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Lori Hanson: Health — which side are you on?

Learn to balance

Posted: April 1, 2010 10:51 p.m.
Updated: April 2, 2010 4:30 a.m.
It’s spring time in Santa Clarita. Have you been to the local Farmer’s Market lately?

Fresh brussel sprouts and colorful peppers are out of season now, but beets are here, strawberries are getting sweeter and green beans will be in season before you know it.  

I grew up on 5½ acres, with a pond, a dog, a horse, and a garden full of fresh foods that we picked and enjoyed for our meals. (Michelle Obama has the right idea with the garden at the White House.)

Two of my favorites were fresh lettuce, tomato and cheese sandwiches on mom’s homemade wheat bread. Yum!

The tomatoes had flavor (a rarity now), the lettuce was crisp and there’s nothing that beats homemade bread.

In summer this was often followed by fresh strawberry shortcake. (Yes, the shortcake was homemade too.)

For variety we walked to the “back forty” as Dad called it and picked huge, plump blackberries. Fresh corn on the cob came a little later in summer.

As the saying goes “The corn should be knee-high by the Fourth of July.”

Mouth watering yet? Or have you forgotten what fresh food tastes like? Are you so busy running and going and doing that everything you eat and feed your family comes from a can, box, freezer or restaurant?  

Maybe your mom didn’t cook or bake and you just never learned.

Our family spent time in late summer freezing fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, canning peaches and making applesauce in preparation for the winter hibernation.

Looking back now it seems like a lost art.

Even though it was frozen or canned, having been prepped at home there were no preservatives and it was much better than what you get at the market. I can still smell the apples as we mashed them into applesauce, both cinnamon and plain.

So why am I rambling nostalgic about the garden and fresh foods? What we eat doesn’t just affect whether we stay fit and healthy or gain a few and become obese.

What we eat also has a direct effect on our internal body chemistry. A diet filled with added and refined sugar, preservatives and fast food combined with your daily level of stress, exposure to toxicity in the environment (smog, fumes, loud music, crying babies and watching TV) will make your body chemistry acidic.

Acidity contributes to disease and is a leading cause of cancer. It’s something you should know about if you don’t.

The opposite of acidic is alkaline. No, not batteries!

If you include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet and take time on a daily basis to slow down, have quiet time (an adult time out), listen to calming music, browse a bookstore or enjoy time outdoors, these activities rebalance your internal body chemistry and make it more alkaline.

Now think about it, which would you rather have? A lifestyle that’s headed toward disease or a lifestyle that will prepare you for being healthy until you leave this planet?

This concept of alkaline vs. acidity also applies to what we drink. Anyone who has heard me speak has heard me talk about “The Sugar Train,” including caffeine and sodas.

Did you know that it takes 32 glasses of water to balance out the acidity you consume from one can of soda or Gatorade? Most people consume more than one a day. Why would you knowingly pour acid and sugar into your system? It’s a habit. And it’s the first thing I help my clients do, get off caffeine and soda.

It’s not hard, it’s just a habit. Habits, just like thoughts, can be easily changed by your mindset.

If you are addicted to caffeine and think you need it to function, switch to green tea.

Two benefits: number one, it’s alkaline forming, and number two, it’s much healthier for you, it contains less caffeine and actually has health benefits for you.

And a bonus, if you’re interested in dropping a few pounds, green tea will be your willing assistant on that journey.

“But how do I make these kind of changes? These are hard! Everyone drinks coffee and has their daily dosage of Diet Coke or Pepsi and I just don’t have time to cook fresh foods,” you say.

That’s short-term thinking.

How do you want to feel in five, 10 and 20 years from now? Do you want to have energy to play with your kids or grandkids, go on that dream vacation or golf in retirement? Or do you want to feel stuck, desperate to lose 50-150 pounds, stop smoking or drinking because you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or cancer?

You have a choice in how you live your life. You can eat and drink what you want because you’re only focused on what feels good today.

You can be totally stressed out and sick because you don’t ever slow down and take care of yourself. You can live with aches, pains and illness and visit your doctor regularly to find out what’s “wrong.”

Or you can remember that diet and nutrition is the foundation of everything in life.

Looking good, feeling good, having energy, a positive attitude and ultimately being successful.

If you haven’t prioritized your health yet, don’t you think it’s time you should?

Lori Hanson is an eating disorder coach, speaker and award-winning author of “It Started With Pop-Tarts ... an Alternative Approach to Winning the Battle of Bulimia.” Visit to learn more.


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