Beat PMS Symptoms Naturally

I’ve received several requests now for a post on PMS and how to naturally deal with unwelcomed period bullshit.  You know, the bloating, the unhealthy cravings, the cramps, the mood swings… It can be a total downer, although I’ve learned to view my period as a cleansing process for the body to make the whole situation a more pleasant experience.  A positive attitude is everything in life, but sometimes you also need a little help to minimize symptoms.  Here are some of my top recommendations for reducing PMS discomfort:

Diet

When I was younger, a friend and I used to have a “fuck you, period!” ritual every month where we’d pig out on burgers, chili cheese fries and milkshakes at a local diner.  Why is it that when we get our periods we often crave the foods that feel good in the moment, but actually make our symptoms worse?

It wasn’t until I replaced the crap for nutritious, wholesome, REAL food that I really noticed a big reduction in my PMS symptoms.  Eating nutritious foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants is what the body thrives on, especially during that time of the month.  Fill up on alkalizing foods like leafy green vegetables and fruit, healthy fats high in omega-3s like salmon, nuts or chia seeds, and unprocessed whole grains, like quinoa or rice.  Eating foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium will help reduce cramps, so eat bananas, dark chocolate (the darker the better), and spinach.  If you’re craving meat, eat some red meat (preferably grass-fed organic).  It’ll help restore depleted iron levels. Feeling bloated?  Drink plenty of water, but also eat foods that are natural diuretics (aka, foods that make you pee more).   Parsley, pineapple, lemon, celery, ginger, cabbage, and apple cider vinegar are all examples. I like to start the morning off with my Daily Green Smoothie which is packed full of nutrients and will typically drink warm lemon water with ginger throughout the day.

Light Exercise

While some people feel like being sedentary during their periods, I’ve found that light exercise can be quite beneficial.  Exercise helps reduce stress and when I’m feeling depressed and irritable, exercise makes me feel relaxed.  Try exercises like walking, running, swimming, biking, or some gentle yoga poses like these ones here:

Essential Oils

Aromatherapy  has been used for many thousands of years as a way to lower stress levels, relieve pain, improve mood, and suppress cravings and nausea. Essential oils have even been demonstrated in lab studies to kill flu, E. coli, and cancer cells (source: Women’s Health Magazine, Cancer Tutor).  Different oils initiate different responses in the brain, which in turn, directs your nervous system to say, “relax” or “spring into action.” During or before menstruation, I recommend clary sage, lavender, chamomile, ylang-ylang, grapefruit, jasmine, or cedarwood to ease symptoms and lift your mood.  I personally like to mix a couple drops of oil with some coconut oil and rub it on my stomach if I’m experiencing discomfort.

Cannabis

Finally, more people are publicly acknowledging the wide-ranging medicinal benefits of the cannabis plant.  For period-related struggles, cannabis can be amazing, and a great alternative to pharmaceutical pain medications that may be harsher on the body. Cannabis rich in the compound CBD is gaining popularity due to its ability to greatly (and in most cases relatively instantly) reduce pain and inflammation while lifting your mood.   In fact, Queen Victoria, as well as many other recognizable, historical women, used CBD-rich cannabis in the 19th century to reduce her menstrual cramps (source: Project CBD).  CBD differs from THC-rich cannabis in that CBD-rich cannabis has little to no psychoactive effects or the “high” most people associate with cannabis.  It’s for this reason that strains high in CBD make it a premier choice for many users.

Remember to Breathe

This tip is for everyone, but especially for those women who get anxious, crampy, depressed, or tired during their periods.  So much can be controlled not only by the brain but by the breath.  Start by taking deep, even breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.  If you can, incorporate some of the yoga poses from above.  Focus on your breath and remind yourself that everything will be ok!

 

Have comments, questions or suggestions?  Have additional methods for relieving cramps or PMS symptoms? Leave a message below, or reach me through my website.

Thanks for reading!

4 Ways to Motivate Yourself When All You Want Is To Do Nothing At All

I was inspired to write this post based off how I currently feel on this cold, foggy day.  I’m working from home, and I want nothing more than to cuddle up with my dogs and hibernate.  However, that’s not an option as work has to be done. So, what do I do to motivate myself?  Here are some tips that work for me, so if you can relate to what I’m saying, please try these suggestions out!

 

1. Eat fat. 

Our brains are made up of about 60% fat and need fat to promote clear thinking and focus. Outdated research suggested people stay away from products containing fat, so for me growing up I typically ate fat-free products.  I can’t tell you how relieved I am to now know that healthy fats are actually an essential part of our diet.  Foods like avocado, salmon, coconut oil, organic grass-fed butter and egg yolks are all examples of healthy fats that most people should consume on a daily basis.  I personally don’t eat much dairy, but it makes me sad that I deprived myself of the delicious goodness that is whole milk and 2% Greek yogurt for so many years.  Fat-free products not only taste unsatisfying, but they are typically packed with preservatives and hidden sugars in attempt to improve flavor.  By eating more fat, especially earlier in the day, you can power your brain, enhance learning and memory, and protect yourself again future brain diseases.

To give you an idea of how I fit fats into my diet, here is an example of what I might eat in a day:

Early Morning Meal — My Daily Green Smoothie, which always includes chia seeds and hemp seeds

Breakfast — Two eggs fried in either ghee or coconut oil with vegetables sautéd in either coconut oil or olive oil over rice.

Lunch — Mixed green salad with avocado and a little olive oil with lemon and lime for dressing.

Snack — Apple with almond butter.

Dinner — Baked salmon with steamed broccoli over quinoa.

Fat sources for the day = chia seeds, hemp seeds, egg yolks, ghee, coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, almond butter and salmon.  If you focus on eating whole foods, it’s not so hard to get your daily fat!

 

2. Experiment with Essential Oils

Aromatherapy has been used for thousands of years to improve mood, aid with sleep, energize, fight disease, and so much more.  There’s pretty much an essential oil for just about anything you can think of.  For me, after years of taking pharmaceuticals to manage ADHD, essential oils, in addition to diet, have become my all-natural solution for staying focused.  There are different oils you can use, and there are also oils made of a combination of different scents.  My absolute favorite oil is by DoTerra and it’s called InTune.  It’s a combination of several oils, but it’s my go-to scent whenever it’s time to get working.  Other oils that work well, which are mostly found in InTune, are lavender, Roman chamomile, mandarin, ylang ylang (I love this scent!), frankincense (I love this one too!),  vetiver, and patchouli.

 

3. Use Cannabis

This recommendation might sound counterintuitive and also may not be a solution for everyone.  For me, I have found with certain strains of cannabis that I can manage my ADHD-tendencies.  I do live in California where just about anyone can get a medical marijuana card, so apologies to those of you who unfortunately don’t have access to legal medicine.  For those of you who do, certain strains can actually give you clarity, laser-sharp focus, and can get those creative juices flowing.  Of course, it’s always important to consult your doctor or bud tender first, since they will be able to recommend the best strains for your specific needs, but definitely ask if cannabis can be a good solution for you too.

 

4. Set Daily Goals 

There’s something about writing out your daily to-do list that makes it much easier to get work done during the day.  I think it’s because lists hold you accountable and help with time management.  I actually prefer to write my list the night before, so that I can know exactly what needs to be done when I wake up the following day.

The other part of goal setting, especially when you’re feeling unmotivated, is to set what I call “power hour” goals.  It doesn’t necessarily need to be an hour, but what I’ll do is set a timer for typically about 20-30 minutes and during this time I have to stay completely focused on one task, like writing a blog post.  When my timer goes off I then allow myself a five minute break to walk around and stretch. Sometimes on my break I even let myself check Facebook 🙂  The point is that this system forces my lazy brain to work hard with the promise of a reward.  Because I get to take breaks I don’t get burnt out this way, not to mention I get in a little exercise!

 

For more tips like these, please leave a comment or drop me a line on my website.  Let’s talk!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nourishing Beef Bone Broth

You can roll your eyes at the bone broth trend all you want, but the truth is, there’s a reason bone broth restaurants are popping up in major cities and making headlines. While I enjoy bone broth, it feels silly paying $5 for a cup of straight broth, and truth told, with this recipe I can make it better myself at home (and it’s not hard!).

Why drink bone broth?

Bone broth is essentially an anti-aging tonic.  It’s full of pure nutrients and minerals straight from the bones of animals, like chickens, beef, pork, turkey, or lamb, simmered for hours with water and roasted vegetables.  Unlike regular broth which is made with just the bones of animals, bone broth usually calls for some meat on the bones during the cooking process. Grandmothers have been making it for ages, swearing that its healing properties aid the body’s immune system and gut, alleviate inflammation and joint pain, and make skin soft and hair shiny. It makes perfect sense considering bone broth is rich in many important nutrients including phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, protein, collagen, gelatin and glycine.  Drink it regularly to aid your body in good health!

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Making bone broth is easy enough. It’s recommended to use a mix of bones with and without meat, and choose bones from organically-raised animals only.  You don’t want to extract any potentially harmful additives that could’ve been given to the animals. Same goes for the rest of the ingredients in the broth.  This recipe is for beef bone broth, but you’d essentially do the same thing with this recipe as you’d do if you were using bones from a different animal.  If you so desire, which I highly recommend, you can add your favorite herbs or spices to the broth too to make it more flavorful.

Ingredients

-4 bones beef bones (aim for a mix of bones, some with a little meat and some without)

-1 yellow onion, quartered

-1 leek, chopped

-2 medium carrots, chopped

-2 celery stocks, chopped

-4 cloves garlic, halved lengthwise

-2 bay leaves

-2 tablespoons peppercorns

-1 tablespoon pink Himalayan sea salt or regular sea salt

-1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

 

Instructions

1- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Place chopped onion, leek, carrots, celery and garlic into a roasting pan along with the beef bones.  Roast for 15 minutes, take out and toss the veggies, then roast for another 15 minutes. Turn oven off.

2- Fill a large stockpot with about 12 cups of water (preferably filtered) and add the bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, apple cider vinegar, and roasted vegetables and bones with any juices and scrapings from the roasting pan.  Add more water to the pot if the water doesn’t cover the bones all the way. Optional- add herbs or spices.  I added a mix of Italian herbs.

3- Cover the pot and bring to a gentle boil.  Reduce heat to simmer, and cook with the lid ajar slightly. Simmer for at least eight hours and up to 24 hours, occasionally skimming the foam and excess fat from the top with a spoon or lettuce leaf, if you have one. The longer you let the broth sit, the more flavorful it will be.

*Note- do not leave the house with the stove on or leave it on overnight while you sleep. You can always continue to simmer it the next day.

4- Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool slightly.  Discard the bones and vegetables by straining the broth with a fine-mesh sieve into a large container. I then transferred the broth to a glass mason jar and made sure to skim the rest of the fat off the top.

Store the broth in the fridge for up to five days and up to six months in the freezer.

Cheers to good health!

 

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Your Poop

Even though it feels a bit embarrassing to post about poop, there’s no denying that our bowel movements are extremely important. If you want to know what’s going on with your body and your health, then start by looking at your poop.

Let’s begin with the gut. The gut is the body’s second brain. In fact, it actually sends messages directly to our brain up top. It impacts mood, digestion, the immune system, and even how you think. While thought processes like writing or math are up to the big brain, the Enteric Nervous System (ENS), which runs down from our esophagus to our stomach, small intestine and anus, is comprised of 100’s of millions of neurotransmitters that affect mental state and contribute to certain diseases in the body (source: John Hopkins). This network of neurons is similar to those found in the brain and act as a complex circuitry allowing the gut to think independently, learn, remember, and even experience gut feelings. 80% of cells from the immune system are located in this digestive tract, so it makes sense that the colon can dictate your overall health.

Because of the impact your gut health has on mood and overall health, many gastrointestinal disorders like Colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome stem from issues in the gut. When you poop, you eliminate toxins, and when you don’t poop those toxins build up and can contribute to disease and illness. Constipation can be caused by a disease, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or from something like stress or poor diet.

Are you pooping enough?

Your poop can tell you whether your body is properly absorbing the nutrients that you consume. Ideally, you should poop between 1-3 times every day, but no more than 5. If you’re pooping five or more times daily, this is likely diarrhea and can be dehydrating. Many people refer to having regular bowel function as being “regular,” but regular really means easily passing soft yet well-formed bowel movements anywhere between 1-3 times a day to 3 times a week (source: continence.org).

The type of poop you make is quite important. Thankfully, there is this handy dandy poop chart to help you identify your stool category according to research by the University of Bristol:

If your poop most closely resembles types 1-3, this indicates constipation. Types 3-4 are ideal; 5-7 indicate diarrhea.

What can you do to become a “regular” and healthy pooper?

If you’re not a category 3-4 pooper, then I have some tips for you!

If you really want to give your colon a good cleanse, try a colonic. Colonics cleanse your colon by flushing the large intestine out with warm water via the rectum in order to remove waste and exercise and hydrate the colon (source: SF Colonics). Some places that do colonics will even sell add-ons with the colonics, like coffee enemas or vitamin B implants.

Diet can play a huge role on gut health. Try adding more fiber to your diet since fiber gets waste to move through the intestines. Fruits and vegetables are a great source of fiber, and I highly recommend my Daily Green Smoothie for a powerful dose of fiber and vitamins needed to cleanse the body of toxins. I also suggest taking a daily probiotic and digestive enzymes. Probiotics can come in the form of food or supplements, but basically, probiotics are good bacteria that are essential to proper gut function and good health. Digestive enzymes will help you get the most from the nutrients in your food by breaking the food down into more digestible components. Even if you’re someone who eats well all the time, if you don’t have enough digestive enzymes you will not absorb all the good nutrition from your food (source: Whole9). Stress, low stomach acid, aging, and inflammation all are very common occurrences that can deplete levels of digestive enzymes.

Because of the direct link between the gut and colon, constipation or diarrhea can signal something stressful going on, whether it’s something emotional buried deep or something going on presently, like a big presentation at work (source: Harvard). To reduce stress, I can recommend a number of therapies which I’ve tried. These include health coaching, acupuncture, massage, psychotherapy, emotional freedom technique, or yoga. There are many ways to reduce stress on your own too, like breathing exercises, regular physical activity (but tailored to fit your body’s needs), essential oils, or a good ole’ warm bath.

I have worked with many women who suffer from chronic constipation. In fact, chronic constipation is a large, somewhat unspoken epidemic. I work with these clients to improve diet and lifestyle and to identify areas of stress or emotional trauma in their lives. If you’re someone suffering from gut problems, or if you would just like to improve your overall health, please set up a complimentary consultation with me so we can review your health history and discuss how health coaching can best help you.

I received my training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I learned about more than one hundred dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. Drawing on this knowledge, I will help you create a completely personalized “roadmap to health” that suits your unique body, lifestyle, preferences, and goals.

 

 

You Are Invited! Slim Down For Summer and Join Me For A Summer Anti-Inflammation Detox

17327_10204034803084733_8189935535209272625_nWho else wants to feel totally energized, vibrant, and renewed this summer? Who wants to feel the best they’ve ever felt, lose some weight, and think more clearly than ever before? If this speaks to you, then join me this summer for an anti-inflammation detox and elimination diet!

Is a detox right for you? 

• Do you have trouble concentrating and/or staying focused?

• Do you feel tired or lethargic?
• Do you experience frequent colds or flues?
• Do you have joint pain or stiffness?

• Do you get frequent headaches?
• Are you overweight?
• Have you had a change in body odor or taste in your mouth?
• Do you have dark circles under your eyes?
• Does you skin lack luster?
• Do you have acne, eczema, or psoriasis?
• Do you have constipation (less than one bowel movement/day)?

• Do you have gas, bloating, or indigestion?
• Do you look puffy or bloated?
• Do you have high cholesterol or fatty liver disease?

If you answered “yes” to any of the following questions, then consider detoxing!

What is a detox?

A detox removes toxins from the body, almost like a “spring clean” for the soul to renew your inner self. We are exposed to numerous toxins every day, whether it’s through the air we breath, the food we eat, or the products we use. Stress is a very large contributor to inflammation too, and is also responsible for 75-90% of hospital visits.

As a result of all these toxins in our system, our body becomes inflamed. Although inflammation is typically the body’s natural, healthy immune response (think redness, soreness, or swelling), chronic inflammation often flies under the radar, disengaging the inflammation shut-off button. Chronic, low-level inflammation is also known as the “silent killer,” because it develops without pain and research shows it can lead to obesity, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease among other illnesses.

There are different types of detoxes out there, but I want to focus on the anti-inflammation detox, because reducing levels of inflammation is SO critical for achieving optimum health and avoiding big health problems down the road. This anti-inflammation detox focuses on hormone balance, limiting stress levels, improving sleep, and the elimination diet, which are all important factors that’ll contribute to abundant health and wellbeing. Hormones control everything in our body from the reproductive system to mood, energy levels, sleep, and appearance. All of the sources I previously mentioned that cause inflammation also can cause hormonal imbalances, and create symptoms like irritability, fatigue, inability to lose weight, unhealthy food cravings, and even conditions like diabetes, osteoporosis, or heart disease.

Health Benefits To Expect From This Detox:

  • Improved hormonal balance and fat burning with better liver function.
  • Relief from the effects of harmful excess estrogen (sex hormone).
  • Reduced insulin and less inflammation.
  • Restored serotonin activity and enhanced mood, memory, and focus.
  • Maximized activity of thyroid hormone (energy hormone).
  • Support of the breakdown and clearance of cortisol (stress hormone) from the body.
  • Better appetite control, freedom from cravings, and enhanced fat burning through improved leptin levels.
  • Diminished cellulite.

From this detox you will also learn to identify food sensitivities and allergies, which I will get into more just below.

Detox Details

1. Media Detox

This portion of the detox might be hardest for most. Although you will not need to abstain from media entirely, the more you can power down (especially before bed), the better. This will help greatly to reduce stress levels and improve sleep.

2. Restorative Sleep

Getting quality sleep is extremely important for balancing hormones and reducing inflammation.  It also makes it easier for us to stick with our health goals.

3. Replace home goods, cleaning products, and beauty products with natural, chemical-free products

Although this can be costly, over time I recommend switching out products for natural, chemical-free, or homemade versions to reduce and eliminate toxins. Think about it, over 80,000 industrial chemicals have been developed in the last 80 years, and these chemicals are found in almost every commercial product you use! These chemicals completely disrupt hormone balance and contribute to life-threatening illnesses.

4. Stress Management

Most of us suffer from stress in some way, whether it’s environmental, from food, work-related, relationship-related, personal, or psychological. When stress goes untreated, it suppresses the body’s immune system and ultimately manifests as illness. Stress is also a huge contributor to digestive troubles. Throughout this detox I will be coaching participants on ways to reduce and eliminate stress, since stress also leads to inflammation!

5. The Elimination Diet

It’s hard to pinpoint food allergies or sensitivities, so this part of the detox will help you discover your trigger foods. Over 10 days, we will eliminate some of the most toxic or most commonly allergenic foods from the diet: sugar, processed foods and hydrogenated oils, alcohol, caffeine, corn, dairy, cigarettes, red meats, citrus fruit, peanuts, night shade vegetables, and gluten.

Don’t freak out. You may be thinking “well what’s left for me to eat?,” but that’s where I step in.  Not only will I be coaching you through this process, but I will also set up a support system with the rest of the group members. I will provide you with delicious recipes, meal plans, and whole food education, and don’t forget, I will be joining you for this detox too!

After the ten days of the elimination diet, then the real work starts. Over the course of about three weeks you will begin to reintroduce one food at a time back to your diet. Introduce a food, see how you feel after eating it for two days, then eliminate that food again and start with a new food for two days. This process repeats itself until you’ve tested out all types of inflammatory foods.

The great thing about this detox is that you will feel so much better afterwards that it’ll be easier to incorporate this type of eating on your own.  You’ll be resetting and refreshing your body, so you may even notice that you might not even crave some of the foods you used to crave before, making healthy eating way more convenient!

What You’ll Get With This Detox

For $50.00 (USD), you will receive health coaching, group support, recipes, meal plans, and tips to set yourself up for lasting health improvements!  My health coaching services are normally triple this rate, so take advantage of this opportunity!

Here is what to expect:

-the anti-inflammation overview packet

  • information I’ve compiled about the detox
  • detox Q & A
  • list of foods to eliminate
  • list of foods to include
  • types of activities to include

-tips and tricks that’ll help with the detox, but will also help you after the detox

  • stress management techniques
  • whole food education
  • identifying and deconstructing cravings
  • group health coaching with check ins a couple times a week
  • helpful tips to help you through the detox

-recipes and meal plan

  • a sample meal plan for 10 days
  • recipes for every meal

-group support

  • access to a Facebook support group with other members
  • a partner to share triumphs and set backs with and to have as an accountability coach
  • I’ll be regularly posting tips and tricks here to help with the detox

-unlimited email support with me

  • I’ll be available to answer any questions via email

Join Me!

If this detox speaks to you, then please write me an email so I’ll have your contact information!  This detox will begin the week of July 13, 2015, but it is important to give yourself at least a week leading up to the beginning of the detox to get yourself ready!

You can reach me via email at jessicakhealth@gmail.com and don’t forget to visit my website and sign up for my newsletter www.jkhealthcoach.com.

Reasons You Should Cook With This Cancer-Fighting, Pain-Reducing, Immune-Boosting Spice (plus recipe!)

Spices should not be neglected from your cooking, because most spices have health benefits and add amazing flavor or color to foods.  Today I want to talk about the brightly-colored spice, turmeric, which you may have tried before, especially if you’ve eaten Indian food.  Turmeric is argued to be the most effective nutritional supplement in existence, and speaking from personal experience, holy shit! This stuff works.

I started taking turmeric, or curcumin (the main active ingredient in turmeric), in supplement form last year to treat chronic wrist and hip pain. Curcumin fights inflammation and contains lots of cancer-fighting antioxidants.  Within days my pain dissipated.  Here are some other uses for the spice:

Arthritis, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, stomach pain, diarrhea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, jaundice, liver problems, gall bladder disorders, headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, fibromyalgia, leprosy, fever, menstrual cramps, depression, Alzheimer’s, water retention, worms, kidney problems, and cancer.

Sound too good to be true?  There’s a reason this spice has been used to treat illnesses for centuries. It works! Cooking with turmeric alone may not be a high enough dosage to make a huge impact with helping any of the above issues, but you can also find turmeric in supplement form to get the full effects.

Turmeric goes very well with black pepper, especially because the black pepper enhances the effects of the curcumin. Turmeric also goes great with other spices like cumin, coriander, curry, etc.

Crispy Turmeric Tofu Tacos

Ingredients:

For the tofu…

-extra firm tofu, drained, cut into cubes (to drain, place tofu block in a colander over a bowl and place a plate with something heavy on top of the tofu for anywhere from 20 minutes- hour).

-spices: turmeric, black pepper, salt, cumin, any additional favorite spices  *turmeric stains bright yellow, so clean immediately if you spill!*

-EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

Extras for the tacos…

-favorite beans, soaked, rinsed and cooked

-taco shells

-avocado

-raw red onion, diced

-fresh corn off the cob

-optional: cheese

Instructions:

1. Turn over to 400 degrees F.

2. After tofu has drained and is cut into cubes, toss the cubes in a bowl. Add spices (I eyeball it out, but probably about 1/4 teaspoon of each spice) and oil and coat evenly.

3. Place tofu on lined baking sheet.  Put in the oven on the bottom rack for five minutes. Flip tofu and place in oven for another five minutes, then repeat once more for a total of 15 minute cook time.

4. Put tacos together- cooked beans, raw onion, corn, tofu, and avocado on shells. Serve up and enjoy!

If you have leftover tofu, I like to do another easy dish of sushi rice, veggies, and tofu.

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For the original crispy tofu recipe, sans tacos, click here.

Other Sources: Whole Foods

8 Tips to Help Yourself Eat Better During the Week

We are busy people and not enough of us make the time to take care of our health. Eating well is much easier when we plan ahead, and even easier when we get other people involved.  When we designate one day for food prep, we allow ourselves more time during the week to rest, relax, and enjoy our pre-prepped food.  I recommend Sunday as the day for cooking and preparation.  This way, when our lives our full of stress and things to do, we have pre-prepped meals to look forward to.

Top tips for eating better during the week:

1. Make a batch of your favorite whole grains 

Whole grains can be very versatile.  I love to cook a big thing of rice or quinoa that’ll last me through the week. For breakfast I personally love putting eggs over rice with avocado and hot sauce, and then for other meals top the rice with vegetables or other forms of protein.  Fried rice is an easy enough recipe that’s always a favorite.  For more information and a list of all whole grains, click here.

2. Designate one day for prepping

As mentioned above, one of the most useful tips I have is to prep ahead of time. On your designated prep day, slice all your veggies, cook your whole grains, and soak your beans.  This saves time and makes eating healthy more realistic.

3.  Cook once, eat twice (or more!)

Prepare enough food while cooking to have leftovers.  Take advantage of the time you have to cook, because it can be hard to guarantee you’ll have time or even want to cook the rest of the week.

4. Keep a food journal

It’s easy to forget the meals we eat.  If your goal is to lose weight or discover what foods work best for your body, I always advise my clients to keep a food journal. Keeping a food journal not only helps us track what we eat eat and our portion sizes, but we can note things we are feeling emotionally or physically when we eat or after we eat. Identifying our emotions or even things we are feeling physically from eating helps us pinpoint food intolerances or allergies, and can even answer questions about other physical ailments.

From my own experience, it wasn’t until I started noting how I felt physically and emotionally after I ate processed foods and sugar that I was able to solve feelings of anxiety and depression. I realized those foods made me physically sick to my stomach, and I was also experiencing high levels of serotonin while eating the food, and suffering from low dopamine levels after the sugar high wore off.  Most of us probably aren’t conscious of these things as we’re eating and going about our lives, but once we stop and think about it, we may discover things we didn’t realize about our bodies.

6. Cook at home

I love going out to eat.  It’s convenient, there are lots of options, and the food tastes pretty good, but why not save some money and calories by cooking yourself?  When we eat out, there’s no way of controlling what exactly goes into our food.  I enjoy cooking because I know exactly where my food comes from, I have control over what I put in my food, and I get to pick what I want to eat.  Aim to eat at least two homemade meals a day, then work toward three meals at home a day.

7. Plan your meals

It’s much easier to eat well during the week if we take some time to plan meals ahead of time.  Make a grocery list and write out what you plan to eat every day. There’s no need to get fancy.  If you like having oatmeal for breakfast every morning and vegetable stir fry for dinner, then go for it!

8. Add in vegetables, nuts, legumes, fruit, and whole grains

By adding in more vegetables, nuts, legumes, fruit, and whole grains to our diet, we can naturally crowd out unhealthier foods and prevent unhealthy food cravings.  When we fill up on foods that nourish our body, we become more satisfied quicker, so we’re less likely to go for the desserts or snacks after we eat.

Looking for more tips?  Subscribe to my newsletter!

Pay me a visit at www.jkhealthcoach.com to learn more about how working with a health coach can benefit you and the ones you love!

Get Fat Now!

Fat has been a diet no-no for quite some time, but luckily the fat-free era is finally over.  Research shows that fat is essential for our bodies.  Saturated fat is no longer the problem, but is actually the solution for our bodies to repair cells and for proper hormone function. It’s time to enjoy our egg yolks, our whole fat yogurt, or our chicken breasts, skin on. Think about our ancestors, the hunter-gatherers.  Could they have survived harsh conditions and the time between meals if it wasn’t for fat consumption? Hell no!  Our bodies NEED fat, but fat from the right sources.

The body is made up of 97% saturated and monounsaturated fat, and the remaining 3%  is polyunsaturated fat. That 3% polyunsaturated fat is half omega-3 fats and half omega-6 fats.  It’s important for our bodies to have balanced levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fats, 1:1.  Without this equal balance, too much omega-6 causes inflammation, while omega-3 is neutral.  A diet high in omega-3 fat and low in omega-6 fat is ok thought, because the omega-3 fats will reduce inflammation.

Vegetable oils are a main source of omega-6 in the modern diet.  Some of these oils high in omega-6 include: safflower oil, corn oil, sunflower, soybean, cotton oil.

Fatty fish oil, quality extra-virgin olive oils, coconut oil, or quality butter are all examples of omega-3 fats (yay, butter!).  Omega-3 fats are also vital for the following health benefits:

  • Reducing the risk of heart disease and causes of death associated with heart disease
  • Reducing severity of symptoms associated with diabetes
  • Reducing pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis
  • Reducing risk of osteoporosis and bone loss
  • Improving health and reducing symptoms for those with autoimmune disease
  • Helping those with anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder
  • Reducing risk of various types of cancers
  • Improving cognitive function

(Sources: Wellness Mama)

My favorite ways to incorporate healthy fats into my diet:

1.  Eat fat for breakfast, especially before and after a workout.  Below is a favorite, quick breakfast of mine full of omega-3s.  2% Greek yogurt, berries and bananas, topped with protein-packed hemp seeds, and omega-3 sources, flax seeds and chia seeds.

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2. Invest in quality extra virgin olive oil (preferably pressed somewhere local to you), organic coconut oil, and grass-fed butter.  These products can be a little more expensive, but you’ll use them all the time and you won’t need to feel guilty about using the butter.  You can even save money by switching your beauty and home care products to olive oil and coconut oil.

4. If you’re a coffee drinker, add a tablespoon of organic coconut butter to your morning coffee or try Bulletproof coffee.

5. Some of my favorite sources of omega-3s: avocado, salmon, almond butter, eggs, grass-fed meats, extra virgin olive oil, butter, chia seeds, flax seeds, Brussel sprouts, and shrimp.

If you’re having trouble losing weight, suffering from exhaustion or stress, try adding more healthy fats to your diet.

All Hail Kale

kale-heartProbably five years ago or so, I don’t believe I had ever heard of kale.  It seems like the green, leafy vegetable blew up to celebrity status overnight, suddenly becoming the most talked about superfood.  This vegetable has become one of my personal favorites and with any vegetable, if you know how to prepare it right, it can be delicious.

Buying vegetables, whether it’s kale or other green vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, spinach, etc, is cost effective and leaves less of a carbon footprint.  While animal agriculture has many implications like land degradation and reduction of biodiversity, vegetables have a very low environmental impact and be grown in most climates.

Kale, because of it’s high nutrient value, is a good option to replace our society’s high meat consumption.  I’m not saying cut meat out entirely, but I think people can certainly add in more vegetables to crowd out large portions of meat.  Everybody’s body is different, but vegetables are an important part of our diet, and lots of us don’t get the correct amount of vegetable servings in our diet.  Here are some reasons kale is one of my favorite vegetables:skinny-bitch3

Anti- Inflammatory

Dark leafy greens are an important source in reducing inflammation in the body.  Vitamin A, selenium, and beta-cryptoxanthin are some of the few anti-inflammatory agents found in vegetables.

Fiber

Our ancestors had way more fiber in their diets than we do today.  Fruits and vegetables are a fantastic source of fiber, especially kale, broccoli, carrots, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and avocado.  Fiber maintains bowel regularity and prevents the risk of health problems.

Iron 

Some people believe that it’s difficult to get healthy amounts of iron in our diet if a person doesn’t eat meat.  This simply isn’t true.  In actuality, some vegetables contain higher levels of iron than animals foods, especially vegetables like Swiss chard, soybeans, lentils, spinach, and turnip greens.

Calcium

Milk is believed by many to be the greatest source of calcium, however, vegetables have high calcium amounts that’ll keep our bodies strong.  That being said, don’t rely solely on vegetables as a source of calcium, because it’s harder for our bodies to absorb calcium from vegetables.  Kale, collards, cabbage, arugula, and bok choy are some examples of vegetables containing lots of calcium.

Healthy Fats

As I’ve written about before, getting healthy fats in our diet is very important, and there is a distinction between good and bad fat.  Omega fatty acids are necessary to our diet.  Lots of people take fish oil capsules, but kale actually contains both omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids.

Is Gluten the New Fat?

For the past 40 years, Americans have been lead to believe that any form of fat and all types of cholesterol were bad for us.  New studies have proven that this idea is outdated, but today, the new “evil” is gluten.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are by now you’ve at least heard the word gluten.  There are entire sections at the grocery store devoted to gluten-free products and I don’t know about you all, but out of the blue everyone I know is suddenly gluten intolerant.

What is gluten?

Gluten, Latin for “glue,” is a name for proteins that act as an adhesive glue, keeping together foods like breads, pastas, flour, etc.  Gluten exists in wheat, barley, and rye and can be found in many products, whether it’s our food or personal care products, like toothpaste or shampoo.  The “sticky” nature of gluten makes it hard to breakdown and absorb nutrients.

t1larg.gluten.foods.gi

What are some symptoms of gluten sensitivity? 

Depression, inflammation, joint problems, gastrointestinal problems, or fatigue, ADHD, anxiety, hives/rashes, miscarriages, nausea/vomiting, sugar cravings, brain fog, malabsorption of food, dairy intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, or infertility.

Inflammation can also cause “leaky gut,”which makes us more susceptible to future food sensitivities and puts us at risk for developing autoimmune diseases or neurological disorders in the future.  Some of these diseases linked to inflammation include: Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Autism, and Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), diabetes, Hashimoto’s thyroidtis, arthritis, or schizophrenia. People with Celiacs disease share these same symptoms but on a more extreme level.  It’s also possible that some people just don’t show symptoms, but are fighting the attack elsewhere in their body, like in the nervous system.

But didn’t we always eat gluten? 

Our diet has changed drastically from what our ancestors ate. We used to thrive off of high-fat diet, low-carb diets, but now our diet consists of mainly carbs and significantly less fat.

Ancestors                                  Modern Diet

-Fat 75% of diet                            -Carbs 60% of diet

-Protein 20% of diet                     -Fat 20%

-Carbs 5% of diet                          -Protein 20%

evolution_of_man

We have far more disease today and different types of diseases than we ever did before.  The majority of our great-grandparents and generations older than them died from old age, but today many of us are plagued by cancer, heart disease, brain disease, obesity, or diabetes.  The answer to this conundrum exists not just in genes, but in our food.

As you can see from the numbers above, most of us eat an unbalanced diet.  Our percentage of carbohydrate intake are at unnaturally high levels, which takes a toll on our bodies. The first sign of celiacs, however, traces all the back to the first century AD, when a Greek doctor named Aretaeus of Cappadocia wrote about the symptoms and used the word “celiac” to name the illness in a medical textbook.  Gluten has always been a part of our diets since our ancestors learned to farm and mill wheat.  The gluten we eat today, though, hardly resembles the gluten in our diet ten thousand years ago.  Today our food is far more processed and bio-engineering has us growing structurally-modified grains containing gluten that’s less tolerable.

So is a gluten-free diet for me?

Although I know people have healed themselves of ailments by removing gluten from the diet and although I’ve read the research on the links between gluten and neurodegenerative conditions, I full-heartedly believe in the idea of everything in moderation. I personally have not given up my bread products yet, but I eat much less of it and not every day, because a little bread every now and then probably won’t kill you.  The problem is, carbs, like sugar, can be addicting, so some people have a much harder time removing gluten from the diet.

One way to cut back on carbs, processed foods, or sugar is to fill up on proteins, vegetables, and healthy fats.  By adding in these other foods, it’s easier to naturally crowd out carbohydrates, processed foods, and sugar.  I highly encourage everyone to do research for themselves, rather than hopping on the bandwagon without really knowing why.  There are probably way more products containing gluten than you know, some which may be surprising, and I’ve listed some of these products below.  I highly recommend the book Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, MD if you’re looking for more research and information.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Autism, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), or diabetes, or if it runs in your family, then I would think it best to stay away from gluten.  If you’re eating gluten and finding yourself suffering from headaches, abdominal pains, or any of the other symptoms previously mentioned, then try at least one week of cutting out gluten and see if you can notice any improvements.

Which grains are gluten-free?

Amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, corn, millet, potato, quinoa, rice, sorghum, soy, tapioca, and tee.

gluten-free-grains

Which gains contain gluten?

Barley, bulgur, couscous, farina, graham flour, kamut, matzo, rye, semolina, spelt, triticale, wheat, and wheat germ.

Random things that contain gluten:

Cosmetics, lipsticks/lip balm, medications, non-self-adhesive stamps and envelopes, play-doh, shampoos and conditioners, toothpaste, some vitamins and supplements.

There are lots of other foods and ingredients that contain gluten, so do some research if you’re planning on going gluten-free.

Sources:

Perlmutter, David, MD. Grain Brain. New York, NY.  Little, Brown and Company.