Foods That Make Your Brain High: Trigger Foods!

trigger foods

Can you believe we are less than 60days away from 2016, a brand new year! It’s crazy how quickly this year flew by, how much happened and yet how much I feel like I have left to do.  It’s right around this time that I pull out my list of goals I write out at the beginning of every year. There are goals on there that I have accomplished, a few that I still plan to conquer by the end of December, and some that I totally forgot about.

What kind of goals did you set for yourself this year? How many of them did you accomplish? Many of us will include a health and fitness related goal on this list. That goal, for me, seems to always be sabotaged by the holiday season.

Perhaps you love the holiday season (as i do) or maybe not so much. One thing most of us do have in common, however, is that we’re surrounded with baked goods and delicious (but not so nutritious) food seemingly everywhere—potlucks, work-related events, birthdays, etc. Year after year it’s the same cycle: try to get fit all year long then BOOM holiday season wrecks all our progress and sets us right back to where we started. This is so frustrating! Can you relate to this?

I am BREAKING the cycle this year. I am announcing and declaring it to you all so I can be held accountable. Will you do the same with me? Let’s promise we will not eat our way through this holiday season and will not end 2015 with an increase on that scale. I am committing to this goal and to myself.  What’s your END OF YEAR COMMITMENT??? I want you to write it in the comments below OR private message me with it because if you say it, write it, declare it, you’re more likely to stick to it and achieve it. So who is with me?!

commit to fit, trigger foods, goals

Now while committing and being accountable to a goal is great, a goal without a plan is not going to get us to success.  So I took some time to really think about what causes my nutrition to falter during the holidays. I narrowed it down to a few things, but the MAIN one for me (and this might be different for you) was trigger foods.  I did some research and came up with a strategy to help me (and you!) make smarter decisions around trigger foods.  Having a strategic plan in place will help us avoid overeating & destroying our healthy lifestyle commitments.  So here’s what I found out…

Trigger foods are those foods which we have no control around. The words balance and in moderation do not exist around these foods. We all have our trigger foods. Usually they are those foods high in sugar, salt, and fat. This is not the same thing as eating a favorite food, a comfort food, or having a craving. This is about food that’s addicting and tricks your brain into thinking you need more of it, even if you really don’t.

 

How can identifying and understanding trigger foods help us achieve weight loss?

Food triggers signals in your body that tell your brain to release feel-good hormones.  This response can produce addiction pathways similar to those caused with drug addiction. Your brain literally gets high! These signals in the brain and body lead to overeating by telling your brain “this is just too good to stop eating” and the next thing you know you’ve consumed the whole pint of ice cream or your staring at the bottom of an empty chip bag.

Some experts describe trigger foods as “gateway” foods. I was amazed to find that the effect of these foods on the brain and body can last up to 3 days!  This explained alot to me…  It is why one unhealthy indulgence for a person can often trigger a “relapse.”  One bad choice, leads to another and another, day after day. This is how we fall into a slump on our health journey.  Don’t be discouraged, though. That’s why it’s called a jounrney– there will be road bumps and hills but keep your foot on the pedal always moving forward. Do not give up because of a day, a week, or even a month of bad eating habits. It can be overcome! Learning to identify and strategically fight back against trigger foods will, in turn, help you maintain your ideal weight and fitness goals.

trigger Foods

Which foods make you feel out of control?

A few of mine include pastas, chocolate, almond butter, and ice cream.

 

What strategies can help you when you’re faced with a trigger food? 

 

  1. Identify and Eliminate- 

First, identify what the trigger food is. Are they salty or sweet foods? Maybe both! I don’t deprive myself from eating these because I believe in an 80/20 type of diet, which allows for indulging every now and then, but I know all too well that if I actually keep any of those foods in my home they will torture me. Even if I keep them out of sight, just knowing they are easily accessible in my home will make me want to eat it and eat it all. This will leave me feeling guilty and bad about myself afterward. And who wants that? So I’ve learned to simply eliminate them from my grocery list and meal planning.

 

  1. Remember that feeling- 

I have implemented journaling to help track my trigger foods and any emotional or environmental patterns that might be related. It’s helped me learn a lot about myself and my triggers.  It is also a great way to remember how I felt after overindulging– physically and emotionally.  Recalling my goals and how good I feel to see progress makes me think twice before giving in to certain foods. The feeling of sluggishness, fullness, and being bloated can give me extra motivation to reach for a fruit or veggie, instead of something high in sugar and fat.

 

  1. Find an alternative-

This is one thing I am always experimenting with. I constantly try to find healthier substitutes for my trigger foods and often it does the trick. If ever I really just need the real thing, then I may give in but I try not to make that a habit. Some of my favorite swaps include roasted edamame with salt instead of chips, cacao-avocado pudding instead of chocolate, banana nice-cream instead of ice cream, and edamame pasta instead of regular pasta. I’d love to hear what some of your healthy alternatives are too.

 

  1. Move On- 

When the inevitable happens and you DO give in to those trigger foods, it is important to move on.  It’s going to happen! Yes, I am going to sample all of the desserts on Thanksgiving.  It’s okay that it happens as long as it doesn’t happen ALL of the time. Just promise to do better the next time 🙂 Refocus on your long term goals, have a strategy in place, and get some one to stay accountable to.  Keep moving along on your health journey, speed bumps and all.

 

Stay healthy this holiday season. Finish the year off strong! Don’t forget to comment below with your end of year commitments/goals.

 

with love,

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Balsamic Roasted Carrots Recipe

carrots recipe

This week I was all about the carrots.  I may have inadvertently purchased a giant bag of them! So I thought to myself what am I going to do with all of these carrots? *lightbulb goes off*  Some of the carrots were destined to become soup, others were juiced, and the rest– balsamic roasted carrots! yum!

We already know how important it is to eat more veggies. If you don’t, you can read more about that here. One of the barriers to not getting enough veggies into our diet is just simply not knowing how to cook them and make them taste great. I’m no chef, but this simple carrot recipe is one delicious way to add some vegetables onto your plate.

carrots recipe

Carrots are full of Antioxidant Benefits

Yes carrots are abundant in beta-carotene (which converts into Vitamin A to promote healthy vision) but did you know it also has an abundance of other antioxidants? …like vitamin C, alpha-carotenoid, lutein, coumaric acid, cyanidins, and more good-for-you phytonutrients. The point is, all of these antioxidants help protect your heart, your vision, and even show cancer prevention benefits. So get some carrots in your life!

Why Carrots are a great side dish

They are easy to prepare and cheap. This recipe, in particular, pairs well with rice dishes and casseroles. I even heated them up and tossed them into my salad a few times.

If you’re purchasing organic carrots you won’t need to peel them but make sure you wash them well. Trim the tops and tips, chop into coins and toss them onto your baking tray with some parchment paper so they won’t stick. Let these babies roast in the oven for about 7 minutes until almost tender (test them by poking with a fork). In the meantime, get started on your sauce.

Balsamic vinegar is the bomb

The main ingredient to make these carrots the bomb is balsamic vinegar. Not balsamic vinaigrette. “Vinaigrette” usually indicates addition of oils and sugars whereas the balsamic vinegar should only contain grape must and possibly red wine vinegar (depending on brand). The moral of the story– check your labels.

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I love balsamic vinegar and use it for many of my sauces and salad dressings. It eliminates the need to use oil! Yay for less saturated fat. (Listen, if I’m going to eat saturated fats I rather have it in a more satisfying way you know like in a dessert!) So back to the balsamic vinegar.. Mix in each ingredient and taste your sauce as you add in each one. Add more or less apple cider vinegar (ACV) and agave depending on your preference. The goal is to obtain a nice balance of sweetness and acidity between the balsamic, ACV, and agave. Everyone’s palate is different so find the flavor profile that works best for you here.

By now your carrots are almost tender. Time to glaze them with the balsamic sauce. I like to add some more herbs provence seasoning on top of the carrots at this point just to make sure the flavor will be just right. Back into the oven they go to finish roasting. You’ll know they are ready when they are tender enough to poke through with a fork and have a slight caramel color.

Carrots recipe

Eat up & Enjoy

I hope you enjoy this recipe and share it with your friends.  Let me know how your carrots turn out by leaving a comment below or snap a photo of your veggie filled plate and tag it #PrescribingHealth 

carrots recipe
Balsamic Roasted Carrots
Print Recipe
Try this recipe for beautiful, delicious baslamic roasted carrots. A perfect side dish to help add color and veggies to your plate. A simple, healthy recipe that anyone can make.
carrots recipe
Balsamic Roasted Carrots
Print Recipe
Try this recipe for beautiful, delicious baslamic roasted carrots. A perfect side dish to help add color and veggies to your plate. A simple, healthy recipe that anyone can make.
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF
  2. Wash carrots well (no need to peel). Trim tops and ends. Chop into coins.
  3. Bake in oven on cookie sheet at 400ºF for about 7 mins or until almost tender.
  4. In separate bowl, mix all other ingredients.
  5. Once carrots are tender, pour balsamic mixture and continue baking for additional 10 minutes.
Recipe Notes

**Be sure to taste your sauce as you add in the agave, apple cider vinegar and garlic salt. You may want to add more or less of each depending on your taste preference **

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Overcome Overeating

OVERCOME

What comes to mind when you think of food?

What comes to mind for me are feelings of comfort, joy, family, and energy. How we view the food we eat, what we see it as being, impacts our whole attitude towards it. In my opinion, food is good! It is part of creation and provides nourishment, strength and even celebration. So therefore I often find myself asking “Why shouldn’t I indulge a little?” As soon as that thought crosses my mind, it’s as if I have already given myself permission to overeat without even realizing it.

Too often I have ordered an oversized, artery clogging, calorie-dense dessert after dinner (all for myself of course), knowing I probably shouldn’t but also telling myself “it’s okay because it’s a special occasion.” Or every time my mom or a family member serves me a heaping plate of food, “I have to eat it all or they will be offended,” I think to myself. Or that feeling of failure when I realize I just accidentally ate the whole bag of popcorn while watching Scandal. What about year after year of feeling regret following the holiday season because of weight gained from overindulging. Isn’t the purpose of Thanksgiving to stuff your face? No! Can you relate to these situations?

My excuses to overeat were becoming more of a habit. One day I just realized there would always be something to celebrate, someone offering me more food, a movie to watch, or a special event to attend. If we are being really honest with ourselves, we know that we often overeat those foods that AREN’T so good for us—I know this is true for me. I was undoing all of my hard work at the gym by overeating. I was tired of feeling so out of control and decided to overcome this consuming habit. Overeating doesn’t just destroy your physical progress, but actually increases body fat and results in negative health impacts like chronic diseases. My health and my life are more important than buttery popcorn, decadent desserts, and greasy fries. Is yours? I’m determined to start 2016 off with better habits and that includes overcoming overeating!

Why don’t I have more self-control?

I would ask myself this ALL THE TIME. I realized part of my overeating was because I wasn’t paying attention while I ate. I noticed I would often overeat if I had my dinner or snack while watching TV.  I was also more likely to mindlessly munch if I was stressed and rushing, because I would inhale my food instead of taking time to chew it properly.
Food addiction is another main reason it can be difficult to stop eating when we’re full and satisfied. If a diet includes many processed foods high in saturated fats, added sugars, and salt, the body becomes addicted. It begins to experience similar changes in the brain as drugs cause and dependency develops.

Restrictive dieting can also destroy any chance of self-control you might have. Labeling any foods as “off limits” usually leads to overeating later on, because we always want what we can’t have right? 😉 And the final blow to our lack of self-control is sabotage. Yes, our willpower is sneakily crushed by things like advertising, fad diets, convenience, social and cultural pressures. I mean, seriously, I get hungry just looking at Pinterest!

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How do I overcome overeating?

Everyday we make several decisions when it comes to what we put into our bodies. If I was going to overcome overeating and break the cycle, I had to implement some strategies. So here is what I came up with, what I continue to practice daily, and what I find works for me.

Yes, we were made to consume food, but food was never supposed to consume us. You can overcome overeating by addressing your mindset first. Reinforce your commitment to your health by immersing your mind and spirit in positive experiences, whether it be a book or self care practices (like a warm bath, getting a massage, speaking out positive affirmations). These things make you feel good about yourself and bring you confidence that overindulging in food will not.
Stop mindless eating by pausing before a meal to bring awareness and gratitude to what you are about to eat. Give your meal your full attention by not eating in front of the television or even at your desk at work. Break your food addictions by eating nutrient dense foods made with whole, unrefined ingredients. Foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and unrefined tubers/starches provide a higher nutrient value are not as calorie heavy as processed convenience foods. They are also generally higher in fiber and are more likely to fill you up at a lower calorie cost. While we should strive to eat healthier foods, if you’re REALLY craving something allow yourself to give in to that craving, but in moderation. Give yourself permission to have a little, otherwise you’ll binge on it later.
When it comes to societal sabotages, all you can do is learn to recognize them and develop healthy habits strong enough to overcome them. Change the channel when you see a food commercial (if it has a commercial, it’s probably bad for you), plan to leave half of your meal, check the menu in advance and plan to order a healthier dish, share your dessert, and don’t think it is OKAY to eat something you know is bad for you just because every one else is eating it.

The struggle to say “NO” to temptations may be painful in the moment but it’s just that- it’s momentary! Don’t trade healthy food for junk food. Don’t give up the fulfillment of a healthy life for a temporary moment.

A few more tips:
Make it inconvenient! Stash your unhealthy foods on a high shelf or behind a stack of heavy plates. Your less likely to eat it if it’s hard to get to.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind– Hide that candy dish that’s always sitting on your desk.
Eat slowly and drink water between bites, chew food thoroughly. It can take 12 to 20 minutes for food satisfaction signals to reach the brain. Give your body time to process what you’re giving it.
Don’t Skip meals– Waiting more than 3 hours between meals will increases your chances of overeating at your next meal.

This holiday season, I believe that you can overcome overeating. I won’t lie to you and say it’s easy. It’s something I have to be mindful of often, but keeping these tips in mind I find myself overeating LESS often.  That’s what I strive for, progress not perfection!  Do not start 2016 off with resolutions that reflect failures from this year. End 2015 by defeating destructive behaviors like overeating. It will take a lot of work but be persistent in your efforts. Hardwork pays off.

xoxo,

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Beet Juice Recipe

the Hurricane

This weekend we experienced some pretty terrible weather with the impending approach of a Category 4 hurricane (Joaquin). Luckily, Joaquin decided to take a detour and spare us from even more dangerous weather.  Nevertheless, it was still dark and stormy out with all day rain– totally ruined my half marathon training, but life goes on.  While I was “rained in” I decided to experiment with a weather-inspired beet juice recipe.  I call this baby The Hurricane since it was “born” into existance in the midst of hurricane Joaquin’s threat to strike the east coast

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I would like to point out that this juice is not very sweet.  That is because I try to create juices with the highest nutrient concentration possible, while keeping sugar content low.  I do this by using more vegetables than fruits in my recipes.  This helps keep your blood sugar stable but still allow for delivery of high dose nutrients to your body.

Here I used one of my least favorite vegetables- beets! But never fear- it’s only ONE (or half of one) and I promise it doesn’t taste as scary as it looks 😉  Ever dislike something even though you knew it was amazingly good for you? Yup! So why did I choose to use beetroot in my juice? Ah that is because I would never otherwise eat it & benefit from it unless it was in my juice.

beets

Beets are a great source of antioxidants and nitrates which provide increased energy by improving blood flow. Because of this, beet juice has been shown to help the body respond better to exercise. It’s even been shown to help with blood pressure!

Make sure to wash beets well because they are usually pretty filthy. I peeled the beetroot and trimmed off the beet greens.  Beet greens can be a bit strong in juices and it was not the flavor profile I was going for here, so I put them away to be sautéed on another day.

 

parsley

I also added a handful of flat-leaf parsley. I love adding fresh herbs to juices, it really freshens up the flavor not to mention herbs like parsley and cilantro are fantastic for several health conditions.  Parsley is high in chlorophyll, vitamin C, folate and iron but one does not normally eat enough parsley in day-to-day life to actually experience any improvements, so juicing it is the perfect way to obtain all of the health benefits of this wonder herb. But beware! This is potent stuff when juiced so limit consumption to 1 oz per day and it should not be taken by itself (always juice it with other veggies & fruits).  I personally prefer the Italian flat-leaf parsley to the curly parsley.  I found the curly parsley to have a soapy taste when I juice it. Again, remember to only use a small handful of this stuff until you’ve acquired a taste for it.

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I decided to throw in 1 large carrot to add some sweetness.  This helped balance out the strong flavors from the beet and parsley.  If you are worried about the beet (like i was in the beginning) start with just one-half of a beet in the juice.

The final ingredients to the Hurricane juice recipe include some of my staple juice ingredients: lemon, celery and kale.  I found it was cheaper and more convenient to purchase baby kale in a 5oz container from the Earthbound brand instead of the actual giant kale leaves.  Sometimes I find the giant kale leaves to be cheaper, but not this time and they looked a little sad & droppy too. So organic baby kale in a container it was!

I only used 2 celery sticks here because celery can also have a very strong flavor if you add too much. And the final ingredient was a lemon (peeled of course).  Feel free to add more or less of any ingredient according to your taste preferences 🙂  When I first started juicing I really preferred sweeter tasting juices so I would use a lot more fruit and more lemon/lime, but as time has gone on I’ve started to enjoy bolder but fresh flavors. I’m sure you’ll experience the same thing as your taste buds become re-trained.

lemon and greens

I invite you to try this juice at home and adjust it to fit YOU.  Juicing is such a great way to obtain a high concentration of micronutrients and antioxidants!  It’s a fantastic way to give your body a high dose of goodness, remove toxins, kill cravings and reboot your health.  This juice in particular will give you all of these benefits AND it’s low calorie, low in sugar content, and perfect for fall weather.  Have it as a snack or pre-workout fuel.

So give it a try & ENJOY.  As always, please feel free to contact me with questions or drop me a comment below.


Ingredients:

1 or 1/2  beetroot

1 large carrot (optional)

1 lemon (peeled)

2 celery sticks

3oz baby kale or about 8 large kale leaves

1 handful of fresh parsley

Directions: Process all ingredients through juicer and enjoy. Makes about 6 to 8oz. If storing for later consumption, be sure fill your container up to the top with filtered water to prevent oxidation. Juice will last in this manner for up to 48hrs.


Juice On,

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Cough and Cold Remedies

cough and cold remedies

I am almost half way through training for my very first half marathon, but this week I worried that my training would hit a bit of a roadblock.  I caught a slight cold & have had some sinus congestion.  It’s pretty annoying running with the sniffles and congested sinuses but I took it easy, took extra rest days, and ran at a slower pace.

I try my best to keep my immune system strong and rarely get sick, but hey sometimes it happens (especially when people around you have been sick).  I’ve been focusing on taking care of my body to speed my recovery as much as possible.  I find that using holistic remedies helps me bounce back rather quickly and so are always my first line treatment, but there have been times where I need to get back to work asap, have an event to attend, or travel plans and over the counter (OTC) products are needed too.

Most people think they need antibiotics right away when they have a cold, but let’s clear that up right now.  A cold is a virus and has no cure— all you can do is treat the symptoms or prevent it altogether.  It passes easily from person to person through handshaking and droplets spread through air from sneezing or coughing.  This is why hand washing and covering your mouth when coughing/sneezing are critical healthy habits to adopt, friends. To keep your immune system strong, prevent illness, and fight colds faster I always try my very best to get enough rest, stay hydrated, and nourish my body with good nutrition.  These three things become ever more important when your body is fighting off a virus, so keep that in mind.  Here’s what I’ve been doing to fight this cold & sinus attack the last few days…

Morning “flu” shot |

I use a large shot glass, filled with half water and half apple cider vinegar (with the mother). I add a dash of cayenne pepper for extra sinus relief. 

Apple cider vinegar is known to have several antibacterial, antiviral and anti fungal properties.  It’s useful for many things, but in this situation specifically, it is great for soothing a sore throat, mucus and sinus congestion.  

| “Feel Better Fast” tea |

Make a paste using organic, unfiltered honey + turmeric + ginger + cinnamon + cayenne + lemon juice = mix it all up

{ honey, lemon juice, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne }

{ honey, lemon juice, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne }

Make your favorite hot tea ( I usually go for roasted dandelion or green tea), allow to cool, then add the honey mixture & enjoy. These ingredients combined are a cold fighting powerhouse & it tastes good too! 

| Go for Green Juice & smoothies |

Mean Green Juice

Be sure your juice has more vegetables than fruits in it)—> All vegetables ( especially green & cruciferous ones like broccoli and kale) contain protective micronutrients and phytochemicals that naturally strengthen the immune system. 

| Supplement with Vit C and Zinc |

You can easily consume vitamin C through eating dark leafy greens, broccoli, bell peppers, kiwis, citrus fruits, and berries. Stock up on foods like spinach, pumpkin seeds, nuts, beans, mushrooms,and cacao for extra zinc.


Using these remedies I’ve been able to continue my half marathon training even with this cold & sinus congestion.  I hope you enjoy these remedies as much as I do. This is prime cough and cold season so be sure to adopt healthy habits to keep your immune system strong.  If you have a go-to home remedy for a cold please share it in the comments. I love learning about what others are doing.  

Wishing you a healthy, happy week!  

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Eating More Vegetables and Fruits

Today I want to talk to you about a healthy habit that is not only going to help you manage your weight, but also improve your overall wellbeing.  This healthy habit is eating MORE.  Yes you read that right! …specifically, eating MORE vegetables and fruits.  Can you guess how many servings of veggies and fruits you should be consuming daily? Experts recommend 5 to 9 servings per day! When I initially heard this recommendation I was pretty surprised and realized I was getting no where near this amount.  Are you?

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Dont worry I’ve got you covered. Since changing my eating habits I’ve fallen head over heels in love with veggies and fruits discovering a variety of ways to get my recommended amount (and more) with ease every single day. But before I give you those hot tips, let’s talk about why the experts think we should eat more of this good stuff.

Vegetables and fruits are not only nutritious and delicious, but they are also naturally low in calories. Now that’s a big win! More benefits include fiber to keep you full longer and keep your digestive system happy 🙂  These foods can also reduce risk of disease and provide vitamins and minerals which keep you energized and healthy. I think these are all pretty great reasons to eat your veggies (I guess mom was right all along, as usual).

Don’t panic– vegetables and fruits are so versatile and easy to incorporate into any meal or snack.  Here are my top tips on how to eat more vegetables and fruits.

[ HOW TO EAT MORE VEGGIES & FRUITS: ]
1. Juices and Smoothies – this is my favorite way to sneak in both veggies & fruits! (Be careful to read the labels & avoid added sugars and additives).
2. Soups– Great one-pot-meal!
3. Salads– Pile on the veggies!
4. Meatless Mondays – trade out one meal a week for a vegetarian dish.
5. Be Sneaky– chop veggies small enough to hide into sauces, burgers, meatloaves, etc.
6. Take Shortcuts– frozen veggies are just fine (and much easier to prep), pre-chop and wash your produce so it’s readily available to you, and if you buy canned watch out for BPA and sodium contents.
7. Recipe Re-do– Try making your favorite foods a little healthier (for example, add veggies to your omelets, make kale chips, use avocado instead of butter when baking)
8. Fill at least half of your plate with veggies
9. Try supplementing with green powder boosts for days where your on the go and really lacking in veggies.
10. DIY salad dressings! Swap the fattening, high calorie dressing and make your own
A few suggestions I’d like to leave you with are to aim for more vegetables compared to fruits.  For example, if you consume 5 servings of veggies/fruits in a day be sure to try having at least 3 of those servings from vegetables and 2 from fruit.  And when you eat out, don’t be afraid to ask for a side of vegetables or substitute your fries for veggies.

Do a little experimenting, try some new produce, and step out of your comfort zone.  This one small change can lead to BIG results.  It just requires a little bit of effort on your part but YOU CAN DO IT.

If you’d like to learn more about adding vegetables & fruits into your diet and eating clean, in general, I would like to invite you to join my FREE & complimentary 5-day facebook group “Fall into Healthy Eating Habits.” I’ll be giving out valuable resources, recipes, tips, discussions and videos to help you learn how to implement healthier eating habits successfully. { Sign up here for more information or in the opt-in box on the right–>  }

For meal ideas incorporating vegetables and fruit check out: 
http://greatist.com/health/40-unexpected-ways-add-veggies-meal/

http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/easy-ways-to-add-fruits-veggies-to-your-day

 

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Plant-Based Eating: What, Why, & How

People are often curious about my diet, wondering what I eat versus don’t eat and why.  Well here it is… I follow a “mostly” plant-based eating lifestyle. I say “mostly” because who doesn’t enjoy a treat here and there!  🙂

 

So what is a plant based diet?  I would sum up the description with the famous quote by food writer, Michael Pollan, as stated in his book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto — “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” 1

plant-based

According to the folks over at Forks Over Knives, a whole foods, plant-based diet incorporates a wealth of fruits and vegetables, beans/legumes, and grains. Eating mostly plants focuses on eating foods that are in their natural state, unrefined, and minimally processed.

A plant-based lifestyle aims to reduce (or eliminate) meat, dairy, eggs, refined foods (bleached flour, refined sugars, and oils)2. It may sound complicated but I promise it’s not. It’s just different from what we are all used to. As with all changes, we need to give ourselves time to adjust.

So basically if it’s from a plant and has minimal processing and recognizable ingredients on the label, it’s plant-based diet approved.

 

{ Two guiding principles for successful plant-based eating: }

#1 Eat more vegetables &  #2 Eat less processed foods

 

Why should anyone eat this way?  Well because it can save your life that’s why. It can help you live a better life.  It may take some work on your part to be intentional and not fall back into old habits, but soon enough it becomes second nature. My body actually craves fruits and veggies.. my taste buds have completely changed!  But as with any major lifestyle change, you cannot stay motivated (or even get started) unless you have good reason for doing so and it becomes a habit.

Here are the top 3 reasons to follow a mostly plant-based lifestyle:

  1. Good for animals 
  • By eating this way you are showing that you do not support animal cruelty.
    • Best practices tip: Even if you are not a vegan & enjoy animal products, try to buy products from animals that have been humanely raised.
  • You can still make an impact by forgoing meet for one day a week (think Meatless Mondays!)
  1. Great for the environment 
  • Large amounts of grain are grown just to feed animals, but we would save so much water and other energy resources if the grain produced was used to feed humans instead3.
  • Producing just 1 pound of beef requires 15 pounds of grain4.
  • Animal products are among the highest producers of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere5.
  1. Even better for YOU & your body
  • Helps prevent disease (& can in some cases reverse it)! Eating a plant based diet can help prevent and treat chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, lower blood pressure & cholesterol, help with weight loss, digestion, and inflammatory diseases6.
  • Improves your overall health & wellness by providing more antioxidants, nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and more fiber 7.

Good for animals

 

 

How do i actually incorporate this into my life?  Personally, I follow the “80/20 rule” by eating the whole foods, plant-based way 80% of the time and allowing for a few treats (occasional eggs, some dairy & even desserts) 20% of the time. I believe embracing a mostly plant-based eating approach is one of the best things you can do for your health and the environment but I also believe in balance. I know if I am too strict on myself I will not have a healthy relationship with food and be miserable.

Listen to your body and adjust your dietary habits accordingly. Everyone is different. Find what works for you but always keeping in mind the two plant-based principles.

 

{ A TOP TIP for anyone interested in taking the first step toward a plant-based approach }

Work toward adding 5 servings of fruits and vegetables into your day

(at least 3 servings should be veggies + 2 servings should be fruit)

 

Got it? Good. Now go try it out! Be sure to comment with your results and experiences.

***Check out additional resources here.

 

– x o x o –  


| References |

1 In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan http://www.amazon.com/In-Defense-Food-Eaters-Manifesto/dp/0143114964

2 http://www.forksoverknives.com

3 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carole-bartolotto/plant-based-diet_b_3807973.html

4 http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-greenhouse-hamburger/

5 http://report_ewg_meat_eaters_guide_to_health_and_climate_2011.pdf/

6 http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/slideshows/reasons-to-choose-a-plant-based-diet/1

7 http://www.onegreenplanet.org/natural-health/amazing-health-benefits-of-embracing-a-plant-based-diet/

 

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Quit Dieting & Get Healthy

quit dieting

I was a girl that loved chocolate milk, bread and butter, and the Double Decker Supreme at Taco Bell (hold the tomatoes). My parents tell me I was a pretty big candy addict too, throwing tantrums if I didn’t get my sugar fix. I remember eating McDonalds for lunch almost every day my senior year of high school. On the rare occasion that I had fruits it was usually strawberries dunked in sprinkled with sugar, because I didn’t think they were sweet enough otherwise. I was a picky eater, not caring for anything “green”—you know, like broccoli, spinach, avocados—or any other fruits and vegetables for that matter.  I was completely ignorant about nutrition and the implications it can have on a person’s health.

When I started college I was tired of struggling with my weight and confidence; being unable to keep up with sports, and dealing with asthma. I was now independent and completely responsible for what I ate. I decided to get “healthy.”

Unfortunately my definition of health was so far off. I though healthy meant skinny, as so many misinformed women think today. I went on a calorie-restricted diet and incorporated a lot of cardio. Of course I lost weight this way, but in no way was I healthy. I was tired! Mentally and physically I was dragging. I was excited to finally wear a size 2 but that excitement quickly faded when I realized this diet was not sustainable and was depriving my life of so much joy. I would panic thinking about my next meal or going to a social event. I cycled from eating whatever I wanted, then feeling guilty and trying to cut calories for a few days to “make up the difference.” My weight fluctuated as a result.  It was not until I found the book “The Food Revolution” by John Robbins that my life changed and I quit dieting. Today I stand firm in the truth that food is not fear, it is fuel.

Any diet that deprives your life of joy is not a healthy one.

I learned about plant-based eating. Reading all of the evidence based benefits and research this type of lifestyle promised made it all the more alluring. I decided, after reading that book, that I wanted to feel my very best, be healthy, and heal my relationship with food.

I began focusing on eating more whole, unprocessed plant foods by incorporating fruits and vegetables into each meal and snack. It took some trial and error, and a lot of listening to my body, but eventually I learned what foods I thrived on and which ones did not work so well for me. It’s been 4 years now, and I continue to follow this way of eating pretty consistently.

This time I wasn’t following a diet, I was changing my lifestyle.

diet

These are a few of the benefits I experienced as a result of switching to a sustainable, plant focused way of eating:

  1. I haven’t used my asthma inhaler in 4 years
  2. My taste buds changed (flavors are so much bolder to me now)
  3. I fell in love with fruits and veggies, which I previously despised
  4. Feel stronger and more energized
  5. I don’t get sick as often (or as severely)
  6. Healthy relationship with food
  7. I have found balance by focusing on overall wellness- physical, mental, emotional
  8. Reduced cravings
  9. Renewed confidence
  10. I’m not afraid of that scale!

MybeforeAfter

Today I can confidently tell you I am on a growth path. I completed a course at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to receive my certification as a holistic health coach. I’m constantly learning about nutrition, finding ways to continually improve my own health, as well as help others find ways to positively change theirs.

____________________

I hope sharing my story will inspire you to learn more about health and wellness, and as a result make some positive changes in your own life. If you’re looking for a little guidance I’m happy to help.

*** Please share your story and/or thoughts in the comments below or email me at PrescribingHealth@gmail.com ***

Until next time, 

health coach

 


[ Always check with your physician before making any major dietary changes or increasing the physical demands on your body. ]

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