Quick, easy, cheap, delicious: I’m talking about lunch ;-)

When I want a healthy lunch and it needs to be fast it’s a caprese salad. I looooove caprese salads and they’re super fast, easy to make and so delicious. I soak up some vitamin D in the backyard while picking a big handful of fresh basil. Then I combine it with some fresh organic mozzarella and some grape tomatoes or whatever kind of tomato I have on hand. Add some avocado slices and drizzle with balsamic vinegar, oil and lightly salt and pepper. Voila! Lunch!

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Daily Fresh-Squeezed Juice

Eat a rainbow is the advice I give to most people who are asking. Some days that can be difficult depending on your schedule. Most days of the week I make sure I get a fresh fruit and veggie juice in my body. It makes me look and feel younger and it tastes delicious. I pretty much do the same juice every day. It takes the thinking out of the equation since I’m usually being distracted by one or more children. And I don’t have to guess and hope it won’t taste like bitter kale. It boosts my immune system (I have a child in kindergarten) and fights inflammation and free radicals. It also includes every color of the rainbow except for blue. Here’s how it goes.

One juicing machine (I use the Omega 8004. It has an auger and a 15 year warranty)

3 large organic carrots quartered lengthwise

2 organic pink lady apples or 3 small organic gala apples

1 handful of organic purple cabbage

3-4 handfuls of organic mixed greens with baby kale

1 root of turmeric root

1 thumb knuckle sized ginger root

1 organic persian cucumber quartered lengthwise

Let one of your little ones help you make it. It’s fun for them and after some time of being exposed to it, they give it a try. Juicing is super easy and faster than I used to think. It’s so energizing to know I’m giving myself raw, live nutrients every day. Give it a try!

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I forgot how crappy this feels

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I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to enjoy good health. Because of my lifestyle, I enjoy healthy, regular bodily function and very few aches and pains. Sometimes though, for the sake of fun or convenience, I indulge in food that is fast and easy to get in my body. Tonight was one of those times.

We’ve all done it – sacrificed a healthy choice in favor of convenience or indulgence. My family and I spent some time together at the local Octoberfest celebration tonight. We grabbed a quick dinner at a fast food restaurant and some ice cream cones a few doors down. I’d like to say the food was worth the consequence, but the food (I use this term loosly) wasn’t really that good anyway. Within a couple of hours after eating junk food, I felt like junk. My teeth felt slimy and grimy, I felt bloated and constipated, and all I wanted to do was take a nap. And the kids! My son was so wired from either the sugar or the red dye, he couldn’t help but get himself in trouble. He was like a puppy on Red Bull – couldn’t sit still, started yelling unintelligible sounds, and refused to follow directions. It’s times like these that remind me of the reasons I enjoy my mindful, healthy lifestyle. I feel good and energized after eating instead of wanting a nap. I don’t feel uncomfortable and my body functions with ease and predictability. And most importantly, my children are more Dr. Jekyl and less Mr. Hyde.

I’ve heard people say that giving up junk food would make them feel deprived and that it would just be too hard to do. For me, I feel deprived if I don’t get to have home-cooked food. Even though every once in a while I enjoy letting someone else cook, I would really miss out on the creative aspect of cooking if I weren’t doing it for the majority of my meals. It’s true that fatty, salty, sugary food can be addicting, but I think the hardest part about giving up a junk food lifestyle would be giving up the convenience. And I think when most people get really honest about the reasons they continue with a fast food lifestyle, convenience would be the biggest reason they don’t eat healthier food.

Pop-in-the-oven meals from the freezer section of the grocery store have become a convenient and cheaper alternative to fast food. They are another popular option for families on-the-go. But with the convenience came the challenge for food companies to create them with appealing texture and flavor. In order to do that, they had to add a lot of emulsifiers, oils, protein isolates, and other highly-processed ingredients. So how do you eat healthy food without spending all day in the kitchen?

 

As a health coach, I teach my clients how to eat conveniently and healthy. I teach how to plan and put together real-food meals that are quick, tasty, clean, and fit their body’s needs. I also teach how to cook once and eat twice and what foods to keep on hand as staples for combining in lots of exciting and easy-to-do ways.

 

Another option is recipe delivery services. Fortunately there are a lot of companies that have figured out that people want to keep the convenience and ditch the junk. There are so many companies popping up that plan and assemble real-food, for pick-up or delivery meals for prep at home. All you have to do is combine the ingredients, cook and enjoy a delicious, home-cooked meal. If you really don’t have time to meal plan, paying a little extra for meal planning service can be a smart, although more expensive, choice. However, most of these companies don’t use many organic ingredients. Using a meal delivery service can get pricey, but many of them have a budget friendly meal plan. Here are a couple companies if you want to check them out.

hellofresh.com

Blueapron.com

By the way, I don’t get anything from these companies if you click on the links.

 

If you don’t have time to meal plan and hate to cook there are companies that will do the cooking for you too. They’re called restaurants. There are more clean eating restaurants opening every month, but you’ll pay for it. Throw in a tip for the server and you’re looking at a spendy food budget.

 

Ultimately, making the effort to put better quality food in your body comes from connecting with your body and listening to what it’s telling you it needs. And beyond that, adopting a healthy lifestyle is about caring about yourself. When health is a priority, things that are less health-supportive suddenly seem less important and they are de-prioritized. When this happens, time is freed-up for cooking and enjoying food with the people you love. When you fully love and accept yourself, taking care of yourself is the only choice. There is no battle of will-power three times a day. It’s as natural as sleeping and waking. When you love yourself, healthy living isn’t something you have to force yourself to do. It’s kind of like the love you feel for your child. You can’t help but love them so effortlessly.

Ten “healthy” foods you must stop eating NOW!

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1.”Whole Grain” Cereal

Many cereals make many claims in the messages on the box. Do not be fooled. Even if it’s a good source of iron, whole grain or fake B-vitamins, if they taste sweet, they almost always have too much sugar. And besides, cereal is still a highly processed food. Remember, real food. Try making oatmeal out of rolled oats instead. It doesn’t take that much time.

 

2. Greek Yogurt

Even though greek yogurt is higher in protein than other yogurt choices, many of them contain too much added sugar. Many nutrition professionals argue that humans shouldn’t be consuming milk from other animals anyway, and while some people can tolerate dairy, many are either lactose intolerant or have a delayed dairy allergy they are unaware of. Dairy is in the top eight most common food allergens. If you have any autoimmune issues or skin problems, there’s a good chance that your body doesn’t tolerate dairy. Try eliminating dairy for a month to find out or you can take an IgG blood test from a reputable lab. Here’s a link to a good lab.

3. Egg whites

Don’t stop eating the egg whites, but do stop throwing out the yolk! Egg yolks contain most of the nutrition of an egg. It is rich in choline (something you need for eye health) and making your most abundant neurotransmitter (acetyl choline), biotin and fat soluble vitamins. “But what about the cholesterol?” you might say. Not to worry, dietary cholesterol isn’t very likely to effect total blood cholesterol anyway. Think about it, the yolk contains all the information and nutrients needed to create an entire baby chick! And it’s the tastiest part! Egg whites are just protein without a lot of nutrients. So go ahead, eat the yolk.

 

Want to find out the final 7 “health” foods you should stop eating now? Subscribe to my newsletter and get access to them all.

Dodging toddler tantrums

Many parents can relate to the following behavior episodes from their youngsters: sobbing uncontrollably, refusal to cooperate, frustration at the tiniest irritation, inability to make up their mind about what they need or want and when questioned about what is wrong, they have no answer.

No, I’m not talking about hormonal teenagers. I’m talking about the hypoglycemic toddler.

So many new parents are baffled as to why and how their happy, tiny human becomes a ball of overflowing emotion in a matter of moments. Sooner or later many parents realize that the moods of a toddler are greatly influenced by their blood sugar levels. We learn to structure every day around goal number one: avoid mood swing scenario. Check out this video The Food Hospital did on refined sugar and behavior in children.

 

We’ve all experienced the symptoms of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia: irritability or crankiness, cravings, tiredness, rapid heart rate, weakness, dizziness, headaches, and shakiness. Many of us have also learned how to identify these symptoms in a spouse or best friend and diagnose the problem as “hangry” (hungry and angry). Since our toddlers may not be able to verbalize or even identify hunger yet, parents are often blindsided by a sudden onset of stark-raving-mad toddler. The key to keeping your child’s blood sugar at steady levels and avoiding hypoglycemic, “crazy child” is staying aware of the child’s eating schedule and being prepared.

So what causes a toddler’s blood sugar to suddenly drop to “crazy” levels? There are two possibilities: it has been too long since their last meal (about 4 hours). The other reason is their blood sugar was spiked by consuming refined carbohydrates, sugary treats, or soda a couple hours ago and now the spike is falling rapidly.

Here’s the biological explanation according to Dr. Laura Thompson:

“Refined and sugar foods cause a swift release of insulin from the pancreas. This results in a speedy delivery of glucose to the brain and muscles, creating an energy surge or “high”. However, when the glucose leaves the bloodstream so fast, the body then “crashes” with a “low”. Such is the balance of nature.”

So back to strategies for dodging that crazy toddler. I would recommend staying away from refined carbohydrates as much as possible. Cereal for breakfast, for example, is not going to set your day up for success. Most cereals are made with refined grains and loaded with sugar. I try to plan meals with a good balance of macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates and fat. Make sure your carbohydrates are the high quality kind with fiber, not the high sugar kind. I usually give my toddlers a breakfast loaded with protein and good fats and some low-glycemic carbohydrates:

  • smoothie with plenty of organic plain yogurt, avocado, spinach and fibrous, low-sugar fruits.
  • scrambled eggs with coconut oil, nitrate/ite free bacon and made-from scratch, whole grain or gluten-free toast, pancakes or waffles. A tiny bit of maple syrup won’t spike their blood sugar too bad and has trace minerals that high-fructose corn syrup imitations won’t.
  • oatmeal sweetened with honey and nuts and dried fruit
  • avoid fruit juices or at least water them down considerably
  • ground turkey patties with sage and sautéed potatoes or yams

Giving your toddler healthy meals at good time intervals is easier when you’re at home. Taking your toddler away from your home can be risky if you don’t keep snacks with you. You never know when a 20 minute line at the DMV will turn into 45 minutes. A crash on the freeway can turn a 10 minute commute to the aquarium into an hour-long road trip. The trick is providing something to eat before the symptoms of hypoglycemia send your child into a tailspin. This does not mean feed your children around the clock.  Just make sure you’re keeping an eye on the time and make note of when they last ate. Most children should have something to eat around every three hours. Always be prepared with ready-to-eat, smart snacks on hand no matter where you are. Ready-to-eat does not mean packaged, processed granola bars, fruit snacks, crackers, cookies, or yogurt.

You may be thinking, “Then what are ready-to-eat, smart snacks, Health Coach?” The first tip is always to be thinking about real food. And a good tip for keeping the balance of nature that I use is this: think protein and fiber. I use this one not just for my kids, but for myself. Protein takes longer to break down and deliver to the cells for energy and usually has some energy-ready, healthy fat to go with it. Fiber slows down the breakdown of carbohydrates so they aren’t delivered to the blood stream so quickly.

Here’s some examples:

  • string cheese and an apple (or individually packaged organic applesauce if your toddler can’t chew an apple yet)
  • apples or celery and nut butter
  • carrots and hummus
  • nuts are great on the go and keep well in the car or purse
  • home-made trail mix sans the M&M’s
  • oranges and organic popcorn, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds

 

Yes, sometimes our children are involved in social activities like birthday parties in which sugary foods will be present. But if you can limit their intake of the birthday cake or pair it with some protein and fiber, you’ll hopefully avoid meeting the Party Pooper in the backseat on the way home. Also, be aware that artificial food dyes have been linked to behavior problems in young children, so maybe avoid the frosting and pray for white cake. Take the initiative and bring dye-free sweet treats for party favors to share.

Now you’re thinking, “But coach, what if my child does have too much sugar and we are in the middle of a ‘crazy toddler’ episode and s/he refuses to eat?” Well, I would say get some fruit juice in their tummy as quickly as you can. Nothing else is going to work. No form of reasoning, discipline or threat is going to snap a manic toddler out of a tantrum. Once you get some juice in them and they start calming down though, think protein and fiber. Lastly, if you’re child hasn’t binged on sugar and recently had a balanced meal and is still losing their mind, for the child’s sake, for the sake of the other shoppers/diners, take them home and put them to bed.

P.S. This is more important than a post script. If you child has behavior problems that seem unconnected with their blood sugar level or sleep patterns, they may have gut health problems like Leaky Gut Syndrome. This should be evaluated by a naturopathic doctor and treated accordingly.

MEDICAL/HEALTH DISCLAIMER

All information is intended only to help you cooperate with your doctor, in your efforts toward desirable weight levels and health. In addition to regular check ups and medical supervision, from your doctor, before starting any other weight loss program, you should consult with your personal physician.

All information is generalized, presented for informational purposes only, not medical advice, and presented “as is” without warranty or guarantee of any kind. Readers are cautioned not to rely on this information as medical advice.

This information has not been evaluated by the FTC, FDA or any other government agency and that this information is not intended to “diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”

Superbowl Snacking Without the Guilt

The Super Bowl is almost upon us. And Super Bowl Sunday, aside from Thanksgiving and Christmas, is one of the much anticipated days in the American tradition of enjoying the company of our loved ones and indulging in and overeating our favorite snack foods. If you’re feeling anxiety over the foods that you’ll find tempting you on the buffet table, fear not. If you’d like to host your own party, you’ll have more control over the kinds of foods that are served. There are many very healthy alternatives to the traditional fanfare and you don’t have to worry about delivering on taste. And if you’d rather not host, you can bring your own snack contribution to the party and learn how to steer clear of the worst foods you may find.

Before we dive into recipes, keep in mind that home-made dips and popular snack foods will be much healthier than their store-bought versions. Packaged, store-bought dips will have a lot of added chemical ingredients that you don’t have to worry about if you make the dip yourself.

  • Guacamole and salsa- This tasty dish is full of healthy fats and hopefully healthy garlic, tomatoes, and spices. If it’s made fresh from actual avocados, you can feel free to indulge. However, instead of the tortilla chip dipper, which will add a lot of extra salt, empty carbs, and inflammatory oils, look for an alternative like vegetable sticks. Cucumber chips are great with guacamole. If you simply must have the crunch of chips, you can bring a bag of your own homemade, baked corn tortilla chips. Just make sure you use organic corn tortillas. Recipe here.
  • Onion dip- It depends on what’s in it, but onion dip is great for dipping veggies and as long as it’s home-made, you don’t have to worry about all the added preservatives and hard-to-identify ingredients.

Onion Dip: Cook 2 thinly sliced organic onions in coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat until golden, 35 minutes. Cool, chop and mix with 1 cup organic sour cream, 4 chopped scallions and salt to taste. You can add cooked nitrate-free bacon pieces too. Yum.

  • Hummus is a protein rich dip that is sure to be a hit at the party. Usually made with heart-healthy olive oil and garlic, hummus is great with veggie sticks or low-carb pita bread slices.

Mini Veggie Pockets: Warm 12 mini pitas. Cut off the tops and fill with hummus, crumbled feta and chopped olives, cucumber, lettuce and tomato.

  • Popcorn is a great, fiber rich snack and has high levels of polyphenols which help prevent degenerative diseases like osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Most corn in the U.S. is genetically modified though, so be sure to find the organic variety at your local health foods store. Pop your corn with coconut oil and drizzle with a little butter and garlic powder. Add some good crunchy protein too like roasted pumpkin seeds.
  • Mixed nuts are a great source of healthy fats and minerals. Just beware of the salted kind. An ounce of dry-roasted salted mixed nuts can contain up to 190 milligrams of salt.

It’s so easy and delicious to make your own pizza instead of ordering out. Here’s a great whole wheat crust recipe that is sure to score points on the big day.  Make sure to use organic wheat flour. Or here’s a gluten free recipe for pizza crust.

 

So there’s bound to be beer at the party. Go for a low-carb variety if you can and one that isn’t made with wheat. Be sure to drink a glass of water in-between beers. Water will also cut down on gratuitous snacking and extra calories.

 

Have a safe, healthy and fun Super Bowl party. Remember, if your team doesn’t win and your snarky brother-in-law’s team does, the next season is only seven months away.

Not getting good or enough sleep?

Sleep is a very important and underestimated part of our health. Sleep and health go hand in hand and each contributes to the other. What do I mean? Adequate sleep contributes to good health and good health supports getting adequate sleep. Here’s how.

 

Although there is great difference in opinion on the optimal amount of sleep people should get every night, seven to eight hours is around the median recommended time. Adequate sleep contributes to a sharp brain, keeps depression at bay, keeps your immune system strong and your skin looking younger. Additionally, in the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort study, it was determined that people who got less than eight hours of sleep per night were more likely to be overweight. There are many reasons for this. People who are up longer, have more opportunity to snack. Also, insufficient levels of sleep alters the body’s levels of leptin and ghrelin, the two hormones involved in signaling satiety and hunger. People who get insufficient sleep tend to be overstressed leading to cravings for more sweet foods. Also if you’re don’t get enough sleep, you’re likely to be too tired to exercise. I tried hiking to the top of Camelback mountain after only a few hours rest. I didn’t see the summit that day. Although getting more sleep won’t automatically result in weight loss, adequate sleep and a regular sleep schedule are essential for regulating appetite and healthy eating patterns.

 

On the flip side, being overweight can contribute to sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea experience interrupted breathing during sleep. This can lead to a lot of serious conditions, but the most obvious is interrupted sleep. If your sleep is interrupted several times during the night, you can wake in the morning feeling like you got no rest at all. And the cycle continues.

 

Irregular sleeping patterns can contribute to loss of total sleep too. The human body follows a natural circadian rhythm of wakefulness and sleepiness. Most people feel most tired from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Many people who work the night shift and don’t follow a natural sleep/wake cycle experience symptoms of shift worker disorder like insomnia or excessive sleepiness. Shift worker disorder is also associated with irritability, impatience and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. People who work the night shift are involved in more automobile accidents too. If you can, just say no to the night shift. Other health impacts of irregular sleep patterns are gastrointestinal and digestive problems such as heartburn and indigestion; heart problems, including an increased risk of heart attacks and hypertension; higher breast, uterus and colon cancer risk; menstrual irregularities; colds and flu; and weight gain.

 

So what if the problem isn’t cheating yourself on time spent sleeping? What if you lay down at a reasonable time and you just can’t fall asleep? There are lots of causes for this like stress, worry, over exhaustion, noises in the room or too quiet a room, a restless bedfellow, digestive issues, lights from electronics, or uncomfortable temperature. Many people can’t sleep because they suffer from anxiety which can be treated with the help of a mental health professional. Another reason you might not fall asleep quickly is a steak dinner, spicy, or fatty foods. A high protein dinner takes a lot of digesting and your body isn’t meant to work that hard while sleeping. It’s probably better for sleep and overall health to load your animal protein earlier in the day. Don’t eat too close to bedtime either for the same reason.

 

There are also many foods that can enhance your ability to fall asleep. Foods like seeds, seaweed, spinach, nuts, cheese, milk, chicken, game meat, cherries, eggs, etc. contain an essential amino acid called tryptophan that enhances sleep by acting as a precursor to healthy sleep hormones and neurotransmitters. Click here for a ranking of tryptophan containing foods.

 

Getting enough sleep also contributes to a healthy brain. A healthy brain is better able to regulate all of your hormones too, meaning overall better health. I was very impressed by the work of Daniel Amen on this topic.

 

Of course getting adequate exercise for better sleep, I think, goes without saying. And finally, a good romp in the sack before bed with a significant other can really start off a good night’s sleep. Sweet dreams everyone!

Nutrition and Migraines

Nothing can bring your day to a screeching halt quite like a headache. Everything was going great. You were feeling productive and accomplished, and an hour after lunch, bam! Headache!

Take a moment for your favorite curse word and then take a deep breath. If you don’t want to pop a pill for headaches, here’s a few suggestions.

As you probably know, headaches can have many different triggers and characteristics and can be addressed by many different healing modalities. I intend to address headaches from a nutrition perspective. For our first type of headache, let’s talk about the one we love to hate.

Chronic Migraines

If you suffer from chronic migraines, you may have a delayed food allergy. The best way to find out for sure is to get a food allergy blood test (IgG) from a reputable lab. Step two is removing discovered allergens from your diet and seeing if your migraines go away completely.

Magnesium deficiency by way of poor diet or poor absorption, can often be the cause of migraines or cluster headaches. Try some magnesium rich foods like almonds, bananas, dried apricots, avocados (yum!), cashews, brown rice, legumes, and sesame seeds. Ladies, sesame seeds also improve circulation and the vitamin E may stabilize estrogen levels, so these may be helpful if you get headaches around that time of the month. If you have frequent migraines or cluster headaches, you might try adding a magnesium supplement to your daily regimen, but make sure to consult your nutrition professional.

The hangover headache! UGH!

Some version of “I really wish I didn’t drink so much last night” usually precedes “pass the aspirin.” If you’d like to get rid of this headache without the drugs, you could try a couple of things. First, drink a lot of water. Whether caused by alcohol consumption or just plain forgetting to drink water, dehydration is my first thought when I have a headache. I live in the desert; dehydration is often the culprit. Besides promoting dehydration, alcohol can cause you to lose electrolytes such as potassium. If after drinking water, that pounding in the temples still persists, try eating some potassium rich foods like sweet potatoes, tomato sauces (not in a bloody mary), beet greens, beans, yogurt, clams, prunes, molasses, fish, soybeans, winter squash, bananas, and my favorite, which is also rich in magnesium: artichoke.

Allergy Headache

Also called a sinus headache, this one hurts in the forehead and behind the eyes. An elimination diet is often helpful in finding out if some foods you are consuming contribute to your allergy symptoms. A couple common food allergens are dairy and gluten. Some essential oils work very well for sinus congestion too. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, eating spicy foods can help clear the sinuses and relieve pressure. Pass the wasabi!

Caffeine Headaches

The tricky thing about caffeine is that you have to be careful in the way you consume it. When overly consumed, it can cause headaches when suddenly stopped. But used in moderation and/or in combination with some pain killers, caffeine can prevent or stop a headache. If you are a daily consumer of coffee or energy drinks, I definitely don’t recommend stopping cold turkey. Slowly weening off it will be much less painful. Sensitivity to caffeine is also very individual and some people are greatly effected by the small amounts in green tea and chocolate. Others can drink cup after cup and not feel buzzed at all. If you think your headaches might be associated with caffeine, talk to your doctor or health coach to help you find your individual consumption balance. 

Liver Headache

This one can come from eating greasy food on an empty stomach. This feels like a migraine and you might feel like puking or your eyes might hurt or be sensitive to light. A great remedy for a liver headache is lemon. Lemon tea does the trick for me. That and remembering to skip the onion rings for an appetizer.

 

Expansive (sugar) or Contractive (salt) Headaches

There is a concept in Chinese medicine known as Yin and Yang qualities of energy. Foods can also have yin and yang qualities, also known as expansive and contractive respectively. Many times a headache will result in an imbalance of expansive and contractive foods. Expansive foods include grains, fruits, alcohol, fats and oils, milk, soft cheese, and sugar. Foods that are more contractive include salty foods, fish, hard cheeses, eggs, and meats. Many times when I have a headache and I’ve ruled out dehydration, I think about what I ate that day. If it was a lot of expansive, I’ll eat something contractive and it takes care of the headache quick. A few months ago, my dad had a pounding headache. I asked him what he had eaten that day and he named of quite a few expansive foods. I told him to eat a couple of olives. He was skeptical, but desperate. So, he tried it and was very grateful that it worked. Its simply a balancing of Yin and Yang.

For more information on this topic, research the works of Annemarie Colbin. http://www.foodandhealing.com/

Some other options include herbal teas like Feverfew that are known for stopping and preventing headaches. See your local herbalist for more expertise in this area.

Additionally, the source of your headache could be structural or stress. In that case, you might want to consult a chiropractor or a muscle balance therapist.

Good luck zapping that headache and may it never come back!