Your Processed Foods Are Lying To You

processed-foodYou’ve probably heard the advice to “shop around the edges of the supermarket.” There’s some truth to this. You’ll find fresh produce, meats, eggs and many other whole foods stocked around the perimeter of the market. But this piece of advice has its limitations. If you want good cooking oils, whole grains, dried herbs, spices, beans, nuts and seeds, you usually need to venture into the actual aisles of the supermarket.

This is where things get tricky.

Within the aisles of the supermarket, you’ll probably find an “organic” section, but most everything is in a box. There’s a gluten free section, which won’t necessarily have healthier options. And then there are literally hundreds of packaged items with phrases like “natural,” “sugar free” and “whole grain” slapped onto their boxes.

Let’s cut through the confusion. Here’s a field guide to food buzzwords that may be lying to you: Continue reading

Your Guide To A Digital Detox

“Digital detox” and “digital diet” are two catchphrases I’ve seen used a lot lately in the wellness sphere. I get it: 2017 is still shiny and new and for many there are new year’s resolutions to be attained.

Or maybe I just noticed these phrases used so often because frankly, it’s what I needed to do.

Living life with 100 tabs open in my mental “browser” can quickly become my norm if I allow it. Between managing three e-mail addresses, two Instagram accounts, a Facebook account, a blog, and (my guilty pleasures) Snapchat and Pinterest, I could easily be glued to my phone all day—on both productive and completely unproductive “tasks.”

At the peak of my digital dependency, I couldn’t remember my commutes home anymore because my body was on the train but my mind was busy shooting off emails. Worse, I found myself glancing at my phone while reading or watching movies and television—basically entertaining myself while I was being entertained.

I was fully in the matrix and it was time for a change.

For me these were the sure signs a digital detox was in order: Continue reading

Easy Ginger Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

I’m usually looking up recipes online when I’m starving and about ready to cook, so I’ll spare you a lengthy introduction. All you need to know is: it’s a gingery butternut squash soup, it’s gluten free, dairy free, nut free, paleo and low GI. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan the bone broth can easily be substituted with vegetable broth or more water.

Basically, unless you hate winter squashes, ginger, soups or autumnal things, this recipe is a pretty safe bet. Continue reading

Three Myths About Eating Gluten Free

img_5030Like The Verge‘s Rachel Becker and Slate‘s Laura Bennett, I went gluten free way before it was a thing. 1999, to be specific. I was about 15 lbs underweight, had a constant dull headache and a slew of digestive complaints. My mom clipped articles about Celiac Disease from a magazine for me to read and discovered one brand of frozen gluten free bread at a local health food store.

It held together for about a minute and quickly disintegrated into chalk after the first bite.

Yes, I was the freak in the cafeteria with the chalk sandwich. Despite feeling better just weeks after starting the gluten free diet, my 11-year-old-self felt like “gluten free” was a death sentence. Continue reading

Should A Greek-Dominican In Romania Be Eating Pineapples? Tales of Eating Seasonal, Local & Ancestral

Romanian Fruits and Vegetables

A farmer’s stand in Romania

I spent the past three weeks on the other side of the Atlantic–mostly exploring my husband’s native Transylvania. Dismiss the visions of cobwebs, bats and Count Dracula that I know immediately came to mind. Transylvania was mountains, rolling hills and farmland as far as the eye could see. My husband also happens to live in a town where almost everyone follows the tradition of family farming. This means we had about a dozen chickens roaming the backyard, a few turkeys, a lamb and even a pair of pigs–in addition to all manner of local produce.

In New York City, unless you visit farmers markets regularly or are a member of a CSA, it’s very easy to lose touch with what’s in season. This was not the case in Romania. Eating off the land meant eating only what was in season OR what had been pickled or otherwise preserved from a prior season. October in Romania meant lots of carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, peppers, raspberries, apples, grapes and some tomatoes. Though I was loving the wealth of fresh, organic produce available to me, I found myself missing bananas and avocados–tropical fruits that would never grow in Romania, even in summertime.

So what gives when it comes to eating local and sustainable? Is it limiting or is it health enhancing? Continue reading

Vacation From Your Vacation: Excess and Balance While Traveling

Circled: me in the middle of my vacation, regretting everything

Circled: me in the middle of my vacation, regretting pretty much everything

The pre-vacation rush is always a huge source of anxiety for me, particularly when going overseas. You’re probably familiar with it: The packing list that always manages to not reflect one or two essentials. The last-minute scrambling. The passport fumble. The 10,000 errands and to-do list items that need to happen prior to takeoff so your life doesn’t totally melt down while you’re gone. Once you get to TSA, you’re already exhausted. Then you are herded through various detectors with the shoeless, frustrated masses. You fight for an overhead bin because you didn’t want to endure yet another line to check your baggage. Add a time zone change and you’re a certified zombie by the time you reach your destination. I know for me the excitement of finally being there is  a bit dampened by all I had to go through to finally arrive.

But you are there. So you nap on the beach or in the hotel. You have a drink. Then you drink a little more. You take a social media-friendly pic with the drink on the beach. At dinner you order everything you wouldn’t dream of ordering back home and you order it all at once. You have more wine. Then you have dessert. This is vacation! This is what you worked hard for. This is what it’s all about.

But is it? Continue reading

My Nutritional First Aid Kit: Travel Edition

Staying healthy while travelingThere’s nothing quite like getting sick on vacation. Whether it’s changing time zones, the associated sleep deprivation, travel stress and all the exposure to new bacteria and viruses en route, I often have a day or two when I feel “low” on a trip.

Then there are the very unfortunate times when illness actually takes hold. About seven years ago, I got a full-blown flu in Europe. Much of that trip is a blur of steaming hot showers in various hotel rooms, the worst sore throat I’ve ever experienced in my life and floating in and out of consciousness while passing through several cities in Eastern Europe. I took some drugs a pharmacist in Poland gave me and got better halfway through the trip. I have no idea what I took. I probably should have paid attention, but I was so desperate to get well that I didn’t really care.

Then there are those bugs that reveal themselves after you get back from a trip. I have gotten parasites after overseas travel that left me praying for death on my bathroom floor. In fact, a few months (and a frightening 20 lbs down) after one trip, I was diagnosed with an unusually aggressive case of blastocystis hominis along with a suspected giardia infection. It took an absolutely miserable round of Flagyl and Yodoxin to clear it up…and then another year to heal my completely battered digestive system.

Needless to say, I’m all about preventing illness, before, during and after overseas travel. Since the experiences above, I’ve traveled to a dozen different countries (some with very questionable water supplies) without any major incidents. Here is what’s in my nutritional first aid kit: Continue reading

5 Things That Happened To Me On The 21 Day Sugar Detox

donutsExactly 22 days ago my husband parked outside my office in Manhattan and sent me a text to come downstairs. Nine flights and a few steps later I was in our car and totally giddy because he had brought me a box of my absolute favorite donuts (Erin McKenna’s, in case you’re curious). I had told him I was starting The 21 Day Sugar Detox the next day and this was going to be my last glorious binge. Within minutes of getting back to my desk, I had one donut with some black coffee. It was like communing with some ancient god of pleasure. I had the second one as a dessert to my lunch (lessert?). I felt a little jittery, a little bloated and a little guilty the way sugar rushes make you feel. Mostly I had no idea how I was going to survive this detox. The donuts helped stave off my questions.

Wait, why on earth did you do this to yourself? Continue reading

How I Switched To A Natural Deodorant And Didn’t Lose All My Friends

image2 (1)Since puberty I’ve been a pretty smelly gal. Chalk it up to hormonal changes and (I later discovered) poor diet, but deodorant and I go way back. When the funk began, my mom tried to stave off my graduation to deodorant with a few home remedies. I recall swabbing my pits with apple cider vinegar, spraying them with rubbing alcohol and finally coating them with baking soda. None of these things did much. I just ended up being vaguely wet, powdery and smelling like crap. Thus began my affair with Teen Spirit and, not long after, Secret Ultra Dry.

In my early twenties, as I was trying to make better choices for my health, my deodorant came onto my radar. I had heard that the aluminium content in deodorant could cause cancer (though more recent studies are “inconclusive”…a word that makes me rather uncomfortable). I also was leery about slathering chemicals pretty much directly onto my lymph nodes. Oh, and most deodorants contain parabens, which are endocrine disruptors. And so my quest for a good natural deodorant began. It was a long, stinky road. Continue reading

So You Want To Avoid Endocrine Disruptors…

image3Detoxing your home can make you a little crazy. When I realized that a lot of my acne breakouts were related to my cycle and the hormonal shifts associated with it, I decided to do everything possible to reduce my exposure to chemicals that could further disrupt my endocrine (or, hormone) system.

The NIEHS describes endocrine disruptors this way:

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. A wide range of substances, both natural and man-made, are thought to cause endocrine disruption, including pharmaceuticals, dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls, DDT and other pesticides, and plasticizers such as bisphenol A. Endocrine disruptors may be found in many everyday products– including plastic bottles, metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, food, toys, cosmetics, and pesticides.

Well, that’s like…everything. Continue reading