The idea behind The Healthy Birthday 7-Day Challenge (#healthiermechallenge)

I have a family history of breast cancer. Yes, I do and I have lost my very dear aunt a few years ago after a long painful struggle with the disease. This is not a good introduction to any article, but I’m at loss of embellishing words and that’s the best way I could put it.

I did my first mammogram/echography this summer and I was relieved my results were good.

However, taking into account all the factors, I have a 48% chance of getting breast cancer. As a non-smoker, healthy-weight, almost 30-year old (used-to-be )breastfeeding mother, I expected more like a 20 something percentage. So that was shocking to hear.

But, then again, that percentage is nothing but a number. A number that is telling me that I have to be more careful with my food choices, more consistent with my physical activity, extra vigilant about my stress levels, and more committed to my personal happiness and well-being. And that’s about it. Nothing less, nothing more. Those are mainly the factors that I can control. Those are mainly the factors that everyone must take care of; whether they have a family history of cancer or not. We all thrive on real food. We all need to be physically active. We all can use a little less stress and more happiness in our lives. But what are we doing about it?

challenge banner with stroke

I thought about writing about this experience in October during breast cancer awareness month, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. With my birthday coming along, I decided to share my story and come up with a fun challenge that many of you can benefit from. The daily tasks in this challenge are all inspired by the “Anti Cancer – a New Way of Life” book by Dr. David Schreiber. I loved Dr. Schreiber’s book when I first read it two years ago and try to live by his recommendations. I wrote a blog post about all the research he discussed in his book and I highly recommend checking them both out (the post and the book).

The main points of the book are ( copied from www.anticancer.com)

◊ Why the traditional Western diet creates the conditions for disease and how to develop a science-based anticancer diet
◊ How and why sugar and stress feed cancer and ways to achieve life balance and good nutrition to combat it
◊ Why the effects of helplessness and unhealed wounds affect our ability to restore health
◊ How to reap the benefits of exercise, yoga, and meditation
◊ How to minimize environmental toxins
◊ How to find the right blend of traditional and alternative health care

Mounting evidence is showing daily that the traditional Western diet which is high in processed food, meat, sugar, fat and salt, is behind a lot of diseases and certain cancers.

So for a week, we’re cutting off sugar and white flour and we’re introducing more fruits and vegetables and physical activity.

Let’s start with sugar,shall we? We are consuming more sugar than ever before. It is found everywhere, hidden under many names and taking many forms. You will tell me; fruits have sugar and our brains need sugar, should we stop eating fruits?  No. We should monitor our intake of “added sugars” and not the natural ones found in food. The added sugars I’m talking about are in your cereal, in your bread, in your commercial juices, sodas  and energy bars. They are hidden in ketchup, salad dressings, processed snacks, biscuits, energy drinks…

Read your labels and watch for these names:

  • high fructose corn syrup,
  • corn syrup,
  • caramel,
  • barley malt,
  • brown sugar,
  • maltodextrin,
  • fructose, 
  • dextrose,
  • sucrose,
  • invert sugar,
  • golden syrup,
  • cane sugar,
  • fruit juice concentrate….. among around 50 others, but these are the most common

Watch out for artificial sweeteners as well sucralose, aspartame, Splenda, acesulfame K…

During this week, we are initiating our palates to like a little less the sugary stuff. We are trying to allow our taste buds to appreciate the natural sweetness and wean off the sickly sweet tastes our bodies have grown accustomed to.

We are also cutting down our consumption of white flour. That includes white pita/sandwich… bread, cakes, doughnuts, pastry, white pasta, microwave dinners and many processed foods that may include enriched white flour…

So if you want to have cake, it’s got to be made with whole-wheat flour and sweetened with bananas, applesauce, or dates maybe.

This is just a small list of No’s compared to all the good, real, nutritious food you can have. Believe me, that’s not so hard once you get used to it.

I don’t think I need to talk about the benefits of exercise and physical activity. For this challenge we are aiming for daily activity that is not less than 20 minutes. I know many of you head to the gym three times per week for an hour or more. That’s also okay (great, I mean), but let’s not stay sedentary for the rest of the week. Do whatever suits your life schedule but let’s get moving. You can do any activity you want. Walk, do yoga, Pilates, run, strength train, ride a bike, swim,….maybe take your kid to the park and play around with them…

Here it is in a nutshell. I will write about the tasks in more details each day. You can enter the challenge and a chance to win a $50-Amazon gift card by subscribing to the blog (on top right) and clicking on the Rafflecopter giveaway link at the end of this post, or check the details in  the previous post.

Tomorrow, we’ll be taking a round in our kitchens and cleaning it from junk that shouldn’t be lingering there anyway and we’ll be enjoying the day without sugar or white flour. So plan your breakfast ahead. Here’s a link to breakfast recipes I’ve shared before. Check them out and meet me for coffee tomorrow while we work our ways through a healthier kitchen.

Hope you’ll be many joining me with this challenge.

Here’s to our health!!

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