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.

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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!