The More You Sweat, the Less You Bleed

The first time I saw this quote was in a Reebok ad. Since then, I’ve learned that it was taken from a statement attributed to George Patton: “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” That statement is far removed from the topic of this article, so let’s stick with the Reebok ad.

The meaning of the Reebok quote was clear: the harder we work in training, the less we suffer in performance, that is, on race day.

While athletes will see that as common sense, I’d like to take the concept a step further to food – and specifically to sugar addiction.

Recently, I was reminded of how true the statement is when a man at work was eating cookies after his lunch. Someone else at work warned him not eat them in front of me, but the cookie guy confidently replied, “Joan doesn’t care.”

How Great Is It Not to Care?!

He was absolutely right. That made me think about how fortunate I am to have gone through whatever struggle was associated with my sugar journey – because I now have the ability not to care what other people eat, no matter what it is and even if it’s right in front of me.

Last holiday season, a different man at work was deliberately eating – in front of me – some cookies made by a woman on the staff. He was trying to eat them in a way that would tempt me – closing his eyes and making noises of pleasure as he ate each bite, and so on.

I’ve told that story to a few of my clients, and they react strongly to it. Perhaps they’re imagining how difficult it would have been for them, or maybe they’re thinking he was acting kinda jerky. But what the cookie monster in the story didn’t realize was, “Joan doesn’t care.”

How Tough Is It to Get There?

Working through a sugar addiction and quitting the stuff takes less time than people think. If you do it the right way, you can be through it in under a week.

Of course, if you want permanent results, it doesn’t end there. It’s necessary to eat differently, to deal with the cravings that will come up fairly frequently at first, and to stick with the new food plan so the cravings diminish and finally stop.

That’s the key point – the cravings stop.

Eventually, you reach the point of not caring what others eat or don’t eat. Call me a bad mother, but I don’t even notice what people eat unless someone goes out of his way to make noises.

Truth? I almost felt sorry for that guy. He was intentionally being mean (considering what he was trying to do) but had no idea how little it would affect me.

To me, cookies aren’t food. I don’t see them as temptations. I ignored two boxes of them sitting for weeks on the desk right next to me without a care. And just so you know, I used to love cookies. And brownies. And cakes, and ice cream, and fudge, and more.

I don’t bleed on race day – and every day is actually race day – because I was willing to sweat for a short time in training. That’s true freedom from sugar. And it’s there for you.

Healthy Eating – Three Reasons To Rethink Including Milk in Your Diet

Are you a fan of cow’s milk? If so, it may be time to rethink the inclusion of cow’s milk in your diet. While milk is an excellent source of calcium, many drawbacks you need to be aware of can come from cow’s milk.

Milk contains several different carbohydrates including:

  • lactose
  • glucose
  • galactose

and other oligosaccharides containing a small number of simple sugars. Lactose gives milk a sweet taste and gives rise to approximately 40% of the total calorie count.

Let us take a closer look at what some of the drawbacks are and how they may be negatively impacting you:

1. The Sugar Content. Let us begin with the obvious – the sugar content. Taking in too much sugar from any source is never good for your body, and milk is full of it. With over 10 grams of sugar per cup, it adds up quickly.

If you drink the standard recommendation of three glasses of milk a day, that is a whopping 30+ grams of sugar you are consuming. This much sugar is more than anyone needs, especially if you are looking to prevent or manage Type 2 diabetes.

2. The Lactose Content. The next issue is the lactose content. Lactose is the sugar found in milk, but it also causes other problems. For many, lactose leads to…

  • gas
  • bloating
  • diarrhea
  • stomach cramps, and many other undesirable digestive symptoms. While you can take lactase to ease your discomfort, this is far from ideal. Most people tend to do better on a lactose-free diet plan.

3. The Hormones. Finally, there may be hormones in the milk you are consuming. Many farmers are using hormones as they want to raise large cattle: these hormones may then be transferred to your body as a result of this.

The hormones given to the cattle can lead to problems with your hormonal levels if you are not careful. They may also be responsible for inflammation and other health concerns for you.

As you can see, cow’s milk is not exactly ideal. Will the odd glass here and there hurt you? Likely not. But drink a few cups a day, and you could be looking at having a few health problems if you are not careful. Instead, try unsweetened almond or coconut milk. Both are superior choices, contain no sugar, and are lower in calories as well. They will comfortably fit into your diet and can be used in recipes in place of the usual cow’s milk.

Do You Make These Diet Mistakes?

Mistake #1 – Meal Skipping

Research has shown that those who skip breakfast actually weigh more than those who eat three meals a day. Skipping a meal usually causes you to eat more calories during the day, and skipping a meal also slows done your metabolism. Frequent meals control craving and binge eating. So aim to eat three (or more) meals a day.

Mistake #2 – Over-sized Portions

Just because restaurants load your plate with a mountain of food doesn’t mean you should eat that much at home for a normal meal. Remember that your stomach, like your heart, is the size of your fist. Don’t think you could fit much food into your fist? You’re right.

To eat a little less, use smaller plates and eat slower so you know when you’re full. As a little side hack for when your craving more food – you can pretty much eat as much veggies as you want. What I like to do is blend a variety of fruits and veggIes into a delicious healthy smoothie.

Mistake #3 – Blaming Your Genes

Many people give up on dieting or think there’s no hope when it comes to meeting their weight goals because of their genes. Just like you may share your father’s hair color or your mother’s eye color, there is a small chance you also share your parent’s body type.

However, this is no excuse for doing nothing about trying to lose weight. Stick to your diet and exercise plan and you should definitely see results.

Mistake #4 – Eating Without Thinking

It happens to everyone. You’re tired after a long day and you just want to snack in front of the television or read a good book. Unfortunately, mindlessly eating is often involved.

Now you may think that since it’s not on a plate it doesn’t matter, but every bite you take counts. When it comes to a successful diet, make rules for appropriate times to eat. And don’t always feel the need to eat when relaxing.

Mistake #5 – Eliminating All Treats

Guess what?

Here’s some great news – you don’t have to stop having treats! Ya! You see, dieters often become over-zealous in their plan and completely rid the house of all the food they enjoy, whether chips, sweets, or snacks.

This commitment may last a few days until they can’t tolerate it any longer and over-indulge on what they deprived themselves of. A better plan is to allow yourself a treat every once in a while.

Can Plant Foods Be Bad For Your Health?

Plants appeared on land about 450 million years ago, long before the first insects arrived 90 millions years later. Until the insects turned up, plants could grow and thrive in peace. But when insects and eventually animals arrived, plants had to fight for their own survival; otherwise, they could very well become someone’s dinner.

For this reason, plants have since evolved an array of strategies to protect themselves or their seeds from insects and animals, including humans. They may use an assortment of physical deterrents, such as color to blend into their surroundings, an unpleasant texture, a gooey substance such as resins and saps that entangle insects, a hard outer shell such as coconut, or spine-tipped leaves such as artichoke.

Additionally, plants have developed biological warfare to repel predators by poisoning or paralyzing them, or reduce their own digestibility to stay alive and protect their seeds, enhancing the chances that their species will survive.

One common defensive plant chemical is lectin. Insects become paralyzed when they eat these plants. Since humans are much much bigger in size, we may not notice any harmful effects right away. However, we may not be immune to the long-term effects of eating such plant compounds on a continual basis. Research in recent years have associated a number of illnesses with lectins in the diet. They include arthritis, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

What Are Lectins?

Lectins are a type proteins that bind to carbohydrates. In fact, lectins are present in varying amounts in pretty much all forms of life, such as plants, animals including humans, bacteria, and viruses.

Not all lectins are harmful to humans, some are actually beneficial and may even have cancer prevention properties, such as those in avocado, bitter melon, garlic, and herbs such as astragalus and licorice. But here, we are only going to focus on the potentially harmful plant lectins.

Lectins are especially concentrated in seeds because seeds are the plant’s babies, the future generation. There are two basic types of seeds:

Seeds that plants want predators to eat –

  • These seeds are encased in a hard coating designed to survive a trip all the way through the predator’s gastrointestinal tract. Fruit trees are a good example of this type of seeds. The objective is to have the fruits eaten and wind up a distance away from the mother plant. This way, they will not compete for sun, water, and nutrients and have a better chance of survival.
  • The plant often uses color to attract the predator’s attention. When the fruit is unripe, it is typically green. When it turns yellow, orange, or red, it signals ripeness and is ready to be eaten. By the way, animals that eat fruits also have color vision. Unripe fruits are often high in lectin, a message to the predator that it is not ready to be eaten yet. When the hull of the seed hardens, the fruit becomes ripe, the color changes, and the lectin content goes down.
  • Nowadays, we tend to pick the fruits premature so that they can survive long travel distances. When they arrive at their destination, they are then given a blast of ethylene oxide gas to the make the fruits appear ripe. Unfortunately, the lectin content of these fruits remain high because the protective hull of the seeds have yet to be fully developed.
  • Furthermore, the plant chooses to manufacture fructose in its fruits, not glucose. The reason is that glucose raises blood sugar and insulin, which initially raises leptin, a hunger-blocking hormone that signals fullness. But fructose does not do all that, so the predator never receives the “full” signal to stop eating and the plant achieves its purpose.

Seeds that plants do not want predators to eat –

  • These are naked seeds that plants do not want insects or animals to eat them and transport them elsewhere. Hence, they contain one or more chemicals that will weaken the predators, paralyze them, or make them sick so they will not make the mistake of eating them again.
  • These chemicals are generally referred to as anti-nutrients. They include phytates (prevent absorption of minerals in the diet), trypsin inhibitors (hinder digestive enzymes from working), and lectins (cause gaps in the intestinal lining or leaky gut). Whole grains and beans contain all three of these substances!
  • Other chemicals include tannins (which gives a bitter taste) and alkaloids (nitrogen compounds) found in the nightshade family, including eggplants, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes. These delightful vegetables can be highly inflammatory for certain individuals.

Potential Harmful Effects Of Lectins In Humans

Lectins are plant proteins. Gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, is a type of lectin. In humans, lectins bind to sialic acid, a sugar molecule found in the gut, in the brain, between nerve endings, in joints, as well as the blood vessel lining. This binding process can potentially interrupt the communication between cells and trigger inflammatory reactions in the body.

Cause leaky gut –

Our intestinal lining is one cell thick. The intestinal cells allow only vitamins, minerals, fats, sugars, and simple proteins to pass through. When the intestinal lining is intact, lectins which are larger proteins cannot get by. However, lectins can pry apart the tight junctions in the intestinal wall by binding with receptors on certain cells to produce a chemical compound called zonulin. Zonulin opens up the tight spaces between the cells and allow the lectins to get into our circulation. Once there, it sets off the immune system to attack these foreign proteins, creating a cascade of inflammatory responses.

Cause autoimmuity –

This is when the body’s immune system gets confused and begins attacking its own cells. Through evolution, plants have created proteins like lectins that resemble the critical structures of their predators, such as our organs, nerves, and joints. When lectins get through the intestinal wall, they activate the immune system to attack both the lectins and our critical structures that resemble these lectins.

Cause disruption in cellular communication –

Lectins can mimic some hormones and disrupt the transmission of signals between cells. For example, the hormone insulin enables muscle cells to allow glucose to enter, providing fuel for the muscles. This is done by insulin docking at the insulin receptors on the muscle cells. However, certain lectins can also bind to the insulin receptors. When this happens, the insulin cannot do its job. Blood glucose stays high and the muscles do not get their fuel.

Why Now? What Changed?

Not everyone is sensitive to every lectin. The longer our ancestors had been eating a certain leaf or plant part that contains a lectin, the more opportunity our immune system and gut bacteria had to evolve to tolerate that lectin. However, the time frame for this evolution is not years or decades, but millennia. Since our modern day diet is so significantly different from our ancestral diet, it is no surprise that our bodies are unable to catch up and cope.

Agricultural revolution –

In the hunting and gathering days, humans used to eat primarily leaves, tubers, and some animal protein and fat. With the advent of the agricultural revolution about 12,500 years ago, grains and beans were introduced. Till then, the human immune system and gut bacteria had never encountered these lectins.

A slew of new plants and new lectins –

  • About 500 years ago, Europeans started exploring the Americas and brought home a whole array of new plants and lectins, including the nightshade family (eggplants, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes), beans (legumes, peanuts, and cashews), grains, pseudo-grains (amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa), the squash family, chia, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
  • Moreover, in the last 50 years, we introduced GM (genetically modified) soybean, corn, and canola. These plants have never existed in the history of mankind.

Our system is overwhelmed by lectins-

  • These days, we unknowingly consume substantially more lectins than a few generations ago. The processed foods and fast foods that we eat are heavy in corn, soy, and wheat, all packed with lectins.
  • Corn and soy have become the typical feed for cows, chickens, and fish in industrial farms. As a result, the lectins in the corn and soy fed to these animals also end up in their flesh, milk, and eggs. Even so-called organic animals contain lectins because they too are fed corn and soy, though organic and not genetically modified. Pasture-raised animals, on the other hand, will not contain these corn and soy lectins.
  • Another problem with corn and soy is that their fat profile is mostly omega-6 fats. Remember omega-6 is inflammatory and omega-3 is anti-inflammatory. So, the fats in the corn and soy-fed animals are are also higher in omega-6 fats and more inflammatory than animals fed their natural diet. For example, grass is high in omega-3 fats, so grass-fed beef is high in omega-3 fats as well.

NSAIDs cause leaky gut –

Scientists found that over-the-counter painkillers, particularly non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) damage the lining of the small intestine. Individuals who regularly use aspirin, Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Celebrex, or Naprosyn are prone to have leaky gut, creating the opportunity for lectins to get into the circulation and cause havoc.

What Are The High Lectin Foods?

People who are struggling with inflammatory conditions, autoimmune diseases, thyroid dysfunction (especially Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity need to be particularly careful with high lectin foods. Those taking NSAIDs should also watch out as these drugs have been shown to increase leaky gut, which allows the toxic lectins to enter the bloodstream.

Whole grains –

  • These days, everyone believes that whole grains are healthier than refined grains, but is it really?
  • For thousands of years, the privileged classes always opted to eat white bread. Brown bread was reserved for the peasants because white bread is easier on the stomach.
  • Similarly, white rice has always been the staple grain in China, India, Japan, and other Asian cultures. The hull is always stripped off to make white rice because the hull is where the lectins are.
  • All grains, except millet and sorghum, have hulls and hence, lectins. Removing the hull and fermenting the grain will reduce the lectin content (for instance, sourdough bread), however, fermentation will not completely remove all the gluten.

Beans and legumes

Beans and legumes such as black beans, soybeans, lima beans, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, peanuts, and cashews contain high amounts of lectins. However, a substantial amount can be neutralized by proper cooking methods.

  • Soak the beans in water for at least 12 hours before cooking, frequently changing the water. Adding baking soda to the soaking water will boost the neutralization of lectins even further. Rinse the beans well before cooking.
  • Cook for at least 15 minutes on high heat. Cooking beans on too-low a heat will not be able to reduce the lectin toxicity. Avoid any recipe calling for dry bean flour, as the dry heat of the oven will not effectively destroy the lectins.
  • The best way to destroy lectins is to use a pressure cooker.
  • Sprouting and fermenting will also dramatically reduce the lectin content.
  • Avoid peanut oil and peanut butter. Avoid soybean oil, soybeans, tofu, edamame (green soybean), soy protein and textured vegetable protein (TVP). The only exception is fermented soy, such as tempeh and miso.

Nightshade vegetables

  • Nightshade vegetables are high in lectin content, they have the tendency to promote inflammation and leaky gut for certain individuals. They are particularly problematic for people with joint pain.
  • Eggplants, potatoes (not sweet potatoes or yam), tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers (not black pepper), and goji berries all come from plants in the nightshade family.
  • Removing the skin and seeds of tomatoes and peppers will reduce the lectin load.

Vegetables with seeds

  • Any vegetable with seeds is actually a fruit and will have higher lectin content.
  • Examples include cucumbers, pumpkins, squashes (all kinds), zucchini, melons, peas, sugar snap peas, and green beans.
  • Removing the skin and seeds will reduce the lectin load.

The Healthy Plant Foods

  • All kinds of leafy greens, especially those from the cruciferous family, such as arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radish, and watercress.
  • Vegetables and fruits that are high in resistant starch are very beneficial to the friendly bacteria in the gut. They include celery root, Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), jicama, parsnips, plantains, taro root, turnips, and unripe fruits like green bananas, green mangoes, and green papayas. (These three green fruits are exceptions – they are low in lectins.)
  • Other vegetables that help your gut bacteria are artichokes, asparagus, beets, Belgian endive, celery, carrots, garlic, hearts of palm, leeks, mushrooms, okra, onions, and radicchio.
  • Nuts particularly macadamias, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts.
  • Fruits (except avocados) should only be eaten in limited quantities due to the high fructose content. Eat local and in-season fruits.

Healthy Eating – Three Super Reasons to Start Drinking Lemon Water Today

As you go about your healthy eating program, one thing you will want to ensure you are doing is drinking enough fluids. Staying hydrated is key to keeping your…

  • energy level up,
  • your hunger down, and
  • your blood sugar levels stable.

If you want to make the most of your hydration, there is one way to do it: lemon water. Why is lemon water so beneficial? Let’s look at the reasons…

1. Detoxification. First, lemon water is excellent for detoxifying your body. Water on its own is ideal for flushing toxins out of your system, but the added lemon helps cleanse your digestive tract and make sure everything is functioning optimally.

It is important to remember when you become overloaded with toxins, which you are exposed to on a daily basis, everything in your body performs less than optimally. You have to deal with this toxic load, and that can be very taxing and energy draining.

Once you remove those toxins, your energy level will increase, and you will start feeling noticeably better.

2. Low-Calorie. Next, you will benefit from lemon water because it is so low in calories. Lemons contain just mere calories per whole fruit, so the juice of a few slices of lemon may amount to two or three calories at most.

Consuming calorie-containing beverages is one of the leading causes of weight gain for many people, so the more you can swap this out with calorie-free drinks, the higher your chances are of reaching your body-weight goals.

Furthermore, the light flavor of this water will also encourage you to drink more. Thus it will be easier to get your hydration needs met.

3. Balances pH Levels. Lemons outside of the body are extremely acidic, but inside the body, it is a whole different story. When they move through the digestive tract, they become alkaline, so are great for keeping your body where it needs to be.

When you become very acidic, this can set you up for problems such as…

  • fatigue,
  • headaches,
  • sleepiness,
  • a lack of appetite,
  • an increased heart rate,
  • lightheaded, and
  • have difficulty concentrating.

Most of us are regularly in an acidic state due to consuming so much meat, dairy, and grains.

There you have three super reasons to drink lemon water today. Try putting a few slices of lemon in a pitch of icy cold water along with some fresh mint leaves for a great tasting drink you will look forward to having.

Healthy Eating – What You Should Know About Biological Value

As you go about planning your menu, one thing you will want to take into account is something called biological value (BV). Most people are quite good at staying on top of research so they can figure out which foods hold the most nutrients and which ones will help optimize health the best. Where many go wrong, however, is forgetting because if a food is nutritious, it does not mean it will be fully utilized by the body. That is where the biological value (BV) comes into play. Biological value refers to protein-rich foods and discusses how well these foods will be utilized after they are consumed.

Here is what you need to know…

Factors Impacting Biological Value. While BV is a static number, keep in mind there are some factors able to influence the natural biological value of the food you are eating.

These factors include:

  • the frequency in which you consume your protein. Eating protein every few hours throughout the day can help increase the BV more than eating one or two large meals with a higher serving of protein in each meal. This is one reason to space your calories out into six mini meals rather than three large ones.
  • the speed in which the amino acids hit your bloodstream. Generally speaking, the slower the amino acids hit your bloodstream, the better they will be absorbed and utilized, so do what you can to slow them down.
  • The best way to do this is to ensure you consume some dietary fat with each protein serving as fat slows the rate of digestion.
  • whether or not exercise has been performed. Exercise will naturally increase your ability to utilize the nutrients you feed your body immediately following a workout, so do whatever you can to eat a post-workout meal in within minutes of finishing.

A post-workout protein shake is a must for optimal results.

So as you can see, a biological value is not black and white. Factors do impact the value. Still, it can serve as a general guideline.

The Biological Value Of Foods You Are Eating. So this said, below is the listing for the BV of a variety of foods you have likely included in your menu. The higher the rating, the better the protein will be utilized:

  • eggs (whole) – BV = 100
  • eggs (whites) – BV = 88
  • chicken/turkey – BV = 79
  • fish – BV = 70
  • lean beef – BV = 69
  • cow’s milk – BV = 60
  • whey protein isolate – BV = 159
  • casein protein – BV = 77
  • soy protein – BV = 74

Keep these values in mind as you plan out your meals. For optimal protein retention, choose foods with the highest biological value whenever possible.

14 Ways to Relax Without Alcohol or Food

Happy hours can be a great way to unwind after a stressful day at work. You bond with your coworkers, talk about your day and listen to some upbeat music. Think it differently, if you make such activities a routine, you could be taking in more alcohol and empty calories than you want.

Plus, you may be training yourself to think that consumption is the only way to relax.

You can’t remove stress from daily life, but you can learn to deal with it without creating more troubles. Start with these ideas for relaxing without alcohol or food.

Calorie-Free Ways to Relax on Your Own:

1. Breathe deeply. Pause and take a few calming breaths. Inhale from down in your diaphragm instead of up in your chest. Lengthen your exhalations to match your inhalations. Focus on the air as it moves in and out of your nostrils.

2. Meditate and pray. Sit down for a few moments and connect with yourself and the divine. Observe your thoughts without judging them. Give thanks for your blessings.

3. Engage in visualization. Close your eyes imagine something that makes you feel happy and inspired. Picture yourself surrounded by family and friends or excelling at a task that you find fulfilling.

4. Draw a bath. Fill your tub with warm water and enjoy a luxurious soak. Buy fragrant bath salts or make your own. Set out fluffy towels, candles, and other accessories of your choice.

5. Stretch your body. Make it a habit of standing up about every half hour when you’re working at your desk. Place your hands on your lower spine for support, and do a slight backbend. Rise tall, and reach your hands down to the floor, bending your knees if necessary.

6. Take a walk. Stroll around the block or hike the trails at your local park. Pick a quiet time of day and explore new routes.

7. Appreciate nature. Scientific studies prove that life has the power to soothe us. Head outdoors or watch videos of sandy beaches and ancient forests.

8. Learn progressive relaxation. Experiment with progressive muscle relaxation. Start with your hands, squeezing each muscle group as you breathe in, and releasing as you breathe out. Continue across the rest of your body.

Calorie-Free Ways to Relax with Others:

1. Practice yoga. Yoga cultivates community as well as stress relief and physical fitness. Bring a friend with you to your next class. Invite others to join you for breakfast afterward.

2. Play sports. As long as you avoid extreme competition, sports can be relaxing. Schedule a game of tennis or darts.

3. Go dancing. Listening to music takes a moment step out on the dance floor. Sign up for rumba lessons or spend your next date night at a club with a live band.

4. Pet, your dog. Remember your animal companions too. Studies show that talking to them tends to be less stressful than interacting with humans because we don’t worry about being judged.

5. Talk it over. On the other hand, your fellow humans are probably going to have more insights into how to deal with your love life or conflicts at work. Call a friend when you need to vent or discover a different perspective on whatever is on your mind.

6. Laugh it up. Humor makes our struggles easier to bear. Spend time with others who encourage you to see the funny aspects of parenthood or practicing law.

Whether you’re on your own or surrounded by friends, you can banish stress safely and efficiently. Learning to relax without alcohol or food will help you to stay slim and peaceful.

‘Tis the Time for Mindful Eating: Danielle’s 5 Key Tips to Surviving the Holiday Food Deluge

Oh yeah, here they come again, the holidays! It’s funny because it is a time we all look forward to and yet there is still this dread… the dread of weeks of overeating and the unavoidable weight gain. For many it’s quite predictable. In fact, the average American gains 7-10 pounds during the months of November and December. But really, who can resist all those delectable holiday treats?

Many, on the other hand, never gain an extra pound over the holidays. I am usually one of those. “That’s because you are a dietitian and never enjoy food anyways” you say. “No way!” is what I say. I enjoy lots of foods. Lots of foods in moderation. “Ugh, the moderation word. So overused.” Yeah, I agree. But to a large extend it’s true. You can enjoy a wide variety of foods if you keep it in moderation. Over-indulge? No. Indulge a little? Yes.

Now, you might be already thinking, well that’s no fun. What’s the holidays if you can’t eat until your stomach is about to rip in two and you need to take an extended siesta on your grandfather’s lazy boy? I hear you. We all have traditions that we come to expect and almost crave during this time of year. For so many, over eating is one of them. As mentioned, we dread this season of overeating, but we also expect it and do it anyways. It’s like an unbreakable vicious cycle. How do we get out of candy land hell!

One of the first steps is to recognize the problem! The problem is that when we overeat, we constantly over-ride our natural hunger/fullness cues which eventually leads to dysfunction, to the point we can’t even tell when we are hungry and full anymore. We start to eat for pleasure or pain instead of physical need. This causes us to eat frequently and in portions much larger than we need.

What to do? This is where some basic mindful eating tips can come in super helpful. It may not change your life immediately, but trust me, over weeks and months you will slowly be more in tune with yourself and better able to nourish your body with what it needs, not with what your cravings tell you it wants.

Danielle’s 5 tips for surviving the holiday food deluge:

1. Recognize your weakness areas and where they are encountered.

Recognition is always the first step, isn’t it? You have to assess where your problem areas lie. Is it sugar? All carbs? Salt? Large portions in general? All of the above? Does the problem occur in the workplace? At home? At family gatherings? Late at night alone? All of the above. Think through the foods you just can’t stop eating and where you find them throughout the day. Write it down.

2. Make a daily and weekly plan.

Remember, most of the gradual weight gain comes from slight but cumulative overeating all through the holidays, not just on Thanksgiving and Christmas day. Make a plan for yourself so you have a rough idea of what you want to eat from day to day and stick to it. Having a plan liberates the mind to think about other more important things and even frees it from considering cravings, especially when you know, according to your “plan,” that they are not an option.

*If you need help making a plan for the holidays, come see me for ideas!

Going along with that, keep a diet journal as you go. Writing down what you eat, at least for a short period of time, increases your mindfulness around what you are eating and helps avoid random snacking. When you are forced to think more about what you eat, you tend to make better choices. So put pen to paper (or finger to phone) and keep track for a couple of weeks during the holidays.

3. DO NOT avoid all your favorite foods. That is probably the worst thing you can do, especially as you start something new. In my experience the more forbidden a food is, the more you want it. What I say is that all foods are allowed, but portions are controlled. That is the key. Make sure you enter it into the plan and stick to a defined portion. *Don’t forget, usually the first 1-3 bites of any food are the most satisfying. The word is enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Enjoy the hell out of each bite. When that uber enjoyment ends, put down the fork. Save the rest for another day. I know it’s hard, but try it!

4. Keep up your physical activity! I can’t even tell you how many people let go of their exercise routines during this time because they are “too busy.” Oh no. That is not acceptable. We all have extra things we add to our daily itineraries because of holiday stuff, but slacking off on exercise is not one we can cut. Decreasing exercise can increase your risk for depression (especially if you are prone to it), decrease your willpower around food portions, and of course only add extra calories to your day because your aren’t burning those bad boys off. In fact, my advice is to INCREASE your exercise during the holidays! Make November and December your fittest months. You will not be regretting that come January when everyone else is hauling their sorry arse back to the gym!

5. Always load up on fruits and veggies.

Basically when in doubt, choose fruit and veg. These beauties are chocked full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants… all the things you need to counter act any unhealthy choices encountered over the holiday months. You are going to feel a lot better, and gain less weight, if you fill your plate with produce at each and every meal.

Bonus tip: Relieve stress however you can! Stress always makes eating worse (not to mention ruins our holiday spirit). Before the holidays hit, think through right now what helps you melt away stress and make a plan to DO those things regularly. Read a book? Get together with a friend? Meditate or deep breathing? Yoga? A quick getaway? If the holidays stress you out, counteract it this year and get stress-relieving activities on the schedule!

Remember these tips as you move through these next weeks and months, and best of luck as you navigate another wonderful holiday season.

What Is Healthy Eating? Healthy Diet, Beauty and Wellbeing

Healthy eating means eating a variety of foods that give you the nutrients you need to maintain your health, feel good and have energy, these nutrients include protein, carbohydrates, fat, water, vitamins, and minerals. Nutrition is important for everyone however we sometimes often slip into an unhealthy eating faze, we all do it. It can often depend on the type of work you do, family life or the lifestyle choices you are making.

Most people can improve their health by achieving long-term changes in the balance of foods that they eat.

Some individuals have additional nutritional needs, such as people with certain illnesses, on medication, in long term care such as the very elderly and children aged under 5. If there are any concerns a GP, dietitian or practice nurse should always be consulted.

Practical Tips:

  • Where possible go for wholemeal or wholegrain bread, pasta and cereals, to increase your fibre intake.
  • Choosing beans and pulses adds variety and fibre to the diet and they can be used to make more expensive ingredients such as meat and poultry go further.
  • Avoid having fried starchy foods too often such as chips and where possible go for healthy alternatives such as baked potatoes or oven chips.
  • Avoid adding too much fat to starchy foods for example, adding butter to potatoes or having thickly spread butter or margarine on bread.
  • Avoid adding rich sauces and dressings such as cream or cheese sauce on pasta go for a lower calorie version when possible.
  • When increasing fibre in the diet increase your fluid intake by drinking plenty of water to avoid getting constipation and dehydration.

How to eat healthy?

  • Eat these foods more often:
  • vegetables (especially ones that are dark green or orange)
  • fruit, whole grains (like barley, brown rice, oats, quinoa, and wild rice)
    lower-fat milk (skim, 1% or 2% milk) and milk alternatives like fortified soy beverages
    fish such as herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and trout for omega 3 oils
    lean meat (skin removed and fat trimmed)
    meat alternatives (like beans, lentils and tofu)

Follow these simple and easy to remember steps to help you eat healthy:

  • eat the recommended foods for your age, sex and activity levels.
  • read food labels when shopping, compare and choose healthier foods
  • limit foods and drinks that are high in calories, fat, sugar and sodium
  • use an ‘Eat Well Plate’ for guidance and to help you remember the proportion of each food group in a healthy meal

Happy Healthy Eating!

The Dangerous 10 – Top 10 Worst Food Additives

Food additives are substances added during the processing or making of a certain food in order to preserve flavors and freshness and enhance taste and appearance.

Although some of them have been used for centuries, the use of certain food additives is becoming really widespread and some of them are extremely dangerous for your health, I would say toxic even.

I’m not talking about the once-in-a-while consumption of a certain processed food containing additives, which can’t harm anyone. I am talking about daily use. Statistics show that the average American spends about 90% of his/her budget on this kind of food; which means that if you open an American fridge or look up on the shelves you’ll find tons of canned, dehydrated, artificial or processed stuff, which is extremely unhealthy, and its persistent consumption can cause health problems.

Typically these food ingredients are very difficult to identify, both for the variety of names and codes they’re labelled with and the very minuscule fonts used to lists them on the ingredient list.

Here is the list of the top 10 toxic ingredients.

Go get your detective glass and start reading labels!

1) HFCS – High Fructose Corn Syrup

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is a highly-refined artificial sweetener made from corn starch and found in almost all processed food such as: bread and baked goods, salad dressing, candies, yogurt, soda etc. And according to some studies has become the number one source of calories in the US.

Indeed, its easy handling and cheap cost made it the number one granulated sugar replacement: The amount of refined sugar we consume has declined over the past 40 years, while we’re consuming almost 20 times as much HFCS.

HFCS is linked with weight gaining, it increases your LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels, and contributes to the development of diabetes and tissue damage, among other harmful effects.

Also, recent researches published by the American Association for Cancer Research found that the fructose in HFCS promotes cancer growth, specifically pancreatic cancer.

2) Sodium Nitrate & Sodium Nitrite (NaNO3- NaNO2)

Both of them are chemical compound used as a food additive to preserve and give to cured meats, smoked fish and poultry a nice red pinkish color. Although their purpose seems harmless, these ingredients are highly carcinogen and their consume is linked with gastrointestinal cancer and heart diseases.

In fact, under certain conditions, they can form nitrosamines compounds, molecules that cause cancer in animals and humans.

Also, in massive doses, nitrite – and nitrate, which under some conditions changes to nitrite – can lead to a condition called methemoglobinemia. In our body, nitrites, indeed, have the ability to change the structure of the hemoglobin into methemoglobin: the binding of oxygen to whom results in an increased affinity for oxygen in the remaining heme sites. This leads to an overall reduced ability of the red blood cell to release oxygen to tissue and it may occur in tissue hypoxia.

Can’t give up on eating salami, bacon or ham? Choose the uncured ones.

Sodium Nitrate is listed under its INS number 251 or E number E251, Sodium Nitrite has the E number E250.

3) MSG – Monosodium Glutammate

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer commonly added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups and processed meats. While the Glutamic acid is naturally present in our bodies, and in many foods, such as tomatoes and cheese, the ones exploited by the processed-foods industry is chemically produced through hydrolysis of vegetable proteins with hydrochloric acid to disrupt peptide bonds or by the fermentation of starch, sugar beets, sugar cane or molasses.

The substance produced has the ability to excite our taste buds and make everything taste delicious, which wouldn’t be a big deal if it hasn’t been shown that high levels of MSG can seriously screw with brain chemistry causing damage to areas of the brain unprotected by the blood-brain barrier.

4) Artificial Colors

Food dyes are one of the most common ingredients in processed food used with the purpose to make your meals or drinks more desirable and appealing.

Nothing against that if they wouldn’t have been linked to some serious health problems.

Blue #1 and Blue #2 (E133)

Banned in Norway, Finland, and France. May cause chromosomal damage.

Found in candy, cereal, soft drinks, sports drinks and pet foods.

Red dye #3 (also Red #40 – a more current dye) (E124)

Banned in 1990 after 8 years of debate from use in many foods and cosmetics. This dye continues to be on the market until supplies run out! Has been proven to cause thyroid cancer and chromosomal damage in laboratory animals, may also interfere with brain-nerve transmission.

Found in fruit cocktail, maraschino cherries, cherry pie mix, ice cream, candy, bakery products and more!

Yellow #6 (E110) and Yellow Tartrazine (E102)

Banned in Norway and Sweden. Increases the number of kidney and adrenal gland tumors in laboratory animals, may cause chromosomal damage.

Found in American cheese, macaroni and cheese, candy and carbonated beverages, lemonade and more! (source Food Matters website)

The slogan “Eat the Rainbow” is still cool but go natural, please!

5) BHA & BHT

BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), also listed with the label of E320, and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are two organic compound widely used by the food industry as preservatives due to their antioxidants proprieties as they can prevent rancidification of food containing fats.

Although declared safe from FDA, The U.S. National Institutes of Health reported that they may form cancer – cause reactive compounds in our body potentially leading to cancer.

Also, they can disturb your hormone and neurological system.

BHA is in tons of food: pick up a bag of chips, a box of cereal, a package of frozen sausages or simply eat a gum, and you have a high probability to find BHA and or BHT (or even worse, both of them) in the ingredients list.

6) Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial Sweeteners are sugar substitute used to give some sweet taste to drinks of food without all the calories of sucrose.

Aspartame, known also as NutraSweet, Equal and codified ad E951, is the most famous one. It is 200 times sweeter than sugar, but its effect on the human body is not as sweet as it tastes: is a neurotoxin and carcinogen.

Some studies claim that is the most dangerous substance on the market, with a wide range of health effects ranging from mild problem such as memory issues, headache and dizziness, to more serious ones, such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, and emotional disorders.

Avoid Acetisulfame K, Saccharin (Sweet’N Low, SugarTwin), and Sucralose (Splenda) too.

7) Sulfur Dioxide

Sulfur Dioxide is a chemical compound with antimicrobial and antioxidants proprieties, used as a preservative for dried fruits such as dried apricot, raisins and prunes and added to fruit juices, cereal bars, breakfast cereal to prevent discoloration, ripening, and rotting.

Checking food labels for it, and for sulfites in general, with numbers in the range E220-228, is helpful; however, companies are required to list it only if there are more than 10 parts per million (ppm) in the finished product.

Whilst harmless to healthy persons when used in recommended concentrations, it can induce asthma and respiratory problem when ingested by sensitive subjects, even in high dilution.

It also destroys vitamins B1 and E.

8) Trans Fats

“Trans fats, or trans-unsaturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids, are a type of unsaturated fat that occur in small amounts in nature, but became widely produced industrially from vegetable fats for use in margarine, snack food, packaged baked goods and frying fast food starting in the 1950s. Trans fat has been shown to consistently be associated, in an intake-dependent way, with increased risk of coronary artery disease, a leading cause of death in Western nations.”

As matter of facts, Trans fats have the power to increase LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, while decreasing the amount of HDL (the good one) in our bodies. Trans fat is abundant in fast food restaurants. Here is a list of health issues linked to a high consume of trans fats: Alzheimer’s disease, coronary artery disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, liver dysfunctions, infertility, depression, deficit in memory.

Keep them in mind while you’re enjoying your fries!

9) Sodium Benzoate

Sodium Benzoate is the sodium salt of benzoic acid and it’s famous for the anti-fungal proprieties.

Pick up a soda can and you’ll surely find it as an ingredient (E211). Indeed, it is heavily used by the soft drink industry, and not only in that. This chemical compound it is primarily added to acidic foods such as prickles, sauces, vinegars in order to enhance their flavor.

When mixed with ascorbic acid (well known as Vitamin C), Sodium Benzoate create an unfortunate side effect: it forms benzene known as a potent carcinogen, which contribute to the formation of many different types of cancer.

10) Potassium Bromate

Last but not least, Potassium Bromate, used in the Unites States, as a flours additive to improve elasticity and strength of the dough and allow it to rise higher.

In 1999, the International Agency on Research for Cancer declared that potassium bromate was a possible human carcinogen. Since that, it has been banned in a number of country including Europe and Canada, but not in the United Stated, where studies have found it in more that 86 baked goods found on supermarket shells.