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This weekend, a miserable cold front blew through Dallas, keeping me inside for most of the weekend. What can I say, I hate the cold. Fortunately, it was a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to catch up on several “indoor” things I needed to get done and also forced me to spend some time de-stressing. I was able to watch two health/food documentaries I’ve been dying to see, Food Matters and Hungry For Change. Although they were both awesome, I’m going to focus on Hungry For Change in this post.

Let me start by saying this is a must-see! I know, I say that about all these food documentaries but this time I REALLY mean it. In this film are some of the most influential advocates for health and wellness, ones that I follow closely, like Dr. Alejandro Junger (author of CLEAN), Dr. Joseph Mercola (author of one of the most popular online health newsletters) and David Wolfe. I feel like I’m friends with these guys. For instance, I just found out that Dr. Mercola practices in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, where I grew up and Dr. Junger himself has commented on my blog posts in the past. I mean, come on, we go way back!

As I review the pages of notes I took while watching this fabulous documentary, I’m realizing that I have far too information to discuss in just one 700-1400 word post. So keep in mind this is a short synopsis of what this film covers.

One of the most important things that is discussed is that diets don’t work. Amen! Really, anything with the word “diet” associated with it—I want no part of. The word “diet” should refer to how you eat on a daily basis, in terms of your lifestyle, not a temporary shift in eating in order to lose weight.

Up to two-thirds of those who are on a diet regain more weight than when they started. – University of California, Los Angeles

We, as Americans, are starving. We are starving on a nutritional basis. We could eat 10,000 calories a day and still feel hungry. Let’s break it down—when your body needs nourishment, the brain sends out hunger signals, prompting you to eat. When your body has received the proper nutrients, the hunger signals will shut off. However, if you eat processed foods that lack nutrients, your body will not turn off those hunger signals. You could eat 10,000 calories worth of junk food and still be hungry!

Man-made foods like bread, sugar and table salt trick your body into thinking you’re getting those specific nutrients but your cells aren’t getting nourished. Now you’re starving at a cellular level. – Jon Gabriel

Americans are not eating food anymore, they’re eating food-like products. That’s what we try to drive home with Live Whole Be Free. Eating whole food, that nourishes your body, will allow you to break free from fad diets and other miserable habits and allow you the joy to truly just live!

Some additional things that are discussed in Hungry For Change:

  • The food industry’s role in creating and feeding your food addiction
  • The risks of consuming artificial sweeteners (aspartame) and chemicals (propylene glycol)
  • How sugar, fluffy carbs (white bread, pastries, cereal, pasta, potatoes) and high fructose corn syrup make you fat
  • What are good detoxifying foods for your body
  • The benefits of juicing
  • How stress and lack of sleep contribute to weight gain
  • How to use visualization to help lose weight
  • Why loving yourself is important for a healthy life

Hopefully this is enough to convince you to watch this film. Although I’ve discussed many, if there’s only one you watch, let this be the one! It is available for download from iTunes. Also, stay tuned as I cover more of the specifics in future posts!

Peace, love and healthy lifestyles,

Melissa

 

I recently watched Food, Inc. (there is also a book) and it was one of the most influential documentaries I have ever seen. I was blind to exactly how corrupt our government really is, the hidden dangers in our food and the poor farmers that are too fearful to show their faces or use their real names in this documentary for fear of what will happen to them, their families and their businesses. It’s like a creepy farmer horror movie, but it’s actually happening, as we sit here, staring at our computer screens.

I highly recommend watching the movie for yourself, but here’s a sneak peek of what’s included until you get the chance.

Food has changed more in the last 50 years than it has in the past 10,000, and not in a good way. “The idea that you have to write a book to tell people where their food came from shows you how far removed we are from it.” – Michael Pollan, Author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma

The American Supermarket

The modern American supermarket has on average 47,000 products.

There are no seasons in the American supermarket. Instead, food is picked green (way too early) and is ripened with ethylene gas. In the winter, you are eating the “idea” of a tomato.

70 percent of all processed foods in supermarkets have a genetically modified ingredient. (Or genetically modified organism, GMO).

Beef and Poultry

McDonalds, the largest purchaser of ground beef, wants all of their beef to taste the same, which creates a problem, since it will all have to be altered in order to achieve that.

There are currently only a handful of companies controlling our food system (enter fear and anxiety). The top four beef companies control 80 percent of the market. So even if you don’t eat at a fast food restaurant, you are still a part of this horrible system.

Tyson is the largest meat packaging company in the history of the world.

To meet demand, and of course, to make more money, chickens are now raised twice as fast, to be twice as big and have actually been redesigned to have larger breasts because people like white meat. Because they are produced so rapidly, their bones and internal organs can’t keep up with the weight they are carrying, they literally collapse because they cannot walk. Faster, fatter, bigger, cheaper, that about sums it up.

Hamburger meat is cleansed with ammonia to kill E. coli.

Corn and Corn Products

“So much of our industrial food is clever rearrangements of corn.” – Michael Pollan

Because of fertilizer, pesticides, etc., we can grow ten times as much corn than we could in the past. 20 bushels per acre has now become 200+ bushels per acre. 30 percent of our land is devoted to corn, thanks to government policy.

Corn farmers are encouraged to grow as much corn as possible, and the government will come up with uses for them (enter high fructose corn syrup). Our food is now engineered to last longer on shelves, to be produced at a lower cost, etc.

What else is made from corn? Probably the majority of what you eat in a day! Ketchup, cheese, twinkies, peanut butter, cheeze-itz, salad dressing, coke, jelly, sweet and low, syrup, juice, kool-aid, meat and fast food, to name a few. Maltodextrin, xantham gum and ascorbic acid can also all be made from corn. And it’s not just limited to food… Batteries, charcoal, diapers and motrin are corn products as well.

These calories are cheaper to produce, they are heavily subsidized. Snack food calories come from commodity crops like wheat, corn and soybeans.

We Feed Corn to Everyone and Everything

Corn is the main ingredient in feed. Unless you buy grass-fed beef, it was fed corn. Even farmed fish are fed corn. (Note, you can still eat beef and fish if you’d like, just buy grass-fed and wild-caught!)

Cows are not designed by evolution to eat corn, it’s just cheaper for us to eat and corn makes them fat. This high corn diet that the cows is harmful to them. It results in E. coli, and this strain of E. coli evolves, now entering the food system. The E. coli from this corn-fed cow is found in beef, spinach, apple juice and more because of run off. It’s scary to think that even as a vegetarian or vegan, you could be affected by this system.

Soybeans

90 percent of soybeans contain a patented gene that is unaffected by pesticides (2008, Monsanto patented gene). Monsanto is an evil chemical company, pretty much responsible for ruining farmers’ lives and ridding us of any non-GMO soybeans. Monsanto keeps a staff and surveillance teams to prosecute farmers for saving their own non-GMO seeds to plant next year. Monsanto puts those farmers who do not comply out of business by any means necessary. (Think dark and evil forces here).

Poor Treatment of Animals

When you watch the film, they show the hole that they have to cut into the side of the cow, to fish out the E. coli bacteria. Yum. Anyone for a burger? If not today, maybe tomorrow? The average American eats 200 lbs. of meat per year.

These obese, collapsing chickens are packed so tightly together, that they couldn’t walk even if they could. They’re often kept in wire cages, their feet growing over the wires beneath them. Their beaks are seared off so they don’t peck each other or the workers.

Animals stand knee deep in their manure all day long. If we put glass walls on all the processing facilities, we’d have a different food system in this country.

The Corrupted Government

Basically, everyone’s in bed with someone else. We put our faith in the government to protect us, but we’re not being protected at even the most basic level. Regulatory agencies are now being controlled by the companies they’re supposed to be scrutinizing.

In 1972, the FDA conducted approximately 50,000 food safety inspections. In 2006, they conducted only 9,164. Gross.

There are only 13 slaughter houses to process the majority of meat processed in the U.S. They’re all combined, so the odds of one of them carrying something infectious is extremely high.

Something is seriously wrong with some of these people. The meat/poultry associations actually took the USDA to court to say that the USDA doesn’t have the authority to shut down plants, even if the plant is contaminated. (What?!?!) However, after a young boy’s death resulted in a new law called Kevin’s Law, plants that continually produce contaminated meat will be shut down.

The food industry is always looking for steps in efficiency, but each step creates more problems. For instance, if a cow has E. coli, all that is necessary (instead of raging antibiotics, steroids, or another high-tech answer) is five days of a grass-fed diet. It will shed 80 percent of the bacteria that way.

The employers (Smithfield, for example) even have such a twisted hold of their employees, which are bussed in from 100 miles away, they can’t afford to quit.

In the last 25 years, our government has been dominated by the industries it was meant to be regulating.

Everything is about politics, centralized power being used against farmers, workers and consumer who are deliberately being kept in the dark about what they’re eating and what it is doing to their bodies. They don’t want  you to know what’s in it, and they make it against the law for you to criticize their products.

The food industry has different protections than other industries. Oprah was sued for loss of profit by the meat industry for something she said on her show. Six years of litigation, $1 million in legal fees, but Oprah won. Unfortunately there’s not enough people out there with $1 million lying around to fight these companies and win. Another example, in Colorado, you can go to PRISON for criticizing ground beef in the state of Colorado. And Colorado is not alone, there are laws passed in 13 U.S. states that make it easier for food producers to sue their critics for slander. These states include: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas.

You and I

We’re all different. But are we, really? Because there are companies that certainly have us all figured out. We are hard-wired to go for three tastes: fat, sugar and salt. These are rare in nature, but now we can find them everywhere. These things cause spikes in insulin and wear down our metabolism.

Type 2 Diabetes, a disease which in the past only affected adults, now affects children of epidemic proportions.

Hungry For Change?

Consumers CAN and have changed the food industry. An industry’s irresponsible behavior can be changed. Farmers will deliver to the marketplace what the marketplace demands.Start demanding good, wholesome food and those farmers will deliver.Buy from companies that treat workers, animals and the environment with respect. When you go to the supermarket, choose foods that are in season and organic. Know what’s in your food. Read labels.
The average meal travels 1500  miles from farm to supermarket.Shop at local farmers markets, plant a garden (even a small one). Cook a meal with your family and eat together. Buy local. Even your lovable, organic companies like Tom’s is owned by Colgate, Kashi is owned by Kellogg’s.Everyone has a right to healthy food. Make sure your farmers market takes food stamps. Ask your school board to provide healthy lunches. The FDA and USDA are supposed to protect us.Tell congress to enforce food safety standards and reintroduce Kevin’s Law. If you say grace, ask for food that will keep us and the planet healthy.You can change the world with every bite. Go to www.takepart.com/foodinc

I just completed 21 days of the CLEAN Program. Wow. That was tough, and wonderful, all at the same time. For those of you that aren’t familiar with CLEAN, it is a program created by Dr. Alejandro Junger, to “restore the body’s natural ability to heal itself.” But it does much more than that. By removing common allergens from your diet for 21 days, you give your body a chance to reset. When 21 days are over, you slowly add those allergens back into your diet, one at a time, with several days in between. Doing this allows you to truly pinpoint which of these allergens effect you personally. This method is actually much more accurate, not to mention less expensive, than typical laboratory/blood allergy tests.

So after 21 days of eating a completely CLEAN diet, I will start by adding wheat back in first. Part of me wants to go crazy and eat wheat all day long, but apparently that’s not necessary. The book makes it clear that just a little bit of wheat will do. Apparently after 3 weeks of eating CLEAN, it won’t take much to notice if you have a sensitivity or not. Now I’m nervous…

Clean book by Dr. JungerThis is the second time I’ve gone through the CLEAN program, but the first time I’ve done it completely and correctly. I started the last time too soon, I hadn’t read enough information and was accidentally eating some of the allergens that were supposed to be eliminated. So this time, I made sure to gather all the information prior to starting. Day 3 was probably the best, at the start of the program. I had so much energy, I was on top of the world. Excited about what was to come and the benefits I would receive, I was going, full force ahead. I started to break out a bit as these toxins were released, but all in all, that first week was great.

Then came the second week. Dun, dun, dun. Things started to get a little tougher. My thoughts switched from “This is awesome, I should do this more often” to “What in the world was I thinking?” Since I eat a pretty clean diet regularly, I felt that I could easily justify quitting early, since I’m “pretty healthy.” However, I started to think about how crappy I was feeling, and that is what really made me realize that I needed to see this through. If I was THAT healthy… this wouldn’t be affecting me as it was. So… on I went.

Days 11-16 were the worst. I had no energy, I would sleep for 12 hours at night and it still didn’t seem like it was enough, had terrible nightmares (many including food), my otherwise awesome drive, motivation, focus and productivity was lacking, I didn’t feel like myself and I was HUNGRY. Like, really, really, hungry. Thankfully I had been tweeting and facebooking about my CLEAN journey, and EVERY SINGLE tweet or post that I made was responded to by at least one member of the CLEAN team. I cannot say enough wonderful things about these people, they are amazing. They truly care about your journey, well-being and outcome, and they are so supportive and responsive. I wasn’t even asking them questions… just posting things like “Gosh, Day 12 sucks…” and they would respond with “You’re doing great, hang in there, this is where the magic happens” kind of thing. It was so uplifting. I didn’t realize it at the beginning, but I realize now how much I really did need their help and support. They pointed me to their web community, where you create a free profile and log your journey, ask questions, join forums, talk to other members, etc., and that was amazing as well. Just when you think you’re the only person struggling or experiencing one side effect or another, you jump online and see that you are most definitely not alone. Hundreds if not thousands of other people are there to help you through it, as they are going through the same things. It’s also interesting to talk to people at different phases of the program. That was helpful, knowing that there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

I just finished reading Skinny Bitch, by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. All I can really say is… wow… for so many reasons. First, I’ve never read a book this fast in my life. It was an easy read. Maybe because there were so many curse words, I felt like I was at a more comfortable reading level? I can’t say for sure, but it was short, to the point and extremely informative and I appreciated that. It kept me turning pages without even realizing how involved I’d become. I was a little apprehensive during the first couple chapters… there’s a lot of “So, you’re tired of being fat and lazy? Then get off your fat a** and f*ing do something about it.” I’m all for being blunt, but I was definitely taken aback. However, I also feel like some people definitely need this swift kick in the rear-end to make some changes in their lives. There’s no sympathy in this book, that’s for sure, but it is filled with so much great information that my highlighter ran out of ink. Rest in peace pink highlighter.

I’ll try to keep this review short, because I do feel that you should read this book for yourself. I’d say I agree with most everything that this book says. There’s some information the authors give at the end which are their personal opinions on when/how you should eat… for example, they tell you to not eat breakfast until you’re hungry, don’t eat lunch until you’re “ravenous”, etc. I’m not sure I agree with that. I prefer to eat some small, healthy snacks during the day to ensure I don’t get to the point where I’m “ravenous” because let’s face it, if I am in fact ravenous, someone is going to get hurt. Hungry Melissa = Scary Melissa.

The book talks about how you need to give up your unhealthy vices if you want to get “skinny.” I wish the word “skinny” wasn’t used as much as it was, but… the authors did the right things to get people’s attention. Sadly, I can name 10x more people that have told me they’ve read “Skinny Bitch” then have read “Clean.” Anything with “skinny” in the title and you’ve got an immediate audience. I just question people’s motives though. It’s always about getting skinny. Get HEALTHY people! The weight loss will come with being healthier inside and out. Although, this book is more geared towards becoming healthier, they just use the word “skinny” instead. It also discusses carbohydrates, how sugar is the devil (which it is, in processed form… but if you’re talking about the sugar in fruit and things like that, then it’s good). Also discussed is the Atkins Diet and why it’s a terrible idea (thank heavens someone is calling it out, finally) and protein and how Americans get more than double the amount we really need. Lastly, but certainly not least, it discusses meat and why you shouldn’t eat it and how the government cannot be trusted. These two chapters changed my outlook on food more than I thought was possible at this point in my quest to become more knowledgeable.

A few months ago, I cut red meat out of my diet. No real reason. Had nothing to do with the way animals were treated, just sort of lost my appetite for red meat and decided to roll with it. A few weeks ago, I cut out dairy products. I had more of a reason behind this… which came from reading CLEAN, by Dr. Alejandro Junger. Up until this afternoon, I was still eating chicken, fish, and would have the occasional egg. Well, that’s all changed. I got to the chapter where they discuss the way animals are treated and I totally lost it. I’m honestly embarrassed that all this time I have been turning a blind eye to all this talk of animal cruelty. Granted, when possible, I would buy “free range” poultry and beef, but I always had growth hormones and antibiotics on my mind more than I did the treatment of the actual animals. Skinny Bitch has changed all that. The details they go into are pretty disturbing, but I’m glad they wrote about it, and even more glad that I read it. They actually quote workers from some of these slaughter houses and it’s just so sick. I was in tears reading this, while picking the chicken out of my spinach salad and tossing it in the trash. It’s really, really awful. For those that are interested, it’s Chapter 6: You Are What You Eat. I will spare you the details in this blog and let you read it for yourself if you decide you’d like to.

The other chapter that I found mind-boggling was Chapter 9: Have No Faith: Governmental Agencies Don’t Give a Shit About Your Health. And they don’t. I started to get an idea for how political everything is when I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives, where they explained how messed up the food pyramid is. The FOOD PYRAMID! Kids learn about the food pyramid at such a young age! Yet, it cannot be trusted. For example, dairy and meat have been linked to all sorts of diseases, but there’s no way it will be removed from the pyramid because there are very “high-up” people from huge dairy companies, for instance, that would never let that happen. Skinny Bitch talks about all the corruption within the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and more.

“According to its web site, now, among other things, the USDA is responsible for “the safety of meat, poultry, and egg products.” Hmm. That’s weird. ‘Cause many high-ranking staff members at the USDA were employed by, or are otherwise affiliated with, the meat and dairy industries. And if the group responsible for “the safety of meat, poultry and egg products” is run by people from the same industries they’re supposed to be protecting us from… well, that would be a conflict of interest. And it is. An enormous, ridiculous, outrageous, catastrophic conflict of interest.” – Skinny Bitch

There are plenty of examples in the book in regards to what terrible things these agencies have pulled, but that’s another post. In short, everyone’s in bed with everyone else. The milk industry is a $19 Billion industry. So… they pretty much have enough money to get what they want, and do what they need to do to ensure people think milk is critical to their survival. Have you ever wondered why school lunches are required to serve milk? Food for thought. Pun intended.

The reviews on this book are definitely mixed, with good reason I believe. The language is strong, so if that’s something that offends you, steer clear of this one. It also advocates a vegan diet, so be prepared for that. They talk a lot about soy products, which I currently believe people should do their own research on before diving head first into… as there are mixed reviews on whether or not soy is good for you. I personally don’t feel I have enough information to make a case for either side at this point in time. One of the reviews I read mentioned that although these tips will work for weight loss, they are too difficult for the average woman. Which may in fact be true. But… even if they take a few key things away from this book… for instance, get rid of those cigarettes and sodas and read the ingredients of what you’re about to eat… then I feel like it’s worth reading.

Baby steps should not be overlooked. Even small successes are worth celebrating, as it’s those small successes that lead to the bigger ones. I didn’t change my eating habits overnight, this has been a LONG, but extremely enjoyable and even more rewarding process. I started years ago, by giving up soda, and stuck with just that for a while. I didn’t realize that I was even on a “journey” until I recently thought about all the changes I’ve made, and started to realize it. I was just living day by day, taking in information and adjusting my diet. Next, I swapped out my typical lunch for a spinach salad everyday, incorporating more veggies into my diet. I’ve made so many changes since kicking that soda, too many to list. Now I’m at the point where I’m learning so much about the impact food and other products have on not just my intestines or my weight, but also on my emotions, that I can’t stop learning! I want to be the best version of “me” that I can be, and that means every day learning more and more and constantly growing and changing. I hope you can take small steps for yourself as well, because you’ll soon notice that they weren’t small at all, that they were pivotal in making you become who you are today. Eating vegan or cutting out dairy isn’t for everyone, but I do hope everyone can have enough knowledge to make their own, informed decisions. It’s your body, it’s your life. Take control. 

 

I’m on my 6th day of the CLEAN Program, and I’m so excited I can barely contain myself. The only reason I haven’t blogged about this sooner is because I am so overwhelmed by the mass amounts of unbelievable information that I’m not sure where to start! However, as with anything else, you must start somewhere.

 

What is the CLEAN program? Well, besides amazing, and in the words of Alejandro Junger, M.D., CLEAN is “the revolutionary program to restore the body’s natural ability to heal itself.” (4) Ummm, yes please, I’ll take two! I should also start by saying that I absolutely despise reading. It puts me to sleep in under two minutes. But I am so enthralled by this book, all I can think about is when my next chance to read more will be. (Who am I?! Don’t tell my Dad. Or do tell him, he’ll be so proud!)

 

Watch the video at the end of the post for a quick 3-min recap of how CLEAN came to be. You’ll appreciate it much more after knowing where it came from. This is one of those books I feel was written just for me. Except Dr. Junger went to med school, and I went to art school. Same thing.

 

I’m only 52 pages into the book right now, but I started the program on Monday. I’m basically following the program while I learn why I should do this. I was already sold within the first 5 pages, and with every page I read, I am further and further convinced that this is the right thing for me to do. I’m off almost all of my medications, and this definitely gives me the motivation to go all the way through until they’re ALL gone! I’m staying away from things that are toxic and have no desire to go back. It’s even possible that my days of eating red meat are behind me for good. I NEVER, ever, ever, ever thought that would be me. When any taste for red meat suddenly disappeared for me a few weeks ago, I figured it was a phase, but I maybe I was wrong! Who would’ve thought?

 

Dr. Junger teaches us through this book how and why the planet is toxic, how and why WE are toxic and what we can start doing now to reverse the crazy diseases and conditions we’ve caused ourselves. That’s right. We did it to ourselves. You think you have allergies? Depression? Even Diabetes? Think again. I know exactly what you’re thinking, because I was raised in the same world that you were… the doctor told you that you have allergies, it is quite clear from your side effects that you have allergies, so you MUST have allergies. Or not. These conditions are our bodies’ signals to us, letting us know that our toxicity level is too high. Our bodies are much smarter than we give them credit for.

 

Success stories from people who have completed the 3 week program call it revolutionary, and with good reason. They no longer need to wear their glasses or take diabetes medications, women unable to get pregnant are now giving birth to healthy babies, chronic coughs are disappearing, depression is lifting, varicose veins are reverting back to normal, auto-immune diseases and ulcers are vanishing, fatty livers are turning healthy, and many more. And the benefits don’t stop at the physical level. Minds get clearer, intentions strengthen, will is reborn and relationships deepen. (4) Think it’s quackery? I dare you to try it!