Category Archives: Nutrition

Your Positive, Their Rejection

As we approach the holiday season it is easy to fall prey to the “oh come on, it’s Christmastime,” “One cookie never killed anyone,” “Don’t you want to try my homemade banana bread?”  It is incredibly hard when family and friends take your positive food choice as a personal rejection.  When the polite “No thank you,” does not seem to quiet the groaning, how do you maintain appropriate compassion while maintaining a healthy boundary that you’ve set for yourself?

Oftentimes, that banana bread was not JUST a baked good, but an expression of love and so a person may feel hurt when you decide to make a choice not to indulge.  Rejection never feels good. It hurts. Just think about it.

Affirming their feelings and acknowledge that your choice may in fact “hurt” their feelings, apologizing for any hurt feelings and continuing to politely decline is the best tactic.  It may sound a little cheeseball but a little word love goes a long way with people!  It is okay if someone feels whatever they are feeling (it is a feeling), that doesn’t mean that you have to cave in to their demand because their thoughts and feelings are different from yours.

So a conversation could go a little something like this:
Mom: Sweetie, aren’t you going to have some of my banana bread? It was always your favorite.
You: No thank you mom.
Mom: (Sad look on her face) Oh, okay. Are you sure? It is Christmas.  A little indulgence never hurt anyone.
You: Mom, I can tell that you are disappointed. I am so sorry to disappoint you, I love you very much and I am happy to spend this time of year with you.  I enjoy so many things about this season.

I admit I am really bad at creating random dialogue….I will stick to my day job and not pursue a career as a screenwriter.  Stick to what you feel is best, even when it may seem like the unpopular choice!

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Deprivation

The word deprivation has a terrible connotation…well and denotation for that matter.  When do you ever hear that word and think of something positive? Sleep deprivation, emotional deprivation, sensory deprivation, deprivation of liberty…..none of these things are positive.  In fact, one could accurately label them as not only negative but even harmful.  Why then is it any surprise at all that when someone goes on a diet and they start listing off the “no-no’s”, then they feel deprived and eventually fall off the bandwagon??  If deprivation is bad and I am feeling deprived, then the logical thought would be I need to stop doing whatever it is I am doing. To me, especially as a therapist, it would make perfect sense for someone to eventually give up on anything if their mentality or perspective is that they are feeling deprived. No one likes to feel deprived—it is pretty uncomfortable.

So if a diet is merely deprivation of all things that taste good and look good, then failure is an inevitable path.  Clearly I have conjured up much scientific evidence to support my opinions here today….are you liking all my links to outside resources?? Ha! Seriously, back to the meat here….if diets = deprivation then diets are stupid.  Diets are stupid.  Don’t diet, just make healthy choices!

If we are wanting to be successful in our healthy eating endeavors then we need to keep our perspective or “filter” in check.  Instead of looking at food or beverages as Yes or No, start using filters like “what is best for me today”, “which will make me feel better” or “what does my body need” — Not only are these filters more positive in general, you are increasing your own self-awareness with regard to your food intake.  If I look at a cookie and think “No, you can’t have that cookie.” then the rebellious side of me would want the cookie even more….but if I look at a cookie and think “does my body need this?”, then I can easily answer that question (No) and move on.  We have to find a system of filters that work best, to help us reach our unique goals as individuals. If you are running around, eating clean and constantly wishing that you could swing through your favorite fast food joint and munch down on a burger and french fries then you may need to change your filter.  Don’t let your feelings of “deprivation” be the thing that keeps you from consistently making healthy choices. Changing your filter, changes your habits, which can change your life!

Holiday Survival

The holidays are approaching at Lightning McQueen speed, which means most people are incredibly busy, attending parties, family get-togethersw and consuming A LOT of food.  One of the most challenging things that an individual can face during the holiday season is trying to maintain healthy habits when life is anything but routine.  When life is crazy, routine could be the one thing that keeps the wheels turning or it could be as lost as a needle in a haystack.  You may be thinking this is a bit preemptive, but if they are already selling Christmas decorations I figure it’s time to write a blog post on the holiday season!

Helpful Tips
Self-Care – First things first. When things get crazy, stress tends to creep up better than a ninja in a dark room and we can easily find ourselves getting off track.  Be intentional with your self-care.  If you know certain weeks are going to be super busy or stressful, block off down time.  Literally put it on the calendar if you have to!
Exercise – Anytime we are busy it is easy to say, there just isn’t enough time to exercise…the holidays are no different.  Get moving! Make exercise a priority.  It doesn’t have to be your typical gym routine, go for a bike ride with your kids, get creative, but don’t become a holiday couch (sweet) potato!
Sleep – When we are exhausted we tend to make poorer choices….just think about it….when you are really tired do you slave in the kitchen over dinner or does the drive-thru down the street tend to win the battle??? Get adequate sleep.  It will help you stay well, foster better decision making and keep you sane!
Food – If you know that you are going to a party where the food is going to be more in the “I can’t eat that” category than the “this is clean” category, bring your own grub.  If that would be rude (obviously this would not be appropriate in every social situation, please use your brain) then eat right before you go and have an “emergency” snack in your bag or purse that you can discretely consume if the temptation of your grandfather’s pecan pie becomes more than you can bare (or is that just me??).
Plan – Always have a plan.  Make some rules or set a few goals.  Limiting your sweets, alcohol or just knowing the “okays vs the no ways” can be helpful.
Quantity – The other QC (quantity control)….you can eat as much meat and veggies as you want (quality is important..however I will save that topic for a later post). But if you cheat, watch those portions….in other words don’t let that one piece of pecan pie turn into 10 (what?? I really do like pecan pie! It is a little piece of heaven…)
Listen – If your body is having aversive reactions to food that you usually don’t eat, listen up! Let your body guide the process.  Believe me; you will be grateful you did later…especially if you have to detox!
NO – You can always politely decline.  Practice in the mirror if you must, but be prepared to say “no thank you.”
Alcohol – Party, party, party…and at many parties there is alcohol…I would personally use the rule of “don’t drink anymore than normal.” —if that rule won’t work for you, then give yourself a limit and don’t let a late night celebration turn into a regretful morning!
Enjoy – Last, but certainly not least, enjoy your time! Don’t be so stringent that you feel like a Scrooge….make a plan that works, one that you can feel good about and will allow you to enjoy the season!

How do you survive the holidays? Share your tips and Merry Thursday!

Water, Hydration and Dehydration

Just thought I would give you the 411 on H2O today. So here it is!

FACTS:

  • 780 million people lack access to an improved water source; approximately one in nine people. (WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation 2012).
  • 3% of the Earth’s water is fresh.
  • A gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds.
  • Only 1% of the Earth’s water is available for drinking.
  • In Africa alone, people spend 40 billion hours every year walking for water.
  • We lose a pint or more of water each day by simply breathing (according to a study done in the northeast)…and I bet that is not all you have done today, which means you should be drinking a whole lot of water!!

 

SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION (according to WebMD):

  • Dry mouth
  • The eyes stop making tears
  • Sweating may stop
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heart palpitations
  • Lightheadedness (especially when standing)
  • Weakness
  • Decreased urine output

 

A FEW GOOD READS:
Hydration Myths
Healthy Living Facts
Charity Water

Simple Meals

I know I have used the phrase before, keep it simple stupid….but I am going to use it again! When it comes to your everyday meal planning, simple is key!  Not many people have the energy or time to make an elaborate meal with a bazillion ingredients after a long day at work or in between their evening activities. Don’t set yourself up for failure by over-complicating your weekly meal plan!

Here are some of my favorite go-to meals that take minimal time to prep and cook.
Sausage and Brussel Sprouts
Baked Chicken and Spinach
Paleo Spaghetti
Breakfast
Chicken Stir Fry (hold the soy….that’s not Paleo!)

When I am trying to keep things simple I usually think in terms of the following:
Veggie prep and cook time
Meat prep and cook time

Broccoli, spinach and asparagus can be sauteed/boiled in no time (about 10 minutes of prep and cook time combined).

Baked chicken takes about 30 minutes but once it is in the oven you are free to hang out with your family, get some laundry done, read a little…or whatever tickles your fancy.

Grass-fed ground beef takes about 10-15 minutes to brown and with just a few seasonings and spices can be delicious with about anything.

Usually I ask myself what kind of meat do I want to do tonight and which veggie will be easiest to do with it.  Then get it done and enjoy!

What are some of your favorite quick pairings?? What seasonings or spices are your go-to? So remember keep it simple, not need to make life more complicated!

Competition Nutrition

Game day food is absolutely essential to a great performance. Making sure you are getting all the usual macronutrients are important as well as adding some fat and carbs catered to your energy output. Huh?? In other words, your body will need more fat and carbs to get the job done than on a regular trsining day; for example sweet potatoes and avocado (two of my personal favorites).

On top of this asking yourself the question, “what can I always make myself eat,” is crucial. With nerves, adrenaline and exhaustion, the last thing you may want to do on comp day is stuff your face. So having some go-to snacks can make the differ ex between a podium finish and burning out in a final WOD because you’ve got nothing left to give.

Let us not forget about hydration! Getting enough water is an absolute must!! Usually H2O and coconut water can be found in my ice chest!

A list of my goods for tomorrow’s comp:

coconut water

water

coffee

coconut milk

tuna salad

strawberries

bananas

turkey meat

almonds

pomegranate

larabars

beet chips

scotch eggs

sweet potato

Labels

So many times I am asked “what about this food…or that?” and my new favorite response is “What do the ingredients say?”…some give me a blank stare, others have no clue, and some simply say “I dunno.”  Understanding how to read a label is not as important as knowing the ingredients in your food.  Who cares if it says “all Natural” “whole food” “organic” “fat free” “sugar-free” “healthy snack” etc.  These words mean nothing and are mostly ways to market a product.  The front of the package tells you very little about the actual food inside you are considering consuming. The nutritional breakdown they give you on the back of the package does not always paint the full picture either.  It tells you nothing about how your body actually processes the food; it just simply tells you the breakdown “pre-digestion”.  Here is the tricky part: so many foods have a lot of junk (chemicals, anti-nutrients etc) in them that your body may not even get the nutritional benefit (what is listed on the package) of that food…even if the breakdown seems reasonably healthy.

What do you do? Flip that bad boy over and read the ingredients. What does it say?? First question to ask, can you read and understand the words—do you know what you are reading? (I am assuming that you are not illiterate because you are reading this blog, so let’s not be too literal here).  If you cannot pronounce it and have no clue what it means, chances are you body is not going to like it. Is it a list of whole food ingredients?? Second question to ask, does it have any form of sugar listed (anything ending in “ose” or has syrup or sugar in the name…to name a few: sucrose, xylose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup)…stay clear of these!! Third question to ask, how does your body respond to these particular food items? If you know inflammation, bloating, headaches, nausea, diarrhea…occur then it is a NO NO! I am sure you are thinking “duh” that clearly looks like a list of bad side effects for a medication commercial…..yep it does and yet we still make active decisions to put that stuff in our bodies (hey…myself included…I know…it’s a shocker…but it happens).

Your homework: read the labels and make informed decisions about the food you are purchasing and consuming! That is all!

White or Brown?

Rice. That is the topic. I know you have already pulled the reigns and are saying “Hold up! Rice isn’t paleo!” Did I say it was paleo? Nope, I didn’t and NO it is not paleo.  Due to the level of my training, I have been asked to consider occasionally eating non-paleo foods to fuel my body appropriately (specifically–white rice).  Believe me, this has not been an easy thing to do.  WHY? Number one, deep down I am a control freak and I don’t like someone to rock my boat and Number 2, I really do believe that eating paleo has been the best nutritional path I have chosen and I feel great.

Anyway, enough about my first world perils. I have been reading up on rice and I have learned a few things that I felt like were nice nuggets of info to share with the world so here they are:

White rice: It doesn’t offer much nutritionally, other than it is super high in the starch (carbohydrate) category.  The anti-nutrients are minimal, but it does still peak your insulin production like any grain.  Final Verdict: okay to eat OCCASIONALLY, IF you do not feel like crap after AND it is after an intense workout where you have depleted a significant amount of glycogen (carbohydrate storage). Definition of occasional (just for clarification): occurring, appearing, or done infrequently and irregularly.

Brown rice: This guy used to be the popular one in the “whole grains are healthy” world, but I quickly learned that the anti-nutrients are all up in this rice’s business.  You heard me. Lots of anti-nutrients, plus a huge insulin spike and who really prefers the taste of brown rice to white rice?? Final Verdict: avoid brown rice like the black plague (less dramatic version: avoid it like donuts).

And there you have it folks. Google rice nutrition and you can find lots of info out there. What are your thoughts?

Beans and Farts

beans“Beans, beans, good for your heart. The more you eat them, the more you fart. The more you fart, the better you feel. So eat beans with every meal!”  If you have no idea where that came from, then your childhood was depraved of silly giggles about farting.  I still want to giggle when I hear the word fart…maybe that is because my mom didn’t like that word and it was more appropriate to say “toot” or “poot” and my rebellious side enjoys this “inappropriate” word.  Yep. That is it. I am such a rebel.

I’m sure you are thinking that I am not going to give more info than that from my childhood experiences and that is why you are still reading.  I would hate to disappoint you, so here is a bit of digestible information on legumes (beans) and anti-nutrients.

First things first; your digestive tract does not absorb food, it absorbs nutrients.  I know that may not sound profound but some people think about the food as a whole, when the reality is, we need to pay special attention to its nutrient value (or lack thereof). Legumes do offer nutritional benefits, however they are often not absorbed because of your body’s difficulty digesting lectins (this is why farting happens people…your body doesn’t break it down well…. lectins make things stick to your intestinal walls and bloating/gas occurs… and you have to get it out somehow). This article from Mark’s Daily Apple does a great job of explaining lectins in great detail.

Are legumes the worst thing you could eat?? No.  They do provide some protein, although you would be better off eating 4 ounces of meat.  It is also good to know that not all legumes are created equal.  The green ones (peas, green beans..etc) are baby legumes which means the anti-nutrient (lectin) content is less versus a black bean or pinto bean.  Just like with any food, think about how your body responds.  If you have excessive mucus, inflammation or even farting…then you need to consider that food as a “not so great option” for your body.  Weed out the ones that aren’t great for you and stick to the ones that promote healthy digestion and health!

Here is another great article on digestive enzymes that you should take some time to read.  It has great information on checking your poop. Just figured being totally PC was the best way to go today! Happy Monday!

Breakfast of “Champions”

Wheaties are not the breakfast of champions (go ahead and ask a few champions what they eat for breakfast…) and Tony the Tiger is not your morning friend, although he might seem quite chipper, the reality is, he crashes hard after his morning cereal.  Why??

These boxes of cereal claim to have vitamins and minerals that are appropriate for you to have in the morning…they are “enriched” and therefore good for you. UM NO! Most enriched foods do not do your body good (neither does milk really…but that is a story for another day). Instead your body expels most of these vitamins and minerals because your body cannot properly absorb them and instead your body takes in all the chemicals and preservatives used to process these said “whole grains”.  Just like I have said in previous posts, your ratio of proteins, carbs and fats are most important…the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are a secondary concern and are often adequate in a balanced diet without the need to enriched foods.

INSULIN
An important thing to note is what these sugary cereals do to your insulin levels.  You ready?? These meals increase your body’s blood glucose and when this happens your pancreas kicks in to do it’s job–creates more insulin.  So what does insulin do?? It stores the excess that your body produces…which inevitably gets translated to stored fat. The unfortunate part is that your body stops using fat for energy when it is being told to store fat—it can’t do both at the same time.  It is ideal that our body use fat for energy…not storage.

Insulin can also make you super hungry.  You eat cereal for breakfast and then you are hungry within a couple hours of eating. When we are hungry and don’t eat…we get cranky, and feel the “crash”…well at least I get cranky…and I’m not ashamed to admit it.  If we don’t eat when we feel the crash, then we feel like crap the rest of the day and if we do eat, our body immediately starts storing away what we ingest… It is a vicious cycle.  Easiest way to avoid it?? Stay away from the grains and breakfast foods found in a box, instead EAT REAL FOOD!

Skeptical?? Don’t just take my word for it, here are some interesting reads:
Blood Sugar and Cereal
Why Grains are Unhealthy