Letting Go

Letting Go

Recently, I’ve been learning to let go.

I used to be a real calorie-nazi…and I was afraid of stopping because my body may respond by gaining weight. But now that I’ve started to learn to accept my body, that isn’t so important anymore – not that gaining weight (for me) would be healthy, but acceptance in my imperfect body helps me obtain a state of contented homeostasis.

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Nutrition isn’t all about vanity, or losing weight, or gaining a sense of pride from your “pure” diet.

It’s about empowering yourself.
It’s about nurturing your humanity.
It’s about fueling yourself to be the best human you can be.
And if that means that you aren’t “perfectly” thin, that’s ok.
Because self-respect is about treating your body like it’s supposed to be treated – and it’s supposed to be fed nutritious food.

So screw what society thinks.
Eat nutritiously for YOU.

Fat is GREAT, and Thoughts on Gluten

After reading and hearing about tons of positives linked to high quality “good” fats, I decided to experiment a bit and see how a high-fat diet would effect me.Image

I feel GREAT.

When I eat more fat, I feel more sustained, instead of having those blood sugar “highs and lows”, something that I really struggled with before.

It also makes my brain feel just a bit sharper – something that I really appreciate!

I eat more: Almonds, avocados, almond butter, coconut oil.

Also, I have a sneaking suspicion that I may be sensitive to gluten – I had monster headaches and fatigue after consuming a large quantity (sudden, compared to how much I normally try to avoid gluten) for a few days after.

So I’m going to try to avoid gluten as much as possible. We’ll see how that goes!

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on fats and gluten…so please comment! =)

Photo credit: http://dessertswithbenefits.com/homemade-almond-butter/

Ingredients in packaged food

The “Nutrition Facts” label is useful, but can be incredibly deceiving. For people who care about their health, looking a few inches below at the ingredients list is much more useful at determining the quality of the food.

There are a few ingredients that healthy people need to avoid – if it’s in the ingredients list, consider the food poisonous to your well-being.

For example, absolutely avoid trans fats. Keep in mind that companies can be sneaky – if the amount of trans fat is below 0.5g per serving, they don’t have to include it on the nutrition label. However, you can see it on the ingredients list – it usually comes up as “partially hydrogenated” oil, most commonly soybean.

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Checking the ingredients list is infinitely more telling than the “Nutrition Facts” – this goes for checking for many other ingredients that you may be consuming unknowingly. Also, keep in mind that even if the ingredient is listed closer to the end (the label reads from the ingredient that was added in the highest mass to the lowest mass), it still counts as a hazard.

For a little reality check – if you think small amounts “don’t count”, consider if you saw “dog poop” listed last at the end of an ingredients list. Would you eat it?

As a general rule, the less ingredients, the better. There are exceptions to this rule, of course – for instance, salsa has a bunch of different kinds of veggies in it. You just have to be aware of what’s safe and what’s not – and it mostly is common sense.

Here’s a list of some of the things that I completely avoid.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)

Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

Soy lecithin

Artificial dyes

Artificial flavorings

Enriched flour

Corn syrup

Fructose

Caramel color

Trans fats (Partially hydrogenated, hydrogenated oils)

Soy, Palm, and cottonseed oil

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

Any artificial sweetener (Sucralose, aspartame, Splenda, etc.)

Anything with a number after it (e.g. polysorbate 20)

Anything that I’d never heard of before or can’t pronounce

(Personally, I also avoid sugar (dextrose, sucrose, granulated sugar, HFCS) but this is not so important when it is in smaller amounts, and when it is from a natural source (honey, turbinado, natural cane sugar, brown rice syrup, etc.))

Image credit: http://holistichealthcounselingandeducation.weebly.com/2/post/2013/12/the-fda-bans-trans-fats.html

New Year’s Resolutions

Hello…where in the world did 2013 go?52b4a9dee59d6.preview-620

As the new year rolls in, many people make resolutions. Many of these resolutions have to do with diet and exercise. While I won’t get into the exercise, the diet part really needs to be addressed.

Here’s a bit of advice: No matter what New Year’s Resolution you choose to make, please be sure that you consider these things first.

1. Believe in your decision. You need to believe what you are doing will really improve your life. You may think that this is a given, but thinking this through will really help you when times get tough, and it’s hard to keep your promise. See my post on giving up sugar.

2. Know that YOU are in control of yourself. If you start to falter, do it for YOU. Do it for self-control, for self-improvement. A good resolution should have multi-faceted benefits. Moreover, intrinsic motivation is MUCH more powerful than extrinsic motivation – for example, thinking about losing weight as a result of resisting that chocolate bar is NOT effective, especially in the moment. Instead, think, “I am awesome, therefore I am going to stick to my promise and not eat that sugar bomb.” Walk away. No feeling compares to being completely in CONTROL of yourself. AND YOU CAN DO IT!

3. Pick a reasonable resolution. If you want to give up gluten, and your diet is literally bread day in and day out, you probably are going to want to consider cutting down first before going gluten-free altogether.

4. Don’t be ambiguous. Set a goal that has CLEAR directions in SPECIFIC situations. Don’t say, “I’m going to eat less sugar.” Say, “I am going to eat 25 grams or less of any kind of added sugar each day.”

5. Don’t be influenced by society’s perception of a “New Year’s Resolution”. The general rule is that is you fail once, it’s over. But guess what? That’s not reality. You are going to fail. You are going to have days where you “need” to “cheat”. But you are going to pick yourself right back up again, because you know better than to think that “it’s over”. Also,  consider social events.

6. Don’t set yourself up for failure. If you want to give up cookies, and there are holiday cookies literally all over your house, there’s going to be an issue. Get RID of those visual temptations!

7. And finally, DON’T TRY SO HARD. The inner dialogue that goes on in your head when you are making a decision – try to shorten it as much as possible, while still going for the correct choice. You know what to do. So DO IT – don’t think about it.

And remember, resolutions can be made at ANY time of the year! There is NEVER a wrong time to start healthy habits!

Until next time~

Image: http://www.nwitimes.com/entertainment/guide-to-new-year-s/article_9a7d11e5-87d8-5686-85d7-dd1d1fda7ab7.html

On Social Events (especially Holidays!)

If you want to have a healthy lifestyle, you are going to, at some point, go against the social norms.Image

Unwritten rules that say that unhealthy food is fun, and is necessary for social gatherings. They say that unhealthy food is awesome, and if you aren’t eating it, you are dieting, and limiting yourself – even depriving yourself.

Please understand this: These are LIES.

Eating unhealthy food is NOT a necessary part to any social gathering.

Eating unhealthy food is NOT fun – in fact, it can sometimes make you feel worse physically (a few minutes after consumption, sweets or other insulin-spiking foods can make you feel pretty crappy) as well as psychologically (these foods can wreck HAVOC on your hormone balance, leading to negative thoughts and decreased brain vitality).

Choosing to abstain from unhealthy food is NOT depriving yourself. You are instead doing the opposite – choosing to live a healthier lifestyle. Physiologically, you are literally choosing not to deprive yourself – eating healthy food is a million times better for your body in terms of nutritional needs. Psychologically, you are making a decision that will make it easier to make that next decision against these foods.

So next time you go hang with friends, and they order pizza, observe what I like to call the “pizza hangover effect” – they will move much less, and become more lethargic and sluggish. You will especially notice this if you chose to not partake of the pizza – you will feel much more energetic than they if you decide to skip the pizza and go for the carrot sticks. Food is NOT supposed to make you tired! Food is supposed to fuel your body with calories – energy!

 

With all this said, I personally do let up a bit on my eating preferences occasionally. For example, my family celebrates Christmas with a huge spread of food that my mother takes a large amount of love and time to make. Some of that food contains things I normally do not eat – for example, sugar. So, for a few days of the year, I choose to not alienate myself or hurt anyone’s feelings and partake of these foods. And I enjoy them, and I do not feel guilty that I ate them. I know that a few desserts are not the end of my health. In fact, I make the most of it. As a scientist from birth, I observe my own reactions to newly introduced food, in terms of physiological and psychological changes. For instance – I have a huge sugar-hangover headache from the trifle I ate earlier. I observed yesterday that I was unable to stop eating sweets once I started, out of the compulsive eating disorder that I struggle with, made worse by the addictive substance of sugar. These observations, made in varying environments with relatively controlled variables can teach me very valuable lessons about myself. I can also use this as training ground for honing my “eating skills” – eating richer foods at Christmas helps me to further learn how to enjoy the taste of food without wolfing it down.

I will probably write more on this topic, as I have a lot to say – so stay tuned!

 

I have a question for all of you – what are your struggles when it comes to food & social events?

 

Until next time~

 

Image credit: [LINK]

“You’re Crazy!”

“You’re crazy!”

I get that a lot. Splenda-Sucrose

Why? Currently, I am not partaking of foods that contain added sugar or artificial sweetener (excluding Stevia – which I consider to be natural, and I do eat fruit).

So perhaps you may be thinking the same thing – “This girl, she’s insane!”

Or even, “I could never do something like that.”

Wrong. You CAN.

Granted, sugar is an addictive substance. We are BORN craving sugar – why? Because it is the easiest molecule for our body to break down into energy. It is known as a simple sugar – or simple carbohydrate. As a result, the brain is showered with reward when you choose to partake – that’s where you get that “sugar rush” or just plain feel-good shivers as you eat that chocolate cake.

“Recent research shows that sugar is actually as addictive as cocaine as it helps release certain brain chemicals that control the sensation of pleasure in the body. Constantly eating sugar or processed/refined carbs causes an insulin spike in the blood stream and this makes your body more efficient in storing fat and more prone to diabetes and heart disease in the long run.”1

Does this sound kind of alarming to you? Comparing sugar to a drug…that causes disease? It did to me, too.

“Ms Alwill likened our dependency on sugar to drug addiction, with each hit only feeding a craving temporarily before the body screams out for more.

‘Once we have the taste of sugar we tend to crave more of it,’ she said. ‘We do not feel satiated by a sugar hit, whereas a smaller portion of good-quality fat coming from raw nuts and seeds, natural nut spreads, healthy oils from avocados, coconut, flaxseed and olives, fresh fatty fish or full-fat organic dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt give our bodies far more satisfaction and offer a diverse range of nutrients.

‘The more sugar we feed our bodies, the more effective we become at absorbing it,’ Ms Alwill said.

But it’s an addiction that can be kicked, and the less sugar we eat, the less we crave.

‘The key to any change in your diet is to make small, frequent changes,’ Ms Alwill said.”2

So in the end, despite the alarming effects sugar can have on our body, there is a simple fix – watch your sugar intake.

The less sugar you partake of, the less you’ll crave it. Bam. Simple as that.

That is why I started this “no-added sugar” lifestyle, and that is the reason I am able to keep it up so EASY.

Because – the fact is – I don’t crave sweets. At all. I can pass up those cookies at the party with ease, craving instead the food that will actually nourish my body.

As a result, I don’t crave food on a biological level.

And in this lifestyle, I am free. Free from sugar crashes, “carb-clouds”, and from the lip-biting predicament of “I should only have one Christmas cookie…but there are 30 kinds here…and they all look soooo good…oops, I ate nine cookies!” Because I don’t even place the option of eating any sweets in my mind, it’s like they aren’t even there. And I don’t want them. And they don’t harm me, or give me any feelings of guilt or discomfort.

So, how can YOU do this?

I’d love to help you through it!

Let’s try for two weeks. Just to see how it works out!

First, you need to understand what you are giving up. Go around your house, and make a list of all the foods you won’t be able to have. Contemplate not being able to partake of those Oreos for a while. Consider not baking with sugar. If your heart is breaking just thinking about it, you can promise yourself that you’ll give it a try anyway. For two weeks or more.

Next step, you need to get RID of those sugary foods! Your home is where you eat most of your meals, and you are just setting yourself up for failure if everywhere you look there is another temptation. Give those foods to the neighbors to keep “in storage”, or simply throw them away. If te rest of the family is not on the bandwagon, simply reason with them to put all of the sweets in a cupboard somewhere that is out of sight. The less you see, the less you think about sugar, the less you’ll struggle.

Here’s an important step that not many people really think about before making a nutritional lifestyle change – consider social settings. You won’t be able to have cake at birthdays, cookies at Christmas, pudding, sugary snacks, ice cream, jam on your toast, Nutella…is your heart breaking? Don’t worry – mine was too. Just consider how vegans feel! If they can do it, so can you! I believe in you! But make sure you mentally prepare yourself to gently turn down these sweets. If at all possible, do not mention that you are not eating sugar (people will gape). Fashion your words to make yourself believe you don’t like sweets. E.g. “Desserts are too sweet for me!” Over “I’m not eating sweets.” Or “I’d rather not.” Over “I can’t.”

The first few days after eliminating sugar, you’ll have cravings. You’ll want to reach for sugar-laden foods. But this will subside in a few more days. After two weeks, you’re pretty much set. You won’t crave these things anymore. However, a few ways you can deal with your cravings…you can sweeten things with Stevia, or have some fruit. For example, a lady needs her chocolate sometimes…so I make my own chocolate with Stevia, or when I’m feeling lazy…I just mix two tablespoons of cocoa powder and one packet Stevia to satisfy my “lady chocolate cravings”.

Soooo…what if you cheat? Simple: Start over. Two weeks. No compromising. Hard work before reward – and the reward is great!

And you’ll be free – and healthier, too!

Disclaimer: I do not claim that this lifestyle is painless. Sometimes it can be hard to not partake of sweets…especially in social situations. That is why I let myself have sweets on very special occasions – e.g. my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas day. However, remember – the more sugar you have, the harder it is to get back on track. So save these treats for your favorite types of sugary food…mine is chocolate! =)

Until next time~

Works Cited

Image “Splenda-Sucrose” from: http://man-plan-can.blogspot.com/2007/10/made-from-sugar_12.html

1. Goel, S. (2013, Apr 28). Beat that sugar craving. DNA.Sunday. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/1346429447?accountid=39473

2. “Sugar craving sours life.” Advertiser [Adelaide, South Australia, Australia] 27 July 2013: 19. Infotrac Newsstand. Web. 21 Dec. 2013.