Food Is Not Your Enemy

You Want It? Then Make It Happen
January 26, 2016, 11:24 am
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle, weight loss | Tags: , ,

Two friends are chatting about their diets. The first one says, “I want to be healthy and feel great.” The second one says, “I intend to be healthy and feel great.”

Which one do you think is going to get healthy and feel great? Yep–the one who intends to do it.

Wanting is simply wishing you can have or do a particular thing. Intending means you’re committed to achieving something by making a plan for success–and sticking to it.

The Fuel for Desired Results

The key to fulfilling your intentions is action:

  • Get clear on what you want, and why. Are you hoping to lose weight so that you have more energy to run around with your kids? To reduce your risk of heart disease? To feel more confident? List all of your reasons and keep that list someplace where you will see it regularly.
  • Do something to make your desire happen. Let’s say you want to eat four servings of vegetables a day. Your first action may be to go to a farmers’ market and purchase a few veggies you can cook for dinner.
  • Celebrate your achievement! Don’t forget to congratulate yourself for meeting your goals.

It can even be helpful to set an intention each day. Rather than diving into your morning and hoping you’ll achieve your day’s big goal, why not take a moment and set yourself up for success?

Try this “Setting an Intention to Succeed” exercise used by professional athletes, speakers, politicians, and performers:

  • Upon waking, lie in bed and think about what you have planned for your day (or, find a quiet spot to sit and contemplate).
  • Think about your desired outcome. Take a deep breath and visualize yourself succeeding.
  • Replay your success several times in your mind.
  • Next, add other senses, including sounds, smells, and touch. For instance, as you replay your success, you now also hear the director offering you the gig, or you feel the physical sensation of your finger hitting the “send” button on your latest assignment.
  • Lastly, replay the scene again, adding emotions. Feel your elation at getting the part, or your pride at finally finishing your work.

Get Healthier in 2016

Do you intend to lose weight, eat healthy, and feel fantastic this year? Then make a plan to succeed and get the support you need. As a holistic nutrition counselor, I specialize in helping people make their own healthy changes. I will help you shift your behavior to develop lifelong healthy habits and a deep understanding of your bio-individual needs. If you’re ready to get started, you can contact me to schedule an initial complimentary consultation. Or, pass this offer on to someone you care about!

How to Avoid Gaining Weight This Holiday Season
December 10, 2015, 4:51 pm
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle, weight loss | Tags: , ,

Welcome to December–a month we may love, or a month we may fear. There’s much to love: time with family and friends, parties, gift-giving, and indulging in our favorite holiday foods. But many of us have such a fear of gaining weight this time of year that it colors the whole holiday season for us. It can get to the point where we dread receiving an invitation to a good friend’s holiday party because we know we’ll see those pigs in a blanket and butter cookies there and completely lose control.

Here are some tips to help you through the coming month, and hopefully keep your weight from fluctuating as you enjoy the holiday season …

Feast on feasting days. This is my mantra from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Eat whatever you like on the big holiday feasting days—but don’t treat the entire month of December as one big feasting day. There’s no reason you should be eating twice what you’d normally consume on a random weekday, using the justification that “hey, it’s holiday season!” Writing off all of December in this way is a guaranteed way to gain 5-10 pounds.

Eat super healthy on non-event days. So on days when you don’t have a holiday party or a big dinner at Grandma’s house, choose very healthy foods. On the days leading up to Thanksgiving this year, for instance, I made a point of cooking a few dinners in a row that were vegetarian and pretty light. Eat lots of veggies, fruits, lean meats, and pay attention to portion sizes.

At parties, be mindful about quantity. For both food and alcohol, you may want to go in to the party with an idea of limits—you’ll only have x number of drinks, and you’ll only eat one of each type of hors d’oeuvre, etc.

Eat warming, comforting foods. This is not the time of year to eat all salads, all the time. It’s cold out there, and you’ll want to nourish yourself with warm, seasonal foods that satisfy you rather than leave you feeling chilled and wishing you had something heartier to eat. Soups, stews, sweet winter squashes, yams, and for some of us, a little extra meat are just what we need.

Take care of yourself. Amidst all the rushing around and last-minute trips to the mall, remember that you don’t want to run yourself ragged. Allow yourself enough time for a good night’s sleep. Stick to your exercise routine. Relax when you can with a good book or your favorite show. Savor your time with family and friends.

Happy holidays, everyone!

How Gratitude Changes Everything
November 30, 2015, 4:24 pm
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle | Tags: , , ,

Many of us wonder how we can achieve greater happiness. Is it a matter of switching jobs, making more money, moving to another city? Losing 20 pounds? Or would getting a pet help? Any of these things could potentially make a difference, but there is a simpler way to attain greater contentment, and it can be done right now, in the next five minutes—taking a few moments to express gratitude.

In the field of positive psychology, research has shown that when we express gratitude or thanks for things that are good in our lives, our outlook on life shifts and we feel happier. Gratitude helps us feel more positive emotions, savor meaningful experiences, improve our well-being, and better handle life’s troubles.

It’s so easy to focus on everything that is wrong in our lives. And it’s too easy to forget all that is right in our lives. Taking a few minutes each day to write a few words about what we’re thankful for—“I’m thankful for my loving and supportive husband,” “I’m thankful that I can afford to buy healthy food for my family,” or “I’m thankful for that beautiful maple tree right outside my bedroom window,” for instance—can really put things in perspective and remind us that things are better than we sometimes think they are.

You can express gratitude on a regular basis either by writing in a journal, writing letters of thanks to others, or simply taking the time to think for a few minutes about what is good in your life. Whatever works—but I promise you it’s worth your time.

Five Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight
October 21, 2015, 9:56 am
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle, weight loss | Tags: , , , ,

Many people seek out my help because they find that they can’t lose weight, no matter what they try. They may tell me they’ve tried Atkins and Paleo, gone gluten-free for a year, done Weight Watchers, undertaken a juice fast, worked out three times a week with a trainer for two years, or all of the above. And nothing happened. Not a single pound was shed.

Why? How is it possible that all of these approaches can fail?

The answer can be different for everyone. Here are just a few of the reasons why your scale might refuse to budge:

Lack of sleep. Numerous studies have shown that lack of sleep leads to weight gain. If you’re regularly getting less than seven hours of sleep, expect to feel hungrier than you otherwise would, and know that you will likely find yourself taking in more calories than if you’d had a good night’s sleep.

Too much stress. As I mentioned in my May newsletter, (you can read it here), stress makes us fat. Stress activates a biological response that makes us feel hungry. And stress leads to increased storage of belly fat. If you change your diet for the better but stress hormones are constantly being pumped into your system by your adrenal glands, those excess pounds are not going anywhere.

Thyroid problems. Your thyroid gland regulates your metabolism. And if it’s not working properly, not only will you not lose weight, but you may find yourself suddenly and inexplicably gaining a lot of weight, even though your diet has remained the same. Get your thyroid checked if you see sudden changes in your weight and also experience such symptoms as brain fog, changes in your hair or skin, or debilitating fatigue.

Food sensitivities. If you have a hidden food intolerance–which is quite likely if you are bloated, gassy, constipated, or have diarrhea on a regular basis–then you won’t lose those extra pounds so easily. The offending food or foods is causing a constant state of inflammation in your body, and inflammation produces insulin resistance, leading to higher insulin levels. As insulin is a fat storage hormone, you’ll hold onto more fat, especially around your mid-section.

Restaurant food. Home cooking is increasingly becoming a rare occurrence for so many of us. The problem with this is that restaurant food and other foods prepared outside the home tend to have way more calories, fat, salt, and sugar than we think they do. Take a look at the “Calorie Bomb” section on the left side of my newsletter each month—do you find these calorie counts shocking? I do. The reason I put them there is to underscore how caloric food can be in many of America’s most popular restaurants. Think about this the next time you grab your file of takeout menus.

Do You Sometimes Hate Your Body?

Almost all of us have a distorted image of our body, often due to the importance our culture places on outward appearance and the onslaught of media images of airbrushed models and celebrities. On a daily basis, we talk to ourselves in ways we would never speak to another. Imagine speaking to a child the way you speak to yourself about your body. It would devastate and squelch a child. It affects you similarly, causing stress and emotional pain, which can make improving your health or losing weight even more difficult.

Think of all the effort and time you spend on improving, altering, and judging your appearance. Who would you be and what could you accomplish if your valuable resources weren’t used this way? Constant emphasis on the external makes us discount the great presence and intelligence that is housed by the body. It makes us forget to acknowledge the beautiful bodies we have.

The body you have right now is really an incredible organism. It never misses a heartbeat, it maintains homeostasis, and it miraculously digests whatever you put in it. It is your instrument for expressing your creativity, intelligence, and love. By focusing on the 1% you don’t like or wish were different, you may be ignoring the remaining 99% about your body that is beautiful and strong.

What would your life be like if you were simply at peace with the body you have? You may wish to make your body healthier, but could you do that out of love and respect for your body instead of the opposite? Could you begin to treat yourself with kindness, to limit the negative self-talk, and to reconnect with your inner wisdom? Take a minute to imagine what that would feel like. It would mean celebrating your body rather than punishing it. It would mean nourishing your body rather than depriving it. It would mean a chance to watch your body flourish when treated with care and respect.

Should You Get Your Vitamin D Levels Checked?
August 31, 2015, 11:00 am
Filed under: Chronic Disease, Eggs, Healthy Lifestyle, Meat, Mushrooms | Tags:

Whenever one of my clients tells me that they recently saw their doctor for a general checkup, they also tell me that their blood work indicated they were low in Vitamin D. I’ve just come to expect this.

Vitamin D occurs naturally in very few foods: wild salmon, herring, organ meats, egg yolks, mushrooms, and lard are about it. Milk has D added, as do some types of OJ and cereal. But it’s tough to get enough D just from food. The most effective way to get our Vitamin D is actually from the sun: It’s beneficial to expose your legs and arms for five to 10 minutes in mid-day summer sun, two or three times a week. And fortunately, our bodies can make enough vitamin D in the summer to last us all year, which comes in handy in sun-scarce winter when our bodies make virtually none.

There have been a plethora of reports stating that a lack of D can lead to such health problems as depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, and increased risk for some cancers and autoimmune diseases. The problem is that the medical community is not clear on exactly how much Vitamin D we need, or what constitutes “low” Vitamin D. For this reason, in the Annals of Internal Medicine the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommended against even getting our D routinely tested, unless you have bone-health problems or a condition that can affect fat absorption, such as celiac disease.

According to a report from Harvard Medical School, even if you test low for Vitamin D, there’s little evidence that taking a D supplement will do you any good. And too much D can actually cause calcium to accumulate in your blood, which can damage your heart, blood vessels, and kidneys.

Speaking with your own doctor about the D issue and how it affects your body would be a good course of action, as well as getting outside in this glorious summer sun. (And if you happen to like liver, go for it …)

How the “Umami” Taste Affects Appetite
July 28, 2015, 2:53 pm
Filed under: Beans, Dairy, Eggs, Meat, Mushrooms, Restaurants, Vegetables, weight loss | Tags: ,

Growing up, you may remember learning about the four tastes that our tongues can detect: sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. But it’s now generally recognized that there is a fifth taste, a taste that’s prevalent in such foods as mushrooms, parmesan cheese, miso, tomatoes, and meat—“umami.” And this umami taste, a recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found, can actually have an effect on our appetite.

Umami was first recognized in 1908 by a Tokyo researcher, Dr. Kikunae Ikeda, who postulated that there exists in many foods a savory, meaty taste that does not really fit into the categorizations of sweet, sour, bitter, or salty. He found that ground zero of this flavor is a compound called glutamate, or glutamic acid, which occurs naturally in the umami-rich foods. His work went mainstream only in the 1980s, and is now lovingly paid homage to by chefs worldwide as well as by the wildly popular burger chain known as Umami Burger (the burgers contain such toppings as truffle cheese, shiitake mushrooms, and roasted tomatoes).

Interestingly, two University of Sussex researchers found that when given umami-rich soup, their study participants initially felt an increase in their appetite as they ate, but eventually experienced greater satiety after the meal compared to the control group. This increased satiety, of course, can lead to eating less later in the day. Helpful if you’re looking to lose weight!

Given that umami flavors are generally delicious, why not seek them out then? Other foods that are considered umami-rich are seaweed, green tea, eggs, shellfish, soybeans, asparagus, and carrots.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 53 other followers