Nutrition Tips for the Midday Slump

That moment in the afternoon that all the sudden your energy dips and you become unmotivated and all you want to do is just zone out and chill, if not take a nap for a few minutes.

Why does it happen? Can we stop it? Can we help it with nutrition? Let’s talk about it.

Why Is There a Midday Slump? Can We Avoid It?

Midday slump is absolutely normal and something we can work with. The reason why it happens is because of it being part of our circadian rhythm. It’s an internal process that occurs every 24 hours. It’s part of our sleep pattern and why even during our sleep we go in a and out of REM (deep sleep) and light sleep.

The time between 2-4pm is part of the rhythm and your energy dips for people who wake up around 6-8am.

It’s perfectly normal, but there are some factors that could make this dip in our energy less, so let’s talk about what those are.

High-Protein and Complex Carb Lunch

A meal can impact how we feel hours later. Since we are talking about the midday slump, let’s look at our lunch.

When we have a meal that is “heavy” or contains a lot of starchy, rich, and processed foods (i.e. Burger and French fries) our blood sugar can spike and crash. The other part to this is that with heavier meals you can feel more sluggish right after eating.

Instead of things like potatoes, pasta, and for some even a slice of bread, go for complex carbs like brown rice, quinoa, vegetables, etc.

With complex carbs they have a higher fiber content so they digest slower and your blood sugar won’t spike and drop.

Don’t worry – you can save the pasta for dinner.

The other factor for lunch is having it be higher protein. Protein will not crash your blood sugar and it digests slower and keeps you fuller longer.

Photo by Pratik Bachhav on Unsplash

Balanced Midday Snack

If you are not used to eating a lighter lunch, then having a midday snack that is balanced with protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs, will help keep you full until dinner and can help with the midday slump.

When you start feeling the yawns come on, take a break and pull out the apple and peanut butter, or a snack box with fresh fruit, nuts, and some cheese if your not allergic.

This can help with balancing out your blood sugar, keep you full, and gives you a reason to take a break and munch.

Hydration

I don’t know about y’all, but when my day gets busy I can be barely sipping on my coffee all morning and before I know it I’m hungry and it’s time for lunch.

Dehydration is a common first sign on fatigue and headaches. So if that sounds like you around lunch or mid-afternoon, keep the fluids going. Make sure you are drinking enough.

Moderate coffee use (2-ish cups) is not dehydrating, however it’s still good to drink water or herbal tea, even iced herbal tea, throughout the day.

Photo by Bluewater Globe on Unsplash

Not A Time To Have Foods Your Sensitive or Allergic To

For lunch or for a midday snack, if there is a food you are sensitive to or allergic to, try not having them if you usually do at lunch and see if it helps.

With food sensitivities, allergies, and intolerances they all cause differing levels of low-grade (and high-grade for severe allergies) inflammation.

Low-grade inflammation isn’t always seen or felt, but common symptoms are fatigue and brain fog, along with a whole list of other symptoms.

So if you do have food sensitivity issues, consider this when planning your meals and picking out your order for lunch.

Change It Up

During that midday slump time, you become less productive. Some might think that they have to get a project done ASAP so no breaks until it’s complete. But in actuality, if you take a break, preferably 20 minutes but even 5 minutes is better than nothing, and do something different, it can boost productivity and you’ll get just as much done without having to force yourself. Plus you’ve given your body and brain a quick minute to recharge.

If you have a physical job, take a minute and sit down. Hydrate or have your snack.

If you have a desk job, get up, walk, stretch, etc. Get your body moving.

If you can’t get up and walk or stretch, try to do something that is automatic. Something you don’t have to think about. Like cleaning out the junk mail in your email. This is the time you can make more mistakes so doing something mindless is better than continuing with a huge report or project.

Putting It All Together

The midday slump is natural and something you can work with your body and let yourself take a minute, even take a 20 minute or less nap if you need to.

There are a few things you can do to help the dip in energy not be so drastic with what you have for lunch and a midday snack. Have a higher protein, less starchy lunch and snack to keep your blood sugar leveled. And always stay hydrated throughout the day.

And take a break, do something different. Whether that’s sitting down or walking for a few minutes, change it up.

Dairy Free: Foods to Meet Calcium Needs

When you think of calcium, you think of dairy. When you think of dairy you think of calcium… or some delicious creamy sauce or cheese. But what if you are needing to be dairy free?

There are a lot of reasons why people have to be dairy free and why people choose to be dairy free from food allergies to intolerances, to the love of animals. But since dairy has been marketed to be the go-to for calcium, can you meet calcium needs without having dairy as part of your everyday diet?

Let’s take a look at why we need calcium, what dairy-free foods contain high amounts of calcium, and then let’s look at the recommended amount of calcium intake to see what that would look like throughout the day.

Why Do We Need Calcium?

BONE HEALTH: No doubt one of the most important reasons to regularly intake calcium is for our bone health. Calcium is stored in the bones and teeth. Interestingly, that storage takes place before your are about 30 years old. After that, what calcium you’ve been able to put in the “savings account” of your bones, is all you’ll be able to save. After 30 it’s maintaining what you have and trying not to deplete your savings. Regularly intaking calcium is essential.

HEART FUNCTION: Calcium is a key contributor to your heart contracting to pump blood. It’s one of the key minerals for blood pressure control.

NERVE FUNCTION: Like with the heart, being a muscle, calcium helps fire cell signals to contract muscles to get you moving.

Dairy Free Sources of Calcium

With any nutrient, being able to get calcium through the food we eat is the best way, unless prescribed by your doctor for one reason or another. So how can we meet calcium needs if we are dairy free?

  • CANNED SARDINES OR SALMON
    • with bones
  • CALCIUM-FORTIFIED DAIRY FREE SUBSTITUTES
    • If it is fortified with calcium, it should say it on the front, but you can always check the nutrition label to see the calcium content.
  • FORTIFIED ORANGE JUICE
    • Not all orange juice will include calcium, but like with the other fortified products, it usually will say something on the front of the carton, or you can always check the nutrition label on the back.
  • FIRM TOFU
    • made with calcium sulfate. Again, you can always check the nutrition label and ingredients.
  • GREENS
    • kale, turnip greens, collard greens
  • BROCCOLI OR CABBAGE
  • FIGS
  • FORTIFIED CEREALS AND ENGLISH MUFFINS
    • you can always check the back, but look at cereals like Total, Raisin Bran, Cherrios, etc. A lot of cereals now will have on average at least 10% or 130mg of calcium per serving.
  • BEANS
    • Garbanzo beans, white beans, kidney beans, navy beans, etc.
  • SEEDS
    • Seeds are known to be little nutrient powerhouses. Some that are high in calcium would be poppy, sesame, celery, and chia seeds.

You can see without even the fortified foods listed, there is a wide variety of foods, no matter your “beet”, that you can find and add to meals to provide you with your calcium needs. But what does it look like throughout the day?

Calcium Needs and What It Looks Like Throughout the Day

Below is the chart of Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for calcium. RDA means that this is the average daily level of intake sufficient to meet nutrient requirements of nearly all (97%+) healthy individuals.

So numbers is great and all, but how does that translate into food? Let’s look at the higher end of the RDA, 1300mg of calcium, (which would be the needs of a growing teen) and what that would look like throughout the day for a dairy free person with a few options:

Photo by Deena Englard on Unsplash

BREAKFAST:

380mg: Fortified Cereal with Fortified Plant Based Milk

  • 1 Serving Fortified Cereal, average 130mg
    • Calcium Fortified cereals can range from 10% to 100% RDA, for this we will take the lower since most will have about 130mg or 10%. It’s better to get your calcium throughout the day than all at once since your body can only absorb so much at a time.
  • 1 Cup Calcium Fortified Plant Based Milk, average 250mg

320mg: Scrambled eggs, sauteed broccoli, and a toasted English Muffin

  • 2 Eggs, 50 mg
  • 1 Cup Cooked Broccoli, 180mg
  • English Muffin enriched with Calcium Propionate, 102mg

335mg: Tofu scramble with Black Beans and Satueed Broccoli on the side

  • Tofu, 1 cup, 130mg
  • Cooked Black Beans, 1/2 cup, 25mg
  • 1 cup cooked Broccoli, 180mg

310mg: High Calcium Plant Based Yogurt topped with Fruit and Chia Seeds

  • High Calcium Plant Based Yogurt, average 130mg
    • Depends on the brand. Plant Based yogurts can range from 1% (13mg) calcium to 20% (260mg) calcium depending on the brand. Always read your labels.
    • Chia Seeds, 1 tbsp, 180mg
Photo by Deryn Macey on Unsplash

LUNCH

449mg: Large Kale and Spinach Salad with your choice of protein and dressing

  • Kale, 1 cup, 177mg
  • Spinach, 2 cups, 272mg
  • **If using something like 1 cup garbanzo beans (86mg) 3/4 cup extra firm tofu (380mg) as protein, calcium intake will increase.

446mg: Sandwich of choice including 1 cup spinach, side of high calcium plant based yogurt with fruit and chia seeds

  • Spinach, 1 cup, 136mg
  • High Calcium Plant Based Yogurt, average 130mg
    • Depends on the brand. Plant Based yogurts can range from 1% (13mg) calcium to 20% (260mg) calcium depending on the brand. Always read your labels.
    • Chia Seeds, 1 tbsp, 180mg

358-434mg: Canned Salmon Salad, like tuna salad, (or smashed garbanzo bean salad, different info below) on top of, or in a wrap with with fresh spinach. Include crackers as a side, carrot sticks, etc.

  • Canned Salmon, 1/2 alone, 162mg
  • Garbanzo Beans, 1 cup, 86mg
  • Spinach, 2 cups, 272mg
Photo by Brenda Godinez on Unsplash

SNACKS

  • 155mg: Edamame, 1 cup
  • 75mg: Raw Almonds, 1oz or 20-25 almonds
  • 102mg: English Muffin, Enriched with Calcium Propionate, Toasted with Jam
  • 234mg: Chia Seed Pudding using 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 130mg: High Calcium Plant Based Yogurt ***Read Your Labels!
Photo by Michele Krozser from Burst

DINNER

426mg: Veggie Stir Fry including Broccoli & Bok Choy with choice of protein, topped with sesame seeds with/without brown rice

  • Broccoli, 2 cups, 180mg
  • Bok Choy, 1 cup cooked, 158mg
  • Sesame Seeds, 1 tbsp, 88mg
  • Adding Brown Rice, 1 cup, +20mg
  • **If using something like 1 cup garbanzo beans (86mg) 3/4 cup extra firm tofu (380mg) as protein, calcium intake will increase.

484mg: Salmon Burger with any sides, bun, toppings you want.

  • 1 Burger Patty using canned salmon, 484mg
  • Adding coleslaw or using spinach with the burger will add more.

431mg: White Bean and Kale Chili, depends on recipe, but usually will contain ground turkey. Vegetarian version, add more beans, with veggies, crackers, etc.

  • White Beans Cooked, 2 cups, 252mg
    • *Possibly more with the serving if using more beans for vegetarian version.
  • Kale Cooked, 1 cup, 179mg

BOTTOM LINE

A calcium rich diet that is dairy free is possible! To do it you do need to do a few things:

  • Educate yourself on the foods naturally rich in, fortified, or enriched with calcium.
  • ALWAYS read your labels, especially with plant based yogurts and know the brands you like and give you what you need. Still check the labels since they can change the formula and the nutrient aspect can change.
  • Spread out your calcium intake throughout the day if you can. Your body only absorbs so much at a time, so eating calcium rich foods throughout the day is best.

Keep finding you beet and I’ll see you tomorrow with a dairy-free cheese sauce and soon to come queso recipe.

SPOILER: The cheese sauce uses calcium-rich white beans. If you want to see both recipes in action, the YouTube video will be up tomorrow that will show both the cheese sauce and the queso! The queso recipe will be coming later this week to the blog.

Nutrition Tips When On Vacation

Usually around this time of year we go on a vacation – whether that’s a short weekend trip or a full week so I thought that I’d share some nutrition tips when you’re on vacation.

I don’t know about ya’ll but I want to feel rested, restored, and rejuvenated after vacation. But when we go on vacation, we eat out more, our eating patterns change, and that can effect how we feel. So I thought I’d share some tips with ya’ll.

Photo by Joan Tran on Unsplash

Stay Hydrated

When I’m getting ready for the day before having my breakfast and coffee, I sip on water. I try to do this regularly, but especially on vacation.

When you are eating differently and, if you’re like me, eating foods that I love but my body has a hard time digesting, it’s important for you to stay hydrated for your digestive health so it can break down food properly and move things along. When eating differently it can cause constipation, and a simple thing to do to help prevent that is staying hydrated.

Another reason why this is important is because water helps with your energy. When dehydrated, one of the first signs you can have is fatigue. When cells are not properly hydrated, your ability to produce energy is reduce.

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Fruits and Veggies

You might not want to think about what you are and are not eating, but keeping in mind having some sort of fruit or vegetable with every meal helps.

When eating out and eating heavier meals, having fruits and vegetables throughout the day helps because of fiber but also with keeping things lighter. When I have heavier meals back to back I feel more sluggish, so keeping it fresh and light, even with one of the meals, keeps me going.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Move

You don’t have to keep up with your normal workout routine when on vacation, but staying physically active during that time does help when you are back home and needing to get back to your usual grind.

Physical activity does help with energy level by increasing oxygen in the blood and endorphins. It also helps you sleep better at the end of the day for a deeper nights sleep.

Which brings us to my last point.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Caffeine and Alcohol

Everyone reacts to caffeine and alcohol differently, so you know your own beat, but I thought I’d share a few things to keep in mind.

For people who have too much caffeine it can result in insomnia, feeling anxious, or digestive issues, especially when drinking coffee. Those are things you don’t want in your usual routine, and definitely not on vacation.

One thing to consider with alcohol is it’s effect on sleep. Alcohol does have a sedative effect and make people feel drowsy and can help someone fall asleep, but it reduces and interrupts our REM or deep sleep. Many that have an alcoholic drink a few hours before bed will find their sleep interrupted and wake up in the middle of the night.

Sleep is always an important factor to me, but especially on vacation, I want to feel rested and not exhausted and mentally foggy that can result from a lack of sleep.

Video Coming Tomorrow

Tomorrow I’ll have a video that talks about these points and a recipe for a pizza I made last year for our anniversary while sheltering in place!

Keep finding your beet and I’ll see ya’ll tomorrow!

“Find Your Beet”

I thought it was time to actually have a post about “Find Your Beet” since I’ve made this my catch phrase for this blog and now You Tube Channel. Speaking of, if you haven’t already, check out my YouTube Channel!

Okay! So onto finding your own beat when it comes to your nutrition needs. Finding your beat is something unique to everyone since there is no size fits all when it comes to each individual diet.

Although we need to same macro nutrients (carbs, protein, and fats) and micro nutrients (vitamins and minerals), how we individually choose to get those nutrients is our own unique beat. Let’s look a few things to understand why this is important to know.

“Healthy”

Something that is “healthy” for one person might not be healthy for another. Take a few examples of what I mean.

  1. Corn is a whole grain. Pop corn is a whole grain. Therefore popcorn is a “healthy” snack. However, for someone with a corn allergy, popcorn is not a healthy choice for them to snack on.
  2. Bananas are a healthy snack. It’s easily digested and has a good amount of potassium for muscle health and recovery. However, for someone who is diabetic, bananas are one of the fruits that are high-glycemic, and they would need to limit the amount of high-glycemic foods, like bananas, that they have. Depending on the specific day, it might actually be an unhealthy choice.

Get where I’m going here? The food industry has put a healthy label on specific foods and they market it as if those foods are the healthiest choice. In reality, most, if not all, foods have a healthy component to them. Yes including “junk” food.

But what matters is not the specific individual foods you’re eating, but it’s more of the balance of what you are eating that is important. Are you eating a variety of foods? Are you getting enough fiber? Are you being balance in the things you are eating? Those are more of the important factors, not being worried about eating an apple everyday.

Dislikes

I wanted to take a minute and talk about likes and dislikes. For instance bananas – they are high in potassium but I can’t stand them. However, potatoes are actually higher in potassium than bananas, and I love potatoes. So no lack of potassium here!

Now I’m not saying that if you hate a whole food group to exclude it out of your diet. The most common being vegetables. Vegetables are important to include in your diet for fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, you can choose the vegetables that you like and not have to eat kale on the regular because it’s “healthy”. So is broccoli, peas, and carrots.

You still need a variety of food groups in your diet to be balanced. But what you choose within those food groups is up to you and your body with how it reacts to it.

Likes

On the other hand, if you really love a food but it doesn’t really love you back would that be “your beet”? Let’s take a minute and talk about a common food that people love but find they can not have too much – dairy, specifically cheese.

A lot of people have an allergy to dairy, but even if you don’t have an allergy, some have found that they don’t feel well after having cheese on the regular.

Just because you like something, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily part of your everyday beat. I love cheese, but I am allergic to it. However, I know I can have some here and there when it’s worth it, but when it’s not, I don’t have it.

Eating foods that make you feel better, sleep better, have more energy, etc. that’s part of finding your beat, and that might mean lessening the foods you love and putting them in it’s proper perspective so you can work with your body to see how it functions the best.

“Finding Your Beet”

Let’s recap for a minute about what I mean about finding your beat and the factors that are involved.

  • Food Allergies
  • “Healthy” and the foods that are truly healthy for your body
  • Dislikes doesn’t mean not eating whole food groups, but choosing the foods within those groups you enjoy eating
  • Likes doesn’t mean because you like it that you don’t have to be balanced with those foods

Finding your beat can be a challenge especially when you don’t want to admit that the foods you love really are not the best to have on the regular. Or you’re not sure if you are allergic to certain things. But it’s well worth finding out.

Bodies Are Constantly Changing

The last point I did want to mention is that our bodies are constantly changing so if something was working, but you find it’s not working anymore, then changing your beat might be necessary. Allergies can pop up, or you might find certain foods that never effected you, are now do so.

Although it can be frustrating, it’s good to remember that you know you. Although your body might be changing and you might need to get used to new habits, it’s all for the better when you are able to work with your body’s needs and not against it. And as always, you can contact me.

Keep finding your beet and I’ll talk to ya’ll soon!

Nutrition Tips When You’re Sick

I don’t know about ya’ll but January and February is always a time when at the least, I get a head cold. I’m congested, lethargic, and don’t have an appetite. What are the important things to remember when you are sick to help your body fight and recover?

Before we get into this, I wanted to mention this is a generalization of topics to keep in mind when you’re not feeling your best. “Sick” can mean a lot of different illnesses, and some illnesses will require more than just paying attention to these topics. But as a good rule of thumb, these are things to always keep in mind when you’re not feeling 100%.

HYDRATION

Anytime I go to the doctor with a cold, allergies, or an infection the one thing all doctors say – drink plenty of fluids. Why?

All processes of your body need water. When you’re sick your body is working harder . If you have congestion, drainage, sweating off a fever you are more easily to become dehydrated. All of those take excess water. Then if you are taking medication – whether over the counter or prescribed, it works better when you are properly hydrated and body will be able to process it better. On top of that – your body needs a way to release anything that is toxic from your body and that mean through the kidneys as urine, or through your stool, which also is a process that takes a lot of water. If you’re dehydrated, you won’t be going to the bathroom.

What can you do? Drink water, mix in electrolyte drinks. Electrolytes help with fluid balance. These fluids would include sports drinks, broth, and herbal teas. However, the main two electrolytes are sodium and potassium, so if you have high blood pressure or heart disease, you can talk to your doctor about these, but to be safe, stick to water and herbal teas.

PROTEIN

Protein is important in your daily life and activities, but also plays an important role when you’re sick. Usually when your have a fever or head cold with drainage, you might not have much of an appetite. However, if you are to eat anything if you can keep it down, is to have something that is a good source of protein. Why?

When people first hear protein, you think muscle. Which is true – muscle is built from proteins, but pretty much everything else is structured with proteins as well, which includes your immune system. When your body is fighting off something – even if it’s allergies – it creates antibodies to do the fighting. Those antibodies are made from protein. If you are not taking in enough protein when your body is trying to fight, it will draw on the protein you have stored in your muscles. Your body is a resourceful machine. But losing muscle mass is not necessarily something that we want. To prevent this, if you can eat, try to make sure you are able to get some protein.

If you are not hungry at all, a tip is that you can grab a protein shake and sip on that next to your water or herbal tea.

FIBER

Fiber is something else that is important for a healthy body in general, but it specifically has to do with your digestive system. When you’re sick your body processes that don’t have to directly deal with your immune system and fighting, will slow down.

Then adding on top of that a better chance of you being dehydrated, taking medications that can affect your bowel movements, things can slow way down.

To keep a healthy gut, which is where a lot of our immune system is, we first need to make sure we are hydrated – always number one – but to also help move things along, we need fiber. This includes eating foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, etc.

Fiber traps water – so again, first and foremost is staying hydrated! It does this because it traps water to loosen stools. The soluble fiber helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut. And Insoluble fiber adds bulk which helps move things along in your digestive track.

BOTTOM LINE

  1. HYDRATION: Constantly sip on something anytime you are awake enough to do it.
  2. PROTEIN: If you are able to eat, make sure there is protein sources included. If you are having a hard time and not feeling like eating, grab a small protein shake.
  3. FIBER: To help your gut stay healthy and keep things moving, water/hydration is still number one here too, but also fiber helps to feed the good bacteria and move things along in our digestive track.

RECIPES

How do these points translate into food and recipes? The number one sick food people think of is Chicken Noodle Soup. Broth = hydration, Chicken = protein, and Veggies = fiber!

Below are links to three of my soup recipes already on the blog to get you started!

I will also be posting a new video on my YouTube Channel with the information I’ve shared with you here, along with a video of the recipes! So if you haven’t already, click the link below to see my YouTube Channel! My first video will be posted tomorrow and if you are subscribed it will pop up on your feed tomorrow! EEK!

As always, keep finding your “beet”! Talk to y’all soon.

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?

Smart Snacking

Snacking or Not?

This has been a discussion for a while. While some people feel like snacking can lead to poor nutrition choices and eating too much when you’re not hungry, you have the other side. You are trying to eat healthy and keep to 3 meals throughout the day and then all the sudden around mid-afternoon you feel hungry. Then by the time dinner comes around you eat whatever is in sight because you’ve allowed to get yourself to the point of being on empty.

Snacking is not bad, especially when done in the right way. If you’re hungry, honor your body telling you what it needs. That being said, let’s look at a few things to keep in mind when snacking or preparing for snacking.

Is This Satisfying?

There are some days I’m just hungry and can grab a handful of almonds and be fine until the next meal. Other times, I’ve been thinking about that chocolate in the pantry for a while. Ask yourself will this be satisfying to me?

The reason being is that I’ve seen, and guilty myself, of deciding that I shouldn’t have the chocolate, so I’m going to have carrot sticks or an apple instead. Then I’m still needing more. So I grab a yogurt or some almonds. Still didn’t work. I get the piece of chocolate and then I’m good. Sometimes you have to give a little.

When grabbing something like chocolate, baked goods, cheese puffs, whatever it might be for you, when you decide you will snack on it, portion it. Put the rest away. Enjoy every bite. Move on with the rest of your day.

Sometimes the chocolate needs to come back out. Because life. But you know…

Hydrate When Snacking

A lot of times when we feel hungry our bodies are saying it needs more water. So respond to your hunger with a small snack, but make sure you are also having some sort of hydration with it. Water, herbal tea, etc. This also helps to slow down your snacking. Sip on your water or tea and have a few bites. Which brings us to our next tip.

Take a Minute

When you snack, sit. Have this be a moment to take care of yourself and take a break. Even if it’s a few minutes. The world can slow down for a minute. Put whatever you are snacking on – fruit, nuts, chocolate, roasted chickpeas – on a plate, with your drink, sit down, and enjoy it. Food is fuel but it’s also taking care of yourself, so take a minute, take care of your hunger, breathe, and move on. And when you sit, try not to make it in front of a screen when you are not paying attention to what you are eating.

This has especially helped me since I don’t want to sit before whatever I need to accomplish by the end of the day is done, but I realized taking a break, sitting, and enjoying the mental break that a small snack can provide is what’s needed.

You Eat What You See

This is so true! Whatever you see when your hungry, it’s going to be what you eat. So for those that are trying to snack on more fruits and vegetables, have the fruit on the counter, the veggies ready to go on a shelf in the fridge instead of in the drawer, put the sweets and chips behind the almonds, granola, and roasted chickpeas. Make the snacks that you are trying to have less of, harder to get.

Another point with this is to prep for snacking. If you know you need a snack in the afternoon, plan to have healthy options ready and available to start eating. For instance, if you plan to have some hummus and carrot sticks, already have a snack bag of carrots sticks ready to go to grab. If you plan to have an orange for your snack, don’t just throw it in with your lunch. Peel it, and have the slices ready to grab.

*TIP: Cut carrots and celery last longer in the fridge when placed in water. Add this to your next meal plan if you do that kind of thing.

Have A Balanced Snack

And finally, make sure the snack is a filling snack. Snacks are meant as something that will ward of the feeling of being completely empty when meal time comes, usually. So make sure it’s satisfying from a nutritional standpoint.

Having snacks high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats will make sure it sticks with you longer, regulates your blood sugar, and makes the snack worth it. If it’s a random piece of toast, it’s not going to last long. If it’s a whole grain toast with peanut butter or avocado, it will last a lot longer and help you to make better decisions when it comes to your next meal.

Bottom Line

Eat what will satisfy you. Plan ahead, portion it out, take a break and drink some water to take care of yourself physically and mentally, and make sure it’s something that will stick with you longer than 10 minutes. Don’t be rigid, but be aware of what you’re doing and snacking on to take care of yourself the best way you can that day. Sometimes a snack is just what’s needed to get you to the next part of your day.

The Difference Between Steel-Cut, Rolled, Quick and Instant Oats

Oatmeal is a staple for me! Depending on what you are using it for and what recipe you are using, it might call for different forms of oats. What’s the difference? Why is it important to know? Is there a difference in nutrition?

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Forms of Oats

Oats are usually found in three styles:

  • Steel Cut (Irish Oats)
  • Rolled Oats (Old Fashion)
  • Quick Oats
  • Instant Oats

All oatmeal is made from oat groats which is the whole grain of the oat. The only thing missing in oats is the hard outer husk of the groat. The main difference is in the cut. Let’s talk about the advantages and disadvantages to these to know which style of oats you might want to get.

NOTE: For the nutrition information, there may be difference in cup size, but it’s however much 1 serving is for each. For instance, since steel cut oats are more dense and will cook/puff up more, it’s only 1/4 cup uncooked. Instant oatmeal is already cooked and dried, so it will be 1 cup dried oatmeal since it won’t puff up. Total, after cooking/preparing each serving would be about 1 cup. Also there might be a slight change in some of the nutrition facts depending on the brand. I’ve seen some steel oats being 6% DV of Iron, and others being 10%. 

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Steel Cut (Irish) Oats

Steel cut oats are cut whole oats. Meaning the oat groat, which is the whole grain mentioned above, is cut into smaller pieces. It’s chewier than traditional oats and are digested more slowly so it may keep you fuller longer.

  • Chewy
  • Digested Slower / Longer Satiety
  • 30 Minutes to cook

NUTRITION: 1/4 cup serving | 170 Calories | 2.5g Total Fat | 31 g Carbohydrates | 5 g Fiber | 5 g Protein | 2% Calcium | 10% Iron

Rolled (Old Fashioned) Oats

This is the most common of oats you can find on the shelves. They are made by steaming the oat groats and then are flattened (rolled) to create the flakes.

  • Common
  • Used in other recipes as a binder that cooks longer (muffins) which makes it more versatile than steel cut oats
  • 5 Minutes to cook

NUTRITION: 1/2 cup serving | 150 Calories | 3g Total Fat | 27 g Carbohydrates | 4 g Fiber | 5 g Protein | 2% Calcium | 10% Iron

Quick Oats

Quick oats follow a similar method as rolled oats, but they are pressed into finer thinner flakes and cut into small pieces.

  • Cooks in about 1-2 minutes
  • Does not digest long, which may not be good for diabetics
  • Used in quick cooking recipes like pancakes

NUTRITION: 1/2 cup serving | 150 Calories | 3 g Total Fat | 27 g Carbohydrates | 4 g Fiber | 5 g Protein | 2% Calcium | 10% Iron

Instant Oatmeal

Instant Oatmeal is oatmeal that has already been cooked and dried. Simply cook by adding boiling water and eat. They usually have additives and sweeteners for texture and taste so make sure to read your labels!

  • Fast
  • Less chewy/texture
  • Many instant oatmeal products have added sugar, there is plain varieties
  • Great to use to traveling, but maybe not as your regular breakfast

NUTRITION (Plain): 1 cup/packet serving | 151 calories | 2.6 g Total Fat | 27 g Carbohydrates | 4 g Fiber | 6 g Protein | 2% Calcium | 9% Iron

Photo by Food Photographer | Jennifer Pallian on Unsplash

Bottom Line

Depending on what you need it for, there can be advantages and disadvantages to which oats you use. Nutritionally the worse one would be the instant oats since it was previously cooked and dried again, plus the chance of there being unnecessary additives and sweeteners. If you are looking for a quick meal, quick oats would be the better choice if available. You would just need to add the hot water and cover it for an extra minute or two. All in all – most versions of oats have roughly the same macro nutrients. It depends on your preference in texture and how long you need it to digest. Breakfast before a long day? You might want rolled oats. Before a run? Maybe a small bowl of the quick oats with fruit.

I’d like to know – how do you like your oatmeal?

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!

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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.

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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!

 

 

Know Your Labels: Fat Terms

For this “Know Your Label” post I wanted to talk about the different labels about fats and what they mean. It’s important to know because if you are trying to watch your fat intake for weight loss, heart health, or any other concern, you need to know what these labels mean and not take it for granted that it’s healthy for your because it’s “reduced fat”. Things can start to get confusing when they start adding in percentages and then you have the “lean” and “extra lean”. What do these mean? Also, cholesterol terms I’m putting in a different post. These can be put together, but since the list is so long for the fat terms, I’m just sticking with “fat”.

Different Fats

This can be a long discussion, but here is a simple breakdown.

Unsaturated Fats: fats that stay liquid at room temperature (olive oil, vegetable oil). These are made of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. They can also be known as your Omega fats.

Saturated Fats: fats that are solid at room temperature (butter, coconut oil)

Trans Fats: manufactured fats – never a healthy fat and needs to be as low as possible or avoided

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Fat Terms & Meanings

Fat-Free: Less than 0.5 g of total fat per serving

Saturated Fat-Free: Less than 0.5 g of saturated fat per serving

Trans Fat-Free: Less than 0.5 g of trans fat and less than 0.5 g saturated fat per serving

Low-Fat: 3 g or less total fat per serving

Low Saturated-Fat: 1 g or less saturated fat per serving & less than 0.5 g trans fat per serving

Less Saturated-Fat: At least 25% less saturated fat and trans fat combined than the comparison

Here is where it gets interesting… get ready for some math.

% Fat-Free: An indication of the amount of a food’s weight that is fat-free. This can only be used on foods that are low-fat or fat-free to begin with and must reflect the amount of fat in 100 g.

Example: A food that weights 100 g with 3 g of fat can be labeled as “97% Fat Free”.

***It is the amount of the foods weight that is fat free, not the calories.

Example: If the same 100 g food applies here. Say that food is 100 calories with 3 g of fat. The food can technically be labeled low fat & with it being 100 g in weight can technically be called 97% fat free. Sounds pretty good. However, if the food is only 100 calories, with 3 g of fat (1 g of fat = 9 calories, so 3 x 9 = 27 calories) 27/100 calories are from fat. Which means 27% of the calories from that food is fat. If you are needing other Macro-Nutrients, you might want to check the nutrition label first.

If you are trying to eat a low fat diet, then finding foods that are “fat free” and “low fat” should be a good indication that what you are eating will go along with your diet. Just be aware of serving sizes. The “% fat free” can be a little misleading. Make sure to check the nutrition label before deciding to buy these to make sure you are staying within the limits you think you are.

Lean & Extra Lean

These describe the fat content of meat and poultry products.

Lean: Less than 10 g of fat, 4.5 g saturated fat and trans fat combined, and less than 95 mg cholesterol.

Extra Lean: Less than 5 g of fat, 2 g of saturated fat and trans fat combined, and less than 95 mg cholesterol.

Bottom Line

Being informed about what you are buying is a huge deal. And whether you are watching the amount of fat in your diet because of weight loss, lowering your cholesterol, etc. it’s important to read the nutrition label no matter what the front of the product may say. And remember to always check the serving size. It might be less than what you are actually going to use it for.