Mindful Eating

mindful eating

Source: Flickr/Bruce Tuten

Mindful eating can be an important part of your fitness journey.

Mindful eating is one area that I have lots of room for improvement. I am guilty of eating too quickly and many times I don’t even really taste my food. I drink my breakfast smoothie at work at my desk while I’m working. I do better at lunch when I eat with my coworkers. Then at dinner I eat in front of the TV. As a result I think I sometimes overeat because I’m not paying attention to what I’m eating. Many times I don’t take the time to really taste and enjoy my food. I may miss the “I’m full” signal when I’m not paying attention.

Tips for mindful eating:

  • Reduce distractions – sit at the table, turn off the TV, put down your smart phone – this will help you focus on the task at hand – eating
  • Take your time – focus on the appearance and the smell. Take the time to taste each bite. Enjoy the different flavors in your meal. Try to identify all the different seasonings.
  • Chew well. It helps you be more mindful and it’s better for your digestion. The digestive process starts in your mouth.
  • Fresh is best – enjoy the freshest, highest quality foods you can afford.
  • Enjoy your company – If you are eating with other people take the time to enjoy their company. Talk about the food – the appearance, the flavors. Thank the person that prepared it for you.

This may not happen for you all at once. It may be changing years of bad habits. Choose one meal to focus on at first. I think you will find that mindful eating will help you eat less and enjoy your food more.

This post is day 22 of 31 Days to Better Nutrition.

 

Getting Enough Protein for Weight Loss

proteinAre you getting enough protein?

Many times when trying to lose weight people skimp on their protein. They do it to save calories but what they are doing is, in fact, slowing down their metabolism. A good starting point is about 4 ounces at each meal and 2 ounces at each snack. Men and people who are putting on muscle may need more protein. Having enough protein also helps to reduce sugar cravings. For more information about the best sources of protein you can read my post here.

Here are some easy ideas to increase your protein:

For breakfast you can scramble 2 whole eggs and 1 egg white. 

One of my favorite snacks is some plain Greek yogurt with half a scoop of whey protein mixed in and a few unsalted nuts for a some high quality fats and a nice crunch. It is so good for you and feels a bit like dessert. Sometimes I’ll add a little fruit as well.

Organic, grass fed meats are a great option for protein.

My Favorite Nutrition Books

nutrition booksToday was a long, crazy day at work and I still need to get a post written. I thought I would post links to some of my favorite books on nutrition. I like to be up front – I am an Amazon affiliate so if you buy any books through the links in this post I will make a small bit of pocket change at no additional cost to you. But my personal policy is that I never recommend anything that I haven’t used (or read) myself. Feel free to buy your books from any source you choose, but if you buy through my links it just helps support this website. If you want to buy a different version (paperback, Kindle) it still helps to start from my link and then search for exactly what you want. So on that note, let’s move on to the recommendations.

 This book helps break down the conventional “wisdom” and why it’s not working. The author, Jonathan Bailor has reviewed more than 1000 research studies to break down nutritional information into simple guidelines. If you only buy one book on nutrition, this would be my number one choice.

 

 

 

 

This book was a very important part of my nutrition journey. Cutting out wheat was instrumental to breaking through a very difficult plateau. The book helped me to understand why wheat and other gluten containing foods were not best for me. Once I fully understood that I was able to break free from my bread and pasta addiction. Now when I eat foods that I have eliminated from my diet, my gut tells me that I made a mistake.

 

 

 

 This book is an incredible resource. It is part nutrition book, part picture book and part encyclopedia. If you have any type of autoimmune disorder I highly recommend this book. If you don’t have an autoimmune disorder but you have questions about the paleo diet, I highly recommend this book. I don’t think you will find a more complete resource. Parts of it are very scientific and much of it is very simple to read. 

Diabetes Survival Skills – Recognize and Treat Hypoglycemia

hypoglycemia symptoms

Source: Flickr/sriram bala

Fast Recognition of Hypoglycemia Symptoms is a Vital Diabetes Survival Skill

Recognizing hypoglycemia symptoms is one of the most important diabetes survival skills. Unfortunately many people are put on diabetes medicines that have a risk of hypoglycemia (or low blood sugar) and they are never taught to recognize the symptoms or what to do about it. Glucose (blood sugar) is the body’s source of energy. Hypoglycemia means that there is not enough energy to meet the body’s needs. If this is not treated appropriately there is a possibility that this can progress to a medical emergency.

Hypoglycemia symptoms

Hypoglycemia occurs when the blood sugar drops below 70. Most people feel symptoms when the blood sugar drops below 60. The symptoms of hypoglycemia are related to one of two causes. Some of the symptoms are the result of the body not having enough glucose for energy needs. These are symptoms like confusion, fuzzy thinking, sleepiness, irritability, impaired vision, anger, lack of coordination and other similar symptoms. Other symptoms are related to the fight or flight syndrome that occurs in the body because it recognizes hypoglycemia as an emergency. These are symptoms like shakiness, palpitations (rapid heart rate), anxiety, sweating, clamminess, etc. The person may also feel extremely hungry as the body tries to correct the situation. If not treated, hypoglycemia can progress to seizures, unconsciousness or even death.

How to treat hypoglycemia

Treating hypoglycemia symptoms is simple, especially if it is recognized early. Simply eat 15g of carbohydrates, rest and re-test 15 minutes later. If the blood sugar is still low, eat another 15g of carbs. You can buy glucose tablets or glucose gel at your drug store that serve this purpose. You could also eat any carbohydrate food like a glass of milk, soda (not diet), juice, crackers, etc.  Eat a small meal within the next hour. If hypoglycemia is so severe that a person has passed out or has become uncooperative they may need an injection called glucagon that would have to be given by someone else. People who experience frequent low blood sugars may have this medication prescribed. If this medication is not available, emergency medical services must be called.

How to avoid hypoglycemia

Some of the best ways to prevent hypoglycemia are to eat meals at regular intervals, take medications as prescribed and recognize and treat symptoms early before they progress to a medical emergency.

This post is Day 19 of 31 Days to Better Nutrition.

Nutrition Quotes

nutrition quotesWe struggle with eating healthily, obesity, and access to good nutrition for everyone. But we have a great opportunity to get on the right side of this battle by beginning to think differently about the way that we eat and the way that we approach food. ~ Marcus Samuelsson

Looking good and feeling good go hand in hand. If you have a healthy lifestyle, your diet and nutrition are set, and you’re working out, you’re going to feel good. ~ Jason Statham

You need to put what you learn into practice and do it over and over again until it’s a habit. I always say, ‘Seeing is not believing. Doing is believeing.’ There is a lot to learn about fitness, nutrition and emotions, but once you do, you can master them instead of them mastering you. ~ Brett Hoebel

Chronic malnutrition, or the lack of proper nutrition over time directly contributes to three times as many child deaths as food scarcity. Yet surprisingly, you don’t really hear about this hidden crisis through the morning news, Twitter or headlines of major newspapers. ~ Cat Cora

I cannot stress a greater importance than to teach the young generation about the risks of unhealthy eating. A great way to pique their interest in nutrition is to involve them more in the cooking process. They not only will learn to cook for themselves, but also develop a lifetime of healthy habits. ~ Marcus Samuelsson

Developing a diet that is healthful, balanced, and appropriate for your particular caloric needs is easy enough and is absolutely critical to establishing a healthful lifestyle that incorporates proper nutrition, adequate fitness, and mental resilience. ~ Daphne Oz

“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.”  ~Doug Larson

“Mainstream medicine would be way different if they focused on prevention even half as much as they focused on intervention…”  ~Anonymous

“Don’t eat anything your great-great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. There are a great many food-like items in the supermarket your ancestors wouldn’t recognize as food.. stay away from these”  ~Michael Pollan

“Today, more than 95% of all chronic disease is caused by food choice, toxic food ingredients, nutritional deficiencies and lack of physical exercise.”  ~Mike Adams

 

October Clean Eating Challenge

clean eatingDo you struggle with clean eating or knowing WHAT to eat? Do you need help avoiding all the holiday goodies? I am running a one-week clean eating challenge that starts on Sunday, October 19. We will provide the guidance and accountability so that you can have an amazing week. We’ll finish up just in time for the next weekend!

For one week we will be sharing with you meal ideas and a food list for you to move towards CLEANER EATING. You will benefit by learning what foods may seem healthy but maybe aren’t that good for you. We’ll take a look at what your metabolism is doing to either work FOR you or AGAINST you in your health/fitness goals. Finally, we’ll make sure you have recipes that will not only work for YOU but for your entire family (especially dinner ideas). Sign up for the challenge using the form below. I’m glad you are joining us!

In our previous groups the people that put in the work saw great results. 

One Week No Junk Food Challenge

no junk food challengeI am taking a one week no junk food challenge and I’d love to have you join me. Let’s take a 7 day break from junk food and break some bad habits. From October through December there are so many holidays and so many parties and events involving food that it’s difficult to stay on track. So let’s avoid the junk and start choosing healthier meals, sides and snacks. I will run a private Facebook group for the week so we can share ideas for healthier choices and support each other when we’re tempted by the goodies on the break room table at work or the leftover snacks in our kids’ lunches. Sign up below. We will start on Monday October 20.

 

 

The Cost of Diabetes

Source: Flickr/Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine

Source: Flickr/Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine

245 billion dollars. That’s billion with a B. That was the estimated cost of diabetes in the U.S. Those numbers are two years old and I’m sure they’re exponentially bigger for 2014. According to the American Diabetes Association that’s a 41% increase in only 5 years. These dollars represent costs incurred for medical care, prescriptions, supplies, nursing home costs and doctor visits. It also represents lost income, lost productivity and the cost of early mortality.

The frustrating part for me is that Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. There is a genetic component, but lifestyle plays a huge part in whether or not those genes express themselves. I have so many diabetic patients tell me things like, “I wish I would have known,” and “why didn’t anyone tell me.” Part of my mission is to make sure that doesn’t happen to anyone I know. I want my friends and my family and my readers to understand that it doesn’t have to be this way. Even if you are already diagnosed with Type 2 there are so many things you can do to make a difference in your future health. I plan to write more on this subject so if this is a topic that interests you I hope you will subscribe by filling in the form in the right sidebar. In the meantime, here are the steps you need to take to reduce your risk of disease and to reduce your risk of complications:

Maintain a healthy weight.

Being overweight causes a 7 X increase in your risk. If you are obese your risk is 20 times higher. If you already have diabetes, losing weight can be the biggest factor in reducing your blood sugar numbers.

Move more.

Inactivity increases your risk of diabetes. Exercise is a powerful factor in lowering blood sugar numbers.

Improve your nutrition.

Eat plenty of lean protein, high quality fats and lots of vegetables, fruits and other carbohydrates.

Quit smoking.

Smoking greatly increases your risk of mortality and risk of complication. Get help to quit.

I would love to help. If you are at risk for diabetes or you already have diabetes and you want to make a difference in your health, email me at info@cravingfitness.org and let’s chat.

This post is Day 13 of 31 Days to Better Nutrition

Carbs are Not the Enemy – What are Carbohydrates?

what are carbohydrates

Source: Flickr/Alex Proimos

So, what are carbohydrates anyway?

Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap. The truth is they are not evil. In fact, vegetables are classified in the carbohydrate macronutrient category. Carbs are not the enemy – excess carbs are. Excess carbohydrates are the biggest contributor to excess fat and poor health. Let’s dig a bit deeper.

Carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients that make up our diets. Best sources of proteins and high quality fats have been covered in previous posts. Carbohydrates are the most efficient form of fuel for our bodies. Carbohydrates break down into glucose. Glucose requires insulin (made by your pancreas) in order to enter your cells for energy.  There are two categories of carbohydrates.

Simple carbs:

These types of carbohydrates are processed quickly by the body (efficient). They spike your blood sugar resulting in a burst of fuel, but then you will feel sluggish. They are considered simple carbs because the nutrients (fiber, vitamins and minerals) have been processed out. Examples of simple carbohydrates are candy, things made with white flour (bread, pasta, cookies, crackers, etc.), soda, items made with high fructose corn syrup, many packaged snacks, cereal.

Complex carbs:

Complex carbs have more fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The fiber allows them to be digested more slowly and provide a longer lasting source of energy. Complex carbs include foods like oatmeal, brown and wild rice, sweet potato,  fruit and non-starchy vegetables.

Metabolism of carbohydrates

When you eat carbohydrates, the body breaks it down into glucose and uses what it can for it’s immediate energy needs. Insulin is required to use it for energy. In diabetes and prediabetes this process is impaired.  If energy is not currently needed, the body will convert the glucose to glycogen and store it in the muscles and liver for later use. Insulin is also needed for this process. If the body’s glycogen stores are already full, your body will store the excess as FAT. 

How much carbohydrates should I eat?

Honestly if you are getting your carbohydrates from nutrient-dense sources like non-starchy vegetables and fruits, you shouldn’t have to concern yourself too much with carb counting. If you want to track your carbohydrates you can start with a goal of 30 grams per meal for women and 60 grams per meal for men. Most people consume WAY more than that. Eating less carbs than this is preferable but sometimes it is a difficult mactronutrient for people to decrease. 

When should I eat carbohydrates?

The body will benefit from carbohydrates the most first thing in the morning. Your body has gone many hours without nutrition while you slept, so morning carbohydrates will replenish your glycogen stores. You will also process carbohydrates better during and after exercise. 

This post is Day 12 of 31 Days to Better Nutrition. 

Looking for Portion Control? 21 Day Fix Can Help

21One of the newest programs from Team Beachbody, the 21 Day Fix has been helping thousands of people solve one of their biggest food challenges – portion control. The first time I used a container system to help manage my own food portions was the Stax system promoted by Chris Powell. The 21 Day Fix program takes the container system to a whole new level by adding a 21 Day workout program and your own Beachbody coach to help answer questions, encourage you and ensure your success. The challenge pack (which is the best deal) also provides 30 days of Shakeology for the best dense nutrition available.

What do you get?

7 color-coded portion control containers plus a shaker cup. No more guessing about how much you should eat. Fill up the containers with your choice of food – if it fits, you can eat it!

6 workouts plus 1 bonus workout for ordering through a coach (hopefully me).

An eating plan to guide you step-by-step in using the system so you can lose weight without counting calories.

If you order the upgrade package you also get two additional workouts, a large portion control container for meals on the go, a resistance band and a tote bag to carry your food.

I would love to answer any questions you may have about the program. Comment below or email me at info@cravingfitness.org. If you are ready to buy click the Shop Beachbody tab. I will be running a challenge group with folks doing the 21 Day Fix soon and I’d love to have you in the group!

This post is Day 11 in the series 31 Days to Better Nutrition.