The Supplements I Recommend, and Why

Supplement PillsAmericans love supplements! Roughly half of us use them. We spent $11.5 billion on supplements last year, and that number is consistently climbing.

In one sense that’s a good thing: it indicates we are interested in being healthy, and are trying to do something positive.

But on the other hand, are we getting our money’s worth? Are all those supplements doing any good? Or are they perhaps doing harm? How can we know? Are we using supplements as an excuse to continue living an unhealthy lifestyle?

I’m not a fan of the US Food and Drug Administration, but I do believe we need to use science rather than hype to make decisions on what we put into our bodies. Anecdotes don’t convince me. Scientific research has its limitations, but it’s still the best we have in answering the question, “Is Product X safe and effective?” The FDA is, right now, the best we have – and they don’t control the supplement industry except when they make specific statements claiming to treat or cure disease.

Consumer Labs is a private company that does offer some independent evaluation for the plethora of nutritional products available.

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5 Different Kinds of Hunger

5 Different Kinds of Hunger

Cookie JarAnn knew she was experiencing some health problems as a result of being seriously overweight. She had very little energy, her knees hurt all the time, her menstrual cycle was messed up, and her cholesterol level was dangerously high. She knew she needed to lose weight – and the first step was changing how she ate. But she was finding it very difficult. She sat on the exam table and told me, “I’m an emotional eater. It’s the way I handle stress.”

The good news is that Ann realizes there is a difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger. Feeding emotional hunger with physical food may lessen the “Feed me!” screaming in your brain, but that only lasts a little while. When the underlying need has not been met, the mental demand for “food” only gets louder once again.

My friend Kathrine Lee likes to say, “It’s not what you’re eating: it’s what’s eating you!” Understanding – and meeting – the different needs we have with appropriate “nourishment” will make a huge difference in our health and happiness.

For the many of us who reach for food to quiet any hunger we feel, it may take some thinking and self-study to truly understand what our body and mind is really asking for. Here are some different kinds of hunger we can misinterpret as a need for food:

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Doctor, Doctor: Your Physical Health

Young people runningYou don’t feel good, so you snap at your spouse. You’re tired, so you make a quick unwise decision you later regret. You wake up with a headache, so you try to sleep in, and skip your morning quiet time.

Our physical health impacts every other area of our lives. If you are in shape, at a healthy weight, with good nutrition, and well rested, you are a comparatively formidable force against any obstacle in your way. You will have the mental energy to be creative and efficient at work, be fully present for your spouse and children, problem-solve well in a crisis, and have the spiritual energy to grow in your relationship with God.

On the other hand, if you are sick and tired, overweight, full of junk food, and never exercise, you have no reserve to handle even the “normal” stuff life throws at you. With no energy to draw on your work productivity will decrease, your personal relationships will be contentious, your mind will function more slowly in a crisis, and you won’t have any strength left for spiritual growth.

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Staying Healthy On the Road

Healthy meal of Broccoli and Lean meatKeeping a healthy lifestyle is a challenge at any time. But when you’re traveling it takes special determination to keep from falling back into less healthy eating and exercise patterns.

When you’re on the road your schedule is disrupted. You get tired. There may be meetings to get to. Fast food, airport food, restaurants, hotel breakfasts – none of those make it easy to eat fresh unprocessed food. And with fatigue and change in routine your ability to resist temptation may be less than normal as well.

If you travel only a couple times a year, eating less healthy or not getting exercise may be a small thing. But it’s very different if travel is a frequent part of your life.

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Eat to Live: My Nutrition Plan

Eat to Live: My Nutrition Plan

At my husband Al’s last medical visit his doctor was impressed. He asked me, “What are you eating? What diet do you have him on?” Al’s blood pressure was down, he was losing weight, and generally doing well. His doctor knew what most of us do – that what we eat makes a big difference in how we feel and in so many areas of our health. I’m proud of my husband! But how did we do it?

I’ve written previously about my spiritual breakfast, and about what I do to keep myself moving physically. Here I talk about the healthy nutrition plan I follow.

I grew up a vegetarian, which meant I enjoyed a lot of fruits and vegetables. That was the good part. But there were other parts of my diet that weren’t so good. I ate a lot of pasta, white rice, bread, and pastries. I did leave my vegetarian ways later, but the other habits persisted.

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