How to Incorporate a Variety of Fruits and Vegetables

There’s no doubt that eating fruits and vegetables is a part of any healthy diet. Eating fruits and vegetables is a way that we get a lot of our micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) as well as a good source of fiber which is essential to a healthy gut.

A variety of fruits and vegetables is important as well. Not only do they provide different nutrients that we need, but different colors have different antioxidants in them. Antioxidants help with cellular damage and protects against aging, and inflammation. Not only eating enough fruits and vegetables throughout the day is important, but also a variety of colors throughout the day. Hence the phrase “eat the rainbow”.

Let’s talk colors for a moment…

Click to go to the recipe for Barbecue Chopped Salad

Red

  • Foods: apples, raspberries, tomatoes, strawberries, radishes, etc.
    • Antioxidant: lycopene which helps with fighting against heart disease.

Orange

  • Food: Carrots, pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, etc.
    • Antioxidants: carotenoids alpha-carotene and beta-carotene. The body converts beta-carotene into Vitamin A which is important for your immune, skin, and eye heath.

Yellow

  • Foods: pineapple, lemon, yellow peaches, corn, summer squash, etc.
    • Antioxidants: beta-carotene like orange foods, but they also contain beta-cryptoxanthin which has been shown in studies to help reduce inflammation and may play a role in reducing inflammatory disorders.

*Although bananas are yellow, the inside that you eat is white. See below.

Click to go to the recipe for Strawberry Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

Green

I wouldn’t be much of a nutrition consultant if I didn’t take a moment to talk about green vegetables. They are some of the most nutrient dense foods. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and you guessed it, antioxidants.

  • Food: spinach, broccoli, and green peas
    • Antioxidant: lutein and zeaxanthin which helps with age related eye problems.
  • Food: the cabbage family which also includes brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy, etc.
    • Antioxidant: sulforaphane and glucosinolate which helps protect against certain cancers and blood vessel damage that can lead to heart disease and stroke.

Blue & Purple

  • Food: blueberries, blackberries, cherries, purple grapes, eggplant, purple cabbage, black olives, purple onion, etc.
  • Antioxidants: anthocyanins which protect against cell damage.

White & Brown

Although you might not think “if it doesn’t have rich color it doesn’t have antioxidants”, know that fruits and vegetables that are white are that way because of antioxidants.

  • White Foods: Bananas, potatoes, and parsnips
    • Antioxidant: Anthoxanthins make the foods white which may reduce cardiovasular disease and arthritis. In addition, a lot of white foods like bananas, potatoes, etc. are good sources of potassium which is needed for nerve and heart health, fluid balance, and muscle health.
  • Brown Foods: Mushrooms mainly
    • Antioxidants: selenium (another antioxidant) which plays a role in metabolism and supports the immune system.

How to Incorporate a Variety of Fruits and Vegetables in Your Diet

How cool is it that we can see antioxidants by the colors of the food we eat! And the fact that the food is beautiful and it helps to protect us from cellular damage.

What if you are just trying to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet and seeing how you can have more of a variety in your meals in general? If you are just getting use to adding in more fruits and vegetables into your diet, you want to make sure they taste good.

Here are some of my favorite suggestions and ways I get my fruits and veggies in!

  • Blend Them In Smoothies
    • Fruits are pretty easy to incorporate into smoothies, but what about vegetables?
    • Spinach will not add flavor and blends really easily
    • Zucchini is another veggie to add in that doesn’t add a lot of flavor and will add a creamy texture.
    • Avocados are another fruit/vegetable to add to your smoothie for a smooth texture. This is more or less your healthy fats, so a little goes a long way and will help keep you full. And technically, avocado is a fruit.
  • Pasta Sauces
    • Tomato Sauce: Onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms are some of my favorites!
    • Cream Sauce: Onions, broccoli, peas, sauteed greens like kale or spinach, and you can even get your own rainbow going to sliced carrots, peas, yellow squash, and some red onion for a more primavera type of sauce.
    • Butter Sauce: You can sautee just about any veggie in some butter and top it over pasta and it will be delicious, personally. I mean, it’s butter.
  • Veggie Omelet
    • Potatoes, onions, bell pepper, spinach, hot peppers, sweet potatoes, etc.
  • Lettuce Wraps and Stir Fry
    • A lot of times lettuce wraps consist of ground meat like chicken or turkey with a spicy sauce and cooked veggies. Top it with some shredded carrots and cabbage.
    • Same goes for a stir fry. Add your protein and veggies with a sweet and spicy sauce and throw it on top of some rice.
  • Roast Them!
    • Roasting vegetables are my all-time favorite way to cook vegetables. They stay firm, but soft, and they keep all the flavor and then some when roasted.
    • You hate vegetables, but want to start eating them more, try roasting them! Well – other than leafy greens.
    • Here is an old post on Tips On How To Roast Vegetables

There are plenty of ways to get a variety of vegetables in your diet and into the recipes you already love. Know that you don’t need a whole load of fruits and vegetables in your diet for it to improve your health. Mess around with it, find your favorites, and incorporating more vegetables into your regular diet will get easier.

Breakfast – When To Eat It?

Timing of meals can be a big topic. For today, we are just going to dive in and look at breakfast.

There is a lot about how, when, and what to eat for breakfast. And there’s even debates about if you should or shouldn’t eat breakfast. Let’s look at a few different topics about why people have said to eat or not to eat breakfast.

Effect on Your Metabolism

Your metabolism is the thermic effect on food, which is increases the calories burned after you eat. Interestingly enough, what matters for your metabolism is how much you eat throughout the day, not when you eat it.

A study in 2014 shows that there was not a change in calories burned over 24 hours between people eating or people skipping breakfast.

Eating breakfast does not boost or kick-start your metabolism.

Effect on Weight Management

Not having breakfast and waiting for lunch does make you more hungry and you will most likely eat more at lunch, but on average, it’s not more than what you would have eaten had you had breakfast and lunch.

Some people like the idea of intermittent fasting, which is fasting for certain times of the day, which can include not eating breakfast. This can result in a calorie deficit throughout the day, and thus over time results in weight loss. However, if you planned out your day and still had the same amount of calories, whether eating breakfast or not, it would result in weight loss as well. However you can safely and easily maintain a calorie deficit over time, you will loose weight. For some that might mean skipping breakfast.

There was a 4-month long study that compared eating and/or skipping breakfast in over 300 men and women. After the study was over there was no difference in weight loss/gain between the groups.

Breakfast Is Up To Preference

If or when you eat breakfast is up to you. I’m usually a breakfast eater, but other mornings I’m just not hungry and skip it all together. It’s up to how you feel.

However, having a healthy variety of foods throughout the day is important, as well as your overall daily caloric intake.

This was all a long winded way to say – if you’re hungry in the morning, eat. If you’re not hungry in the morning, don’t. Breakfast does not have a determining factor in weight gain/loss or in your metabolism. Now – keeping your blood sugar from spiking and dipping is a whole other topic about when to eat. I’m sure we will be covering that topic soon. But for now – enjoy breakfast, or not.

Setting Goals, Not Outcomes

How’s 2021 been so far? My first video was exciting and all though it’s a lot of work, it is fun to do and a whole different form of art that I get to learn.

Let’s take a moment and build on my blog post a few weeks ago about A Healthy Mindset for 2021. I had mentioned about why remembering the reasons you’ve set a goal and writing those reasons down is important. Progression has many different faces and might not look like the way you thought it would. And that we need to be realistic in the goals we set for ourselves. No one, including our bodies, thrives in an environment of unrealistic expectations.

So what does setting goals actually looks like?

Goals Are What You Can Control

So many people set goals that are actually outcomes of goals. So what’s the difference?

  • Goals: what we can control
  • Outcomes: results of those goals

I know I’ve talked about this a lot before, but it’s something we find ourselves in the bad habit of doing a lot. We are fed pictures, articles, advertisements that show an outcome of something we want.

The number one goal at the beginning of the year is weight management, right? So a lot of times I hear “I want to lose weight” or “I want to gain muscle”. That’s great, but those aren’t actually goals.

Goals are things we have control over on a daily or weekly basis. The goal of losing, gaining, getting fit, etc. is an outcome of daily and weekly goals like, drinking more water, being consistent with an exercise program, eating more vegetables, etc. Goals are what support an outcome.

Example

Let’s say you want to lower and maintain a healthy blood cholesterol level. You can’t control when, or how low your cholesterol will be by a certain day on the calendar. What you CAN do is change things in your daily and weekly routine that will support having a lower and more maintained blood cholesterol level on a consistent basis, and this is how you will be able to accomplish that outcome.

So your goals might be having fresh fruit or vegetables with every meal. Eating more whole foods and less processed foods. Having an exercise routine that you can stick with, even just 20 minutes for a few days a week.

By breaking down how you get to that outcome, then you can start to be realistic with yourself and see what it is that you can consistently do. For goals to show in a desired outcome, you need to consistently adhere to those goals. Ask yourself if you can see yourself doing this every week for years? If it seems overwhelming, then find a lesser version that is comfortable to start. Then every few weeks or months, add to it. That way changing your usual normal to a healthier version, will then be your new normal and it not be exhausting, or something that you unrealistically can’t keep up with.

Recipe Tomorrow

I’ll be posting on my YouTube Channel tomorrow some of the information I shared here, but also a new chickpea salad recipe!

My initial goal this year is to get back to eating less processed, but also getting back to being better about my food allergies and that includes staying away from soy. At Whole Foods I love their processed soy-based “Chicken” Sonoma Salad. It’s so good! But not for my body. So I decided to make an “Amanda-friendly” version instead and share it with you all! The recipe will be posted on the blog tomorrow, and then the video will be uploaded on YouTube!

Keep finding your “beet”! I’ll talk to you all soon.

Healthy Mindset for 2021

Are you ready to say goodbye to 2020 and welcome 2021?

To be honest 2020 definitely had it’s negatives, but it taught me a lot about myself and also helped me to slow down and change up my routine. If it wasn’t for 2020, I wouldn’t of set the different goals I did, and probably would have not been able to go about them the same way as I did this year. But I’m also about moving on and going forward, so let’s start 2021 with a healthy mindset when it comes to making and accomplishing goals.

These are somethings I’ve learned myself, but also somethings I have to remind myself of. We can be so goal, deadline, and numbers driven that we forget why we are setting the goals to begin with.

#1 – Write down WHY you have a certain goal.

We might have a goal in mind and even write down what that goal is, but it’s important to remember WHY we want to accomplish or work towards that goal. If there is not a clear reason behind why we want to accomplish a goal, there’s nothing to keep motivating us, and eventually it’s not “worth it”.

You might want to have the goal of exercising 3 times a week. Why? Is it to become stronger? To get tone, or stay toned? Is it for overall health? Sleeping better? Stress management? How will doing this improve your quality of life, and how will you see yourself progressing?

Which brings us to the next point…

#2 – Realize what progression looks like.

Let’s face it – personal goals, especially with health is an ongoing progression, not a one and done goal. Just because you might not have reached a certain goal, doesn’t mean you haven’t progressed to accomplishing your goal. Here is some questions you can ask yourself.

  • Do I have more energy than before?
  • Am I sleeping better on a regular basis?
  • Are everyday chores easier?
  • Am I able to handle more stress (physical or emotional) than before?
  • Are the changes in my eating patterns easier for me to stick to?

Any progression is progress. If you are making changes for your overall health, then health progression can show itself in a lot of smaller ways that might not be the way you’re looking for it to change. But acknowledging a seemingly small progressions is important.

#3 – Be realistic.

I’m positive that this will be on any “goal” list. It’s important to be honest with yourself and what you will do. I know for me, I’d love to say that I’ll workout and keep to a vigorous schedule each week… but that’s not me.

I love walking, hiking, pilates, and some weights here and there, even jogging…but pushing myself to get “my pump on”, running each week, or something that requires a lot of explosive energy… I’m not going to consistently do because I don’t enjoy it. I’ll do it here and there to change things up a bit. It has it’s place. If I do it, then that’s a bonus to the regular schedule I know I can keep up.

Be realistic with yourself. And if you work on what you know you can accomplish and you can consistently keep it up, then challenge yourself to see if you can set records, or lift a little more, or run a little further, or take your workouts to the next level, or having fruits and vegetables be a part of every meal and not just one or two. You know you. You know what you are comfortable with and when you’re ready to challenge yourself to take it a step further.

Hope you are all staying safe! I’ll talk to you all in a few weeks with some exciting news!

Fullness vs. Satiety

Feeling full from your meals and feeling satisfied with what you’ve eaten are two different things, but equally important to your habits. We’ve all been there. We feel full, but yet want something more. We’ve finished our meal, but for some reason still keep thinking about something to snack on. This could be because what we ate allowed us to physically be full, buy not satisfied.

If you are not satisfied with the foods you are eating, more than likely you will overeat. For example, you might be thinking a salad would be good for lunch. You put greens, vegetables, maybe some beans or meat on it with a little dressing. But then still feel hungry. However, if you made a salad with greens, vegetables, protein of choice, maybe some cheese or toasted nuts/seeds, dressing and then had a few crackers or a piece of bread on the side, you might have been more satisfied with your meal and not felt hungry afterward.

Finding pleasure in eating and our meals is part of what food does for us that is healthy. I’ve said before, food is more than just calories or fuel. It’s emotional, social, pleasurable, ect. If you are not finding pleasure or satisfaction in what you’re eating, more than likely you will overeat to find that satisfaction or pleasure.

Building a Satisfying Meal for You

  1. Finding a Healthy Balance
    • Make sure in your meals you are having a balance of your macro-nutrients. These are your carbohydrates, protein, and fats. These in combination help you feel full and helps to regulate your blood sugar.
    • For instance, if you were to make a green smoothie with greens and fruits, protein will increase the fullness factor, and then adding a tablespoon or two of fat like a nut butter, coconut cream, a piece of an avocado, etc. would give it that extra satisfying creamy yummy factor.
  2. What Do I Look Forward to Eating?
    • Find the foods you enjoy eating. Not limited to the taste. All senses are involved in eating and our food. Do you like the way it smells, the texture, does it add a pop of color to your meals that brings it all together?
    • Find out if you are looking for a cold or hot meal. Some people find that cold meals are good for sides or snacks, but for meals they are looking for something warm. What is it that you’re looking for in your meal?
    • Take a moment to find what it is you are hungry for. Sometimes I have made something for lunch already, but then realize that peanut butter sounds really good. So then I’ll have a few peanut butter crackers or a spoonful of peanut butter as a snack – right after I eat lunch. (TIP: There’s no set time after a meal that you can have a snack.)

You’ll find that you when you are satisfied with your meals, the less you’ll eat and the more you’ll enjoy the food you are eating. You’ll have a better view of food and notice that giving in, even if it’s a small amount, is worth it.

I know for some people who are dealing with eating disorders that this might not be a habit you can incorporate into your life right now. And that is okay. This is about knowing yourself and taking care of your body and its needs nutritionally and mentally.

Take Away

If you are not feeling satisfied with the meals you are having, try to find what would make it something you look forward to eating. Sometimes it’s just by adding that one extra ingredient that makes all the difference in your fullness and satisfaction factor.

I’d Love to Hear From You

What makes your meals satisfying?

Managing Food at the Office

We’ve all been there. Someone brings doughnuts on a random Tuesday morning. An appreciation lunch with pizza stacked miles high. Someone just had a party that weekend and had leftover cupcakes and generously decided to bring it to work and right in front of your face. That last one, I’ve been guilty of doing to my co-workers. It’s true.

Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash

Whatever the case may be, how can you manage keeping on track of your goals when people keep bringing free food? Unfortunately most of this is mental and reminders to yourself. If you don’t have a good memory, write them down and keep them at your desk to remind you when these things come up.

One Thing

If there is one thing to keep in mind when you see free food, it’s this: Free food is the same as food you buy. Just because it’s “free” doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

For some reason when we see the word “free” or knowing that something is “free” all other factors and reasoning either is forgotten or doesn’t matter anymore. If it’s free it’s not going to cost anything – or so we want to think. It’s still food. It’s still either healthy or unhealthy, and it will still add to your total caloric intake whether it’s free or you had to pay money for it. At least when we pay money for it, it stops us and makes us think if we really want it.

Distance

More than likely whoever brought, let’s say doughnuts, to the office will either just tell you where they are or if they walk by with them, they probably won’t linger next to you, hopefully. Make it to where it’s out of sight out of mind. Of course that can be hard when people keep walking by with a glistening pillow-y pastry in their mouth.

Even if that means taking the long way to the mail room, copier, meeting room, etc. Keep it as far away from sight and smell as possible.

Do the Math

As an example, a snack whether a piece of chocolate, chips, or a doughnut can add 100-300 calories to your day. If that happens a few times a week in addition to your normal diet, that can start to add on a pound or more a month depending on how much it is. And then before you know it you’ve gain an excess of 10-12 lbs just because of randomly grabbing a snack or an extra chocolate a few times a week. Some of us can take a random snack or two a week, and others it can be a delicate balance. Know yourself.

With that in mind, I always plan to have a snack or a piece of dark chocolate planned at the end of the day, after dinner. Individually wrapped so once I get my piece, that’s all I see. That way when something does come up throughout the day, I know I still have something to look forward to by the evening. I just have to wait for it. That way I don’t feel like I’m neglecting anything I want or crave at times. This is about balance right?

Remind Yourself It’s a Victory!

Reminding yourself of what you’ve accomplished or what you are trying to accomplish can help. And walking past or resisting that sugar and fat loaded pastry is a victory. Remind yourself that it is a big deal to resist it, and sometimes it means resisting it all day. It’s a huge victory! Remind yourself of it and not brush it off as nothing. Keeping a positive view of a challenge will start a new wave of positive self talk. Instead of thinking “I can’t eat that” change it to “I’m choosing not to eat that…” or “I’m choosing not to eat it because of the hard work I’ve put in” or “I choose to stay on track!” or something that will keep you on track of your goals.

Don’t Get Yourself Down

Some days the doughnuts win, and that’s okay. This is about managing not constantly putting up a fight of resistance. In fact, even though junk food or high caloric foods are not always the healthiest option, it still gives you nutrients and fuel for your body. Maybe not the best way, but there is some nutrient your body can use. Keep up the positive self talk and realize it was something out of the ordinary for your routine, and get back to what is healthy for you!

When Stress and a Busy Schedule Gets You Off Track

Hello All!

I feel like it’s been ages since I’ve written anything. The last few posts throughout August I had set up months prior because I knew I would be busy and I didn’t want to neglect the blog. However, I thought that by September I’d be able to start where I left off and add posts and get ahead again. Wrong. Things have been non-stop. Not necessarily in a bad way but at times did and does get overwhelming. Because of this I got off track with not only the blog, but my eating, my allergy diet, and also exercise. Because of this, I wanted to share with you how I get myself back on track when things like this happen, even with a busy schedule. But first, let me share with you what got me to this point and 2 things I’ve learned about myself.

You don’t have to read my story. Just skip to the good stuff if you like. I don’t mind. : )

Putting Too Much On Myself

The last few years… years… I’ve been working on being reasonable with myself and knowing what I can handle and what I can’t. It’s always a learning process. There are times I realized I could have done more, and times I should have taken better care of myself. To know when I needed to go home early, or not volunteered my time I really didn’t have that should have been used in more useful ways so that I didn’t become overwhelmed. Or not scheduled every hour of the day thinking that I’m this ball of never-ending energy that’s always okay and can handle anything no matter how emotionally, physically, or mentally stressed and/or drained I already was.

No mental or emotional breakdown yet. And I do know when I need a mental health day or even just an afternoon to get me back on track. I’ve gotten that far. It’s a victory! However, that doesn’t mean I still don’t get myself overwhelmed and that I still need to learn and be okay with saying no to things and responsibilities that I can’t handle. That’s the next hurdle to overcome.

First Thing I Cut Out When Stressed or Overwhelmed

When things start to get busy, one of the first things to go is meal prep/planning for me. It takes time, planning, effort, and motivation. I don’t care how easy some people make it or how quickly you can get it done, it’s a chore. It can be a fun chore, but it’s a chore. It’s something that “has” to get done, but not really. And that’s why it’s the first thing to go. I have to keep my life in working order with laundry, having a clean and good smelling house, get to work, do the other things I’ve said I would do or help with family, etc. but meal planning – I can pick up something. I can throw a PB&J sandwich and carrot sticks in a bag and call it lunch. And dinners, whatever is simple, quick, and easy. I’m not about microwave meals, but already pre-made meals to heat up in the oven or something that I can make quick like pasta starts to become the normal. Then James starts asking for chili dogs and macaroni and cheese, or frozen pizza, or quesadillas, etc.

For a week or two, having this routine – it’s not a bad thing. We all have weeks to where getting something to eat to keep going is about all we can do. But when it goes on for months… Not counting 1 random Sunday I actually prepped a breakfast and lunch for the week, it has been since March that I’ve truly regularly meal prepped. I’ve gained weight I know. I don’t know how much yet. I’ll come to that when I’m ready to do something about it. And my digestive system can’t take much more. Even if the things I’m grabbing are “healthy”, I’m still constantly mixing in fast food and pick-up-and-go food to my diet all the time. Not to mention the cookies that have somehow found their place in my house on a regular basis.

To be honest, me feeling overwhelmed is probably, no most definitely, partly to do with how I’ve been eating. Because of having food allergies, it’s more than a physical reaction. It’s also emotional and mental as well. Eating things that are easy and half way prepared, especially vegetarian will more than likely have dairy and soy in it. Soy being my more major allergen. And then eating heavier and less healthy veggie burgers, etc. can mess up your digestive system. Then being stressed on top of it – my poor immune and nervous system has about had it. Nothing major, but enough to where I notice it. I feel overwhelmed. My digestive system is not normal – cramping, bloating, etc. And then sometimes I’ll feel tingling in the back of my legs to my lower back from my nervous system trying to keep up.

Getting Back on Track

Evaluate Your Routine

Look at your routine and see if you can find what you need to do and what you can do less of. Any gaps in your routine, keep them, but make sure you are at a place where you can relax and do something you enjoy.

A huge benefit is to make sure you are getting enough sleep. Not only will this help mentally, but physically and specifically with your digestive system.

Find Out What You Can Realistically Change

Change what you can. As mention above, sleep is one thing you can change now, and start today with a small change to your routine. Here are some other things I look at to see if it’s realistic for me to change or if I’m ready to change these habits.

  • Reduce caffeine and/or alcohol
  • Breakfast: I usually will have time to make a protein shake. My tip is to make sure there is a serving of vegetables (spinach) and if desired, a fruit with the protein mix.
  • Lunches: Don’t eat and go. Have at least 30 minutes of just sitting and eating. Don’t rush your eating times. Make time for it.
    • Try to find something that won’t weigh you down. Find a lunch either that you prep or can buy, but make sure it’s something clean and easy to digest that doesn’t feel heavy. If you are constantly on the move, then taking time to sit and eat a LIGHT lunch is well worth it. I usually make sure either I’m having something full of protein and vegetables or have a snack plate with nuts, vegetables, fruit, and maybe some cheese.
  • If you have 10 minutes and you are not physically exhausted, take a small walk. Even 10 minutes is worth it to relieve some stress and help you get your focus back. The more you can do, (longer or brisker walking) the more you will activate your lymphatic system which helps with detoxing. Something we always need when we’re stressed and haven’t been eating well. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20863266
Keep Looking Forward

Don’t try to do everything at once. Unless you are a person who is all in or nothing, keep making small changes to get your routine and diet back to where you want it. There is no set time to do this in. For some people it will take a day, others will take a few weeks, and others might be months, but keep looking forward. Realize what your next step can be and when you are ready to take it. Make a plan of action if you need to. Set goals. Whatever will keep you moving forward however fast or slow that might be, do it.

Is Intermittent Fasting For You?

Intermittent fasting has been talked about a lot recently, but is it right for you? Is it better than other weight loss methods? How can you practice it safely?

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a different weight loss strategy. It’s more when you eat, not necessarily what you eat. There are different ways to do it, but in one way or another, you are on a fasting schedule throughout the day, or week, having periods of fasting and non-fasting spurts.

Fasting is not the same as starvation. Extremely low calorie intake or going without eating for days is not safe and is damaging. 

Photo by Ursula Spaulding on Unsplash

Is It a Better Method? Is It Safe?

Intermittent fasting can be effective for weight loss, but no necessarily “better” than other methods. It depends on what you might mean by better. There was a 2017 trial that found after 1 year of weight loss, intermittent fasting was comparable to calorie restriction in the amount of weight lost. Choosing which method comes down to preference and health factors.

For instance, if you are pregnant, diabetic, or healing from something like surgery, then intermittent fasting would not be a healthy weight loss strategy. Also, if you have an eating disorder, intermittent fasting would not be something to do since it can encourage binge eating or taking the fasting too far.

The other factor is to see how your body responds. For example, if you realize your blood pressure drops to quickly, you get headaches, or hangry when trying intermittent fasting, then find another method.

With all of that being said, for an average healthy adult who has some weight to lose, there should not be a problem with fasting unless you find it’s not a reasonable option for you.

Photo by manu schwendener on Unsplash

Methods

There are 3 main types of intermittent fasting. Depending on how your body handles, there might be one that’s better than others. Before I get into the 3 types I wanted to say this: during your eating or “non-fasting” stage, you would eat normal size meals. This is not an excuse to binge and keep in mind nutrition. Just because this might help you not have to count everything that goes into your body, doesn’t mean that all you can feed it is junk food. Nutrition is always important in general, but especially when losing weight.

5:2 Method

The 5:2 method is when you choose 1-2 non-consecutive days throughout the week that you eat only 500 calories (200 calories being protein) and drink water. It could be in one meal or spread out throughout the day. The reason for 200 calories being from protein is to limit the amount of muscle/protein loss when fasting.

Alternate Day Method

This is fasting for 3-4 non-consecutive days per the week. 24-hours of fasting (500 calories throughout the day, 200 being from protein), and the next 24-hours eating what you want, when you want.

Time-Restricted Method

This one is probably my favorite since it includes to time you sleep, which makes it easier and more doable for me. You fast anywhere from 16-20 hours per day, including the hours you sleep. You can eat freely during your non-fasting hours. During your fasting period you can have things like water, plain unsweetened tea or black coffee. Then within a 4-8 hour window within a 24 hour period you eat. Most people opt for 8 hours. For instance, only have water/tea/coffee until 10 am, then eat and stop eating by 6 pm.

Bottom Line

Choose what’s best for you and your health. The best and healthiest diet is one that your body responds to, that isn’t a burden on you and your life, and something that keeps you eating healthy foods. Not something that leaves you “hangy” and irritable. Not something that makes you worried if you entered in the correct about of food. Not something that makes your life harder to live, but something you can manage. Whether that’s intermittent fasting or not, find what works for you.

Tips for Decreasing High Blood Pressure

Family history of High Blood Pressure or Hypertension is one of the top things people have checked on my Nutrition Assessment. Either they are dealing with it or they have close family that has it. High Blood Pressure can be due to many different things like age, poor eating habits, lifestyle, constant stress, etc.

How can you get control of your blood pressure? Here are 10 factors to consider.

1 | Exercise

Regular exercise helps put healthy stress on the body for it to cope with it better and know how to handle it. The more regular you exercise, the less likely your blood pressure will increase under normal activities, including when we are under marginal stress.

Not used to exercise? Start with a walk an a pace where you are slightly out of breath but can still talk through it for 10 minutes. Increase 5 minutes every day. Once you are up to 30 minutes, increase your pace and start over again.

2 | Oatmeal

With oatmeal being high in fiber, low in fat, low in sodium, and something filling to start your day, it will help keep your blood pressure at normal amounts and even help with maintaining good blood cholesterol levels.

3 | Salt Intake

From one of my previous posts about salt, we know that salt, or sodium is not a bad thing. We need it to survive otherwise our cells would literally shrivel up and die. However, because salt holds water in the cells, it can make the volume in our blood increase, therefore increasing pressure. Maintaining a healthy sodium intake is important. Sodium is not only found in salt, so salt should not be with every meal. Make sure to check your labels.

One of the for sure ways to control your sodium intake is having fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats that are not smoked or processed, and whole grains that are not packaged with seasoning.

4 | Dark Chocolate

One of my favorite treats to have at the end of the day! The flavanols found in dark chocolate have been shown to help cause dilation or widening of the blood vessels. Because of this it helps with blood pressure and the flow of blood from the heart to the brain. Dark chocolate is at least 70% or more cocoa.

5 | Coenzyme 10

Coenzyme 10 is something our liver helps us make and also helps to dilate our blood vessels and increase oxygen to the brain to reduce pressure. 200-300 mg of CoQ10 per day may help to reduce blood pressure. It’s also been helpful for pressure headaches due to sinus pressure, and even helping those with migraines to have less severe symptoms.

6 | Tea Time

Sipping on 1-2 cups of tea a day for a few weeks can help lower blood pressure. Find herbal teas that are caffeine free. For instance, Hibiscus tea is naturally sweet, contains flavonoids that prevent clotting, improves artery function, and stimulates insulin production in the body.

7 | Laughing

Laughing causes the inner lining of your blood vessels to expand to increase blood flow. Ever broke a sweat when you laughed really hard? It’s most likely do to this. But because of this expansion and increase of blood flow it can help reduce blood pressure.

8 | Leafy Greens

There isn’t much that leafy greens don’t help with. Specifically for High Blood Pressure leafy greens are low calorie, high fiber, and high in minerals like potassium, folate, and magnesium which helps to maintain healthy blood pressure levels. Potassium does the opposite of sodium, however, only a small amount is needed in the body so unless for some reason you are prescribed to take a higher amount by a doctor, you can get plenty from eating your greens and of course, bananas.

9 | Alcohol

Alcohol is something that all around isn’t good for your health in high doses. It’s calorie dense without any nutrients which leads to weight gain, and with what your body has to do to detox from alcohol consumption can raise your blood pressure. Avoid alcohol, or at the least, when drinking alcohol limit to just one drink and have a glass of water after.

10 | Beans

Beans are rich in potassium (opposite of sodium), magnesium, and fiber. You can add them to soups, salads, chili, pastas, or as a side dish. If you buy them in the can, look for “no salt” or “no added salt” varieties. And since I live here in Texas, I’d skip cooking the beans with bacon which is high sodium, high fat, and usually highly processed.

Bottom Line

Watch what you eat and drink, get plenty of exercise and remember to laugh! I think I should start ending all my posts with this. What do you think?

Goals vs Desired Outcomes

I wanted to take this blog post this week and talk about something important. It’s how to change your mindset of goals. I had talked about it in a previous Instagram post a few weeks back, but decided it was something to write about here on the blog. First let’s talk a little about the difference between goals and desired outcomes and then we’ll look at an example.

Goals vs Desired Outcomes

  • A goal is something to achieve. Whether it’s a goal for a day, week, month or years, it’s something you can control and can accomplish.
  • A desired outcome is the result of those goals that you are trying to achieve. Sometimes you can achieve them, other times you might have to change your desired outcome to be more realistic.

Photo by Agence Producteurs Locaux Damien Kühn on Unsplash

Goals

Let’s use the example of weight loss. To achieve weight loss there are many goals that have to be made for it to happen.

  • Changing the way you eat
  • Changing how much you eat
  • Changing the places you go to eat
  • Changing your grocery list
  • Changing what you snack on
  • Changing how you view food
  • Changing your routine and having more time to exercise
  • Changing your routine to have time to prepare healthy food
  • Changing the foods you’d normally order
  • Changing how many vegetables you eat per day
  • Choosing different foods you might have been scared to try
  • The list goes on…

Those are all goals you have control over and can conquer one by one and accomplish. These are the parts to focus on and rejoice when they are met! Changing your lifestyle, your choices, your routine, your habits – it is no small thing. So noticing that just because weight loss might be your desired outcome, it doesn’t mean that on the way there you are not reaching goals and accomplishing something. You are overcoming huge obstacles physically and mentally. That’s something to be proud of!

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

Minor Desired Outcomes or Small Victories

The other thing to remember, is that you might have an overall desired outcome to lose, let’s say 50 pounds. There are minor desired outcomes or small victories that are showing you that you are reaching your overall desired outcome.

  • Your clothes fit different
  • You have more energy throughout the day
  • You’re sleeping better
  • Your skin and hair look healthier
  • You’re able to see your knuckles and wrists a little more
  • Your knees are starting to look like knees again
  • Your ankles don’t bloat as much
  • You’re able to go down a notch in your belt loop
  • You’re able to walk a little further
  • You’re able to run a little faster
  • And the list goes on…

Although it might take you longer to reach your overall desired outcome, never pass up the small victories you are reaching to get there. Those are huge steps and something that should be noticed! Give yourself credit and work with your body. Notice that it’s changing because of the original goals you had control over and your body is responding to it. Those small things to notice are huge!

Weight Loss Note

Your body loses weight starting from your extremities (feet and hands) to your middle (men – stomach, women – hips/thighs) and then starts all over again at the feet and hands. When you start losing weight if you are staring to see your feet and hands a little more, or your elbows and knees become more pronounced, or your face is a little thinner, it’s working. You might not see it in your desired places like your belly or hips, but it’s on it’s way there. Your body is doing its thing.

Photo by petra cigale on Unsplash

Be Balanced

We live in a world that is fast and goal oriented. You want to get something done, you do it and it’s accomplished. You want to know the answer to something, you look it up and within seconds have the answer with a video to go with it. With nutrition and especially with weight loss we think we can do the same. “I want to lose 10 lbs this week, I’ll do whatever I have to do to get there!” Our mindset and the will to accomplish our goals isn’t the only thing that will get it done. Working hard and having a strong will is important, but our body has it’s pace and is working as hard as it can. Just because you don’t see things right away, doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Although you didn’t reach your desired outcome in the time frame you wanted it to happen, doesn’t mean it won’t happen or that you failed in some way.

You have to be balanced in knowing what you can do, what you have control over and let your body do the rest. When you feel discouraged remember the goals you’ve already achieved and the small victories you might already be seeing. Just because you don’t reach your desired outcome in your desired time, doesn’t mean you’ll never get there or that you’ve failed. Just because you might have been trying to reach a desired outcome and are exhausted trying to get there, you might need to ask yourself if it’s realistic. If the desired outcome is a source of stress or irritation for you – change it.

Bottom Line

Don’t forget, the things to focus on are the goals – what you can control. Then giving attention and acknowledging the small victories that come with it that you notice as a result. Give credit to yourself for the things you personally accomplish. And keep things realistic. If you don’t meet a specific time and date, it doesn’t mean you didn’t accomplish anything. Instead of having a date in mind to reach a specific desired outcome, how about have that as a “check in” with yourself to see where you are and to remember where you were before. Either way – whatever goal you have, don’t give up!