Food Is Not Your Enemy

Should Any Food Be Completely Off Limits?
March 21, 2018, 10:49 am
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle, weight loss | Tags: ,

One of the reasons that strict diets don’t work so well over the long haul is that we can start to feel deprived. Maybe we’re okay for a few weeks or even a couple of months eating no carbs, or no this, or no that. But sooner or later we can’t take it anymore, and we binge, or simply throw in the towel and say, “I’m done.” And then we regain the weight.

It’s human nature to rebel against constraints. When it comes to dieting, if you feel that there are stringent rules to follow and you’re a failure if you slip up, this becomes very taxing, both physically and emotionally. “Why can’t I just eat what I want?” you might find yourself saying.

What can often be helpful when you’re looking to lose weight is to tell yourself that you’re allowed to eat whatever you want. There are no strict rules, and therefore there is no way for you to “cheat” or “mess up.”

But you are going to want to think carefully about what foods you choose to eat. If you choose to eat lots of cake and chips every day, then you will gain weight. You know this. So is that really what you want to choose to eat today, given your goal to lose weight? Each time that you choose to have chips for a snack instead of fruit or nuts, each time you have cookies or ice cream or fries, you need to realize that this choice will directly lead to a high likelihood that you will not lose weight this week. So which is more important to you—the five-minute joy of the cookie, or your desire to be lighter?

And it doesn’t have to be all about will power. I understand that in the moment when faced with the choice of whether or not to eat the chocolate in your pantry, you may feel like a junkie trying to just say no to a fix. Remember that eating healthier foods on a regular basis will lead to a physical calming of those strong desires to eat junk.

So stop telling yourself, “I can’t eat this,” or “I shouldn’t.” Instead, ask yourself if you truly want to be eating this, if this helps further your goals. This small change in the way you talk to yourself can make such a difference.


How to Gain Control of Your Hunger
February 8, 2018, 11:59 am
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle, weight loss | Tags: , ,

When new clients first begin their programs with me, they will often express the concern that it’s hard for them to lose weight because they just feel hungry all the time. They find themselves grazing all day, perhaps, or feel “out of control.” Maybe they even get up in the middle of the night to eat, so hungry that they can’t go back to sleep unless they have a bowl of cereal or some leftover pasta.

Why does this happen?

In my experience, there are four main reasons why you may feel like you’re never satisfied:

You’re consuming too much sugar and/or refined carbs. Foods with added sugar as well as refined white carbs like white bread and white pasta are appetite stimulants. Choose whole grain foods instead, and keep sugary treats to a minimum.

You’re not eating enough protein and/or fat. Vegetables and fruits are a super important part of a healthy diet, but they’re not terribly filling on their own. Protein and fat will keep you fuller longer, and curb that feeling that you just want to keep eating.

You need a more substantial breakfast and lunch. When we’re trying to lose weight, many of us make the mistake of skimping on breakfast and lunch, thinking that the fewer calories we consume, the better. But what tends to happen then is come late afternoon, we become ravenous. We snack too much, then we have a huge dinner, and then maybe we keep eating after dinner in front of the TV too. In the end, we take in more calories overall than we would have if we had a nice hearty breakfast and lunch. It’s better to frontload your calories earlier in the day—going to bed on a very full stomach leads to fat storage.

You’re not actually hungry. It’s important to learn to distinguish between true hunger and what can simply be a desire to eat. Is your stomach rumbling with hunger pangs? Or do you just really want a bag of potato chips because you love chips so much and they sound really good right now? And if you’re not sure if you’re truly hungry … then you’re not hungry.

How to Turn Your Goals Into Reality
January 22, 2018, 2:30 pm
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle, weight loss | Tags: , , ,

The uplifting and inspiring stories are everywhere:

  • The woman who created a wellness clinic for under-served populations in her neighborhood
  • The man who lost 200 pounds after being housebound for a decade
  • The mother who worked tirelessly bringing her sick child to radiant health
  • The grandfather who quit cigarettes to realize his dream of running a marathon

Every day, people just like you go out into the world and make their dreams come true.

They did it. Why not you? You’re no different than any of these successful individuals.

True, it sounds hard. In fact, it probably is hard, with a number of obstacles to overcome. That may be reason enough to put your dream on permanent hold.

“Obstacles are like wild animals. They are cowards but they will bluff you if they can. If they see you are afraid of them… they are liable to spring upon you; but if you look them squarely in the eye, they will slink out of sight.”

  • Orison Swett Marden, writer

Could a Plan Help?

The easiest way to turn a dream or goal into reality is one step at a time:

  • Choose one thing to get done. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
  • Identify what scares you most. Ask yourself: What’s the worst thing that could happen if I face this fear? Write down the worst-case scenario and how you would confront it.
  • Identify a small (non-food) reward for yourself once you’ve accomplished that activity.
  • Then just do it. Complete and check that task off your list.
  • Now treat yourself to the reward, rejoice, and celebrate!
  • Repeat the above steps as many times as necessary and watch yourself get happier and healthier by pursuing what you desire.

“Why Have I Gained Weight?”
October 24, 2017, 1:01 pm
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle, weight loss | Tags: , ,

When it comes to our weight, sometimes we fail to see what’s right in front of us.

Maybe you’ve put some weight on in the past few years, and you can’t understand why. “What am I doing wrong?” you wonder. You feel like you eat healthy, you make decent choices, you exercise. Did your metabolism just slow down for some reason? It can all be very frustrating when we can’t understand the reason behind the higher number we’re seeing on the scale.

This is when you need to do some detective work. Are you simply missing some very obvious patterns and problems? For instance, do you snack in front of the TV every night after dinner, without giving it a second thought? Do you grab a couple of little chocolates from the jar on your co-worker’s desk every time you walk by? If you’re out doing something that doesn’t involve food with friends, are you the one who always suggests you all stop for coffee and a pastry or some other sweet treat? Do you eat nuts mindlessly several times a day, thinking it doesn’t matter because they are good for you?

These are just a few examples of behaviors you may be engaged in that are leading to weight gain. So spend the time really taking a close look at your daily habits, and question everything. Those seemingly innocent habits might not be so innocent after all.

How Your Diet Can Heal You–Or Harm You

There’s a pill for everything. Pills to treat symptoms, pills to help prevent diseases, pills to deal with mental health issues. Sometimes these pills are very necessary, and can truly save lives. But there are times when food can work as well as medicine—if not better—when it comes to addressing specific health concerns.

Here are just a few examples:

-Just recently a study found that we can reduce the risk of dementia significantly just by changing our diet—eating in a way to lower blood pressure and weight make a big difference here.

-Many people can avoid taking drugs to lower their cholesterol—which can cause such side effects as headaches, muscle pain, and increased risk of diabetes—by switching up their diets. Eating more nuts, seeds, fiber-rich foods, olive oil, and fish and sidelining such foods as white/refined carbs and sugar can make a huge difference in our cholesterol numbers.

-Increasing intake of healthy fats from plants and fish and reducing the toxic combination of sugar and too much caffeine can really help people who are suffering from depression and/or anxiety.

-Blood pressure can respond quickly to changes in salt intake. Before committing to a lifetime of taking blood pressure meds, which also can have unwanted side effects, try significantly reducing your salt intake by eating less restaurant food and processed food like chips/pretzels, cold cuts, and canned soups.

-Rather than taking acid-reducing pills (which inhibit absorption of B vitamins) or downing Tums like candy, notice if there are particular foods that are causing your reflux or stomach upset. From experience working with my clients, I’ve found that this is true virtually 100 percent of the time.

You really can think of every bite of food you’re eating as something that is either going to lead to greater health, or something that could harm your health. So choose wisely, and make food your medicine rather than your poison.

How to Slow Aging

When most of us think about the process of aging, we look at the external—our skin, our hair, our belly pouch that may have appeared in the past year. Our first response to seeing these changes may be to slather on an expensive cream, or dye our grays away, or go on a fad diet to whittle down our thickened waist. But one of the most effective ways to truly slow down our body’s aging process is to think differently about the foods we eat over the long term.

Some recent studies have found that structures in the body called telomeres play a large role in our longevity. Telomeres protect our DNA by capping the ends of our chromosomes and preventing them from becoming damaged. And it turns out that people with longer telomeres live longer than people with short telomeres.

The most effective way to ensure that you have long telomeres is to consume plenty of carotenoid-rich foods. Carotenoids are the natural pigments that are responsible for the bright colors of fruits and vegetables. Plant-based foods are also rich in antioxidants, which can help fight the oxidative stress that can lead to the shortening of our telomeres.

It’s also important to eat an anti-inflammatory diet to help prevent signs of aging. This means avoiding added sugars as well as refined carbohydrates like white bread and white rice as much as you can. When it comes to preventing inflammation in the body, vegetables and fruits are again your friend here, along with healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and fish. Healthy fats also help regulate our hormonal systems, an important factor when it comes to aging as well.

And as for applying cream to our skin? I do recommend using a moisturizer that contains sunscreen daily on the face, 365 days a year. The sun does play a large role in aging our skin.

The nice thing about eating to prevent aging is that the foods I’m recommending will also help you manage your weight and reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. So eat colorfully, don’t fear fats, and nourish those telomeres!

How Much Water Should You Drink?
May 24, 2017, 3:53 pm
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle, Water, weight loss | Tags: ,

“How much water should I be drinking each day?” I get this question a lot.

The answer? It depends.

First off, it’s important to note that most people do not drink enough water. The consequences of mild to moderate dehydration can range from headaches, poor digestion, cravings, and sluggish thinking to skin breakouts, bad breath, and general fatigue. Water is necessary to keep every system in the body functioning properly, and plays a role in carrying nutrients and oxygen to our cells, preventing constipation, cushioning our joints, keeping our heartbeat stable, regulating body temperature and blood pressure, and more.

According to the Harvard Health Letter, most people need about four to six cups of water each day. But I think most of us would benefit from more than that, and over the years I’ve seen people feel better and reduce cravings from drinking more water. I actually prefer the almost clichéd advice of six to eight cups a day. In the warmer months, when we tend to play hard, sweat, and spend prolonged time in the sun, drinking even more water that that might be necessary. And of course, if you’re working out you’ll need a greater quantity of water as well.

To start your day off on the right foot, drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up. Drinking water first thing in the morning pulls out toxins from the previous day and freshens your system for the day ahead. Keep a bottle or cup of water accessible throughout the day, whether you are on the go or at a desk. Having water close by will remind you to take a sip when thirsty. The first sip will usually let you know how much more water you need. A sip or two may be enough, or you may need a big glass. If you drink most of your daily water before early evening, you most likely will not be thirsty before bed. This is good, because drinking before bed and then waking to use the bathroom disturbs your peaceful night’s sleep.

If the taste of plain water is unappealing, experiment to see how you can make it tasty and drinkable. Try adding a few mint leaves, a wedge of lemon, a sprig of parsley, slices of cucumber, a twist of lime, or a squeeze of orange to make water more tempting. Herbal tea counts as water intake too! Whichever way you prefer it, make water an important priority each day.