Mindfulness means living in the present moment, taking in your surroundings, and not thinking about tomorrow or what happened yesterday. Being mindful will absolutely maximize the quality of your life, and we personally strive to be more mindful everyday.
Here are our top 10 reasons to practice mindfulness:
1. Mindfulness reduces anxiety and stress, including our body’s innate “fight or flight” response.
2. Mindfulness reduces addictive and compulsive tendencies.
3. Practicing mindfulness during a workout greatly improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the exercise.
4. Practicing mindfulness at work increases productivity and efficiency, meaning you can get more done in a shorter amount of time!
5. Mindfulness increases confidence at work and in your social life.
6. Mindfulness leads to clearer thinking to make better decisions.
7. Practicing mindfulness helps to improve relationships with your significant other, friends, family, and at work.
8. Mindfulness improves your memory by increasing attention and focus.
9. Mindfulness prevents overeating and snacking and helps to get you to your ideal weight.
10. Practicing mindfulness increases overall energy and decreases fatigue.
There are so many amazing benefits of meditation. Not only does it make you feel good in the moment while meditating, but it also actually changes the way your brain operates, and scientific research has proven it.
You’ve probably heard about all of the elite athletes, business leaders, and other successful people talking about the power of meditation. Here are 7 benefits, backed by science, to help you better understand how a daily meditation practice can improve your life.
1. Lowers Stress
“Meditation has been proven to decrease mood disturbances and stress symptoms in both male and female patients…” Read the entire study here
2. Reduces pain
“After four-days of mindfulness meditation training, meditating in the presence of noxious stimulation significantly reduced pain-unpleasantness by 57% and pain-intensity ratings by 40% when compared to rest.” Read the entire study here
3. Increases brain grey matter (which helps process information)
“Meditation practice has been shown not only to benefit higher-order cognitive functions but also to alter brain activity. ” Read the entire study here
4. Improves happiness
“A short program in mindfulness meditation produces demonstrable effects on brain and immune function. These findings suggest that meditation may change brain and immune function in positive ways.” Read the entire study here
5. Improves body awareness
“Results indicated a linear relationship in coherence, with meditators having highest levels… We conclude that the coherence between subjective and cardiac aspects of emotion is greater in those who have specialized training that promotes greater body awareness.” Read entire study here
6. Enhanced focus and attention
“Brief mindfulness training significantly improved visuo-spatial processing, working memory, and executive functioning. Our findings suggest that 4 days of meditation training can enhance the ability to sustain attention; benefits that have previously been reported with long-term meditators.” Read the entire study here
7. Improves handling of difficult emotions
“Meditation may be associated with structural changes in areas of the brain that are important for sensory, cognitive and emotional processing. The data further suggest that meditation may impact aggregated declines in cortical structure.” Read entire study here
Nobody likes to be in a bad mood, but sometimes we inevitably slip into one and it negatively impacts our entire outlook for the day. The good news is that there are simple ways that we can get ourselves out of the bad mood funk and into a more positive mindset!
The first key is to recognize that you are in a bad mood, then you are primed and can follow these 8 tips to get yourself out of it!
Listen to music
We all have those songs that remind us of a happy time every time we listen to them. Turn it on, soak it in, and let the music put you back into a positive mindset.
Nature has a way of calming us and letting us step back from ourselves and into the bigger picture of life. Science has shown that being in nature can help lower blood pressure and your heart rate, a great way to offset a bad mood and turn into a good one!
Have a good laugh
Laughter will not only cheer you up instantly, but can also decrease any anxiety you may be having (often a driver to put us in a bad mood). Pull up your favorite funny clip on Youtube, think about a funny memory, or phone a friend that always makes you laugh.
Taking even just a few minutes to sit in silence while focusing on the breath can quickly take you out of your bad mood funk. Deep diaphragmatic breaths have a way of calming us and can help you lower anxiety.
Play with a pet
They don’t call dogs “man’s best friend” for nothing. Pets won’t judge you for being in a bad mood, and at the same time can help you instantly feel happier.
Thinking about the things that you are thankful for in life is an amazing way to flip your mood. Even better, write them down as a “gratitude list” then revisit whenever you’re in a bad mood.
Bad moods can often be attributed to worry about the future and stress about the past. By bringing yourself to the present moment (the time that really only matters anyway) you can “hack” your mind into a more positive state.
The body and mind are intimately connected, so use that to your advantage. When your mind is failing you with a bad mood, move around your body (jumping jacks, jog in place, shadow box, etc) to release those positive endorphins and put you into a good one!
Dehydration is extremely common, it’s probably one of the most common conditions I see in practice. Identifying that you are indeed dehydrated can be tricky because the most common symptoms are often very subtle. Understanding the symptoms of dehydration is extremely important to be able to treat the underlying cause of your symptom and make you feel better quickly and easily.
Below are common signs and symptoms of dehydration:
1. You are not sweating during exercise
A clue that you might be dehydrated is if you notice that you are not sweating in a workout that typically causes you to be drenched in sweat. This is because when you are dehydrated your body will try to hold onto every last bit of fluid in your body and will not want to give any of it up.
2. Your rings are tight
If you wear a ring(s) this is an easy way for you to notice that you might be dehydrated. If you feel like your rings are getting tighter, this may be a sign of dehydration due to your body holding onto fluid tightly which means this fluid may spill over into extracellular spaces causing puffiness – very noticeable if you can’t get your ring on or off.
3. You have muscle cramps
Dehydration is one of the most common causes for muscle cramps, most notably in the large muscles such as the calves. This is also a common sign of electrolyte imbalances, notably potassium and sodium, so be sure to be also getting electrolytes from vegetables and fruits.
4. You have dry mouth
Having a dry mouth is very uncomfortable, and a common cause for this is dehydration. Drink a couple glasses of water if this is happening and it should relieve some if not all of the dry feeling.
5. You are thirsty
Having the sensation of thirst is one of the most common signs of dehydration. This is especially true during workouts where you are sweating a ton, so make sure to always keep a water bottle on hand!
6. You have no urge to urinate
If you typically have to urinate every two hours or less, and you are now finding you have no urge to urinate and it’s been three hours, this is definitely a sign of dehydration.
7. You feel bloated and puffy
Dehydration can cause you to feel bloated and puffy and can even make your clothes feel tight. Again, this is due to your body holding onto every last drop of water and retaining all the fluid.
8. You feel constipated
To have a bowel movement, this requires your body to pull in water to the colon both mix with the bowel and to help push out the bowel. Without adequate water, this leaves a harder stool that is also harder to pass through the digestive system.
9. You have dark yellow urine
One of the classic signs of dehydration is dark yellow urine. This is because when you are dehydrated your body wants to hold onto every drop of water, and so when you urinate you will release the least amount of fluid possible, leading to concentration of salts and compounds which gives the urine the characteristic yellow color. This is why normal urine is light yellow because the salts and compounds have been diluted by water to make the urine less concentrated.
10. You feel sick to your stomach
When you are dehydrated, you are likely also lacking in essential electrolytes that are required for basic processes in the body. Nausea is a sign that something is not working correctly in your body and is a very common finding with dehydration.
11. You feel dizzy
Dehydration is a common cause for dizziness which may be due to decreased blood flow to the brain due to the lack of fluid in your body being sent to the brain. This may also be due to electrolyte imbalances that are very common with dehydration, notable sodium and potassium.
12. You have a headache
Dehydration is the most common cause of headache that I see in practice. Any stress on the body that causes an imbalance in the body’s normal function, such as with dehydration, can cause a headache.
13. Your lips are chapped
Having chapped, dry lips may be a sign that you need to drink water. Dry lips indicate a lack of moisture in the lips and mucus membranes, which happens when your body is low on water.
14. You gained weight
If you notice you gained 5 pounds in a day or even a week, this is definitely most likely due to fluid retention and/or constipation. Both are due to dehydration and is a sign you need to drink more water. It may seem counterintuitive to drink more water to decrease fluid retention, but when you are dehydrated your body will cling to every last drop of fluid unlike when you are hydrated and your body is shedding fluids as it should be.
If you have one or more of the above signs and symptoms consider the cause being dehydration and start drinking water now! The above symptoms are very common causes for dehydration but may also be signs of other serious conditions and so it is always a good idea to consult with your primary care provider.
Your brain is inarguably the most important part of your body, and keeping your brain healthy should be a top priority. There are certain foods that can help to boost parts of your brain involved with attention, focus, and memory and so understanding which foods do this is vital!
Read below for a list of the top brain boosting foods:
This includes vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collard greens. These greens are especially high in Vitamin E and Vitamin K, both of which believed to help prevent brain abnormalities linked with dementia.
Coffee is incredibly healthy because it is packed with antioxidants and other compounds that are good for not only your brain but also your entire body. One key brain boosting ingredient in coffee is caffeine, which has been found to be beneficial for your brain for a number of reasons, including keeping you alert and focused, and possibly boosting memory and preventing cognitive decline. Read more about coffee’s brain boosting effects here.
Almonds are high in Vitamin E and magnesium, both of which have been linked to improvements in memory, learning and cognition.
Fatty fish such as salmon, contain omega-3 fatty acids EPA/DHA which help protect the brain from inflammation and oxidative stress. These types of omega-3s found in fatty fish may prevent cognitive decline with age. Read more about this here.
Blueberries are packed with vitamins and antioxidants, and are fantastic for your health in general. They are especially good for your brain because the types of antioxidants in blueberries have been found to protect against age-related changes in the brain and to help protect against cognitive decline. Read more about this here.
Chocolate lovers rejoice! Dark chocolate is considered a brain healthy food due to its high content of compounds called flavonoids. Studies have found that these compounds may slow age-related changes in the brain and prevent mental decline. There is actually a great deal of research on this (who wouldn’t want to research the benefits of chocolate!?) read more about this here.
Eggs are on just about every healthy food list because they really are incredible. Eggs are good for your brain for many reasons because they are packed with vitamins and nutrients, but one nutrient in particular is choline. Increased levels of choline intake is linked to better memory and cognition. Just make sure you eat the yolks because that is where the choline is located. Read more about this here.
Try to get the foods above on rotation in your diet, your brain will thank you!
Have you ever heard of a ketogenic diet? A ketogenic diet means your body is using ketones for energy production rather than sugar. Ketones are an alternative fuel source for the body, and are produced when eating a high fat and low carbohydrate diet. This type of diet is called “ketogenic” because your body is in a state of “ketosis” meaning fueled by ketones rather than sugar (aka glucose).
Here are 9 reasons why you want your body to be fueled by ketones instead of sugar:
1. You literally burn your own fat for energy
Your body can run on either glucose or ketones. Which would you choose? Well, when you look at what this actually means: Glucose is produced from the breakdown of glycogen (strings of glucose), this means you are burning glycogen to produce fuel for your body. Ketones on the other hand are produced from the breakdown of fat (fatty acids), this means you are literally burning your own fat stores to produce energy. You can make ketones from eating very low carb (sub 50 net carbs), fasting, or consuming a product that can induce or supply the production of ketones (such as MCT oil).
2. No more “Hangry”
You know that feeling when are so starving that every little thing is irritating, and you need to eat right. NOW? Terrible feeling right? Blame the carbs! After a blood sugar spike from eating carbs, this will trigger insulin whose job is to get that sugar out of your blood as fast as it can (because sugar in your blood is toxic and inflammatory), resulting in an even lower blood sugar than you started with. Low blood sugar (aka hypoglycemia) is that terrible anxiousness you are feeling. No bueno! And how do you make that feeling go away the fastest? Eating sugar. And the vicious cycle continues.
Fat is the only macronutrient that won’t raise blood sugar, and therefore won’t spike insulin. Yes, that means protein can also raise blood sugar when eaten in excess. That is why a ketogenic diet favors a higher fat and moderate protein intake.
3. Ketones favor less mental stress
The presence of ketones increases the production of the primary calm inducing neurotransmitter, GABA, while at the same time decreasing the primary stress inducing neurotransmitter, Glutamate. Ketones do this by assisting in the conversion of glutamate to GABA in the brain, thereby favoring a more calming state. Increasing the activity of GABA is essentially what most anti-anxiety medications aim to do as well – pretty cool you can get the same effects by just changing your diet!
4. Ketones favor a more focused state
For the same reason ketones favor calmed brain activity, they also favor a more alert and focused state. As stated above, more GABA compared to glutamate in the brain favors a less stressed state, meaning there is less “noise” in the brain, allowing for greater focus and mental clarity. This is why medium chain triglycerides (MCT) are marketed as a product that can increase focus and cognition – because they give the body ketones that can be used for fuel without having to be in actual ketosis from eating low carb.
5. Ketones are a more efficient source of energy
Ketones and glucose are both used as fuel by mitochondria to produce energy (aka ATP) – mitochondria are the part of a cell that takes fuel (either glucose or ketones) and manufactures energy from it. When comparing the output of energy produced from the use of ketones vs. glucose, more energy is produced when using ketones, thereby making it a more efficient fuel source. The presence of ketones also up-regulates the amount of mitochondria in cells, so more mitochondria means more energy produced. This is another reason for the improved focus and mental clarity seen with a ketogenic diet.
6. Ketones act as antioxidants
Research has found that ketones act as antioxidants because they protect against oxidative damage from free radicals. When ketones are used to produce energy (by mitochondria) this process does not cause the release of free radicals, as does glucose when it is used to produce energy. Free radicals aka oxidative damage cause damage to cells and aid in the development of chronic disease, cancer, cognitive decline and other brain diseases, and aging.
7. Ketones may prevent cancer growth
Compared to normal cells, cancer cells metabolize a much greater amount of glucose meaning they need more glucose to thrive. Cancer cells may preferentially use sugar to fuel their growth and proliferation, and research has shown that they may not be able to use ketones as fuel. Research has also shown greater response to chemotherapy when in a fasting state inducing ketosis. There is more research needed in this area, but ketones as a preventative measure for cancer is looking very promising!
8. Greater absorption of nutrients
Major vitamin, antioxidants, and other nutrients need to be taken with fat to be able to be absorbed. This includes Vitamin D, Vitamin E, lycopene and beta-carotene such as in tomatoes, and the B vitamins. Making sure you are taking in plenty of fats will ensure you are getting the most out of your food and supplements.
9. Ketones are neuro-protective
Fueling the brain with ketones has shown to help with brain disorders such as seizures, brain cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and Alzheimer’s Disease. There is a widely cited case of a physician who put her husband on a ketogenic diet as treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and he improved within a couple of months. More research is needed on the direct effect of ketones for the prevention of diseases that affect the brain, but so far its looking very optimistic!
Side note: Ketones can supply up to 70% of the energy needed by the brain. It is true that your brain requires some glucose to function, but glucose can come from protein, it does not have to come from carbohydrates. It is a misconception that carbohydrates are necessary in your diet – they are not. Protein and fat are the two macronutrients your body definitely needs to manufacture all of the necessary components of the body.
Looking at the great creators in history – Steve Jobs / Elon Musk / Thomas Edison – to name a few, they all not only came up with big ideas, but truly executed them at scale. What sets them apart from others was their ability to combine their skills and passions to create big things in this world. You too have both skills and passions, so follow these 5 steps to start creating your own big ideas today!
You need to first create the space and time to just think and let your ideas flow freely. It’s no coincidence that some of our best thoughts happen while in the shower – that’s because there is nothing in your environment to distract you from just letting your ideas flow. Whether you think most clearly in the morning, before bed, or mid-day when out walking – you know when you are primed to think big. Plan accordingly.
An idea is nothing if you forget it. We’ve all been there when an epiphany hits us, then 10 minutes later we can’t remember it. So write down your ideas – yes, all of them! I like to put a date on my ideas and then revisit them in the future. Some ideas won’t make sense for you to pursue in the present, but may makes sense months or even years later.
Review your ideas for the day / week / month or whatever timeframe best suits you and start to build them out. The initial idea that pops into our head is RAW and needs refinement to actually turn into something great. What often happens during this phase is that one or a few of your ideas start to combine / evolve into one really big idea.
The key here is to try and find the combination of where your INTERESTS and SKILLS intersect. These ideas will be the ones that you are passionate about and also have the skills to tackle. If only one of the two areas is satisfied, you’ll likely find yourself bored or frustrated with the idea in the future and won’t bring it to fruition.
Take action on one idea – “single-tasking” truly is a super power that the great creators of this world know all too well. The thing is, a lot of people get to steps 1-4, but never actually pursue anything. These people I like to refer to as “idea people” – you know them…always talking about their big ideas, but never delivering anything. Don’t be an idea person, be a creator!
With all of the distraction and anxiety in our world today, it’s those people that walk around above it all and smiling throughout their day that have it right. Those people are often living a life full of mindfulness…
To help you reach that amazing state, below are the 10 things that mindful people incorporate into their daily life to stay calm, focused, and centered throughout their day.
1. They are aware of their breathing
By checking in on your breath you have a direct line into your overall state. Short breaths in your upper chest area may indicate anxiety or stress, while deep diaphragmatic breaths show off a sense of calm and relaxation. Calm breath equals a calm mind.
2. They focus on the task at hand
While the popular belief is that multi-tasking is the way to go, mindful people know that focusing on a single task and doing it great is the best use of their attention. Multi-tasking can lead to anxiety as our brain is running all over the place and never focused and calm.
3. They embrace nature
Getting outside and “bathing” in nature is one of the simplest ways to improve your headspace. Research has shown that being outdoors can even boost your energy and relieve stress.
4. They meditate daily
Having a consistent meditation practice has been shown to boost your well-being, improve focus, and reduce stress. Whether it’s in the morning before you start your day, during lunch break, or when you have time in the evening, finding even just 5 minutes a day to meditate will prove to be incredibly beneficial in helping you become more mindful.
Often referred to as “mindful eating”, the art of paying attention to what you are eating during meals and savoring each bite. Listening to your body while you eat is an amazing way to tell if you are full and avoid overeating.
6. They laugh at themselves
Being able to take a step back from a situation you may be stressing over and laughing at how caught up you are in it is an amazing super power! Life presents ups and downs, but being able to take in situations and just laugh and be cheerful will take you a long way.
7. They free their minds
Knowing when to let your mind run free and be creative is an important part of being mindful. The funny thing about becoming mindful and being able to harness your attention at will, is that you have the power to turn your focus on and off whenever you want!
8. They turn simple tasks into mindful moments
By paying attention to daily activities, you can bring mindfulness into the even smallest of daily tasks. From brushing your teeth to unloading the dishwasher, mindfulness opportunities are presented in many forms, not just meditation.
9. They use social media proactively
With all of the angst against how social media distracts us, mindful people know that it can be also used to be beneficial to our lives. Whether it’s checking in on an old friend, following a mindfulness quotes account, or reading a blog post on positivity, there are many ways that social media can make you more mindful.
10. They control their reactions
We understand that we can’t control what happens to us, but we can control how we react. The most mindful people can take a step back, assess, then choose the best path forward.
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’ve all heard the saying that in life there are ups and down and there is the classic eastern saying that life is filled with 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows. With this there’s the wisdom that all things come and go, but the brain has a funny way of amplifying the sorrows and minimizing the joys for good evolutionary reasons.
Whenever the brain perceived something as “bad” it starts to worry about it. But often times there is no real utility to the worry, it only serves to dig us into a deeper hole and blinds us to the joys that might be waiting around the corner.
Here is one of the best cartoons I’ve found that says it like it is:
There really is no way to cure worrying, but we can learn to get better and better at recognizing it and gently guiding ourselves back to a sense of perspective and what matters.
1. Soften your understanding of worry
The utility of worry is to try and anticipate and avoid any potential dangers and to keep us safe. It’s the brain trying to protect us and so worrying certainly has its place and time. But often times worrying only serves to ramp up our nervous system and kick us into an imbalanced place that only leads to more worrying. The brain has good intentions, but it leads us down a destructive vicious cycle.
2. Allow/Accept the feeling
Worrying usually arouses the feeling of fear or anxiety. In this mindful step, we’re simply acknowledging that this feeling is here. Calling it out. We want to do the opposite of resist it, because what we resists persists. So instead we practice allowing it to be as it is. Here you are just saying to yourself, “allowing, allowing, allowing.”
3. Feel into it with kindness
Now we have the opportunity to deepen our awareness and investigate the feeling. Here you may choose to put your hand on your heart or wherever you feel the sensation in your body. This is one way of signaling to the brain a sense of love or kindness to the feeling which may shift it all by itself. The brain also has to map the sensation of the touch with is inversely correlated with mental rumination, turning the volume down on negative thinking.
1. As you feel into it you might ask, “What does this feeling believe?” Does it believe you are unlovable, unworthy, or perhaps that if you allow it to be, it will consume you?
2. Ask the question, what does this feeling need right now? Does it need to feel cared for, to feel secure, to feel a sense of belonging?
3. Whatever the answer, see if you can plant these as seeds in yourself. For example you can plant the seeds of intention saying, “May I feel safe and secure, may I be free from this fear, may I feel a sense of belonging.”Make this personal to whatever your needs are.
4. Expand awareness and wishes to all people
Whatever the worrying is about, it’s important you know you’re not alone. Feeling vulnerable is part of the human condition and millions of people struggle with the same source of vulnerability that you experience. But when we’re feeling vulnerable with anxiety it often times is all about us, we need to also impersonalize the experience and get outside of ourselves.
You can do this by imagining all the other people who struggle worrying and wish them all the same intentions that you just wished yourself.
For example, May we all feel a sense of safety and security, May we all be free from the fear that keeps us stick in a perpetual cycle of worry, May we all feel that sense of belonging, etc…
5. Repeat steps one through four over several thousand times.
If you notice, steps one through four spell the acronym SAFE so you can easily remember what it is and what it’s for. As you intentionally practice this over and again, in time you will notice that you start to become less reactive to the worried mind, more compassionate with yourself as it arises, and even have perspective that this worrying is part of the human condition and you are not alone.
We we were able to turn the volume down on worrying in our lives, what would be there instead? For many people, it’s a sense of spaciousness, ease and joy.
The best sources of protein are sources that are highly bioavailable – meaning your body can absorb the protein and use it directly. The most bioavailable protein sources come from animal products because they contain all of the amino acids – this is unlike plant sources that are incomplete and less bioavailable. When choosing an animal based protein, get the greatest bang for your buck by choosing organic, pastured, and/or grass fed products. These products are free from hormones and antibiotics, have twice as many nutrients and antioxidants compared to conventional products, and contain a better ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids (which you want and is hard to find). In practice, when I am advising a patient about how to maintain muscle, lose fat, or maintain their ideal body composition, it all comes down to protein intake.
Below you’ll see I listed typical protein, fat, and carbohydrate content to give you an idea of how much the food source contains, but it can vary by brand.
Below are the healthiest and easiest sources of protein to use as snacks and meals:
One egg has:
6 grams of protein
5 grams of fat
0.6 grams of carb
2. Egg whites
One egg white has:
5 grams of protein
0 grams of fat
0.2 grams carb
3. Chicken breast
1/2 cup cooked has about:
20 grams of protein
2.5 grams of fat
0 grams of carbs
4. Chicken thigh
1/2 cup cooked has about:
17 grams of protein
7 grams of fat
0 grams of carbs
1/2 cup cooked (ground) has about:
17 grams of protein
8 grams of fat
0 grams of carbs
1/2 cup cooked has about:
16 grams of protein
5 grams of fat
0 grams of carbs
1/2 cup cooked has about:
20 grams of protein
4 grams of fat
0.5 grams of carbs
8. Cottage cheese
1/2 cup has about:
12 grams of protein
5 grams of fat
0 grams of carbs
9. Plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup has about:
11 grams of protein
grams of fat varies widely (no limit on fat advised)
grams of carbs varies widely (look for less than 10 grams of carbs)
1/2 cup has about:
15 grams of protein
12 grams of fat
0 grams of carbs
11. Whey protein
1 scoop of whey protein has about:
20 grams of protein
grams of fat varies widely (no limit on fat advised)
grams of carbs varies widely (look for less than 5 grams of net carbs)
How to use this guide
The next time you are wondering what to snack on or what protein source you should use for your next meal, choose one of the above to add some variety!
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because what you eat (or don’t eat) will play a huge part in how you feel the rest of the day. Yes, that one meal in the morning will affect your mood, blood sugar, hunger, and food choices for the rest of the day – wow! So what do you choose when it comes to choosing your breakfast?!
Below lists what to eat and what to skip when it comes to breakfast:
1. If you are craving pancakes…
Pancakes are high carb and low fiber (yes even whole wheat) and low in nutrients – and that’s before you add any type of topping or filler (ie syrup). Pancakes should really just be called “cake” because that’s basically what they are. There are certainly ways to make healthy versions of pancakes, but traditional pancakes are a no-no.
Instead go for the gluten-free oatmeal. This way you are still getting the carbs you crave minus the sugar, and some fiber and resistant starch to keep you full.
2. If you are starving…
SKIP: Breakfast burrito
I get it, you are starving, and a breakfast burrito sounds very tempting, but All of the ingredients in your typical breakfast burrito are filling enough! You don’t need the wrapper which has little to no nutritional value.
Get more bang for your buck with an omelette which gives you a great combination of eggs, veggies, and maybe even a cheese or another protein which will keep you full and satisfied.
3. If you are craving juice…
SKIP: All juices (unless made only from vegetables)
Juice is basically a fruit squeezed of all its sugar and put into a glass for you to drink. When you just drink the juice you are missing out on vital nutrients and fiber which comes from the fruit itself – not it’s fluid.
EAT: Fruit bowl
Always go for the whole food rather than the liquid coming from the food. The food itself has the majority of the nutrients and all of the fiber compared to its juice.
4. If you are craving coffee…
SKIP: Everything but black coffee
When a “coffee drink” has more ingredients other than coffee, it’s not really coffee anymore. Your frappuccinos, mochas, lattes, pumps of different flavored syrups, are not doing you any good because they contain zero healthy nutrients and are just adding chemicals, sugar, and empty calories.
DRINK: Black coffee (i.e. ingredients include only water and coffee beans)
If you want coffee, stick to the real deal, and if you want to fancy it up then get a cold brew or add a splash of almond milk.
5. If you are craving a bagel…
Did you know that a standard bagel is equivalent to four pieces of bread?! This super high carb meal causes your blood sugar to skyrocket and then shoot right back down making you feel lethargic and sleepy – the last thing you want to feel like in the morning! No one needs that much carb in one sitting.
EAT: Open face egg sandwich
Add slices of avocado or another egg or protein source if you are extra hungry. Adding more protein or fat will not cause any blood sugar changes, and will keep you more full and satisfied.
6. If you are craving a bowl of oatmeal…
SKIP: Quick oats
Also referred to as “instant oats” these type of oats have been highly processed meaning they have been stripped of most of their nutritional value. And definitely stay away from the pre-packaged instant oats that have been infused with maple and other sugars.
EAT: Irish oats
Irish oats are also called steel-cut oats and are the least processed of the oats. This means they will give you the greatest nutritional value.
7. If you are cravings a bowl of cereal…
SKIP: Raisin Bran
I can’t even count how many times a patient has told me they are trying to eat healthy and so they started eating Raisin Bran. This cereal has approximately 17 grams of sugar in one serving! To put this into perspective, guidelines recommend no more than 25 grams of sugar per DAY! And unless you are precisely measuring this serving you are likely taking in even more.
EAT: Fiber One Original
Fiber One is hands-down the best choice in terms of cereal. It is high in fiber, low in calories, and contains zero sugar. However, It’s not gluten-free, but it is the absolute best choice when it comes to choosing cereal.
8. If you are craving yogurt…
SKIP: Flavored yogurt
In general, all flavored yogurts have too much sugar. Anything over 5 grams of sugar is too much, and most have over 10 grams – no bueno. Be especially weary of “fat-free” marketing because this almost always means additional sugar has been added to give it flavor (since the fat has been taken out).
EAT: Plain Greek yogurt
Plain is the main thing you want to look for, Greek is best because this type of yogurt contains the greatest amount of protein. Still check the nutrition label because sometimes plain yogurt still has a ton of sugar in it. To add some sweetness consider adding some berries and nuts.
Who doesn’t love a treat? Especially when the treat is actually not bad for you – woo hoo! Unfortunately, treats and desserts are either super high calorie and high sugar, or taste like cardboard and make you crave treats even more. What to do? Well, here at The Mindful Tech Lab we have a small dessert almost every single evening and below is a list of our favorite healthy treats. All are low sugar and low calorie, so you don’t have to worry about derailing your diet when consuming them. Hooray!
Below lists our favorite healthy treats:
1. Dark Chocolate
This is our number one favorite healthy treat. Always go for dark chocolate because it has the greatest amount of nutrients and health benefits, as well as being the lowest in sugar of the chocolates. Look for dark chocolate that has over 80% cocoa, because the higher the percentage of cocoa, the lower the sugar – check our the nutritional labels and compare. Note that the higher the percentage of cocoa the more bitter the taste due to the lower sugar content, so consider starting on the lower end of percent cocoa and work your way up.
We love blackberries and raspberries because they are low in sugar, high in fiber, and taste great! Both fresh or frozen are good choices, just make sure if you buy frozen that it is not sweetened. A good trick is warming up frozen berries in the microwave because when it melts it tastes like pie filling! Stick to one serving of berries which is 1/2 cup, it can be very easy to triple this serving size, so pay attention to the serving size.
3. ARCTIC ZERO
We love ARCTIC ZERO frozen desserts because their products are gluten free and lactose free, and they use only natural ingredients, no artificial sweeteners and no artificial coloring. We also love that they sweeten their products with monk fruit, which is a natural sweetener and has a great taste. The main ingredient they use is whey protein, which gives it some protein and flavor. Our favorite lowest sugar flavors are Salted Caramel and Vanilla Maple.
4. Halo Top
If you are really wanting that ice cream taste and texture without all of the sugar and empty calories, this is your brand! Halo Top makes both dairy based and vegan products, but so far we have only tried the dairy based. The dairy based desserts are high in protein (around 12 grams) because they are made with eggs, milk, and cream, and low in sugar (around 5 grams) because they are sweetened with the natural sweetener stevia (a sweetener we approve of). The vegan desserts are coconut milk based and are also sweetened by stevia. The vegan products are lower in protein compared to the dairy based (about 3 grams) but are also very low in sugar (about 4 grams) which makes this product a great choice as well.
5. Plain greek yogurt with stevia or berries
This means low sugar greek yogurt, around 5 grams of sugar – very important to read nutritional labels here!! Even “plain” greek yogurt can have up to 20 grams of sugar without even tasting sweet – crazy right! Give it some flavor by sweetening with the natural sweetener stevia or monk fruitwith some warmed up berries. Watch the serving size of this and stick to 1/2 cup.
6. Hot chocolate
A low sugar hot chocolate is one of the best healthy desserts because it gives you high volume with low sugar and calories. We really like the brand Lakanto, who makes a drinking chocolate with about 2 grams of carbs and less than 10 calories per serving. We’ve tried A LOT of different products, and this one is the best in terms of taste and ingredients. It is sweetened by monk fruit, which is a natural and zero calorie sweetener. This product is also dairy free, gluten free, and vegan. Mix it with a cup of warmed unsweetened almond milk!