January 16, 2017

Health Care Gone Pot

By Amanda Box

It seems that everyone has an opinion about the new healthcare reform.  Although we live in a nation divided by opinions, there is one universal truth and it seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle.  It is a truth that we could all agree on, a truth that could save us millions of dollars and even decrease the cost of health insurance.  This truth is really so simple:  prevention.

  • Why is preventative healthcare rarely talked about?
  • Why isn’t it promoted more in the media and amongst health professionals?
  • The answer is quite simple: money.

If we truly took health into our own hands and subsequently made less trips to the doctor, then the doctor would make less money!  So, in turn, would the billion dollar pharmaceutical companies that dispense the drugs we are prescribed.

Take a step back for a minute and really look at this well-oiled machine called the Health Industry.  This beast of a machine is not run by health, but rather disease and sickness!

Because sickness fuels the health industry, there is no real benefit in promoting true health.  When is the last time your doctor told you to take a multi-vitamin or recommended a nutritious health-promoting diet?  It’s more likely you were prescribed a quick fix, otherwise known as a prescription drug, to remedy your health issue.

There are wonderful doctors out there that do believe in health and nutrition.  I don’t want to paint them all the same way.  Unfortunately, many are not. They are instead woven into the system of treating disease through dispensing drugs, not preventing the illness from even occurring.

It isn’t entirely the health system’s fault either.  We ourselves are to blame!  Most of us wait until we even have a problem before we consider our health.  We eat what we want and avoid exercise because life is just too busy and we don’t have time. But when diabetes, joint pain, or even something as brutal as cancer comes into our lives, we finally get serious about our health.  Well, if you’re reading this, I hope you take this as an opportunity to start now!

The easiest way to stay out of the system and live a long life, is to blaze a trail of health as early as possible.

Health Begins Here

Eating a healthy diet is by far the most crucial thing for your well-being.  There is no vitamin, supplement, or drug that can replace a healthy diet. However, the most common thing I hear when I encourage someone to improve their diet, is that they have no idea where to start.  When there are hundreds of different diets, weight-loss plans, and multi-level marketing schemes all promoting amazing health, well, I don’t blame them!  Choosing an eating option is overwhelming for most people.  But health is so much more than adhering to a diet or drinking a special shake every day.

I’ve heard every excuse in the book when it comes to not eating healthy. Most of these excuses are based in fiction and I’m here to expose the truth to you.  There are 3 myths that I would like to bust when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle.

  • Myth #1: Eating healthy is expensive.
  • Myth #2: Eating healthy is time consuming.
  • Myth #3: Eating healthy is too complicated.

Truth #1: Eating Healthy is NOT Expensive

By far, the most frequent excuse I hear is that eating healthy is expensive.  I often get emails and messages from people who want my advice because they’ve been newly diagnosed with a health issue.  They ask me about natural options and they typically admit they know they need to improve their diet.

However, they nearly always preface their question with I’m really limited financially, so I can’t afford to eat all organic.  I always respond the same way:

Honestly, if you were to look through my fridge and pantry, you’d probably see that less than half of what my family eats is certified organic.  My only organic items are ones that are typically made with GMO (genetically modified) foods or are high in pesticide residues.  Foods that I buy organic are:

  • Corn products
  • Apples
  • Strawberries (frozen are much less expensive)
  • Peaches (in season)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce

People often equate the word organic, with health and even weight loss.  I hate to burst your bubble, but eating a box of organic cookies isn’t making you healthier.  The only thing that separates organic from conventional is that organic foods have all natural ingredients and are grown without pesticides.

Organic ice-cream may be better for you because it doesn’t contain processed ingredients and hormones. But gosh darn it, it’s not going to lower your cholesterol or help you lose those last 5 pounds.  There are times when choosing organic over conventional is a wise choice.  But, I want to make it clear that the certified organic stamp doesn’t mean it is always beneficial for you to eat it!

I’ve seen this same thing happen with gluten.  People who are not gluten sensitive go on a gluten free diet because they think it’s going to help them lose weight or make them healthier.   But replacing wheat cupcakes with rice ones isn’t what being healthy is about.  A healthy diet is more like replacing a wheat cupcake with an apple.

Eating healthy is so much less expensive than one might expect.  Most people don’t realize how much money they spend on food because they forget to add their eating out costs in with their grocery budget.  Drive thru’s may seem quick and inexpensive, but in reality, you can cook a healthy meal for the same price or less. One of my good friends is a health fanatic and has 7 children.  She and her family have a grocery budget of less than $600 a month!  It may take some planning and time in the beginning, but you’ll find you don’t have to spend any extra money to eat healthy.

Some great tips to save money each month include:

  • Plan your meals in advance so that your grocery list only includes what you plan on cooking.  This way nothing goes to waste.
  • Buy fresh produce several times a month, not all at once.  Again, this saves possible waste.
  • Stock up on frozen veggies for quick preparations for dinner.  They last and they are quite inexpensive, sometimes cheaper than fresh!
  • If one of your staple food items is on sale and it can be frozen or it’s shelf stable, then stock up!  Did you know butter and and even milk can be frozen?
  • Look into a local farmer for beef.  You can also purchase ½ or ¼ of a cow and the savings will be tremendous!  You will typically only pay around $4-$5 a pound for quality cuts of meat like steaks, roasts, and hamburger.

Truth #2: Eating Healthy is NOT Time Consuming

Eating healthy may seem time consuming when you compare it to driving through and grabbing fast food.  But, that isn’t honestly a fair comparison!  If you have time to put together your child’s school lunch the night before, then you have time to make healthy choices for yourself.  Here are some of my favorite tips for quick, healthy eating:

  • Chop up vegetables the night you come home from the grocery store for grab and go snacking.
  • Always keep fruit available for a quick snack.
  • Invest in a quality protein powder and frozen fruit for smoothies.
  • Plan out your healthy meals in advance.  There are several websites where it is already done for you including recipes…for free! Here is one of my favorites: http://thenourishinghome.com/meal-planning/

Truth #3: Eating Healthy is NOT Complicated

Eating healthy isn’t as complicated as you might imagine.  I will admit, there may be a learning curve, but it won’t take long before making healthy choices becomes second nature.  Many people succumb to the latest diet fad simply because they include detailed instruction.  These diets typically include a couple shakes you drink for breakfast and lunch and then a list of appropriate foods for dinner.  I honestly never promote these type of diets because I feel they are not realistic long term.

Like I stated earlier, eating healthy isn’t just about eating organic.

I believe if you had to boil it down as simple as possible, healthy eating would be this: replacing processed and fast foods with fresh, real, and nutritious foods.

Use the tips I gave you above for convenient nutritious food.

Health Eating Is About Real Food

The best way to uncomplicate your diet is to simply cook from scratch!  Replace boxed and fast foods with fresh meals cooked by you!  As a result, you control the ingredients and what goes into the food when you prepare it.

Boxed foods are full of artificial ingredients and unhealthy additives. You’re typical box of Hamburger Helper for example, contains MSG, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, artificial colors, and a whole list of ingredients that are just too difficult to pronounce!  Healthy eating is about eating REAL food, not chemically engineered fake ingredients!

Not much of a cook?  Look into healthy crockpot meals like the ones I included in this article.  There is nothing easier than throwing everything into one pot and walking away.

Health in One Pot

Crockpot meals are a fabulous way to save money, time and make cooking less complicated.  A crockpot, otherwise known as a slow cooker, can be left on all day with little to no attention.  You can come home from work with a delicious healthy meal that is hot and ready to eat for the entire family!  I, personally, have turned many regular recipes into slow cooker recipes for the convenience.  I have come to love how tender meat becomes after slowly cooking all day.  The flavors and aromas always seem more robust and delicious after they’ve been cooking for hours, as well.

This recipe has become one of the newest additions to my meal plan.  I love soups and chili’s as they’re perfect one pot meals.  This white chili is not only delicious, but is packed full of vegetables.  You can’t even taste the cauliflower! This makes it great for sneaking veggies into a picky child’s diet.

White Chicken Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 package boneless skinless thighs or breasts
  • 3 quarts chicken broth
  • 3 stalks of diced celery
  • 4 carrots shredded
  • 3 diced onions
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 head of cauliflower shredded
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 small can of chopped green chilis
  • 2 cups or 2 cans of navy beans
  • 1 ½  tbsp chili powder
  • ½  tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¾ cup whole cream or sour cream (optional)

Put everything in the pot (except the cream), stir, and turn it to low and leave it for 6-7 hours.  Next, pull out the chicken, let it cool, shred it, and return it back into the pot.  Add the cream if you like it creamy, then serve!  I top it with some cilantro and a slice of avocado.  It’s to die for delicious and so good for you!

This next soup is a perfect soup for this fall or winter.  It is a twist on traditional stew with the addition of nutritious apples!

Chicken Apple Stew

Ingredients

  • chicken apple stew
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    4 medium potatoes, chopped
  • 4 carrots chopped
  • 3 small/medium apples peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 celery stalk chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cup apple cider or apple juice
  • 6 skinless boneless chicken thighs or 4 chicken breasts cubed

Place all the ingredients into the crockpot and pour the broth and juice over the top.  Stir well and cook on low for 6-7 hours.

No matter your views on the current healthcare issue, if you’re healthy you won’t even need to use your health insurance–government funded or not!

Take matters into your own hands and become a picture of both health and prevention.  And I must say, eating healthy it’s much more delicious than a doctors office visit!

What about you?  Which of these myths did you believe and use as your reason to avoid healthy eating?  Now that you know the truth, what do you plan on doing in the future to change your eating habits?

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Amanda Box
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Amanda Box is a Traditional  Naturopath and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 12 years and currently practices naturopathic consulting in the Kansas City, Missouri area.  Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic practitioner to turn to for your personal needs, Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.

 

 

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