Stress Management Monday – 3rd Edition – Sugar

I am sure you have heard plenty of horrible things about sugar before, maybe even seen a few documentaries. I enjoy a good cupcake, or the sugary frosting in particular, every once in a while. Brownies are kind of awesome too. I also love love love fruit and have 2-3 servings a day. However, I don’t believe soda has a place in most people’s diets and even advocate for making juice an every once in a while thing. Why? Because blood sugar impacts how you feel.

You may be the same way and think you “never eat sugar”. I once had a student do their diet analysis project in my course and come to me saying since they “don’t eat any sugar” the “software is inaccurate”. They just didn’t know about all the hidden sugar they were taking in. More on that below.

Our body works very hard to keep our blood sugar within the normal range. Those predisposed to hypoglycemia may dip below this range slightly and those with Type I or who have developed Type II diabetes more often experience levels above the higher end of the range (with dips occasionally as well). Even without these conditions, the ever so sugary American diet causes a roller coaster of ups and downs within that normal range that can impact how we feel and what we choose to eat or drink throughout the day.

We have hormones that we release to try to regulate our blood sugar and other hormones (messengers) that regulate our mood and energy levels. The key is that they are all a network that communicate with and impact one another. When we eat sugar, or even just overly processed grains that contain no fiber, our blood sugar rises more quickly than when we consume other nutrients. This quick, high rise, causes an over-release of dopamine, that feel good hormone I mentioned in the 2nd edition when discussing caffeine. Every once in a while this is okay but, when we consume too much of these foods we over activate our dopamine and serotonin responses, and then may start to mess with its normal production the rest of the day without sugar present. What could this mean then? Releasing less of the feel good hormones the rest of the day. People also experience blood sugar dips that promote stress producing hormone release, a consequence to sugar or processed carbohydrate intake. I also spoke about them in the 2nd edition; epinephrine and cortisol.

While some out there may say there is inconclusive research here (some being mostly the sugar soda, and processed food industries), research has linked sugar to depression, anxiety, anger, mood disorders, memory problems, and even skin problems. The more sugar that is consumed, the worse our mood gets in one of these ways or another, and unfortunately the more sugar we end up craving. Why? Well we have trained our body with excess consumption to think that sugar is how to release dopamine which makes us feel good temporarily. It really is similar to addiction whether it be an alcohol, drug or even exercise addiction.

So how do we reduce this intake without adding even more stress to our life? Slowly. Sure you can try “going cold turkey” but I find that can make people even more moody and for some more likely to binge on sugar later.

Sugar: Too Much of a Sweet Thing #CSPI

The American Heart Association has maximum recommendations sugar intake for adults. Per the American Heart Association, females should limit intake to no more than 6 tsp per day and men 9. What does that equate to? 25 grams for women and 36 grams for men. As shown above, CSPI has shown the average American unknowingly consumes closer to 23 teaspoons per day. I see it first hand in those diet analysis projects I referenced above where students are taking in well over 200 grams a day at times. The World Health Organization also has recommendations for reducing sugar. Check out the panel on a 12 ounce can of soda and you’ll see a whopping 39 grams. In one serving. Done for the day plus eating into tomorrow’s quota. That yogurt you are eating and thinking is a healthy snack? It may have up to 30 grams in a 6 ounces serving. Between the different varieties (greek, whole milk, non fat) the lactose makes up 6-14 grams of the sugar in yogurt which is not considered added, but you’re still getting 3-4 extra teaspoons in that little container. My Well and Good email this morning offered a story about someones mood and fatigue responses to added sugar from cereals and yogurts rather than cookies and ice cream.

Here are tips for swapping out sugary substances or improving our blood sugar response to it:

-Swap 1 soda a day for a seltzer. La Croix brand lime flavor has been key to success for several clients!
-Reduce the sugar in your coffee by half
-Water down your juice with water until you only need a splash of juice for flavor
-Try Siggi’s brand yogurt instead of your current flavored fave
-Start reading ingredient lists. If the only possible source of sugar is fruit, not so bad. If you’re seeing sugar added where it doesn’t belong, find a different brand. Your pasta sauce and peanut butter don’t need added sugar!
-Choose more whole grains. And don’t just trust the front of the package. It can say “100% whole grain” and still contain high fructose corn syrup or “evaporated cane juice”, the new fancy way to say “sugar”.
-Don’t put a health halo over granola. Read its labels too.
-Add vanilla extract for a sweet taste without the sugar when baking or making oats.
-Reduce the sugar in baking recipes by 1/3.
-Love maple syrup or even the dreaded “pancake syrup” that packs over 50 grams in a 1/4 cup serving? Try what I’ve been telling a lot of clients lately and make a berry syrup from 100% fruit instead. It only takes 5-7 minutes!

Add 1 cup choice frozen berries to a pan over medium heat. Let heat 3-4 minutes and smash with a spatula. Let reduce another 2-3 minutes. For extra flavor add a splash of vanilla extract or a touch of 100% pure maple syrup. Pour over your healthiest pancake or waffle recipe. (Here are a couple of ideas: buckwheat pancakes & almond flour pancakes)

-Eat protein, fiber, and even a little healthy fat when eating sugar. You might be thinking that you want to trade calories from your meal or snack for the sugary option, but if you eat protein and some veggies for dinner before the sugar cookie, at least you will absorb it more slowly, resulting in a better blood sugar response to it!

Happy Monday!
-Kelly

Hungryroot Plant Based Meal Delivery – Review and Discount Code

After returning from California, I immediately traveled to CT for a friend’s wedding and didn’t arrive back home in PA until late Sunday night. We had a few odds and ends to eat on Monday and I was thrilled when a client rescheduled on Tuesday so that I could make it to the grocery store. While I could have made a meal, I was overjoyed when this package was on my doorstep when I got home from shopping!

 

What is Hungryroot?

Hungry root is a new whole foods meal delivery company. The catch is that the meals still need to be prepared… but it only take 7 minutes (if that)! Root vegetables (hence the name) are the base of the meal and you add in the plant based sauces, seasonings and toppings that come with the dish. In just 5 minutes in a pan or microwave, dinner is ready. The meals are chef designed and are all under 500 calories counting the chicken if you order it too. If not, you can add in your own shrimp, egg, beans, or tofu, which is what I plan to do when I order more in the future! The meals are all non-GMO and gluten free as well.

I will be honest that when I opened the packages I thought the small containers of sauces and toppings seemed small. By the end I learned you can’t let the packaging fool you! Hungryroot had offered to send me two meals to try so that I could see if it was something I wanted to suggest or recommend to those I deliver nutrition information to {like you on this blog ;) }. I don’t remember who chose what but between Tim and I we went with turnip noodles and pesto as well as carrot noodles and a sriracha peanut sauce. While all meals come without chicken to begin, you can add free range chicken when ordering. I did not eat the chicken but ordered it so that Tim could try for my poultry eating clientele and followers.

For our trial, I opened the packages, heated up a dash of avocado oil in a pan, and added the root veggies. I stirred and two minutes later added the other ingredients.

did screw up with the carrot dish though and forgot to add the homemade chimichurri while cooking, so I had to stir it in at the end. Can’t say it would have tasted any different if I added it sooner but it did contribute to how pretty the dish looked as you can see below!

First, pictured below is the turnip noodles with toasted walnut pesto, shredded carrots and chopped walnuts. So pretty!

The pesto was the perfect blend of sweet with a little bite of basil/garlic spice. The turnips were savory and had a hearty texture which I liked. Admittedly this is my first time having turnip noodles – total win! Even though the noodles didn’t look heavily coated with the sauce the flavor was powerful but not overpowering.

Here we have the carrot noodle dish with homemade sriracha peanut sauce and a peanut, cilantro, mint & lime chimichurri and pickled daikon radish. It sounds like it belongs on a high quality restaurant menu and tastes like it too!


T
he carrot noodles had a more fine texture than the turnips but I liked them just the same. I LOVE sriracha and can put it on anything so I knew I would like the sauce. However, this sauce gave a little bit of heat but had so many other great flavors balancing it out too. I couldn’t taste the mint much in the chimichurri but there was a slight sweetness that complimented the sriracha sauce well.

Tim’s was impressed with the chicken. He said it was crispy on the outside but tender inside, with a texture and taste as if it was just grilled. As mentioned above, you can easily cook and egg or some shrimp in the time the noodles are cooking and top with them for protein. I think tofu would also be good but since I like it well done, would take more time.

SO overall, we were impressed by Hungryroot. I was definitely full and I didn’t eat any of the chicken and also didn’t add another protein since I had a late afternoon snack. The flavor was amazing and the food was REAL! I recommend having these meals on hand when you know there is a busy week ahead, or even to take to work once in a while since they are microwavable too. If you are using a meal delivery system like Nutri-systems, go to their website and read your ingredient lists. Compare them to those on the Hungryroot site. You’ll be getting much better quality food and nutrition with this type of meal and you will be taking a small amount of time to prep the food. I think this is where most meal delivery programs go wrong. You cannot promote weight loss and healthy living in a sustainable way unless the person is making the effort to prepare a little and actually change their environment, habits and lifestyle.

Want to try Hungryroot yourself? Head over to their website and enter the code Kelly20 for 20% off your purchase. It is not a first time only code so you can keep using it for future purchases too.  I plan to get 20% off of the beet and sweet potato noodle dishes next – I’ll let you know how they are over on insta! Let me know how you like the meals too!!

Stress Management Monday – 2nd Edition

Happy Monday!

Wait…. really? Before you read on, go to google, type in “Happy Monday”, and see how many images pop up with coffee. Is that really what our happiness depends on for the week?!

Who woke up this morning and was thinking about coffee before their eyes were completely opened? Anyone out there craving that “jolt” mid-afternoon? As much as you want to convince yourself that you need it, those feelings should not be your norm. No doubt there are some health benefits associated with coffee, but not in the quantity that many Americans are consuming it, and not that large of benefits to let it run our lives. For my second stress management post (and for the next two weeks) I am zeroing in on the effects of caffeine and stress hormones.

My worst coffee addiction was in grad school. I will never forget my food service rotation at Niagara falls. Waking up before the sun was up to drive there from my East Amherst, NY apartment wasn’t the only problem. I despise hospital food service (no offense if that is your career, its just not for me) and would go from there to afternoon classes, and then drive to coach swimming at night. It was the end of the first semester and finals were at the end of the rotation so studying was clearly taking up big chunks of time too. Additionally, the only way I knew to manage stress then was exercise so I tried to carve time out for that too. So, sleep? What sleep? This is also the time in my life when I had my first anxiety attack. I didn’t make the connection then but now looking back, I was probably drinking over a pot of coffee each day, was not sleeping, and was never seeing the light of day while in Buffalo (a later post will touch on Vitamin D and hormones). Thank God I never tried energy drinks!

Now, I advocate to all my clients, students and seminar attendees to pleas please please have a tall glass of water first thing in the morning. Then sip throughout the day to prevent thirst. Water alone should be energizing for your body and mind. Caffeine gives that jolt to many people but doesn’t necessarily offer a real energy that the body should ride on all day. Think caffeine doesn’t effect you and that you just like the taste? Can you have an espresso and within minutes “fall asleep”? Well then, try going without it! Are you afraid of headaches, shakiness, etc? If someone you knew couldn’t stop drinking alcohol, doing drugs or smoking because of headaches, shakiness and irritability, you would likely say they needed to kill that addiction.

We tend to gravitate towards coffee for its caffeine which impacts serotonin and dopamine. They can be referred to as “feel good” hormones. Studies have shown serotonin to either be released in higher amounts in repsonse to caffeine intake or, for its receptors to be more sensitive to it, taking more up. If the body gets used to the above, it may not release enough serotonin or receptors may not be sensitive enough to the serotonin the rest of the day. You may also hear about caffeine stressing out your adrenal glands. I have heard this for years, ever since I saw a Naturopathic Doctor in high school. Now knowing more about hormones it makes more sense but still, researchers aren’t finding the direct links between caffeine and this gland. What we do know though is that those adrenal glands release epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol, now well known as the “stress hormone”. When caffeine consumption is high, the release of those hormones is more constant. We need to release both of these hormones in small amounts but when the release becomes chronic, the body feels chronically stressed as adrenaline can promote anxiety and cortisol, overall stress and altered blood sugar levels. In addition, caffeine increases blood pressure, which for some people can induce feelings of anxiety on its own.

Now back to those who think they are no longer impacted by their caffeine consumption and can just drink it all day long: a study testing caffeine’s effects on cortisol showed that after 5 days without caffeine, its consumption significantly increased cortisol. In those that did not go without caffeine, a morning dose did not increase cortisol but that it did at other points throughout the day. Another study showed that consumption of caffeine at 0, 3 hours prior, and 6 hours prior to bed all were significantly associated with sleep disruption versus a placebo. Sadly, even if you feel that the sleep you are getting is enough, it may just be what you are “used to”. We also have research showing how lack of sleep drives up cortisol, stress and anxiety levels too.

I have been preaching to others for awhile now to cut out caffeine a couple of times a year. It can help you realize if caffeine is influencing your stress levels, sleep patterns and mood at all. Maybe you are someone that is not impacted by its consumption but without taking it out of your life for a few weeks, you will never know! Sure you may feel more stressed for a couple of days without it as you go through withdrawal, but remember that is a sign that your body really needs to learn to do without!

Stress Management Monday 2nd Edition: caffeine

After enjoying a cup this morning (above), which usually is my last of the day anyway, I am going two weeks coffee free. I will turn to tea to fill my mugs that have positive quotes and motivating mantras to start my day. The last time I did this was during lent this past spring and now as I am paying attention to stress levels more being more intuitive to my body’s needs, I feel I am due for another reset. I personally know it impacts my sleep if I have too much, and often notice my sleep improves even when not having just my one cup in the morning. The last time I went coffee free, I actually felt more energetic! You won’t know how it is impacting your life and health if you don’t try. I invite you to cut out caffeine with me now, or pick a time in the near future that you know you can commit to the coffee free challenge.

Tips for removing caffeine:

-Drink enough water. Water alone is necessary for adequate metabolism, energy levels and even appetite control. Start your day off with H2O!

-Have green tea if you are going through withdrawal. It provides less caffeine and can help you wean off.

-Eat a balanced breakfast. Be sure your breakfast includes fiber, protein and preferably a fruit or vegetable. Fiber and protein shouldn’t come from supplements, processed shakes or fiber fortified cereals or muffins though. Use whole grains and real food protein sources. Oatmeal with nuts, seeds and fruit is a good option or you could have plain yogurt or cottage cheese as a protein source with fruit as a carbohydrate. An egg and veggie scramble with a side of berries can do the trick too. Having this morning balance is great for your energy levels, blood sugar and hormones throughout the day!

Try cacao or maca. Either can be found in powder form via navita’s naturals or many other brands. Instead of cocoa which is typically alkalized and processed to the point where nutrient content is impacted, cacao can give you the taste of chocolate that makes you feel good when added to oats, yogurt or a smoothie, but also have health benefits to support your heart. Maca is speculated to stabilize hormones and increase energy but also has somewhat of a sweet flavor and can be added to the same foods I mention above.

Consider spirulina, especially the Energy Bits brand. I have a post on why here.

Finally, I’d like to leave you with some thoughts from a MD who teaches women how to balance their hormones naturally. Her article “Are you addicted to stress” was just posted via wanderlust.com: http://wanderlust.com/journal/are-you-addicted-to-stress/ .

I’ll update on insta @eatreallivewell but let me know how your caffeine free journey is going too!

Stress Management Monday: 1st Edition

stress management monday 1

I’m sure you’ve heard the term before “stress kills”. Each semester I will have students (before they go through my class, of course) tell me that they think stress is the #1 cause of heart attacks. While stress plays a large role in health, I always respond that it isn’t the stress itself that causes problems in people’s lives, but the things that cause our stress and how we respond to and manage them. On the other hand, many people think extremely high stress is “normal” in our American lifestyle and with this viewpoint, we tend not to acknowledge when it becomes problematic. Many will say, and truly believe, “I just have a type A personality and like to be busy; someone like me just can’t relax and that’s okay”… a little while ago that included me!

While my career title may be registered dietitian, counseling is a big part of my job. Aiding my clients in identifying what causes their stress and how they respond from a lifestyle perspective is where we start. Then (in short) we eventually move on to how they can change habits with exercise, environmental changes, diet, breathing, positive self-talk etc.

While I help people with these things on a daily basis, I also deal with a lot of stress myself. I do a really good job keeping it under wraps at work and have had people ask how I am able to keep it together so well when something crazy happens. While I have many techniques that I have learned work for me, there are times when its hard for me to manage too. As my career has been busier (which I view as positive), my stress has increased and so has general anxiety. I am on a continued journey to find better ways to manage this and want to be transparent about it… so I am making a commitment to a blog series I am calling “Stress Management Monday”. I know it will help me stay on track in keeping balance in my own life while making me a better health professional so I can help my clients as best as possible. I also hope that with the series readers can identify they are stressed and find ways to better identify the cause and how to manage it. If you are ever prompted to let situations, people, or just emotions cause you to over eat, under eat, skip exercise, over exercise, feel depressed, lash out at others, ride the negativity wave or just feel lack of self control, join the journey!

So, now that I have introduced my motivation for Stress Management Monday, I have my first tip. For all you type A’s out there (or type B’s and those that can’t identify as either)… try yoga.

Going to one class, not being able to relax and getting frustrated that you aren’t the best one there does not give you the right to say “I tried yoga, it wasn’t for me”. I have been active my entire life as an athlete and 4 years ago, when my ITBS was so bad I could barely walk, my anxiety hit an all time high. I realized then that exercise was the daily stress management that I never knew I had! I thought hitting a high intensity was the only way to help myself but decided I would try yoga. I didn’t love my first class. Maybe hated it. My balance was off, it was really quiet, I didn’t sweat a ton, and the whole relax and lay down for 5 minutes at the end thing? Not for me. But I told myself I had to go back because I felt maybe 3% better after (no research or documentation to confirm this #) and because cardio wasn’t an option and I couldn’t just lift weights for my arms everyday. Next time I tried a different class with a different instructor. I found some things I liked a little more, and others less. Light bulb moment: there is a yoga instructor and class out there for me.

Is there another way to keep calm?
After a good couple of months, I found two instructors I liked (then loved) at the Newtown Athletic Club, one of which is still there, and not only was my running injury improving but so were all of my yoga skills. Oh yeah, and the most important thing, my stress and anxiety were super low! Four years later, I love a variety of classes (though I am still picky about instructors), Shavasanah (that 5 minutes of laying there thing I mentioned) is something I crave now at the end of a class, and if I start to get irritable my husband is asking “when is the last time you went to yoga?”. In most of those cases, its been too long. The great thing is, I have learned to incorporate it in day to day life without a class. I can do a forward fold and just stretch out and stop thinking, I can do one sun salute to realign my back and my mind, or I can just let out a cleansing breath (or 10).

Don’t feel comfortable going to a class with other people in a tight space? I’ve heard that excuse too. Use your cable service’s on demand fitness classes, check out the Huffington Post’s 9 great Yoga YouTube Channels, or do my favorite “morning yoga sequence” that I found on none other than Pinterest a few years ago! I opt for a sun salute between each. If you don’t know what that means, BuzzFeed has your back.

good morning yoga

We all experience stress in our life, and at times everyone experiences anxiety too. While not all stress is bad, and it is normal to experience from time to time, honor the signals your body sends you to relax and take your stress levels down a notch. I hope many of you will take this stress management ride with me. Your body and mind will thank you!

Need more help? Check out the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Purple Power Smoothie

Shhhhh, don’t tell your kids… There’s a full serving of mixed greens in this post-exercise purple powerhouse!

Or you can tell them after. I’m not usually into “hiding” veggies and healthy ingredients in dishes because I want kids to learn to enjoy and want the healthy food. However, if you are trying to take control and get your children off of a cycle of picky eating, hiding first and then telling them once they love it is the next best option!

We have had a few hot days in the Northeast and I was just craving something cold yesterday after spin and yoga. We had some local mixed lettuces, looking pretty in purple & green, but a salad just sounded awful ( <– extremely abnormal feeling for this girl). So I put the greens to good use with some organic frozen fruit, almond milk and garden of life raw protein. Don’t worry if you don’t have the latter on hand though, because this will work with some yogurt and vanilla extract too. See both options below!

Purple Power Smoothie (GF, V & DF option)

Ingredients:

1/2 C cascadian farm frozen cherries (found in bulk at BJ’s)
1/2 C frozen wild organic blueberries
1/2 C frozen sliced organic peaches (can sub mango)
1 C mixed greens (preferably organic or local)
1 C unsweetened vanilla silk almond milk & 1 scoop garden of life raw protein or
1 C siggi’s, plain yogurt or plain greek yogurt & 1 tsp vanilla extract + milk or water as needed for blending

Directions:
Add all ingredients to whatever blending tool you have whether it be a fancy vitamix, kitchen aid blender or tiny magic bullet.
Tip: If using bullet type blenders, for best consistency and easiest blend, I recommend putting fruit in first, topped with yogurt or protein, then greens and milk/liquid.

Pulse until smooth and enjoy!

This is a great post-workout blend of carbs & healthy protein. If you’d like to turn it into a meal, I recommend adding a tablespoon of chia or hempseeds and using an extra total 1/2 C of fruit, 1 C of greens and 1/4-1/2 extra scoop or protein or extra 1/2 serving of yogurt.

Nutrition Information Per Serving
(for garden of life & almond milk option)

Calories: 230
Total Fat: 3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: .5 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 35 g
Fiber: 9 g
Sugar: 20 g (all from fruit, none added)
Protein: 20 g

Sodium: 195 mg 13 % Potassium: 330 mg 7 %

Vitamin A: 17%       Riboflavin: 39 %    Niacin: 20 %
Vitamin B6: 21 %    Vitamin B12: 125%
Vitamin C: 89 %      Vitamin D: 30%
Calcium: 48 %         Iron: 32 %             Zinc: 11 %
Magnesium: 4 %

**vitamins & minerals are listed as % daily value; you may need more
than 100% each day if you’re an athlete, have a deficiency disease, or other medical concern

 

Wellness Wednesday – Is Apple Cider Vinegar Really Good for me?

Bragg's
*Also posted to the Newtown Athletic Club blog.

You may have heard of or read about the many health benefits of apple cider vinegar. While claims are sometimes outlandish and misleading there are definitely medicinal properties internally and externally. This wellness Wednesday we are setting the record straight!
First, not all apple cider vinegar is created equal. If purchasing, choose unfiltered and unpasteurized brands such as Bragg’s or Trader Joe’s. Being unfiltered, the vinegar still contains pre-biotic fiber and without pasteurization, a high heating process, it contains beneficial bacteria and maintains a higher nutrient content.
Next let’s talk about internal health benefits. Apple cider vinegar has the ability to improve gut health with it’s prebiotic fiber and helpful bacteria. This can improve pH level in the stomach to combat heartburn and bloating. It can also balance intestinal bacteria which research is finding promotes not only gut health but also immunity and mental health. A healthier gut is correlated with a healthier body weight which is where some of the weight loss claims from cider vinegar stem. Mixing a tablespoon with a glass of water should do the trick for the above.
Another area of internal benefits is in mouth, throat and sinus health. This may be more helpful during the winter months but if you feel a sore throat coming on, gargling with apple cider vinegar can keep this discomfort from moving to an infection. Want to kick it up a notch? Try Fire Cider, found locally at Organnon’s, which also contains lemon, garlic, honey, horseradish, habanero and turmeric, all major immune boosters. It may not be proven yet to increase energy levels but in my personal experience, it definitely gets blood pumping and makes more alert!
Fire Cider
Finally, there are some external benefits. Many claims state a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water can calm down the scalp and provide relief from itchy feelings and dandruff. Some will use apple cider vinegar as a natural toner after they cleanse their face and before applying moisturizer. Others claim it improves acne since it can dry out blemishes, kill bacteria and potentially reduce inflammation. More importantly in the summer, if your prone to getting excessive mosquito bites like me, apple cider vinegar is a great topical solution to reduce itchiness.
Natural remedies always trump medication, using products with chemicals or feeling lousy, so give it a try!

Simple Home and Work Changes to Improve Health!

This was written by me and originally posted on the Newtown Athletic Club blog.

March is National Nutrition Month! The campaign theme this year, per the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle”. Proper nutrition, fitness, and a healthy mind are crucial to maximizing physical and mental health each day. While the NAC is a great place to learn to balance these three areas of life, most people find it harder at home and work where one is spending most of their time. The way your environment is set up alone can promote changes in diet and activity whether good or bad. Here I want to highlight some simple changes that can boost nutrition, fitness and health around the clock!

At home:

Start at the grocery store: write a list of the foods you need for the week and stick to it. If they aren’t in the house, you aren’t going to eat them.

Prep healthy snacks: Even if you aren’t a food prep expert, chopping carrots and peppers ahead of time increases your chances of eating them. Any food that takes work is going to sound less desirable at the end your day. Similarly, prep big salads. If there is a big bowl with washed lettuce and chopped veggies, it’s easier to have before dinner. Just cover with a paper towel and press n’ seal wrap so it doesn’t spoil.

Relocate snack foods: look around your kitchen or other dining areas – do you see snack foods right away? Bread on the counter? Put these foods away and replace them with healthier options that you want to see! If they are in front of you, you’ll choose them over the snacks in the pantry. Ideas like keeping fruit on the counter or kitchen island and putting trail mix in candy bowls are helpful.

Relocate produce: While bowl of fruit on the counter helps, many people tell me they will only eat cold fruit. If this is you, put the fruit at eye level in the fridge! Many people go to the refrigerator when bored and what one sees first is more likely to be eaten. Also rearrange vegetable storage. Put meats and cheeses in drawers and keep vegetables in front of you so they stay on your mind. This is also shown in research to reduce food waste!

Stop eating family style: Leave food on the stove or counter and plate it before sitting down. When food is in front of you, you’re more likely to take seconds. Know someone will still be hungry? Put only vegetables on the table so the extra helping is of a nutrient dense food.

Eat without distractions: Make a rule in your home that there is no eating with the TV on, and no smart phones or magazines are allowed at the table. When we eat with distractions, we are less satisfied from meals because we barely notice, or taste, what we have taken in!

Only wear workout clothes to workout: As Americans we are now conditioned in 2015 to wear yoga pants and Lululemon tops all day long. Make a rule that if you put them on, you have to exercise!

At work:

Store “emergency snacks”: For those weeks that you didn’t food prep, days you left lunch on the counter, and meetings that last too long, emergency snacks are key! Here are some of my top recommendations: flax crackers w/ jar of PB & fruit preserves, plain instant oat packets, nuts, trail mixes, roasted soynuts or chickpeas, unsweetened dried fruit, bars like KIT’s, Larabar, KIND, ProBar.

trail mix

Keep a reusable water bottle: People complain when I tell them how much water they should drink and then say how they drink 4 cups of coffee a day at work. Water boosts metabolism and productivity while decreasing appetite. Having a reusable bottle or cup with goals of how many to drink can increase intake and energy levels. Try the Aqua Tally cup which tracks cups per day. You can get it at https://myaquatally.com/ and use discount code Tally16 for 25% off.

aqua tally

Don’t eat at your desk: This is my biggest goal right now, so I know it is a hard one! Being away from your computer and work increases mindfulness while eating. This means you’ll be more satisfied with your meal or snack, and therefore less likely to want to eat soon after.

Stand up once an hour: Just getting up to stretch once an hour improves not only metabolism but also mental clarity and productivity.

Walk to the furthest bathroom: Every step counts! If you walk further to the bathroom you get to clear your mind a little more and keep your body moving longer.

Sit on a balance ball: Hunched over at your desk all day long? Me too unless I am sitting on a balance ball. It is hard to have bad posture when on it and it also engages your core.

balance ball chairs

Want to learn more to save time, stress, money and benefit your health? NAC members can come to this month’s special nutrition seminar which will cover Food Planning and Preparation. They’ll be held Thursday March 12 and Thursday March 26 at 7 PM. Sign up by emailing me at kellyjones@newtownathletic.com or met@newtownathletic.com. Hope to see you there!