Tuesday, July 11, 2017

9 Ways Opposites Attract

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to my better half!! Tomorrow, July 12th, marks NINE years of marriage – and Mal and I haven’t killed each other yet! Kidding, kidding!

Mal and I actually get along really well and, as cheesy as it may sound, we are truly the best of friends. We share the same vision and goals for our life together, and we have the same outlook and views with regard to a lot of things. We’re also both Geminis, so we totally “get it” when it comes to our different personalities/mood swings and how to deal with them! 🙂

Even though we’re quite similar, we couldn’t be more different when it comes to a certain aspects of our lives. Since we’re celebrating nine years tomorrow, I’m sharing nine ways that Mal and I share quite the opposite take on how to do/think about things. We actually brainstormed this list together and had quite the good laugh about it, which just goes to show you that our “opposite” personalities do attract and make for a fun/interesting/wonderful relationship!

  1. The state of our cars – This is probably the most obvious in our relationship. Mal’s car is immaculate at all times – to the point where Qman is only allowed to eat certain (non-messy) foods in his car. Powdered donut? Hell no. My car needs a serious vacuum at all times. Qman eats Saltines after daycare in the backseat. My car is also the “pug car,” so there’s endless amounts of Murphy fur on the rugs. I dunno. Having a spotless car is just not a priority to me, especially when I have messy creatures constantly working against me! 🙂
  2. Our ability to multitask – Mal does one thing at a time and truly cannot focus on two things at once. I do my best work when I’m doing five things at once!
  3. Our preferred temperatures – Mal loves cold weather and everything associated with it. I’m not a fan and would rather warm temperatures. #teamsummer
  4. How we eat cupcakes – I’m a frosting lover, and Mal prefers the cake, which, of course, works out quite well for the two of us!
  5. How much food we leave on our plates – When we’re eating at home, I usually finish all of the food on my plate while Mal will always leave a few bites, which, of course, kills me on the inside since I hate seeing food go to waste. Sometimes, I’ll eat his final bites, but Murphy typically benefits from his leftovers.
  6. How we deal with technology – Mal loves technology. He’s constantly researching and buying new things for himself and our house. I, however, have zero patience with technology. I mean, I always updates on my phone/laptop, and I just ignore them. Right now, for instance, I have 55 updates on my iPhone. If Mal saw it, his head would explode! Ha!
  7. Things were oblivious to – I constantly leave cabinets and drawers open. I actually had no idea I even did this until Mal recently pointed it out to me after doing a bunch of meal prep one day. He walked into the kitchen and said it looked like “poltergeist” had been there. Haha! Mal is always coming behind me and closing cabinets/drawers/poking fun at me. Mal is oblivious to leaving random pieces of trash and receipts around the house. For instance, he’ll finish a can of seltzer and then leave the empty can on the coffee table forever. Seriously, it would be a few days before it finally made its way to the trash (unless I picked it up, of course). Clutter around the house really bothers me, so I’m constantly cleaning up Mal’s random items.
  8. How we relax – Mal can relax in 0.2 seconds. I generally can’t relax and feel like I need to be doing something at all times.
  9. How we discipline Quinn – Mal (being a teacher and all) is very Mr. Haupert when it comes to discipline – rules, expectations, consistency. I can be a total pushover at times, but I’m working on it (because I know it makes a huge difference in Qman’s behavior when we’re on the same page)!

Question of the Day

How are you and your signification other completely different?

Past anniversary celebrations:

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Home Sweet Home

^^Girl hike with Sarah yesterday!

As usual, I came home from our trip craving fresh healthy food. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world when I walked into my house hungry and tired on Sunday evening to find the fridge filled with goodies. Both Sarah and Thomas’s mom house sat for us while we were gone, and those caring, sweet women stocked the fridge with food, from healthy prepared salads, a rotisserie chicken and meatballs for us to have for dinner Sunday night to half and half for morning coffee and even cans of seltzer and bubbly! Wouldn’t a great business be to be able to order a healthy dinner and a few staples to have in your fridge when you return from vacation? I’d be all over that! (P.S. I cleaned my fridge from top to bottom the day before we left when it was empty, so it felt extra sparkly when I got back!)

We have been eating well these past few days! Last night’s dinner of chicken, rice, and a home-made kale salad with sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, red peppers, and dill havarti.

I’m on a mission to do some more early runs now that it’s so hot during the day. I got up this morning to head out before breakfast. I had to walk the first half mile to wake up my stiff foot (from my 2005 surgery!) and even once I got going it was a slow run, but I was very proud of myself when I got home for even going at all. I listened to Young House Love Has A Podcast the whole time!

Breakfast bowl of yogurt, blueberries, peach and granola!

My foot has been extra stiff lately with all the soccer I’ve been playing plus a week walking in sand, which is awful if you have foot problems. I had been to see my friend Dr. Geodken for a pulled back muscle a few weeks ago, and the idea came to mind that he might be able to help me with my foot too. Dr. Geodken works at Airrosti, and the method is kind of like a super deep, sometimes painful massage on your connective tissue that might have gotten restricted or weak from injury over time. When the connective tissue is loose and flexible, your body can move properly and pain should dissipate (assuming your pain is soft tissue or mobility related!) I had surgery on my foot in 2005 to un-fuse my sub-talar joint, and my foot has had limited mobility and stiffness ever since. It really only bothers me if I do a lot of activity, but I am hoping that a combination of Dr. G’s (super intense!) massage and some physical therapy moves (ball rolling, ankle strengthening) will help. We will see!

Back at home I got worked for a while and took a break for lunch at 12:30 to finish the last of Sarah’s meatballs and more of that kale salad. I love making a big massaged kale salad and then eating it for a few days. It’s so convenient!

Last night’s Bachelorette – did you watch? Team Peter all the way! (He reminds me of Thomas with his facial hair, haha.) I think she’s going to end up with someone else though, and I am hoping Peter is the new Bachelor.

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7 Relaxing Yoga Poses to Unwind

Inline_Resting ButtrerflyToday’s guest post is offered up by Jessica Gouthro of PaleoHacks.com. I feel like midsummer calls for some good R&R. Enjoy the chance to kick back and relax with her routine, everyone.

A simple restorative yoga practice can teach you to truly relax your body, tune in with your breath, and calm your stressed-out mind.

Restorative yoga uses props to aid in physical, mental, and emotional relaxation.

As you do these poses, keep in mind the goal is not to “work hard” like you might do in a traditional flow yoga class. The goal is to get comfortable, hold still, and allow your mind to slow down and the tension to release from all areas of your body.

In this practice, we’ll use a mat, a chair, and a rolled-up blanket for some moves, but you can also use a pillow or bolster in place of the blanket and/or the edge of your bed or couch in place of the chair.

If you are feeling stressed, give these 7 postures a try and feel the results for yourself.

Supported Child’s Pose

Supported Child's Pose

Kneel on your mat with your knees wide and feet touching.
Place the rolled up blanket underneath you, making sure it will be long enough to support your head when you lay forward.

Walk your hands out all the way and rest your head to one side on the blanket.

Sit your hips back all the way toward your heels and get comfortable.
Breathe deeply as you relax into the posture.

Hold Supported Child’s Pose for about 1 minute.

Kneeling Twist

Kneeling Twist 1

Kneel on your mat in an all-fours position.

Thread one arm through the middle and twist your torso until you can place that shoulder on the ground.

Press into the floor with the opposite hand to exaggerate the twist.
Breathe and relax.

Hold this Kneeling Twist for 30 seconds, then switch to the other side and hold for another 30 seconds.

Supported Relaxed Plow

Supported Relaxed Plow

Lie on your back.

Kick your legs up and over into a plow position.

Support your lower back with your hands.

Relax your legs, allowing your knees to bend comfortably down by your ears.

Breathe and relax.

Hold Supported Relaxed Plow for about 30 seconds.

Seated Wide Leg Supported Forward Fold

Seated Chair Support wide leg

Sit in front of your chair (or bed or couch) and stretch your legs out wide to the sides.

Lean forward and place your forearms on the edge of the chair with your forehead resting on top of your arms.

Relax your feet and legs and just get comfortable with the stretch.

If this feels like too much stretch, you may bend your knees.

Breathe deeply and relax.

Hold Seated Wide Leg Supported Forward Fold for about 30 seconds.

Legs Elevated Resting Pose

Legs on Chair

Lie on your back with your butt very close to the front of the chair (or bed or couch).

Place your legs on top of the chair so that knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.

Lift your arms up for a goal post shape, with the backs of your hands rested on the ground.

Ensure that your shoulder blades are tucked flat on the ground and chest is lifted to attain the most restful position. There should be a natural curve in your lower back.

Breathe deep and relax into the posture.

Hold Legs Elevated Resting Pose for about 1 minute.

Resting Butterfly

Resting Buttrerfly

Sit on your mat, placing your rolled-up blanket at the base of your spine and stretching out behind you.

Put the soles of your feet together with knees wide to form a “butterfly” shape with your legs.

Lie back and fold the top of the blanket over again to create a small pillow for your head to rest.

Stretch your arms out to the sides with palms facing up.

Breathe deeply and relax into the posture, allowing your knees to fall towards the ground comfortably.

Hold Resting Butterfly for about 1 minute.

Savasana

Savasana

Lie flat on your back with legs extended and arms by your sides.

Adjust your shoulders and hips until your find a comfortable resting position. Allow a natural curve in your spine.

Hold Savasana for about 1 minute.

These poses are incredibly restorative and effective for reducing stress, calming the nervous system and allowing us to unwind after a busy day.
Hold the postures as long as you like or repeat the sequence more than one time.

I hope you will return to this practice next time you feel stressed and share what you’ve learned with anyone needing to unwind in a healthy way.

Thanks again to Jessica Gouthro from PaleoHacks.com for the great restorative routine today. Questions, comments, suggestions for more stress (or de-stress) related topic on MDA? Share them on the comment board, and thanks for reading today, everybody.

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6 Little Tricks to Prevent Vacation Weight Gain

With summer in full swing, I’m daydreaming about the travels I have planned for the season — including a couple of weeks in Europe — and about ways to make my travels healthier too. The tactic I’m using for part of my Europe trip: renting an apartment. This allows me to prep breakfast and even dinners — plus, I get the bonus of getting to cook with local produce! When my boyfriend and I were visiting the Pacific Northwest last summer, we whipped up the most delicious meal in our apartment rental, using mushrooms and huckleberries from a local farmers’ market.

 

To help you have the healthiest vacation possible, I rounded up top tips from my dietitian colleagues. I hope you put them to good use!

 

Load up on local produce. Hello, papaya and passion fruit! “Resort and cruise buffets are jam packed with fruits, vegetables, as well as lean protein options, which can help you feel full on fewer calories,” says Marisa Moore, RDN, owner of Marisa Moore Nutrition. “Fill up on those foods during your first trip to the buffet. If you’re heading to a tropical location, indulge in the abundant local fruits and vegetables, which are naturally nutritious and lower in calories.”

 

Pick your own fruit. “Looking for an activity that also happens to get you active and eating healthier?” asks Christy Brissette, RD, a spokesperson for the Blueberry Council. “Go blueberry picking on your vacation. It gets everyone outside for some fresh air and sunshine — and after you’re done with the fun of picking your own blueberries, you’ll have a low-calorie, nutrient-packed snack for the car ride.” Pencil a pick-your-own farm into your vacation schedule—you can pick raspberries, cherries, and peaches, too.

 

Plan in activity. “Walking is the best way to see a city,” says Moore. “In cities from New York City to Amsterdam, many hotels have bikes that you can borrow or rent to explore the city. If you’re enjoying a resort or community that has a shuttle or golf carts designated for getting around, walk or bike instead. Many resorts have free bicycles to check out and get from your room to the beach or other attractions.” Also go ahead and book a kayaking adventure or a dance lesson. “One of my favorite vacation memories is from a Merengue lesson during my first trip to the Dominican Republic.” adds Moore.

 

Stock up on groceries. “The best way to ensure you’re having a lighter breakfast is to go to a deli or supermarket and pick up some fresh fruit, nuts, and yogurt to start your day,” says Brissette. “That also means you can get going earlier with any activities you have planned!” You can also schedule a farmers’ market visit and use that excursion to load up on local produce.

 

Get cooking when you get home. Indulging on vacation is completely normal! Just make sure to get back to your normal, healthy habits upon return — and pronto. Keep the vacation spirit alive while whipping up inspired, nutritious dishes. “Think of travel as an opportunity for cooking inspiration that will last for years,” says Stephanie McKercher, MS, RDN, recipe developer at The Grateful Grazer. “Remember the flavors and ingredients used in your favorite dishes so you can recreate them once you’re back at home. You can always give your homemade versions a healthier twist, like switching from white to whole-grain pasta or incorporating an extra serving of vegetables.”

 

Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. She’s a regular contributor to many publications, including ReadersDigest.com, Shape.com, FitnessMagazine.com, Dr. Oz the Good Life, Runner’s World, and more—as well as WeightWatchers.com, where she was a longtime editor. She also pens a recipe-focused blog, Amy’s Eat List.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.



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Is Coconut Oil Healthy? The Controversy Explained

You probably read the recent headlines… 

  • “Coconut oil isn’t healthy. It’s never been healthy” ~ USA Today
  • “Nutrition experts warn coconut oil is on par with beef fat, butter” ~ Chicago Tribune
  • “This popular health food is worse for you than pork lard” ~ Daily Star
  • “Coconut Oil Isn’t As Healthy As We Thought, According To Depressing New Study” ~ Elite Daily

And wondering to yourself “What the heck is going on?”… “I thought coconut oil was healthy”…”Crap, coconut oil is another fake health fad?”

Well you are not alone, it seems the entire Internet freaked out at this “news” and for good reason. 

As you can probably imagine, my email and phone has been blowing up about all this – even my Mom sent me a text wondering if it was true. I know it’s frustrating when there is so much conflicting health information being fired at us from all directions. How can we know what to believe? How can we know we’re getting accurate advice? Who should we listen to? How can we expect to get healthy?

It’s no secret that coconut oil is a regular part of my diet and I consider it one of the best oils to consume period. (I even partnered with the top organic coconut oil on the market as a result). Not everyone agrees with me, and that’s fine. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you to all be very careful about health advice reported in the media – because some well-meaning reporters fall for basic industry tricks like this one that has just happened. 

When it comes to health information, we must ALWAYS consider the source (and examine it well!)

Even if advice seems to come from a perfectly respectable organization on the surface (like the American Heart Association) – research who they are, who funds their work, and what types of health claims they’ve made in the past. This is something I do when reading health-related articles – and in today’s age of political and industry propaganda and manipulations, it is imperative that you take this step to be your own health advocate. 

Who was behind the headlines?

The American Heart Association released a new Presidential Advisory recommending that everyone AVOID coconut oil, stating that it is high in saturated fat and raises “bad” cholesterol levels – which they believe leads to heart disease. In their press release, the lead author of the report recommends that we all stop using coconut oil and cook with “canola, or corn oil or soybean oil, or extra virgin olive oil.”  And, he thinks it’s perfectly healthy to deep fry your food… ummm, what?!…

“There’s nothing wrong with deep frying as long as you deep fry in a nice unsaturated vegetable oil” ~ Frank M. Sacks, lead author of American Heart Association’s Presidential Advisory.

Can you trust the American Heart Association with health information?

The American Heart Association (AHA) is the same organization who told us for years to eat margarine (which was notoriously high in trans fat) calling it “more heart-healthy” than butter because it contains “no dietary cholesterol”. They started this recommendation back in the 1960’s and continued it for decades while the primary ingredient in margarine was partially hydrogenated oil full of trans fat. Well, we now know that the trans fat in partially hydrogenated oils are responsible for upwards of 20,000 heart attacks every year – which spurred the FDA to finally ban it from our food (effective in 2018). It’s rare for the FDA to ban anything! Boy, I’d say the AHA was way off on that recommendation, wouldn’t you? 

“Of the half million Americans who die prematurely each year from heart disease—the leading cause of death in this country—at least 30,000 are killed by trans fats.” ~ Harvard epidemiologist Walter Willett

AHA certifies food loaded with sugar as heart healthy! 

Cans of Bruce’s Yams In Syrup with 18 grams of added sugar per serving, Prego “Heart Smart” Sauces made with added sugar and canola oil, Starkist Ranch Tuna Creations with added sugar and MSG, and Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain Honey Wheat Bread with added sugar, soybean oil, and two additives that contain trans fats (DATEM and monoglycerides) all get their official seal of approval. In the past, they’ve certified Fat-Free Chocolate Milk, Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, and Trix cereal… yikes.

Processed deli meats full of sugar, salt and preservatives (like heavily processed Boar’s Head!) get a big thumbs up from them as well. All of these products and dozens more insanely processed foods with the “American Heart Association Heart Check” Seal of Approval have each paid thousands of dollars in fees (up to $7,500 + annual renewal fees per product) to use the certified seal.

Processed deli meats and sugar are associated with dramatically increasing the risk of heart disease…but the AHA doesn’t call those foods out? 

“Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) have found that eating processed meat, such as bacon, sausage or processed deli meats, was associated with a 42% higher risk of heart disease Harvard School of Public Health, May 2010

“Over the course of the 15-year study on added sugar and heart disease, participants who took in 25% or more of their daily calories as sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those whose diets included less than 10% added sugar.” Harvard Medical School, Feb. 2014

They’ve even partnered up with “Healthy Dining Finder” which directs you to eat at Denny’s, Sizzler, and Red Robin… do they really believe these restaurants serve healthy food?

Think of all the people who relied on the AHA’s endorsements and ate foods full of sugar, nitrates, and trans fat for years – and ended up sick as a result. How many people are still being misled? It. Is. Sickening.

AHA and Big Food are longtime best friends!

This is not where the AHA’s ties to industry end. Over the years, their sponsors have included a who’s who list of the worst Big Food brands out there, who fill their foods up with soybean oil, canola oil, processed meats, and sugar:

  • Kellogg’s
  • Pepsico
  • General Mills
  • Nestle
  • Mars
  • Domino’s Pizza
  • Kraft
  • Subway
  • Quaker

The AHA is also raking in upwards of $15 million dollars per year from drug and healthcare companies – including over $3 million from Pfizer (the maker of the statin drug Lipitor that reduces cholesterol). Could this be why the AHA recommends that millions more Americans be prescribed statins, even healthy older people with no history of heart disease? The members of their research committee are raking in industry dollars too… receiving tens of thousands from drug companies to fund research, make trial appearances, and serve as consultants – which is a blatant conflict of interest.

The authors of this new AHA Presidential Advisory that condemns coconut oil are riddled with conflicts of interest as well…

One author, Penny M. Kris-Etherton, discloses significant funding from Ag CanadaCanola Oil Council, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Could this be why she recommends “lean beef” as “heart healthy” and canola oil as a way to cut belly fat? In the past, she also served on the advisory board at Unilever (maker of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, Country Crock, Brummel & Brown, and Imperial Margarine).

Another author, Jennifer G. Robinson, disclosed research funding from numerous drug companies, many of whom make cholesterol pills… Amarin, Amgen, AstraZeneca (maker of the statin Crestor), Eli Lilly, Glaxo-Smith Kline, Merck, Pfizer, Regeneron/Sanofi, and Takeda. 

Various conflict of interest disclosures reveal that Frank M. Sacks (lead author) has been paid by the industry to testify in court cases involving POM Wonderful, Hershey, Unilever, and Keebler. He also testified for or has received consulting fees from several drug companies including Abbott, Amgen, Eli Lilly, Merck, Roche, Sanofi and has received lecture fees from AstraZeneca. These previous associations were not disclosed as conflicts in the AHA’s report, but I consider this significant, don’t you?

The AHA’s ties to the industry shouldn’t be ignored.

It’s important to recognize squarely where the AHA’s loyalty lies. They are protecting industries from which they receive millions of dollars. When their primary sources of revenue come from Big Food and Pharmaceutical companies, you’ve got to question the veracity of their opinions on what constitutes healthy food. 

Is saturated fat really the enemy?

The AHA’s recent statement on the saturated fat in coconut oil is NOTHING NEW coming from them. They have long held the position that processed vegetable oils (like canola, corn, soybean oils) are healthy and discredit any information to the contrary, while demonizing all saturated fats as detrimental to our health.

This belief has persisted thanks to intense influence and lobbying by the Institute for Shortening and Edible Oils (ISEO), an industry trade group that protects the interests of vegetable oil manufacturers like Cargill, Bunge, and ConAgra.

“As far back as 1968, the ISEO was mentioned in an internal memo written by the medical director of the American Heart Association: According to the memo, the ISEO objected to the AHA’s intention to include a warning about trans fats in its dietary guidelines; subsequently, the AHA took it out.” ~ Mother Jones, August 2012

Furthering this belief, in the 1960’s the sugar industry funded research that would hide the link between sugar consumption and heart disease, while promoting the idea that fat is the real culprit. The public didn’t find out the truth until internal sugar industry documents were released in 2016

Many health experts believe saturated fats DO NOT cause heart disease and may even be GOOD for you.

There is well documented evidence that saturated fats do not increase your risk of heart disease. A recent meta-analysis in the British Journal of Medicine came to this conclusion. Another meta-analysis of 21 studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has also come to this conclusion. Another meta-analysis published in 2017 found that replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats (like corn oil) is not likely to reduce risk of heart disease. I could go on and on and on and on

A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that saturated fats may increase risk of heart disease, but NOT if they come from fish, dairy, or plants – such as coconuts! If you look at the countries that consume the most coconut oil, they’ve also got the some of the lowest rates of heart disease… what does that tell you?

“For many years we have been told that to prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD), we must lower our intake of saturated fatty acids (SFAs) and instead eat more carbohydrates and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Backed up by the National Cholesterol Education Program, the National Institutes of Health, and the American Heart Association, the medical profession has promoted this idea eagerly, although the number of contradictory scientific reports is almost endless. There is in fact much evidence that doing the opposite is more relevant… There is no evidence that a lower intake of SFA can prevent CVD and a high intake of PUFAs without specification may result in a high intake of omega-6, which is associated with many adverse health effects. Because there is much evidence that saturated fat may even be beneficial, we urge the American Heart Association…to consider the aforementioned evidence when updating their future guidelines”. ~ The Questionable Benefits of Exchanging Saturated Fat With Polyunsaturated Fat, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, April 2014

If the AHA truly believes saturated fat is so bad, why do they have “heart healthy” recipes for beef and pork on their website, given these are the biggest sources of saturated fat in the American diet? Could it be because the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Pork Board, Tyson, Hormel, and Smithfield have all paid money to have their meats and recipes “heart check” certified? This sure raises my eyebrows. 

Cholesterol has been demonized, but wrongly so.

We now know that cholesterol does some amazing things for your body and isn’t all bad as once believed – but it’s highly complex. Even if coconut oil raises cholesterol levels, this doesn’t tell you the whole story. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, what you want to watch out for is the type of cholesterol that is getting raised and particle size, along with high triglycerides:

“As a doctor, I tell patients that abnormal cholesterol can become a problem when it is the small dense LDL particles, accompanied by high triglycerides. In fact small LDL particles actually triple your risk of heart disease. This is caused by high-carb, low-fat diets and is improved when you add fat back to the diet, including saturated fat.” ~ Is Coconut Oil Bad for Your Cholesterol? Mark Hyman, M.D.

It’s also been shown that saturated fat in coconut oil increases “good” HDL cholesterol and increases the size of LDL particles (making them less likely to promote heart disease). On the other hand, low cholesterol can be harmful, linked to increased risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and morbid depression. 

What you really should be avoiding are refined “vegetable oils” like corn, soybean, and canola oil…

These oils go through an insane amount of processing with chemical solvents, steamers, neutralizers, de-waxers, bleach and deodorizers before they end up in the bottle. Corn and soybean oil are very high in omega-6 fatty acids which are known to promote inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is a real killer, increasing the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. These oils are also strongly linked to cancer and are typically derived from GMO crops contaminated with Roundup herbicide.

Despite all the evidence against it, the American Heart Association continues to tell people to eat these highly processed, inflammatory oils. Why is this?

It could be that the AHA is just stuck in the 50’s and can’t come to grips with all the new research out there. But I have another theory which seems more plausible – the AHA is protecting the profits of the drug industry (their sponsors) who rely on us being unhealthy enough to need a prescription and the food industry who prefers to use cheap oils in their food and doesn’t want to spend more money for healthy ingredients. It’s all about the bottom line.

It’s really no surprise that the AHA is trying to vilify coconut oil.

Now that the general public is learning the truth about saturated fats and sugar, the industry is freaking out. They needed to find a new angle. They need to win their way back into the public’s hearts… and what better way to do it than to scare us… “Hey, you know that coconut oil in your cabinet that you thought was healthy? Well, it’s going to give you a heart attack”.

It’s so outrageous for them to make this claim when you look at where we are today with our health.

For someone to die from a heart attack was virtually unheard of 100 years ago, it was extremely rare! In just a few short decades it became the leading cause of death in the ‘50’s and now heart disease remains as the #1 killer of Americans. The drugs pumped out by pharmaceutical companies and all those new “trans fat free” foods are doing nothing to stop this. What changed so dramatically during the last hundred years?

One of the most significant changes to our diets was the switch from natural fats to processed and refined vegetable oils. Americans moved away from eating real butter and fresh foods, while increasing consumption of sugary processed foods made with vegetable oils. Data shows that in the last several decades Americans cut the fat from their diets by 25% while increasing intake of carbohydrates by more than 30%. The majority of these carbohydrates aren’t healthy fruits and vegetables either – but mostly refined breads, crackers, cereals, pastas, and other low-fat processed foods packed with added sugar.

Where has cutting out the fat and gorging on refined grains and sugar gotten us? If you ask me, the health of our nation has tanked. It makes me incredibly sad, because I know most people are trying to eat right and do what their doctors and experts from organizations like the AHA tell them to do. No one wants to be overweight and sick, yet that is the reality for most Americans.

I personally love coconut oil and all of the health benefits it provides.

The tropical saturated fat in coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which have been shown to increase your metabolism and to REDUCE body fat (sources: 1, 2, 3, 4), while retaining muscle mass. It works to bring down chronic inflammation in the body and is an amazing source of energy. As a bonus, it’s also associated with increased antioxidant levels in the body that can slow aging!

I use a variety of cooking oils in my kitchen. Read my investigation with a list of which oils I personally like to use here. If you know anyone who is wondering if coconut oil is dangerous (or is trusting the American Heart Association for health information), please share this post with them and keep spreading the truth!

The debate continues… 

Even two members of my Advisory Council, who are both physicians that I greatly respect, are on opposite sides of this issue and do not agree. Dr. Joel Kahn agrees with the American Heart Association’s conclusions (because he is generally against all oils) and Dr. Mark Hyman does not…

“My advice is to not get lost in the jungle of discussion over coconut and its oil. Without a doubt the AHA Advisors were responsible in highlighting the lack of data for a health benefit to adding coconut oil to the diet and the likely risks”. ~ Joel Kahn, M.D.

“First, there is not a single study showing that coconut oil causes heart disease. Not one. Second, the whole case against coconut oil is founded on a hypothesis that has been proven wrong”. ~ Mark Hyman, M.D.

I greatly appreciate this difference of opinion, and of course, I have my own. 

What do you think? Let me know in the comments and please share this post with your coconut oil loving friends!

Xo, 

Vani

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The Southern Living Idea House

If you are a reader of Southern Living, you know every year they do an Idea House. A few years ago it was built in Charlottesville (although sadly I never got a chance to go through), and this year it is at Bald Head! Tickets to tour the house were $15, and I couldn’t wait to go inside. You can tour it through the early fall I believe, so if you are near the island, it would be a fun extra to add to a day trip over.

I have adored going through model homes since I was little. In fact, my family used to hunt them out just to walk through them. Since the house I grew up in was built in 1833, I have always loved the crisp, fresh feel of a brand new house. The Idea House was gorgeous inside and out! The porches were just stunning, and I loved all the cottage-y details.

The living room had windows on three sides and was filled with so much natural light. I loved the pops of coral, and I thought the light fixtures were the show stoppers.

The porch off the living room and kitchen was to-die-for! The pass-through window between the main kitchen and outdoor kitchen would be so great for entertaining al fresco.

I will say that if this was my porch it would look a lot dirtier!! Everything was so clean and new.

Sadly I neglected to get a picture of the kitchen, but it was wide open and central to the house. I loved how the back wing, which housed the master bedroom, bath, laundry, pantry and mudroom, had all these little passageways to connect them all. There’s a little peek into the kitchen there with all its farmhouse sink glory!

Master bedroom of my dreams! Can you see the hardwood floors in the photo above and in the closet pass-through here? They were thick, rough planks, and they were my favorite feature in the house. They made the whole house feel so grand.

This shower!!! There was an outdoor shower too! Loved the floor tile. to get into the master shower you just walked behind the glass. No doors to open or pinch fingers. Although I will say that if I had a house full of guests and was showering in here I might feel a little exposed with all the glass, two bathroom entrances, and windows!

Upstairs there were two bright bedrooms. I generally prefer paint to wallpaper, but I loved this cheerful yellow! It made the whole room feel dressed up and put together. Note the matching shams! Also digging the natural bed frame.

This private bath was my favorite room in the house. The tile work was stunning, and that shower looked so cozy – but in a good way.

The kids room had beautiful upholstered headboards and a small attached bath with a huge soaking tub.

The upstairs porch spanned the whole back of the house and would be ideal for naps!

Or reading. Or both!

The house also had great storage. Look at this cute doggie corner, which would also be a great place to store tons of beach towels, baskets with sunscreen, and other beach island essentials.

Finally, the porches connected the main house to the crofter, which had a fourth bedroom and bath that the designers turned into a game/relax room.

I didn’t love the monkey wallpaper in here (neither did the two ladies touring with us) but I guess you gotta take risks on a big design project like this! The rug, however, was fab. The whole house was furnished with decor from Hayneedle.

I loved how clean and decluttered the house felt, but it also had a great dressed-up feel. It really made me think hard about my own house and ways I could improve on the decorating. Thomas and I would like to build a house someday, so we had lots of comments on things we liked and disliked. And I thought it was funny how all of my comments were on the decor and flow and his were on the craftsmanship and materials! #buildertalk 😉

What is your favorite feature in your house? First floor master? Built-ins? Upstairs laundry?

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