Category Archives: Diet

My 30-Day No Meat Challenge

by Kelvin Belfon

No-Meat-Challenge

I’ve been thinking about my meat consumption. Over the years, a few casual conversations, documentaries and books have caused me to question my food choices.

Here is a little personal background.

I grew up an omnivore. In Grenada I consumed fish, chicken, beef, pork, mutton, and lamb. Meat was the main part of every meal. One of my favorite dishes is curry chicken, rice and peas, fried plantains, and a side salad. Yum!

When I migrated to the United States I piled on more meat. As I got exposed to American favorites, I added those to my menu of choices hamburgers, steaks, turkeys, BBQs, and traditional island cuisines such as jerk chicken.

Because I am naturally skinny, I’ve never felt the need to pay much attention to the health risks involved in consuming too much meat. But lately, I’ve been doing some soul searching.

You see, our meat is not what it used to be.

This is the case in America as much as it is in the islands, which have seen a significant increase of imported meats. The animals we eat are injected with an alarming amount of hormones to increase production. Then there are factors of inhumane animals practices that I’ve learned about over the recent years. The treatment of animals raised for food is deeply troubling me.

The health reasons are also significant:

Like most American, I’ve maintained an arms length awareness about the risks of consuming too much meat. Giving up meat altogether is a difficult decision. There’s a certain emotional payoff that comes with meat eating especially when it’s a central part of celebrations and holidays. Also, in my mind, a dish without meat is incomplete. It’s a reminder to me of poor upbringings.

So My 30-Day No Meat Challenge is just as much a health challenge as much as it is a reshaping of how and what I think about meat. It’s a test of my personal boundaries. I want to push the limits of my thinking to see what my life would be without consuming meats for the next 30 days (I started January 1).

Here’s my personal ground rule:

  • I will not consume red meat or any processed version of pork, beef, lamb or mutton.
  • I will not consume any poultry or processed version of chicken or turkey.
  • I will explore other non-meat, plant based protein sources, giving preference to those sources that are least processed. Produce will make up the bulk of my meals.
  • I won’t exclude fish in this experiment, but I won’t consume it to the degree that it’s just a replacement for the meat I’m cutting out.
  • I will evaluate the experiment after 30 days to see if it’s something I could give up over a much longer period.

I’d love to hear from other about this subject. Have you given up meat before? If so, what were the challenges you faced?

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6 Benefits of Monomealing

by Kelvin Belfon

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Summer rocks!

It’s the season devoted most to leisure and spending time with loved ones. The weather is just right for outdoor activities like swimming, hiking, kayaking, and vacationing or visiting far away family and friends.

There is also no school! This means no homework and no studying. Kids even stay up a little later than usual. And there is always something on the grill: corn, kabobs, chicken, salmon, steak, hamburgers, and hotdogs.

As a youth in Grenada, monomealing was another favorite. I ate lots of mangoes, watermelons, bananas, sugar apples, guava, oranges, and sour sop. They were all free and abundant during the long sunny months.

Some days, monomealing was the perfect solution. I have devoured many buckets of delicious mangoes for lunch and late night snack over the years. When it was especially hot, a juicy watermelon was the ideal cure.

 

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So what’s monomealing?

Till last year, I’d never used this trendy terminology. Although, when I came to know more about how it’s done, I found myself thinking, “This is nothing new, you’ve practiced monomealing your whole life.”

In essence, monomealing is eating only one (mono) food type in abundance, usually a raw fruit or a vegetable, for ones meal. For example, one might eat a hand of bananas for breakfast or a dozen oranges for lunch.

The idea behind monoeating is healthy, clean eating. You load up on a fruit or vegetable in its natural raw form with nothing added to the food before it is consumed.

So no, you can’t monomeal on pizza or cupcakes. These are complex, processed foods. Some people mono-diet for extended periods of time to lose weight. I don’t promote this approach. What happens after the weight is lost?

In our home, we like monomealing as often as possible. When our local grocery store has specials like a pineapple or cantaloupes for 99¢ each, we load up on these hydrating fruits and mono-meal. Our children participate as well.

 

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6 Benefits of Monomealing

1. It promotes a healthier diet. Monomealing improves your food consumption quality. Eating raw fruits or vegetable provides the natural nutrition your body needs and craves opposed to loading down our GI tract with processed meals. An improved diet can reduce the risks of potential illness and diseases.

2. It’s easier to digest. Sure you can combine various food ingredients when having a standard meal. But digestion takes longer. When you eat one fruit or vegetable at a time, the body has only one food to digest opposed to a complex meal comprised of pizza, salad, chips, and soda, much of which ultimately spike/crashes your insulin level, raises cholesterol and inflammation, lowers immunity, makes you sluggish, and eventually gets stored as fat.

3. It helps determine allergies. When we consume multiple ingredients, it can be difficult to identify the source of an illness. But monomealing can help isolate allergens. If you find you do have a food allergy, please seek a professional healthcare provider immediately.

4. It keeps the body hydrate. Fruits are filled with approximately 90% purified water. When consumed in abundance, fruits can help to keep your body hydrated and detoxified.

 

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5. It encourages gratitude. The process of touching, smelling, chewing and enjoying the flavors in my mouth helps me appreciate my food. When I monoeat, I’m also grateful to the farmers who help keep us fed.

6. It’s simple. Keeping things uncomplicated in the kitchen can save you time and money. There is less time spent preparing meals and more time for play and enjoyment! Buying fruits over everything else on the shelves is a huge budget saver.

Why not consider monomealing at least one meal a week. Raw and organic is best when consuming large quantities of fruits and vegetables! Your body will thank you for the reset. Last, when you monomeal, don’t binge yourself through the whole event. Slow down. Breathe. Be grateful and enjoy your meal.

Have you monomealed before? If so, what’s your favorite food for monomealing?

 

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6 Simple Things to Add to Your Life

by Kelvin Belfon

6 Simple Things to Add to Your Life

I recently took a trip to our local Goodwill store. It was after my wife de-cluttered our kid’s bedroom, again. This has become the most challenging room thus far. I tackled a much easier project, the basement. The back car seats and trunk were filled with boxes, all containing clothes, toys, books, backpacks, and electronics. The pay off is that we’ve now reclaimed a good amount of space in both locations.

Since the whole family has been on board from the beginning, downsizing our living space and being more particular about the things we accumulate has been a collective effort. Our trips to the store have been reduced significantly. We are constantly learning how to live without excess.

But I’ve been asking myself what is the essence of a simplicity lifestyle. We tend to associate this simple living movement with ideas like, less is more, reducing, emotional detachment from things and recycling? Yet, I believe the simple lifestyle requires a more comprehensive description.

It’s also about embracing habits that promote wholeness, health, and fulfillment. It’s about adding the things that enrich our lives and make us better individuals. So, instead of focusing exclusively on eliminating or removing things, consider adding a few things.

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6 Simple Things to Add to Your Life

1. Me Time – This sounds narcissistic but we need more time to ourselves. We need time to think, meditate, decompress, and dream. Extra time is needed for the body to rest, heal and rejuvenate from the busyness of life. In some cases, our bodies need to catch up on much needed sleep. I’m often refreshed, empowered, and creative after my times of solitude.

2. Relationships – People are our most prized possession. Spending more time with our loved ones: spouses, children, family members, and friends is important. This is never automatic; it’s something we prioritize. My wife recently told me about the death of an old high school friend’s husband. The whole thing was so sad. The husband lost the battle to cancer. Events like these remind me of the brevity of life on this earth.  Let’s value the time spent with loved ones.

3. Memorable Experiences – Let’s be honest. We remember the memorable experiences shared with people far more than we do most purchasing events. The “good feeling” we get from buying things is really a temporary high. And it doesn’t take that long for consumables to become annoying clutter in our homes. Experiences, on the other hand, build stronger and longer lasting relationships. Instead of things, give people the gift of experiences. Spend some quality time spent with your children this weekend. Go hiking with a good friend. These are very simple ways of showing the people in your life that you value them with little to no money involved.

4. Financial Freedom – We need money but obsessing over it can lead to enslavement, frustration and regrets. Financial freedom is living unencumbered by debt. It’s having options, the power to choose. Financial freedom is knowing what’s enough and avoiding our culture’s need to accumulate. It’s no wonder that some the benefits of financial freedom are restful sleep patterns, low stress, and all around healthy mindset.

5. Healthier Diet and Exercise – Eating healthy and maintaining a regular exercise regimen can add longevity to our lives. Increasing our consumption of fresh, green vegetables and fruits in our diet is a better choice than opting for the processed, refined foods. The American Heart Associate says an extra 30 minutes of exercise per day can boost mental wellness, build immunity, reduce risk factors and prolong optimal health.

6. Spontaneity – This was much easier earlier in my married life. My wife and I took numerous unplanned, last minute, and exploratory trips. We are now a family of 6 with routines and schedules to keep us sane. Yet adding spontaneity to our lives is freeing. It gives us a sense of adventure and provides an opportunity to relax, smile, laugh, and create the memorable experiences mentioned above. So we have to be creative in this area. For example, take an unplanned trip to the mountains or go on a date with that special someone.

How about you, what would you add to your life?

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Be More With Less: An Interview with Courtney Carver

Editor’s Note: The following is an interview with Courtney Carver of Be More With Less.

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Courtney Carver is founder of Be More with Less and Project 333. She left a 15-year career in sales and marketing, September 2011, so that she could focus on fulfilling the goals and values of her simplicity journey. But these goals were not only beneficial to Courtney. Along the way, her personal discoveries have influenced thousands of others seeking new ways to change their life habits for the better. Courtney’s books, blog articles and educational courses have also inspired my journey in many ways. For these reasons, I’m excited to have her as my very first guest interview. I trust you find her perspectives helpful as you read.

Kelvin: What factors weighed into your decision to embark on the simplicity journey to Be More With Less?
Courtney: In 2006, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. It was my wake up call and it was loud and clear that I needed to make some changes in my life. I didn’t plan to completely overhaul my life, but one change led to the next and now my life is really different than it used to be.

Kelvin: What were some of the immediate changes you made in your life?
Courtney: The first thing I did was change my eating habits. With the research I did, I discovered that a vegetarian diet was best for me. From there I started to eliminate the things that created the greatest stress in my life. That included clutter, debt, shopping, and eventually my job.

Kelvin: What do you recommend for those wanting to simplify their lifestyle, particularly those struggling with letting go of sentimental things?
Courtney: Some things will be easier to eliminate than others, but by establishing why you want to simplify things, you can remind yourself along the way when tempted to keep items of sentimental value. I also think it’s important to note that less is not nothing. You don’t have to get rid of every single thing to experience the benefits of a simpler life. It really looks different for everyone.

Kelvin: When most people hear the term minimalism, they think of an ascetic life. What’s your definition?
Courtney: Getting rid of everything that doesn’t matter so you can define and focus on what does matter most to you. And when I say things, that isn’t just physical clutter. It might include things on your to-do list that aren’t essential, toxic relationships, debt, trips to the mall and other things that can seem like a normal part of every day life.

Kelvin: Tell us a little about your other interests such as clothing (Project 333)?
Courtney: In 2010, I really got serious about letting go. I started in my closet because that was the place I visited on a daily basis. I had so much, but never had anything to wear. I also overspent in clothing and fashion. I knew I needed something besides another seasonal closet cleanout, so I challenged myself to dress with only 33 items for 3 months including clothing, shoes, jewelry and accessories. My first 3 months were October – December in Salt Lake City and we had temperatures ranging from 0-90 degrees.

I thought the experiment would be temporary, but by the end of the 3 months, I knew it would become part of my lifestyle. The best part is that hundreds of people joined in and started their own Project 333 and now thousands from different countries, climates and lifestyles are practicing Project 333.

Kelvin: You’re a vegetarian and have recently committed to take on Joel Fuhrman’s nutrition challenge. How does nutrition weigh into your values on simplicity?
Courtney: The healthier you are, the simpler your life will be. I believe that food is quite possibly the most important factor when it comes to feeling well and being healthy. As a vegetarian, I thought I was eating a healthy diet, but after three weeks of following the Eat to Live plan, it’s clear that there is room for improvement.

Kelvin: Recently you released your latest book, Mini-Missions for Simplicity. What can readers expect?
Courtney: I published my new book, Mini-Missions for Simplicity towards the end of last year and it’s a collection of great experiments you can try to simplify your life. Mini-missions are often one step actions that you can do to improve your health, relationships, bank account or wardrobe.

Courtney, thank you for your time and for sharing with the readers of Going Uncomplicated.

 Courtney Carver writes and speaks about simplicity in life and business. Read more at Be More with Less and courtneycarver.com. You can also follow her on Twitter.

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Improving My Health

by Kelvin Belfon

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Keeping an exercise routine wasn’t something I scheduled into my life back home on my island. Because transportation was limited, we walked to go everywhere: grocery store, school, post office, church and special events. If I was late, I ran. And I was late quite frequently. Then there was the seasonal farming, which was a serious “workout” under the hot tropical sun.

In school things were more formal. Physical education class required demanding exercise drills followed by cricket and soccer games or track. Games after school with the neighbors were a ritual we looked forward to as kids. We were very active and always took advantage of being outdoors.

Our diet wasn’t perfect. The starches we ate fueled our active lifestyle. But they only became a problem as people got older and sedentary. No one talked about being a vegetarian or vegan except the Rasta man, known to abstain from meats, especially pork.

I don’t recall using the word dessert in my vocabulary. If you were hungry after dinner, you went outside and found fruits such as golden apples, skin up or sugar apples. Julie mangoes remain my all-time favorite.

When I moved to Miami, Florida in the 90s, I tried to continue my “healthy lifestyle.” I jogged a little and ate well but it was tough. The fast food I saw advertised was cheaper and seemed to fit my busier schedule. It was also much easier to vegetate.

Though my wife embraced natural habits, I became lazy about fitness. And because we moved around a bit, living in different states, I always had the perfect excuses:

  • “I’m too busy”
  • “I’m too cold”
  • “It’s too expensive to eat healthy”
  • “I’m a married man with kids to focus on raising”

Then during a certain period, some time ago, I came across the hot topic suggesting that the leading causes of death in America are preventable by a healthier diet and regular exercise. Moreover, weight did not always factor in what was considered “healthy.” The fact that one can be unhealthy and appear “good” on the outward scared me. When I began focusing on simplicity last year, improving my health was an obvious decision.

So I make some changes. Juicing, reducing the consumption of animal fat and eliminating most processed foods from my diet were key. Regular exercise helped reduce stress, kept my mind alert and motivated. It provided a time for meditation and kept me from becoming lethargic during a time of unemployment.

On several occasions, I even went jogging in below freezing temperatures. These were some of the most refreshing times. They gave me an excitement about my ability to face the tough times and anticipate success.

But getting outdoors wasn’t only for me. I enjoyed all kinds of activities at the park with my wife and kids. Everyone benefits from an active lifestyle and a healthier eating habit.

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