One of the most significant things you can do to start implementing a healthier diet is to add fresh, whole foods – and more organic foods, when possible.
We’re starting with vegetables because they’re one of the foods that are typically missing in most diets (or we just don’t get enough of them) and because of all the AMAZING health benefits they offer, such as: strengthening the immune system improving liver and kidney function improving intestinal flora (good bacteria), and improving digestion.
Vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fiber, all of which are important to a healthy diet. To minimize exposure to harmful pesticides and herbicides, choosing organic produce is best. However, not everyone’s budget can afford all organics, so start with what you can afford.
Here is a link to the “Dirty Dozen”. This is a list from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) that includes the fruits and vegetables which contain the highest levels of pesticides and herbicides. Referring to this list when shopping will help you have an idea of the produce that is most important to buy organic whenever possible. Since this list changes from year to year, you may also want to sign up for updates at the EWG to be sure you always have the most current list.
You’re going to work towards your goals one step at a time, in order to fully implement each habit. This will ensure that it becomes part of your lifestyle and then, eventually, it will become second nature.
The first step starts with “ADDING IN.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? Instead of making a long list of what we CAN’T have, let’s start with foods that are good for us and add in more of those.
By ADDING IN lots of super healthy, nutrient-dense foods that give your body what it NEEDS, you will reduce cravings for empty calories, which make you feel hungry again within a short period of time, thereby making you consume even more calories.
For example: you have a delicious salad for lunch with lean protein, lots of fresh veggies and some healthy oil, you will feel good, comfortably full, and have energy, right? When you do this, the less tempting something sugary or processed is going to seem.
Our first goal is going to be to eat as many nutrient-rich foods as we can so that we crave less of the unhealthy, processed foods. This can also help with our energy levels and mood.
Remember…be brave, be adventurous! This is your chance to try new things. I remember trying kale for the first time, experimented with different recipes to find my favorites and now it’s one of my very favorite side dishes!
Try adding one or two new vegetables to your salad this week and see what you think. If you normally like romaine lettuce, have that and add some dandelion greens, Swiss chard or another new green that sounds good or interesting to you.
Vegetables can be enjoyed in a variety of ways: steamed, sautéed, eaten raw in a salad or as snacks. Vegetables make great stir fry dishes. Many make a great “green smoothie” (one of my personal favorites) and are fabulous juiced.
Add some protein and a tiny amount of healthy fat like avocado or an oil-based dressing (olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, flaxseed oil) to your salad. Adding protein, either animal based or plant based, will keep you full longer than just a salad with veggies. Your body will absorb more nutrients from the vegetables when you add a little bit of fat rather than using a fat-free dressing, which also may be stripped of other nutrients.
Six Simple Steps to Eat More Veggies
I love vegetables but most people I work with struggle with adding them to their diet. I came up with 6 different ways you could start enjoying them, so I’m sharing them with you. Coincidentally, they all start with the letter ‘S’.
It's All About Baby Steps to Make Sustainable Long-Term Changes
Remember, the goal is to add more “real food” that your body recognizes and can absorb and utilize nutrients from.
Adding vegetables to your diet may seem like a simplistic thing to start with, but it’s an important first step and you will most likely soon notice a difference in how you feel.
If you don’t typically eat vegetables most days, you can start with a goal of 2 servings per day (a serving is between ½ and 1 cup) starting today. Work your way up to 3 or 4 servings over the next few weeks once you figure out which ones you like and can add easily.
If you already typically have 2 servings a day, kick it up to 4 servings per day, then work up to 6 which is a great goal.
Remember: these are general recommendations. You may find that you feel better eating certain vegetables, so be aware of how you feel after you eat.
Fall is here in full force which leaves us craving hearty warm comfort foods. I love oatmeal for breakfast so I created this delicious version using unprocessed whole oats (also known as oat groats). Canned pumpkin keeps the recipe simple. Warm and inviting this dish tastes a bit like pumpkin pie.
Time saving tip: This recipe can be made ahead of time and pre-portioned into single serving bowls for a quick heat and eat breakfast during the week.
195.53 Calories per serving. • Protein per serving: 6.36 g • Carbohydrate per serving: 37.25 g • Fat per serving: 3.13 g
1 cup – Oat Groats
1/2 cup – Pumpkin, Canned
1/2 tsp – Cinnamon, Ground
1/8 tsp – Nutmeg, Ground
1/8 tsp – Allspice, Ground
1/8 tsp – Ginger, Ground
1/2 gram – Stevia Sweetener
1 tbsp – Maple syrup, Grade A Amber
1. Rinse and drain oats. Add them to a pot with 2 cups of pure water. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and stevia extract.
2. Bring oats to a rolling boil and reduce heat low. Cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes.
3. Remove lid and let oats cook on low until thick and creamy.
4. Serve warm with a bit of maple syrup drizzled over the top.
I came across sprouted seven grain hamburger buns made by a company Angelic Bakehouse. They are fantastic! Feel free to use whatever brand of whole grain bread you can find in your area.
2 each – Portabella Mushroom caps, cleaned with stem and gills removed
1 tsp – Vinegar, Balsamic
1/2 tsp – Salt, truffle
1/4 tsp – Pepper, Black, Ground
1/2 tsp – Onion Powder
1/2 tsp – Garlic Powder
1/2 cup – Baby Kale
1/2 cup – Baby Spinach
1.00 servings (23.7g) – Truffle Aioli (recipe listed below)
2 item – Sprouted Seven Grain Hamburger Buns
In a shallow dish or a gallon size storage bag place the cleaned portabella mushroom caps and coat them with the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Let sit for a minimum of 10 minutes.
Cook the portabella mushrooms in the oven at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes turning half way through the cooking time.
Toast the hamburger buns in the oven until golden.
Stack the portabella mushroom on the bottom half of the bun and top each with half of the truffle aioli then baby kale an spinach followed by the other half of the bun.
For the aioli
1 tbsp – Vegan Mayo (I like Earth Balance)
1/2 tsp – Vinegar, White Wine
1/2 tsp – Agave Nectar, Organic, Raw
1/2 tsp – White Truffle Oil
1/4 tsp – truffle salt
1/4 tsp – Pepper, Black, Ground
In a small bowl whisk all ingredients together until well combined.
Now that the holidays are well over, do you have a plan to reach and maintain optimal health? We start the new year off with good intentions but somewhere along the way the days pass and we find ourselves in the same situation as we were last year. It’s not too late! Here are some simple steps to help get you going:
Start off by being good to yourself. Take some time to focus on you by asking yourself , “what do I want to accomplish in terms of my health and wellness for the next month, six months, or even one year?” Perhaps it is simply to lose weight and feel good in your skin or is it to feel alive and be healthy for your children or grand children? Whatever reason you come up with it should be all about you, after all it is your life and your body. Now it’s time to set your goal. Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound…SMART. Write it down. For example if your goal is to lose weight it may look like this:
“I will lose 1 pound per week for 12 weeks for a total weight loss of 12 pounds by choosing to eat calorie dense, nutrient rich foods combined with a structured exercise program consisting of a minimum of 280 minutes per week.”
Ask yourself, “WHY do I want to accomplish this goal?” Write it down as a reminder to reference during those “moments of weakness”. Here is an example:
“I want to lose weight so that I can enjoy playing at the park with my children/grandchildren.”
Close your eyes and IMAGINE how you will feel when you reach your goal. How does it feel? Write it down. Here is another example:
“I feel confident and happy and attractive when I am able to comfortably fit into my favorite pair of jeans.”
Set a series of short-term goals, daily, weekly or monthly whatever will assist you in reaching your big-picture long-term goal. For example each Monday you may choose to set a goal as follows:
“I will lose a minimum of 1 pound this week by choosing to eat unprocessed whole foods prepared by me and exercise a minimum of four days this week after work.”
Take ACTION! All the visualizing, writing, and planning in the world will not work if you do not take ACTION. Plan your meals, schedule your workouts and remember to take time for yourself!
Need some help getting started on your journey to optimal health? Start by scheduling your FREE (no obligation), 30 minute Health Coaching Session today!
Hooray for apple season! Fall is one of my very favorite seasons of the year. The markets are full of delicious foods such as apples, butternut squash and several varieties of pumpkin. The apple itself just may be one of nature’s perfect foods. It is truly nature’s candy! I love to eat apples plain but I really love to eat them with just a bit of Cinnamon Almond Butter. This recipe is so simple and just maybe a little bit on the decadent side.
Eat this with caution as it may be highly addictive!
1 T. Natural ground Almond Butter
Dash of ground cinnamon
Dash of smoked sea salt
1. Core and slice apple into sticks for dipping.
2. Mix together almond butter, cinnamon, and smoked sea salt.
3. Dip and eat!
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Breast Cancer is a serious disease and can be life-threatening. According to the American Cancer Society over 232,000 women will be diagnosed with new cases of invasive breast cancer this year. Women are not alone in developing this disease as it also affects men. The American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) estimates that 2,200 men will also be diagnosed with new cases of breast cancer this year. Many elements contribute to increased risk of breast cancer such as family history, or genetic factors such as the carrying the BRCA-1 gene. There are many items that are within our control to reduce our risks.
What we choose to eat and how we prepare it can significantly reduce our risk of breast cancer by providing our bodies with necessary nutrients to reach and maintain a healthy weight and optimal health. Animal proteins, refined processed foods, artificial sweeteners, chemical additives found in processed foods have all shown to increase breast cancer risk. Therefore, a healthy diet consists of an eating pattern made up of predominately plant-based whole foods. That means choosing to eat leafy greens, juicy fruits, colorful vegetables, all varieties of beans and legumes, and fiber rich whole grains.
Alcohol consumption was shown to increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), reported that women who consume between three and six alcoholic beverages per week have an increased risk of breast cancer therefore, it may be in our best interest to limit or avoid alcohol all together.
When individuals are under stress they may indulge in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, drinking alcohol or binge eating. In order to ward off these bad habits it is a good idea to reduce or manage stress. You can start by developing a healthy attitude. Plan adequate time to relax, meditate and breathe deeply. You can achieve measurable differences in just 10 minutes per day!
Regular exercise has several benefits. An analysis done by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reports that “researchers have found that physical activity – either mild or intense and before or after menopause – may reduce breast cancer risk, but substantial weight gain may negate these benefits.”
Current recommendations from the CDC states that adults should accumulate a minimum of 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all days of the week. Look for opportunities to move more. Try to take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further away in a parking lot or take a walk after dinner.
There is no guarantee. Making these small changes can significantly reduce your risk of developing this life-threatening disease. Do you want to learn more on how to make healthy lifestyle choices? I can help!
It was 10 years ago yesterday, that I walked into my first yoga class. It was my 34th birthday and I thought I would start something new each year on my birthday. I wanted to start some sort of ritual of trying something new. I equated it to the newness like we experience at birth. Having read about the benefits of yoga and hearing that it was a great way to get in shape I thought I would give it a try. Needless to say knowing nothing about yoga at that point I walked into a new class….. a Bikram class. Now anyone who knows anything about a Bikram yoga class knows that it is very challenging. The room is heated to around 100 degrees, the class is 90 minutes long and there are 26 yoga poses laid out in a very specific sequence. The moment I entered the room panic sank in. I thought for sure that I was not able to breathe and that I was having a heart attack….and I was not even moving at that point. I kept thinking If I could just turn and run through the door I would be better off. You see I was not all that healthy at that point in my life. I worked out at the gym doing the standard weight training and some cardio sequences, I smoked cigarettes, ate the Standard American Diet (in high-end foodie style) drank alcohol on a very regular basis, and worked a very stressful jet-setting career. Needless to say and got my ass handed to me that day.
I felt humiliated and out of shape. Fear and doubt ruled my body. I was challenged. My desire to have what everyone else in that room had was greater than my fear. I had made up my mind….What I really wanted was to have that great looking fit yoga body! I decided I would return the very next day. ……I tried a new class…..it was called “Morning Wake Up Yoga ” . The room was still heated but we practiced new sequences and did a lot more meditating. My teacher Bob was a really entertaining teacher and made the time fly by. I was hooked. Every day that I was in town I went back to class.
One day in class really stands out to me. I distinctly remember when Bob told his story of how his life was “before yoga” and how it transformed him emotionally and spiritually. I so related to his story of pain and I so wanted to be free of anxiety, and stress, I wanted to find peace……Plus I really wanted to achieve that yoga body!
Two months of a semi-regular yoga practice went by. One day it occurred to me and I said to myself “this is my last cigarette.” I smoked it being fully present and aware as the smoke and nicotine entered my body….. and it hit me….I thought what the f*** am I doing to my body? I quit that day. It was the first time I connected my breath to my body outside of class. I felt alive. I felt alive because I breathe.
I was able to overcome anxiety attacks, change my attitude and find peace. It wasn’t until I started my YogaFit teacher training that that ugly feeling of being fat and out of shape and getting out of my comfort zone and feeling as if I did not have a clue as to what I was doing. I felt like didn’t belong. How could that be? I had been practicing yoga for on again and off again for many years and had such a deep desire to become a yoga teacher. Again Fear…..fear of the commitment and what it would take to become a teacher… the fear of not fitting the “yoga” image of having a great fit looking body……the fear of not being “good enough”. WTF was going on? It really hit me on the first day of my level 2 training. My husband suggested even though the class was only 1 1/2 hours away from our home I should just stay at a hotel for the night and focus on my YogaFit training for the weekend. I left day one of teacher training and sat in the parking lot and cried. I was wiped out. I felt like the practice nearly killed me as I could not do all of the poses in their full versions and had to go to the modified version most of the time and even then I still felt like it was very challenging. If I could not do the poses how in the HELL was I going to teach them? I called my husband sobbing like a broken-hearted 14 year old little girl. He asked me if I wanted to just come home and just forget about it. I immediately said no. I knew I was outside of my comfort zone and I knew that in order to grow as a person I had to do this. I also knew that with a regular practice I could improve my strength I could become a teacher if I attended classes, studied, and learned how.
I completed my training nearly three years ago and now I am a 200 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher, a Certified Personal Trainer and a Health Coach. My latest “get out of my comfort zone” challenge is ……..Taekwondo.
Today I am grateful for what yoga has taught me as I travel through this journey called life. Every day I have the opportunity to become more aware, move out of my comfort zone, love and accept my fears, and work through my personal challenges……….on and off the mat. Wow how things can change in a decade!
Have you had a similar experience? Please feel free to share in the comments it below.