8 Hacks To Prolong The Shelf Life Of Your Food

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Hacks Image Design 1 - 8 Hacks To Prolong The Shelf Life Of Your FoodPeople of the past seemed to make their food last if possible. They had to, and they had to do it all without fridges and freezers. Now, our food doesn’t seem to make it through a week without starting to sprout or taste like we’ve left it to rot.

While the treatment of food is partial to blame, there are things that we don’t do that our ancestors had to. Many people on farms and in the countryside, find these hacks useful daily to prevent too much driving around. We’ve just become complacent because of how easy access everything is now.

The problem is we’re wasting more than we should. It’s time to make some changes to the way we look after and store our food. With these top life hacks, you will be able to prolong the shelf life of your food.

Freeze More Food than You Do

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While our ancestors didn’t have freezers, that doesn’t mean we can’t make use of the technology. In fact, we should. One of the easiest ways to prolong the life of your food is to freeze as much as possible. Storing it below -18C will help to prevent the formation of bacteria and organisms. Your food will last weeks and even months.

In some cases, you can completely kill the organisms that do grow your food. You can kill the bacteria that are already there.

You will have to follow safety tips for freezing your food. Once something has defrosted, you will need to use it in your cooking. Defrosted food will start to collect organisms and bacteria. You can’t refreeze them safely. Once you have cooked the food, you can certainly then freeze the creations.

It’s surprising just how much you can buy and store in the freezer. You can get food that is close to the use by date without worrying about getting through it. The freezer will prolong the life naturally and effectively.

There are some foods that freeze better than others. Certain foods do lose some of their consistency and texture when you freeze (well, when you defrost) because of the ice melting. However, most of foods in the freezer will not taste any different afterward. Tomatoes will be goopy when you defrost, so use a container to help collect it all.

You’ll need to be creative with the way you freeze some foods. Peel bananas and wrap them in tin foil or cling film. Store whole or chopped up. You’ll find them much easier to peel afterward! You can add frozen bananas straight to your green smoothies for a cool and creamy taste.

If you buy butter, you’ll want to put it in the freezer. You can freeze it in individual chunks to help make it easier to use it daily. This doesn’t work with margarine and vegetable butter.

Store Inside Glass

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Put your nuts, cereals, and pasta in glass jars for storage. You will taste the difference in the long term.

When these types of foods are stored in the cupboard, air gets to them. Even if you wrap up the packaging as tightly as possible, the air will still get in. They also absorb the moisture. Even the containers will absorb the humidity and moisture in the air. You may notice that the ingredients tend to taste stale and even moldy. This is the humidity that’s collected, causing molecules and some organisms to grow.

If you want to avoid the humidity completely, you’ll need airtight containers that won’t absorb anything. Glass is the best option and something that has been used for centuries for storage. Just look at jams, preserves, and spreads. They all tend to be still sold in glass jars. Look at the labels on your glassed products in the cupboard. Most of them will last for months before their opened and weeks once they are opened.

You will need to make sure the lids fight tightly to keep the air out. Think about the placement of the jars, too. Opt for somewhere that is free from moisture. Avoid cupboards near the stove, sink, and kettle. You’ll be surprised at where some of the moisture comes from!

There’s no need to spend a fortune on jars for storage. Opt for mason jars with screw on lids. You can get them from the dollar store!

Remove the Plastic Bags

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Our ancestors didn’t have fridges, but they also didn’t have plastic. Did you know it’s the plastic that can cause some of the foods to rot or taste off? While you’ll want to use plastic bags to make getting your vegetable home easier, you’ll want to remove them before storing them.

Plastics will pull in and trap the humidity. They cause more organisms and bacteria to grow in the fruit and vegetables, leading to rotting and moldy tastes.

You can avoid plastic bags altogether. There’s nothing wrong with taking reusable bags for carrying your fruits, vegetables, and another produce home. The plastic has just become an ease but is harming the environment and effecting the longevity of your food.

When you store out of the bag, the food has the chance to breathe. It won’t collect as much humidity as it would in the bag, as nothing is trapped. You’ll get fresher fruit, and that’s without choosing the organic options. Of course, if you want to improve the freshness and life, you’ll want organic fruits and vegetables that don’t have the plastic bags.

Stop Storing Everything in the Fridge

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Now that we have the use of fridges, we have this feeling that everything needs to be stored here. That’s not the case. It’s time to look at other methods of storing for some food.

Sure, there are certainly foods that are better stored in the fridge. Pasteurised milk will need the coolness of the fridge. However, foods like your apples, root vegetables, and other similar ingredients do not need the fridge. It’s the fridge that is causing them to go off! Storing them is also causing the rest of your food to go off.

Foods like apple give off ethylene gas when stored in the fridge. They will wilt while there and then spoil the rest of the food in the fridge. If you store them out of the fridge, you don’t get the gas and the rest of the food in your fridge remains fresh.

Store your apples, carrots, and parsnips in paper bags in a dry and cool cupboard. Opt for one furthest away from any humidity; preferably the same cupboard as your glass jars of cereal and pasta!

If you have a cellar or pantry, this can help you even more. You can store your food here in layers, packing finesandbags around them. The sand will absorb all the moisture, drawing it away from the root vegetables and fruit. You don’t even need the sand to be in bags. Layer a wooden box with fine sand and place your fruit and vegetables in paper bags on the top. The moisture will be pulled from around the bag and into the sand, keeping your fruits and vegetables dry and tasty for months!

For best results, cover your fruit and vegetables with sand. This will help to protect from the moisture completely. You’ll just need to wash your ingredients before use in case sand has gotten through.

Don’t Refrigerate Too Soon

The fruit that you do refrigerate needs to be placed in the fridge at the right time. Don’t put it in the fridge as soon as you get home. Fruits are best stored in the fridge when they’re ripe. If you put the fruit in too soon, it doesn’t ripen anymore as the development process is halted. You’re left with mangoes and papayas that are rock solid and don’t taste that nice at all.

The only fruits that you want to store right away are berries. They already fully ripen when they’re picked. If you leave them out, they will start to deteriorate and go off.

When storing in the fridge, wrap your fruits tightly. If they’re left loosely wrapped, there is more space for bacteria to grow, causing botulism to grow on them. The tight wrapping will keep the oxygen out and prevent the growth of any mold.

However, strawberries, raspberries, and other fruits that give off a lot of moisture will need to be kept loose in wrapping. Wrapping tightly will cause issues with the moisture release. It has nowhere to go and leads to the development of bacteria. Your berries become spoiled and slimy. Leave them in the containers they come in or slight the plastic bags to give them the chance to air a little..

Know How to Use Your Fridge

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Stop overfilling your fridge. This is not going to help with the shelf life of your food. Instead of trying to pack as much into your fridge, think carefully about the items you’re putting in there. Not everything has to be stored, remember! You can get a better life out of foods when they’re stored in cellars, pantries, and cool cupboards.

When you are storing in the fridge, make sure your fridge is at the optimum temperature. There’s no need to put it on the coldest setting. In fact, this can cause food to spoil! You may as well put it in the freezer.

Keep your fridge below 40F but not cold enough to freeze. 38F is considered the best temperature. Anything higher than 40F and your food will spoil. Bacteria can grow, causing your food to go off and illnesses to spread.

When you place items in the fridge, don’t have everything touching. You want space between food to make sure moisture and air can circulate.

Your fridge won’t cool to the same temperature throughout. There will be hot spots and cold spots. You’ll need to find them.

Avoid the door for anything that needs to be kept at a constant temperature, like your eggs. This is the most fluctuating part of the fridge. The coldest spots tend to be at the back and are a good place for eggs. Just avoid anything crystallising and this spoils eggs. The bottom and closer to the walls are also the colder spots. Put your meat and food less likely to freeze around these sections.

Place your meat at the bottom to avoid ruining the rest of your food. The blood from the meat can drip, even if stored well. This blood will drop onto the food underneath it and cause bacteria growth. If you store raw fish for a day, make sure it’s wrapped and use ice on top. This will help to keep it tasting fresher when you pull it out and use it.

Use Whiskey for Your Cheese

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Do you buy a lot of beautifully expensive cheeses? You don’t want them to go off overnight. Sure, some of them can taste strong, and they do have some molds, but they’re not supposed to taste like they’ve gone off. It’s time to use some whiskey.

Yes, really!

Soak a cheesecloth in some whiskey and then wrap that around your cheese. You can then put it in a plastic bag (the only time plastic is useful here) and put that in the fridge. The whiskey helps to prevent the growth of bacteria, while the cloth and bag will help to keep the cheese moist. You get the optimum treatment.

If you don’t have a cheesecloth and whiskey, you can try a slight variation. Opt for some waxed paper instead. This can act similarly to the whiskey and cheesecloth to protect the cheese from drying out. Use some aluminum foil and wrap it tightly to store.

You can do this with any cheese, not just the expensive ones. You’ll find all types of cheese will last much longer when you buy it from the store.

The trick with the whiskey doesn’t quite work as well with other alcohols. The cheese will absorb some of the taste, and other alcohols just don’t work out right. Brandy is the closest, but you want whiskey preferably.

Dry Your Leftover Fruit

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The fruit and vegetables can eventually go off, but that doesn’t mean they need to be thrown out. You can keep them with the right storing method. It’s time to start drying some of your food!

While the drying process isn’t the best for the diet, it’s better than wasting your food and your money. It’s an excellent preservation method and has been used for centuries. You can then use the foods in all your cooking or just as a snack.

There are a few ways that you can dry your food. If you have the money, invest in a dehydrator. This is quick, hygienic, and easy. However, you can also use your oven to suck out the moisture from your food. Make sure you put it on the right setting and keep an eye on it. Did you know you can also use the sun? This is a little trickier, due to pests, but is effective in drying out the fruit and making it taste good.

Store your dried fruits in glass jars, like you would with your pasta and cereals. This will help to prevent the issue with the moisture, as we’ve already considered. Dried fruit can last for a year when it’s stored at around 60F. If it’s stored at 80F, you can keep it for about six months. Vegetables aren’t as good, but you’ll get about three months when stored at 80F. You can freeze for a longer life span!

How Will You Preserve Your Food?

Stop wasting food and money. It’s time to look at some of the best ways to store your food and help prolong the shelf life. Take advantage of the technology we have today, but also look at the ways that our ancestors stored before the use of fridges and freezers.

Make sure you store food in the right places. Not only do you prolong the life of those ingredients, but the rest of the food around them. Everything will taste fresher, and you’ll be excited about everything you pull out for dinner.

Autoimmune Disease and the Paleo Diet

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mcnew - Autoimmune Disease and the Paleo DietAimee McNew

Autoimmune disorders can be triggered by a combination of genetics and lifestyle factors, like stress and poor eating habits. Discover how a Paleo diet can help heal and even reverse autoimmunity.

According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), autoimmune disease affects 50 million Americans. (1)

Between 80 and 100 autoimmune diseases have been identified, but many of them haven’t been thoroughly researched. (2) Beyond that, more than 40 other diseases have roots in autoimmunity. Autoimmune disorders affect women more than men, and most of these diseases have genetic components to them. (3)

What Is Autoimmune Disease?

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Autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system mistakenly begins attacking organs or body systems. The immune system is designed to keep the body safe from viruses or bacteria that invade by producing antibodies or lymphocytes. Under normal circumstances, the immune system can’t attack its own cells. However, certain conditions can trigger this mistaken identity as a foreign material. Then the immune system starts fighting against body tissues, and autoimmune disease begins.

Certain lifestyle factors can trigger your immune system to turn on itself.

Autoimmune diseases are broken down into organ-specific and non-specific disorders. The impact of autoimmunity can be varied. Antibodies can cause the slow destruction of organs, cells, or tissues; interfere with organ function; cause inflammation in tissues or organs; or overstimulate organs.

The most common organs and systems impacted by autoimmune disease include:

  • Hormone-producing endocrine glands (such as the thyroid, adrenal glands, and pancreas)
  • Connective tissues, skin, muscles, and joints
  • Red blood cells and other blood components

Bottom line: Autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system becomes sensitized to itself and starts attacking specific organs, body systems, and tissues.

What Triggers Autoimmune Disease?

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Autoimmune disease initially begins when there’s a triggered interruption in the typical control process. In a healthy immune system, lymphocytes that could attack the body are suppressed and maintain recognition of themselves. But when a trigger interrupts the suppression process, the immune system becomes sensitized to some component of itself. Then it starts producing lymphocytes or antibodies to attack the specific organ, tissue, or cell that’s viewed as a threat.

The precise mechanisms that cause or contribute to the beginning of autoimmune disease aren’t perfectly understood (especially since there’s such a wide variety of organs, tissues, and systems that can be affected). In many cases, multiple autoimmune diseases can be present. Once the immune system goes rogue, it’ll naturally expand its search for problematic tissues or organs.

Typical triggers of autoimmune disorders can include:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Toxins and chemicals
  • Drugs

These triggers alone aren’t enough to simply cause autoimmunity to develop. A person must have the right combination of genetic components, lifestyle factors, and triggers. For example, an external factor (e.g., a food allergy or chronic viral infection) would be required to trigger the development of autoimmune disease in someone with genetic tendencies toward thyroid disease.

Genetic components combined with triggers like food allergies or viral infections cause autoimmune disorders.

Organ-specific autoimmune disorders can lead to further confusion in the body. The other organs that rely on the organ that’s being attacked will also start under- or overproducing, which leads to widespread symptoms. Non- specific disorders typically involve widespread body pain and inflammatory symptoms. So in many cases, these types are more difficult to diagnose or understand.

People can have multiple organ-specific disorders (or a combination of organ-specific and non- specific).

Common organ-specific disorders include:

  • Hashimoto’s thyroid disease (thyroid)
  • Pernicious anemia (stomach)
  • Type 1 Diabetes (pancreas)
  • Addison’s disease (adrenal glands)
  • Multiple sclerosis (brain and spinal cord)
  • Autoimmune hepatitis (liver)
  • Celiac disease (small intestine)
  • Crohn’s disease (gastrointestinal tract)
  • Endometriosis (lining of the uterus)
  • Ulcerative colitis (colon and rectum)

Non-specific disorders include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (joints)
  • Antiphospholipid syndrome (blood)
  • Lupus (can impact many organs, including skin, digestive system, lungs, kidneys, or blood vessels, muscles joints)
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica (muscle stiffness and pain)

Bottom line: Autoimmune disorders are triggered by a combination of genetic factors, lifestyle factors, and triggers from outside sources (such as viruses, bacteria, and toxins).

How Does Food Impact Autoimmunity?

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The food we eat can either fuel our body or feed disease. Of course, that’s an oversimplification. There’re many more gray areas than that. Food is a complex issue. So when autoimmune disease enters the picture, it can be difficult to identify whether food started the autoimmune process, or the autoimmunity led to food issues.

In many cases, food allergies, sensitivities, or toxins can lead to a cascade effect, which helps trigger autoimmune disease in genetically inclined people.

For example, celiac disease is specifically tied to gluten, which leads to the breakdown of the small intestine. Other organ-specific autoimmune disorders don’t necessarily have a single trigger food. Rather, groups of foods can lead to inflammation and trigger worse conditions.

Common foods that trigger autoimmune disorders are: processed foods, vegetable oils, sugars and refined carbs.

Even if these foods aren’t diagnosable allergies, thyroid disease worsens in the presence of gluten, dairy, and soy. (4) That’s why a Paleo diet (which naturally excludes these food groups) can be a therapeutic food plan for Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disorders.

In most autoimmune issues, some common groups of foods can lead to issues. They include:

  • Processed foods high in preservatives and artificial ingredients
  • Refined sugars and carbohydrates
  • Vegetable oils and trans fats
  • Grains and legumes
  • Nightshades

The digestive system is often referred to as the center of health. It runs through the body; it’s literally the path for nourishment. Without healthy digestion, the cells and tissues can’t be healthy. When autoimmune disease is present, it’s even more critical to have a healthy nutrient intake.

Certain foods can be more problematic than others. In addition to typical inflammatory foods, a food sensitivity or allergy can also play a role.

Leaky gut must also be considered. It’s considered to be a gateway to autoimmunity. Leaky gut occurs when foods, viruses, bacteria, or toxins aggravate the tight junctions of the small intestine. These junctions open and close, which allow digested nutrients to enter the bloodstream. However, when particles aggravate or damage these gateways, undigested particles, toxins, and bacteria can enter the bloodstream, circulate through the body, and flare up the immune system.

Bottom line: Diet plays a huge role in autoimmunity, and the foods eaten can either slow or worsen the progression.

Paleo and Autoimmune Disease

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The Paleo Diet ditches “modern” foods (such as grains, legumes, dairy, and preservatives), in favor of imitating the diet of our caveman ancestors (who didn’t have autoimmune disease). While there are variations on what cavemen actually ate, based on where they lived, the general principles are very applicable to autoimmune disease.

Paleo avoids grains and legumes (because of their high lectin and phytate content). Lectins are proteins found in these types of foods. They’re meant to protect them from consumption—as a defense mechanism for plants, which ensures that the species survives.

Grains and legumes contain anti-nutrients, which can wreak havoc on the digestive system.

Grains and legumes are often referred to as “anti-nutrients.” When they’re ingested, they can wreak havoc on the tissues of the digestive system, which causes upset stomach and other symptoms.

Phytates (or phytic acid) is another anti-nutrient because humans lack the specific enzyme needed to break it down into a digestible form. Phytates also bind to minerals (such as magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc) in the body and escort them out. Considering the importance of these minerals (especially in cases of autoimmunity, when the body is worn down), it’s important to avoid anti-nutrients.

While the Paleo diet is certainly not one-size-fits-all, it does offer a good starting point for people who’re battling autoimmune conditions. It can also be a preventative measure for people who have a family history of autoimmunity.

Variations of Paleo for Autoimmune Problems

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The benefit of the Paleo diet is that it can be fully customized to meet an individual’s needs. In fact, there’s an “autoimmune protocol” (AIP), which excludes typical inflammatory or autoimmune triggers that would otherwise be considered Paleo friendly. They include:

  • Eggs
  • Nightshades (white potatoes, eggplants, peppers, certain spices, chocolate, coffee, and sugars)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fermented foods (in some versions of AIP)
  • Alcohol

Some people experience dramatic reversals of autoimmune disease when they closely follow AIP. But depending on the specific type of autoimmune disorder, you may need to be more or less strict. Some people do well by simply following the traditional Paleo diet; the removal of grains, dairy, and soy often has a huge impact. Others will be able to tolerate non-AIP foods (such as eggs), but they may not do well on high-histamine foods (such as sweet potatoes, avocados, and banana, all of which are AIP-friendly).

Bottom line: The specific food plan that’ll help reduce autoimmune and inflammatory symptoms varies wildly from one person to the next. But there are basic principles that can be a good place to start.

Is It Possible to Reverse Autoimmune Disorders?

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Autoimmune disease begins when the immune system goes rogue, recognizing itself as an invader that needs to be destroyed. It’s possible to calm the immune flare-up, but it’s not possible to cure an autoimmune disease. Once the immune disease recognizes an organ or tissue as a threat, it’s always possible to have a flare-up or start producing antibodies again.

Autoimmune progression can be reversed, and damage to the organ or tissues can be halted. But once triggering lifestyle factors are reintroduced, the immune system will pick up where it left off. Other factors (such as stress) can also serve as triggers for autoimmunity.

So the answer to how long it takes to reverse autoimmune disease is complex. Different autoimmune disorders respond differently to lifestyle changes. Factors that impact the length of time it takes to improve include:

  • The length of time that the disease has been present
  • The number of triggers (e.g., food allergies, viral infections, bacteria, and toxins)
  • Family history
  • The willingness to make drastic lifestyle changes
  • The protocols of practitioners

Some practitioners will more aggressively work toward reversing autoimmunity, while others will focus on a slow-and-steady, long-term approach. The method can differ, depending on age, type of autoimmunity, and other prevailing factors (such as weight, fitness level, work, and stress).

Bottom line: Autoimmunity is complex. But with time, lifestyle changes, dietary support, and professional help, it can be reversed (or at least put into remission) in many cases. However, there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

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(Read This Next: The Link Between Autoimmunity and Your Gut)

Eating These 8 Anti-Inflammatory Powerhouses Helped Heal My Autoimmune Disease

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Seamus Mullen is an award-winning chef and restaurateur—and he suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that once landed him in the hospital. In his new book, Real Food Heals, he details all of the recipes that have contributed to his journey back to optimal health—here, he shares the eight foods that have made the biggest difference.

My relationship with food has always been a key component of my identity. I was born and raised in Vermont on a diet of fresh, whole foods, and was the pinnacle of youthful health. As soon as I left Vermont for boarding school, then college, then cooking school, however, my healthful habits devolved, and I began relying on junk food and carbs to get me through the long days. I soon found my health rapidly deteriorating.

Initially, I wrote off feeling like crap to the notoriously difficult life of the professional kitchen, but eventually it became clear that there was something seriously wrong with me. After several trips to the emergency room, I was finally diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease that can affect your joints, skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels.

I struggled for years feeling generally horrible while following the conventional treatment for RA. Finally, I hit an all-time low and was rushed to the hospital once again. By the time I arrived at the emergency room, my temperature had hit 106 degrees. The only thing that kept my brain from frying in the intensive care unit was plunging in and out of an ice bath. I knew that something had to change or the next time this happened, I wouldn’t survive.

Through this experience, I began to understand the central importance of diet in improving one’s well-being. I met and became close friends with forward-thinking functional medicine doctors like Frank Lipman, M.D., and I realized that my poor health was directly linked to my carb- and sugar-driven diet. Thus, the Real Food Heals lifestyle was born. I started exercising and eliminated gluten and grains, refined sugar, factory-farmed meat, and dairy from my diet, instead eating mainly vegetables, good proteins, and fats. Since then, not only have I avoided the emergency room—I’ve shocked doctors and everyone who knows me with my great health. At every checkup, the biomarkers of my disease are now nonexistent. And I’ve experienced this incredible joy throughout the process because my transformation has revolved around mindfully cooking and eating delicious food.

While there are countless foods and ingredients that I consider important to a healthy diet, there are a few in particular that truly turned my life around:

1. Coconut.

I use coconut constantly in my cooking in its various forms, from unsweetened desiccated coconut to coconut oil and coconut cream. Coconuts are a fantastic source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants and are known to be antiviral and antibacterial as well. Additionally, coconut oil is a great replacement for highly inflammatory cooking oils like canola and corn oil, which can damage cells, especially in those with autoimmune disease. Plus, it tastes great!

2. Avocado.

Once upon a time, avocados were mistakenly thought to be an artery-clogging fatty fruit that should be avoided. Turns out, they’re one of the healthiest foods we can eat, thanks to their high nutrient value (a single 100-gram serving of avocado contains between 15 and 25 percent of your daily required amounts of vitamins K, C, B6, and E). They’re also dense with good fats, fiber, and potassium, while low in carbs, cholesterol, and sodium.

3. Asparagus.

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Photo: Tatjana Ristanic

Asparagus is a great source of fiber, folate, vitamins A and C, and prebiotics (foods that promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestines). This nutrient-dense vegetable is particularly useful in coping with autoimmune disease because it’s a rich source of glutathione, a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens and free radicals, which helps fight against cancer and inflammation.

4. Eggs.

Eggs are a miracle food. Even though I’m not a big breakfast eater, eggs are often the first thing I have on any given day. The protein and good fats in eggs make them a filling and satisfying way to get your daily zinc; iron; and vitamins A, D, E, and K. No matter how you prepare them, eggs can help improve cardiovascular health; prevent metabolic disease; and boost eye, liver, skin, and brain health. A note: Both the yolk and the white are nutrient-rich, so make sure you’re eating the whole egg!

5. Oily fish.

Oily fish like anchovies, sardines, and mackerel have their fair share of skeptics, but these heart-healthy fish are a powerhouse, especially for people with RA. In addition to reducing blood pressure and preventing fat buildup in arteries, the consumption of oily fishes can also reduce joint pain and stiffness and has been linked to preventing and reducing RA symptoms in a study with middle-age participants. If you’re looking for a way to incorporate oily fish into your diet, the Deviled Eggs with Anchovies and Rosemary from my new book combine two of my favorite healthful foods in one.

6. Root vegetables.

Carrots, radishes, turnips, and other veggies in the root vegetable family are all staples of my new diet, especially as a replacement for grains. The vital nutrients found in root vegetables are key to fighting inflammatory-based diseases like RA (along with heart disease, cancer, and diabetes). I love to swap out traditional spaghetti for carrot, celery root, or sweet potato noodles made with the spiralizer.

7. Macadamia nuts.

Almonds and cashews may dominate the spotlight in the American diet, but the little-celebrated macadamia nut deserves some attention too. Macadamia nuts are a rich source of antioxidants and contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, which support gut health and can reduce the chronic inflammation associated with RA. I love to throw a handful of these powerful nuts into my granola, atop a fresh salad, or just munch on them raw as a midday snack.

8. Pastured chicken.

From a nutritional standpoint, chicken is relatively lean healthy protein. It’s still got some good fat on it, which is extremely important for overall nutrition, so I like to keep the skin on whenever I’m preparing it. That it’s delicious doesn’t hurt, either. As with all animal proteins, I always try to consume it consciously and with knowledge of where it’s coming from. The difference between factory-farmed and free-range birds is tremendous in both the quality of the product and the life of the animal. For me, that means buying chickens from small farms I trust that allow their chickens to openly roam the pasture.

Reducing inflammation can greatly help with the management of autoimmune diseases, so be sure to avoid these eight super-inflammatory foods! Plus, all of the ways Chef Mullen uses avocado in his daily diet.

When Heart Disease Was Rare

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Use butter for a healthy heart.

Did you know that heart disease was rare in America at the turn of the last century? Then suddenly between 1920 and 1960, heart disease became America’s number one killer.

So what happened? At this time in modern history, a major marketing campaign was launched to demonize butter in replace of margarine. Butter was labeled as causing heart disease, with margarine right there to take its place.

And it worked.

Butter consumption plummeted from 18 pounds per person per year to merely four. Margarine sales hit the roof.

Heart Disease

Today, heart disease is still a major health threat and statin drugs are a big seller, but I think it’s safe to conclude that butter is not the cause. Nevertheless, research shows that trans fats found in margarine can cause heart disease.


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The battle between butter versus margarine has been rigged from the beginning.

Margarine was discovered in 1869 as the product of Napoleon III’s request for a wholesome butter alternative. This was not because butter was unhealthy.

Napoleon’s primary goal was to supply food to the French army that would not spoil.

This new discovery worked, and after WWI, manufacturers introduced this “new margarine wonder” to the American public, using the fear of heart disease as its main endorsement.

After WWI, margarine came out of American commissaries and into the grocery stores. Many products have been born from wartime needs, and good-ole-natural-butter was pushed off our tabletops as a war casualty.

It’s important to remember that this isn’t because butter is unhealthy; it is because margarine has many marketing advantages over butter – margarine can sit on the grocery shelves for months without spoiling, and diluted margarine products bring in more corporate profits.


Butter - When Heart Disease Was Rare

Butter is a far superior choice over man-made margarine – it always has been and always will be.

Butter is a cooking treasure as old as King Tut’s tomb. My grandparents ate nothing but butter every day, and they lived to be over 100 years old with no heart problems. Butter didn’t harm them, and it shouldn’t harm you or me when used in moderation, and when eating from organic and natural sources.

Unlike margarine, butter contains many nutrients that protect human beings from heart disease.

Vitamin A found in butter is a critical nutrient for the health of the thyroid and adrenal glands, which both play a role in heart and cardiovascular health. Butter is America’s best and most easily absorbed source of vitamin A.

Butter also has vitamin E, and both vitamin A and vitamin E in butter play a strong anti-oxidant role in human health.

Butter contains lecithin, a substance that assists in the proper assimilation and metabolism of cholesterol and other fat components. Butter also contains a number of anti-oxidants that protect against free radical damage that can weaken the arteries.

Butter is a very rich source of selenium, another vital anti-oxidant. Butter contains more selenium per gram than herring or wheat germ.

Your immune system loves butter, not margarine or margarine products. Hydrogenated fats found in polyunsaturated oils, margarine, and many butter substitutes have a toxic effect on the immune system.

So, as King Tut would say, butter is better.

The Link Between Thyroid Disease and Weight Gain

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thyroid disease symptoms weight gain - The Link Between Thyroid Disease and Weight GainIt seems as if more women than men wonder about the connection between weight gain and thyroid disease. For many of the people who are concerned, the answer is that there can be a connection, but it is not always a simple one to diagnose. Metabolism is the rate at which a body burns fuel, and thyroid function and metabolism are closely connected.

It is pretty obvious that a malfunctioning thyroid gland could cause either unexplained weight gain or weight loss. However, the correct functioning of that thyroid gland could also be impacted by other body systems. These systems include neurotransmitters, adrenal glands, and even reproductive hormones. That means it might be possible to detect symptoms of a malfunctioning thyroid, but it is important to find out if there are underlying problems or if the problem is with the gland.

Why Does An Under-active Thyroid Gland Matter?

People who suffer from an under-active thyroid gland also have a low resting metabolism, or basal metabolism. An underactive thyroid results in a condition that doctors call hypothyroidism. Some of the primary symptoms that alert doctors to this problem are difficultly losing weight or unexplained weight gain.

Everybody with hypothyroidism does not gain weight. The people that don’t gain weight generally already eat a very sparse diet or have a very high activity level.

When people who suffer from an unexplained weight gain do try to diet, their metabolism rate keeps falling even more as calories get reduced. Even women with normal thyroids will notice that their metabolism tends to fall as they diet, and this is one of the things that makes dieting difficult.

The more a person diets, the less the body wants to give up stored fat. This is a survival trait from the times of feast and famine. The real goal of dieting is to trick the body to give up stored fat.

However, people who already have thyroid problems have an even bigger problem. Diets are bound to make them tired, give them brain fog, and even make them achy. Because of this, they are likely to consume more calories to make themselves feel better,leading to more weight gain. They then feel like a failure because they can’t lose weight.

Thyroid Problems And Weight Gain: A Mostly Female Problem

It would not be correct to suggest that men cannot suffer from thyroid problems. However, these issues seem to be associated with weight gain in women more frequently. Also, the majority of thyroid issues do stem from problems with the actual gland. But they may not really present themselves as symptoms until a whole-body hormone imbalance begins to develop. Very often, menopause, thyroid issues, and weight gain appear all together at the same time.

But women might also be more prone to developing the symptom of weight gain because many of them spend their entire lives in a cycle of yo-yo dieting. They lose a little weight, fall of the diet, and then gain that weight back and even more. This actually puts more stress on thyroid glands, and it might be why this is mostly considered a female problem.

Also, women are more likely to hold stress inside. Stress is an emotion, but it affects people in a physical way. It can affect the function of brains, adrenal glands, and of course, the thyroid. Some symptoms of a hormone imbalance might be a craving for sweet food. In the short-term, sweets can provide energy and a sensation of well being. But that good feeling never lasts.

Also, women already experience monthly cycles. This is even true of women after menopause. The end of the monthly menstruation cycle is not the end of a monthly hormone cycle. It is just the end of the ovulation cycle.

How To Get Thyroid Problems Diagnosed

If you suffer from an unexplained weight gain or are having extreme difficulty when trying to lose weight, it’s time to speak with a medical professional. Your doctor might order a test to measure TSH in your blood. Even if your readings come out in the normal range, you can still have problems. In these milder cases, a diet that is rich in selenium and the correct balance of carbohydrates and protein can help. In other cases, the doctor may offer you prescription hormone replacements in the form of a pill. Always let your doctor know about any physical symptoms that are causing you problems.

Emphysema: The Smoker’s Disease

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Emphysema is a respiratory disease that continues to get worse over time. It makes it hard to breathe and causes an individual to feel as if they are constantly short of breath.

The tiny air sacs and airways in the lungs lose their elastic qualities and this in turn makes it hard to completely exhale the air from the body.

Normal lungs work like a balloon and bring in vast amounts of fresh air and then release equal amounts of Co2. When emphysema is present some of this carbon dioxide is left in the lungs and each breath becomes more difficult. As this terrible medical condition becomes worse breathing starts to come at great effort and physical activities take a great amount of energy.

Emphysema usually develops over years and there are treatments that can slow it’s progress. Some symptoms that you should be on the lookout for include: consistent shortness of breath, headaches, constant coughing, fatigue, wheezing, difficulty concentrating, tightness in the chest, irritability and a distended chest.

If you have one or more of these symptoms then you should see a doctor for testing. You will receive a physical and the doctor will look closely at your medical history. If you are a smoker the doctor will be very interested in this. You might receive tests to check the functioning of your lungs, blood tests, X-rays or a CT-scan.

Smoking is the leading cause of emphysema. The chemicals in cigarettes irritate the airways and alveoli in the lungs and end up causing extensive damage. As the smoke, or other particles, reach the lungs macrophages are released to destroy them. This is good, but the bad part is they also kill off essential proteins that are responsible for keeping the lungs elastic in quality.

Another condition that can cause emphysema is a deficiency of the protein alpha-1-antitrypsin. This proteins main job is to make sure the lungs keep their elasticity. This condition runs in families and is often the cause of emphysema in people who have never smoked.

Herbal medicine can help to support your lungs and often work well with a conventional treatment plan. Matricaria recutita and astralagus can help to lessen the spasms and inflammation. Mag Phos and Nat Sulph can also help to lessen the constriction on your throat and chest. Phlegm is a major problem with emphysema and these can help to reduce it.

Effective Treatment for Bronchitis and Asthma

BronchoSoothe is a proven, safe and effective natural remedy that contains a combination of biochemic tissue salts which promotes easy, comfortable and normal breathing for bronchitis and asthma sufferers.

Regular use ensures systemic balance of biochemic tissue salts in the body, optimizes health at the cellular level, relieves symptoms of disease, restores health and vitality, optimizes the therapeutic effects of other remedies by improving systemic functioning and metabolism.

Formulated by our team of experts in natural medicine, BronchoSoothei s pharmacetuically manufactured to the highest standards.

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Why do we promote this?

deebraun - Emphysema: The Smoker’s Disease
Dee is an Adv. Certified Aromatherapist, Reiki Master, Adv. Color/Crystal Therapist, Herbalist, Dr. of Reflexology and single mom who is dedicated to helping others any way she can.

One way she chooses to help is by offering information on the benefits and uses of natural health and healing methods for the well-being of both people and pets.

Causes, Symptoms, Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a medical condition that causes the walls of the intestines and digestive tract to become swollen and inflamed.

When nothing is done to correct this condition for a long period of time, then ulcers can begin to develop.

Ulcers bring with them a whole host of additional problems including pain in the abdomen, diarrhea, bloody stools, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss or a fever.

The Two Most Common Forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

IBD commonly comes in two forms – ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. The symptoms of these two disorders can seem much the same and it can be really difficult for the doctor to ascertain a correct diagnosis.

In addition, inflammatory bowel disease is often misdiagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrom (IBS).

Ulcerative colitis causes the rectum and colon become inflamed whereas Crohn’s disease has a tendency to show up anywhere along the digestive tract and can give you problems when it comes to absorbing foods, vitamins and nutrients.

Other inflammatory bowel diseases include collagenous colitis, lymphocytic colitis, and diversion colitis.

The Causes of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

There has been no exact reason identified for why IBD occurs, although here has been a lot of research into factors that could make a person more likely to develop it. As you probably know, a damaged or weakened immune system makes it easy for infections to spread.

But for people with inflammatory bowel disease, the immune system actually overreacts to something in the digestive system and causes ongoing inflammation, ulcers, and other problems.

Medical researches believe that a virus or bacterium may be what causes the immune system to react this way.

If someone in your family has suffered with inflammatory bowel disease then there is a high probability that you will also.

Women are more likely to develop IBD where genetic ties are concerned, while individual of Jewish descent carry this special gene which means they are much more likely to develop IBD than most other people.

Having a lifestyle where you are not physically active, being in a higher socioeconomic bracket or living in a developed country are all factors which make it more likely that you will suffer with inflammatory bowel disease at some point in your life. Cigarettes, stress and some types of food can also contribute to it.

Tips for Preventing Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

*  Eat a high-fiber diet of whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, fruit, vegetables, dried fruit and nuts (NOTE: Some individuals find that wheat products worsen their symptoms).
* Include protein such as lean meats and fish in your diet to relieve symptoms of IBD.
* Try to eat small, frequent meals – even during a flare-up.
* Regular exercise helps to reduce stiffness, maintain joint motion, and strengthen the muscles around the joints.
* Drink a lot of fluid and at least 8-10 glasses of water every day to help keep the body hydrated and also to help prevent constipation.
* Stay away from foods containing lactose if you are lactose intolerant.
* Curb your intake of caffeine and alcohol, as these may aggravate symptoms.
* Increase your intake of multivitamins and fish oil capsules to replace nutrients lost via malabsorption problems caused by IBD.
* Limit gas-producing foods such as onions, dried peas and lentils, chives, broccoli, and carbonated drinks.
* Practice deep breathing exercises to encourage motion of the ribs.
* Stop smoking in a natural manner, as smoking has been known to worsen this condition.

Treatment Options for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

The treatment plan the doctor lays out for you will depend on how severe your symptoms are but usually involve medication, diet changes and getting plenty of exercise. You can pick up some laxatives and pain killers at the drugstore for milder episodes.

Herbs can also help to keep your digestive system operating smoothly. German Chamomile can help with the inflammation and calm you both mentally and physically.

Meadowsweet can actually lower the amount of acid your stomach makes and offers the digestive tract protection.

Slippery Elm helps to take away the pain you get when digesting a particularly large meal. Cancer Bush can be taken to address stomach complaints whether they are chronic or acute.

Herbal Help for IBS/IBD, Crohn’s, Gastritis, GERD, Colitis and Divericulosis

Gastronic Dr is a natural, safe, effective and powerful herbal formula to help relieve and prevent flare-ups stomach disorders such as IBS, IBD, Crohn’s Disease, Gastritis, Acid Reflux (GERD), Ulcerative Colitis and Diverticulosis.

Use this remedy to prevent the flare ups of these conditions; tone the entire digestive system, soothe the stomach lining and maintain healthy digestive and bowel functioning; fight against harmful free radicals in your body and promote healthy absorption of nutrients.

Formulated by our team of experts in natural medicine, Gastronic Dr is pharmaceutically manufactured to the highest standards.

Learn more about Gastronic Dr now.
Why do we promote this?


deebraun - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Dee is an Adv. Certified Aromatherapist, Reiki Master, Adv. Color/Crystal Therapist, Herbalist, Dr. of Reflexology and single mom who is dedicated to helping others any way she can.

One way she chooses to help is by offering information on the benefits and uses of natural health and healing methods for the well-being of both people and pets.

10 Dry Skin Fixes From Your Kitchen – Infographic

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Important Disclaimer: The information contained on Positive Health Wellness is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Any statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA and any information or products discussed are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease or illness. Please consult a healthcare practitioner before making changes to your diet or taking supplements that may interfere with medications.

All writing and content on Positive Health Wellness is simply the opinion of the author and should not be treated as professional medical advice.

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A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Prepare A Filling Healthy Meal Plan

747e05782c92465cdbfd4cc7c76285dc - A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Prepare A Filling Healthy Meal Plan

Meal Plan Image Design 1 - A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Prepare A Filling Healthy Meal PlanThere are many diets and food lifestyles out there. While many people look for a quick fix, there are now many people looking for a sustainable lifestyle that helps them lose weight and keep it off in the long term. They want more than just a way to get rid of the flab and want a way that doesn’t make them feel like they’re on a diet.

Therefore many dieters and healthy eating plans focus on filling and healthy foods. If you followed one of the old Weight Watchers diets, you’ve likely heard of the “filling and healthy” plan. This was full of food that was designed to make you feel fuller quicker and keep you feeling full for longer. The food was also healthy, offering a range of nutrients rather than empty calories.

Whatever type of diet you follow, you want to create a filling and healthy meal plan. In fact, you can do this without following a specific type of diet. Focusing on foods that are good for you and will make you feel satisfied sooner and for longer will help you eat fewer calories and lose more weight.

But how do you create a filling and healthy meal plan? Just where do you start and what do you need? This is your step-by-step guide to prepare and create your filling and healthy meal plan. We’ll start from the very beginning.

What Is a Filling and Healthy Meal?

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Before we look at planning, let’s take a look at the idea of filling and healthy meals. What makes a meal both filling and healthy?

Think about your current meals. Do you find that after a few hours you feel hungry, or you don’t have much energy? This is likely because you’re eating the wrong mixture of nutrients—or you’re not getting any nutrients at all.

You could end up with too many carbs and not enough fiber or protein. Sure, carbs are important, but your meal shouldn’t be completely made up of them. You’ll need to make sure you get a good mixture of carbs, proteins, and healthy fats. And you’ll want to get the right types of carbs; the ones with the fiber.

Proteins, fiber, and healthy fats break down slowly in the body. They help to avoid sugars metabolizing quickly, so the energy is released throughout the space of the day. You’ll feel more satisfied throughout the day because of this. This can mean you eat fewer calories throughout the day, although you will have to think about your portion sizes.

It is possible to lose weight without calorie counting. You focus more on the type of food you’re eating, naturally making you eat less.

Filling and healthy foods include:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Lean meals
  • Olive and coconut oil
  • Whole grains
  • Whole wheat bread, pasta, and rice
  • Legumes
  • Nuts and seeds

Now that you know more about the filling and healthy foods, it’s time to create your filling and healthy meal plan.

Step 1: Make Sure You Have a Book or Planner

Let’s start with something to create your meal plan. It can be in a notebook or a planner for the wall. You just need somewhere that you can look at to know what you will be making on the day or the meal that you’ll pull out of the freezer. We’ll move on the freezer element later!

There are meal planners available in most craft stores now. You can also get a white board that you put up in the kitchen. You simply mark out a table for the week with sections for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

Make sure you have enough space to write in each section. Your snack section can be smaller than other sections.

You may want to have a wall planner just for dinners, as they may be the only meals that your family will eat together. The other meals can be planned separately in a book. It’s also possible to use different colored pens for individual people in the house. This can be a good way to manage certain types of meals, such as gluten-free or dairy free diets.

Some people have taken to bullet journaling for meal planning. They have a small notebook that they use for all types of planning and organizing.

Step 2: Plan Out All Meals and Snacks

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Some people will only plan out one meal a day. They forget about the other two meals. Those that plan out all three meals will often forget about the snacks. It’s important to plan out all your meals.

You will also want to plan out the timings of your meals. This is important to help keep your energy leveled throughout the day.

When your main meals are four hours apart, you’ll find you need fewer snacks and can cut down to just one. Alternatively, you can opt for smaller meals spaced out three hours throughout the day. You get a constant stream of energy that breaks down and is used up slowly throughout the day.

Any more than four hours between meals and you will start feeling hungry. This is because your body will use up the energy that you’ve provided it. If you eat the wrong types of foods, you’ll feel hungrier at earlier points in the day. Feeling hungry can make your body going into a panic mode. While it seems silly, your body doesn’t exactly know when you’re going to get your next meal. It starts making you crave the instant rushes of energy to sustain it.

You want to focus on the smaller meals throughout the day, rather than two big meals and a couple of snacks. This helps you stick to your filling and healthy meal plan.

Step 3: Have a List of Low GI Foods

Remember when I said you needed to focus on the right carbs? Well, you want to focus more on the low GI carbs. These are those that don’t release as many sugars directly into the bloodstream. They don’t cause a large insulin response and are healthier for you, especially if you have diabetes.

That doesn’t mean all high GI foods are off limits. Surprisingly some fruits are considered high GI foods. You just must be aware that these foods aren’t as good for your health or your hunger levels. They can metabolize quicker than other foods, leaving you feeling hungry throughout the day.

Make a list of all the low GI foods that you can eat. This will help you decide whether a recipe is good for your filling and healthy diet. Consult the list for any new recipe that you find, especially if it claims to be filling and healthy. One or two ingredients on the recipe list can be high GI, but you want most them to be low.

Step 4: Spend Time Looking for Recipe Ideas

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While you will have some staples for your meal plan, you’ll want to add some new recipes to your weekly plan. This helps to avoid getting bored. You’ll find it much easier to stick to this healthy lifestyle.

Spend time each week looking for some new recipes to try. Don’t just pick up cookbooks. You can check out blogs, websites, and even Pinterest for some ideas. Speaking of Pinterest, set up a board for all your recipes. Quickly repin all the ones that look interesting to you and then you have them for easier grabbing.

You don’t need to add a new recipe to every single day of the week. Opt for a new and fun recipe once or twice. Get the kids involved in this process and find out what they would like. You can offer a couple of choices to choose from, so they feel like they have total control, but you’ve still made sure the meals are filling and healthy.

Plan strategic places for putting them into your meal plan. Think about the days that you have more time to cook and those when you’re not going to resent spending time at the stove. This means it will be less likely that you will switch the plan and opt for something that isn’t filling and healthy.

Don’t forget to plan in some desserts. These will become part of your meals. Dessert with your evening meal is the most common.

Step 5: Make Sure You Have Some Family Friendly Staples

You won’t want to spend all your time cooking something new. There will be times that you just want to grab ingredients and create a meal. Therefore you’ll need some staple meals that your whole family will love. These could also be meals that your guests are guaranteed to love, instead of risking trying something new.

Set up a recipe folder or a Pinterest board full of the family-friendly recipes. This will make it easier to pull them out when you want to make them.

You may not have the recipes. After a while, the staples will be ones that you make off the top of your head.

Step 6: Don’t Be Afraid to Bulk Cook

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I mentioned that you could grab some meals from the freezer. I wasn’t talking about processed meals that you can get from the grocery store. This comment was about bulk cooking one day of the week.

This can be an excellent way to stick to your filling and healthy meal plan during a busy week. Opt for a day off work when you make a range of meals throughout the week. You can have Bolognese sauces, marinades, and soups. You can even pre-prepare some of your vegetables and salads to make it easier to grab and go.

You don’t have to prepare every single element of your meal. Simply have the elements that usually take the longest to make, so you can reheat while your pasta or meat is cooking. You’ll find it is much easier to grab a meal after a long day at work. You won’t think about the takeaways that just aren’t filling and healthy.

Step 7: Try Out Themed Nights

“Meatless Monday” is a popular hashtag on Twitter. You could opt for Soup Saturday or Pizza Friday. There are all sorts of themes that you can have.

Yes, they will help with creating the meal plan for your filling and healthy lifestyle. Each day of the week has a designated theme. This is your theme throughout a month or a few months; then you can always change them up if you want to try something else.

Each meal of the day will work with your designated theme. You will find that coming up with ideas is much easier. You just must search for recipes that work with the theme or adapt your favorite meals to work with the theme.

All you have to do is make sure that the recipes are still filling and healthy.

Step 8: Create a Shopping List of Necessary Foods

Once you’ve created your weekly meal plan, create a list of foods that you will need to buy. Some meals will use the same ingredients, so you’ll need to make sure you stock up on plenty for your needs.

Don’t worry if you do run out. You can always go to the shop on the way home. However, having everything ready will help to limit the frustration of running out of a particular ingredient.

When you are out of a staple ingredient, make sure you put it on the shopping list. This will avoid forgetting about it when it comes to creating your next shopping list.

Step 9: Don’t Be Afraid to Be Relaxed

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It will be tempting to stick with your filling and healthy meal plan strictly. This isn’t necessary. Your meal plan needs to be fun. Eating with your friends and family should be enjoyable, as well as healthy and good for your energy levels.

It’s important to create a meal plan that is relaxed and works for you. If you decide you want to switch the meals for Friday and Saturday around, don’t be afraid to do it. If your kids decide that they want Wednesday’s planned dinner for Monday, go with the flow. A simple swap is not going to affect your diet or your meal plan!

However, you only really want to do swaps. If you are going to opt for alternatives, make sure they are still filling and healthy recipes. You don’t want to swap out the Friday filling and healthy fish dish for a takeaway pizza!

Are You Ready for a Filling and Healthy Meal Plan?

It’s time to stock up on filling and healthy ingredients. Look out for foods that work great for recipes but also for good snacks throughout the day.

A filling and healthy meal plan will be fun to create. There is lots of inspiration on the likes of Pinterest or in cookbooks. Just make sure you have your calendar or planner and create a meal plan that works for everyone in the house. You’ll soon have a list of staples and wonder what the panic or confusion was all about.

Hypnotherapy and Its Benefits for Autoimmune Disease

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hypnotherapy - Hypnotherapy and Its Benefits for Autoimmune Disease

Source: istock photo

What follows is a summary of a talk I gave to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society about Hypnotherapy and its uses with MS and other Autoimmune Diseases.

I found it very interesting to learn that Autoimmune Disorders occur almost exclusively in developed countries. People in underdeveloped countries without our modern amenities like clean running water, washing machines, flushing toilets, and good healthcare don’t really experience these diseases. It doesn’t make sense, except, if you look at the difference in life styles.

So what’s difference? In a busy, modern society, we do little to get rid of stress. We sit a lot, do little to work with, or exercise our bodies, have little time to relax, and have not been taught to pay attention to what our body tells us. We drive instead of walk, buy most of our goods in one place rather than walking from shop to shop, and have little time to sit and relax with family and friends. Certainly in developed countries our food is more processed and we are exposed to more chemicals and pollution as well. In this article, I’m going to focus more on listening to, and working with our body, and how that relates to the mind.

Hypnotherapy has shown to be very successful in helping patients resolve allergy issues. And Autoimmune Diseases are in many ways like allergies. In fact, some scientists say that an Autoimmune Disease is like “an allergy on the inside”. Allergies involve an unacceptable immune response toward something external to our body, such as a food, bee or material. An Autoimmune Disorder involves an unacceptable immune response towards something within the body itself. With an allergy, something external to our body causes an abnormal reaction in our immune system. With an autoimmune disorder, something within our body causes an abnormal reaction in our immune system, in essence, causing our immune system to fight the body itself.

Let me dispel some myths about Hypnosis. It isn’t mind control. It isn’t someone getting another person to act like a chicken. It isn’t about getting someone to disclose all their secrets against their will. It isn’t about getting people to do whatever you want them to do with the simple snap of a finger. What you may have seen on stage is just that, stage hypnosis. It’s people acting and it’s fake.

There is a difference between Hypnotherapy and hypnotism. There are a lot of people out there who advertise as hypnotists, and, while I’m not trying to disparage their work, they are not trained Psychotherapists. Hypnotherapy, while often being the major focus, is rarely the sole treatment for anxiety, Autoimmune Disease, phobias and even habits. Because of this, I believe it’s better to see a trained and licensed Psychotherapist for the treatment.

So what is hypnosis?

Hypnosis is simply a state of heightened awareness, sometimes called a trance, that’s achieved through guided relaxation. That’s pretty much it. The person being hypnotized is always in complete control, they can never be made to do or say anything they don’t want to, they have complete freedom to accept or reject the therapists’ suggestions and can come out of the trance state whenever they want.

In a trance state, the unconscious mind plays more of a dominant role in treatment. Now, you may wonder if you’re able to go into a trance state. Here’s the test. Did you ever leave work to drive home, and get lost in your thoughts until you find yourself in front of your house without knowing how you got there? You drove home in a trance state.

Did you ever get so involved in a book or movie that you didn’t hear the phone ring or didn’t hear someone talking to you? That’s also a trance state. The answer is, everyone can get into a trance state. There are no special skills, no special traits, no special qualities you must have.

Since a trance state involves the unconscious mind, let’s talk a little about it. Cognitive neuroscientists have conducted many studies that have shown that only about 5% of our cognitive activities, activities such as emotions, actions, behaviors and decisions is conscious, while the remaining 95% is generated in a non-conscious manner, or by the unconscious mind. Think about that for a minute. 95% of our mind that we use minute to minute, is on the unconscious level. As you’re reading this article, are you reminding yourself what word each string of letters forms and its’ meaning or do you somehow just “know”? The unconscious mind remembers the meaning of words, what letters form what words, and what a string of words put together means so that reading flows.

Suppose we think of the mind as an iceberg. What do we see when we look at an iceberg? We see the part that’s above water. But we know that the bulk of the iceberg, the main part of it, the part that gives it it’s strength, lies beneath the water. Only a small percentage of the iceberg is visible above the water. The mind is like the iceberg. The conscious mind is the small part we see above the surface, while the unconscious mind is the huge mass that lies below the surface. The conscious mind, the part of the mind most of us equate with our mind, is used for about 5% of our activities while the unconscious, is used for the other 95%.

The unconscious mind holds all awareness that is not in the conscious mind, it’s like the warehouse of our minds. It keeps the body running and functioning, has memory of every event we’ve ever experienced, and is the source and storehouse of our emotions. The unconscious mind is really where all learning, beliefs, habits, and behavior is created and is also where change occurs.

How do we know the unconscious mind is always at work? Do you consciously tell your eyes to scan from right to left when you read, and then do it again and again? Do you will your pupils to enlarge when the text is too small to read? Do you tell yourself to breathe every time you inhale and exhale?

If as I said, we are conscious of only about 5% of our cognitive activity, then it follows that 95% of brain activity goes beyond our conscious awareness. So that means that most of our decisions, actions, emotions and behavior depends on our unconscious awareness. The unconscious mind understands the world that the mind and body must negotiate. It gets our hearts to beat, our bodies to digest food, allows us to drive home without studying the route each time, turn on appliances without reading the manual each time, etc. It gets us to feel amorous or angry when our spouse looks at us a certain way, to tear up when we read sad passages in a book, and feel on edge when we hear a door slam.

With relaxation and trance, we’re moving the tip of the iceberg aside, so we can access and communicate directly with the unconscious mind. The conscious mind remains awake and observant, but is just resting. That allows the trance state to make the person better able to respond to suggestions, which makes Hypnotherapy particularly useful in helping change certain behaviors, like smoking, or in helping change perceptions and sensations, necessary for treating pain.

Deepak Chopra said that “every thought and emotion you experience touches every single cell in your body. So what do you think happens to your body, when you constantly feed it negative thoughts?” Well, it probably experiences a negative emotional state which then leads to either physical pain or discomfort. And we know that one of the major contributors of Autoimmune Disease is related to our emotional and mental being.

And what controls our thoughts and emotions? WE DO! We control every single thought that comes into our mind. Our thoughts control how our body responds and we control our thoughts. Is it possible to reprogram our thoughts about a particular health belief we have about ourselves? Certainly! And remember, changing our thoughts will change our behaviors, and will change our body’s reactions and response.

Milton Erikson, a famous Psychiatrist and one of the fathers of Hypnotherapy once said, “The subconscious mind is like a warehouse of resources and most people go into the warehouse with a little flashlight rather than turning on all the lights.” In other words, we have a choice what resources in our unconscious mind we want to use at any given time. So why not use the ones that will empower us the most?

Many difficulties we have, many diseases, illness, compulsions, nervous disorders, and mentally generated illnesses involve some part of the unconscious. It is hard sometimes to understand that the very area that is creating a problem is the same area that protects us from harm and danger every day. If we only use our conscious minds, 5% of our minds, we are creating boundaries and limitations.

Hypnotherapy is extremely effective in relieving pain. Pain perception really has two parts. First is the sensation of something uncomfortable happening to a part of our body, and second is our reaction to this information.

Pain is important. We don’t want to get rid of it because it lets us know that there is damage being done to our body. It helps us protect that part of our body and warns us to get away from the thing that’s hurting our body. So we need pain. But what about when the pain becomes chronic, is with us for a long time? It’s already done its job of warning us, we’ve probably already treated it or protected that body part from the harmful stimulus, so we no longer need it to warn us. Maybe we’ll still need a slight discomfort to remind us to not overdo things, but we certainly no longer need the pain. This is where Hypnotherapy can help.

Let’s go back to my example of sitting in a movie and getting so engrossed in it that you don’t hear your phone ring. As I said before, that’s being in a trance state. Did you ever go into a movie with a headache and get so engrossed in the movie that you forgot your head hurt? Or, did you ever think so much about your headache that it seemed like it was going to explode? That is a prime example of how our thoughts control how our body responds.

Using relaxation and focused concentration to change the way we think and to change our thoughts about the way we feel, can help us gain more control over pain and get our body to feel more comfortable. Hypnosis is a state of deep relaxation which helps the mind focus allowing the unconscious mind to become responsive to suggestions. You don’t have to try to respond, it just happens, just as pain just happens. In your state of relaxation and focused attention, the Hypnotherapist can give your unconscious mind the information, suggestions and tools it needs to become more comfortable and to relieve the pain.

In summary, our thoughts have a major impact on how our body feels. In fact, our thoughts can regulate how our bodies feel. We are in control of our thoughts, therefore, the implication is that we can control the way our body feels. But sometimes, we need help in doing that. Sometimes we get stuck in a thought pattern that leaves our body feeling unwell, unhealthy, in discomfort. Hypnotherapy can help get us unstuck, to begin to use different parts of our minds to think differently, to change the way our body responds and to help us feel, act, and behave in ways that are more healthful and helpful.