Spotlight On Carrots

In todays veggie spotlight boys and girls, we’re gonna talk about carrots. Stop making faces and wondering when I’m gonna talk about donuts or something like that. I can’t even tell you when I last ate one so I’m not the expert on it now days….

Anyway, carrots. The color alone should clue you in that it’s a food to be eating. Remember bright rainbow colors of food deliver the biggest nutrition and vitamin punch.

Carrots have been around for centuries. Historians believe that carrots were cultivated by the Ancient Greeks and Romans, as they were mentioned by Pliny the Elder and prized by Emperor Tiberius.

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Do these make my eyes look bright and shiny?

 

The basic facts first

Carrots like most veggies are low in calories and high in all the stuff that is good for a healthy body. The carrot is a root vegetable and is most often orange though purple, black, red, white and yellow exists.

Geez. It sounds like I just described a bad bruise.

Where are those? I’ve never seen carrots in those colors, have you?

They are also low in calories AND have a whopping amount of Vitamin A as well as impressive amounts of Vitamin C and B-12.

You’ve heard the saying that carrots are good for your eyes? Well there is some truth to that. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the liver. Vitamin A is transformed in the retina to rhodopsin, a purple pigment necessary for night vision.

Beta-carotene has also been shown to protect against macular degeneration and senile cataracts. A study found that people who eat large amounts of beta-carotene had a 40 percent lower risk of macular degeneration than those who consumed little.

Eat your carrots.

But wait.. there’s a lot of other reasons to eat them….

They could help prevent cancer. Falcarinol is a natural pesticide produced by the carrot that protects its roots from fungal diseases. Carrots are one of the only common sources of this compound. A study showed 1/3 lower cancer risk by carrot-eating rats.

How is that for an interesting factoid??

Chowing down on carrots can also help slow aging. The high level of beta-cartone in carrots acts as an anti-oxidant to cell damage done to the body through regular metabolism. It help slows down the aging of cells.

Carrots can also promote healthier skin and hair

Do you see a trend here if you’ve been reading my veggie and fruit posts? find one here……https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/02/14/sweet-potato-spotlight/

They can help prevent cancers, promote healthy skin, hair and slow aging. Hmmmm.. could vegetables and fruit be preventive medicine after all ? 😉

Carrots are also associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Studies show that diets high in carotenoids are associated with a lower risk of heart disease.  Carrots have not only beta-carotene but also alpha-carotene and lutein.

Have you ever thought about any of those crazy “cleanses” or “detox” things? ( don’t, please don’t) carrots naturally do this within your body. Vitamin A assists the liver in flushing out the toxins from the body. It reduces the bile and fat in the liver. The fiber present in carrots helps clean out the colon and hasten waste movement.

Oh. Your dentist might tell you to eat them too.

All that crunching and stuff….  Carrots clean your teeth and mouth. They scrape off plaque and food particles just like toothbrushes or toothpaste. Carrots stimulate gums and trigger a lot of saliva, which, being alkaline, balances out the acid-forming, cavity-forming bacteria. The minerals in carrots prevent tooth damage.  And yeah, that might just make your cleanings go faster, if you’re also good and flossing like you should 😉

Some fun and weird facts…

I don’t wanna bore you to pieces with all the good, healthy and smart reasons about eating this veggie so here’s a few things you may or may not know.

Carrots are the second most popular veggie after potatoes.

The biggest carrot ever recorded is over 19 feet long and over 19 lbs!

There are over 100 specimens of them.

Rabbits love to eat them but shouldn’t eat to many. One for us is like them eating 20 carrots. They would be better off  eating the green tops.

English women in the 1600’s often wore the greenery in their hats in place of flowers… so there’s that…

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Trying to picture this greenery hanging off a ladies hat..

The name carrot actually comes from the word karoton. The beta-carotene that is found in carrots was actually named for the carrot itself.

Wild carrots are often seen in fields and along roadsides, only they’re usually known by a more common name: Queen Anne’s Lace. Pull up the root of a wild carrot, and you’ll find a long, fibrous tuber. Break it and you’ll discover it has the unmistakable aroma of a carrot.

Hey! When do we get to eat?

Carrots are a simple vegetable to cook. In my house they are happily devoured with onions that have been cooked with a roast 😉

I also like steaming them with a little honey and cinnamon that makes the carrots natural flavor pop.

I’ll toss in a couple recipes you can experiment on too

Like this one for you bacon lovers… but seriously… yummy….

 

 

Another vegetable with lots of positive, healthy, life giving benefits. Now run yourself to the store, pick some up, and experiment with a new recipe or two.

Do you like carrots? If so what ways do you enjoy eating them?

 

 

Spotlight On Broccoli

Food day boys and girls. Yeah, that makes me happy too. Todays spotlight is on one of my most favorite veggies that show’s up a whole lot for meals at my house.

Broccoli.

Now stop turning your nose up at it. It’s not my fault your mom used to steam it till it was mush and then make you eat it with threats of withholding dessert if you didn’t suck it down.

Broccoli is good. Trust me. AND it really good for you.

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Broccoli fresh or frozen offers the same benefits

 

So what’s the lowdown on it?

I know you want the 411 on this tasty green stuff so here we go. When it comes to great tasting nutrition broccoli is an all star food with many health benefits. Low in calories ( about 45 calories per stalk) broccoli is rich in essential vitamins and minerals in addition to loads of good fiber.

Broccoli belongs to a family of vegetables called cruciferous vegetables and its close relatives include brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage.

A cup of cooked broccoli offers as much vitamin C as an orange, and is a good source of beta-carotene. Broccoli contains vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc too. It also provides fiber and is low in calories.

Broccoli has some great nutrients….

Vitamin K – essential for the functioning of many proteins involved in blood clotting

Vitamin C – builds collagen, which forms body tissue and bone, and helps cuts and wounds heal. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and protects the body from damaging free radicals.

Fiber – diets high in fiber promote digestive health. A high fiber intake can also help lower cholesterol.

Potassium – a mineral and electrolyte that is essential for the function of nerves and heart contraction.

Folate – is necessary for the production and maintenance of new cells in the body

Do you know how you cook it can affect the nutritional quality of broccoli?  Boiling can leach out up to 90% of it’s important nutrients.

So not only did your mom make you eat green mush, she made you eat green mush with no nutrients 😉

Better cooking options are steaming, roasting, stir flying and microwaving.

Roasting it with a little olive oil, sea salt, and parmesan cheese is pretty amazing.

A weird bit of broccoli history….

Broccoli was developed from wild cabbage during Roman times, and was enjoyed immensely by the Romans. Broccoli was introduced to the United States during colonial times, but did not gain popularity until the 1920’s.

Did you know…

Broccoli gets its name from the Italian word “broccolo”, which means “cabbage sprout”.

You think those “detox” things sound cool ? ( for the record… don’t. Just don’t ok??) Phytocheimcals glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiin and glucobrassicin compose a terrific trio in broccoli. Together, they aid all steps of the body’s detoxification process, from activation to neutralization and elimination of contaminants.

You wanna detox? Eat your broccoli.

One hundred grams of broccoli has three grams of protein, which is pretty good for a vegetable.

In fact, the structure of broccoli’s protein is similar to that of animal protein, without the punch of cholesterol.

Apart from its rich amount of vitamins and minerals, you should include broccoli in your everyday diet thanks to its high content of antioxidants and plant compounds, some of which promote good heart health and even prevent cancer

Broccoli has a number of science-proven health benefits, including cancer prevention, lowering cholesterol levels, improving eye and gut health, and many others.

Seriously. Eat your broccoli.

Enough of the science stuff…. how do we make it tasty?

Alright, I’m gonna toss some tasty little recipes at you. Of course you can’t ever go wrong just nibbling on the raw stuff… just stay away from all those creamy dips…. well unless you do what I do.

Make a creamy dip with non fat greek yogurt… protein, no fat and tasty. I get the Ranch dip mix, add yogurt. No one knows.

Win/win

Roasting, I’ve said before, is the bomb for most veggies. I can eat my body weight in roasted veggies, which is a lot 😉

Find a roasted recipe below

 

and one of my favorite things to make…

I love to make a salad with broccoli, apples, craisins, some red onion, some bacon bits ( because well, bacon.) and sometimes some crushed walnuts.

Here’s the deal breaker for me on so many of these types of salad, the dressings are mainly mayo based therefore driving up calories on an otherwise healthy salad. I found a dressing locally by a company called Kens and the flavor was Apple Cider Vinegar. It’s pretty low in calories, so I mix enough of that in to kinda lightly coat stuff. It gives it the sweet, lightly creamy taste and texture of the mayo/sugar dressings but definitely less calories and fat.

Oh my gosh. So good.

Even my pickier veggie eaters ask for it now.

So that’s a wrap on our eat your veggies spotlight.

Tell me about your broccoli adventures. Do you like it? How do you eat it? Any favorite recipes?

The Super Powers Of Blackberries

I thought I might get a little sweet on you today.  No, we’re not talking about candy.

Veggies have been getting exposure on my blog so I wanted to give fruit some advertising time too.

What better fruit to start with than one of my most favorites, blackberries. I’m pretty sure I eat them most days of the week, sometimes multiple times in my day. The past year not only have they been really on the affordable, often crazy cheap side, they’ve been awesomely sweet too.

Cheap,sweet AND ridiculously good for you?? Say what?!

Oh, and you don’t have to peel, slice or prepare them other than wash them.

Now……get over here and get in on the scoop if you don’t know about these wonder berries and I’ll tell you why you should be consuming these tasty morsels.

How about a little history lesson first?

Blackberries belong to the Rubus genus in the Rosaceae family and have been used for their medicinal values for more than 2000 years. The traditional usage of blackberry fruit, leaf, bark and roots by the Romans and Greeks was for healing numerous health conditions that ranged from mild infections to venomous bites. In fact, during the 18th century the Greek cure of using blackberry for treating gout was so influential in Europe that it was famously known as the ‘gout berry’. Recent scientific evidences have contributed extensively in unearthing the therapeutic potential of blackberries and its worldwide consumption.

The berries are known by a variety of names including brambleberries, brambles, dewberry or thimbleberry.

Whatever you wanna call them, I’ll eat them.

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Big and delicious 🙂

 

Are blackberries nutritious?

Yes!

The nutrient list of blackberries is extensive. They are loaded with Vitamin C (a 100g serving has 23 mg or 35 percent of the recommended daily allowance or RDA), but are low in calories (only 43 calories per 100g serving) and sodium. They are an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber.

One cup of blackberries has over 7.6 grams of fiber, more than a cup of bran flakes! ( and probably a lot more enjoyable) this one cup offers 30% of our daily needs. Who says fiber can’t taste good?

Blackberries are also rich in vitamins A, E, K, and B vitamins, as well as antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which scavenge free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and chronic diseases. They are one of the best high-ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) foods available. Minerals like copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid, are also found in this fruit

The humble blackberry contains impressively high levels of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals, such as ellagic acid, anthocyanins, tannin, gallic acid, pelargonidins, quercetin, cyanidins, kaempferol,catechins, and salicylic acid.

I know there are lots of big words here but they do lots of big things!

These antioxidant compounds protect against aging, inflammation, cancer, and other neurological diseases.

You want products that offer anti-aging? Don’t look for it in lotions or creams.  Eat foods that contain high levels of antioxidants, of which blackberries are extremely rich in. According to a research from the Human Nutrition Research Center, eating a cup of blueberries daily can help to reduce oxidative stress in 2 regions of human brain and protect neurons. In fact, most fruits and vegetables with the dark violet color can work to fight off fee radicals, a key component that damages DNA ( meaning, aging)

There is also growing research suggesting blackberries might be among the most potent cancer fighting fruits.

Blackberries may also be good for your brain health suggesting that the high antioxidant level in blackberries, strawberries and other berries may prevent age-related memory loss.

Do you want glowing skin and beautiful hair?

Every since I learned about the connection between nutrients and the aging process, I’ve kicked up my antioxidant game.

Because of large amounts of vitamin A, C, and K  blackberries have skin rejuvenation properties.  Blackberries are also about 85% water so you are naturally hydrating your skin from the inside out. ( drinking plenty of water is the best way to keep skin hydrated)

There are also several face masks you can make with blackberries to hydrate skin. I’m not actively promoting them as I haven’t tried them (yet) but if you like experimenting, find one and give it a try.

They also consist of collagen-forming vitamin C, and a small amount of vitamin A. Acting as antioxidants, these vitamins can protect their skin cells from the damage resulted by free radicals that contribute to skin aging. Therefore, regular consumption of  blackberries could protect the skin against UVA and UVB damage and aid in skin cell renewal.

The antioxidants found in blackberries are proven to be good for the hair. There are some ways in which they could support healthy, smooth hair. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant which is largely responsible for collagen, making hair healthy and strong.

Is it time to eat them yet?

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of course the best way to eat them is crisp and cold right out of the carton. seriously I can nibble them away in an afternoon and wonder why the carton is empty.

Thank goodness they are so low in calories, high in fiber and loaded with all those good antioxidants!

I also use blackberries for a fast healthy protein packed breakfast with non fat Greek yogurt and some raw almonds.

I also enjoy tossing them in a spinach salad with strawberries, feta cheese, some chopped almonds and a few other colorful veggies.

Of course you can always use them to make tasty baked goods like blackberry cobbler 😉

I’m attaching a recipe from my Pinterest collection I haven’t tried yet but it’s happening soon.

Crockpot Blackberry Jam, because you know, homemade biscuits 😉 Ok I’ll add that recipe here for you too. Enjoy!

 

Tell me…do you like blackberries? How do you enjoy eating them?

Monday Musings

Monday again. Wow. How did that HAPPEN??? I mean, I’m not “anti-Monday” or anything.  I sometimes just find myself thinking wasn’t I  just here starting a new week and now I’m off to another one.

Although my week felt a little “off” when we had some real winter weather show up down here in south Texas… as in ice.. and crazy, stupid cold.

No one drives and nothing happens when those roads ice over.  So it was definitely a stay home and warm day and I even managed to get a few little projects done since I was trapped….. all day long.  The negative to cold, grey days ? They make me want to eat! Carbs. All the carbs. My muscles soaked those goodies up haha

Anyway that cold stuff doesn’t last long down here so…..

I did a little weekend road trip to explore and hang out with hubby. Road trips always offer up some kind of adventure and we always have fun being together.

However, heading to my destination, there’s this super nice mega gas station/food mart/ buy weird stuff place to stop. Honestly, it’s like an oasis in the middle of god awful bathroom stops along the way. In fact they boast the cleanest restrooms anywhere and they are constantly staffed to ensure they stay that way. It’s worth waiting that extra 50 miles to stop when you really needed to stop 50 miles back 😛

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It’s a beaver… he’s the mascot of the place

 

Of course we ate breakfast out, which is always fun in new areas and we found this super cool, healthy breakfast place with a great vibe and amazing food. Farm fresh eggs, thick multi grain breads, and salad greens? I never had those with breakfast but liked it. Definitely want to go there again….

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What is wrong with this picture? My coffee cup is empty… again. No worries, they leave a carafe on your table.

 

OH. And I tried an elliptical for the first time…. ever. Now I’m not sure what the normal is for using them but tossing a runner/cyclist on it.. well.. I took off like a crazy girl. It’s like running on steroids! haha anyway I did a 10k in 31 minutes so I think that’s decent for a first attempt. However, I quickly learned if I didn’t stay focused that sucker could throw me. I really liked that it felt like running. I think I may need one for inside workout days, which are usually days that are to awful to be outside.

Alrighty, in big news this week :  evidently if you’re one of the cool kids, eating Tide clothes soap pods is the IN thing to do ( I’m being sarcastic here… please.. don’t do this) at first I thought it was just a joke of some kind.

I mean it had to be, right? After some more investigating it appeared to be rather true.  I can think of a lot of things to eat but that is no where on my list.

Soap.  Just…why ???

Speaking of actual food….

I’ve been experimenting with a variety of recipes this week, namely in the veggie department that I have pinned to my boards on Pinterest.  Several have been good but the biggest surprise and unexpected delight was a cauliflower recipe used to make mock potato salad.  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/ARWljr6ZFFOvYUscYjTe9A7nbrhyjxkPAneCDUxOw3Ivn3gw6Jl8SRY/

 

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Cauliflower right now is the multi purpose veggie that seems to be able to be morphed into a lot of other things… rice, bread crust, pizza crust, mashed potatoes, stir fry rice, and of course, potato salad. I may have mentioned on last weeks Monday Musings (I’ve slept since then)  about my quest for experimenting with it in these various ways.

This turned out amazing and even passed my pickier eaters inspection so I think that’s a win. Next up I’m anticipating trying cheesy “breadsticks”.

Hubby’s take on this? “If I want bread, I’m going to eat bread” haha

Still…. I want to see if it will be a tasty replacement ( sometimes)

It has cheese. What’s there to lose, right? Cheese. It’s worth the effort.

Speaking of effort.

I hope your year is starting with you getting daily exercise in. I understand some times it’s just hard to make it happen, or maybe you have just a short amount of time to work with.  I’ve tried a few circuit bodyweight exercises that get your heart pumping and give you a solid workout but only take a small amount of time.

I’ll share a couple workout ideas that just require your mental energy and your body 🙂 This is something you can do anywhere.

( please note: I do not or am not endorsing this X-Slim product)

I just found the second one a couple days ago. I really like the idea of being able to “build” your own routine. This allows you to get creative and try new things. Not to mention it’s a great way to work all parts of your body.

No matter what you decide to do, make sure you keep good form to avoid injury and to get the most you can out of each move.

Now, here’s to a new week of adventures and shenanigans! Make it a good one.

Tell me… do you have a favorite quick workout plan? Do you use an elliptical machine? Do you like it? Do you have a new recipe you’ve tried?

Spinach Benefits And Great Hair

Today boys and girls we’re gonna talk about food. One thing I have decided and I know is this: I won’t ever be led to be a food blogger but if I’m going to be a blogger who talks about healthy nutrition, I will most likely share some food posts at some point.

Don’t expect cute, cool food pics from me haha.. well maybe.

Earlier today I was updating some boards on my Pinterest account and came across a tasty sounding breakfast recipe, Spinach and Mozzarella Egg Bake. This was rather handy since I was out early for my yoga class, which unbeknownst to me, was not happening when I got there.

So plan B?  Go get some coffee and rearrange some of my boards. A quick assessment showed me I had all the ingredients needed for this recipe so I hurried home to make it ’cause I was like… you know.. hungry.

This breakfast contained several of my favorite things : Spinach, eggs, and cheese.

Now don’t go getting all weird on me with the mention of spinach. Since I’m about healthy foods, let’s just take a quick look at what spinach can do for us, shall we?

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I seriously go through about two of these cartons a week… on my own.

 

What’s in that leafy green goodness?

Low in fat and even lower in cholesterol, spinach is high in niacin and zinc, as well as protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese. In other word, it’s loaded with good things for every part of your body!

Spinach is appreciated for the high amount of protein in its leaves.

Among vegetables, only peas and beans contain more protein than spinach.

Spinach is made up of 91.4% water, 3.6% carbs, 2.9% protein, and 0% fat.

A hundred grams of spinach has only twenty-three calories, which makes it an excellent choice for people who want to slim down

What health benefits does it offer?

Popeye was definitely on to something with his spinach consumption.  Spinach is a super food loaded with tons of nutrients in a low calorie package. Dark leafy greens like spinach are important for skin, hair and bone health. Dark leafy greens also provide protein, iron, vitamins and minerals.

The possible health benefits of consuming spinach include improving blood glucose control in people with diabetes, lowering the risk of cancer, reducing blood pressure, improving bone health, lowering the risk of developing asthma, and more.

But check this out…

Spinach leaves are also very rich in vitamin K, as a hundred grams contains 604% of the daily value intake.

Vitamin K is vital for your health, since it strengthens the bones and stimulates the bones’ osteotropic activity. Spinach also provides better calcium absorption and even helps maintain your calcium levels in check.

At this rate I should never have a broken hip.

If you love your bones, you really want to make spinach a part of your daily intake.

Vitamin A helps in sebum production to keep your hair moisturized.

This vitamin is also  necessary for the development of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair, both of which never stop to regenerate.

Besides, vitamin C found in spinach is vital in producing and maintaining collagen, which gives your hair and skin proper structure.

I mean, who doesn’t want amazing hair and skin ???

I could go on here about the benefits….

Spinach offers so much more but if I keep on I’ll never get to my recipe and how tasty it was.

I’m just trying to sell you on what a good food choice it is to add to your daily diet. If you only eat it in a creamy spinach dip, you’re missing out! Consider other ways you can eat it too 😉

Spinach makes appearances at almost all of my meals and is most always a part of my veggie scramble at breakfast.

It has replaced lettuce in my lunch salads. And it makes a wonderful add in to so many things.

So let’s get to the recipe….

Find it here…. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/439523244868061922/

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You just need a few simple ingredients

 

It really took just a few minutes to whip it up and toss in the oven. I did use more spinach than the recipe called for because although it does cook down and I didn’t  over cook it, I honestly thought it could handle more. I basically doubled up on the spinach and even add more green onions ’cause those little things are just tasty AND good for you too.

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Ready to go to the oven. Isn’t my dish all matchy matchy with the food ? 😉

 

It has a short baking time so you won’t have to wait long to savor it’s yummy goodness AND it gives you time to quickly clean up and get the rest of your meal ready for when it’s finished.

 

 

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Time to eat. I wish you could smell it.

As you can see I paired it with fresh fruit and (what you don’t see that I also like) salsa/hot sauce, added to the egg bake.

Eating tasty, healthy meals doesn’t have to be boring or bland. A willingness to experiment can lead you on new adventures and a slimmer waist line 😉

Have you experimented with a new food recently? Did you like it?

Resolutions And Healthy Eating

“Food is fuel for our resolutions.”  

I really wish I could take credit for that line, but I can’t. I hear clever things and wish I had somehow been inspired to say it first. Like “Oh snap, that’s such a smart thought.” but this time, alas, no.

Interestingly enough, I heard it on a commercial for weight loss recently.

Ahhh isn’t that what January is all about? Weight loss, detox, cleanse, eat fake food posing as food, torture yourself, and suffer while you starve and put your body through hell only to return to your former way of doing things?

This commercial was pretty much making fun of all of that. And the way my writer brain works it only takes a line or a casual conversation with someone to get my creative ideas rolling.

In starting a new year off  one of the most common things I think we all hear is about making “resolutions”.

By way of quick review, resolution means “a firm decision to do or not do something”.

I do not make resolutions, I set goals.

You can see from the definition that resolution is definitely something very subjective to change based on our current feelings, moods or emotions.

In contrast, goals are defined as the object of a persons ambition or effort, an aim or a desired result.

Goals are specific and intentional.

So goal setting is definitely the more preferred way to go as opposed to resolutions which are more subject to change with our emotions or shifting feelings of not wanting to do something once the novelty has worn off.

I wrote a post on goals vs. resolutions last year. You can find it here….  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2016/01/01/new-year-goals-not-resolutions/

That all being said, the take on the commercial I saw was that we need to stop treating food in such a negative way and embrace it for what it can do for us. January should be a time to celebrate a new year full of adventure, not torture our bodies by depriving them of food or suffering through other perceived ways to lose weight.

This might come as a startling reminder to you but… you really… truly.. don’t have to suffer and deprive yourself to lose weight and get on a healthier lifestyle path.

Really.

Food is fuel. Fuel allows us to do all the cool things we wanna do. Hence, the “food is fuel for our resolutions” line.

Food lets me run, cycle and lift heavy things. It lets me do daily tasks with ease and gives me energy to enjoy my kids and grandkids. It helps me run up and down my attic access with big totes lifted over my head and carry 40lb bags of salt to the water softener.

Food does all the same things for you. It’s the types of foods we choose to eat that determine how lean we stay or how good we feel.

feel like crap
This pretty well sums it up

When I’m eating foods that I know are healthy and good for me, I feel more energetic. It doesn’t take being off my normal eating very long for me to feel it. I like that. It’s a reminder from my body that “Hey! we are doing things differently now days. What are you doing ?”

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Most mornings breakfast starts like this for me

 

 

If you aren’t used to eating healthier foods, it may take some time for you to adjust. A slow gradual shift will help you in the process of changing your eating patterns.  Don’t try it all at once. Slow gradual changes will lead to long term success and that is what you want… long term success. Not a quick fix or temporary loss.

Healthier foods build you from the inside out not only giving you energy in your daily life but keeping you lean too.

veggie people
We often don’t think of how food impacts us internally

So the question that begs to be asked is….

How are you going to fuel your resolutions or goals? Will you be feeding your body in a different manner that will support them? Are you willing to make the changes necessary for that success all year long and not just in January?

 Yes! I’m so ready to do this. Where do I start?

Be willing to experiment with new food or make healthier exchanges. Understand it won’t happen all at one time.

Have a willingness to try new things. Don’t decide you don’t “like” something if you’ve never even tried it.

Keep a food log of what you eat. Note new things you try and your thoughts.

Don’t vilify foods or food groups. Unless you have a real medical condition or allergies there is no reason to not enjoy a variety of foods from all food groups.

Keep your goals in mind. Set something concrete out before yourself to strive for. Maybe adding one or two new fruits or vegetables a week to your meals or learning to cook a familiar one in a new way. Perhaps you might try a meatless meal or experiment with a new recipe.

Cooking at home will always allow you to control what you eat and what goes into it.  Don’t be afraid of getting out of your comfort zone with new healthy foods.

With some time and patience you will be on the way to changing your eating and taking steps to fuel your goals in a healthier way.

Do you have any healthy tried and true food tips to share?

Cheat Days Vs. Healthy Eating Habits

The question came at me again. Often there are similar ones that arise in conversations  in regards to health and wellness.

“Do you allow yourself a cheat day/meal?”

If you don’t know what that means, in the fitness world it’s a day set aside where you eat whatever suits your fancy. Anything you’ve been craving or put off limits from yourself. It could be a meal or an all day eating frenzy depending on how deprived you feel.

The answer is a big “no”.

No, I don’t. Never have and don’t have any intention of starting.

I’ll tell you why. October marked my 8th year on my health and wellness journey.

8 years people. I’ve lost the weight of a hefty toddler child and about 5 pant sizes. In those years I not only lost fat but have built muscle and a strong physique that allows me to enjoy all my outdoor athletic sports and gives me a good deal of energy and strength for living life.

I’ve not gained it back or played yo yo dieting games.

As I’ve gotten deeper into endurances sports I’ve come to accept that my body will go through times of being leaner when I’m doing a lot of training and a bit softer when I’m not heavy training. I can fluctuate within 5-7 pounds and I’m ok with that.

Losing weight and keeping it off for a lifetime involves small, consistent, changes that turn into new habits. It’s really the only thing that works and you have to intentionally build on it every day.

The cheat day/meal thing

if you’ve followed me for awhile you know I’m “anti” diet and diet hype nonsense. I consider my take on things practical, livable and sustainable. When I started my journey one thing I set out for myself was that nothing was off limits or to be considered “Bad or good”.

For me, it took a ton of power away from food. Mentally, if I knew I could have “whatever” then I was less likely to think about it or “wish” I could have it.

cheat meal days

It’s amazing how that works.

Allowing myself a fun meal with my family and then resuming my normal eating took away feelings of “deprivation”.

Admit it, haven’t you at some point been dieting and everyone is eating and living the good life and you feel freaking miserable, left out, disgusted with yourself and well…fat?

Me too and enough of that already.

Having a fun meal or some birthday cake at a party didn’t undo all my efforts. I had mentally taken on living healthier and I loved being in control of my choices.

If I didn’t want cake, I didn’t eat it. If I did I was smart enough to know a small piece wouldn’t end my efforts.

On the other side, saving a day to eat all the things you’ve withheld from yourself or over eating can lead to you feeling bad (physically) and bad (mentally ) for over doing it.

Binge eating only feels good in that moment.

The power of your choices

Learning to change my lifestyle I also learned there was a tremendous amount of power I had in my choices of food I made.

It was rather freeing.

Making healthier choices began to get easier and the other foods that used to have a pull on me began to have less.

But sometimes… chocolate. Or French fries.

Let’s face it when you are trying to lose weight those cravings or desires don’t come in at your scheduled cheat day do they? And what if it’s cheat day and you don’t really feel like having it?

I found allowing myself a small amount of whatever I wanted set the craving aside and took it out of my mind.  I’m still like that. If there is a strong pull, almost a physical need, I listen to my body.

I can tell you if I want something particular the need is quenched and I’m on with life again.

It is powerful making choices for yourself. Choices that involve thinking and listening to your body.

Think of how mindlessly you can eat. Eek. Tell me you’ve had those moments, that I’m not alone!

You know.. maybe you aren’t truly hungry but you are stuffing food in ’cause it’s there? or you’re in the pantry at 10 at night trolling but you know you aren’t needing food? Or when you eat past what you need to feed your appetite?

Making smaller more mindful choices on a daily basis will lead to weight loss that lasts long term and not just a few weeks until you’re eager to get back to “normal”.

Practice makes perfect…er… perfect “ish”.

Ok so no one is perfect or nails the eating thing perfectly.  With time, consistency and practice the cool thing is it will start to become second nature.  As you teach yourself to balance all food groups and eat in a healthy manner with room for those treats and celebratory moments you will find yourself automatically making those good choices and passing on things that don’t support your health and fitness goals.

You won’t need a cheat day to enjoy life or the things you love. You won’t feel deprived as you work on building new habits and skills in your life. You will feel empowered by trusting yourself and making mindful choices.

cheat days

Food Vs. Supplements

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Commercials. If there’s one thing they are designed for it’s to sell you on the product at hand.  To convince you that your life will be better with it. They want to make you spend your money on it.

You name it, nothing seems to be off limits anymore. One has caught my eye several times for an anti-aging skin care product… not because I put much stock in products that promote that. The cream supposedly has blackberry extracts to contribute to keeping a young look.

Of course my first thought was… why not just eat those suckers instead of using a cream that may have a touch of blackberry extract in it? They are a staple in my food consumption almost every day… I think it’s better eating them than slathering them on my eyes…

Blackberries are loaded with Vitamin C with a serving at 3.5 oz, offering 35% of the daily allowance, that serving is only 43 calories, and they are an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber. A serving offers 5.3 grams of fiber. This humble fruit is also loaded with all kinds of vitamins and minerals and antioxidant properties. These antioxidant compounds protect against aging, inflammation, cancer and other neurological diseases…their dark color is a sign of their high antioxidant content.

Now back to the skin care with blackberries being marketed as an anti-aging cream.

If blackberries are loaded with so many good things in such a tiny package, and are a huge anti-aging food, you should be eating them up and not just slathering a bit of cream on your skin that may have miniscule amounts in it.

You’ve heard that saying you are what you eat? Nourish your body from the inside out.

There’s a huge market right now for supplements and health products on the market. They all offer a replacement option to the actual thing… real food.

Vitamins. Minerals. Health aids. Probiotics. Protein powders. Colorful drinks. Meal “replacements”.

That’s my favorite. I don’t want a meal “replacement”.

I want real food, thank you.

This, that and the other. So many things vying for your attention and your money… mainly…. your money.

A quick stroll down the health and supplement aisle will have you believing you need these products to be healthy because well, you know, eating balanced, nutritious food just isn’t enough to keep you healthy, vital and energetic. Certainly you are lacking something…so take a supplement. Use our drink. Take this pill.

We’ve had this pushed at us for so long, we’ve started to buy into it…literally.

One of the biggest markets right now has to be with protein/supplements/shakes/add in’s etc.

Often people purchase thinking they need it, especially if they are spending time in the gym. I mean, isn’t that just a part of it? Like lifting, sweating, making gains.. you MUST be chugging down protein?

OK first… a quick look at what whey protein is

Milk is made up of two proteins, casein and whey.

Whey protein can be separated from the casein in milk or formed as a by-product of cheese making. Whey protein is considered a complete protein as it contains all 9 essential amino acids. It is low in lactose content.

This is what you see mostly in the aisles of stores.

Whey protein is used for weight loss and to help protect and build muscles.

If you use it, it should in balance too. Over doing on protein supplements can cause health issues such as stomach pains, cramps, reduced appetite, nausea, headache and fatigue.

A friend recently sent me a story of a young woman who was training and working on building her body for fitness competitions.  She evidently lived on a pretty steady diet of protein supplements/drinks/high protein diet etc.

She was found unresponsive in her home and later died. Evidently she had a rare genetic disorder that stopped her body from breaking down protein properly. This caused ammonia to build up in her blood and an accumulation of fluid in her brain.  Unfortunately, this isn’t really tested for and only found after her death.

I know you’re sitting there thinking… “well, this is a rare thing so… people don’t need to really worry about this” …

the fact is, to much of anything isn’t good for us. Our body can only use and process so much protein at a time before the rest of it’s washed out. Excess protein will not make us have more muscles or achieve a better level of fitness.

I love protein and it definitely keeps me satisfied and from feeling hungry. I know it feeds my muscles and helps them to get stronger, and even grow a little. My protein comes from food sources, although, after long endurance workouts when my appetite is not there, I will use one for recovery just to get some carbs and protein in until my appetite returns.

People are “sold” on the idea that food isn’t enough. Or if a supplement/vitamin/ drink is good, more should be better.

We are bombarded with products in the store, online, and even what our neighbor is pedaling that is supposed to help us fix all of our ills ( which we don’t even know we have till we get the product to miraculously cure them all)  There are a few out there that are promising to “cure’ more and more things. Just note, I’ve seen new fine print that says it’s not FDA approved and that its not to prevent, cure or treat diseases)

Once again I’ll say this, our bodies are made in a beautiful balanced way, needing just a certain amount of vitamins and minerals for optimal health. To much of one thing could be enough to make you sick or throw off another vitamin or mineral in your body.

And don’t be lead astray by companies trying to sell you on the idea you’re “lacking” something and need to take their product. The only way you know you’re deficient in something is usually through the doctor after having lab work done. And if you are worried about something, talk to your health care professional!

Case in point… last year my husband had labs done and was found to be deficient in Vitamin D. Yes, he has been using a supplement with his nutrition to get his levels where they need to be.

Don’t be led astray that you “need” something without any evidence for it.

So here’s the deal…

good quality, nutritious food IS enough.

It is enough to give your body daily fuel, sustain it for workouts, your daily activities, and help you build a stronger more fit body if that’s your goal.

When you cut out non-essential foods that don’t contribute to your health and fitness goals and focus on eating nutritionally balanced foods, your body will respond, especially when you add in a good healthy dose of exercise.

So many of the problems we deal with today can be improved on with better nutrition, getting the non-essential foods and drinks out, exercising more and maintaining a healthy weight.

You don’t need supplements, shakes, drinks, potions or anything else to build a healthy body. We need to be careful about extra things we put in it lest we throw off the perfect, beautiful, balance that its naturally made to operate in.

Do you or have you used supplements ? Do you feel they helped you?  Have you ever felt like you just had to go along with what was currently popular?

Understanding Emotional Eating

It’s 9:30 at night and you are for some reason, in the pantry studying the options, deciding what your poison will be. Cookies? Chips? Maybe the freezer is your thing… there are several varieties  of ice cream begging for attention.

You aren’t really hungry. Your stomach is quiet and you don’t have the physical signs of actually needing to eat food.

But there’s this driving urge in you….

And here you are… stalking the goods… out of what? Boredom? Loneliness? Anger? Hurt? Happy the day is over? Frustration? Hard day at work? Worry? Maybe you don’t even know.

Whatever the reason, it’s emotionally driven. You may be aware of it, or you may feel powerless against it. It may come on like a compelling urge and you act purely instinctively on it without pausing to think of what you are doing.

Many times, it may be completely mindless. Eating as you feed your mind food for your emotional needs.

Emotional eating is only a problem when it becomes a persons central response to  regulating their mood. It is a coping strategy.

What is emotional eating, exactly?

Stress eating. using food to make yourself feel better, eating to satisfy emotional needs rather than physical hunger.

Occasional eating for reasons other than hunger isn’t bad. Some degrees of emotional eating is normal. Food is typically the focus on holidays, celebrations, life events, funerals, weddings, etc.

However, if it is your “go to” , your primary coping mechanism, then there’s a problem.

You are in an unhealthy cycle where the real problem isn’t being addressed.

~ Emotional hunger can’t be filled with food.

~ Feels good in the moment but then you are left with guilt of eating whatever is bugging you.

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Identifying… are you an emotional eater?

Do you eat more when stressed?

Do you eat when you aren’t hungry or are full?

Do you eat to feel better? ( calm or soothe yourself)

Do you reward with food?

Do you regularly eat till you are stuffed?

Does food make you feel safe or like it’s a friend?

Do you feel powerless or out of control with it ?

Emotional eating craves specific comfort/ junk food or sugary snacks that provide an instant rush.

Mindless eating is not satisfied when full. Emotional hunger is not in the stomach. This also leads to negative feelings ( guilt, shame, regret) eating what you feel you shouldn’t have.

Food self soothes. Emotional eating is an attempt to manage moods with food.

Identifying triggers

it’s helpful to assess yourself and understand what can set you off. Situations, places, feelings, etc can cause you to reach for food.

Triggers wont always be negative but can be triggered by positive emotions too ( a reward for a goal, birthdays)

I mean really, who is ever actually hungry for birthday cake or some Christmas cookies? We eat it because it’s enjoyable and we are celebrating.

Common causes of emotional eating

Stress, stuffing emotions, boredom, loneliness, feelings of emptiness, social influences or even ingrained childhood habits can lead to overeating.  It’s important to find other ways to feed your feelings, alternate behaviors that have nothing to do with food.

If you don’t know how to manage your emotions in a way that doesn’t revolve around food you won’t be able to control your eating habits for long. Diets often fail because they offer logical nutrition advice – IF- you have conscious control over your eating habits.

They don’t/won’t work when emotions take over demanding a swift payoff of comfort foods. To stop emotionally eating you must learn new ways to fulfill yourself emotionally.

Understanding the cycle and triggers is a huge first step. You need to learn alternates to turn to and not food.

How to help yourself

Pause. Think. Reflect = different decision.

Can you wait?

While you wait…check in with how your feeling… what’s your emotional status?

Are you truly hungry? as in experiencing natural signals of hunger? Or is it your mind/emotions talking?

You’ve attempted resistance in the past with the belief that your willpower isn’t enough.

The truth is you have more power over your cravings than you believe.

Really.

By checking in with yourself, pausing, examining what it is you’re feeling you are more likely to make a different choice than just eating whatever you have in mind.

Learn to accept good and bad feelings. The root of emotional eating is feeling powerless over your emotions. You can’t deal with them so you avoid feelings with food.

Become a more mindful eater.

Mindful eating is a practice that develops your awareness of eating habits and your food.

Think about the foods you buy. Do you buy healthy foods? Do you buy trigger foods that will contribute to times of emotional eating? Think of what foods will nourish you.

Come to the table hungry. Not ravenous, but with your body giving you it’s natural signals it needs to eat.

Start with small amounts. I’m always amazed, really, at the small amount of food it takes to feed myself and deal with my hunger.

Learn to really appreciate your food. I make jokes to hubby about how amazing food tastes when I’m seriously hungry ( like after long workouts and I’m finally ready for food) not only does it taste awesome, it feels good going in ’cause I am really hungry. I have an appreciation for food with true hunger.

How it tastes and the satisfaction are so different than eating when you aren’t really hungry.

Bring all your senses with you to the table. Learn to smell, savor, and visually appreciate what you are eating.

Take small bites, chew well, and learn to eat slowly.  Doing so will let you really taste and enjoy your meal while allowing your stomach to register that it has had enough food.

Becoming a mindful eater also means staying connected with your feelings and how it impacts your choices in your day with food. It’s practice but with practice you can become more mindful of reasons why you eat when you aren’t hungry or feel like you’re emotions are driving you.

Some reflective thoughts….

I’ve shared several times in blogs my own awareness of coming out of a family of emotional eaters. I’ve talked about learning about myself and being mindful of it in my own life. Understanding that definitely helped me on my weight loss journey.

Sometimes I make very mindful choices that I want something, knowing full well, I don’t need it. Hubby wandered into the kitchen one night to find me perched on the counter top with a bag of chips, munching away.

I told him “I am fully cognizant I’m emotionally eating these right now” and the fact was, there had been some thing or another that had made me feel angst and I just wanted those stupid chips.

The thing about knowing and understanding it’s what I was doing? I ate some, reined myself in, and put them away.

I was mindful of my actions.

You might need time to get there. Maybe you’re at a point where somehow the bag disappears on you. Or maybe more cookies than you intended. Or a whole lotta ice cream vanishes. Or whatever your brand of poison is.

It might require work and effort on your part. It might be times of failure and times of success. The more you mentally engage with it, the closer you will get to not feeding your emotions.

This is such a big topic, you might find more on it in the future here. I think many struggle with it and it prevents the success they long for with weight loss. Gaining insight and understanding can help lead to success.

Do you have thoughts on this?

Have you struggled with emotional eating? Did you find ways to change it?  Do you struggle now? What has made you aware of it?

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The Athletes Body And Food

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“With all of the exercise you do, I guess you can eat whatever you want?”

This is one of  several questions I  often get asked and the answer is, no, I don’t eat whatever I want.

I’ve tried these past few years to build a different relationship with food. Specifically, food in regards to exercise.  Maybe you need to build a different relationship too or maybe you’ve hit a balance with it.

The question I’m asked of course, is merely inquiring.

If I’m investing so much physical energy I should certainly be able to eat whatever I want. This naturally means freedom to eat all perceived “off limits” foods since I will burn them off.

Of course the game changer for me if you’ve read previous posts, is the fact I’ve set nothing “off limits” so I don’t necessarily feel the need to eat forbidden foods because I’m exercising.

I know it’s there, if I want it.

Since I started on my athletic journey a few years ago, I’ve made it a point to never treat exercise like a free card to eat poorly. I guess the idea of pouring myself out, working hard, and then coming in and wolfing down a donut and chocolate milk ( although chocolate milk can make a good recovery drink 😉 ) seemed rather, pointless and negating to all I had just done. Not only that, if I was training to get strong and healthy why wouldn’t I feed my body good stuff ?

So I learned to train my thinking, essentially reshape, another aspect of my relationship with food.

Our food relationship

I wrote about that in a post recently. Our relationship with food. We all have one. For many of us we will need to continue to define this relationship in regards to our athletic activities. We cannot treat it as a free card to eat extra or eat badly.

About eating extra…..

there’s a bit of a disclaimer to that. When my training has kicked up and I have days that I’m heavily invested on a physical level I know my calories will need to increase to support what I’m doing. This is where learning about my body, listening to it, and feeding it accordingly come into play. This isn’t eating extra just because I feel like it. Learning to support my body depending on my physical output that day is very different.

Same goes for you. If you are involved in physical activities, listen to your body, know your needs and eat to sustain your body for what you do. Eat accordingly on days you invest more physical energy and be more conservative on your non-exercise days or light training days.

Don’t use food as a reward for exercise

Yeah, I’m going there. I honestly cringe when I see posts or hear someone talk about getting to eat because they exercised.

Stop it.

Food and exercise both nurture your body. You don’t have to earn your food. On the flip side, you don’t have to abuse your body ’cause you had a burger and fries for lunch and feel you have to “work it off”.  As if.

Food isn’t a reward and you aren’t a dog being thrown a treat because you worked out.

Food is fuel for your activities

When our relationship with food is in a place of understanding that it not only nurtures us, but fuels our activities we can look at it in a different way. If we want to perform well we can’t expect our bodies to operate on food that isn’t optimal. It can shift from a mentality of  ” eating what you want” to “eating food that rebuilds your body and gives you energy”.

By all means, eat enough

Long endurance training sessions can seemingly kick my appetite in over drive for not only that day, but sometimes the next as well. I’ve learned to eat healthy foods to satisfy my appetite. Again, I listen to my body and feed it as needed. I try and eat enough, but not to much.

Listen to your body. Learn to feed it what it needs after your training. Focus on healthy foods to support recovery.

I will admit after heavy endurance sessions, food is often not on my mind as those workouts tend to kill my appetite for awhile. Intellectually, I know I need to get something in me.  I’ve learned I can at least get some protein and carbs in with milk in a protein drink, I also add a banana as well, this gives me a good blend of carbs and protein for recovery.

Eat what you like that satisfies you and gives your body what it needs for repair and restoration post workout.

Keep in mind that the goal is about caring for yourself, before and after exercise. Food should be used to maintain your health and wellness, but hey, if you need some chocolate in there at some point, go for that too 😉

How have you viewed exercise and food? Do you or have you, used it as a reason to eat more or eat lesser quality food? Do you think exercise is a reason to eat “whatever” you want? Have you changed your thinking on that? How did it help you?