Ramsey

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

The content of this talk should really come as no surprise: basically, you should eat whole, nutrient-dense foods, and you’ll have a healthier brain!  Common sense, right?

But some of the specifics were surprising to me, and some of his stories of dealing with people with mental issues really put things in perspective for me.  Here’s what I mean:

Our diet has changed drastically over the past 100 years, and our brains are actually shrinking, partly because of this change in diet.  There are key nutrients that are essential for the proper functioning and growth of the brain, and a majority of Americans are deficient in these nutrients.

Take Zinc, for example.  Zinc is fundamental to over 300 chemical reactions in the brain, and over 70% of us are deficient in it.

Magnesium, which tells the brain to grow more and connect more is deficient in 60% of Americans.

Omega 3 fatty acids which are essential to the proper function of the brain as well, are seriously deficient in the American diet.

There are over 2 billion people on the planet who are iron deficient, and scientists predict that the global IQ would go up 13 points if we gave them all enough iron – thus we would have a smarter planet.  Think about that one for a minute.

Also, did you know that the top causes of disability in the world are mental health disorders (depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc.), and that 12% of American adults take antidepressants?  They are the number one prescribed drug.

What if rather than always turning to drugs, we looked to food to address mental disorders?  Dr. Drew Ramsey talks about how he looks at various mental issues differently now – especially when the woman who comes into his office who just had a panic attack that morning, didn’t eat breakfast or lunch.  He is also connecting the dots between those who complain of lack of cognitive function and then noticing that they haven’t had any B12 for the last 5 years.

Also interesting was the fact that we have over 100 billion cells in our brain and that the brain, which is 2% of our body weight, consumes 20% of our calories we take in.  And, the brain is totally electric – it contains about 62,000 miles of electric “wiring” and is mainly made of fat and cholesterol (another reason to eat good fats!).

Dr. Ramsey also talks about BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor), which coaxes the brain to “give birth” to new brain cells.  BDNF goes up when we eat a diet of whole, minimally processed foods, and goes down when we eat the typical American diet.

So what are the foods that are good for the brain?
Omega 3 fatty acids, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils, eggs, and better quality meat, to name a few!
I’m sure this will be a new area of research and more information will be flooding the Internet about what foods and nutrients are good for your brain (there’s already quite a bit of information out there).  But when you look at what is good for your brain, you can get a glimpse at why so many people have mental health issues – because they aren’t getting any of these foods and nutrients.
Probably the most important thing you could take away from this post is to check out Dr. Ramsey’s website and this page in particular.  I am soooo excited about this page.  I’ve been talking about a “Farmacy,” and here, he has done a ton of research and put together a list of nutrients that are good for the brain, a little bit about them, and then what foods to find them in.  I seriously about teared up when I saw this page.  I love it!!!!  Thank you Dr. Ramsey for doing this!!!
I’ll let you watch the video to get the rest of the details, but I’ll leave you with this.  The next time you are feeling a little anxiety, depression, fogginess, or other emotional challenges, take a look at what you have eaten that day, and take a little extra time and feed your brain the food it needs.