Let’s Talk About S.A.D. Foods Versus S.O.U.L. Foods

S.A.D. food represents the Standard American Diet, while S.O.U.L. food stands for Seasonal, Organic, Unprocessed, and Local foods.

Despite the United States being one of the most prosperous nations in the world, many would be surprised to discover that Americans die sooner and experience higher rates of disease than most developed nations. This can be attributed to common diet and lifestyle choices.

By understanding the differences between S.A.D foods and S.O.U.L foods we can begin examining our food choices through a new lens.

S.A.D. Foods

The Standard American Diet (S.A.D) has grown to be problematic as it relies heavily on refined and processed foods with very little interest in fresh produce. Research has shown that the typical American diet is alarmingly low in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains– and extremely high in sodium, calories, saturated fat, refined grains (i.e. white flour), and added sugars.

This is apparent when visiting most conventional grocery stores which usually consist of aisles upon aisles of packaged and processed foods, often reserving only a small section of the store for fresh produce or dry bulk goods.

Heavily processed and unnatural foods are laden with questionable additives, food chemicals, dyes, and countless other substances that are used to manipulate taste, color, and shelf-life. Conventionally raised meats and non-organic produce are also suboptimal in nutrition and safety when considering the hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and soil quality that ultimately end up in our body.

Being able to identify S.A.D foods is the first step in making supportive choices in terms of how we eat. This is relevant since well over half of American adults have one or more chronic diseases related to poor diet and inactivity; that means that either you or someone you know is experiencing this. The normalization of S.A.D eating habits is sweeping through our neighborhoods, communities, and homes and with that are the chronic conditions that come along with it. In many cases these are conditions that are absolutely preventable, yet the culture of S.A.D foods inevitably usher people directly towards illness and poor health.

A few tips to avoid S.A.D foods:

  • Limit consumption of convenience and fast foods
  • Read the ingredients lists, if there are words you can’t understand or pronounce, walk away
  • Ask yourself, “how will I feel in my body after eating this?”
  • Avoid the aisles and shop mostly in the produce section
  • Choose organic & non- GMO foods when possible
  • Make it a goal to eat fresh foods at least once a day

On the other side of S.A.D foods exist S.O.U.L foods, Seasonal, Organic, Unprocessed, and Local.

eating more S.O.U.L foods

S.O.U.L. Foods

When we eat seasonally, we are eating with nature, not against nature. Meaning, we are opting to eat foods that naturally occur according to the conditions that are just right for particular plants and animals to thrive. Now that we are in the season of summer we can be sure to enjoy fresh corn, summer squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, melons, stone fruit, and berries. These are water rich foods that are synonymous with summertime as they re-hydrate the body and are native to soaking in the hot sun.

Organically grown produce is radically different from conventional produce. For one, organic foods contain fewer pesticides and other chemicals which have proven to have serious health repercussions. Similarly, organically raised animals are much less likely to be given antibiotics, growth hormones, or fed animal byproducts. Organic foods are also GMO (genetically modified) free, meaning that the DNA has not been altered in a way that cannot occur in nature.

Unprocessed foods are alive foods that have beneficial nutrients, vitamins, and minerals – these are the building blocks of a healthy, capable body. There are no weird ingredients in unprocessed foods because they haven’t been adulterated or tampered with. Fresh vegetables, fruits, dried grains, and beans, are examples of foods that you can buy in their most natural state.

Local foods are a treasure to have around as they are the freshest foods that don’t have to travel very far to reach your hands. The moment a vegetable is picked from the ground it begins to lose its nutritional value, so the sooner it can be eaten the more value you will receive from it. Local foods are also often grown or made in small batches, so there’s a lot of care and attention that goes into each head of cabbage or jar of honey being sold. Not to mention, you’re also supporting your local economy.

A few tips to eat more S.O.U.L foods:

  • Shop at your local farmers markets if available
  • Read full ingredients lists on boxes + labels
  • Aim for your meals to be colorful + diverse
  • Eat fresh + alive foods as often as possible
  • Select organic options when you can
  • Find out what’s in season and eat mostly that

Nutritiously rich S.O.U.L foods provide the necessary building materials for the body to repair, discern, and replenish. While S.A.D foods simply don’t have the aliveness to provide this kind of support ultimately robbing us of our own vitality. We implore you to curiously look around your own kitchen and discover if you’re creating an environment of S.A.D or S.O.U.L. nourishment.

We are all working our way through a changed world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We may no longer be quarantined or under stay-at-home orders, but everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us in our communities. Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before. This is a great opportunity to create the world we want for our future generations. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement!

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!

Nutrition to Help Prevent Depression

Nutrition to Help Prevent Depression

You just ate a bowl of pasta and feel tired. Or you ate a tuna salad and feel ready to tackle the day. Ever wondered why you feel differently after eating? We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) have been curious about this as well. After doing some research on nutrition, we now have a better understanding of why food affects us so much. For example, recent studies show that a healthy diet may not only prevent depression but could effectively treat it once it’s started. 

Nutritional Psychiatry

An evolving body of research on nutrition shows that a healthy diet can help prevent depression. The field of research on how food affects us psychologically is called nutritional psychiatry. Nutritional psychiatry is relatively new and it is not limited to one place or group. Nutritional psychiatry observes data regarding the association between diet quality and mental health across cultures, countries and age groups. One topic within these groups is depression and how the food we eat contributes, fixes or prevents depression.

An example of this research in action is a study mentioned in the Wall Street Journal. Researchers took a look at whether improving the diets of people with major depression would help reduce or eliminate their depression symptoms. Half of these people were coached on their nutrition by a dietitian. The other half were given one-on-one social support, a common technique for reducing depression. “After 12 weeks, the people who improved their diets showed significantly happier moods than those who received social support. And the people who improved their diets the most improved the most.” (Wall Street Journal) Other subsequent studies have found similar results: Eating a balanced diet that has fewer processed sugars, grains, etc. will help with depression.

In 2013, Dr. Jacka helped to found the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research. This Society held its first conference in the summer of 2017. Dr. Jacka also launched Deakin University’s Food & Mood Centre. This is an institute that focuses on researching and developing nutrition-based strategies for brain disorders, such as depression. With new and evolving research on how food affects us, other conferences and universities are including these findings in their lectures. An example of how this information applies is by the production of serotonin, which regulates mood and sleep. Not enough serotonin can result in depression. 

Food Interactions

Eating a ton of high-processed foods and refined sugars often increases the risk of mental and physical health issues at any age. If we think about our heart or other muscles in the body, we take extra effort to condition them and keep them healthy. The brain is not much different. Our lifestyle choices reflect our brain’s health. Mental health should be just as important as physical health. A healthy brain is more resilient in difficult times, like while when we feel depressed. “A bad diet makes depression worse, failing to provide the brain with a variety of nutrients it needs… And processed or deep-fried foods often contain trans fats that promote inflammation, believed to be a cause of depression.” (Dr. Ramsey)

A bad diet also affects our microbiome, A.K.A., your gut bacteria. The bacteria in our guts have complex ways of communicating with our brain by signaling the body to produce different chemicals and hormones. This communication changes our mood. Think about when we get “hangry” from not eating, or the opposite, happy when we eat strawberries. To maintain a healthy and stable mood, we need to maximize the good bacteria and minimize the bad.

It is not to say that a good diet can replace medicine or therapy. However, it can serve as a supplemental treatment. The added bonus is that it can prevent other health problems, like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and more!

Be open to the cornucopia of food.

There are so many different diets and articles out in the world for “healthy eating.” The main point is to eat in a way that your body responds best to. As some might say, “hacking” your body. A diet made up primarily of fruits and vegetables, good fats and proteins, yogurt and cheese, legumes, nuts, seafood, whole grains and small portions of red meat can provide nutrition our brain needs. It can also regulate our inflammatory response and support the good bacteria in our gut.

Mood Lifting Nutrients and Foods

If we take everything in moderation and monitor our health, we can maintain a healthy lifestyle. The critical point is to listen to our bodies so we can understand what we need. Is it sleep? An activity like hiking? Or do we need to eat more berries and yogurt because we are feeling down? If we begin making small changes based on these observations, we can bring more caring into our bodies and lives.

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources? We have other blogs on topics on UCA benefits: Medical Bill Negotiation, 2020 Clear Sighted Year, and Gut-Brain Connection! If you would like caring messages throughout the week, follow us on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter!

Proactive Mental Health

Proactive Mental Health

Each day can bring about new challenges. The trick is to maintain a healthy and active mind to that you are able to be more resilient through stressful moments. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) strive to provide our members caring tools and resources for mental well-being. These resources can help us all be proactive with our mental health. To start, let’s look at why having a strong mind is important.


Strengthening the mind is connected with improving our emotional intelligence. According to an article in the “Journal of Abnormal Psychology,” the successful route to take is to incorporate a “positive activity.” A positive activity is often an activity that a person enjoys doing, such as meditation or writing letters of gratitude.  In this research article the authors, K. Layous, J. Chancellor, and S. Lyubomirsky, study the effects of positive activities on mental well-being. They state that “…promoting Well-Being can reduce negative emotions, negative thoughts, and negative behaviors.” Overall, maintaining happiness and a positive mental outlook leads to better physical health.


Our memories help shape us, our identities and our relationships. It goes without saying that our memories are very important to us all. There are tools to help strengthen our memory, such as UCA’s caring apps for memory fitness. Some of these apps are games that help build and strengthen our ability to recall information. Other apps can be puzzles to help with exercising the brain’s ability to problem solve. Other ideas that work well for us include learning a new language or musical instrument, as well as volunteering and socializing through acts of kindness. In conjunction with healthy nutrition and lifestyle, the mind is just like a muscle, it needs exercise in order to grow stronger and stay in shape. 

When to seek help for memory loss…

“If you’re worried about memory loss — especially if memory loss affects your ability to complete your usual daily activities or if you notice your memory getting worse — talk to your doctor. He or she will likely do a physical exam, as well as check your memory and problem-solving skills. Sometimes other tests are needed as well. Treatment will depend on what’s contributing to your memory loss.” (Mayo Clinic)


There are many ways we can be proactive with our mental health. Being active in your community, sharing caring with others and yourself are some examples of working on your mental well-being. And as mentioned above, learning a language like Spanish or Japanese will streacha nd build your brain to be more resilient. Below are nine that we have come up with that can help strengthen our minds in different ways. Check them out to see how we all can build our mental health to be the best it can be!

Tips for Proactive Mental Health

Love our blogs and want to read more? Unified Caring Association has other caring blogs such as Advanced Directives of Peace of Mind, and Caring Challenge x 365 Days that inspire us all! We also share caring and inspirational posts daily on social media  (Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter). Follow us to get a little extra caring in your day!

Caring Cookbook

Caring Cookbook
cooking poem

Most of us love to cook with care. We gently wash the produce, plucking leaves off mint for tea, or even the act of folding whipped cream into a rich chocolate mousse bring joy into the world. With the holiday season in full swing, most of us are taking up our spatulas and pans to create scrumptious meals for ourselves and those we love. Just one trick to overcome… when will we have the time to cook a feast?! Unified Caring Association (UCA) has a solution for you! We have just put together a cookbook titled Care to Cook: Casually & Quickly. This cookbook is filled with caring recipes that are simple to make and delicious to eat!

Care to Cook Casually & Quickly

Our Goal

Nutrition is important for everyone, and can be overlooked in our busy lives. We want to  help people in our caring community plan meals to be healthier. This cookbook was created with those of us who are strapped for time. (Think about people who work two to three jobs, have families and have no time to dilly dally. Yet, they love home cooked food that is  flavorful and a delight to the pallet.) This cookbook is designed to provide recipes that are uncomplicated, yet delicious. Unified Caring Association members have access to this cookbook under the benefits tab for nutrition. AND soon to come, UCA will have a printed copy available for purchase in the Caring Community Store for all who visit to buy!

The Layout

At the beginning of the cookbook there is a short introduction and index. It is here that we can find suggestions for substitute for butter, salt, and more. Also there are suggestions for appreciation and gratitude for the food we eat. Following this is a nifty cheat-sheet for cooking times that are needed for produce, meat, poultry, etc. This sheet comes in handy at any point during a cooking adventure! Now we get into the index proper. We see a list of a variety of entrees, appetizers, desserts, and more. We just start to practically drool when we read over these recipes, and know that our caring cooks will too!

Taking a Sweet Sneak Peek

Below is a preview of one of the recipes that is in our caring cookbook, Care to Cook: Casually & Quickly. Try these candied pecans as a fun thank you holiday gift for those you care about. Whether they are your family, friends, or coworkers, they are sure to enjoy the gift given with kindness.

Candied Pecans

Whether you are heading to a party or just getting home from a long day at work, these recipes are a great way to take care of yourself and the ones you care for. We are glad to have this caring cookbook to help fuel our caring community. With the nutrition and TLC that comes from our food, we can continue sharing caring around the world.

Would you like to read more about Unified Caring Association? Caring Connection 24-7, UCA & Scholarships, How to Improve the World By Caring, and It All Starts With Self-Care are just some of our other blogs that are wonderful, quick reads. Or, check out our website to read more about Unified Caring Association memberships, caring communities, our Caring Challenge and more! We also love connecting with our followers on social media (Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter) to share caring throughout the week!

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