Simple Swaps To Cut Carbs and Calories





Let me start this first by saying that some carbs in your diet are completely fine, but most of us are consuming WAY too many carbs without even realizing it. We tend to overeat carbs because it’s easy to do so – they don’t keep us as full as fat and protein. Unfortunately, this overload of carbs and calories leads to weight gain, blood sugar issues, and various chronic diseases. 

Read below to learn simple swaps to decrease carbs and calories in your diet:

Instead of rice…

All forms of rice are high in carbs and calories, and are low in fiber, low in protein, and low in fat. What happens when you eat something high in carbs and low in everything else? You eat more and more because it takes longer to get full and satisfied.

Use cauliflower rice!

You can either make cauliflower rice at home by finely chopping cauliflower or by using a blender, or go the easy route and buy already riced cauliflower from the grocery store. Cauliflower rice has that same crunch as regular rice and acts as a great base for meals – without the calories and carbs.



Instead of pasta…

It’s no secret that pasta is very dense in carbs and calories – one cup has at least 40 grams of carbs and over 200 calories! And this is without sauce or anything else added to it, plus most individuals eat double or triple the serving size – talk about a food coma!

Use butternut squash!

Butternut squash noodles still give you that texture of pasta but without all of the carbs and calories! One cup of squash noodles has around 80 calories and 15 grams of net carbs. Many restaurants now offer butternut squash rather than pasta noodles or you can make it at home yourself.

Instead of pancake flour…

Flour for making pancakes tends to be high in calories, high in carbs, and low in nutritional value.

Use banana!

Replace the flour with a mashed banana! Bananas have some carbs, but they also have fiber, vitamins and minerals that are essential for optimal health.



Instead of jams and jellies…

Jams and jellies are normally made of sugar, syrup, artificial flavoring and colorings – you’re better off with just plain sugar in this case!

Use berries

Mash up some berries and use this instead! Berries have enough sweetness on their own and don’t need all of the sugars and syrups added to make them taste good.



Instead of toast

Toast tends to be high in carbs and low in fiber.

Use sweet potato

Thinly sliced baked sweet potato not only tastes delicious, but also cuts down on carbs and gives you more fiber.

Instead of tortilla

Tortillas tend to be the highest in terms of calories and carbs – you’re better off with bread if you had to choose between the two!

Use lettuce

The best part of a burrito or taco is the filling, so skip the tortilla shell and use a lettuce leaf instead!



Instead of chips

Think about how chips are so easy to overeat, it’s because they are high in carbs and calories, and low in fiber and nutrition.

Use sliced veggies

Sliced veggies like carrots still give you that crunch but are much lower in calories and carbs and high in nutritional value.



Instead of mashed potatoes

White potatoes are packed with carbs and low in fiber.

Use mashed cauliflower

You won’t be able to tell the difference! An easy way to make mashed cauliflower is to steam cauliflower until it is soft, then mash yourself or use a blender. Super simple and delicious without all of the calories and carbs.

Main takeaways…

Not only are the above foods going to help to cut carbs and empty calories from your diet, but they are also a great way to add more nutrients into your diet!

 




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Food Products You Didn’t Know Contained Gluten




What is gluten?

First of all, what is gluten? Gluten is the main group of proteins found in wheat and other cereal grains, including barley and rye. Gluten is often added to food products because it is elastic and acts like a glue to bind ingredients together.

What’s the problem with gluten?

The problem with gluten is that it can be highly inflammatory for many individuals, and may even set off an immune response in highly sensitive individuals.

Below lists the top food products you likely didn’t know were packed with gluten:

Couscous

Couscous may not look like a typical gluten containing food, but it is most definitely not a gluten-free food. Couscous is made from wheat so if you are trying to avoid gluten, then you will want to avoid consuming couscous.



Brownies

Brownies may not look like they contain gluten either, but yes, unfortunately they do. Note that all desserts that come from boxes (also including cookies and cakes) will likely contain gluten. Look for gluten-free versions of your favorite treats.

Gravy

Most gravies contain flour to thicken them up, and flour is gluten. Unless the gravy specifically says it is gluten-free, assume that gravy is loaded with gluten. Don’t want to give up gravy on Thanksgiving? Make your own! There are countless recipes online for gluten-free gravy.



Imitation crab

Be aware that sushi restaurants will use imitation crab for some of their rolls, most notably California rolls. Gluten is often mixed within the imitation crab, meaning you are consuming gluten without even realizing it. Ask the restaurant if they use imitation crab (hopefully they don’t!) and if they do, then avoid ordering rolls that contain it.



Salad dressing

Many salad dressings will have wheat products added to help keep the ingredients together. For this reason, skip the salad dressing or just use plain old olive oil and vinegar.

Bonus tip:

Instead of using salad dressing, try using another binding agent such as hummus or guacamole. For a full list of salad dressing alternatives read here.



Soy sauce

You might be surprised to hear that soy sauce contains gluten, but yes, it is loaded with it. Soy sauce is made from fermented wheat, making it a highly gluten containing food. Look out for other marinades and sauces that use soy sauce as an ingredient, such as teriyaki sauce.

Bonus tip:

If you love the flavor of soy sauce, try liquid aminos which is gluten-free. This is what we will use when we order sushi, or we’ll add to veggies to boost the flavors.

Oats

Unless the oats specifically say gluten-free, assume they contain gluten. Oats in themselves are gluten-free, but most of the time they are processed with wheat products making them non gluten-free.



Meatloaf

Meatloaf typically is made with breadcrumbs, so unless these breadcrumbs are gluten-free, assume you are getting gluten if you order this. Other tasty foods that fall into this category are crab cakes, croutons, and anything breaded.

Cornbread

Even though “bread” is in the name, many do not realize that cornbread is not gluten free. This is because most recipes call for wheat flour to be mixed with corn flour for making cornbread. Unless you see that the cornbread is labeled gluten-free, assume it is packed with gluten.



Licorice

Wheat is often used to bind all of the ingredients together in licorice. There are many sticky candies that use wheat or another gluten agent to bind the ingredients together, so always try and read the ingredient list – or just cut the gummies out completely!

Pie

The gluten in pie typically will come from the crust because most pie crusts are made with gluten containing products, such as flour.

Canned soup

Many canned soups will contain gluten and wheat products to help bind the ingredients together.

Alcohol

Many different types of alcohol contain gluten, including, whiskey, bourbon, and rye.

Wine, tequila, and rum should be free from gluten and are ok to consume if you are trying not to take in gluten.



Pickles

Pickles themselves are gluten-free, but often pickles have malt vinegar applied to them which comes from wheat. Look for pickles that have been pickled using white vinegar or are specifically labeled gluten-free.

Main takeaways..

Gluten is in a wide variety of foods, both savory and sweet, and there really isn’t a great way to tell if a food contains gluten or not – just assume it does contain gluten unless proven otherwise. It is important to note that there are many MANY other foods that contain gluten, but above are some of the most commonly unknown sources.

Resources

  1. https://celiac.org/live-gluten-free/glutenfreediet/sources-of-gluten/




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Top 10 Reasons To Eat More Fiber




Fiber is a carbohydrate that the body cannot digest. Unlike other carbohydrates that eventually get broken down into sugar, fiber passes through the digestive tract undigested. This indigestible property of fiber is what makes it so unique and why it has amazing health benefits. Guidelines recommend you consume at least 25 grams of fiber per day, unfortunately, the majority of individuals get less than half this amount. Understanding the amazing benefits of fiber is crucial to prompt you to consume more of it, read below!

Below lists the top 10 reasons to eat more fiber:

1. Prevents hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are a very common condition I see in practice in both men and women, and can be very painful and irritating. Did you know that eating enough fiber is part of the protocal to prevent hemorrhoids? Hemorrhoids are inflamed veins in the rectum that can be internal or external and cause a great deal of pain. Prevent hemorrhoids by eating a high fiber diet now.



2. Keeps you full

Unlike other foods that your body is able to break down so that your cells can absorb their nutrients and calories, fiber can’t be broken down at all.  Your body will still try very hard to break down fiber, which ultimately slows down the digestion of your food through your digestive tract, making you feel fuller longer preventing constant hunger and snacking.



3. Prevents constipation

Fiber adds bulk to your stool to allow for easier bowel movements through your digestive tract. Eating enough fiber is essential to preventing constipation and is the number one treatment for constipation – along with drinking enough water. If you aren’t eating any fiber or if you are eating very low fiber, there is no bulk to your stool to pull it down which means it will sit longer in your digestive tract.



4. Adds texture to your meals

Fiber adds that crunch that we crave and adds great texture to foods. Compare eating and apple to drinking apple juice. That crunch we get from munching on an apple is the fiber, whereas there is zero crunch with apple juice because it is straight water and sugar without the fiber. This is why eating an actual food is always better than drinking the juice of the food.



5. Calorie Free

Your body can’t absorb the calories from fiber and you may even burn calories from trying to digest it. Pretty amazing right! Fiber is literally the one thing that can eat that will never lead to fat gain.



6. Decreases bad cholesterol

Increasing fiber is the best natural way to decrease cholesterol, and is always my number one recommendation when I see patients who have high bad cholesterol levels. Fiber binds to bad cholesterol in your body and removes it physically from your body when you release a bowel movement.



7. Prevents high blood sugar

As discussed above, fiber slows digestion, meaning if it is taken with a high sugar food it will help to blunt the blood sugar spike that typically comes from that food.



8. Keeps the weight off

Due to all the reasons above (keeping you full, keeping your blood sugar stable, etc) you are less likely to overeat because the fiber slows things down and makes you feel more satisfied. Fiber also causes your body to burn more calories just from trying to digest it, and fiber may bind to calories and remove them from your body before they are absorbed.



9. May prevent cancer

Eating a diet high in fiber is associated with decreased chance of colon cancer. This may be due to how fiber soaks up toxins and removes it from your body with each trip to the restroom.



10. Prevents diverticular disease

Diverticular disease is inflammation and herniation of the muscular walls of the colon, and is very serious and normally presents as very painful stomach pain. The best way to prevent diverticular disease is by eating a high fiber diet.



Main takeaway…

Increase your fiber to at least 25 grams per day to reap all of the above benefits! The most fiber rich whole foods include vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds.



References

  1. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/InteractiveNutritionFactsLabel/dietary-fiber.html
  2. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/InteractiveNutritionFactsLabel/factsheets/Dietary_Fiber.pdf
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983
  4. https://online.epocrates.com/diseases/1644/Diverticular-disease/Prevention




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Top 10 Mistakes At Lunchtime You’re Probably Making

Lunchtime is a very important time of day because it can either help to keep you energized into the evening, or do the opposite and make you feel lethargic and cranky. 

Read below to learn the top 10 lunchtime mistakes you might be making:

1. You eat at your desk

If you are someone who goes into an office, you’ve probably eaten at your desk many times, am I right? Eating at your desk is a big diet mistake because you are very likely to be distracted by a number of things, including your computer, phone, work that needs to get done, coworkers, etc. When you are distracted, this means you eat more and feel less satisfied with your meal – not good!

Fix it: See your lunchtime as a break from work and a time to get out of the office to reset and recharge. Step out of your building, scope out the area, and find a bench or step where you can sit and fully place your attention on your meal.

2. You eat out everyday

If you are not the one preparing your meal, then you don’t know what all has gone into it. A seemingly healthy meal can actually be high in sugar, salt, bad fats, etc. This is because restaurants want their food to taste good, and so they add more oil, sugar, and/or salt.

Fix it: Make a lunch at home and bring it along to work. Even just starting with one day a week of bringing your lunch is beneficial.

3. You order delivery

Ordering delivery is even worse then eating out – at least if you are eating out you have to walk a bit! And if you are ordering delivery this probably means you plan to sit and eat at your desk, which is another mistake.

Fix it: Prepare a lunch at home and bring it to work. Then take your lunch outside and get a walk and some fresh air.

4. You’re not eating vegetables

Vegetables are key when it comes to a healthy meal, and lunch is no exception. Vegetables are high in water and fiber which help to keep you full and satisfied, plus they are full of vitamins and minerals.

Fix it: Always aim to add a cup of greens or veggies to your meal, no matter what you are eating.

5. You’re reading a screen while you eat

Scrolling through your phone or other device while you eat is distracting and can make you feel less satisfied and less full from your meal.

Fix it: Put all electronic devices away and place full attention on your meal, or put on headphones and listen to some soothing music while you eat.

6. You’re eating on the go

If you are walking or driving while trying to chow down, this is even worse then reading or watching something on a screen while you eat.

Fix it: Either wait to eat until you can sit down for a few minutes, or plan to eat your lunch before you need to travel.

7. You’re waiting too long to eat

If you wait too long to eat lunch to the point where you are starving, this is basically a guarantee that you will overeat later. Waiting too long to eat is stressful on your body and is also super uncomfortable!

Fix it: Try to not let more than 5 hours go by without eating. Plan to have a snack in between breakfast and lunch If you know you are going to need to take a late lunch.

8. You’re only eating carbs

Carbs trigger the feel good, soothing hormones in the body which is why eating carbs makes you feel good, but they can also make you feel tired. Think about how you feel after eating a bread heavy meal or a bowl of pasta meal of pasta.

Fix it: You don’t have to totally nix carbs from your lunch, but aim to add in some protein and fat as well.

9. You’re not eating enough

Having a lean lunch is great, but there is a fine line between eating lean and not eating enough.

Fix it: Be sure to get a good amount of protein, fiber, and fat to your meal to keep your full and satisfied.

10. You skip lunch

Skipping lunch might sound like a time-saver, but it is actually counterproductive. Food is fuel for your body and mind, and is what helps to keep your focused and energized. If you don’t have enough fuel, you can bet your productivity will suffer. Another big negative of skipping lunch is that you will likely be starving by the end of the day, which means you are very likely to stuff yourself at dinner.

Fix it: Carve out at least 20 minutes for lunch to give yourself enough time to eat slowly and digest your food.

Main takeaways…

Take full advantage of your lunchtime, and try to see it as a time to reset and recharge.

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Healthy Meal Ideas on a Budget




If you read my article on the cheapest health foods to buy (read here) then this article will help to put those foods and more into easy meal ideas for you. I had to learn how to prepare healthy meals on a tight budget when I was in college for several years, and these are the meals that I ate in college and some that I still eat today – some I got to burnt out on and don’t eat on the regular anymore 😉

Read below to learn simple, healthy, and cost effective meal ideas:

Nut butter banana sandwich

This is my all time favorite sandwich that I lived off of in college and I still make it all of the time even today. This sandwich is so simple, takes very little prep, and is super cheap! All you need is a nut butter of your choice, a banana, and bread or pita or a wrap.

Recipe: 

1 tortilla wrap, 1 banana, 2 tablespoons almond butter. Add all ingredients to the wrap, fold in half and enjoy.

Cost: around $1.50 per sandwich



Loaded oatmeal

I made oatmeal almost every single morning in college, but I added more to it to make it healthy and delicious. I normally would start with oats, then add chia seeds for some fiber, stir in an egg to get high quality protein, and then stir in a banana and/or top with frozen berries. All of the above ingredients are super cheap and healthy, and really make this oatmeal filling.

Recipe:

1/2 cup oats, 1-2 eggs or egg whites, 1-2 Tbsp chia seeds, 1/2 banana, 1/4 cup frozen berries. Mix all together on a stove and add water to the consistency of your preference.

Cost: $1.50 to $2.50

Eggs with eggs

Eggs are the all around best food you can buy for your money! They are one of the healthiest foods you can eat plus they taste great and are super cheap! I recommend always going for organic or pasture-raised eggs.

There are SO many ways to enjoy eggs, but one easy recipe is just cooking eggs on the stove and eating them on their own.

Recipe:

4 eggs. Crack in a pan with cooking spray or coconut oil. Enjoy!

Cost: $1.00 to $1.50 per meal (4 eggs)



Oatmeal banana cookies

These are my FAVORITE cookies and they are so simple and super cheap to make. Literally all you need is a couple bananas and some oats, but you can also add cinnamon, vanilla, or other spices of your preference. You can either have these as a snack or make as a meal.

Recipe:

1 banana, 1/2 cup oats, cinnamon. Mix all together. Form into balls and place on baking sheet at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

Cost: about $0.50 for the above recipe

Vegan quinoa salad

Quinoa is the only grain that is a complete protein, making it a great protein choice for vegans and vegetarians. Quinoa is incredibly versatile and pairs well with just about anything.

Recipe:

1 bag frozen vegetables, 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa. Roast the bag of veggies and cook the quinoa on the stove. Option to add 2 Tbsp of hummus or other dip, spices, and sauce such as soy sauce or teriyaki sauce.

Cost: $3.00 to $3.50 per meal

Non-vegan tip: Take the recipe above and add organic chicken, fish, or eggs for extra protein. This will mean adding on somewhere between $1.00 to $5.00 to the cost.



Chicken salad

When I refer to “salad” I don’t just mean leafy greens, but cooked vegetables as well. You get more bang for your buck with cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower compared to leafy greens. This is because cruciferous vegetables have more fiber and more nutrients, meaning they will fill you up and make you feel more satisfied. As I stated in the article about buying healthy foods on the cheap (read here), I recommend buying frozen vegetables and uncooked organic protein to save money.

Recipe:

1 bag frozen vegetables, 1 chicken breast. Roast the veggies in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Cook the chicken breast on the stove with coconut oil. Option to add 2 Tbsp of dip such as hummus, spices, and sauce such as soy sauce.

Cost: $7.00 to $8.00 per meal

Egg salad

If you don’t want to go to prepare chicken or fish then try eggs instead. Eggs are a complete protein just like other animal products, but are easier to cook and are less expensive.

Recipe:

1 bag of frozen vegetables, 2-4 organic eggs. Roast the veggies in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Choose your favorite way to prepare eggs (hard boiled, fried, poached, etc) and top your veggies with the eggs. Option to add 2 Tbsp of dip such as hummus, spices, and sauce such as soy sauce.

Cost: around $3.50 to $5.00 per meal



Protein smoothie

Smoothies are great because they are an easy way to pack in a ton of nutrition and keep you hydrated at the same time, plus if you are in a rush you can take them on the go with you and drink along the way.

Recipe:

There are so many ways to make healthy and cheap smoothies – I could dedicate an entire article to that! – but the most simple recipe is a scoop of protein powder, 7 cubes of ice, 1-2 cups of water, 1/2 cup frozen berries or 1/2 frozen banana all added to a blender.

Protein powder tip: I recommend finding a protein powder that has 5 or less grams of sugar, less than 10 net carbs, and around 20 grams of protein per serving. Also make sure you like it! If you don’t like the taste, you won’t want to make the smoothie.

Cost: $2.00 to $2.50

Paleo pancakes

These are the simplest pancakes and only require two ingredients: banana and egg. They are also very healthy and packed with protein to keep you full for hours.

Recipe:

1 banana 2-3 eggs. Mix the banana with the eggs, cook on the stove. Enjoy! You can eat the pancakes just like this, or add nut butter on top for some healthy fat and extra nutrients.

Cost: $1.00 to $1.50 per meal



Avocado egg salad

Avocados aren’t necessarily the cheapest food, but when you pair them with eggs it makes for a super healthy and cheap meal! It’s fine to go cheaper and buy non-organic avocados because the thick outer shell should protect the inside from pesticides and other chemicals.

Recipe:

1 small avocado, 2-3 hard-boiled eggs. Mash the avocado and add to chopped hard-boiled eggs. Option to add spices such as paprika, pepper, and hot sauce.

Avocado tip: I recommend buying small avocados so that you can use the entire avocado for one meal.

Cost: $3.25 to $4.00 per meal

Main takeaways…

These are just a few of many healthy meals you can make on a budget. You can certainly make variations of the above, omit or add other ingredients to your preference, and use this list of healthy cheap foods to guide you. No excuse not to eat healthy anymore! 🙂




 

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A Calorie is Not a Calorie.





Calories are essentially units of energy that you get from the carbohydrate, protein, and fat content of foods you eat and are used by the body to perform basic function of living such as breathing, digesting, walking, talking, etc.

Simply put, calories become a problem when you absorb more calories than you need because they will be stored as fat for later use. This may have been great during the caveman years when food was scarce, however that is not the case today.

A very common misconception is that all calories are created equal, and that 100 calories of say potato chips are absorbed the same way as 100 calories of say chicken. Here are some reasons why calorie counting doesn’t always add up and some incentives to eat more natural foods:

1. Your body does not absorb all calories from some foods. 


For example, almonds. Recent studies have found that about 20% of the calories from almonds are not absorbed by the body. This means if a package advertises a serving of almonds to be 160-170 calories, you are actually only absorbing about 120-130 calories. Read more about this here.

2. You body absorbs more calories from cooked foods compared to raw foods.

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Cooking breaks down the bonds in food that hold it together, which makes it easier for your digestive system to break down the food. In effect, your body doesn’t have to work as hard to break down the food and less energy and calories are lost to digestion. When foods are raw, all of the bonds are intact making your digestive system work harder to break down the food. Think about when you bite into a raw carrot compared to a cooked one, which is easier? Read more about this here.



 3. Your body burns more calories with protein. 


Up to 30% of calories from protein are lost to digestion, meaning if you eat 100 calories of protein you are only really absorbing 70 of them. This is because proteins are built up of several amino acids, which very have strong bonds holding them together. It takes a lot of effort by your digestive system to break these bonds down, in effect causing you to take in less calories.



 4. Your body absorbs less calories with fiber. 


There are a couple main reasons you will take in less calories with fiber rich foods. First of all, the human body cannot absorb the calories from fiber. This means the calories listed in your food that are attributable to fiber are not actually used (fiber is listed as a carbohydrate in nutrition labels with 4 calories per gram). Secondly, our digestive systems work extra hard attempting to break down fiber leading to more calories being lost in the digestion process. This means your net calorie intake from fiber rich foods is a fraction of what the nutrition label might say.

5. Your body absorbs less calories from whole foods compared to processed foods. 


The reasons behind this are similar to cooked versus raw food in that bonds have been broken down during the manufacturing process to make foods easier for you to eat. A good example of this was a study done that had individuals eat one of two sandwiches. The sandwiches had exactly the same number of calories, differing only in the amount of processing they had undergone. One was white bread with processed cheese and the other was a multi-grain bread and cheddar cheese. Researchers found that it took about 50% more energy digesting the multi-grain sandwich with cheddar cheese and this resulted in about 10% less calories absorbed. Read more about this here.



Another way to think about this is comparing biting into a chip to biting into an apple, which do you think takes more work to break down just starting with the mouth? Food companies are smart, they know the easier a food is eat, the more you will eat, and the faster the food will be absorbed. Unfortunately this leads to not only overeating and absorbing every single calorie ingested, but will also be unlikely to keep you full for long considering virtually all nutrients have been stripped from your food in the manufacturing process.

6. Gut bacteria can influence how many calories are absorbed. 


Gut bacteria help with the breakdown of food and effect the amount of calories you absorb from food. Research shows that there are two main types of gut bacteria that regulate calorie absorption, the firmicutes and the bacteroidetes. Obese individuals tend to have more firmicutes in their gut while lean individuals tend to have more bacteroidetes. Researchers attribute this to firmicutes being able to extract more calories from food and store it, leading to weight gain.

A sedentary lifestyle and a diet high in fat and sugar has been found to increase the firmicutes in the gut, while physical activity and a diet high in plants and low in sugar and fat is associated with more bacteroidetes in the gut. This is a relatively new research area, and more research is currently being done to better understand the role of bacteria in our gut.



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8 Good Reasons to Limit your Wheat Consumption





One of the most frequent questions I have in practice is about wheat/gluten-free and my take on how it effects the body and mind. After conducting more research on the topic, I found more than enough reasons to cut out wheat completely from my own diet. Here are the top 8 to get you started:

 

1. Not the original wheat


First of all, wheat is not what it was thousands of years ago, or even fifty years ago. Wheat today is produced by countless hybridiazations making for thousands of different potentially harmfull proteins and other compounds.

We now have “wheat” that was grown in synthetic soil, saturated in chemicals, made to survive the worst environmental conditions and cultivated so that no pest would eat it – and we’re wondering if this could make us sick? Currently there is no requirement for crops that have undergone hybridization to be tested on animals or humans. Read more about this here and here.



 

2. Increases blood sugar higher than table sugar


Wheat’s main carbohydrate is Amylopectin A and raises your blood sugar higher and faster than any other carbohydrate including table sugar! When there is a large amount of sugar in your blood all at once, this signals a large amount of insulin to remove this sugar as quickly as possible and deliver this preferentially to your fat cells (why we call insulin the fat storage hormone).

This is why you feel hungry an hour or two after eating a wheat product – all the sugar has been removed from your bloodstream by then and your cells are still hungry because your fat cells are hogging all of the energy.




 

3. Addictive


Wheat contains a unique protein called gliadin which, when broken down in the body into polypeptides, crosses the blood-brain barrier and binds the morphine receptor in the brain (i.e. euphoric center). These particular polypeptides are termed “exorphins” (exogenous morphine like compounds) because of how like other opiates, you feel a mini-high after ingesting and a slump short while after.

In short, these exorphins stimulate the addictive, pleasure seeking part of your brain, stimulating your appetite making you want more and more. Just as other drugs that bind the morphin receptor (think heroin, morphin), this repeated exposure distorts the brain causing mental fog, sluggishness, fatigue and makes one more susceptible to depression and other psychological disorders down the road.

Interesting note – there are now drugs that contain naloxone to treat obesity. Naloxone is formerly known as a drug used to treat narcotic overdose, most notably heroin. It works for weight loss because it blocks the morphine receptor, exorphins are unable to bind, and thus prevents appetite from being stimulated.




 

4. Blocks your brain from understanding you are full


Digested wheat proteins have been found to block the leptin receptor. This is bad because leptin functions to tell our brain that we are full – if this is being blocked, you are more likely to be hungrier regardless of how much you may have just eaten.



 

5. Increased risk for diabetes and obesity


This goes along with it’s addictive like quality, stimulating your appetite, increasing blood sugar rapidly, and blocking the mechanism that tells you that you are full. This is a recipe for you to overeat (overeat carbohydrates in particular because of their addictive quality), which leads to obesity and diabetes from too much carbohydrate ingestion aka chronic high blood sugar.

I hear all the time from slender patients not understanding how they can be at risk for diabetes with a normal weight and eating healthy “whole grains.” It doesn’t matter if you are thin or overweight, if you are consuming a high carbohydrate diet (which is easiest to do with consuming too many wheat products) your blood sugar will be chronically elevated unless you start making changes.



 

6. Worsening of ADHD 


This is still a controversial topic and more studies need to be done to look at this, but there have been many studies showing the improvement of ADHD in children and adults when cutting out the wheat products. You can read more about this here.



 

7. Inflammation to your gut


Gluten is the main protein of wheat, and it is made up of two proteins gliadin and glutenins. Gliadin is the primary group that triggers the immune response (i.e. infallmation) in celiac diease. But even beyond gluten and celiac diease, there are a wide range of other proteins present in wheat, more than could ever be accounted for due to the countless transformations via countless cross-breeding of strains as discussed above.

These modified proteins as well as gluten have been shown to be associated with irritable bowel syndrome in non-celiac disease individuals, and accounts for digestive issues in individuals without full-blown celiac diease. This is why individuals who cut out wheat tend to have less stomach issues.



 

8. Joint inflammation


As discussed above, wheat products raise your blood sugar more than nearly all foods. The more your blood sugar rises, the more glycation occurs. Glycation is when a sugar binds to protein causing irrversible changes, and thereby modifies proteins in the blood stream, body tissues, and joints. Glycation is particularly damaging to cartilage, and when cartilage proteins become glycated they become stiff. Overtime, glycation makes the cartilage brittle, stiff, and crumbling resulting in more pain and destruction in your joints.



I know it sounds hard to cut back on wheat (because wheat is in virtually all processed foods), but replace with filling full fat foods – avocado, eggs, olive oil, cheese, etc. Healthy non-processed fats should be the bulk of your diet, as the low-fat craze has brought upon the increased obesity, diabetes, and heart diease rate since it was instituted in the 1970s – more on this for another post. If you want to read more about the effects of wheat I highly recommend the book Wheat Belly by cardiologist William Davis, MD.



 

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5 Tried-and-True Ways to Increase Happiness in Daily Life





About the Author: Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a psychologist, author and speaker who synthesizes the pearls of traditional psychotherapy with a progressive integration of mindfulness to achieve mental and emotional healing.

We all want to be happy, undeniably.

For some people happiness comes easier than others, but what we’re starting to understand is that happiness, that sense of connection and ease of appreciating the good moments and being more graceful and resilient during the difficult ones, is a skill and strength that we can all build.




Here are Five Simple Ways to Increase Happiness in Daily Life (Note: Set all judgments aside when you read this, practice them for yourself and let your experience be your teacher).

1. Practice happiness for other people’s happiness

When you see someone doing good things for themselves like exercising, laughing with a group of friends, or celebrating an accomplishment, practice being supportive to them in your mind. Say things like “good for you for taking care of yourself” or “glad you’re having a moment of joy,” smile in your mind at them or just say “Yes!”




 

2. Practice non-violent communication toward yourself

We’ve known for a long time we’re our own worst critics and the way we talk to ourselves has a major impact on how we feel. Being a little self-critical is okay, but most of us experience it all too regularly. That has to be nipped in the bud as a practice. See if you can label any of that self-judgment and in that moment flip it to actively thinking about things you like about yourself.




 

3. Practice non-violent communication toward others 

When feeling frustrated it’s natural for humans to employ sarcasm, contempt, or to manipulate other people to get what we want. However, this type of communication toward others is like poison for our well-being. Whenever you notice any of this poison arising in you, take a few deep breaths and exercise restraint, you’ll thank yourself later.




4. Relax your nervous system

We happen to live in a world that is very fast paced, it’s no wonder that stress and anxiety are on the rise. It’s important to consciously relax our bodies a few times a day. Take a deep breath, scan your body to find where you can soften or stretch the muscles that are tense. Make this a practice, you’ll be surprised how much this can help.




 

5. Be aware of the good 

There’s a lot of “Bad” news out there that dials up our nervous systems and makes us want to keep coming back to hear more, which only feeds a “nervous” system. Instead, create some balance, your brain is less likely to see all the good, so you have to intentionally pay attention to it. When you notice a good moment, notice it, “this is a good moment, in life there are good moments, can I allow myself to linger in this for a few seconds?” Let the neurons fire together and wire together.

 

Of course there are all kinds of other things that can support our happiness including sleep, exercise, time in nature, and play. Although these are all important factors that can contribute to our well-being, the above five ways I’ve shared are all simple habits that take no extra time out of your life.

It becomes not so much about time management, but attention management.




 

Here’s the simple instructions:

Practice this for one week. Perhaps you’d like to go down the list and just focus on one per day, then see what you notice at the end of the week. As a bonus, emotional contagion is a real science and so as you practice this, imagine the ripple effects your happiness has on those around you.

 




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10 Seconds to Stress Less




About the Author: Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a psychologist, author and speaker who synthesizes the pearls of traditional psychotherapy with a progressive integration of mindfulness to achieve mental and emotional healing.

Most people I meet would like to be calmer and more focused on what matters in the moments of their lives. But the more stressed we are, the less open we are to creative ideas and the more prone we are to procrastination.




Here is a 10-second practice that I challenge you to practice a few times a day and realize its power to help you focus on what matters moment-to-moment. Inevitably, as you practice and repeat this, you’ll become more of a PRO at life.

The Be a PRO Practice

  1. P – Pause – This is the initial step that helps break the auto-pilot stress cycle.
  2. R – Relax your body – When we’re stressed, our muscles get tight which sends signals back to the brain to fight, flee or freeze, making thoughts more distracted and chaotic. Relaxing the body, does the opposite, it begins to open the mind again, making it easier to focus.
  3. O – Open to what matters in the moment – As the body is relaxed we have a greater chance to be more aware of creative ideas or simply the ability to focus on the task at hand.




Here are 10 really good places where practicing being a PRO at life can come in handy:

1. Being a PRO at life means starting your day this way…wake up, relax your body, open up to your intentions for the day.

2. Getting caught in the flurry of getting yourself or the family ready in the morning and feeling irritated? This is a perfect opportunity for pausing, relaxing and opening to being with them or getting things prepared.

3. Traffic got you down? Stoplights are a great place to practice being a PRO.

4. Finding yourself in a tense business meeting? PRO.

5. Having a challenging discussion with your partner or kids? PRO.




6. Giving a speech in front of a lot of people and feeling anxious? PRO.

7. Sitting at the dinner table and everyone is on their phones? PRO.

8. Worrying about something that you have no control over? PRO.

9. Texting while driving? PRO.

10. Laying down for the night and having trouble falling asleep because your mind is spinning? PRO.

Don’t take my word for it, actually plug this in a few times a day and see what you notice.

What you practice and repeat starts to become automatic. Imagine if you could learn to get better and better at feeling a greater sense of personal control.

What might be different?



 

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Crucial Tips To Save Your Skin From Sun Damage





You should be wearing sunscreen every. single. day. to prevent damage of your skin – everybody knows that. But here are some more tips and recommendations that you may not have heard and to keep in mind every time you are exposing your skin to the sun.

Here are 11 tips to help you stay safe while in the sun:

1. Apply sunscreen before getting dressed


This will prevent you from missing areas that were semi-covered by your clothing or undergarments, and also gives the sunscreen time to sink in – most sunscreens needs 30 minutes or more to sink in to give you optimal coverage.

2. Sunscreen spray should be sprayed a maximum of 4-6 inches from your skin 

You want to make sure you are getting concentrated sunscreen on your skin, spraying from farther distances means less sunscreen on your skin and more lost in the air.

3. Rub in sunscreen after spraying

Your skin should have an even sheen after spraying and you need to make sure to rub this in  to ensure coverage – don’t miss this crucial last step!



4. Wear sunscreen of at least 15 SPF and no more than 50 SPF


Don’t worry, you will still get some color even if you are wearing sunscreen at this level. Studies have shown that SPF above 50 really doesn’t give you much more protection – but will cost your more money – so no need to go above this.



5. Wear clothes

Clothing is your first line of defense. Clothing does not give you 100% protection but it still definitely helps protect your skin from damaging sun rays.

6. Wear a hat


The best would be a wide-brimmed (3-inch or greater) hat to give your face complete coverage, but even a baseball cap will help, just be sure to always apply sunscreen to your ears and nose.



7. Wear sunglasses

Sun rays can damage the eyes, eyelids, and the thin skin directly surrounding your eyes. It is important to protect your eyes year-round because even overcast sky can be harmful and cause damage to the eyes. Your best choice includes large frames that wrap around to prevent light penetrating from all angles.

8. Zinc oxide

This is the safest and most effective sunscreen agent because it sits on top of the skin and provides full spectrum coverage by reflecting UVA and UVB rays away from the skin. Another great thing about zinc oxide is that it starts working immediately once applied – no need to wait for it to sink in like chemical sunscreens. Look for the zinc oxide percentage to be over 10%, the greater percentage means greater the coverage.



9. Reapply sunscreen

This means after getting out of the ocean or pool, toweling off, after exercise where you are breaking a sweat, and/or every 1.5 to 2 hours. This is especially true of chemical sunscreens, zinc oxide will give you a little more leeway, but regardless you need to make sure you reapply if you are directly in the sun.



10. Aim for shade 10am-4pm

The suns rays are the strongest between 10am and 4pm, so good idea to stay in the shade during this time – along with wearing your protective garments and sunscreen 🙂

11. Your body needs  a shot-glass full of sunscreen

Most individuals do not apply enough sunscreen to fully protect their body and face. At least a shot-glass, or two tablespoons, of sunscreen is needed for adequate coverage.

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The Worst Vacation Habits Making You Gain Weight – Podcast Episode #62

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Taking a vacation is one of the very best things you can do for yourself because it’s a time to make happy memories and to reset and recharge. That being said, vacation can also be a time that you sabotage your healthy diet and exercise routine if you don’t plan accordingly. Listen to this episode to learn the worst vacation choices making you gain weight.

  

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5 Tips to Maximize Your Rest Day




Think that getting fit is all about the time you spend in the gym? Nope, that’s not even half of it. It’s what you do outside from the gym that really makes the difference, and one of the biggest factors is how you rest and recover your body. This is because exercise causes microtears in your muscles which must be repaired for those muscles to become stronger. If your muscles are not given what they need to repair and recover, then you get muscle breakdown rather than muscle building. This is why rest and recovery is so important for reaching fitness goals.

Read below to learn how to get the most out of your rest day:

1. Less couch, more active recovery

If you think a rest day means a day spent on the couch, this is not the case! A rest day should be more about actively recovering your muscles with low impact activity, such as walking, biking, and/or yoga. These types of activities increase blood flow and circulation which help to repair your muscles faster and more efficiently. These activities will also help to relieve tightness that you may have after a hard workout.



2. Give your mind a rest

Mental stress does not just stay in your head and unfortunately, that stress can travel to your entire body which can lead to tense muscles and longer recovery time. Take the extra time on your rest day to chill out for a few minutes and take time for yourself. This could mean taking a few minutes for deep breathing and meditation, or just listening to music with your eyes closed.

3. Eat protein rich foods

It is a great misconception that protein intake should be high only on workout days. This is not true, and your protein intake should be just as high on non-workout days. This is because the amino acids in protein are needed to repair and build muscle, which is exactly what your body needs on a rest day! Aim to get about a gram of protein per pound of body weight, or at least 20 grams of protein at each meal.



4. Sleep

Sleep is one of the most important factors for adequate recovery. Sleep is when your body keeps stress hormones low and releases growth hormone which helps to repair and rebuild muscle. Take advantage of the extra time you have and sleep in!

5. Don’t skimp on calories

You may think because you aren’t exercising you need to cut back on your calories for the day, but really you want to make sure you eating enough to properly fuel your body for your next workout. You will likely just naturally eat less, so don’t worry about overeating on rest days and think about how that food will help you dominate your next workout

Main takeaways…

Rest days are meant to be enjoyed, to reset your mind and body, and to be able to maximize your fitness goals. Don’t worry about setting yourself back with a rest day, it will actually help you to become fitter faster!



About the author: Sarah-Kate Rems is an Ivy League trained board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with an expertise in preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet. Sarah-Kate is also a co-founder of The Mindful Tech Lab





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