Just Live Mindfully

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Category: Nutrition (page 1 of 2)

What Do I Do?

There are so many options out there for getting healthy – weight loss programs, intermittent fasting, coaching that includes food, coaching that doesn’t include food, going vegan, going gluten-free, going dairy free…

Do you feel like you want to scream yet?

I certainly did when I first started my journey.  Everyone was telling me to do this or do that or that I had to stop this and start that.  I tried being a vegan for awhile but that didn’t stick.  I backed down a bit and tried to live like a pescatarian.  That was good, but I still craved a burger every now and then.  Then I tried cutting out all bread, pasta, pastries, basically anything with wheat.  That worked, but for lunches a sandwich was my go-to.   It was all so freakin’ confusing!

Those people that were telling me what to do were not doctors and not experts.  At least they were not experts in ME.  The people telling me what to do did not ask me any questions about me, my situation, my allergies or my emotions regarding food, fitness and body image.  What I finally did was stop.  I stopped listening to everyone else and started listening to what my intuition was telling me.  And I started listening to my body.  I started paying attention to how my body reacted when I ate something and started experimenting with my diet.  I was determined to find out what was right for me.

Looking back, I wish someone had told me to do that much,  much earlier because it would have helped me decide what was right for me sooner.  What fires me up so much about this topic is that we live in a society that makes us feel as though we are not making the right choices or not good enough if we go against the grain.  It’s not fun to have peer pressure and it may not healthy to always follow the crowd.

As a health coach, I’m not here to tell you what to do.  I’m here to help you decide what is right for you.  During my client sessions, I make suggestions and recommendations but will never give you a “one way or the highway” way of thinking regarding food and fitness.  However, what I will do is recommend that you try different things, keep a food journal, listen to your body and make the decisions that work for YOU.  I will also offer you science-based information and my own experience to help you make an educated decision.  And I most certainly will tell you to make baby steps and live by an 80/20 rule.

So what do you do? Don’t be scared, don’t feel confused and don’t feel like you’re hitting a wall.  If you’re stuck on what to do with your diet, reach out, listen to what’s calling you, experiment again and again and THEN decide for yourself.  Ultimately, only you can make the choices because only you can choose the best options for yourself.

I Was Healthier When…

Have you ever said this statement to yourself before?  “I was healthier when…”  I have and after a lot of thought, I’m able to finish the sentence.  My sentence goes like this…

I was healthier when I worked closer to home.

It doesn’t sound like the most profound statement, but for me it’s true.  I’ve noticed over the past few years that the distance I have to travel to work takes a toll on me.  It takes a toll on a lot of things in my life, but especially my weight.  When I worked closer to home, I had more time in the day to prep meals, fit in a good workout and still have time to spend with my family.  All three of these factors can help your weight stay where you want it to be.  For me, I know they all helped.

So what did I do about it?  It took me a few years, but I finally decided to make a change.  I’ve decided to move things around and find opportunities closer to home.  This change might sound big, but for me, it was necessary.  I needed to make this change for my family, for my sanity and for my health.  And I’m happier for it.  Now, I get to fit my fitness in every morning, I get to prep my meals on Sundays and I get to spend time with my family more.  The change has been so worth it.

Here’s my challenge to you. Finish this statement:

I was healthier when _________________________.

Spend some time thinking about this statement and journal what comes to mind.  For you, it might not be your work that’s affecting your health.  Instead it might be your lack of creativity, it might be that your accountability partner moved away or it might be the fact that you’ve given up.  Regardless of what it is, once you figure out what it is, make a plan to correct it and get YOU back.  If you need help, reach out.  We all have our struggles, including me, and sometimes another ear is what you need…

Let’s Talk Cheese!

Do you suffer from lactose intolerance?  Or maybe just have an aversion to cheese?  I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you that you’re not alone.  According to some studies, approximately 30-50 million (yes, I said million) Americans have some form of lactose intolerance.  My husband included.

But what if you developed this condition later in life?  For many, that’s exactly the case.  My husband and I grew up drinking milk, eating processed cheese and using the fake cheese for toppings.  As adults, we started to pay attention to our diets and noticed that we had trouble processing dairy.  For me, it was cow’s milk and some yogurts and for him, it was cheese…especially when we had pizza.  But here’s the kicker – we LOVE cheese!  And we did not want to give it up.  The good news is, we haven’t.

You might be wondering how we both still have issues with lactose but continue to have cheese.  Well, the simple answer is we decided to be choosy.  We learned that there are certain types of cheese we can have and others that we have to avoid.  We learned that not all cheese is the same.

What I’m about to share may not apply to everyone, but you’ll have to test it out yourself to decide.  First and foremost, every cheese has a different amount of lactose in it.  This is what matters for those that experience symptoms.  If the cheese is fresher, it will contain more lactose.  Think creamier cheese like ricotta, cottage or cream cheese.  On the other hand, if the cheese has been aged, it will have less lactose.  The longer it’s been aged, the harder it is.  Something like gouda or muenster would fall into this category.  Now the cheese we gravitate toward are brie, cheddar, provolone, gouda, swiss and parmesan.  We have even had dairy-free cheese and loved it!

The thing many may not know is that sugar is the primary content of lactose, which is why it becomes difficult to digest.  Did a light bulb go off yet?  I hope so.  For many that have been diagnosed with lactose intolerance may not actually have an aversion to dairy.  It might be more likely that they have an aversion to sugar.  Think back to a time when you had too many simple carbohydrates or too much candy or soft drinks.  Did you experience similar symptoms as when you eat a piece of American cheese?

Here’s what I’ll leave you with.  Go out and test yourself.  Experiment (with your doctor’s permission, of course) and try out some of the harder cheeses.  I suggest doing it on a weekend when you don’t have too many plans, just in case.  You might just find out it’s not cheese that you have a problem with…

 

Glyphosate is Everywhere!

Last night at an event, glyphosate came up.  Totally a hot topic that could be discussed at length…for hours.  Because there was so much interest, I thought it made sense to share a little bit about glyphosate.

If you don’t know anything about glyphosate, I’m glad you’re hear.  Ever seen commercials on television for weed killer or been shopping at your local hardware store and seen Round Up on the shelves?  Well, my friends, glyphosate is essentially Round Up.  And it is literally everywhere.  Round Up is owned by a company called Monsanto.  I bet you’ve heard of them.  They developed this herbicide to help farmers kill weeds and bugs that try to destroy their crops, but the problem with doing that is that herbicide gets into our food and spreads like wildfire.  Let me give you a little history lesson on this little germ killer.

Glyphosate was first introduced in 1997.  At the time, it was the 5th most active ingredient in pesticides and 36 million pounds were used.  That number seems high, right?  Wait…

In 2001, glyphosate moves to the #1 spot and is now the most widely used ingredient in pesticides.  Now we’re up to 90 million pounds.  But it gets better…

Just 10 years ago, glyphosate accounted for 182.5 million pounds used and is still the top ingredient in pesticides.  It even passes the second highest ingredient by 100 million pounds.  Are you still with me?  This was the last data sample from the EPA until May 2017.  Why?  There might be a good reason why.

When glyphosate first wanted to be introduced by Monsanto the EPA wanted more testing.  But Monsanto fought back.  The battle went on but Monsanto came out on top.  The won the fight.  No more testing.  And there hasn’t even been testing on humans…ever, from what I understand.  When the EPA finally decided to approve glyphosate, three people decided not to sign the approval for Round Up.  On a podcast I listed to, the interviewee said he asked one of these EPA employees why they chose not to sign.  In a nutshell, this employee said the EPA was making a mistake.

Here’s what I want you to take away from this article.  Yes, glyphosate is everywhere.  Including in organic food.  The problems are:

  1. There is no requirement in the US or Canada for labels to indicate if the food or product has GMOs in it.  There has been a law passed, but we’ll see where that goes…
  2. The World Health Organization has classified glyphosate as a possible carcinogen (YES – the big C-word) but the government has yet to do anything about it.
  3. Glyphosate is predominantly used on wheat, corn and soy crops.  This is clearly the majority of the foods most of us eat!

So what do we do?  There’s a lot more to this story so first and foremost, do some research yourself.  One place I’ve been able to get a lot of good information on is The Walk a Mile Project.  They are a non-profit organization that’s goal is to address one issue at a time and deliver the truth about what’s really going on.  They make documentaries to showcase the effects of GMOs.  I HIGHLY recommend you check them out.  And stay tuned in to what’s going on, what our government is approving and what is happening in our local communities.  You can help change the world by just taking one small action at a time.

So What’s With Inflammation?

What is up with inflammation?  I feel like it’s a new buzz word that everyone is using lately.  Now, it might sound like I’m upset about that, but trust me, I’m not.

Inflammation is something that all of us have and it comes out in different forms.  Some of us experience inflammation in the form of acne.  Some of us in the of sinus issues.  Some of us stomach bloating and even gas. For me, it mostly comes out as nasal congestion, acne, bloating and there are a few others.  And these signs I’ve started to pay more attention to.  Mainly because over the past few years, I’ve realized that a lot of what I put into my body is causing these issues.

Yes, I’m talking about the food we eat.  America is such a fast-paced society that we’re aways on the go.  Because of that, a lot of our food comes from fast food joints and quicker versions of the “real thing” because we don’t have time to cook anymore.  I’m in this boat, so don’t feel like I’m casting a shadow on those of you reading this that feel like you have to stop at those restaurants.  Trust me, I get it.

What I’ve realized over the past few years, though, is that prepping goes a very long way.  That means prepping meals and snacks for the week so you’re not left stranded looking for food throughout your day.   Prepping can seem like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be that way.  But where do you start?  I say, start small.

If you’re out of the house only for the lunch meal, start there.  Prep meals for 2-3 days in advance to get you through a few lunches during the week.  Think of something easy that you can do a lot at the same time – chicken and vegetables, turkey burgers and a salad, greek yogurt and some berries.  Try to have a protein, a good carbohydrate and a healthy fat.  And don’t forget, you can use leftovers to prep too.  We do that in our house regularly.  Whatever is for dinner one night can be lunch the next.  Make it easy on yourself.

Now that you know how to prep, what types of food do you prep?  I just mentioned protein, a good carbohydrate and a healthy fat.  These are your targets.  You take it from there.  Just try to avoid a few things like fried foods, overly processed foods and foods with ingredients that you don’t even know what they are.  Here is a list of the Top 10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods to help you get started.

Educating yourself is the best way to learn about how to heal yourself and ease things like inflammation.  But starting is the most important part.  You just might get rid of that inflammation and ease some of those aches and pains you have.  🙂

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Looking for health and wellness vendors?

Yesterday I was able to participate in an event north of Boston and let me tell you, it was amazing!  The event was the Health and Wellness Fall 2017 Show and there was all types of organizations there.  From meditation and relaxation, to nutrition and healthy eating to physical fitness.  Each organization had something different to offer and although I was there representing Just Live Mindfully, I got a chance to interact with a few. There were that stood out for me and I wanted to showcase them today.


The first was my neighbor – Wicked Healthy Vending.  They are exactly what the name says, healthier options offered in a vending machine.  So cool, right?  I think their concept is great because when you’re on the go, you want something quick and is easy to access but sometimes, healthier options aren’t always available.  That’s where Wicked Healthy Vending comes in.  They offer both beverages and snacks and at yesterday’s event had some of my favorites!  Think Simply Lemonade, Polar Seltzer, Clif Bars, Kind Bars and Food Should Taste Good products.  Tina, the founder and CEO was so kind and you could tell genuinely loved being able to offer healthier options to people on the go.  They’re already in a number of corporations and growing.  If you’re in the market for this kind of service, I would highly recommend Tina and her team.


Next, I connected with a couple of lovely ladies from Curves in Topsfield, MA.  Karen and Meg were terrific!  Full of energy and you could tell they loved what they did!  If you don’t know about Curves, let me tell you about it.  Curves is a a place to get in a quick 30-minute workout that involves cardio and strength training.  I used to go to a Curves with my mom and honestly loved it!  Keep in mind, that was years ago!  But today they’re so much more than just the 30-minute workout.  Curves has classes from Jillian Michaels to boxing to balance and even more.  And I love the fact that Curves is specifically designed for women of any age and any body size.  You can feel comfortable at Curves because of the support system that you can sense the minute you walk in the door.  I can attest to that…especially after meeting Karen and Meg.  If you’re looking for a gym that can give you a complete solution, and live in the Topsfield area, definitely check Curves out.


The third company I had a chance to interact with was LizzyJays.  They offer a variety of cold pressed juices and cleanses.

If you haven’t had a cold pressed juice, you really don’t know what you’re missing.  It’s a great way to get in your veggies without having to eat a ton of food.  I personally love to get my veggies in this way and I find when I have a cold pressed juice, almost immediately I find a surge in energy.  It’s amazing!  I was able to meet Steve, the VP of Sales, and was able to taste the Crisp Greens.  It was delicious and Steve was great in explaining the story behind the company.  Having found there weren’t many options available to eat and drink raw, live-energy foods, the founder Casey Sabol, began juicing.  While juicing is becoming more and more mainstream, the quality of ingredients is what’s important.  My favorite part is that LizzyJays even ships direct to you!  For me, that’s a win-win!  Definitely check them out and see what juicing can do for you!


These three weren’t the only vendors at the Health and Wellness Fall 2017 Show yesterday, but they were the three that I connected with.  And that connection is what’s important at these types of events.  Each person’s health and wellness journey is different and unique and as such, you have to seek out the companies that will work for you.

If you were at the Show yesterday, I’d love to hear about your experience!  What companies did you stop by?  What was your biggest takeaway?  And what actions do you plan to put into play for your health and wellness journey?

It’s All About Balance!

You know I’m all about balance, right?  Well, that even includes having a little fun every now and then.  And that includes having a drink with some friends.

In Massachusetts, where I’m located, we do not have Happy Hour but I know a lot of my followers in other states do.  So what does that mean for you and your buddies?  It means going out, having a few drinks and maybe even some food.  But how can you still go and stay on track with your lifestyle?  Here are a few tips to help you.

Tip #1 – Be picky

If you’re going to go, be picky!  Read what’s on the menu and think about what ingredients may be used in the recipe.  And if there’s ingredients on the menu that you see and like, but there isn’t a meal made with them, ask if you can have something created for you.  Some restaurants may be willing to make an exception.

Tip #2 – Choose a healthier cocktail

There’s always the good ole beer, but what about something a little different.  The Lemon Thyme Cocktail by Laura Silverman seems perfect!  Herbs can spice up your cocktail just like this one and where the thyme helps you boost your immunity, you can feel a little easier drinking it.

Tip #3 – Eat before you go

If you eat a healthy dinner before you head off with your friends, you’ll be less likely to crave those potato skins on the menu.  Have something filling, like chicken breast and steamed veggies or a kale salad packed with tuna and berries.  Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you like and something you know will keep the cravings at bay.

If you’re going to be doing the Happy Hour at home, you can make the food and drink yourself, which can be even better.  Choose healthier ingredients in the food, organic if you can, and make things with lots of color because it will be visually appealing, which is always fun.  And for the drinks, choose beverages made from locally-sourced ingredients.  They might be higher cost, but the product quality is so much better.

And remember, don’t feel guilty about having a little fun.  It is all about balance and enjoying your life while maintaining a happy, healthy lifestyle.  Now go out there and live a little…just a little, though. 🙂

Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs

I always hear people talking about carbs, how carbs are bad for you and how you shouldn’t eat them.  But, there’s a difference in carbs.  I find many people don’t acknowledge the difference and don’t realize there are some good carbs out there.

To start, let’s talk about what a carbohydrate actually is.  A carbohydrate is a compound found in foods that contain sugars or starches.  It can be broken down to release energy.

good carbohydrate has a slower rate of absorption which means you don’t get the spike insulin, but rather it helps maintain more natural insulin levels.  It’s also not processed and is only one ingredient.  Think of the produce section in the market you shop – fruits and veggies.

bad carbohydrate is just the opposite.  When eaten, it gives a drastic increase in insulin in the blood which can sometimes cause jitteriness and the crash later on.  This drastic increase can cause more fat stores.  Why?  Because insulin is the hormone that helps create the fat stores.  Remember, fat doesn’t necessarily make you fat, carbohydrates can.

Now you’ll see from my picture above that I’ve got a picture of both.  On the left, we’ve got cherries.  All natural, organic, one ingredient and there is a lot less in the bag, so portion control comes into play.  On the right, we have cheese crackers.  Processed, definitely not organic and look how much is in that bag?!  Clearly different, right?

So what do  the bad carbs do to your body?  As I mentioned before, bad carbs cause the spike in insulin, then resulting in the additional fat stores.  I know this first-hand and am trying to fix it now.  I myself am what is known as a “carbaholic”, or someone that loves carbs and am obsessed.  Thinking back on my life, growing up I loved pasta, cookies, crackers…you get the picture.  Now that I know the difference, it’s helped me not be so afraid of eating fruit and vegetables.

One of my favorite lists comparing the good carbs versus the bad carbs is on my Pinterest page.  On that same board, you can find many ideas for clean snacks, food swaps and much more.  Make sure to connect with me on Pinterest as new content is always being posted.  Now that you know there’s a difference, feel comfortable choosing the good carbs when you’re doing your shopping.

I’m sharing this message about carbs today because I want to help you avoid or counteract what these bad carbs can do to your body.  And if you need more intensive help, ask me how my Eliminate to Feel Great Program can help you learn what foods (including carbs) affect your body on a deeper level.

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To CSA or Not to CSA…

Have you ever tried a CSA?  You may not even know what a CSA is.  I’ve always wanted to try one and this year, I got my chance!  A CSA is a community-supported agriculture.  Basically, it’s buying straight from your local farmer.  Depending on the CSA, you get a selection of produce that’s grown on the farm each week (or every other week) and the best part is that it’s all fresh.

So how do you decide if joining a CSA is right for you?  If you have been trying to get more fresh produce in your diet, you have a couple of options – shop at the local market, you could grow your own or you could join a CSA.

  • Option 1 is probably the easiest, but to me, it’s the most complicated.  If you’re looking for fresh produce, and I mean really fresh with no pesticides or GMOs, you may not necessarily know where the food is grown or how the vendors treat their farms.  You can research the vendors, but that could take time.  And you don’t necessarily know how long the food has sat on the shelves.
  • Option 2 is to grow your own veggies.  Now if you’re anything like me, you aspire to be a gardener or farmer, but don’t necessarily have the time, the patience or the green thumb.  Growing your own food can definitely take a lot of work.  Currently, I have seeds sitting on my dining room table and at this point, it’s too late in the season to plant them.  I’ll be holding them until next year, for sure.
  • Option 3 is to join the CSA.  Many communities have them now and a quick internet search will help you find one near you.  Once you join one, you have access to many varieties of produce that may be new to you, and the farmer is on-hand to help you learn how to use them.  Even pick up is an easy process and can be much less stressful than going to the market.

Now that you know your options, maybe you’re leaning on joining the CSA.  This year, I was able to join a CSA and was so excited Friday when I picked up my share.  Here’s what I got:

  • Lettuce Head
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Scallions
  • Asian Greens
  • Parsley
  • Young Chinese Cabbage
  • Strawberries
  • Basil
  • Choi

I was sooooo excited!  The most exciting thing to me, was the bok choi.  Although we have’t had it in awhile, bok choi made with coconut milk and caramelized onions is one of our favorite dishes!  That’s one thing that will be on the menu this week.  Friday’s dinner will be homemade pizza with fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and basil.  Mmmmm, sounds good, right?

But what if you don’t know what to do with some of the items?  It’s ok, the CSA typically will have recipes that can be shared and ideas for how to try the produce.   The CSA I participated in this year even has a Facebook page where other members share the recipes they’re making.  The most fun part is the experimentation with the foods you’re getting.

I’ve already received the newsletter for Week 2 at my CSA and I’m even more excited for what’s to come.  If you’re still unsure about trying a CSA, research your local farms and get an idea of what they grow, how they grow their produce and what the logistics would be.  I don’t think you’ll regret it.

The Truth About Artificial Sweeteners

Today at work a few of my coworkers and I started talking about sugar and sweeteners.  It seems like there used to be a ton of information about there about how the low-calorie sweeteners were good to help you lose weight and real sugar was bad.  Since I’ve started my own journey, I’ve learned a lot about those low-calories sweeteners and learned that many are artificial and really not all that good for you.  If I had time today, I would have shared with my coworkers what I’m about to share with you.  Read on to find out what artificial sweeteners are, what they do to your body and how you can cut back on them and make healthier choices.

What are Artificial Sweeteners Anyway?

Artificial sweeteners are essentially sugar substitutes that were developed in the 1950s as a way to help people reduce the number of calories people take in each day.  Two of the most common types of artificial sweeteners are aspartame (Equal) and Sucralose (Splenda).  It’s most commonly found in soda and because Americans tend to be big soda drinkers, 15% of us ingest artificial sweeteners each year!  The use equates to about $1.5 billion…yup, billion with a giant B.  With so many of us using artificial sweeteners each year, it’s no wonder that the United States is the most obese country in the world.  Some of us may not even know we’re ingesting artificial sweeteners.

How to Identify Artificial Sweeteners

The easy and short answer — read the ingredients list.  If you see words on an ingredients list that end in “itol”, you can almost guarantee that product has artificial sweeteners in it.  Let me give you an example.  I used to be an avid gum chewer and Trident was my go-to.  One day I looked at the ingredients and low and behold, I saw Xylitol.  Another one of my go-to products was Ricola Cough Drops.  These drops actually contain Sorbitol.  Needless to say, I don’t purchase these products anymore.

What Do Artificial Sweeteners Do to Your Body?

As I continued my research, I found more and more interesting pieces of information.  The first one was a shocker.  Artificial sweeteners may actually cause weight gain, not weight loss as many believe.  Although artificial sweeteners reduce calories, they actually have no caloric value at all and they do not have any substance.  This essentially tricks our brains into thinking we got the sweetness we were craving, but didn’t get the sugar we needed.  Therefore, it makes us crave more sweetness causing us to eat or drink more than we should.

Ingesting artificial sweeteners may actually make us sick with use over a long period of time too.  While artificial sweeteners do not cause cancer, however metabolic syndrome can.  Metabolic syndrome is what classify a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for heart disease, strokes and diabetes.  How do you know if you have metabolic syndrome?  The most common signs are high blood pressure, excess belly fat and having a resistance to insulin, just to name a few.  Having just one soda per day has a correlation to having metabolic syndrome.

Artificial sweeteners can also cause your bladder to weaken over time, causing you to have to use the bathroom frequently throughout the day.  Having just one packet of artificial sweetener per day can cause you to go to the bathroom more than you’re supposed to.

How Do You Cut Back on Artificial Sweeteners?

To help you get started, use the three Rs — Reduce, Replace and Renew.  Reduce your intake of artificial sweeteners to just one serving per day.  If you can get rid of them completely, even better.  Replace the artificial sweeteners with something natural, like sugar or Stevia.  Renew your taste buds and find out which foods your body craves.  Try adding in honey or berries to get the sweetness you yearn for.

So what’s the goal here?  Artificial sweeteners are like anything else — ok in moderation.  If you want to change your intake, start slow and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.  Continue to do your own research and read ingredients lists.  Over time, your body will not crave the artificial sweeteners anymore and will make the change transform into a new lifestyle.  If you’ve had experience with eliminating or reducing artificial sweeteners, I’d love to hear about it.  Share your story in the comments below!

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