Posts in Nutrition Tips
How to Eat More Mindfully at Restaurants
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Eating mindfully is a challenge for all of us, especially in a current society of distractions. Following my 8 steps to eat more mindfully may be easier to start practicing at home when you can intentionally clear a space from distractions. But what about when you eat out at a restaurant? There are so many distractions - figuring out what to order, catching up with friends, coworkers, clients or a new love interest. Who has time to eat mindfully when you are trying to figure out if the person across from you is your soulmate?!

Oof, so many things!! A quick reminder that eating mindfully isn’t about perfection. It is a practice, and the more you do it, the proficient you get. It is about letting go of perfection and instead being in the present moment.

It should also be noted that eating out at restaurants can be anxiety inducing for many. Slowing down and trying a few of my mindful eating tips below will be helpful not only to reduce any anxious food thoughts, but also to help digest better and avoid any stomach upset, heartburn and bloat.

  1. CHECK IN WITH HUNGER BEFORE YOU GET THERE: how many times have you showed up to a restaurant and between the time you sit down and when your food comes the hanger kicks in? This happens to me all the time and it is distracting. Arriving at a restaurant starving keeps you from checking in with what you really would like to eat. When you are hangry you are ready to order the entire left side of the menu, am I right? Check in with your hungry 30 minutes to an hour before leaving. Have a small snack if needed. Being a just hungry enough when you show up to the restaurant will give you the space to explore the menu and think about what you truly want rather than reacting to a blood sugar crash.

  2. PLAN AHEAD: reading the menu of the restaurant you plan to go to before your meal can be helpful if you have a tendency to get anxious when ordering at restaurants. If you are one of those people who waits until everyone else orders, to see what they get before making your decision… then this might work well for you. I do caution that sometimes looking at the menu too far in advance can stand in the way of checking in with your hunger when you are there. Give yourself grace to change your mind if you sit down and something else sounds good to you in the moment. Take a quick scan of the menu before jumping back in to being present with those at the table with you.

  3. PAUSE BEFORE THE FIRST BITE. This can be challenging to do if the waiter or waitress puts your plate down when you are engaged mid-conversation. I suggest looking down at your food when it comes and making an exclamation to your current convo buddy about how good the food looks! This will incite them to do the same, and in these few seconds of pause you can check in with your hunger. You will have already taken a moment to take in the smell and colors of the meal, and now take another moment to savor the first bite - the texture, taste and mouthfeel. Taking small moments to savor the meal, even better if in a shared moment with others, helps to turn on your hunger cues as well as fullness cues.

  4. EAT DESSERT IF YOU WOULD LIKE. Desserts can be scary for those who have patterns of restriction and food rules. A reminder that sugar is not the devil and that all foods fit and have a place in our lives. If you are interested in a dessert, it is also ok to eat past the point of being full. This is a practice of leaning in to the different types of hunger. Denying yourself something that you would like and would enjoy in the company with others is actually disconnecting your brain from your body, instead of mindfully tuning in to what you want. This also goes the other way, if you don’t want dessert, don’t feel pressured by others at the table who want to order.

  5. GO SLOW. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the moment, whether in the company of others, or in the conversation at the table, and before you know it you have wolfed down your meal and don’t even remember how it tasted. We often feel like we need to keep on pace with others at the table as well, which can result in eating faster than normal. It can feel weird to be the last one at the table who is still finishing your meal. All plates have been cleared and you are still munching. But your digestion will thank you! As you engage in conversation, it is possible to multi-task and be present with the bites you are taking. Slowly eating and chewing while being present with those at the table. It takes practice, but it is possible!

What People Get Wrong ABOUT Intuitive Eating: The Top 5 Myths

Curious about Intuitive Eating? Have your assumptions about it but not sure what it REALLY is?!

All good boo! I am breaking it all down for you, the myths and the truths behind what Intuitive Eating really is so that you can start to educate yourself if you are considering the Intuitive Eating path.

A good place to start is learning the steps to Mindful Eating on a day to day basis - slowing down to focus in on your hunger and fullness cues and to be present with your food. I call Mindful Eating a “lily pad” as you make your way from one side of the pond (Diet Culture) to the other (Intuitive Eating) .

And as you make your way across the food freedom pond, here are some myths about Intuitive Eating so you have a better understanding before you head down this path.

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LET’S DIVE IN TO THE MYTHS!

1. Intuitive Eating is a diet for weight loss.
Yep, definitely a myth and the first one I remind my clients of, and also reply to in emails and DMs. Intuitive Eating is not a diet for weight loss. Instead it is learning how to eat OUTSIDE the diet mentality and creating a healthy relationship with food. I use Intuitive Eating in my practice with clients who are recovering from disordered eating to help them heal their relationship with food. To do so, the first step (or lily pad) is to ditch the diet mentality and to unlink food from any rules. Instead, Intuitive Eating looks at food through a lens of satisfaction and enjoyment. For example, on a diet you may look at a bowl of oatmeal topped with fruit and nuts and think “How many calories or grams of carbs are in it? If I eat it do I need to restrict carbs or calories later? With intuitive eating, you simply look at the bowl of oatmeal and ask: Do I want it? You may naturally consider other factors as well from old programming, but it all starts with this simple question.

2. Nutrition is thrown out the window.

This one is a classic. The belief that once you allow yourself to eat what you want, you won’t be able to control your cravings and it will be pizza and ice cream all day long. Won’t this lead to more bingeing and eating ALL OF THE THINGS?! The quick answer is no, but there may be a honeymoon period. One of my clients told me, “I knew I had figured out Intuitive Eating when I went out to lunch with coworkers and ordered a salad, NOT because it was the healthy item on the menu but because I truly wanted it". I think this sums up the Intuitive Eating nicely, but for some there is an in between phase.

The honeymoon period: when you first break out of the diet prison, you might get a little excited. This is because your brain is used to that in-between-diets phase, and it knows the routine: Stock up on the good stuff now, because it's only a matter of time before the pizza and ice cream is off of the table again. So whatever your forbidden fruit was, you might go through an initial phase where you're eating more of those things, and that's normal. It can be really scary, but trust me that this is normal. And, IT WILL PASS. Eventually, you realize pizza and ice cream aren't going anywhere, and so you don't have to hoard them. Your body gets the message: Oh, these are always available? OK cool, because I am getting sick of them and a salad or fish and veggies sounds pretty good right now.

3. You will gain weight.

This isn’t really so much of a myth as it is an unknown. Because here is the truth, when you start to eat intuitively you will either lose weight, gain weight or your weight will stay the same. Intuitive Eating isn’t about the weight. If weight gain is a worry for you, ask yourself where this discomfort is coming from - Diet culture? A society that praises thinness? Internalized fat phobia?

Because weight has nothing to do with Intuitive Eating. This is because you cannot simultaneously create a better or more neutral relationship with food and focus on weight loss. As goals, they are like two magnets held together - they repel each other.

I mean yeah, weight change is a likely side effect of changing your eating habits. But, that change isn't going to look the same for everyone. If your body has excess weight to lose, you probably will lose it. But, if you have been restricting for years and your weight reflects this, you will probably gain weight as your metabolism has slowed while in starvation mode. This takes some time to catch up and for homeostasis (balance) to take place.

Another thing to remember is that normal eaters fluctuate, too. Not just disordered eating. Our bodies reflect our lives and we have to learn to recognize that without judgment and to give ourselves more grace while we check in with where the discomfort is coming from.

4. It’s easy!

I feel like this is the allure of diets, we perceive them as an easy way to lose weight. This makes sense as they promise so much - Lose 30 pounds in 30 days! Sure thing, it may be easy to watch the weight fall off on your first diet and then dieting becomes addicting as a quick fix. But we are missing the statistics that most diets (95% to be exact) don’t work, just take the long-term results of the show the Biggest Loser as an example of what happens to weight and metabolism overtime when you constantly diet.

Intuitive Eating is a big change if you are crossing the pond from the other side of diet culture. And change is hard. It takes time. Intuitive eating is about real, long-term change.

5. It works for everyone

Well, technically, this one may actually be true. Because in the end, intuitive eating really just means, well, eating! It's about eating based on your needs (your mind and your body’s needs), not a diet's rules — so if you put it like that, I guess Intuitive Eating is for everyone. But, if you've been burned by diets, lifestyle labels and strict meal plans in the past, then you may not want to align yourself with any kind of “program”. That's totally fair. But loop this back to myth 1, Intuitive Eating isn’t a diet or a program (wink, wink).

Not quite ready to take the leap and need a framework to bridge you from diet culture/disordered eating to Intuitive Eating? I created an Intuitive Eating Nutrition Plan with an easy to follow framework that includes mix n’ match meal grids (so you can eat what you want!) and worksheets to tap into your hunger and full cues.

Remember, it is important to meet yourself exactly where you are on your journey and grow from there. No judgements. :)

5 proteins to add to your salad for more energy

A lot of the clients I work with in my one on one health coaching practice have the health goal of wanting more energy. Most suffer from what I call “the afternoon slump.” You know the feeling, come 3pm you are ready for that afternoon coffee or a nap under your desk. Your energy is zapped.

I ask these clients what they are having for lunch and most of them reply that they are eating a big salad. And when I ask what ingredients are in their salads, it turns out that most of them are lacking sufficient protein.

Not having a sufficient amount of protein in your breakfast and especially your lunch will typically lead to that afternoon energy slump. Protein contains B vitamins that our bodies use to balance our nervous system and particularly B12 in animal protein sources that give us energy*

Adding protein to your morning smoothie or nut butter to your oatmeal or other warm breakfasts is a great place to start. For lunch I like to add a good protein source along with a healthy fat to help satiate me until an afternoon snack and give me energy until dinner. My favorite way to do so is on a salad for lunch.

Scroll for my 5 favorite protein toppers for your salad.

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If you are stumped for what protein to add to your salad and how much, look no further! I got my 5 favorite toppers and how much to add, all with ideas for fats to add as well. Can I get a woot woot?

1) CHICKEN. Surprise surprise, but chicken is one of my favorite protein toppers in terms of variety for what salads you can make. I suggest a 4 - 6oz. piece of chicken, or enough shredded chicken that would fit in the palm of your hand. My favorite combinations are a classic chicken caesar like the one pictured above with my easy homemade caesar dressing and avocado; or a chicken salad with sliced almonds, strawberries and olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette.

2) EGGS. I love both hard and soft boiled eggs on my salads. It’s so easy to bring with you to work and add on top of your salad. Eggs are the perfect protein as they contain all nine essential amino acids that our body can’t produce on it’s own. I suggest adding two eggs to your salad, or doing one egg and also 1/4 cup of quinoa (a gluten-free grain that is high in protein) or chickpeas. I love me a good chopped salad with romaine, tomatoes, avocado, eggs and chickpeas.

3) BEANS/LENTILS. Plant-based protein from legumes back a big punch in your salad. I love a mexican-themed salad with romaine, 1/2 cup black beans, avocado, cheddar, tomato and a lime +cilantro + olive oil dressing. I love making this a warm salad with 1/4 cup kidney beans and 4 oz. of ground turkey sautéed in olive oil and taco seasoning.

4) STEAK. Don’t shy away from red meat, but do make sure it comes from a local source that is grass-fed. Red meat is high in iron, selenium, zinc and B-12. I like steak salads for when you are going out to lunch with co-workers or clients for work. It’s an easy menu choice when you don’t want to fuss and someone else has picked the place to eat. If ordering steak, I suggest skipping dairy to help with digestion. Chew your steak thoroughly and a 4oz. to 6 oz. portion the size of the palm of your hand is the perfect amount.

5) SHRIMP. The underdog for salad toppers. Here is one of my favorite shrimp salad combos when you are looking for something quick and tasty. I also love making my own shrimp louie salad using a good ranch dressing like this ranch one and also this thousand island dressing.

*if you are a vegan or a vegetarian I recommend getting a blood test to see where your B vitamin levels are and substituting as needed.

The 6 Best Dairy Free Products

I work with a lot of my clients on gut-healing which includes leading them through a personalized elimination plan and reintroduction to pinpoint which foods are causing digestive symptoms. One of the main culprits for many is dairy. Sad but true, because cheese is so so delicious but sometimes we need a break from it in order to heal our guts. With my guidance, I always empower my clients to discover how foods make them feel, so that they can make decisions about what they eat on a day to day basis to feel their best!

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I am therefore constantly on the lookout for new products, especially dairy free replacements if dairy is a no-go.

The market of dairy free products is a saturated one, with so many choices it can be hard to know which ones taste good and are made with good ingredients.

But all good, I have done the taste testing and label reading for you!

I have narrowed it down to my top 6 favorite dairy-free products that I always have on rotation when my tummy needs a break from the real thing.

1.     MILK: Forager Project Cashew Milk. Doesn’t get better than this for taste and ingredients. Forager has been around for a minute and has perfected their milk. I love using for smoothies and chia seed pudding as it doesn’t leave a funky after taste like almond milks can.

2.     MILK: Native Forest Simple Coconut Milk.  This is the only coconut milk I have found that doesn’t add Xanthum Gum! You can buy it on Amazon if you can’t find this in your store.  Make sure the label has the word “SIMPLE” on it ;)

3.     CHEESE/CREAM CHEESE: Kite Hill Ricotta Cheese. One word – texture!! I don’t know how they do it but the texture is just like real ricotta and it tastes dang delicious. I am not a big fan of their cream cheese, because 4 out of 5 that I buy always have mold when I open them (what’s up with that?), but I have used this as a spread on bagels and it’s a better cream cheese alternative.

4.     CHEESE: Miyoko’s Vegan Mozz. Holy crap this stuff is epic. It melts, browns and bubbles just like real mozzarella cheese. I kid you not. I would never lie to you!  So the next time you want to make that panini or pizza dairy free, get this stuff pronto.

5.     YOGURT: Forager Project Cashewgurt. I have tried so so so many dairy free yogurts. I still haven’t found a coconut one I like that is versatile, and the almond milk ones have weird aftertastes. There are oat milk ones out on the market now but the ingredients are shit. Forager has nailed it with the texture and mild taste. I don’t only just eat it with granola and fruit but also mix it into dressings and tuna salads.

6.     BUTTER: Miyokos Vegan Butter. Vegan butters can be, errrrr, quite industrial with their ingredients. But this one is really good, made with coconut oil, and melts and bubbles in the pan, and is delicious on bread too!

 
Tada! Hope you enjoy some new ideas for products and leave in the comments your favorites! Always on the hunt for something new.


Intuitive Eating: The 5 Types of Hunger

When it comes to intuitive eating, there is a lot of talk about hunger. Eating intuitively is not just about eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. It is about quieting the external messages we receive from Diet Culture which disconnects us from our body, telling us to follow certain food rules and to be insecure and anxious about our food choices. When we are disconnected from our bodies, it becomes difficult and sometimes impossible to pay attention to our hunger cues. We have made up so many rules in our minds that we no longer can hear our body.    

One thing I frequently discuss with clients who are working to break the binge/restrict cycle or to calm anxiety with food, are hunger cues. Specifically the types of hunger that we experience which can be tapped into.  This helps my clients to better understand what might be fueling their desire to eat in order to better respond to their body’s cues.

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THE FIVE TYPES OF HUNGER IN INTUITIVE EATING

1.     Physical Hunger

2.     Emotional Hunger

3.     Taste Hunger

4.     Necessity Hunger

5.     Nutrient Hunger

When reading through and then recognizing the different types of hunger, it is important to note that all of these are NORMAL AND VALID.  We may have been taught to believe that any other type of hunger that is not physical must not be real, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

What is important is to know which type of hunger you are experiencing so that you have the tools to satisfy it without guilt or shame. To embrace all of them equally as a part of the human experience with food, emotions, taste and pleasure.

1.     Physical Hunger comes from our need for energy. This can manifest as that gnawing feeling in your stomach and also as fatigue, headaches, shakiness, irritability and moodiness. When we are physically hungry, we should eat!

2.     Emotional Hunger is when you have an unmet emotional need that increases your desire to eat. I personally hate that emotional eating has a negative connotation as I truly believe emotional eating is normal and healthy eating. A lot of people refer to binge eating as emotional eating, but these are actual separate. Binge eating is used to not feel emotion at all, and to instead shut it out. By bingeing, we are not meeting our emotional need and instead are suppressing it.

Emotional hunger can also be confused with physical hunger.  The difference is that emotional hunger comes on quickly and is usually coupled with an uncomfortable or intense emotion which can be sadness, anxiety, lonliness, and also extreme joy.  You feel it more in your head than in your stomach and can therefore come on an hour or two after eating.

3.     Taste Hunger is present when you are craving something specific.  Meaning a certain food just sounds dang good! An example of this is being at a wedding and wanting a slice of the cake because it sounds really good, even if you just ate a big dinner. It can be the same at a restaurant when you are satisfied with your meal and want a dessert.  This usually means you are eating when you are not hungry, and remember, you are allowed to eat when you are not hungry and that is totally normal!

4.     Necessity Hunger isn’t truly hunger but rather a need to eat in anticipation of hunger later when you won’t be able to eat. Let’s say you are at work and you have back to back meeting coming up, during which you will likely get hungry.  Although you are not hungry in the moment, you eat in order to stay ahead of the inevitable hunger. Remember that this “hunger” is valid and very important to pay attention to.

5.     Nutrient Hunger comes from our need for nourishment. Aka, you head to Vegas for a bachelorette party and you come back craving veggies and green juice. Or you are craving red meat after you finish your menstrual cycle and enter the follicular phase. Our bodies are smart, they know exactly what nutrients we need and when. Diets such as keto, paleo or being vegan can remove entire healthy food groups with essential nutrients that our bodies may need and be asking for when we are restricting.


Are Green Juices Good For You?

Think twice before you order your next green juice with added fruits.  Apples, pineapples, grapefruit, orange… they may make your juice taste sweeter, and cut the taste of the veggies, but juicing removes the fiber and all of its benefits. So what does that actually mean? And, are green juices good for you?

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The short answer is yes, the green juice benefits are great for you and provide vitamins and nutrients from the vegetables for energy, good digestion and also boost our immune system. What is not so good for you are green juices with added fruit.  Juices made with fruit are stripped of their fiber content, causing the sugar in fruits (such as added apple, orange, pineapple, etc.) to be absorbed faster into your system and therefore spiking blood sugar levels. This can change your cravings throughout the day as insulin is released from your pancreas to lower blood sugar levels and in the meantime can change what your hunger hormones are telling you for satiety. For example, have a veggie and fruit juice by itself and you might be hungry an hour later. Or crave more sugar later in the day.

Really this means that drinking fruit juice without the fiber, can have the same impact on your system as eating white table sugar.

This is because fruit contains fructose, just as honey, maple syrup and white table sugar do. So, what’s the difference? FIBER. Fruit contains fiber, while other sources of sugar do not. When you eat fruit in its whole form, you get the benefits of the fiber – which helps to break down the sugars (fructose) for slower absorption.  Meaning, as your system digests fruit in its whole form it has to break down the fiber first, slowing the absorption of sugar into you blood. Thus curbing cravings and keeping you more satiated.

 Fruit contains both soluble and insoluble fiber.  Soluble fiber stabilizes blood sugar, slows absorption and reduces cholesterol. Your small intestine absorbs the nutrients and fructose for energy and the insoluble fiber drops down into your large intestine where it pushes waste through your digestive tract, making digestion quicker and helps with more regular bowel movements.

Here’s my advice, when buying your daily green juice keep it just veggies with no fruit.  Eat your fruit whole or blend it into a smoothie so you get the benefits of the fiber. And if you are craving a big glass of orange juice, or a pineapple and veggie juice, have it with a snack that contains fiber or use it as a base for your smoothie and add in ground flax or chia seeds. Your health will thank you!


The Best Healthy Fats to Add to Your Smoothie

Food is something that is so personal to all of us. We all have our own unique bodies and cravings. And although I am not one who believes in diets or following a strict meal plan, I do believe that fats are important to consume every morning WITH YOUR breakfast, and especially in your smoothie.  I AM giving you a full list of healthy fats to add to your smoothies, while still making intuitive choices for what Your bodies crave and need every single day.

My chocolate cherrie smoothie with avocado and chia seeds, hooray for fats!

My chocolate cherrie smoothie with avocado and chia seeds, hooray for fats!

Since smoothies are packed full of nutrients from the fruit and veggies, we need fat to help better absorb and get the benefits from vitamins such as Vitamins A, C, D, E and K. We also need fat in our smoothies to keep us full until our next meal. Have you ever whipped up a fruit, veggies and protein smoothie only to be hungry 2 hours later? Adding in fats helps to keep you full and satiated longer so that you are not starving, and don’t need a snack, between breakfast and lunch.

The good news is that there are so many ways to add fats to your breakfast smoothie, depending on what you are craving that day, so you can make the intuitive choice for the combo you crave!

Plant Based Fats
Avocado – add 1/4 large avocado to 1/2 small avocado

Coconut milk – use 1 cup canned coconut milk as your base

Coconut oil – use 1 tbsp. liquid coconut oil (MCT oil) which won’t harden when cold

Nuts and Seeds
Nut butter – add 1 tbsp. unsweetened almond, cashew, walnut, hazelnut or pecan butter (use my code BBM25 for 25% off)

Seed butter – add 1 tbsp. unsweetened sunflower seed butter

Chia Seeds or Ground Flax Seeds – add 1 tbsp. to help thicken your smoothie and add Omega-3’s

Whole Milk Dairy
Goat Milk Kefir – use 1 cup as the base of your smoothie, goat milk is easier to digest that cow’s milk dairy because of lower lactose (milk sugar) and casein (milk protein) and added benefits of probiotics.

Whole Milk Yogurt – use 1 cup as the base of your smoothie with a splash of water or coconut water to help blend. Make sure to choose an organic brand with good probiotic cultures such as Straus or Nancy’s.

To create the perfect smoothie, make sure you are adding at least one of these fats from the list above or a maximum of two. Going overboard on fats will be too much on your digestive system.

Make sure to share your favorite smoothie combinations with healthy fats by tagging me on Instagram where I also share my recipes as well.


Does Binge Eating differ from emotional eating and over eating?

I GET Asked this question quite often, so i wanted to answer it for you Here on my blog. As we navigate our relationship with food and heal any disordered eating tendencies, it’s easy to get caught up in what is “right” versus “wrong.” Truth is there is no black and white answer, or perfect relationship with food. But learning how to differentiate between normal and disordered eating will help you along the way. Because we all should be enjoying our food and creating a safe space for ourselves to have a loving relationship with what and how we eat.

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The answer to this question is simple. YES. There is a difference between the following:

 

1)    Binge eating

2)    Emotional eating

3)    Eating when you are not hungry/past the point of being full.

 

It is important to know the difference and separate them. They can also go together, so it is important to know that too.

 

Binge eating, as many of you know, is damaging to both your physical and mental health. Binge eating is tied directly to the urge (not the emotions) to binge. Bingeing feels out of your control and usually is "emotionless" and results in you "blacking out" and eating to the point of not being able to stop so that you feel sick and physically ill afterwards, often until the next day. Binge eating is often followed by feelings of guilt, shame and sadness which can often continue the cycle of binge eating.

 

Emotional eating can be categorized as normal eating behavior. But it is important to note only if this is separated from and does not lead to a binge. We eat when we are sad, lonely and also when we are happy and feeling joy. It is ok to eat when you are emotional if you are AWARE in the moment and is consistent with present thoughts that might say something like "yes I am aware I am eating because I am emotional, and I can stop when I want to." It is also important to be aware that binge eating is emotionless. When you binge eat, the urge is strong and present but your emotions then fall way during a binge and you are not aware or present. 

 

Eating when you are not hungry or eating past being full can also be categorized as normal eating behaviors. The difference is that you have control over the urge and you can stop if you wanted to. These can also be defined simply as "mindless eating" and not binge eating. We often eat when we are not hungry because we are bored or to fill the time. We can become mindful of this by mentally checking in with ourselves when we are bored, and ask ourselves "Am I hungry, or just bored? What else can I do to fill this space?"

 

Eating past being full can also be categorized as normal eating. When this takes place we are able to identify that we over ate and also listen to and trust our body that it will balance itself out. We aren't able to intuitively listen to our bodies all the time because of well, life and all it's wonderful distractions, and therefore we normally overeat or under eat. When eating past the point of being full or eating when you are not hungry leads to a binge (as explained above), this is when it is categorized as ED behavior.

 

I work with clients on separating these three behaviors and overcoming the binge/restrict cycle. It is important to note that the journey to full recovery is difficult and working with a health coach like me to form new habits with food will be beneficial for your mental, emotional and physical health in the long run.

You can book a consult call with me here. 

Pricing for all my programs is found here.

 


My 6 Tips To Stay Regular And Avoid Constipation When Traveling

We have all been there. Day 4 into vacation and you haven’t been able to go to the bathroom. It’s uncomfortable, embarrassing and just plain awful. When we travel or go on vacation, our natural rhythms are thrown off by air travel, time zones and being out of routine. Many off us struggle with digestion and regularity when we travel, but it doesn’t have to always be a thing! Staying on our normal routine can be helpful, but I have 6 of my top tips to “keep things moving” below so that you can relax and enjoy yourself.

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1. HYDRATE! Probably the most important but one we often forget about. Drinking enough water starts the day that we go to the airport and get on our flight, not just on the airplane (although that is very important)! Be conscious of how much water you drink the day of your flight. My rule of thumb is drinking enough water on a travel day so that I am using the restroom every two hours beforehand. I bring a bottle of water with me to the airport and drink half on the drive there and the other half while checking in/in the security line. I bring a stainless steel SWELL BOTTLE with me so I can immediately refill again before boarding my flight.

Don’t be shy to ask for as much water as you want on the flight, select an aisle seat and maintain every two hour bathroom breaks (except if overnight flight so you can catch some Zzzz’s). I always ask flight attendants to refill my stainless steel water bottle and I also ask for hot water for tea. This is my go to GINGER TEA to drink on flights and also while traveling to help with digestion.

2. Magnesium. My go-to supplement for traveling because it helps to reduce water retention (with the help of compression socks too), is a natural sleep aid and also relaxes your intestines to keep you regular. Triple threat! I like to take Magnesium nightly (400-500mg) and will start this ritual 1-2 days before my travel in the time zone I am traveling to. For example, if I am traveling to New York from San Francisco and my usual bed time is 11pm, I will take magnesium at 7pmPST (11pmEST). This help to get me on schedule so my natural biorhythm catches up quickly. Here is the magnesium supplement I take which is the best for regularity and constipation relief, in my opinion.

3. Digestive Enzymes. When we travel we tend to try new foods that we don’t typically eat at home and also eat our a lot more than usual. Add this on to any time changes, plus eating outside of your normal routine, and this can cause digestive upset and backed up pipes. Here are the digestive enzymes I take when I travel. I keep a few in my purse and take two right before each meal with a glass of water. I notice such a big difference.

4. SLEEP. Getting proper rest and good sleep while you travel is important. Start the night before you depart with at least 8 hours of restful sleep. When you are traveling across time zones on long flights, time your sleep on the plane for the place you are going to. This will help you adjust better when you get there. I always use a sleep mask to block out any light. This is the sleep mask I have used for years and love for travel and using at home too.

Using magnesium for sleep on the plane as well as melatonin can be helpful. For melatonin I recommend no more than 3mg to 5mg as your body naturally doesn’t promote more than this on it’s own. Here’s a good quality melatonin I use.

5. Move! Sitting on an airplane for more than 5 hours at a time will slow down any “movement” on the inside. Take breaks to walk up and down the aisles. On larger trans-atlantic planes I have always found a little nook by the doors of the plane where I can do simple squats or jumps to get my blood flow going without the whole plane seeing me! Upon arriving in your destination, rather than going straight to the beach or to sleep, I suggest going on a 15-20 minute walk to get things moving. It’s also a great way to explore the new city you are in and check out what is near your hotel or Airbnb!

6. Drink a Smoothie. Yup, if you know be by now you know I love smoothies. They work wonders for digestion as well as constipation. Check out my tips on How To Make A Perfect Smoothie. I suggest having one the morning of your flight using a tbsp. of chia seeds or ground flax for added fiber. You can also bring a blender bottle with you to make your own smoothie. When you get to the airport, order a steamed cup of almond or coconut milk from a Peet’s or Starbucks. Add this to your blender bottle with an individual packet or prepacked scoop of chocolate protein and an individual packet of coconut oil. This will melt right into the steamed milk and lubricate your intestines for regularity. Plus it tastes like hot chocolate! I love these two chocolate protein powders: collagen protein and vegan protein.

Last but not least, remember to enjoy yourself on your vacation and to not stress about the small things. It’s not always about choosing the healthiest thing on the menu, but rather enjoying yourself and trying a few new things! Balance this out with one veggie heavy dish daily, or find a local smoothie bar and grab a green smoothie for breakfast!

Are Bananas Really A Health Food?

About a year ago, and after much denial, I realized that bananas give me brain fog. The type of brain fog where I find it hard to concentrate with a very “heavy” feeling in my head for much of the day. Brought on by my lingering candida, symptoms like brain fog can creep in with too much sugar in my diet, even from fruit. If by all means possible, this is something that I like to avoid so I have reluctantly cut bananas out of my diet for the most part. This being said, THIS IS WHAT WORKS FOR ME AND MY BODY.

Alongside this personal realization about bananas, I noticed in the wellness community that there is an ongoing debate about whether or not this popular fruit is actually good for you. In the diet community, they are a big no-no.  A fruit that is high in sugar and must be cut out if your goal is weight loss. So much chatter about a piece of fruit, so naturally I wanted to know what was up. What is true and what are some of the myths about bananas.

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WHO SHOULD AVOID BANANAS?

If you have been diagnosed with candida albicans then it is best to avoid bananas while you work with a health coach to get your candida symptoms under control. Eating a banana is like opening the windows of a house during a fire, it'll greatly feed the candida. Not only does one banana contain close to 30g of sugar per serving, making it one of the highest sugar fruits there is, but it is also very high in mold content which needs to be avoided at all costs for candida sufferers.

If you have an imbalance in hormones (low thyroid, PCOS, etc.), then bananas should be avoided as well. To get your period back, clear your acne, stop hair loss, and balance your mood and hormone levels, it is wise to keep sugar (as well as dairy and caffeine) out of your diet. But you will also want to take a close look at the other foods and beverages in your diet that might be working against you with your health coach or nutritionist. Bananas will not be the cause of any diagnosis, but taking a break from them (along with other foods) for a short period of time may help with your symptoms.

WILL BANANAS MAKE YOU FAT?

Nope. Bananas will not make you fat. The myth comes from the idea that if you want to lose weight, you need to cut out sugar and bananas are high in sugar.  As I always tell my clients, any highly restrictive dieting should only be as a means to an end for symptoms of a diagnosis, never for weight loss and only for 6-8 weeks maximum so as not to bring imbalance to your microbiome by cutting out certain nutrients.

But here is the thing, bananas are also high in fiber, potassium and magnesium. The high fiber content of bananas and the natural mineral relaxer, magnesium, are a natural remedy to ease and prevent constipation. Bananas can also be great for those who suffer from high blood pressure.   

What we should worry about is not whether a banana will make us fat, but whether or not a banana is actually a health food. Some people claim that bananas are as close at it comes to a genetically modified food due to the fact that the bananas we eat today are a result of cloning to always grow and look and taste a certain way as well as resist disease. Let me explain first by giving you the cliff notes on their history and how they are grown today.

SO MR. BANANA, HOW DID YOU COME TO BE?

When you do the research on bananas you will find that this fruit has a complicated past.  Bananas that we eat today, look totally different from the bananas that we ate 100 years ago.  Up until the 1940s, Americans ate a banana varietal by the name of Gros Michel or “Big Mike.”  Gros Michels were sweet, creamy, and sturdy. You could throw them in a ship's cargo hold and they would show up at their destination, perfectly ripe and unbruised. I mean, I used to put a banana in my purse to snack on at work and within 30 minutes of transport it would emerged bruised and browned. Hmph.

As Big Mike gained popularity around the turn of the century and into the 1920s, these banana crops also suffered from a fungus known as the Panama Disease and by the 1940s it was endangered. In 1947 a new banana called the Cavendish was introduced.  Though the fruit was more delicate (hence the typical purse bruising) and less tasty, it was resistant to Panama disease. Cavendish bananas replaced the Gros Michel as the world's most popular banana by the 1950s. But the Cavendish are sterile, meaning the only way to keep growing them is through cloning. This is the banana that buy and eat today. Only through genetic modification can we create a banana that can resist the fungus.

IS A BANANA JUST A “FACTORY PRODUCT?”

When you think about it, virtually all of the cheap foods we find in the supermarket today — think potatoes, eggs, or ground beef — are the products of finely tuned, highly industrialized agricultural systems geared toward mass production. And, as Dan Koeppel details in his excellent book, Banana: The Fruit That Changed The World, bananas were among the first foods to be turned into a commodity. Fancy that.  And fancy that a man wrote an ENTIRE book about bananas. Now that is dedication. Koeppel goes as far as saying “It's almost wrong to think of the banana as a fruit, as a product of a what we traditionally think of as farm. The Cavendish banana is a factory product in every bit the same way that a potato chip or a BMW is."

So hold up, is a banana just an industrialized fruit?  All those Cavendish bananas also look and taste identical. And that's largely due to the fact that banana plants reproduce asexually.

When a farmer wants a new banana plant, he or she removes a part of an existing plant (either a side shoot, called a "sucker," or an underground root-like structure called a "corm") and puts it in the ground. In time, it will develop into its own genetically identical plant. Without sexual reproduction — a grain of pollen fertilizing an egg, as occurs with most other fruit species — there's no random variation among plants that growers need to worry about. Every banana you've ever eaten is a clone.

This is how virtually all commercially grown bananas are produced worldwide, and it means that every banana plant behaves in the same perfectly predictable manner. Their fruits grow at the same rate, in the same abundance, and ripen at precisely the same time.

ARE WE BANANAS TO EAT BANANAS?

From a nutritional standpoint, bananas are still a cellular food, meaning that they have a low carb density (percent of the food mass that is carbohydrate minus the fiber component). Versus potato chips which are an acelluar food and have a very high carbohydrate density. The carbohydrate density increases as more non-fibrous carbs are packed into a given quantity of food. So even though an author and research such as Koeppel claims that the banana is the same as potato chips he is missing one key fact: nutrients. Bananas are full of fiber, magnesium and potassium.

True you can get adequate amounts of potassium from other foods such as sweet potatoes and avocados without eating a fruit that has been cloned to perfection. And that’s really the bothersome thing here – that we have been eating a cloned fruit for nearly 75 years. One that people have developed allergies and intolerances too as well as one that does have 30g of sugar (fiber or no fiber).

Although we are not bananas to eat bananas, educate yourself on the facts to make a decision that is best for you regarding the foods you choose to have in your diet. In terms of health, yes berries for example will be higher in antioxidants and lower in sugar. But eating bananas every once in a while, is not going to make you fat and surely won’t kill you either. Because let’s face it, a toasted slice of good bread slathered with peanut butter and topped with slice banana and honey is legit the best breakfast or snack ever.

Curious about which types of bread I recommend? Check out My First 3 Healthy Food Swaps plus a worksheet to determine your own!