New Site

I know I haven’t written in a while, but I now have a new site. Www.SwagNotSwine.com please follow me.

My goal with this segment is to not only continue with a pork free diet, but a more healthy diet overall. No more sugary drinks and snacks, and avoiding all other high calorie and fat intake, and depending on healthier alternatives. Not only will I be documenting my personal progress, but sharing positive advice, support and information for all of you to also begin or continue a healthy, positive lifestyle.

Change is good and it’s good to change. Enjoy!

-Samantha Jonas-Rongo

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Week 5 of Budget 101

Part 5: Save on the Fun Things

Finally, a topic that we actually WANT to think about.  Or maybe that’s just me! 🙂 Saving on the all the things we MUST spend money on, is in all actuality as important as tedious, to say the least.

(NOTE: Before we go any further, if you are new to Through The Eyes Of I, or missed out on the last four weeks, you might want to start at Week 1: Stop Spending before starting this week’s assignment!)
 

If we’re being perfectly honest, which of these two scenarios would make you do the happy dance:

a.) You were able to negotiate a .3 percentage point drop in your mortgage rate

b.) You found the cutest pair of designer shoes that ever existed on clearance for 90% off AND you had an additional 10% off coupon AND the only pair left was in your size.  It was like the heavens opened up and the shoe gods named you the Chosen One.

(Hint: If you picked (b), this might be the wrong guide to savings for you.)

But there is a very important distinction between (a) and (b).  The first scenario is an actual savings–additional money in your pocket that would otherwise be gone.  The second scenario, while a “good deal,” is NOT really saving you any money.  Those perfect shoes will still cost you something, even if it is far less than the original price.

You are spending, not saving.

Last week we methodically tackled saving on all those pesky things we have to spend money on each month–food, utilities, & gas–whether we want to or not.  Hopefully once you started looking, you found that there were plenty of tweaks you could make to squeeze the most out of your budget.

This week we are going to focus on saving money on the things we want to buy, but don’t necessarily need to buy.

Remember the exercise from Week One? Well let’s face it, although the most obvious answer to saving money in this category is simply to stop spending money on things we don’t need, it’s probably not a very realistic option for most people, including myself.

So what’s a girl (or guy) to do?  As hard as it may be (especially for those of us who want instant gratification), there is a very simple way to save on everything you buy:

Wait for the best price.

Everything goes on sale eventually, it is just a matter of being patient. It is such a simple concept, and yet so hard to follow sometimes for many people.

This week’s assignment:

  •  Stop shopping mindlessly.

If this one doesn’t apply to you, feel free to skip to #2, but for some of us (and WE know who WE are), shopping is more than just a means to an end, it is how we fill our time. Regardless of how much we try to convince ourselves that we’re “just looking,” or “window shopping,” eventually the temptation becomes too great, and we buy things we not only don’t need, we end up with things we don’t even really want.  No matter how good the sale, if we buy something we don’t need OR want, it isn’t a good deal, and we are NOT saving money!  Save your pennies for the things you want, and find another way to fill your day! We do not want make any more poor decisions.

  •  Figure out what you really want

Make a list of all the things you want to buy.  Clothes, shoes, new TV, car, blender, professional family portraits, house, new couch, etc. Next to each item, indicate how soon you want/need it, (i.e. “sometime in the next 5 years,” “for my cousin’s wedding next week,” “this October.”), as well as how much you want to spend.  The goal is to aim low, not high, giving yourself a goal to shoot for and a reason NOT to spend more than you have to.  Try to limit your list to no more than 10 items at a time.  If something doesn’t make your top 9, then you probably don’t want it that badly!  Save your money for the things you truly want.

  •  Be on the lookout for good deals!

This is more of an ongoing assignment.  Wish list in hand, you are now free to search for bargains.  But BE CAREFUL.  There are always going to be more bargains available than you can afford to spend.  Stick to the list and to the things you really want.  Diligence truly does pay off, and if you continue looking, you will almost always find what you want at a price you like.  The internet and the use of apps are almost an endless source of bargains, but here are some of my favorite places to look for deals:

Amazon Gold Box –I have found some of my best deals this way. There are Deals of the Day and Lightning Deals which often feature products for 75% or more off the regular retail price.  Even better, you can sign up for Amazon Mom (for free!) and get FREE 2 day shipping on almost everything including 20% off diaper subscriptions.

Amazon is also one of my favorite places to find great deals. You can find almost anything, and if you sign up for Amazon Prime, you get access to thousands of movies, and music for free and the ability to enjoy FREE 2 day shipping.

Ebates– If you do any online shopping at all, using Ebates to get cash back on all your purchases is simply a no-brainer. However, Ebates also frequently features “Daily Double” specials that can mean huge discounts on a wide variety of items.  When you Sign up you will automatically receive their daily email, which is a great way to keep track of the specials!

  • Daily Deal Sites – More & more of these deal sites seem to pop up every day, but my favorites thus far are Beyond The RackGroupon, and Zulily.
Target Online Daily Deals– who doesn’t love Target?  Their daily deals are often nothing short of amazing AND shipping is free!
Craigslist– I have found some amazing deals on Craigslist, but usually only after a LOT of searching. I have the most success when I am looking for something specific, and then search daily until I find it. Don’t be afraid to negotiate either, even if the price is low. Unless it’s free, it can always go lower!

*   *   *

 See, wasn’t this week a lot more fun?  (That’s because shopping under the guise of “saving money” is always more fun than cracking down!)  Stay tuned for another week’s saving challenge next Sunday, and don’t forget to let me know how you’re doing!

Food Pyramid Turned My Pyramid Turned My Plate

Most of us have seen the iconic USDA Food Guide Pyramid at some point. It was first introduced in 1992, was remade in 2005 as My Pyramid, and in 2011 was changed to My Plate. All of these eating guides incorporate the different food groups and try to give us an understanding of how to eat a healthy diet. But have you ever wondered if they are correct? Who wrote them?

What research are they based on? Does profit or the food industry create a bias in these models? Why have they changed? Do you really need to eat 11 servings of grains in a day? Is there really a one size fits all diet? This article will help you understand the answers to all of these questions.

Food Pyramid

THE FOOD GUIDE PYRAMID

The original Food Pyramid was created in 1992 by the United States Department of Agriculture. It became the uncontested model for a “healthy diet” in schools, doctor’s offices, on food labels, and in the media. For more than 20 years, Americans tried to follow this high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet recommended by the Food Pyramid. The results are in, and sadly Americans are sicker and more over weight than ever before in our nation’s history. So what went wrong?

As the Food Pyramid held the power to greatly influence the multibillion dollar food industry, was the original Food Pyramid solely based on nutritional science, or was it was influenced by commercial interests? As more research has been done, it has become clear that a diet high in carbohydrates and low in fat is not optimal for disease prevention. (1)

A diet high in pasteurized dairy and carbohydrates causes inflammation and an overly acidic body pH, which is an underlying factor in almost every chronic disease. (2) It is also clear that many people are allergic to or have a difficult time digesting dairy and grains.

The Healthy Eating Pyramid has six levels. Foods from the six major food groups are shown in the levels of the Pyramid. The food groups are:

  • grains;
  • vegetables;
  • fruits;
  • milk and dairy products;
  • meat, fish, beans and nuts;
  • oils and fats.

File:MyPyramidFood.svg

MY PYRAMID

The 2005 My Pyramid model, which was like the original one turned on its side, was heavily criticized from the beginning as being too confusing and overly vague. The one good thing about this model was that it incorporated exercise as one of the “steps to a healthier you.” However, it still placed grains as the largest source of calories and did not incorporate our need for healthy fats.

With the massive increase in processed foods, this model did not help Americans navigate all of these choices. Many products advertised the number of “whole grains” it contained while being full of refined sugar, food additives, trans fat, genetically modified corn and soy, preservatives, artificial colors and flavorings, and other unhealthy ingredients. (3) A great example of this is breakfast cereals. The idea that Lucky Charms, Coco Puffs or Cinnamon Toast Crunch is a good and healthy breakfast choice—just because it contains whole grains—shows how far off track we’ve gone.

MyPyramid was a visual illustration of suggested healthy eating habits and physical activity. Like its predecessor, the Food Guide Pyramid, MyPyramid combined the government’s dietary guidelines and recommended allowances into six food groups. But instead of illustrating the number of servings based on a one-size-fits-all 2,000 calorie intake, the MyPyramid symbol itself showed six vertical color bands, each representing varying proportions of the pyramid. These colors represented the food groups as follows.

  • Orange for grains
  • Green for vegetables
  • Red for fruits
  • Yellow for oils
  • Blue for milk
  • Purple for meat and beans
  • Fruit Group should provide 4 daily servings, or 2 cups.
  • Vegetable Group should provide 5 servings, or 2.5 cups.
  • Grain Group should provide 6 ounce-equivalents (1 ounce-equivalent means 1 serving), half of which should be whole grain..
  • Meat and Beans Group should provide 5.5 ounce-equivalents or servings.
  • Milk Group should provide 3 cups/servings.
  • Oils should provide 24g or 6 teaspoons.
  • Discretionary Calories: The remaining amount of calories in each calorie level after nutrient-dense foods have been chosen. Up to 267 calories could be consumed in solid fats or added sugars if the other requirements were been met

MyPlate Food Pyramid Replacement

MY PLATE

In 2011, the new “My Plate” was introduced. This is a significant improvement from its predecessors as it is much easier to visualize what it actually means on your plate. My Plate really makes meal planning easier. Just by looking at the icon, you know right away that vegetables and fruits should take up half the plate (with the veggie portion being a bit bigger), and grains and protein foods should take up the other half (with more grains on this side). And with a side helping of dairy, you’re reminded to include milk or another dairy food (like cheese or yogurt) in your daily meal plan.

Because My Plate is a divided plate, no one food group overpowers the others. That’s because dietary guidelines encourage eating a variety of foods and discourage “super-sized” portions which can lead to weight gain and obesity.

Although the food guide icon has changed, the USDA’s message about eating well has stayed the same. Everyone still needs to eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, along with lean meats or other forms of protein and low-fat dairy products.

Oils provide important nutrients and are recommended in small amounts but aren’t included on the My Plate icon. Choose oils over solid fats, but limit the amount you eat.

Exercise is also no longer included in the icon, but it’s still an important component of a healthy lifestyle. Everyone should and will benefit from exercise. Starting at 2 years old, kids need at least 60 minutes of moderate to physical activity each day.

Criticisms are that it still does not help us navigate what kinds of foods should be in each category. Before the industrialization of our food supply, these categories were very simple. Now we are bombarded with thousands of choices and new “food products” on the shelves of the supermarket every week.

So what should we eat!? The question, “what is a healthy diet?” seems to still remain once we take a deeper look at the shortcomings of these food models.