Whether you are transitioning to a plant-based diet or are simply wanting to make more healthful, mindful food choices, nothing can cause sabotage quite like a social gathering. It can be a toxic combination of food, drink and social pressures that tend to create the perfect storm for derailing our efforts and throwing it all out the window in the heat of the moment. It's helpful to remember why we go to these events. To enjoy the comradery or the coming together in the spirit of a good game, to have meaningful conversation and catch up with friends or colleagues, to witness the love shared at a wedding or celebrate family during the holidays. Wouldn’t it be nice to do all that without being distracted by the food?
Tips for Staying Plant-based at Social Gatherings
1. Make a RULE for Yourself:
Decide ahead of time what you are not going to eat at the event. That way when the tray comes around, your automatic response is “No thank you.” The decision has already been made and you’re not caught off guard, left to wrestle with yourself over whether you should have that one piece of cheese or not. (By the way it will never end up being just one piece. How will you feel on the other side of this slip?) Some examples of a rule might be: I do not eat cheese., I do not eat fried foods., I do not eat dips made with dairy. I do not eat chips…..see what I mean? Just pick one or two rules around a trigger food that you know will save you the most sabotage.
2. Don’t Stand By the Food:
How often are we engaging in conversation with people, yet the nearby food table is seducing us to refill our plates? Fill a small plate and get the hell outta dodge. Standing by the food table is simply putting yourself through some useless resistance training that, if you’re new to these changes, will likely inhibit your success. Find someone to talk with, elsewhere or go outside for some fresh air to take a break until you’re feeling stronger. This last one also applies when you're seated next to that special someone whose political position is wearing out your last nerve. Just sayin'.
3. Bring Your Own Food:
This tip applies to informal parties and gatherings. Check with the host, if it’s appropriate, to give him or her a heads up that you’d like to bring a dish or two to pass. They will most likely be relieved to know they will not need to prepare something special for you. Some good examples of appetizers would be Cowboy Caviar, fresh salsa & chips or guacamole,
7 Layer Dip, vegan artichoke spinach dip, veggie or fruit tray...whatever it is you like to munch on, be sure to bring it! Chances are it will blend in with everything else on the table and everyone can enjoy.
4. Limit the Alcohol:
I know, sometimes we drink just to get through these things. The problem is that the calories add up. Drinking alcohol loosens our inhibitions and impairs our judgement, enabling us to throw all our goals out the window for the time being. Even worse, when we are eating and drinking, our bodies use alcohol for fuel or energy FIRST, storing our food as fat to maybe or maybe not get to later. Try setting a 2 drink limit for yourself or better yet see if you can navigate this thing without a buzz. Chances are your discussions will be more meaningful and you’ll wake up feeling empowered and energized -sans the hangover- the next morning.
BONUS TIP: Phone a friend.
Or text. Or DM or PM, I don't care if you use ESP to reach out to someone who will support and help you stay accountable. It might look something like this..."HELP! I'm funneling the entire cheese tray into my jacket pockets!!" Just typing or saying it out loud should wake you out of your stupor...you'll put the cheese back on the tray and return to business as usual.
You've got this!!
PS. We make great accountability partners in our Vedging Out community! Join our supported plant-based online members-only family where streamline the meal making process for you with seasonal weekly meal plans using everyday ingredients! Try it FREE for a week!
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Everything you put into your body will either be used as fuel or sent as waste. When it is sent as waste it will have to go through a detoxification process, which harms your body in many ways. Ideally, everything that enters your body will be used as fuel to power your body to optimal health. Ann Wigmore said it best, “The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” Choose wisely. No worries, I am here to help! Here are 5 foods that are so incredibly powerful at not only fueling your body, but also at healing it.
I’m sure if you are here reading this you have heard of turmeric. Turmeric is a root herb that looks very similar to ginger root except the inside is a deep orange color. Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for ages and for good reason. Turmeric is a powerful herb. Promoting benefits like anti-inflammatory, natural painkiller, potent antioxidant, protects DNA from damage, metal detoxification, improves digestion and stomach health, treats depression, treats epilepsy and seizures, improves gums and tooth health, relieves cough, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, improves thyroid health, kills cancer cells, boosts immunity and longevity, and more!
Wow! It seems almost impossible that one thing can do so much, but that is the power of food. It can be harnessed in small doses with no bad side effects unlike prescription medications.
Basil is a powerful herb. It promises anti-inflammatory properties just like turmeric. It blocks the activity of the inflammatory enzyme COX just like over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen and aspirin. Basil is also high in Vitamin A, which helps reduce blood cholesterol reducing the hardening of arteries. Basil is also anti-bacterial.
Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable containing the compounding sulforaphane. This is potent compound found to kill cancer cells. “Similar to broccoli, cauliflower contains glucosinolates and thiocyanates, such as sulforaphane, which can help liver enzymes eliminate carcinogens and prevent cancers, including ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, rectal cancer, lung cancer, endometrial cancer, stomach cancer, breast cancer, and bladder cancer.”* The compounds and vitamins in cauliflower can also be helpful in heart health, reversing blood vessel damage. Cauliflower also contains fiber and anti-inflammatory compounds that promote good digestion.
Garlic is one of the oldest forms of medicine on the planet. Garlic contains the compound allicin. Allicin is known for its powerful health promoting benefits like lipid lowering, anticlotting, antihypertensive, antioxidant and antimicrobial. Can you see why it has been used as medicine for centuries?!
Walnuts are the king of nuts. If you don’t care which nut you are eating, go for walnuts! They contain the highest amounts of Omega-3s and are loaded with antioxidants. Omega 3’s are great for mood regulation as they facilitate the “feel-good” hormone’s, dopamine, release in and out of cells. AND walnuts may also help you stay trim. In evidence based studies, those who ate one serving of walnuts a day has slimmer waists than those who didn’t even when controlling for calories.
These are foods that are probably already in your diet, so why not add a few more servings each week. When we eat to live, we fill our bodies with fuel that our bodies need to live a healthy life. Will you choose to eat to live or live to eat? If you need someone to guide you in your journey, we are here to help! Come join us in our Vedging Out Online Plant Based Community!
Peace, Love, Plants,
I love this time of year. I guess I’m more of a -between seasons- kind of gal. I love the cool air of the mornings that gives way to those bright blue skies and sunny September days. We are gathering fresh apples, pears and the rest of what our gardens have to offer. September seems to bring a sense of nurture and comfort. Canning fruits and vegetables, simmering stovetop soups, warming by the fire, breathing in that sweet crisp air as we prepare for the dormancy of winter.
I think that’s why I love this time of year. It’s the anticipation, or the getting ready, for a long winter’s nap.
I love a good nap.
Last year at this time, I came home to find two ugly pumpkins on my porch. Not really ugly, but something was definitely wrong with them. They were the darkest green, almost black and a little rough in texture. I immediately called my friend, who is famous for anonymously leaving little treasures at my door without explanation. She hadn’t left them, nor did she recognize what they were by the picture I’d sent. Not having the wear-with-all to investigate further, I ended up using them for decoration.
Now I could kick myself. Kabocha squash. They seem to be all the rage and I’m seeing them everywhere I go. Kabocha is a Japanese variety of winter squash. If butternut squash and sweet potato had a baby, it would be Kabocha. And in my humble and ignorant opinion, I believe this is the superior winter squash, with their rich flavor and sweetness and moist, fluffy (not watery like acorn squash) texture.
I hope my anonymous donor will be so generous again this year.
So, in my latest Kabocha obsession, I've set out to eat them every which way. I love a good squash or pumpkin soup. Then again, I tend to love the idea of it, but the dairy-free squash soups I prepare never seem to quite measure up to what I had in mind. Until now.
Here is a heart healthy oil-free version of a recipe from Dolly and Oatmeal and is perfect for substituting any winter squash as long as you’re compensating for size and adjusting the ingredients from there. Also, for practical purposes, you can substitute 1 sweet onion for leeks, fennel seeds or celery for the fennel and ground ginger for fresh.
Shopping and Storing Tips: The Kabocha rind should be firm and have a dull sheen with no soft spots. The light-colored bumps on the dark green rind are normal. Kabocha squash is usually available late summer to early fall and can be stored like other winter squashed in a cool, dry place for up to a month.
1 kabocha squash (substitute butternut or acorn)
1 large leek, sliced or 1 sweet onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small fennel bulb, cored and sliced or 1/2 tsp fennel seeds or 3 stalks celery, diced
¾ inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped or 1/8-1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp oregano, dry or 2 tsp fresh
1 bay leaf
5 cups vegetable broth, low sodium or water
½ tsp salt
Black pepper, ground
1 cup Spicy Coconut Cream recipe (see recipe below)
1 ½ tsp fresh lemon juice
Agave nectar or maple syrup, to taste, optional
Spicy Coconut Cream Recipe:
1 can light coconut milk
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt
⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
To make Spicy Coconut Cream: Whisk coconut milk, lemon juice, salt and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
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Our thyroid is part of our endocrine system. The endocrine system is responsible for producing the hormones in the body that carry out important bodily functions. The thyroid regulates everything from our mood, our weight, our body temperature, metabolism, and even digestion. It is essential to health in the human body and constantly changing and adapting to the environment we impose upon it. “It acts as a modulator but is also very susceptible to our actions and as a result, it can become out of balance quickly.”*
It’s estimated the 30 million people suffer from thyroid issues like hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid, and hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid. Hypothyroidism is most common, usually occurring in women causing weight gain, depression, anxiety, slow metabolism, digestive disorders, joint pain, headaches and more. “It often leads to autoimmune disease disorders known as Hashimoto’s and Graves disease due to the way the thyroid affects all major parts of the body.”*
The reasons for these thyroid problems can be hard to pinpoint as the thyroid is very sensitive to changes in the body and these changes can quickly cause an imbalance. We do know that these things have a direct impact on thyroid imbalance: a poor diet, too much or too little exercise, consistent stress, trauma, a food allergy, lack of rest, metabolic disorders, other hormone disorders, medication and birth control pills, and so many other things.
One of the main nutrient needed by thyroid is iodine; although, too much iodine will cause hypothyroidism. Assuming taking a supplement will supply you with necessary iodine, is not a good solution. Fish contain iodine; however, they are not a healthy source. Fish have high amounts of mercury and other pollutants making them an unsafe food. We can go directly to the source where fish get there iodine: blue green algae. Blue green algae are excellent sources of iodine and omega’s. In conjunction with a well-balanced diet a person would be able to get proper amounts of iodine. Another good source of iodine is unrefined pink sea salt “from the earth and also contains other alkaline minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and sodium your metabolism needs to function at its best. Too little quality sodium and too much refined sodium can lead to blood pressure problems, metabolic disorders, and also thyroid disorders. Skip iodized (highly refined) processed salts and use real salt from the earth instead.”*
B vitamins are essential to optimal health assisting in metabolism, energy, digestion, mood health and thyroid health. B vitamins are found abundantly in plant foods, with one exception. Vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria found in dirt and soil. In our germ-obsessed society we are not exposed those bacteria and the vitamin B12; therefore, we need to supplement. Find a quality B12 supplement, preferably a liquid form that can be absorbed quickly and efficiently. You can find some here.
The essential vitamin is produced by our bodies when exposed to sunlight on bare skin. The problem is that most people don’t spend enough time outdoors or live in a part of the world where the sun does not offer enough exposure to allow for proper Vitamin D production. Supplementation is important for most people and especially those suffering from a thyroid condition. “Vitamin D acts as a hormone in the body; it plays a part in your mood, digestive, bone, blood, heart, and thyroid health. A shortage of vitamin D can lead to bone loss, digestion problems, depression or just general sadness, and fatigue.”* Fortified foods do not offer the best source of Vitamin D as most are fortified with D2 and the best source is Vitamin D3. Be sure to choose a D3 supplement that is plant-based (some are made with sheep lanolin). Here is a quality Vitamin D3 supplement.
This nutrient is great for skin and hair, but also boosts health promoting benefits like boosts the immune system, promotes prostate health, increases fertility, boosts metabolism and protects the thyroid. “It’s primarily found and stored in the thyroid gland where it’s used to assist with the enzymatic breakdown of the thyroid hormones so they can be used by their body.”* This nutrient is super easy to obtain with just one brazil nut a day, which contains 100% of your daily needs! The great part about these nuts is that they not only give you tons of selenium, but they have been shown to lower cholesterol better than the leading prescription drug AND they contain lots of fiber and healthy fats to protect the thyroid.
A well-balanced diet filled with good nutrition is essential to thyroid health. Greens offer an excellent source of protein protecting thyroid health. Adding more greens to your diet is one of the most important things you can do to promote overall health.
FOODS TO AVOID
“Excess caffeine, processed food, added and refined sugar, alcohol, and unhealthy fats can all cause problems with the thyroid and prevent optimal absorption of thyroid hormones in the body.” There is a lot of controversy surrounding soy and thyroid health. Dr Greger explains it best here, but soy is a health food. Soy and cruciferous vegetables contain goitrogens. Goitrogens have been shown to prevent the use of thyroid hormones in the body; however, studies have shown that these foods do not seem to have these effects on the thyroid in moderate amounts and those who obtain enough iodine in their diets.
OTHER PROBLEM SOURCES
Have you heard of endocrine disruptors? These are chemical compounds found it products in your environment that are causing insane amounts of damage to our bodies. ”The disruptions occur because such chemicals mimic hormones in your body, including the female sex hormone estrogen, the male sex hormone androgen, and thyroid hormones. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals may block hormonal signals in your body or interfere with the way the hormones or receptors are made or controlled.”** Endocrine disruptors have been linked to ADHD, Hormone issues, Cancer and more. This is not a comprehensive list and I encourage you to do more research on this subject. Personal care products contain large amounts of chemicals and some of those potentially problematic are phthalates, parabens, triclosan (found in toothpaste) and more. Tap water contains large amounts of arsenic, atrazine, and perchlorate which are known endocrine disruptors. Most canned foods are lined with the chemical BPA along with many plastic and paper products. BPA is an endocrine disruptor and carcinogen. Non-stick cookware can also contain BPA and other known endocrine disruptors PFOA and PFAS; look for non-stick cookware free of these toxins. Please investigate this topic further as it is not a commonly known hazard, but avoiding these chemicals is essential to optimal health.
Our thyroid is a very finicky little bugger and needs our help to maintain optimal health. When we strive to eat well, exercise regularly, and avoid unnecessary exposure to toxins we can maintain a body full of health and not have to worry about any one organ, system, or body part in particular. Instead, we can focus on living a happy, healthy life.
Peace, Love, Plants
Jeanmare and Cristy are creators and contributors of the Living Simply Nourished Blog. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee!), find a cozy spot, scroll around, read some stories, find some inspiration, and enjoy!
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