Facing the challenge: breaking old habits towards a healthier lifestyle

Last week, I was talking with a friend who desperately wants to change her diet but can’t seem to take that first step. According to her doctor, if she doesn’t start making some changes soon, she will be destined for heart disease, stroke, chronic arthritis and/or diabetes as she moves towards her 60s. Over the last few years, she’s gained a few pounds, begun experiencing chronic joint pain, and is battling fatigue as she tries to maintain the high energy her busy lifestyle demands. She went to the doctor thinking her symptoms were signaling the beginning of menopause that hormone therapy might ease, only to learn that she is in the “high risk” category for the most popular illnesses that lead to death and disability in the United States.

My friend is not obese nor is she a junk food addict. Actually, before this wake up call, she thought she was living a pretty healthy lifestyle; she always eats a salad with meals, orders whole grains and organic meat when dining out, avoids all fast-foods, and always declines the pastries and sweets offered at business meetings and parties. However, the hidden fats, carbs, salt and sugar from the foods she has been eating, combined with her limited amount of exercise was starting to take its toll.

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Eating a plant-based diet on a budget

IMG_0331It seems counter-intuitive that eating a healthy plant-based diet costs more then an unhealthy diet full of processed foods. Although cheaper in the short run, the cost savings of eating an unhealthy western American diet is countered as you age with the increase in health costs due to diabetes, heart disease, strokes, autoimmune diseases, and other chronic illnesses.

But the immediate increase in costs of healthy organic foods can shock the pocketbook, making it a challenge for those living on a tight budget. When given the choice between a cheap, quick, heat and serve processed meal or a slightly more expensive, healthy, make it yourself meal that takes conscious effort, the cheap quick and easy usually wins out.

The good news is eating a plant-based vegan diet doesn’t have to break the bank. According to a study completed at the Harvard School of Public Health in 2013, it only costs about $1.50 more per person per day to eat healthy. It just takes a little strategy to shift your food choices and purchasing habits in order to keep the costs down. Here are some suggestions to help you save money: Read More

Eating Healthy: Overcoming the “Cooking Obstacle”

Cooking ToolsThe most common excuses I hear for not eating healthier are: “I don’t have time”, “I don’t like cooking”, and “I’m an awful cook”. These are the excuses of modern life.

We are so busy rushing from here to there that time has become a precious commodity. Additionally, our taste buds, conditioned to prefer heavily sugared and processed foods, are unaccustomed to the natural flavors of real whole foods. This perpetuates the fear that healthy cooking wont taste good. Compounded with the fact that most of us were raised on convenience foods and not taught basic cooking skills as children, cooking has become a foreign experience instead of second nature.

As a result, one of the biggest obstacles to eating healthy is cooking. The perception that cooking is a burden and a chore has become an epidemic. Cooking requires you to stop and focus on your physical needs and be creative as you combine flavors and textures to produce tasty combinations. Our society places more value on the immediate gratification of food fulfillment, overlooking not only the health benefits of cooking your own meals, but the pleasure that can be found in taking the time to prepare and share a healthy delicious meal. Read More

Processed foods: the good and the bad

Not all processed foods are unhealthy.

Not all processed foods are unhealthy.

When we hear the term “processed food” the first thing that comes to mind is the obvious, junk food. However, not all processed foods are bad for you.

What makes a food processed is that it has been prepared or treated by either a mechanical or chemical method that increases its shelf life (canning, dehydration, the addition of preservatives), changes it into something new (grains to flour to bread, transforming raw vegetables into soup), or improves its flavor, color and/or texture (adding sweeteners, artificial flavors, thickners). Read More

garbanzo bean ingredients

Understanding the ingredients list on food labels

Congratulations! You are on the path to a healthier lifestyle. But how do you eat healthy when all you have time for is quick convenience foods?


Avoid products like this with sugar and white flour…

Understanding the ingredients list on food labels of prepackaged foods is an important part of learning to make healthy choices. Some foods contain ingredients with complicated names that sound like they belong in a chemistry lab, not on your plate. To make matters even more confusing, the advertising of some products can be misleading, making you think their product is healthy when, in reality, it is laced with sugar, preservatives and/or trans fats.

Tools to deciphering the ingredient list: Read More