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The Elephant In The Pews

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The Elephant In The Pews

This is a rhetorical question, but begs being asked regardless. Why do Christians complain about their preventable health conditions and then pray to be healed but do nothing (or the very minimum) to change their toxic lifestyle?

Spirituality is plural, not singular. Sitting in the pew for 1 hour of our week but living haphazardly the other 167 hours of the week leads to being sick in the mind+body+spirit. 

What we chose to eat/drink/read/watch/listen/hang out with can either nourish our temple or harm it. 

It's going to be difficult to be in a happy mood when we are doped up on coffee, sugar, donuts, little sleep, barely move our body... We may not need prayer for our condition but instead ACTION to clean up our lifestyle so it is congruent with what we say to profess.  

Obesity, sleep apnea, Type Two diabetes, cancer, mood, heart disease, stroke, energy, etc...are all preventable diseases by the proper lifestyle choices.

Honestly, how can we complain about our health when we aren't taking care of this temple to begin with??

It's like complaining that the car won't run or is always breaking down but yet we never put gas in the fuel tank, changed the oil, fixed the tire...or these examples:

It's like complaining that it's raining while standing in the driveway of a mansion when someone is standing in the doorway screaming for you to come inside. But you just ignore them and keep asking God to rescue you.

This also reminds me of the man on his roof in the rising waters of a flood. As he was praying for rescue, a boat came by. He said, no thank you, God will rescue me. As the boat sped away he continued to pray and a second, larger boat came by and threw a life buoy. He screamed, "That's okay. God will rescue me!" Standing firm in his resolve he stood with his hands to the sky in fervent prayer as a helicopter approached and lowered a basket. The man sent it away as well. 

When the flood waters overtook him, he drowned and stood before the throne of God in heaven. Perplexed, he said, "my God, why did you forsake me?" He answered sternly, "I sent you two boats and a helicopter, what more did you want?" 

And so it goes with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and on and on and on. "Lord heal me while I kill myself."

Dear professing Christians, it is (past) high time that we start living out our faith by taking the utmost care of this temple: mind+body+spirit.

This 'elephant in the pews' is a topic that the church is largely ignoring and it's killing us. Literally. But not on my watch. I want to use the time that I've been given to help those in the faith community learn how to live well in mind+body+spirit. 

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The Truth About Sugar Substitutes

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The Truth About Sugar Substitutes

Food Fact Friday! 

Many people are still under the impression that Truvia is Stevia or worse yet, a 'health food'. This couldn't be farther from the truth!  

Today in Food Fact Friday you'll learn two truths about popular sugar substitutes.

First up is Truvia.

Let me shout it from the roof tops: Truvia is NOT a health product!

  • Manufactured by Cargill Chemical Company. 
  • Does not contain Stevia. 
  • Contains Erythritol (a sugar alcohol) which leads to a host of different health problems and contributes to disease. 
  • Erythritol is produced with GMO corn through a hydrogenation process. 
  • Sugar alcohols, such as Erythritol, Xylitol, are disruptive to the oral and gut microbiome. Meaning that sugar alcohols destroy the gut/immune system.  
  • Truvia Baking Blend (different product than Truvia) is: Erythritol, Sugar (GMO sugar beets), Stevia Leaf Extract. 
  • Highly processed (Stevia is a green leaf...how does it turn into a white powder?!).
  • If you have this product in your home, please do your health a favor and toss it out ASAP.

The second one is Agave. 
Also a popular 'health' food but it is not. 

  • Highly processed (again, how does a green plant turn into syrup?)
  • Higher in fructose than HFCS (!!!)
  • bBecause it is so high in fructose it leads to many health problems including diabetes.

I don't recommend agave as a sugar substitute.

The only sweeteners I recommend (and use myself) are 100% pure maple syrup (none of the fake syrup crap please!), organic coconut sugar (try Big Tree Farms), raw (local preferably) honey. Organic applesauce, organic dates, and organic fruits are also great ways to sweeten baked goods. Or if you're on a run, bike ride, physically active, before yoga practice.  Basic rule of thumb: if God made it and man didn't tamper with it, it's good for you. 

This should go without saying, but please don't use white sugar (GMO sugar beets) or the blue/yellow/pink sugar packets. Splenda will destroy your health. 

Does honey have fructose? Yes. But the amazing thing about raw honey (again, not to be confused with conventional, pasteurized, filtered honey) is that the fructose found in honey is metabolized differently by the body. God knows what our body needs! There are many health benefits to raw honey. [see resources below]

If you have Truvia in your kitchen, go throw it out right now. And then take a photo of it in your trashcan and share with me on any of my social networks! 

A few brands that are Sarah Stanley Approved:

Big Tree Farms [coconut sugar]
Really Raw Honey

Resources:

>> http://www.drweil.com/…/…/Whats-Wrong-with-Agave-Nectar.html 
>> http://www.dietitiancassie.com/the-truth-on-truvia/ 
>> http://butterbeliever.com/is-honey-really-healthier-than-s…/ 
>> http://www.benefits-of-honey.com/

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Why Going Meatless Is The New Black

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Why Going Meatless Is The New Black

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Monday health lesson! Since Monday is known as ‪#‎MeatlessMonday‬ let's tackle the issue of meat!

1) Let's talk about the sustainability of consuming meat. It takes about 2,500 gallons of clean water to produce one pound of beef. Already 780 million people do not have access to clean water! See point number 4 for more on this sustainability issue of consuming meat. California is in record drought. How can we continue to do nothing about this crisis? Not having water is a life/death issue. Eating meat is not essential to life. (Amazing Race aside!) 

2) Ninety-nine percent of farm animals in the U.S. are raised in factory farms (pack animals into tight or confined spaces, caged, no outdoor air, unclear air inside the pens, unnatural reproduction, short lifespan). In addition, these factory farms use hormone and antibiotic (the meat industry uses 80 percent of all the antibiotics in the U.S.) injections (make the cows fatter to slaughter faster to get paycheck faster). When a person eats this kind of "meat" they are ingesting those hormones and antibiotics which leads to many health problems and diseases (early puberty, hormonal issues), It's ironic to me that people don't like when athletes/humans inject steroids but seem to have no problem when it comes to meat and dairy. You can't have one and not the other. Why is it okay for animals to be injected, but not humans? It doesn't make sense.

3) Most people aren't even eating "real meat"! As the above point states, 99 percent of meat is factory farm meat which is fake meat. So if a person chooses to eat meat, they MUST know where it came from, how it was raised, what it ate, if given hormones/antibiotics. It must be real meat on a stick. Not hormones on a stick. Lesson: you eat what it eats. (Think about it.)

4) Here's a great way to see how much water your eating lifestyle uses (i.e. consuming meat). Many times we just go about our day without evening blinking or breathing- we're just going through the motions. Life is about connecting to whatever you are doing, eating, living, breathing! By getting back to the basics and making a connection to what you are about to eat, drink, move, etc, you will life will begin to make sense.

5) If you decide to keep eating meat, please make sure it is local, raised humanely, grass-fed, NO hormones/antibiotics, and always, always, organic. You can't make something unhealthy, healthy. Someone recently asked me if homemade pulled pork made in a smoker or chicken on a smoker was healthier. When I asked what kind of meat he was buying he replied "Costco". Health starts from the ground up - literally. If the soil is dead [GMOs from RoundUp, no crop rotation, no field rest], the food will be dead. If the animal is dead (hormones, antibiotics, caged, etc), the meat is dead. No amount of "healthy" BBQ sauce or dressings will make something healthy. Really, really look at what kind of meat you are buying. Is it really meat to begin with? Remember, your purchases say so much about you and what you say you stand for!   

6) Make fresh, organic, real plants the main attraction on your plate. If you must, make meat a very little side portion. There is no compelling reason to make meat the center of attraction. If you eat meat 3x a day, start by eating 1x a day and then a few days a week. Switch from meat protein to beans, legumes, seeds, nuts, Hemp Hearts, quinoa...see how many wonderful options there are?!

7) Vegetarian lifestyles reduce greenhouse gases by 33 percent and mortality by 20 percent (see link below). A plant-based lifestyle is more than just not eating meat, it's about caring for the earth, land, air, water, people. If we don't have an earth we have none of those things.

8) Going meat free helps prevent cancer (red meat is directly associated with colon cancer), heart disease, obesity, diabetes to name a few. Meat

9) Lunchables, hotdogs, McD's, Burger King, etc products are not meat but disease in wrapper. Lunchables ingredients: - Hydrogenated Oils - Artificial Flavors - Mechanically Separated Chicken - MSG - Sodium Nitrites

I probably don't have to tell you that these ingredients lead to disease, cancer, obesity...not cool.

10) Compassion. I think most of us say we are compassionate people but I wonder if that's really, really true? Like I've said many times our purchases say a lot about what we stand for, what we believe, and how we live. If we're eating fast death (aka, fast "food"), Big Food, etc, we're not having compassion for our earth, land, air, water, animals, people. It's high time that we look at what we are buying and make adjustments.

So, what do you eat? Plants! Lots and lots of organic plants! Check out Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts. Quinoa, chia seeds, kale, nuts, seeds- the earth is full of protein- without eating animals.

As in the above points, if you must eat meat, make sure it meets (meats?!) these criteria: - local - organic - pastured raised (especially with chickens/eggs) - grass fed - no added hormones or antibiotics (organic will take care of this)

And begin to eat less meat and more fresh, local organic plants! Your health, earth, air, water will thank you!

Note:

I (Sarah) am a strong, healthy ultra endurance athlete on a 100% organic, real food, plant-based lifestyle. Proof that (organic) plants really are awesome!

Sources cited plus resources:

>> 2,500 gallons of water: http://www.vegsource.com/articles/factoids.htm >> John Robbins on water and meat:http://www.earthsave.org/environment/water.htm >> Clean water: http://water.org/water-crisis/water-facts/water/ >> What is a factory farm? http://www.aspca.org/fight-cruelty/farm-animal-cruelty/what-factory-farm >> Hormones in meat: http://www.sustainabletable.org/258/hormones >> Health and added hormones:http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_5543.cfm >> Vegetarian lifestyles: http://grist.org/list/vegetarians-live-longer-pollute-less-and-you-no-longer-have-to-take-their-word-for-it/ >> Preventing disease and certain cancers with plant-based lifestyle:http://plantbaseddietitian.com/plant-based-diet-benefits/ >> How to go plant-based: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/go-plant-based/

>> Meat industry uses 80% of all the antibiotics in the U.S.

>> Facebook pages to like and follow: Moxie DietitianNo Meat AthletePlant-Based DietitianSarah Stanley Inspired LivingBrendan BrazierMy Kind of Life

Cheers to a healthy life!

Cover photo credit: Nicholas Tonelli

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Cheeseburgers and The Church part six

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Cheeseburgers and The Church part six

Cheeseburgers and The Church

During this series, we’ve been taking a hard look at the dichotomy of the faith community and the health and the food choices they make.

I'd highly recommend reading the introduction, part two, part three, part four, part five.

Forewarning: if you aren’t ready to read and hear the truth, you may want to bookmark this for later. 

And before you dive into this article, please know I write this with the utmost love and compassion for you. I care VERY deeply about you and the health of our country.

Human trafficking, children living in poverty, clean water in Third World countries are all very popular charity work within the faith community. I, myself sponsor two children living in poverty and contribute to the clean water efforts in Africa. I also do not buy Big Food products, drink bottled water, drink coffee or eat meat. I don’t drink soft drinks (never have) or eat fast “food” (it’s not really food). And I make sure my dark (organic) chocolate is fair trade and not made with slave labor. Why? Because I strongly believe that my faith should permeate all areas of my life, not just “Stuff Christians Like” to quote a popular book and website.

You see, it’s really hard to say you’re against human trafficking and then buy products that keep people entrapped in slavery.

It’s a dichotomy to say you believe stealing and lying are sins, but then stuff yourself on take-out, BBQ and Krispy Kremes.

It’s a dichotomy to say you are for spiritual health, but completely ignore how you are treating the very body God designed.

It’s really easy to say addictions (pornography, alcoholism, drugs, smoking, etc.) are wrong, but then be addicted to copious amounts of soda, sugar, unhealthy “food”.

The faith community as a whole (no denomination discrimination here) rarely talks about their health. However, it is becoming increasingly harder to shove the elephant in the closet.

Spiritual health, physical health, mental health - they are all connected to living a healthy life that God intended for us. And you can't have one without the other. Everything is connected together. Everything. I’m not going to brow beat you with Bible verses about health because that's just not me, but the Bible does have plenty to say about the topic should you need proof that this is a viable concern.

Something has to change. The faith community has to wake up to the sleeping giant in their community before that giant wakes up and devours its prey. We can no longer ignore the problem. How can we share about the Living Water when we’re drinking poison on a regular basis? This dichotomy is screaming from the pews! You see, it’s really easy to shout from the rooftops that people need Jesus, but it’s a lot harder to face the reality that our daily purchases (Big Food) actually keeps people away from Jesus. It’s easy to say you love Jesus on Sunday morning, but a lot harder to treat our health the way God intended the other 167 hours of the week.

The health of our nation has been my work for years. During this work, I’ve noticed that the health of the church is pathetically appalling. We’re treating our bodies like garbage disposals and our souls like a landfill. We're buying and consuming products that keep people entrapped in slavery and poverty. Did God really create us to trash the every thing He created? I don’t believe so.

BHT, coloring dyes, GMOs (pesticides, Roundup, hormones and antibiotics to include rBGH & rBST), artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, preservatives - these are just a sampling of ingredients in all Big Food products.

And what do these ingredients do to your health? They are all linked to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, tumors, obesity, low immune system, chronic sickness, ear infections, infertility, male sterility, hyperactivity, autism, depression - the list is endless.

So if you’ve made the connection “did I make myself sick?” the answer is most likely, yes. Between 90-95 percent of all diseases (including cancer) are preventable through lifestyle. This is according to NIH. We can no longer use a Hail Mary when we’ve neglected our health all along. Grace is wonderful, but treating our bodies like an afterthought is a disrespect to God’s grace.

I cringe when I see believers post photos of their food choices and lifestyle. Especially when they post photos of what they are feeding their kids. It almost makes me ashamed to be a believer! Pretty photos of sugary products that cause disease. Candy that causes a host of health issues. Celebrating a milestone at fast food joint. It’s not a judgment, but an indicator to me that we have a ton of work to do in the faith community on this topic! And then a few days later updates indicate they are sick again. Or have another ear infection. You name it. And guess what? It's all connected to what they put in their body. You can't treat your body like crap and expect good health.

The faith community should be a place of healing but sadly it’s a place of promoting sickness. Donuts and coffee at the welcoming table. Men’s breakfast with five different types of farm factory meat, white, refined flour biscuits and gravy and pasteurized juice (no nutrients). Ladies Tea with the main attraction being sugary treats. These events are keeping people trapped in their food addiction. How is that helping them? It’s not.

FYI: Big Food is designed (important note: not created by God) to keep people addicted to their products for life. That is not living in freedom, my friends. Big Food also destroys the land God made, uses unethical labor and other humanitarian issues that should greatly concern you. Here are two great resources to find out how many slaves you use: Made In a Free World and Slavery Footprint. Very insightful to change your buying and eating habits.

No wonder people think we are hypocrites! We are! But you don’t have to be a hypocrite any more. You can change. You can start to match your words with your actions.

The truth will set you free and the truth about what you feed your soul, what you feed your body will free you and generations to come. Being healthy isn’t just for yourself, it’s for generations to come. And another little fact: did you know that what the mother eats sets the DNA for the next 5-6 generations? That’s a pretty powerful reason to start cleaning up your plate! What you are eating will determine what diseases (or good health) your future generations will inherit.

This message of health and what we put in our bodies is one that virtually no one wants to speak about. While others may be okay with, I am not. As believers, we are the light to those around us, but sadly our light is tainted with toxins and sickness and disease. Not because we are human but because we have ignored our health all along. We need to be on forefront of this battle, not sitting on the sidelines!

Another topic: Do you know what GMO is and what is happening to the very earth that God created? Did you know that if you are buying Big Food products (virtually anything in commercial supermarkets, Wal-Mart, Target, etc), consume fast “food”, or chew gum, that GMOs are in those products that God never intended to be in your body? GMOs are a real issue and so far the Christian circle is pretty silent on it. We need to be on forefront of justice issues, not waiting for someone else to take the initiative. And yes, health justice is very much a topic that impacts the faith community.

Our faith values need to coincide with our food choices. Our faith values need to match our ethics when it comes to what we put in our mouth or slater on our skin.

The faith community can’t live without their coffee, but did you know that it takes 37 gallons of clean water to make one cup of coffee? To dig deeper, coffee and cocoa are two crops that use slave/human trafficking/child labor the most. Yes, health justice is very much related to your faith.

What can you do? Here are 9 ways to start matching your faith with your daily choices and walking the talk.

1) Disrupt your buying and eating habits

I’m not going to sugarcoat it and suggest baby steps. We’re too far gone for that. Clean out your fridge, your cupboards, pantry and get rid of the toxic products. Yes, even that baking powder (if it’s not Rumford brand it contains Aluminum).

2) If you are a church leader, start talking about this issue

Work at a church or other faith community? Start the conversation. Share this series with them. We can not ignore the issue anymore. If you don't feel comfortable talking about it, I'm happy to talk with them!

3) Change where you shop

If you are currently shopping at Wal-Mart, Target, commercial stores for food, stop. You get your health from where you shop. Get to know your local, organic farmer. Shop at local co-ops, health food stores, farmer’s markets. Here is a great resource to get you started. On a tight budget? Read this. But remember, how much are you paying to be sick? Medicine, time off work, doctor visits- these virtually do not happen with the people that buy and eat real food and take care of their body. Something to think about.

4) Hire me to speak and/or host a workshop

I’d love nothing more than to help your church leadership, community and get well. We’ve designed the workshops to be a practical source of knowledge that you can apply instantly.

5) Work with me personally

You can sign up for our 21 day program and learn how to eat, cook, shop, live, prevent disease and reprogram your mind, body, life. So worth it!

6) Educate yourself

Before you put another thing in your mouth or swallow another pill, read the ingredient label and know the associated (and serious) health risks. Calories aren’t the focus of this exercise. It’s what makes up the product that is either giving you disease or giving you health.

7) Eat real, God-made food, drink, cures

It’s pretty simple what to eat: if God made it, you can eat, drink, consume it. If God did not make it, do not eat, drink, swallow, chew, consume. And PSA: soft drinks, Slurpees/Icee, energy drinks (Red Bull, Monster, etc) are not real drink. Ditch them right now.

8) Buy organic

There are so many reasons to eat organic! One of the reasons is that pesticides are toxins and fat cells like toxins. So if you want to lose weight, eat organic. Another huge reason is that organic farming also cares for the land that God created. Conventional farming does not. Again, put your faith into practice by buying that which God intended for you.

9) Devour this site

This website, Twitter, Instagram, eNewsletter and other social platforms are filled with countless resources to help you live incredibly well, prevent disease and share the love of Jesus to everyone around us. Here are some other vetted sources:

Dr. Mark Hyman

Food Babe

Tania Mercer

Andy Bellatti 

Robyn O'Brien 

Living Maxwell

Maximized Living

Dr. Matthew McAlees 

Dr. Joel Fuhrman

Nutrition You Can Trust

Kristina DeMuth and Moxie Dietitian (also contributor to this series)

I pray for you daily that the truth will set you free. Please be part of the solution instead of contributing to the problem. I believe in you!

Much love, peace and wellness to you.

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Cheeseburgers and The Church (part five)

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Cheeseburgers and The Church (part five)

Cheeseburgers and The Church

So far we have touched on several topics with Cheeseburgers and The Church: In Part Two of Cheeseburgers and The Church, I talked about Big Food Industry and the its role in human slavery and poverty.  In Cheeseburgers and The Church Part Three, I discussed how our cheap meat and animal-sourced foods, highly refined food products are failing to provide stewardship to the Earth, non-human life, as well as human health. In Cheeseburgers and The Church Part Four, I discussed my frustration with Faith Based organizations promoting unhealthy food options in their church gatherings, mission work, and volunteer service projects. (If you missed why this series started, read the introduction here.)

Today, I am going to muse on faith, money, and health. I know for a fact that in the Christian community, people are called to be good stewards of their financial resources. I would argue that all humans, for the sake of the common good, should be good stewards with their financial resources too. When it comes to "cheap" food (e.g. fast food, cheap meat, processed food, sugar sweetened beverages), we are "investing" in expensive health risks for ourselves, our families, and greater society. In one of my public health classes, I learned that  each year America spends well over $2 TRILLION dollars on health care .... with only 3% of that $2 Trillion going to public health work (PREVENTION). These numbers are ASTRONOMICAL! Especially, considering that we spend more on health care than any other country, yet we still aren't doing better (in terms of health) than other developed countries.....

Chronic diseases, which many are PREVENTABLE with lifestyle choices, are largely to blame for our high cost of health. In fact the CDC's website states:

"As a nation, 75% of our health care dollars goes to treatment of chronic diseases. These persistent conditions—the nation’s leading causes of death and disability—leave in their wake deaths that could have been prevented, lifelong disability, compromised quality of life, and burgeoning health care costs."

The American Cancer Society reports:

"Each year, about 585,720 Americans die of cancer; around one-third of these deaths are linked to poor diet, physical inactivity, and carrying too much weight."

Additionally, the CDC predicts that by 2050: 1 in 3 U.S. adults will have diabetes!!! In 2007, diabetes alone costed $174 billion in direct and indirect causes! Type 2 Diabetes, which makes up about 90-95% of all cases of Diabetes in America, is PREVENTABLE with lifestyle habits like healthy eating, being physical activity, and maintaining healthy weight.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD), which is the cause of death for about 1 in 4 Americans, has officially become the number one killer for men and women in America. The CDC reports: "CVD costs the United States over $300 billion each year, including the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity." CVD is preventable!!!!

Everyday, I am becoming more convinced that people are wired for temptation, procrastination, and impatience. In America, we expect fast and quick results... immediate gratification for our desires, "needs", and happiness. We spend money foolishly on food because "it tastes good" rather than investing in food that does our body good. We don't see food as fuel and "medicine".... we procrastinate to take care of our health, and we are impatient to see results of our change in lifestyle (eating more whole, real foods or increasing physical activity). We want to see immediate results.... so we invest in expensive, and often times, unhealthy weight loss supplements. OR we "give-up" on trying to live healthy--we just stop. OR we decide that we don't need to worry about chronic diseases now because we are young--- BUT the truth is that chronic disease starts YOUNG. Children develop tastes for foods, they are rewarded with "treats" at sporting events, and grow up believing that they are "invincible" to chronic health diseases----BUT the truth is THEY ARE NOT. Children throughout the United States are being faced with "adult" diseases like diabetes, hypertension..... fatty streaks (from high cholesterol) are building-up in the arteries of young children. I will never forget learning about this in my Intro to Nutrition class 7 years ago..... It's shameful, especially when we have been given so many wonderful and health promoting resources (beautiful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans.....). Eating "foolishly" is costing us more than just our financial resources, however, it's taking away quality years of life that could be spent living to our greatest potential. It's taking away from our quality of work,  and our years to spend with families......our time, feelings, and relationships are invaluable and can not be replaced. Chronic health conditions are often intangible ..... but when you start to believe in PREVENTION and believe that YOU have have control over your health, then things happen....

The beauty is that WE DO KNOW from research that eating whole foods, especially fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans/legumes, nuts and seeds, can help reduce risk of chronic health diseases and lower risk of all-cause mortality. Additionally, eating can TASTE AMAZING and doesn't have to break the bank (see: Oh She Glow's for plant-based recipes and plant-based on a budget). Eating healthy is a rather cheap form of health care that comes with additional benefits (possibly: increasing natural energy, maintaining a healthy weight, increased positive moods....). Being physically active can also be inexpensive and easy! You don't need a gym membership to move your body. Going for a walk, riding bikes, swimming in a lake..... wall sits, push-ups, jumping rope planks, jump squats, yoga moves, sit-ups, taking the stairs.... if you are are reading this, then I am sure you can find a youtube workout video to motivate you! The library also has videos and books for rent. Make physical activity apart of your daily routine.

Don't believe me about prevention and lifestyle!? Then watch this....

And this..

Do I need to explain more? What you eat matters for your health, the health of your family, and the health of your community!

Faith communities can and SHOULD respond to this health crisis in America. Some faith communities are responding to these health issues, which I find really refreshing! (see: Faithful Families, eat smart move more, ).... and I hope that more faith communities will RISE to the challenge to be PROACTIVE, STEWARDS to the Earth, to financial resources, and to all human health.

To paraphrase what my Haitian friend and I had conversed about last month, we can't expect God to save us from our foolishness. We are killing ourselves by ignoring the power of our choice. We must acknowledge our individual and community responsibilities to care for the Earth, our human bodies, as well as non-human life.

Now GO be a good steward--- spend your money wisely, live in prevention, and shine your light!!!!

Read Part Six here.

In good health,

Kristina

kAD
kAD
 

Find me on Twitter: @kristinademuth_RD

or Facebook: Moxie Musing

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Cheeseburgers and The Church (part four)

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Cheeseburgers and The Church (part four)

Cheeseburgers and The Church

We're in a series right now called Cheeseburgers and The Church: the health message. As I (Sarah) look around the faith community I see a few common denominators: obesity, food (a lot of the wrong "food"), unhealthy people and hypocrisy. How can we take care of the souls of the people when we treat our bodies like garbage disposals? Last week was February 27 and it was the End It Movement Shine The Light on Slavery Day. What many in the faith community fail to realize is that the food-like products they are buying are often times produced with slave/child/human trafficking labor. What Cheeseburgers and The Church series is attempting to do is to take a hard look at how we treat our bodies and the purchases we make say a lot more about us than just going to church every Sunday. It's time for the faith community to wake up and start putting their words into action: eating real food, drinking pure (filtered) water, and to stop buying products (Big Food) that keep our fellow citizens entrapped in slavery.

Part One (Introduction to this series by Sarah Stanley)

Part Two (by Kristina DeMuth)

Part Three (by Kristina DeMuth) 

Part Four (by Kristina DeMuth

Part Five (by Kristina DeMuth)

Part Six (by Sarah Stanley)

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Last week, I returned home from a sweet, short trip to Haiti to check-in with the children and the staff I lived and worked with last year. In "Cheeseburgers and The Church (Part Two)" I shared my experience of living in Haiti and making the connection between the Big Food industry and poverty. In this series, I would like to bring the idea of industry down to an individual and organizational level......and share with you some words of wisdom that came from a "health warrior" I met on my last journey.

These are several tweets that I posted that strongly illustrate some of the emotions I felt during my ministry...

  1. "The "white savior" and how our influence of power shapes the developing world."
  2.  " Another child asked me for candy yesterday.... Americans=candy, junk food! That makes me mad and sad." Followed by... "Corn flakes & juice are NOT health foods. Corn flakes= processed GMO, juice= sugar beverage. Wish I could make a public service message." and " What also makes me frustrated about corn flakes is that it's displacing real native cultural foods...."
  3.  "The problem we are now seeing in Haiti w/ illness according to my Haitian friend,"People believe in medicine, they don't believe in food." Followed by "diabetes, hypertension, strokes... Mostly are lifestyle diseases that have been on the rise in developing countries due to westernized diets."
  4.  "I wish more Americans would come to Haiti and try the native foods!!" (Here are a few pictures of the native foods)
  5. "Elders speak wisdom and truth about life. Take time to listen..."
  6.  "I cringe when I see missionaries leaving Haiti (one of the poorest countries in the world) and filling their bodies with processed crap."

Many missionaries, Expats, service volunteers, are all  trying to do the right thing-- serve other people that have a need. The troubling part about our service, however, is that we aren't always aware of how our power of influences shapes the lives of others. We often times come into situations with good intentions, but never think about how those intentions undermine and oftentimes displace traditions, artistry, and rich-culture. I have realized this throughout my experiences in Haiti, specifically with how it relates to food.

It frustrates me when people come to Haiti and have no idea about any of the rich, native foods of the county. They come to do service and developmental projects, and then fill their bodies with SAD (Standard American Diet) food-- pizza, french fries, candy, pop, and meat. They bring treats for the children they visit in orphanages----filling these already malnourished bodies with highly processed, refined foods. In the middle of Cite Soleil, one of the poorest slums in the world, I've had children asked me for a piece of candy. I have had a child cry while I visited a friend's home because I didn't bring a piece of candy! Why are Americans associated with candy? Because that's what Americans are doing...passing out candy, as though life is a carnival. Yes, the candy brings the child a few moments of joy and makes us "feel good" because we've put a smile on his/her face, BUT we don't have to witness the long-term consequences of these actions: the influence we have on cultural eating patterns and the implications it will have on this child's health (many of these same children often don't have dentists, doctors, tooth brushes, or basic sanitation). You may think it's just one piece of candy, but you are just one of millions thinking that it's just one piece of candy. Let me tell you, kids in Haiti are as happy to see fresh fruits (especially the more "rare", native ones) as they are to see sweets and candy! (See: "How to screw up orphan care in the name of Jesus: 8. Feed them a crappy diet.").

The role of influence on health and food extends beyond just the sweets we bring and share and into everyday, cultural staple-foods for these people. To many Westerners, food appears to be just food. BUT food is more than that. Food is about emotion and power, and in many parts of the world, food is also about status and class. Some foods, like edible weeds and native grains, become "food for the poor" though the nutritional value of many of these foods are critical for optimal health and food security for many people around the world. Undermining these health promoting and rich native foods during our times of service, does long-term damage to the people and the cultures we are trying to help (See these research articles on food security and developmental work) including deadly consequences. I am sadden to hear stories from my good, Haitian friends about their parents suffering with lifestyle diseases (or dying from them)  (See my blog "Education is Power").

Strokes, diabetes, hypertension... many of these are preventable by eating whole, real foods and being physically active. Coke, refined-grains, cheap meats, candy, corn flakes, cheetos.... they are all "foreign" foods that are "more palatable" and brought in by foreigners and, consequently, displacing native, whole-some foods (see my blog "Musing on Food-aid Again"). I kid you not, some children are eating only cheetos and juice for dinner, and (in the case that I am aware of) it wasn't because there was a lack of food available. Where did people get the idea that cheetos were an acceptable meal for children? Perhaps it was the Americans? Maybe it was the health professionals in America that have ties with food industry?

Chiritos
Chiritos
 

While doing "service" on one-hand, many people are also doing "dis-services" on the other.. not just to themselves, but also to the people they are trying to serve. We are blinded by how our poor eating patterns are harming the health of others, and how our moments of joy are doing long-term damage. We think of it as "just food" or we think that we are the experts about food because we have had our own personal relationship with food. I am not out to play the blame-game. I used to be in the same shoes as every other missionary/ volunteer.... I used to eat the highly processed foods with chemicals and ingredients I couldn't pronounce.. but then I became educated and now try to be more conscientious about the foods I put in my own body, share with others (and allow them to put in their bodies), and the how the my own food choices impact a much larger, sometimes intangible system.

You, personally, may not be involved with mission-related work in a foreign country, but we have a nutrition-crises here in the United States that needs to be addressed. In many places across the country, children are being fed carnival food at school-- they are being fed cheap, processed, an fried foods that are not health promoting. The meat we are producing is destroying the environment, our health, and increasing antibiotic resistance. It's been reported that over 23000 Americans die of superbugs per year...that 30 million pounds of antibiotics are being used to raise animals for human consumption (only 7.7 million pounds of antibiotics are used in hospitals) ....and 80% of these antibiotics are being used as "preventative mechanisms"....Our cheap meat and our cheap "snack" foods are REALLY EXPENSIVE FOODS with the increase in healthcare costs and the loss of human lives!!!! Our current food system is abusive to the workers producing our food (exposing them to toxic chemicals), the environment (depleting the soil, and polluting our air and water) , the animals (factory farming---thousands of animals crammed into cages and living in their feces), and our own health (see TEDxManhattan and "Antibiotic Resistance and the Food Supply").

Many churches throughout the United States have fundraisers and weekly/ monthly fellowships that serve processed juices, conventional cows milk, donuts, pizzas, pancake-breakfasts, grill-outs, spaghetti dinners, and fish frys.... some churches may even serve meals at homeless shelters, pack-food for foreign countries, collect canned goods for food shelves. How can we turn all of these church functioning, fundraisers, and services into events that honor HEALTH--- honor the body as a human temple and the food that we put into it as medicine? How can we offer more health promoting food choices (e.g. fruits and vegetables) and less processed, refined food options (e.g. chips, white bread, cheap meat)? Can churches promote more meatless options to cutdown on the environmental constraints and the production of "cheap meat"?? How can we learn more about the cultural-food practices in countries that we are packing food for? Are there options for locally sourced food-aid that we can put our money to instead? How do our food choices at volunteer events and church functions contradict the faith messages about stewardship to our Earth, to our bodies, and to others?

In closing, I would like to leave you with this message a Haitian "health warrior" shared with me about health, nutrition, and the bible. This is an excerpt from my blog:  "In regards to foolishness, the Haitian man again shared with me a message from the bible about the eyes, the ears, and the mouth. We have been given all of these things to see good, hear good, and speak good…. but in today’s world, people are interested in foolishness. They aren’t interested in doing what is good for their bodies. They may listen, they may speak, they may see…. but they do not act on wisdom. They act on foolishness."... Further reflecting on foolishness, the Haitian man said, “People believe God made everything for humans to eat. They pray over it and think it is blessed. They think it will do no harm to their bodies….. but I don’t think so.”We must stop acting as though our Creator is going to save us from what humans have done to destroy our global food supply. It is foolish to think that we have no control in our food choices or how we construct/ develop food environments for  both others and ourselves.

kAD
kAD
 

In good health,

Kristina

Find me on Twitter: @kristinademuth_RD  or Facebook: Moxie Musing and learn more about my work in Haiti at For I was Hungry

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Cheeseburgers and The Church (part three)

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Cheeseburgers and The Church (part three)

Cheeseburgers and The Church

We're in a series right now called Cheeseburgers and The Church: the health message. If you missed part one and part two be sure to read them and find out why this series is being written!

Today Kristina writes on stewardship and how it impacts the faith community and how we eat.

Stewardship. It's the one word that resonates with me when I think about the challenges our world is facing with natural resources (food, land, water). Failing to be good stewards to the Earth has created astronomical repercussions that are not necessarily visible to the human eye on a day-to-day basis. The lack of stewardship to our Earth and it’s resources are destroying not just our vital ecosystems, but also the dignity and wellbeing of human beings.

First, let's cover the basics. What is stewardship? The Oxford University Press 2013 Dictionary says this: Steward: (verb) to manage or look after (another's property).

As a steward, we take ACTIONto look after someone or something; to attend to its’ needs, to care for it, and to respect it as if it were the property of an honorary guest.

For Christians, the idea of stewardship is presented in the first chapter of the Bible, Genesis. God created the Earth and all of the creatures that inhabit the Earth...and as the story goes, they were all good. God appointed the man and the woman to have dominion over the Earth and all of the creatures that were created; in other words, God gave the man and the woman the responsibility to care for creation.

This idea of stewardship extends beyond just Christian theology. It presents itself in other religions, as well, through the use of nature and humans (see Pyari 2011).  We see stewardship even extend beyond religion and into cultural practices in the way that groups of people socialize and communicate. The golden rule: “treat others the way you would want to be treated” is one of the actions of stewardship in the context of relationships.

The idea of stewardship is present in doctrines of world religions, and it is inscribed in many cultural rituals and social interactions (see Pyari 2011).

Ultimately....

"Whatever we do to the earth, we do to ourselves."

- Chief Seattle

So  just how does this idea of stewardship fit within the context of food-systems, nutrition, and humans? Simple.

The food-system greatly impacts the many different ecosystems that inhabit the earth. The way in which we choose to use the soil and the land, as well as the way we raise animals impacts the health of all the creatures that are apart of this global ecosystem.

Look all over the internet, we are continually seeing news about factory farming and its destruction to the environment, its cruel treatment to animals, and its encouragement of monocrop systems and GMO. There are articles flooding the internet and research about over-fishing, loss of native species, and the rapid rise of global warming.... and its impact on human and non-human life.

We are destroying the planet with our food choices. We are failing to practice stewardship to the animals, the soil, to human and non-human existence. We are taking resources from the Earth faster than we are returning them and protecting them. As we continue to industrialize, we loose touch with the natural world. We disconnect with the environment and instead "buy-in" to consumerism... marketing, social-status, idols. It's about money and business, not about stewardship. We are taught to consume, not to protect.

The land and food environment has become a "Carsinogenic" stew, as Derrick Jensen describes in his book "Endgame." We are filling the Earth with chemicals, we are exploiting our bodies by filling them with chemicals.... and our bodies and the environment are responding in repulsive ways. We have failed to be good stewards.

We must acknowledge the environment when we consider our food choices-- something that is not apparent to us when we make purchases at the grocery store. "Natural" doesn't always mean "good for the Earth."... "humanly raised" does not mean "good for the animals".... these are labels, "green-washing", marketing claims to increase consumerism, to increase the profit of the rich, but not necessarily the profit of our global ecosystem. Participating in these systems (knowingly or unknowingly) is not being a good steward to the Earth, as well as to human and non-human life.

The 14th premises Jensen makes in "Endgame" is this:

"From birth on—and probably from conception, but I’m not sure how I’d make the case—we are individually and collectively enculturated to hate life, hate the natural world, hate the wild, hate wild animals, hate women, hate children, hate our bodies, hate and fear our emotions, hate ourselves. If we did not hate the world, we could not allow it to be destroyed before our eyes. If we did not hate ourselves, we could not allow our homes—and our bodies—to be poisoned."

We no longer have a healthy relationship with our food. We give thanks for the flesh and the plants that we eat, assuming that the blessings will provide us with good health and nourishment, but we do not act. Stewardship is a verb. It is an action. We have been called, as people of faith, to take action to protect these resources, to protect both human and non-human life, and to protect the bodies we have been given.

I am calling on faith communities, no matter your religious beliefs, to respond to our environmental crisis. To take action towards being and preaching the word of STEWARDSHIP. To live out stewardship in everyday life.

Things to consider:

- It's estimated that 64% of fisheries have been "overexploited", especially in communities where many poor people rely on the fish for their own nourishment.

- 70% of the Amazon has been destroyed for factory farming and animal feed

- In Comfortably Unaware, Dr. Oppenlander references an FAO report that states 30% of all landmass is used for livestock production and 33% of agricultural land is used for GMO crops for animal feed. Additionally, we are raising more food for animals (for human consumption) than we are for humans.... and we are producing animals for human consumption at rates that are higher than considered natural. How is this healthy for our bodies and our planet? How is this stewardship?

- Deforestation for industry (monocrops, factory farms, textiles) depletes the soil of vital nutrients, impacts the quality of our air, destroys the ecosystem of the creatures that rely on the trees for survival.

- Processing foods requires energy, increases pollution (e.g. byproduct wastes like the acid whey from Greek Yogurt), and stimulate material wastes (e.g. packaging).

-CO2 and methane production from livestock is increasing climate change

-Climate change increases the core temperature of the Earth, which impacts weather systems (e.g. dramatic fluctuations of droughts and floods) that in-turn impacts the global food supply.... which will further impact the livelihood of human and non-human existence.

-Climate change is expected, and already is, impacting the lives of the world's most vulnerable people. Where resources are already scarce and poverty AND malnutrition are prevalent, climate change has its' greatest impacts. In addition to increasing vulnerability to food security, bacterial related diseases will continue to rise... further increasing the rise of malnutrition and (preventable) deaths.

-"Americans die each month from toxins and other workplace hazards,and more Americans die each week from preventable cancers that are for the most part direct results of the activities of large corporations, and certainly the results of the industrial economy." - Jensen

- How are we protecting non-human life when we place animals in cages and exploit them for human consumption? How is this system by any means natural? In Christianity, humans are called to have "dominion" (meaning control or governance) over non-human life but how is our "governance" lacking "stewardship" and responsibility, compassion, and care?

In good health,

Kristina

kAD
kAD
 

Find me on Twitter: @kristinademuth_RD  or Facebook: Moxie Musing.

Learn more about my work in Haiti at For I was Hungry

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Cheeseburgers and The Church (Part Two)

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Cheeseburgers and The Church (Part Two)

Cheeseburgers and The Church

We launched a new series last week called Cheeseburgers and The Church: the health message. If you missed the introduction article, be sure to read it!  Today is part two and is written by Kristina DeMuth.

Big Food and the faith communities. 

How can the two possibly be connected?

I asked myself the same thing a year ago… and that’s when my life changed.

It was last year at this time that I was living and volunteering as a dietitian in Haiti. Like many low resource areas of the world, Haiti has vast environmental constraints (e.g. deforestation), and extreme cases of poverty and malnutrition. During my time in Haiti, I was working with a small community just outside of Port-au-prince (the capital) to help enhance micronutrient intake of the children by utilizing native foods and increasing diet diversity.

american rice
american rice
 

Many places I traveled throughout the city, I would see signs for sugar-sweetened beverages (e.g. COKE and 7-up). Corner stores and vendors filled with highly processed, imported foods (e.g. candy, chips). I would find myself picking up wrappers and containers around our community and reading the ingredient labels the best I could—artificial dyes, added sugars, trans fat, and chemicals I have never heard of. Many of these products coming from America and other wealthier countries. Unfortunately, it was easier to find a bottle of pop than fresh water. Processed foods were made highly available compared to the local, fresh produce (that I greatly enjoyed and preferred).

Tampico
Tampico
 

Being bombarded with advertisement and sales of processed, imported junk and American white rice was incredibly heartbreak especially when all things considered--- malnutrition is prominent in this country, many people don’t have basic health care, and people are poor without much money to spare. When money is spent on these foods with the little money that they do have, it is ultimately going back to Big Food business in a “developed” country rather than into the hands of the local, small farmers (who are some of the poorest people in the world!!!).

When I returned from Haiti, I started doing more research and investigating the role politics plays in our global food supplies. It was never a concept that had been important to me before. Because really, how could MY food choices in the United States be impacting the lives of people in other countries?

I was in disbelief.

I picked- up a few resources-- "Uncomfortably Unaware" by Richard Oppenlander,  "Food Politics" by Marion Nestle, and “Out of Poverty” by Paul Polak. I also stumbled upon Food Empowerment Project and learned about the work Oxfam was doing with their “Behind the Brands” campaign. ....AND IT HIT ME.

Food is about power. It’s about an unequal distribution of resources. It’s about politics. Yes, it is about nutrition… but more than anything food is about systems and power.

change bar
change bar
 

The Hershey chocolate bar, the cereal in the cupboard, the Coke/Pepsi/ Evian waterin the fridge... all of these products are apart of a system MUCH larger than made visible at the cash register.

In many of the poorest areas of the world, Big Food companies have brought their industry. As my mother always reminds me, assume positive intent of people. I am sure, like many people, Big Food saw these as opportunities to bring business to other countries and provide jobs. BUT what we know from research and advocate groups is that these, perhaps, good intentions are DESTROYING cultural groups and systems.

Women and children being enslaved--- being paid unjust wages with poor working conditions. Farmers are being forced off their land to grow monocrops (e.g. planting just sugar cane) rather than food for their families. Deforestation and environmental issues are only exacerbated from the destruction of forest for farming purposes. For example, cattle ranching has contributed to 70% destruction of the Amazon rainforest (Americans have been huge consumers of this beef). The destruction of the forest not only destroyed vital eco-systems, but it further has displaced over 90 native tribes of PEOPLE (Facts from Uncomfortably Unaware).

Imagine for just a second that someone decided to destroy your home, your neighborhood, and the sacred place where your ancestors lived? Or perhaps that you were a young child SOLD to the chocolate industry, unable to go to school, never able to see your family, paid very little and maybe even WHIPPED for not working fast enough (More on the Chocolate Industry, and My post here).

“When people eat chocolate, they are eating my flesh” – Lauren Ornelas's Tedtalk 

Human slavery exists in the 21st century. Poor people, women, and children around the world are working to make the wealthier people “luxurious” foods…. (and sometimes these foods are even being marketed back to the people who are enslaved making them....).

As a faith community, how can we sit back and pretend that human slavery in the 21st century isn’t happening? How can we ignore the fact that our precious earned American dollars ARE SUPPORTING HUMAN SLAVERY, HUMAN POVERTY, AND DESTRUCTION OF CULTURAL GROUPS when we continue to purchase products made from Big Food industries that aren’t working to address these issues. As my friends and I always say, “VOTE WITH YOUR MONEY.” … and raise your voice.

For how much money these companies spend MARKETING their products to you, they could be working to really improve the conditions for which many of these poor people live. Working to enhance ecosystems and communities rather than destroying them.

If I am not mistaken, the only time Americans (generally speaking) stop to think about the lives of people in low resource areas of the world is when they hear about disasters on the news, or when major famine and war plague a country. People react and send their money, pack food at hunger relief organizations… and then they carry on with their daily lives. Occasionally, praying for those living in poverty and praying for world peace. And then the typical American wakes-up in the morning, eats a bowl of Frosted Flakes or Cheerios, drinks milk from conventional cows, eats a few Pringles, Oreos, and a pepsi for lunch, has a Snickerbars for a snack, eats a big steak for dinner, and polishes of the day with a little Ben & Jerry’s (more on Behind the Brands here, more on factory farming here). Again, prayers are said, money is sent to a relief organization… and people continue on with their lives WITHOUT ever thinking that their food purchases and the companies that produced their food has contributed to the cycle of poverty and the destruction of human dignity...  for the very same people that are only thought about when their stories make headlines because of tragic deaths and natural phenomenons.

Honey Nut Cheerios

Honey Nut Cheerios

 

While we sit and dine in “luxury”, we support human slavery.   We support the destruction of ecosystems, climate change, and poverty.

We are just comfortably unaware.

AND that’s a slap in the face.

 So what can we do about it?

Learning about these issues has impacted me both professionally and personally. I've worked along side people in Haiti-- I have seen extreme poverty. I have smelt  poverty. I have touched poverty. I care passionately about people in poverty. AND since I care about these issues, it has helped me to want to better understand how MY OWN personal food choices impact larger systems and lives... CHANGING THE WAY I EAT (because this happens on a daily basis) MAY POTENTIALLY HAVE BIGGER IMPLICATIONS FOR THOSE LIVING IN POVERTY THAN SENDING RELEF MONEY OR SIMPLY JUST SAYING PRAYERS.

Fair Trade Certified

Fair Trade Certified

I am continually working to find better products for my own consumption (e.g. fairtrade, local farmers markets), educating myself about food politics, food systems, climate change....and inspiring others to (hopefully) do as well. Because at the end of the day, OUR CHOICES MATTER. We can either sit back and allow these things (e.g. child slavery, landgrabs) to happen, or we can do something about it (e.g. boycott--aka vote with your money, petition/ protest, demand fairtrade).

AND ultimately, we can turn PRAYERS into ACTION.

In good health,

Kristina

kAD
kAD
 

Find me on Twitter: @kristinademuth_RD  or Facebook: Moxie Musing.

Learn more about my work in Haiti at For I was Hungry

Updated articles in this series:

Part Three (by Kristina DeMuth) 

Part Four (by Kristina DeMuth

Part Five (by Kristina DeMuth)

Part Six (by Sarah Stanley)

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