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Health & Wellness, Interviews, Wellness

From Fast Food To Veggies And Fruit: An Interview With Brandy Foss

With only one day left of 2011, it is time to look back and re-evaluate our achievements for the past year. Time always seems to slip away, and there are so many things we meant to do, but we didn’t manage to get to. However, do not be harsh on yourself. More often than not, our New Year’s resolutions are not single acts that we can complete in a day and cross off the list. Rather, they are processes that happen over time and can take from a couple of months to a couple of years to achieve. We set the bar high, committing to lose weight, exercise more, eat better, be more organized, spend more time with friends, drink less, walk more, be more mindful etc. All of these are profound lifestyle changes that if hurried tend to fail.

Brandy Foss, a Juice Plus representative, a RN and a mother of four in an amazing shape, is a wonderful example of how lifestyle changes should not be rushed. We discussed the effect healthy eating has had on her and her family.

What prompted you to turn to Juice Plus and to start eating whole foods?

After having my first child at 26, I experienced a health crisis. I was diagnosed with preeclampsia and postpartum depression, and I was not the happy mom I was supposed to be. The visits to the doctor did not seems to help as much, until a friend of mine introduced me to Juice Plus: 17 fruit, veggies and grains in a convenient capsule or chewable form. Until then, my vegetable intake consisted of canned corn and green beans, and I was quite the fast food junkie. However, as soon as I started taking Juice Plus and learning more about nutrition and healthy eating, my life took a positive turn and my depression was a thing of the past.

Brandy and her husband, happy and healthy, 10 years after her health crisis (Photo provided by Brandy Foss)

Was it easy to quit the fast food and turn to fruit and vegetables?

Actually, the transition was not as difficult as I thought it was going to be. Adding Juice Plus to our diet made it much easier for me. Once I started learning the effect food has on our body, I had no desire to eat processed products. The shorter the ingredient list, the better. I began reading labels and avoiding anything that contained high fructose corn syrup, MSG, hydrogenated fat, colors, or numbers. Food can make you feel bad, and food can make you feel better. It’s all about knowing the facts and making the right choices. If you make one simple change a month, in 12 months you have made 12 profound changes. They can be as simple as drinking an extra glass of water a day, or parking away from the store and walking a little more. When you eat healthier, you start craving healthy food.

A visual Brandy uses when she gives health education talks and seminars. Believe it or not, this burger is 6 years old and in mint condition. The bun and the fries have not molded, they have only dried out over time. Do you think this could nourish your body?

What are some of the changes you have noticed since you began to pay attention to what you eat?

One of the big changes was that I felt much better and I didn’t need to take my depression medication anymore. My energy levels are much higher, I’ve learned to love and appreciate my body more. It is sad that most people treat their vehicles better than their bodies. If we see a blinking red light on the dashboard, we immediately take the car in for a check up, but if we get a migraine, or pressure, or pain we go to the doctor only when we can’t stand it anymore. Prevention is of great importance to me and my family. Unlike medication, fruit and vegetables don’t have any side effects if consumed fresh and in season.

Adding more fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables to your diet makes you less susceptible to disease

Does the rest of your family embrace healthy eating like you do?

With the exception of my oldest daughter, my three other girls have been conceived with Juice Plus and 6 to 8 fruit and vegetable servings a day. My children sometimes have hard time fitting in, since they don’t eat fast food and the traditional snacks other kids have, but they always say: “You better eat healthy, or you will get sick.” It is scary that our processed foods are outliving our children. We, as parents need to set examples for them. Just as the law requires us to buckle our kids up in the car, we need to teach them the importance of eating healthy and ban the foods that can make them sick. You can make it fun by introducing new fruits, veggies and grains and come up with creative way to prepare them. I like to look at Juice Plus as a seatbelt to our health. Something to think about: 75% of disease can be prevented through good nutrition.

Brandy and her husband with their four beautiful girls. Brandy says that her children love fruit and vegetables, and they rarely get sick (Photo provided by Brandy Foss)

One of the things that astonished me when I first came to the USA was that a big soda was much cheaper than a bottle of filtered, not mineral, water. Some people believe that eating healthy is quite expensive, how do you manage?

I always give the following example to people. A bag of apples cost as much as a bag of Doritos: which one will last you longer? If you are sitting in front of the TV you can easily go through a bag of chips, but snacking on an apple or two would be so much healthier for you. Fast food is convenient, but not necessarily cheap. A burger with fries will satisfy your hunger for an hour, but all you are consuming is empty calories and fat with no nutritional value. On the other hand, a good balanced meal with a big portion of fruit and vegetables will keep your energy levels up and won’t make you crave a candy bar.

A good meal a day keeps the doctor away. Healthy food might be a little more expensive, but you pay for quality versus quantity.

Being a working mother of four, how do you find time to prepare healthy meals?

I try to do a lot of prep work on the weekend: I chop veggies, make healthy snacks and outline the menu for the week. It’s a wonderful way to spend time with the family and make them involved in food preparation. I have done a lot of Health Education Seminars and I have found that most families have only from 0 to 2 servings of fruit and veggies a day. No wonder that our children’s life expectancy is lower than ours. We need to make time to cook and stay away from the frozen dinners, if we want our kids to be healthy and happy. Would you rather spend time in the kitchen with your family, or in the hospital?

Cooking with the family can be a fun weekend activity

What would you tell people who are willing to make a change, but are afraid that eating healthy is too hard to do?

  • Make simple changes over time. Don’t go on harsh diets, rather opt for healthier choices and gradually transform the way you eat.
  • Read the labels. Stay away from high fructose corn syrup, MSG, hydrogenated fat, colors, or numbers. Look for a short list of ingredients.
  • Make eating healthy fun – try different fruits, veggies, grains and spices, experiment in the kitchen, exchange recipes with friends.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. Lifestyle changes don’t happen overnight. Slow and steady wins the race.
  • Eat as if you are pregnant your whole life. Make careful and educated choices.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Wash your fruit and veggies.

Tomatoes are great for you, but only when they are in season. If you buy tomatoes and cucumbers in winter, make sure you wash them very well, since they are covered with pesticides.

Are there any online resources you would recommend?

Myplate.gov is a great website that will give you dietary guidelines, sample menus and recipes, and tips on eating healthy on a budget. Every 3rd Thursday of the month we have Lunch and Learn at the Creek in Washington. For more information on health education events in the St. Louis surrounding areas, you can always e-mail me at  bfossjp@charter.net.

Don't be too harsh on yourself. Eating healthy doesn't mean rejecting the cookies all together. Just don't eat a whole bunch of them 😉

Brandy Foss is a RN and a Juice Plus Representative. You can reach her at 1-800-942-1151 or bfossjp@charter.net.

About Slava

I am a twenty-something Bulgarian girl in the USA, re-discovering the world through the lens.

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