The Secret to Being a Super Thrifty, Skinny, and Socially-Conscious Humanitarian: Buy Less Food

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One third.

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That’s how much of the world’s food we waste.

If that wasted food went to people that need it, world hunger would be over.

Surprise to no one, the greatest source of wasted food is North America. Through shortages, recessions, and rising unemployment rates, we continue to waste like there is no tomorrow.

We are a culture completely obsessed with food. As of 3/18/14, there are nearly twenty-four million posts on instagram tagged #foodporn. There is an entire channel dedicated to food. The hotdog eating record is sixty-nine dogs in three minutes. This video of a man eating four chipotle burritos in three minutes has over one million views.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to enjoy food, it is fantastic to love what you eat and feel happy eating it. I think that can look like eating a big bowl of ice cream or a massive order of deep fried magic, but I don’t think that’s what it usually looks like.

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Our obsession with food stems from a larger problem: we are terrible at moderation. We make that clear with our waistbands, television dimensions, and impressive debts to credit card companies. We have trouble saying ‘no’.

More than that, we put too much of our worth into what we own, and that translates into wasteful excess.

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This isn’t a problem that will be solved overnight, but the solution begins with individual commitment to change. We have to accept that we are not alone on this earth, and our decisions radically affect each other.

It’s simple: buy what you need and order what you’ll eat.

We don’t need a five pound bacon burger to enjoy and savor our food. So order the smaller dish, resist the second (or third, or fourth) appetizer, and actually eat your leftovers.

It takes energy, water, and land to create what you consume, so consume consciously please.

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Balancing Health and Self-Love

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Facts surrounding weight in America are as extreme as they are polarizing.

74.1% of Americans are overweight or obese. All the while, 94% of seventeen-year-old girls have been on some form of diet because they perceive themselves as fat.

Studies revealing that thinner, attractive people are more likely to get hired and make a better paycheck. All while, nearly 50% of people with eating disorders also meet criteria of clinical depression.

We love bread and French fries and milk stouts. It’s fun and feels good to eat big delicious meals, they are communal, comforting and joyous.

Yet we look at images of super-thin women and feel inadequate. No one likes feeling heaviness on their bodies that wasn’t there a month ago, or feeling sluggish going up a mountain because of a greasy meal the night prior, or squeezing into a dress they used to look fantastic in.

Living life fully and healthfully simultaneously can be tough. Here’s some advice for doing it better:

Coordinate mega-meals and epic activity. Plan a big hike the day after thanksgiving, go on a long bike ride after a big meal out, do the sweaty yoga class after too much ice cream (except not right after because yoga farters are the worst). Exercise fights the slump that over-eating can cause and combats weight gain.

Love your veggies. Vegetables are basically the only food group everyone agrees is absolutely great food you. So eat a large amount of diversely colored veggies. Use this stunning infographic for more ideas how.

Embrace your body. We all have entirely different genetic makeup. Our metabolisms, weight distributions, and hormone levels can all play a major role in how we gain and lose weight. Many women at their healthiest look nothing like anything you would ever see in a magazine, and may perhaps resemble one of these lovely figures:

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(source)

If you can love yourself when you eat well, move, and have the energy you need to live your life, regardless of your size or shape, you are golden.

Luckily, there are a-thousand-and-one fantastic books, blogs, and speeches about how to love yourself better. Learning to be okay with who you are regardless of anyone else’s approval is the hardest, most tiresome, completely worth it process there ever was.

No matter how you slice it, our relationship with food, our bodies, and the world is a complicated one.

Being healthy, active, and properly nourished will ultimately help us appreciate our bodies as unique and powerful, and we will feel more free to let ourselves eat the damn cupcake.

The Price of Poor Posture

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America as a whole hunches.

We are stressed out, over-worked, and most of us sit in front of a computer far too much (she types from a computer). It’s not just adults, middle-schoolers cave under the weight of 30 pound backpacks for God’s sake. It’s a mess.

Our bodies function best when properly aligned. We walk, run, and even breathe the best when our bones sit nicely on top of one another.

Chronic back pain and spinal injuries are on the rise, which can be attributed to the drastic change in lifestyle most Americans live in comparison to even our recent ancestors. We overeat and sit at desks all day.

The effects range from depression to drug abuse and can be debilitating.

In addition to all the reasons to avoid bad posture, good posture can have fantastic health benefits.

Good posture protects your joints, strengthens your core, and makes you feel better about yourself (That’s not even feel-good nonsense, it’s science.)

After a very in-depth study I preformed (I went to two coffee shops and looked around to see how people were slouching) I saw the same poor postures over and over.

Here are the common postures (good and bad) as demonstrated by my foxy friends, Noelle and Rachael:

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The hardest thing about getting good posture is remembering to do it. It takes time to build the muscle memory that keeps proper alignment. When you are sitting on your desk, check-in with your body:

Is my spine straight?

Are my shoulders away from my ears?

Are my shoulder blades pressed together?

Am I taking big breaths?

Are my knees hips-width apart?

Are my feet pointed straight?

There are also stretches that encourage proper alignment:

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Take five minutes every morning and stretch. You don’t need to run four miles before sunrise to start your day energized, but give your body a little love in the morning to set it up for greatness.

Fighting The Flu From Your Kitchen

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Cold and Flu season is officially in full swing, and unfortunately, frequent hand washing, 8 hours of sleep, and avoidance of the sneezing lady on the bus will only go so far.

If you succumb to a winter illness, your first instinct may be to head to the doctor to get a dose of antibiotics.

Practitioners have a lot of powerful medicine at their disposal, and antibiotics have been wonder drugs at fighting harmful bacteria for decades. As time goes on, bacteria has become more and more resistant to many commonly used antibiotics, which has been frequently accredited to over-prescription. The CDC put together this handy guide if you want to know more about antibiotic resistance. Sometimes antibiotics are the absolute way to go, sometimes they aren’t.

Either way, there are natural anti-microbials all around us that can help us heal. I put together this chalkboard of commonly found flu-fighters (and gained so much respect for creative people/people who can spell/people with legible handwriting in the process).

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With these seven ingredients you can make an endless number of tonics, but I’ll share my two favorites here.

Miracle Tonic

32 oz water

4 gloves garlic, minced

1 lemon, juiced

2 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)

1 tbsp raw honey

1 knob ginger, minced

1 inch turmeric, minced

Mix and stir in a pot over lowest possible heat, sipping throughout the day. The garlic and honey fight bacteria, cayenne boosts the immune system and opens sinuses, and ginger and lemon soothe sore throats.

Oregano tea

1 small bunch oregano

1 tsp raw honey

1 tsp lemon juice

Steep leaves in hot water, add honey and lemon juice after removing from heat. Oregano inhibits bacteria growth and has 42 times the antioxidant activity of apples.

A healthy night of sleep, lots of water, and managed stress can go a long way to combatting illness, but these warm remedies can help out should a winter bug get you down.

Not All Oils Are Created Equal

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I’ve been trying to eat healthfully for years. One of the first big changes I made was switching from cooking with vegetable oil to olive oil. I felt like a champ, an informed, Italian champ.

Fast-forward to a year ago when I read a ton of frantic articles about how evil olive oil is to cook with, that when heated above one temperature or another it becomes toxic. I kept researching articles until I found this one, which seemed the most credible, scientific source.

In the end, there are safer oils to cook with at high heat, and olive oil can always be added when this dish is removed from heat. Diane Sanfilippo put together this handy guide to make it all a bit simpler.

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10 Foods to Befriend

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Eating well can be difficult all on it’s own.

This isn’t helped by constantly changing fad diets, research studies, and misinformation that is rapidly spread all over the internet. Sometimes the foods touted to be best can only be found on the obscure top shelf of the independently owned health food store for 23 dollars per ounce. 

Food is meant to fuel us, heal us, and make us happy. So here are ten (hopefully) controversy-free foods that are intended to do just that and can be found at your local grocery store.

Deep Green Veggies

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Spinach, kale, broccoli, collards, arugula, and so on.

Throw them in smoothies with blueberries and almond butter. Sauté them with eggs. Put fancy cheese and olive oil on them.

Green leafy vegetables have high concentrations of potassium, calcium, vitamins A, C and B-6, tons of iron (most greens have more per ounce than beef), and a hefty dose of fiber.

Studies show they reduce risk of heart disease, improve healing, and give us pretty skin.

Garlic

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Keeping away vampires and endothelial dysfunction since 4000BC. 

Garlic is a powerful antimicrobial. It kills bacteria and fungus, and has been proven to do so as well as traditional antibiotics.

There are hundreds of studies linking it to decreased blood pressure, and it can even help prevent pre-term labor.

Garlic is just good for your cells. All of them.

Best news: garlic is also good for your tomato sauce, steak, salad dressing, and risotto.

Embrace the garlic breath, gang.

Avocado

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Avocados are delicious and creamy. They make sandwiches infinitely better, are the perfect pal of enchilada soup, and can be enjoyed on their own with a little salt and pepper.

They are rich in nutrients and healthy fats, are linked to better blood sugar regulation, they are a great savory substitute to meat and mayo.

Coconut

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Recently the subject of much hype, coconut is totally worthy of it.

Coconut was previously victimized because of it’s high fat content, particularly saturated fat, but new research is revealing how different fat from coconuts (and other plants) is from the traditional french fries, mac and cheese, and rib-eye that comes to mind when we think ‘fat’. It doesn’t have the same links to obesity and heart disease we hear so much about.

It contains lauric acid, a potent antimicrobial. It has anti-aging properties when it is applied topically.

It is the safest oil to cook with, as it can withstand the high heat of a frying pan that makes other oils become rancid.

Coconut water is tasty (although incredibly overpriced), coconut meat is hard to come by (unless you are lucky enough to live on a tropical island), so stick with coconut oil, which has the most research proven to be incredibly beneficial and can be bought inexpensively in bulk.

Sweet Potatoes

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Sweet potatoes are full of beta-carotene and powerful anti-oxidants. They have anti-inflammatory powers, promote proper digestion, and regulate blood sugar.

Mashed sweet potatoes are creamy and comforting like regular mashed potatoes, except really good for you.

Flax

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Perhaps one of the cheapest and most effective way to get tons of fiber and omega-3s is ground flax seed. Two spoonfuls in water before you go to bed insures your digestive system to keep moving.

Flax is full of anti-oxidants and can easily be added to muffins, smoothies, and pizza crust.

Proven to help lower cholesterol levels and lead to better breast cancer outcomes, flax is an extremely accessible superfood.

Buckwheat

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Of all the gluten-free grains, buckwheat is a gem.

It makes great flour, has a great texture, and is incredibly affordable.

Great for blood control-regulation, it is also packed full of vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids.

Berries

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Loaded with vitamins and fiber, berries are a beloved pal of yogurt, oatmeal, and spinach salads.

The more research done, the more comes out about how beneficial cherries, blueberries, raspberries are for you, fighting cancer and inflammation.

While it is always a good idea to buy organic to support ethical farming and healthy soil, it is especially important with berries, as a pesticide often used is a proven neurotoxin. Buying frozen berries is cost productive and ensures you are buying berries picked at the height of their season.

Probiotic Yogurt

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I am so lactose intolerant that looking at ice cream makes me bloated, yet I can eat yogurt till I’m blue in the face. Luckily for those without ample lactase digestive enzymes, the production process of yogurt removes a lot of the lactose.

In fact, yogurt that contains good bacteria can help your gut out, fighting bloat and discomfort.

NPR ran a really great story about yogurt that showed not only can probiotics decrease bloating and improve digestion, it has emotional benefits:

“Pretty dramatic effects can happen in animals when you change their gut flora,” says Tillisch. “If you take an animal with inflamed gut, and give them a probiotic, they don’t act anxious anymore.”

To find a yogurt that is worth your buck, make sure it either lists bacteria on the ingredient list (such as lactobacillus) or states it contains naturally occurring cultures.

A good rule of thumb is to avoid dairy that contains hormones and antibiotics, as they can negate the benefits.

Walnuts

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A handful of nuts in the middle of the day can satiate hunger and regulate blood sugar.

Bonus: consistent consumption of walnuts lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol.

 Happy eating!

The Female Heart Attack

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One of my biggest frustrations with the American health care system is how we have failed to inform women how differently they can experience myocardial infarction (heart attack).

We have been taught heart attacks look the same for everyone: impending doom, severe pain, shortness of breath.

The startling truth is, women often have entirely different heart attack symptoms than men. 

The Office on Women’s Health has put together this easy-to-read, simple graphic:

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The hilarious Elizabeth Banks partnered with Go Red For Women to create this informational video:

You don’t need to be a health care professional to carry and share this life saving knowledge.

Eat well, move daily, and listen to your body. Take action when you sense something’s wrong. Share what you know with other women.

It’s that simple.