Eating outside the “Box”

After Hurricane Harvey, my household grew by seven–my daughter, son-in-law, three grandkids, and two granddogs.  My husband and I are thankful that we have a dry house where they can stay as they recover from the five feet of water that destroyed their apartment.

School has resumed, and my beautiful grandchildren are up at 6:30 a.m. and out the door shortly after 7:00.  Like so many families, mornings don’t allow much time for breakfast, and convenience foods like toaster pastries and granola bars are easy to grab and eat on the go.  These foods are mostly simple sugars, with insignificant amounts of protein and healthy fat, which are needed to give strength and sustained energy for learning, playing, and growing bodies and minds.

When I quiz them about what they have for school lunches, so far it’s been cheeseburgers, pizza, potatoes, etc.  One of my grandson’s classmates felt sorry for him since he lost his home, so he gave him a Honeybun.  That was a thoughtful act of kindness, but you can see that there’s no shortage of refined carbohydrates available to our children.

My mission as grandma and nutritionist is to find creative ways (outside the “box”) to get nutrients into their bodies so they’ll have the fuel they need to meet academic, physical, and social challenges.  It starts with me being present in the kitchen and dialoguing with them about how food affects their brain and body.  We talk about eating outside the “box”.

I appealed to my 12-year-old grandson by telling him that he needs protein to build muscle.  I offered him a snack bag filled with a handful of raw cashews to put in his back pack.  I cooked some organic frozen corn in a little olive oil and organic butter, and he ate a bowlful for breakfast.  This was eating outside the “box” for him.

My other grandson and granddaughter wanted frozen waffles topped with pure maple syrup and hemp seeds (we call them sprinkles).  The hemp seeds add protein and healthy fats, which the brain needs to function at its best.  My granddaughter took raw cashews (good source of calcium) in her snack bag, and my grandson took raw sunflower seeds (good source of vitamin E).

Two of my three grandkids drank some chlorophyll water (we call it leprechaun juice because it’s green).  Chlorophyll is what makes leaves green.  It helps increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.  We use one from Nature’s Sunshine that’s made from alfalfa and contains spearmint oil, which is a natural remedy for indigestion and bloating.  I mix about one teaspoonful into eight ounces of water.

I remind them to drink water in the mornings to hydrate their brains so they’ll be ready to think.  We do a little math to explain the average amount they need to drink each day.  They divide their weight by two to get the number of ounces of water.  Since they often consume water in bottles, we decide how many they need to drink to meet their daily requirement.

I asked one of my grandsons if he would eat dragons’ tails (green beans) or broccoli for breakfast.  He said yes!  I told him that was eating outside the “box”.  Guess what I’m going to serve in the morning?

My grandchildren are helping me experiment with different “energy bar” recipes.  The first one I tried was the consistency of sticky cookie dough, which they enjoyed as an after-school snack and again this morning.  I mixed almond flour (a handful of ground almonds) with collagen powder (protein), raw honey, unsweetened applesauce, coconut flour, vanilla, unsweetened peanut butter, and dairy-free chocolate chips.  They were a hit!

I also try to use meal time to teach them to read ingredients on packaged foods and drinks.  Little by little, we must teach our children to learn to be healthy.  It’s foundational to their success!

Come on over to the Learning to be Healthy Facebook Group and share some healthy breakfast and snack tips or a favorite energy bar recipe!

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

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This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need.  Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

 

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Love Your Liver May 17 Challenge!

My grandson, Levi, was born with a diseased liver and had a transplant before he was one year old.  We remember that day, May 17, with prayers of gratitude, along with prayers for the donor family who lost their loved one.  Without a liver transplant, our precious 6 1/2-year-old Levi would not be alive today.

The liver is the largest and hardest working organ in the body.  It must filter and cleanse the bloodstream of toxins, which protects the immune system from overload.  Many people who have auto-immune conditions may have an underlying liver problem.  Reducing the liver’s workload can strengthen the immune system, helping to reduce allergic reactions and digestive problems.

The liver is also a major fat-burning organ.  It helps to regulate the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, making it important for weight loss.

Some signs that may indicate that your liver needs to be strengthened and cleansed include:

Inability to lose weight

Belly fat and/or abdominal bloating

Fatty liver

Gall bladder problems

High blood cholesterol and/or triglycerides

Hemorrhoids/constipation

Easily overheated

Skin problems like rashes or brown spots (“liver spots”)

Bad breath and/or coated tongue

Dark circles under eyes and/or red, itchy eyes

Allergies and/or other immune problems

Advanced signs include yellowing of eyes and skin (jaundice)

Some factors that can influence liver health include:

A diet high in refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats, which can lead to a fatty liver

A diet deficient in fresh and raw fruits and vegetables

Toxic food and beverage additives

Alcohol and/or drug abuse

Side effects from prescription drugs

Viruses like hepatitis A, B, and C

Auto-immune disorders (chronic inflammation)

Negative stress and emotions

On May 17, in honor of Levi’s liver transplant, I challenge you to love your liver by choosing foods to help support and cleanse it.  The following list includes foods to help you get started:

Dandelion leaves

Spinach

Parsley

Garlic

Cruciferous vegetables:  cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, horseradish, mustard greens, radish

Apples/apple cider vinegar

Lemons

Beetroot

Carrots

Grapefruit

Artichokes

Fennel

An added bonus is that these foods can help stimulate the liver to burn fat, making them beneficial for weight loss and cases of fatty liver.

Choose at least one fruit and one vegetable from the above list to include in your diet on May 17.  Afterwards, make a plan to add something from this list to your daily diet.  Don’t get in a rut by eating the same foods every day.  Variety is key to a nutrient-dense diet.

Some supplements that may improve liver function include milk thistle, dandelion leaf and root, beetroot, artichoke, turmeric, and lecithin.  Ginger contains lecithin and is anti-inflammatory.

You can find many of these supplements in tea form.  Be sure to choose organic to keep from introducing additional toxins for your liver to filter.

Nature’s Sunshine makes a supplement called LIV-J that contains dandelion leaves, horseradish, beetroot, parsley, fennel, and other herbs to help nourish and cleanse the liver.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need.  Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

A healthy brain is made of healthy fats!

A healthy brain is key to making healthy choices.  The brain needs good blood flow, and inflammation can decrease blood flow and increase the risk of disease, including memory loss and dementia.  Diet plays a key role in reducing or increasing inflammation.

Healthy fats build healthy brains.  Our brains are 60% fat.  Bad fats increase “brainflammation,” and good fats decrease “brainflammation”.  Inflammatory fats cause plaque to be formed in our arteries, decreasing blood flow to the brain.  Plaque can also form in the brain as a result of inflammation.  This can set the stage for memory loss, anxiety, depression, ADD, etc.

Many studies show the benefit of a diet rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, including a decreased risk of dementia, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and memory loss.  Those with ADD and depression are often found to have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids.  Conversely, diets rich in these healthy fats tend to improve mood and emotional well being.

Eating one or two servings of wild-caught fish per week can help improve your omega-3 levels.  Farm-raised fish contain less omega-3 fats than wild-caught.  You might also consider taking a fish oil supplement that is certified mercury free.

Other sources of foods rich in omega-3 fats include flax seeds, flax oil, walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, chia and hemp seeds, egg yolks (from pastured chickens), avocados, spinach, winter squash, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, and organic edamame (soybeans).  Add a handful of raw nuts and seeds to your daily diet, and eat two or more servings of vegetables at each meal.

The worst inflammatory fats are man-made fats known as “trans-fats”.  These include “hydrogenated” and partially-hydrogenated” oils, margarine, shortening, and even refined vegetable oils that have been overly processed.  These are the kinds of fats found in most packaged foods and used in fast-food restaurants.  Always read the ingredients, because a product can contain up to half a gram of trans-fat and legally claim to have no trans-fat.  It all adds up!

Omega-6 fatty acids can increase inflammation.  The American diet is loaded with omega-6 foods.  Corn oil, safflower oil, and soybean oil all contain omega-6 fatty acids and are found in most packaged foods like chips, crackers, baked goods, and frozen foods.  Animal protein also contains omega-6 fats.  Eat twice as many vegetables as meat to help reduce inflammation.  Replace unhealthy fats with healthy ones.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com                                                                                                             (Free download: 10 Simple Steps to a Leaner, Healthier You!)

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www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com (Nature’s Sunshine)

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.