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Healthy Alternatives to Junk Food Temptations

March 23, 2005 | 21,567 views

By Colleen Huber, Naturopathy Works

Birthday parties, "The Holidays," Valentine's Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving. You can't get very far along in the year before someone you know either thrusts a piece of cake or a box of donuts in front of you, or begs you to help them eat the huge quantity of baked goods they've made. Or, in a well-meaning gesture of niceness and inclusiveness, you're offered some sweets in an effort to initiate or reinforce a friendship.

In return, you want to show your appreciation for their kind thoughts. The usual, unthinking way to do this is accept their "treat" and eat some of it with them. That is, until you develop a habit, which becomes so routine and far easier than accepting something you know you'll regret later.

"Food sensitivities," you say. "Sugar actually makes me sick."

Dare yourself to say this. The first time you do, you'll wonder, "What the heck am I saying?" And then you have to actually live up to the dare, and follow through with a conversation that roughly follows something like this:

"Are you diabetic?" is a common response.

"No, but any kind of sweeteners has always made me feel kind of sick. If I eat this now, I will feel miserable tomorrow. But thank you so much anyway. I appreciate you thinking of me."

Your friend may not be satisfied by your response and remind you of desserts you have enjoyed together in the past.

"Every time I eat that stuff, I feel terrible the next day. I'm not eating it anymore." Say this last part with a touch of defiance. After all, you are at long last refusing to participate in this society's periodic mutual poisoning ritual. In fact, now that you have just taken this courageous stand, you will feel challenged and expected by others to maintain your position. And you will gradually begin to receive fewer and fewer offers of sweets.

A persistent bearer of sweets might then respond, "Oh, but I made this myself with evaporated cane juice (or all-natural honey)."

"You made it yourself! No wonder it's so beautiful-looking. What a lot of work you must have done! I don't tolerate sweeteners though. Food sensitivity."

This bit of redundancy almost always ends the persistent offer. But if you must continue, be prepared to do so. At this point, if you are feeling cheeky, you might even add "doctor's orders," with a mental nod to Dr. Mercola, keeping in mind his advice. To really understand the devastating effect of any sweeteners on the body and mind, Dr. Mercola's Total Health Program is an excellent primer on basic, sound nutritional guidelines.

Then, if you're really feeling cheeky, you can turn the challenge around and ask: "Did you know there are 124 ways that sugar can ruin your health?" Dr. Nancy Appleton has gathered a large amount of such information from peer-reviewed medical journal articles and other medical literature. Her list is well worth reading, especially before a trip to a supermarket or restaurant.

Exchanging Carbs For Fats

People who eat refined carbohydrates or other processed foods often do not realize, when they crave a treat they would be more thoroughly satisfied by high-quality fat, not the carbs they have always used to stifle the body's cries for fat. Nor do they realize hunger is generally more completely satisfied by high-quality fat than refined carbohydrates.

Why would we crave fat, when the processed food industry and medical profession have told us that it is bad for so long? This might have something to do with it: The brain is mostly made up of fat. As Dr. Walter Crinnion says, "We're all a bunch of fatheads!"

The most desperately needed nutrient for growth and development of the brain from mid-pregnancy through infancy and childhood especially (but for adults also) is the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil and freshly ground organic flax seeds. For infants, of course, the fat of breast milk is the most suitable, but that milk is greatly enriched by the mother's good nutrition and intake of omega-3 fatty acids.

Anthropologists cite human intellectual and cultural development as having first blossomed in the vicinity of water and along waterways. Fish oil was an important part of the development of the human intellectual heritage. So were omega-6 fatty acids, which played a somewhat lesser but vital role. These are known as essential fatty acids because humans -- omnivores that we naturally are -- need to consume them.

Healthier Treats

With that in mind, let's consider some saturated fat treats that can be offered the next time you expect to be plied with refined carbs.

  1. Sashimi

    Sashimi is like sushi but without the rice. First, choose your fish very carefully for both freshness and quality. Clean wild Alaskan salmon is the high omega-3 fish that is known to be not as contaminated with mercury or PCBs as other fish.

    To be authentic, you can either use the 1/8th-inch cut (sogi zukuri) or the 3/8th-inch cut (hira zukuri). Cut across the grain through rectangular pieces of fish. A serving could be five or six pieces of the larger cut. Complement the fish with lemon slices, wasabi or horseradish, and shredded carrot or cucumber.

  2. Carob and Cream

    If you have access to raw goat or sheep milk, good for you! This is probably the best dairy available anywhere. If you do not have a goat share or other access to such dairy, you can also use cow milk. Cow dairy can be problematic for those not of Northern or Western European ancestry, however. Goat proteins are considerably smaller, more easily absorbed and seem to be less allergenic for many people.

    I like to take about 3 tablespoons of raw organic cream. Raw milk will also do. Add 2 scoops of probiotic flora, such as Primal Defense and a quarter- to a half-teaspoon of carob powder. If constipation is an issue, use moderation with carob powder, as large quantities can have a constipating effect.

    Stir well. No sweetener is needed for this creamy, delightful treat, which is thick enough to be eaten as a pudding. It thickens as it is left standing. Rice or almond milk may be used by those who are lactose-intolerant for a different consistency, but somewhat similar flavor.

  3. Cheese, Apples and Nuts

    Cheeses of various kinds should be more widely considered as snack food, fast food, appetizers and elements of lunch boxes. Cheeses are now available in a variety of organic and/or raw forms. They complement nuts and/or chunks of apples, which in turn complement each other well for those who are lactose intolerance and must omit the cheese.

  4. Chicken Soup

    This time of year, chicken soup is most highly prized for its soothing effect on upper respiratory infections. Why? Naturopathic physician Kenneth Proefrock, NMD explains the high amount of cysteine in chicken is a flatter molecule because of the sulfur group than most amino acids, which have globular-shaped carbon side chains.

    This results in respiratory secretions becoming more fluid and more easily slipping away from the nasopharyngeal membranes. I cook chicken in a crockpot with onion, celery and sea salt. If you are having a party or serving many people, the chicken soup can be ladled into coffee mugs.

    Just before serving, add minced garlic, chopped raw spinach or raw cilantro, and to give it a very tasty Chinese interpretation, toss in a tablespoon of sesame oil. Because these last ingredients can either make or break the flavor of chicken soup for many people, you may want to leave them on the table for people to add as they please to the basic chicken soup that you give them.

    Colleen Huber, 46, is a wife, mother and student at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Ariz., where she is training to be a naturopathic physician. Her original research on the mechanism of migraines has appeared in Lancet and Headache Quarterly, and was reported in The Washington Post.

    Her double blind placebo controlled research in homeopathy has appeared in Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy, European Journal of Classical Homeopathy, and Homeopathy Today. Her website Naturopathy Works introduces naturopathic medicine to the layperson and provides references to the abundant medical literature demonstrating that natural medicine does work.


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Kudos to future naturopath and contributing editor Colleen Huber for her excellent piece on the common reactions friends and family may have to her family's eating habits, carefully optimized according to their nutritional types and avoiding sugars and grains, and a handful of healthy and delicious suggestions.

The one aspect of optimal health Huber didn't touch on: The emotional component to the eating equation and handling rejection from others can be just as difficult for people to learn. Fortunately, there are some safe and simple tools you can use to bolster your emotional health. The best of the bunch is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), the proven energy psychology tool I use daily in my practice.

EFT is a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over 5,000 years, but without the invasiveness of needles. Instead, simple tapping with the fingertips is used to input kinetic energy onto specific meridians on the head and chest while you think about your specific problem -- whether it is a traumatic event, pain or addiction -- and voice positive affirmations.

This combination of tapping the energy meridians and voicing positive affirmation works to clear the "short-circuit" -- the emotional block -- from your body's bioenergy system, thus restoring your mind and body's balance, which is essential for optimal health and the healing of physical disease.

I strongly encourage you to review my free manual that presents an overview on how and where to tap and the proper affirmation techniques so you can begin using EFT immediately. It will also provide an introduction to some advanced EFT techniques and principles you can employ. Also, if you are interested in taking your EFT knowledge and skills to the next level, please consider my EFT DVD/VHS series.

Another tool you can use to overcome addictions and improve your emotional health: The Insight CD, a remarkably effective and efficient way to help you achieve inner peace and significantly reduce the anxiety often related to the recovery of addictions. I use this exceptional tool and recommend it to my patients to help them cope with daily stresses and conquer the addiction-related challenges in their lives.

Listening to it will provide you an easy passive relief from stress you encounter throughout the day. If you are committed to preventing or overcoming any form of illness and optimizing your health, I strongly urge you to consider making the Insight CD a part of your regular health routine.

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