Tag Archives: health

My 30 Days No Meat Challenge – Review

by Kelvin Belfon

No-Meat-Challenge-Review

 

In January, I went for a full month without eating meat. It was an experiment I called My 30-Day No Meat Challenge.

I’ve been thinking about going vegetarian for quite some time; but the timing wasn’t always right. Well, last month I decided to take the plunge.

I committed to just a few personal ground rules:

  • No red meat or processed versions of pork, beef, lamb or mutton.
  • No poultry or processed versions of chicken or turkey.
  • 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.
  • Yes to fish, 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 continue over a much longer period.

Well, after a month without meat, I’ve made a few discoveries that I wish to share with you.

 

My 30-Day No Meat Challenge in Review

  • In the beginning, the challenge was more difficult than I thought. My appetite for meat appeared to be heightened. Savory meaty meals were everywhere!
  • On one occasion when I attended the Martin Luther King Jr. African American Heritage Rodeo with the family, as soon as we entered the coliseum, I was smacked with the smell of all kinds of barbecue. It was pretty tempting. The year before we ordered barbecue turkey legs and chicken kabobs. In spite of all that, we didn’t relapse because we had a plan. Instead, we snacked on foods we’d packed ahead of time that meet with our Challenge guidelines.
  • As the month went on, the Challenge became much easier. I think this was because my family participated. We also limited restaurant dining out to only one time that month. In the last week our children had chicken but that was ok since I felt that the experiment was really mine in the first place.
  • I consumed salmon three times. Two times at home and the other when our family dined at a Japanese restaurant.
  • An area of concern was my protein intake. I worried because there’s a perception that vegetarians don’t consume enough protein. So I consumed lots of cashews, almonds, pistachios, flax seeds, eggs, cheese, beans, spinach, almond milk, etc as recommended by my resourceful wife and my good friend Terri. I plan to read more on the subject to lift this cloud of doubt.
  • My social interaction with family and friends was also a concern. Again, not eating out helped alleviate this potential problem. But, overall, most people were not only understanding but also supportive and encouraging. I’m also grateful for the comments, links of meals and resources you supplied. Much appreciated!
  • Breakfast was the most difficult meal by far. In general, I’m not a breakfast person. As such, it seemed like there were less choices after eliminating meat from my diet. I did however, become pretty expert at making all kinds of smoothies. The kids seemed to enjoy this and made special requests for my smoothie concoctions.
  • This said, I was not as prepared for my no-meat challenge as I might have been. The meal preparation process in our home is typically on autopilot. However, when the children were hungry, I found myself throwing things together more often than I wanted. I kind of felt like a fish out of water, not exactly sure what to cook at times during the experiment. I’m grateful for my talented wife when this was the case. She saved the day each time.
  • I did branch out with a few original dishes on my own. But the bottom-line is that I need to learn to cook more vegetarian cuisine. I’ve been a carnivore all my life, cooking meaty meals with no need for a recipe. I cook on a natural instinct so vegetarian cookbooks are a bit intimidating. I’ll have to be aware of this and get courageous with vegetarian cookbooks or online recipes from here on.
  • On some days my energy was a bit lethargic. I believe this was due to me not eating a proper breakfast.
  • I wish my experiment had had a scientific element. A visit to my doctor and a nutritionist might have helped a lot or taking blood samples before and after my challenge to gauge any changes.
  • My no-meat challenge reminded me of how powerful our minds can be. It was hard saying no to some of my favorite dishes. I know 30 days is not a long time, but I was able to say no even when my desire was saying the opposite. I consider my challenge a success in this area.
  • In some cases, my no-meat challenge became deeply spiritual in nature. There are people who have no choice about their meat consumption. When I abstained from meat, I felt a connection with my brothers and sisters who lived in abject poverty.

What’s next?

I do miss and still crave a few of my favorite meaty meals. So much of my Caribbeanness is centered around food.

A few questions that come to mind at this point are these:

What about the cultural implications of my no-meat diet? Will I be drawing attention to myself when eating with my Caribbean family and friends?

What about my international, humanitarian trips? I’m big on socializing with the locals over meals, which in most countries centers around meat. What will I do when a vegetarian diet is not available?

I think that from here on, I’ll stick to the original no meat rules, but allow a little bit of fluidity when I travel. I need more time to continue learning and exploring before committing to this new diet. 30 days was not enough time.

What are your thoughts?

Last, I was featured on YolandaVAcree.com. I had fun doing this interview where I shared about minimalism, relationships, priorities and more. Check it out here.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to Going Uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

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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?

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to Going Uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

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6 Benefits of Monomealing

by Kelvin Belfon

mono-mealing-food-health

 

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.

 

mono-mealing-on-papaya

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.

 

mangoes-mono-mealing-benefits

 

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.

 

fruit-mono-eating

 

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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7 Healthy Habits to Cultivate…Slowly

by Kelvin Belfon

healthy-habits-cultivate-grow

 

The older I get, the faster time seems to just fly away. It was only 10 weeks ago when I began to make plans for the upcoming year. I could not wait! Now it’s the middle of February with only 10 months in the year left. Ouch!

The same is true of my New Years resolutions. These commitments seem to just fly away. Each year I make my typical list…again: Spend more time with the family, pray more, gain weight (yeah, I know, but it’s true), become debt free, and so on.

Then the struggle to stay consistent usually begins around this time of year – February. The enthusiasm starts to slow down and eventually the well-intended promises never make it to the finish line.

The reality is that only 8% of people are successful at achieving their resolutions. Despite this fact, I keep making them, each year. Any accomplishment is better than a life without aspirations, I reasoned.

But over the last 2 years, I’ve made small changes. Instead of resolutions, I’ve decided to focus on cultivating healthy habits to change my lifestyle. The following are 7 habits I’ve been working on slowly.

7 Healthy Habits

Becoming an early riser. I’ve always been a nighthawk, consistently staying up past midnight. And that worked for most of my life. But now, the combination of longer workdays and caring for my little ones have left me exhausted at nights. The switch to rising early was a tough shift. I love sleeping in. But morning is the time when I can be most productive.

Embracing minimalism. In the last 13 years, I’ve accumulated quite a bit of material possessions. The majority has been gifted from my wedding; but later I acquired more on my own every time we relocated. It seems like there has always been a need to customize the new space with new things.

My decision to embrace a minimalist lifestyle has helped create more space, reduced time spent cleaning and caring for things, made our home eco-friendly, and minimized potential debt. But creating room for family and other valuable relationships has been the biggest benefit. In this area, I continue to grow.

Improving my health. I’ve become careless with my diet since moving to America. It’s been more processed foods instead of the normal raw fruits and vegetables. Junk food was cheaper and more convenient. In addition, my exercising routine was non-existent. Returning to a healthy habit of caring for my body was and continues to be a challenge. But I’m taking baby steps like walking more, jogging, and eating raw foods.

Fostering a lifelong learning passion. I had a library with over 5,000 books! But since graduate school, I began to read less, sometimes spending more precious time in front of that rectangular box – the television – than I ought to. Personal development doesn’t just happen by osmosis. So I’ve regained my commitment to reading regularly, exposing myself to new thoughts and ideas.

Establishing relationship boundaries. In the past, I lacked boundaries in my relationships. Because I love to please, I used to have a hard time saying no and letting people know how I really felt. As a result, this was perceived as weakness. I allowed people to control and manipulate my life. It was toxic.

Ending certain relationships, although necessary, was pretty painful. Even so, establishing boundaries by saying no was extremely liberating. I even saw other benefits, such as the improvement of my physical health.

Confronting fears. I’ve never really mastered the English language. So I’ve really feared the idea of starting a blog and going public with my writing. The same was true about other major decisions like relocating, starting a new job slightly outside of the career I’d been used to, and, of course, ending toxic relationships. Fear is paralyzing! But I’m stepping out little by little to confront the unknown.

Practicing Contentment. I must admit, I keep wanting just a little more each week, each month and each year. My wants are typical like a house, car, clothing, electronics, etc. The problem is that no one’s ever truly satisfied once we start going past the basics. We want the best, biggest and the latest.

The habit of contentment is learning that more doesn’t equate happiness. It’s accepting yourself, avoiding meaningless comparisons with others, and living a life of gratitude that brings fulfillment. Sounds good, but I struggle to practice everyday.

Cultivate with the right motivation

The above habits are not exhaustive.

They are strategies you take along your journey, not the final destination. Becoming an early riser is not the goal. On the contrary, the goal is to give the most productive hours of the day to achieving those things in life that are musts.

Moreover, becoming health conscious is more than loosing weight. The greater motivation is to avoid preventable diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart attacks. This enables us to be around a little longer for our loved ones.

…Slowly 

When making resolutions, I used to give myself timetables. But the reality is, to make a habit become a lifestyle requires lots of time. I may need even a few years to get there.

We need time to cultivate new habits, and even more, to unlearn old ones. So lets give ourselves permission to go slow, fail, and restart again…all without condemnation, until we achieve what we desire to be.

What healthy habits are you cultivating in your life?

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Why the Outdoors is Good for You

by Kelvin Belfon

Why the Outdoors is Good_image2

About 3 months ago, my wife and I were giving our friend Bonnie a ride home. It was a beautiful day in Denver, Colorado. The mountains were dark green and capped in white against the deep blue sky. The scene was picturesque.

In unison we said to Bonnie, “Oh, look at the mountains. How beautiful!”

To our surprise, she responded, “What about them?” We proceeded to explain how fascinating it was that the mountains seem to have a different personality every day; and, as such, looked different every day.

Bonnie looked out the car window and said, “I’ve never noticed them before.” Bonnie is a 12-year resident of Denver.

I’m always amazed how many of us fail to notice and enjoy the natural beauty that exists around us. Just this Fall season alone, I’ve observed…

  • Yellowish / bright orangish sunrises
  • The brisk, fresh morning dew
  • Varicolored butterfly landing among a bouquet of flowers
  • The sound of running water in a creek, birds chirping, and wind passing between trees, and so on.

My love for the outdoors started in Grenada as a child. We played outside quite a bit. Our teachers sometimes held class outside under trees. We spent hours at the beach, did our laundry in the river, and had cookouts…all outdoors.

Since moving to the US, I’ve had the opportunity to live and visit multiple metropolitan cities like the New York, Boston, Miami, San Francisco, and now Denver. The social life, culture and infrastructures in more populated cities are unparallel.

Yet each time, I find myself craving for the outdoors. I can’t escape the longing to discover life beyond the four walls of my home to see the green foliage, look into the deep blue sky and stare at the stars at night. And the older I become, the more important this becomes to me.

Why the outdoors is good for you?

Fall_Leavesimage by: Quest Demy

It relaxes our body. The outdoors clears the mind, relaxes the body and reduces anxiety after a long day. Scientific studies show a lower level of cortisol (a hormone that indicates stress) when people go outside on a nature therapy.

It improves our health. A short walk can do wonders to our health. The fresh air increases oxygen to our brain and sunlight our vitamin D intake for FREE! The lack of vitamin D is known to cause cancer, inflammation, and weaker immune system.

It increases our energy. Stepping outdoors invigorates the mind and body. That’s because increased activity releases endorphins that are known to boost energy and combat “mental fatigue.” We also sleep better when we are more active during the awake hours.

It reduces depression. Stepping outside triggers a sense of awe, gratitude and a positive outlook of life. As a natural consequence, such moments remind us of the things that are most important.

It stimulates creativity and imagination. The outdoors sharpens our thinking, helps us dream, concentrate (this is especially the case in children after a walk in the park), and restores our memory.

It’s educational, beautiful and free!

Going outdoors doesn’t have to be complicated. Keep it simple! Do some gardening over the weekend or enjoy the animals in your backyard like my friend Marshall in Florida does.

Step outside your house or apartment to explore your neighborhood and downtown. Visit a park, people watch, jog or go cycling. Take a walk on the beach, for all my island and east-west coast friends.

Spend your break time outside the office. Eat lunch on the grass or walking around the building.

Take your children on an outdoor adventure. Play, smile, laugh, take pictures or do 1 of the 15 Ways to Enjoy the Outdoors This Fall.

Fall is a beautiful season. The leaves change their colors and the temperature is just right for outdoor exploring. So challenge yourself. Disconnect from your social media and electronic devices for a few hours per day.

Go outside. Relax, breathe and enjoy. Your body will thank you for it!

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