September 30, 2014

We’re bombarded with the words Eat Healthy, but what do they really mean?

Every day we’re bombarded with the words Eat Healthy, but what do they mean? Do any of us really know?

Watch TV news shows for a day and you’re bound to see a graphic that features some combination of the words healthy and eat, eating, or diet in a list of behaviors that can reduce your chances for contracting some chronic health condition – diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, seasonal affective disorder, inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, migraines, and more.

If a healthy diet can help prevent us from contracting all of these horrible things, you’d think we would all jump on the bandwagon so we could avoid feeling bad, doctor visits, side-effects of medicine, higher insurance rates, and a shortened lifespan. It kinda seems like a no-brainer, and yet I’d wager that a high percentage of us really have no idea exactly what a healthy diet is.

The word diet has come to be automatically associated with low calorie or something you do to get skinnier. Since you can be both thin and unhealthy, let’s start by removing our association of diet with calories alone.

A healthy diet combines a good balance of water and nutrients. Nutrients are the components in foods that our bodies use to survive and grow. They include carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and vitamins. Also essential to human metabolism are some dietary minerals – salts, copper and iron.

In the broadest view, the best foods have the highest ratio of nutrients to the lowest amount of calories, but you do not have to limit yourself to these foods. You can eat in a healthy manner by maintaining a good balance across all food groups while managing portion size.

In order to know whether you are getting a good balance of nutrients, you must first know what’s in the food you consume. That doesn’t mean knowing what a TV commercial says about it, or what the large marketing terms on a package scream out. In fact, it’s best if you erase the food pyramid from your brain along with packaging that says DIET, no ADDED sugar, WHOLE grain, or low fat. These terms do not mean the food is healthy.

To know what’s in packaged food, you must read the ingredients and nutrition information on the label. To learn the composition of fresh foods, you can use one of the many tools available online.

It’s also good to have some general guidelines regarding how much of each nutrient your body requires. Because everyone’s metabolism is unique, there’s not a single, exact formula that applies, but you can begin with generalities and then observe and adjust to fit your body’s requirements. You may need less or more food than listed based on your age, height, health condition, and activity level.

Here are some general guidelines to healthy food consumption:

Allow the following in your diet each day:
75 – 100 grams of protein, plus additional if you eliminate complex carbohydrates (300 – 400 calories)
60 – 80 grams of carbohydrates, plus additional to meet calorie requirements. Most of the additional carbs should come from fresh vegetables, legumes, and fruit (240 – 320 calories minimum)
63 – 97 grams of fat (567 – 873 calories)
9 – 13 cups water minimum (0 calories)

If you find all of this confusing, just remember to focus on FLAVOR!

F resh food
L imit packaged, processed food and grain-based carbs
A nimal proteins with the least amount of fat and no additives
V egetable and fruit carbs in wide variety
O rganic when possible
R epeat each day

And now for more detail:
protein
Protein Minimum: 46 (women) – 56 (men & pregnant women) grams of protein per day.
Better: 25 grams per meal or about 75 grams per day.

Examples of high protein foods: beef, pork, lamb, bison, chicken, eggs, fish, seafood.
Other foods with protein: milk, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs. nuts, beans, tofu, quinoa.

A 3 ounce portion of meat typically has 21 grams of protein and each gram of protein provides 4 calories of energy. Meat will also contain fat. In order to keep your fat intake reasonable, it is good to eat a variety of lean meats, poultry, and fish. You can also choose yogurt made with skim milk instead of whole milk, raw nuts instead of roasted nuts with oil, and you can cook beans with chicken stock rather than ham or salt pork.

Protein is made up of amino acids that your body uses to build healthy cells. If you do not get enough, you can suffer from fatigue, weakness, or muscle loss and your immune system may suffer.

veggie carbs
Carbohydrates 60 – 80 grams per day is sufficient.
If you have a calorie deficit after consuming the amount of protein and fats you need, then adding vegetables, legumes, or fruits for more energy is a healthy choice.

Each gram of carbohydrate provides about 4 calories of energy. Carbohydrates can be broken into two categories – simple and complex. Simple carbs from fresh fruits and vegetables are the healthiest form of carbohydrates. They provide many essential vitamins, minerals, water, and fiber. Legumes, which can be either simple or complex, are also a source of protein.

Examples of high carbohydrate foods: fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes. Less healthy carbohydrates often combined with fats are bread, rolls, wraps, tortillas, cornbread, crackers, cakes, pies, brownies, candy, muffins, pancakes, waffles, donuts, pastries, toaster pastries, breakfast bars, breakfast cereal, many protein bars, cookies, french fries, ice cream, ice cream bars, pasta, rice, corn, and oats. Other high carbohydrate foods that should be consumed in limited amounts: sugar, soft drinks, energy drinks, ketchup, maple syrup, cane syrup, high fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, honey, jellies, jams, and candy.

Simple carbohydrates are single and double-chained sugars and usually end in the letters ose – glucose, fructose, lactose, maltose, and sucrose. These simple carbs are usually devoid of nutrition in spite of the calories they add. If you get these sugars from fruits or dairy, the fruit itself or the dairy product will contain nutrients. If simple sugars are added to processed food, they provide temporary energy, but no significant nutrition making them empty calories.

Complex carbohydrates are made from many chains of simple sugars joined together. Complex carbohydrates include starch and fiber. Foods containing complex carbs include wheat, corn, rice, oats, barley, hops, some beans, potatoes and other vegetables, breads, wraps, cakes, muffins, pancakes, waffles, donuts, pastries, breakfast cereal, breakfast bars, many protein bars, toaster pastries, chips, and pasta.

Your body will process simple sugars faster than it processes complex carbohydrates. Because we have a cultural habit of eating 3 meals per day spaced 5-6 hours apart, many people have become accustomed to using complex carbs as a way to feel full for a longer period of time. You can eliminate complex carbohydrates and eat more often and still be eating a healthy diet that will give you continual energy. If you eat too little protein, it may be even more tempting to fill up with starchy complex carbs in order to feel satisfied.

Bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, pasta, rice, corn, and oats are less expensive to purchase than proteins. For that reason, restaurants, fast food outlets, and the increasingly popular fast casual restaurants have menus filled with an overabundance of carbohydrates and fats combined with small portions of protein. Fresh vegetables and fruits are offered in limited selection because they have a short shelf life and are relatively expensive.

Since many grain based products are fortified with vitamins and minerals, they appear to have more nutrients than the raw grains offer. There’s nothing wrong with added nutrients unless they are accompanied by a high amount of fat, simple sugars, and chemical additives. This is often the case with packaged, convenience foods.

As the public has demanded lower fat food choices, many packaged foods have replaced fats with sugars to enhance flavor. If you read any nutrition label, you may notice that the percentage of the recommended daily allowance of sugar is never listed. The carbohydrates will be listed in grams, but never the percentage of RDA. This is a clever omission to make it more difficult to recognize how much sugar you are consuming in each serving.

Filling up with high carbohydrate packaged foods on a daily basis is not healthy.

(This is perhaps the most debated food group and rarely do medical professionals take a stand other than in relation to diabetes. There are some physicians who believe no carbohydrates are essential, but many vegetables and fruits are good sources of essential vitamins and minerals so most will concede that some carbohydrate consumption can be healthy. A larger group warns against highly processed, high fat, sugary complex carbohydrates. The seemingly largest, and most vocal, group of medical professionals and nutritionists encourage the consumption of whole grain breads, cereals, and pastas so that you will get proper nutrients and enough dietary fiber. Often overlooked in their recommendations is the fact that most breads, cereals, and pastas purchased at the market must be fortified with added vitamins and minerals in order to offer you the nutrients of which they speak. Additional oversights seem to be: 1)Breads purchased in a package will often contain a significant amount of sodium even though they do not taste salty. 2)Fruits, vegetables and nuts contain a large amount of fiber making it possible to get enough fiber without consuming complex carbohydrates.)

fat
Fats Women should allow consumption of 63 – 73 fat grams per day, and men from 77 – 97 depending on age and overall calorie requirements.

Examples of foods that contain fat: meat, some fish and seafood, poultry, eggs, bacon, cheese, salad dressing, lard, shortening, nuts, nut butters like peanut butter, avocados, whole milk, butter, cod liver oil, coconut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, and other vegetable oils. Muffins, cookies, crackers, cakes, chips, fried chicken, french fries, other fried foods, breads, candy bars, and protein bars.

Each gram of fat contains 9 calories which is more than twice as many calories as contained in a gram of protein or carbohydrate. That’s about 120 calories per tablespoon.

The body requires fats that it cannot manufacture. These fats help proteins do their jobs. They help the body stockpile nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K, and they begin chemical reactions used in growth, immune function, and reproduction. Naturally occurring fats may be saturated or unsaturated. Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature while unsaturated are not.

There’s a category of fats called trans fats that is produced in the gut of some animals. Small amounts of trans fats then appear in foods made from these animals. There are other artificial trans fatty acids created by an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. These trans fats will be listed on labels as partially hydrogenated oil which is no longer considered generally safe in human food and should be avoided.

Minerals and Vitamins There are recommended daily allowances for many vitamins and minerals and upper allowances for some. Minerals and vitamins are contained in most of the foods listed above.

Vitamins and minerals are important for bone health, electrolyte balance, thyroid function, and many other body functions like blood clotting and heart rhythm.

Examples of minerals that you need: Calcium, copper, sodium, iron, potassium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and iodine.

Examples of vitamins that you need: A, B6, B12, Niacin, Riboflavin, Thiamin, C, E, K, and folate.

In order to get all of these vitamins and minerals, you will need to consume a wide variety of foods. If you have been advised to limit your salt intake, it is important to recognize that many packaged foods contain a significant amount of sodium even though they don’t taste salty.

Water Average adequate intake per day for a woman living in a temperate climate is 9 cups.
Average adequate intake per day for a man living in a temperate climate is 13 cups.

Water needs are affected by weight, age, temperature, electrolyte balance, intake of caffeine, intake of sugar, physical activity, your surrounding environment, health conditions, and pregnancy or breast-feeding so you may need more water than the amount listed here. You will also get water from fruits and vegetables, liquids like tea and coffee, juice, milk, and flavored drinks. Most flavored drinks also contain a large amount of added sugar or chemical sweeteners and should be limited or avoided altogether.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and contributes to the function of every body system. Lack of water can lead to dehydration that can drain your energy, give you a headache, cause weakness, dizziness, palpitations, confusion, fainting, sluggishness, and inability to sweat. Severe dehydration over a period of time will cause body systems to shut down leading to life-threatening conditions.

Now that you know the guidelines – we’ve said it before, but perhaps it bears repeating, the easiest way to know what’s in your food it to prepare it from fresh ingredients. Even when cooking from scratch you’ll make the healthiest choices by reading labels. This will help you avoid added sodium or preservatives that are often injected into meat or poultry. If you notice that a label contains lots of tough to pronounce chemicals, then it is probably best avoided or at least limited.

Again, if you don’t have time to study every little item you consume, then you can always just focus on FLAVOR as your guide:

F resh food
L imit packaged, processed food and grain-based carbs
A nimal proteins with the least amount of fat and no additives
V egetable and fruit carbs in wide variety
O rganic when possible
R epeat each day

There’s nothing more tasty than a perfectly ripe sweet cherry, peach, or tomato. You don’t have to cook them. They are rich in nutrients. They are just three of the hundreds of healthy, fresh foods that you can include in your diet and they prove that healthy can be both simple and delicious. Now get out there and Eat Healthy!

Want to know more? Check out these links:

http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthy-kitchen-11/how-much-protein

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/dehydration-adults

http://www.doctoroz.com/article/protein-fact-sheet

http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/dietary-guidance

http://www.doctoroz.com/article/good-carbs-vs-bad-carbs?page=1

http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/carbs.html

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/pyramid-full-story/

http://www.drperlmutter.com/learn/faq/how-much-carbohydrate-do-we-absolutely-require-in-the-diet/

http://www.pennmedicine.org/health_info/nutrition/not_same.html

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130423102127.htm

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/vitamins-minerals-how-much-should-you-take?page=2

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

September 17, 2014

Can you stop just existing and thrive? You can, and you are worth it.

Can you stop just existing and thrive? You can, and you are worth it, but you may not be living that way because you may not believe it way down deep. Why do so many of us feel so bad about ourselves?

In this age of headlines and 24/7 talking heads we lunge from crisis to crisis. Our culture is swept up in rivers of bad news, glaring failures, dissatisfaction, and united finger pointing at whomever we can identify as a potential villain. NFL players have taken the stage this week led by Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.

What has resulted is a narrow focus on the behavior of professional athletes. Not even women’s rights advocates have suggested that all professions should purge their halls of those who physically assault their partners or children. Why is the NFL special? Let’s purge elementary schools, colleges, newsrooms, courts, churches, investment firms, manufacturing facilities, the trucking industry, pipe fitters, doctor’s offices and mental health facilities as well. If we don’t, what point are we making?

And that’s my point. Most of the time, it feels like we’re just finger pointing and creating a villain of the moment – someone who can make us feel better about ourselves while we contrast our public behavior from theirs. What we sometimes forget is that most of the violent incidents we see aired were not believed to be public. They were private moments. We know this and if we’re willing to tell ourselves the truth, we know that we would not look good if our most vile or shameful moments were plastered on a TV screen.

All of us have erred. All of us feel shame. In this commonality of human experience we can find compassion, empathy, and healing or we can find condemnation, comparison, and hate – peacefulness or warmongering.

The problem with focusing our energy on the condemnation of other people in order to make ourselves feel better, or momentarily superior, is that this behavior systematically prevents our own improvement. As we elevate ourselves in contrast with others, we become less and less willing to admit when we have erred in a similar manner for fear that an astute observer may remember our prior condemnation of this behavior and hold us accountable. We will go to great lengths to support our fantasy that we not like those we vilify.

As we feel the internal conflict inherently created by trying to live a fantasy, we are forced to disassociate from our authentic feelings and real truth. Until we reconnect with these, we simply cannot live fully. We will be able to make superficial change, but our inner turmoil will remain. We will never thrive.

Unfortunately, many of us are products of family systems that denied our reality. We had mothers who failed to report our injuries from our father’s physical violence, or fathers who failed to acknowledge the real danger we experienced when our mother passed out and almost burned the house down with us in it. Of course there are millions of versions of this story. The point is that when our family systems normalize this behavior while simultaneously requiring us to hide it, we are trained early on to deny the truth of our experience.

With a cultural bias toward public condemnation and universal opportunities presented by social media to anonymously criticize, it can feel daunting to embrace your truth, especially when it doesn’t match up with social convention. So many of us develop a habit of selling ourselves short.

If we grew up as targets of abusers, we may carry this a step further. The scenario goes something like this: deny our truth, sell ourselves short, blame someone else for holding us back, feel angry, release that anger in inappropriate ways or use it as a defense that prevents us from receiving love and support, suffer the consequences of our behavior or perceived lack of support and continue to make choices that cause us to feel like a victim. Victims do not recognize their power. If they did, they would not choose to continue to live like victims.

If you are existing rather than thriving, we support your desire for change! No matter who you are or what you have done, you deserve appreciation and love. We cry with you as you grieve your losses. We accept your less than perfect behavior even when we can’t condone it. We understand that when we tell ourselves the truth, you are the same as we are and given similar circumstances we are capable of making the same choice you have made.

Forget what you think you “should” do. We encourage you to do at least one thing each day that makes you feel free, safe, happy, light, or content. We also encourage you to allow yourself to feel your anger, fear, sadness, and longing in order to begin the process of letting it go. You do not need permission or approval to embrace the unique gifts and journey you have been given. They are your birthright.

It does not matter how many times you have been told you are worthless. Repetition does not make it true. Whoever told you that was lying to you to make you believe you are powerless. It does not matter how much time you’ve spent alone because a parent did not nurture you. You deserve love, attention, and affection and there are people who will show you love when you find the courage to let down your defenses. You are not valuable because of what you achieve or what you own. You are valuable because you are here. Let your legacy be how fully you live. If your energy is consumed by attaining material wealth at the sacrifice of your relationships or your health, you are living a life limited by material possessions. Such an existence may appear full from the outside, but you know the hollowness inside the facade.

The path to thriving is not all easy, but it is all worth it. No matter where you began or what you have endured, today begins with a choice. You can choose to live your truth or you can be confined by someone else’s. Can you stop just existing and thrive? Yes you can, and you deserve it. The truth you choose will determine whether you exist or whether you thrive.

Epilogue:
When you need a bit of inspiration, check out the stories of these survivors of violence, neglect, and abuse who have found a way to move past horrific events in order to thrive. Know someone else inspiring? Share with us in the comments below.

ESmart

Elizabeth Smart

IVanzant

Iyanla Vanzant

PConroy

Pat Conroy


JWalls

Jeanette Walls


OWinfrey

Oprah Winfrey

BClinton

Bill Clinton


RBritten

Rhonda Britten

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

September 7, 2014

Top Ten Sauces to Avoid When Living Gluten-Free

GravyIf you’re not big on asking questions in a restaurant to determine if the food is gluten-free, here’s a list of the top ten sauces to avoid because, more often than not in a commercial setting, they contain wheat or barley. Of course there may be exceptions to the rule, but if you don’t want to ask, then take the safe route and leave these off your list of options:

Alfredo
Demi-Glace
Creole Sauce
Créme Sauce
Gravy (All versions – Brown, White, Sausage, etc.)
Mayonnaise
Miso
Soy Sauce
Red or White Wine Sauce or Reduction
Tomato Sauce

Without the sauce, an entrée can be naturally gluten-free. For instance, a hamburger steak with only grilled onions may be a good choice of protein. A grilled pork chop, or fillet mignon sans demi-glace can be a delicious option. Avoid dipping your sushi roll in soy sauce for a lighter, gluten-free main course (choose rolls made without other sauces).

While some restaurants offer a substitution of gluten-free pasta, they may not consider that the thickening used in the sauce for that pasta contains wheat flour. Unless you are extremely familiar with the restaurant and they with your requirements, it is best to have a conversation before ordering a pasta dish.

Of course there is a slight risk of gluten exposure any time you consume food away from your home. That risk is always minimized with good communication. Each of us must weigh this risk against the joy of socializing with our friends and colleagues.

I choose playing with friends! If you do too, use this list and our Cooking2Thrive Server Cards to make the process safe and easy.

Let’s get out there and have a good time! I know I’m going to.

Server card ad

August 31, 2014

Great Snacks Can Come in Small Packages!

Being 5’1″ tall, I’ve always liked the saying “great things come in small packages”, so I’m especially pleased to find that great snacks can come in small packages as well! Of course it took getting me out of my normal environment for me to notice, but on a couple of recent trips I discovered some tiny morsels of cheesy goodness.

It started with a trip to Trader Joe’s where I bought a small mesh bag of bite sized Brie rounds individually packaged in small plastic tubs. I paired these with fresh golden cherries that I stored in the mini fridge in my hotel room. The packaging makes tiny Brie an easy-to-carry airplane snack, but these didn’t last long enough to make the return trip.

When I returned home, I took a look at the local grocery and discovered that there are small serving cheese snacks here too. Not only can I buy Brie bites, I can get fresh mozzarella in this cute little packaging.
Small package

I’m excited about this because I often need just a tiny bit of mozzarella and don’t want to have to invent ways to use the rest of a large package before it spoils. Last night, I took some fresh yellow tomatoes to a Labor Day party. They were homegrown and bursting with such flavor that I really wanted them to star as my contribution to the menu, but I also wanted them to look like a finished dish.

I sliced the tomatoes, sprinkled them with a small amount of salt, then sliced a snack package of mozzarella and placed it over the top with a few snips of fresh basil. The result was beautiful and delicious. The cheese and basil added a nice finishing touch without overpowering the tomatoes themselves.
Tomato with mozzarella

This morning, I grabbed a snack bag of cheese chunks out of the fridge to eat for breakfast. It’s the perfect size for a meal that includes the word petit, which it does when we pretend we are sophisticated and speak the 5 words of French we know with a heavy accent. Hey, sometimes we sing our every move as if we live in an opera, too. You can never overestimate the silliness that occurs in our kitchen, but I digress.
Bags of Cheese

I discovered these little bags of cheese when I was meeting my Mom for lunch the other day. She lives about 3 hours away, and I was driving through town, so we met at a health food market that serves lunch. Lucky for me, they sell cheese snacks, too. I couldn’t seem to manage to buy just one bag for the road resulting in plenty of left for un petit déjeuner treat.

Today I’m heading out to do some shopping. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for even more mini fun. Let me know below if you have a favorite snack that comes in a small package.

Happy Labor Day!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”