Thursday, December 19, 2013

Are carbs really that bad?

A client recently asked me about no-carbohydrate and low-carbohydrate dieting and some roadblocks they were running into -- upset stomach, general tiredness, OPTIONS!, not getting enough calories, gaining weight back quickly if they went off-track for just a day or 2...but on the upside they had lost a lot of weight in a short period of time!  

Of course I understand that if something has helped you lose 25 pounds its hard to adjust and change it, but for overall health and realistic maintenance you need a healthy balance of the RIGHT KINDS of carbohydrates in your diet.  
Carbohydrates are fuel for your body & something we need to get through our day - stored energy - so moderation is really key.  When eliminating something completely from your diet - especially something that is not BAD - you tend to gain weight back as soon as they reintroduce it.  Overtime, it's just not sustainable to have a no carb/low carb diet without jeopardizing other areas of health (like cholesterol, fatigue, nausea, lightheadedness, etc.)
While cutting out the white flour, white pasta, processed sugars and white bread is definitely a must, cutting out all things carb - fruit and whole grains especially - is not recommended for any period of time - even a day or 2!   Instead, look for fibrous carbs, which take longer to digest and keep you full longer.  
Whole grains:  Whole wheat bread has an average of 2g fiber per slice (compared to white's 1g) - I like the really hearty stuff from Kroger or Whole Foods - it's so hearty that one slice with peanut butter and honey and keeps you full all morning.  At Kroger I love homemade 9 grain in the bakery section.  At Whole Foods I am constantly changing it up based on selection & what looks seedy and grainy but not heavy - and believe me, they have some HEAVY breads.    Whole-wheat spaghetti has 4g per cup..Fiber One cereal 14g (Raisin bram, only 6g).

Fruits and veggies:  Raspberries, pears, blackberries, apples, squash, zucchini, mushrooms, green/red/yellow peppers, artichokes, brussell sprouts...all boast 4g or more per serving (most more - like almost double!)
Lentils:  Think chick peas, black beans, peanuts, kidney beans, lima beans, soy beans, white beans...

If you are looking to introduce some carbs into your diet - or eliminate some -  here are a few suggestions to help

Breakfast:  pick one....
a.  Smoothie with 8 oz skim or 2% milk, ice, 1/2 banana, 5 whole or frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or plain low-fat yogurt, you can add a little honey or stevia packet to sweeten if you need.
b.  One slice hearty 9-grain Kroger bread with 2 TBSP natural peanut butter, honey, 1/2 a banana
c.  1/4 cup dry oats, 1/4 cup granola, a whole bunch of berries and 2% milk (or milk of your choice) to cover.  
Mid-morning snack:  LARABAR OR similar snack --- apple with peanut butter, handful of almonds or unsalted, dry roasted peanuts
Lunch:  Lean fish/chicken with a serving a green veggies and brown steamed rice or a small sweet potato.   Or a salad with oil & vinegar with added protein.  
**one of my favorite recipes is tuna salad stuffed peppers:  1 can tuna, some chopped up celery, some plain yogurt and a drop of mustard and black pepper to season.  I cut a pepper in half and stuff the pepper then eat it open faced.  Because I need carbs in my lift I also either eat some brown rice on the side or pack just a serving size of sweet potato chips (or these new avocado oil chips I found at Kroger to have on the side)  I pre-bag and package everything because I am so so SO bad at stopping myself when I am eating something I like. 

Mid-afternoon snack:  hummus (I buy the individual packs) and some type of veggies to dip.  Varies based on what is in my fridge.  

Dinner:  Lean beef/chicken/fish - I vary it up here.  Green veggies, raw or lightly steamed are best! Try to avoid carbs here or go tiny sweet potato, brown rice, 1 cup of whole wheat pasta.

Remember, none of this will do any good if you don't watch your serving size...healthy does not equal free-for-all or low-calorie/low-fat.  I am a big fan of pre-portioning and buying individual servings, even if the cost is a wee bit higher.
Also a huge fan of giving into your cravings but just being careful about it.  If you want a small piece of something sweet just have it.  If the chugging water and waiting 20 minutes doesn't help curve the craving eat just a bite and really enjoy the moment. DO NOT try to replace the craving with another never will and you'll end up eating more than if you just went ahead and ate whatever it was you wanted!  

Don't deprive yourself, just be careful you don't over-indulge yourself either.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

10 things to do when you're snowed (or iced!) in....

1. Watch all of the good ‘80s movies – Sixteen Candles, Footloose, Breakfast Club….OnDemand, on Netflix, on Redbox, or whatever your cable company of choice offers. You will be a better person, with more to talk about.

2. Do yoga in your living room. Don’t have a yoga DVD? Grab a book or search online for some YouTube videos – it’s sure to calm your stir crazy stress.
3. Read that book you’ve had on your nightstand for like, two years. Weather events happen for a reason – maybe it’s so we can call catch up on our ready.

4. Call your mom/dad/brother/sister/best friend/hairstylist/chiropractor/personal trainer and tell them you love and appreciate them.

5. Clean your house – or at least pick a room - organize your shelves and drawers by color and item so you never again scramble to find that whisk, AGAIN.

6. Make a list of your goals for the next few months – or for 2014. Really take the time to think them out and write them down & share them with your kids/spouse/significant other so you’re accountable.

7. Clean out your phone contacts. Sayonara toxic friends and ex-hook up (unless of course you want to keep their number so you know not to answer – in this case I suggest renaming them as “DO NOT ANSWER”

8. Organize your iTunes. Make playlists that remind you of college or of your hometown. Make a playlist for your holiday party. Make a playlist for your birthday. Make a playlist for being snowed in.

9. Write someone you haven’t talked to in a while a hand-written letter and mail it when the ice clears. Make sure it’s personal – you have time for edits – everybody deserves to get a handwritten note! It’s a lost art.

10. Nothing’s gonna happen while it’s snowing this hard. Take the time to relax. Take a bubble bath until you turn into a prune. Wear and eye mask and meditate. Listen to the sounds of the snow outside and breathe deeply. Turn on some classical music and open a bottle of wine. Build a fire (or flip the switch if you have gas logs).

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tis the Season for sharing…and sniffling, and sneezing…

As I fight my way through what has turned out to be a killer sinus infection I have been researching ways to alleviate this pressure in my head that does not include a trip to the doctors.     

My normal fix for sinus pressure is a Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar in a cup of boiling water in the morning and lying around the house in the evening with a heating pad on my head and Vicks on my chest willing the pressure in my head to cease.  But this time it’s getting worse before it’s getting better.  It’s like Santa sent one of his little elves down to sit on my shoulder with a rubber mallet and tap on my skull. 

I finally gave into the Alka Seltzer yesterday but am still trying to stay away from my GP and let this thing pass on its own.

BUT - since I did so much research, I thought it would only be fair to share with you all.  So here is a list of the things I found most interesting and helpful – read now, but save for later!

  1. Diet: Eat in moderation: whole grains, beans, lentils, lightly cooked vegetables, soups, and cold-pressed oils. Avoid flour products, eggs, chocolate, fried and processed foods, sugar and dairy products as these tend to be mucus-forming food.  Just what we do NOT want – more mucus. 
  2. Herbs: Cayenne pepper, garlic, onion and horseradish in your soups and meals to hep eliminate mucus build up.  According to the self-care guide, Prescription for Natural Cures, a powerful drainage remedy is to eat a small spoonful of crushed horseradish mixed with lemon juice, but make sure to be near a sink when your nose starts running. Japanese horseradish in the form of Wasabi paste taken with meals can also provide a quick release to the nasal passages. Just remember, “a little dab will do ya.”  Any of us who have had sushi can probably attest to this.
  3. Flush out your sinuses:  Dissolve a teaspoon of pure sea salt in 2 cups of warm water (not hot, not cold). Follow the directions, but depending on how bad your sinuses blockage is you may want to use 2 cups on one side and then refill and use on the other side.  Be sure to do this over a sink and use distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water to make the solution.
  4. Apple cider vinegar:  At the first sign of infection combine 1-2 teaspoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in 6 ounces of water, a teaspoon of raw honey or stevia to sweeten and drink 3 times a day for 5 days. The apple cider vinegar helps to thin congested mucus, so it can be easily eliminated.  Added bonus – apple cider vinegar helps with digestion.
  5. Humidify: Start using a humidifier in rooms where you spent a lot of time. Just make sure to follow the instructions for regular cleaning. If you use a dirty filter, you might be spraying mold into the air – which is not going to help clear up anything!
  6. Breathe in steam vapors. You can either run the shower and sit in the bathroom or breathe deeply. The steam vapors may help reduce congested and swollen nasal passages.  If you have some oils at home, you can make some discs for the shower bath that will help open you up.  Combine 2-3 cups baking soda with 15 drops each of rosemary, lavender and eucalyptus and add water just a little at a time until you have a thick paste.  Spoon into muffin tins and  set overnight – and BAM!  Shower discs to open you up!    
  7. Apply heat. Put a warm, wet towel on your face.  I use a heating pad on low – it feels so good and usually starts to alleviate some pressure right away.
  8. Drink lots of fluids. They'll help thin the mucus, reducing the blockage in your sinuses.  Try to stick to pure, unfiltered or boiled water.  However, cut down on your alcohol -- it can actually worsen the swelling. (but help the sleeping, right? – I know that is what you are thinking!)
  9. Rest.  “HA! Right! I can’t even find time to get to my GP”  But when you've got a sinus infection, try not to overdo it. Get plenty of sleep and give your body a chance to recover. 

I also found this fun website if you need more remedies for a headache!  
18 Remedies for Headaches

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Electolytes and Sports Drinks...when are they really necessary?

“Electrolyte drinks containing sodium and potassium salts replenish the body's water and electrolyte levels after dehydration caused by exercise, excessive alcohol consumption, diaphoresis, diarrhea, vomiting, intoxication or starvation.  Athletes exercising in extreme conditions (for three or more hours continuously e.g. marathon or triathlon) who do not consume electrolytes risk dehydration.*
*Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism 33 (2): 290–298. 2008.   Author J,Estevez E,Baquero E,Mora-Rodriguez R"

Just read that first statement again: Athletes exercising in extreme conditions. 

Gatorade was developed in 1965 when the then head football coach requested that the College of Medicine develop something to act as a hydrating replacement during physical exertion during those hot, hot Florida days.  College athletes – who run 3-a-days in the Florida heat. 

For the 98.3% of us who are not professional athletes there is no need to down sports drinks pre- or post-workout.  Even though, yes, many of us are outdoors and yes, Arkansas is hot in the summer!  And if that doesn’t convince you, sports drinks contain about 80calories per 8 oz., and 21g of sugar.

Personally I am all about the water.  Just good old fashioned water, and lots of it -- maybe with some lemon, or some lime.  I am not knocking Gatorade or any other sports drinks. I actually think they offer a great product and I use them anytime I am really pushing myself to the point of exhaustion…a 14 mile hike in Arizona, a long run (over 18 miles), 6+ hours of yard work.  Just not before my daily workout session.

I know some of you won’t be convinced.  So, what is a good, healthy, low-calorie, low-sugar alternative to sports drinks (besides water)? 

Coconut Water: Pure coconut water is a great, healthy alternative to a sports drink.  “Mother Nature’s sports drink” It contains more potassium than a banana (some researchers say 4 bananas!).  Available at most grocery stores – just make sure you aren’t confusing the water with the milk.  (43 calories, 5.92g sugar per 8 oz)

Watermelon Juice:  A new study shows that watermelon juice helps minimize post-workout soreness.  It contains an aminion acid (L-citrulline) that boosts blood flow.  Just toss some fresh watermelon into a blender and there you have it -- watermelon juice! (46 calories, 9.42g sugar per 1 cup blended)

Chocolate Milk:  Possibly my favorite and it’s been around as long as I can remember.  Ideal 4:1 ration of carbs to protein make this a great recovery drink for the muscles. But watch the calories here – an 8 oz serving of 1% chocolate milk packs in  the calorie at a whopping 160 calories and 25g of sugar.

Beer:  I swear I am not making this up.  The barely-based beverage helps get the carbs your body is missing back into your body.  But to really reap a benefit here we are talking post-half-marathon, not post-1 hour workout.

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