• There’s Sludge on My Apple?

    photo credit to Jules Morgan Don’t you just love the satisfying crunch of biting into a plump red apple on your lunch break? That juicy addition to your lunch may taste good, but did you skip on the organic sticker because it felt a little too expensive? In the case of apples—and lots of other produce—fitting organic into your grocery list isn’t an option. It’s a requirement.

    Why Organic?

    photo credit to U.S. Department of Agriculture You probably already know the value of eating organically, but, like so many other shoppers on a budget, feel like you have to pass by the mounds of heirloom tomatoes and sweet potatoes at the market because they are too expensive. Yes, we all know that organic food runs a little more in the store, but the value trade off is worth considering.

    For example, organic growers do not use chemicals on their plants. In order to get that little black USDA seal, companies must comply with the following National Organic Program rules:

    • No synthetic fertilizers, petroleum-based fertilizers, or sewage sludge-based fertilizers
    • No irradiation
    • No genetic engineering
    • No antibiotics or growth hormones in livestock

    Think about what goes into your apple without an organic sticker. Either a synthetic fertilizer (which means chemicals) or one that has oil or sewage in it. It was probably irradiated or exposed to radiation to kill bacteria. It was probably grown with genetically modified seeds , meaning the natural diversity of the apple was diminished through a biotechnological process. GMO practices have been banned in 30 other countries, including all of Europe, because they have not been proven to be safe.

    So think about it—you may pay a few pennies, even a dollar less, for a bunch of non-organic apples. But that means you are putting all kinds of dangerous things into your body.

    How do I pay for organic?

    Of course you want to buy organic, but all those extra cents add up. How do you get around them? The answer means a little more prep work on your part, and sticking to a plan, but if you are serious about healthy eating, you won’t regret it.

    Start with the basics: a budget and meal planning. You don’t have to dread budgeting by yourself anymore—you can take advantage of an app like the ones in this article . And after you’ve found out how much money you have to spend on groceries this month, check out this Lifehacker article detailing ways to crack down on meal planning. Or you can simply download one of these top five meal planning apps to get you going.

    Another tip for saving money on food is to shop at a variety of grocery stores. Nashville offers a plethora of grocery options, from the all-organic Whole Foods to low-cost Aldi. Check out this list of Nashville grocery stores to help you get started. Once you have priced the organic products at each store, you can decide which ones are most cost-effective and build a rotation into your schedule. For example, if you work downtown, you can swing by downtown stores on weekdays, and save stores closer to your house for weekends.

    Economics

    photo credit to net_efekt Shopping organically might not remain so expensive, especially if more and more consumers learn how to permanently switch to organic. It is a simple matter of economics, or supply and demand. When more people buy organic, stores will stock more organic products. And when demand increases, prices go down. The more people you convert to organic, the more we are going to see organic products in our stores. Hopefully, one day “organic” won’t be a separate label, but the basic standard for all food.

    Share Your Opinion

    Have you made the switch and learned how to fit organic food into your grocery list? Tell us how you did it! If you haven’t done it yet, tell us how you are planning to make organic part of your life. We can’t wait to hear from you! Get the conversation going by adding a comment below. We always answer our comments, so why not get us started right now?

  • Drink Up: Are You Drinking Enough Water?

    photo credit to StockPhotosforFree.com With diets full of venti lattes, Big Gulp sodas, and energy drinks, water is often left behind as a boring beverage. But since water makes up 60% of our bodies and is lost continually throughout the day, it should be our go-to drink. Unfortunately, most people don’t get enough water and are chronically dehydrated.

    How Much Is Enough?

    The advice to drink eight glasses of water a day has been around for years. The good news is, it’s easy to remember. But according to the Mayo Clinic , that number may not hold true for everyone. The specific amount needed varies because more more fluids are required in warm temperatures, when exercising, and to overcome illness. In general, men are likely to need close to 13 cups of water each day, while women typically need about nine cups.

    Why So Much Water?

    Water plays a critical role in each of the body’s systems . In addition to aiding in digestion, water keeps the kidneys functioning well and helps to remove waste from the body. It also keeps joints lubricated while aiding in building muscles. Staying well hydrated is the key to keeping skin moisturized and youthful looking. In addition, water plays a large role in cognitive function and memory.

    photo credit to Jenn Durfey Tips & Tricks

    Unfortunately, knowing you need to and deciding to drink more water isn’t always enough to make it happen. You’ll need to develop a few tricks for fitting enough water into your day. Start first thing in the morning by drinking a cup of warm water with the juice of half a lemon while you wait for your coffee to brew or while you get dressed. As Livestrong explains , drinking warm lemon water jump starts the digestive system and prepares it to absorb nutrients.

    Throughout the day, drink a large glass of water at each transition point in your schedule. Drinking a glass when you arrive to work, upon returning from a meeting, when you come back from a lunch break, and as soon as you get home helps to space out water consumption to keep you constantly hydrated. This technique will also help the habits become second nature. Drinking a large glass shortly before each meal will also help you feel full and prevent overeating.

    For some people, sipping frequently all day long works better than drinking a few large glasses. Find a reusable water bottle that works well for you and keep it with you full time, refilling it each time you walk past a water fountain.

    Getting bored with water can tempt you to turn to sodas or other sugary drinks. Stay away from flavored bottles of water, which can often contain artificial sweeteners and additives. Instead, jazz up water by putting in cut up or crushed fruit such as oranges, pineapples, strawberries, or one of the 50 suggestions from Kitchen Adventures . Herbs such as mint or rosemary also add unique flavors to keep you quenching your thirst all day. For even more interesting combinations, Prevention offers 26 recipes and combinations , including ginger and pear.

    As you develop your own t ips and drinks for getting enough water into your day, what seemed challenging will turn into habit.

    photo credit to Lee Brimelow Track Your Progress

    To help yourself stay motivated, it’s useful to track your progress each day. Using an app such as Waterlogged allows you to quickly set a goal and see how much water you have had. It will even send you reminders so you don’t forget and fall behind. Plus, you’ll be able to see your history so that you can figure out what throws you off course. Even after you develop excellent habits, it’s a good idea to continue tracking. Without noticing, it’s possible to revert to drinking less and less.

    Are you thirsty?

    Do you get enough water, or are you chronically dehydrated? Do you sip all day long, or do you gulp down big glasses? In the comment box below, inspire us with your success, or ask for help. We want to hear it all. In fact, we respond to each and every comment, so you are guaranteed an answer to your question or an encouragement to stay the course.